UCL EFS under suspension as all committee members are removed following SU investigation
The investigation has been concluded with EFS being banned from all non-core/social society events and suspended with threatened disaffiliation
The months long investigation of UCL Economics and Finance Society has been concluded following allegations of misconduct and “failing to fulfil duty of care to its members”.
The most damning allegation against EFS appears to be the allegation of misconduct during the interviews for the First Year Rep position.
The interviewees were allegedly asked questions such as “How many people have you slept with?”, “What type of drugs have you taken?”, “Do you like to pull on a night out?'” and “Why do you think you deserve this position over someone who didn’t go to private school?”.
An interviewee for the position told The London Tab: “I didn’t expect those questions, I was prepared for more [other] questions”, “there was a lot of swearing,” but “it was in a jokey way”.
The former President and the former Socials Executive have been banned from standing for election for EFS, with the President being banned from standing for any elected position of the Union. EFS is also under a period of suspension for 18 months, with the sanction of disaffiliation being applied if any disciplinary action is enacted within this time period.
EFS is accused by the Students Union of the following:
- That UCL Economics and Finance Society (EFS) held activity of a nature banned by UCL and Students’ Union UCL (Initiations).
- That the EFS committee failed to fulfil their duty of care for members, specifically failing to encourage responsible conduct or responsible drinking.
- That EFS failed its duty of care to its members, specifically failing to follow safeguarding procedures for members under the age of 18.
- That the Society leadership, and specifically the President, intentionally hid the full extent of their knowledge of what happened at a society event.
- That the inappropriate conduct of individuals conducting ‘interviews’ for new EFS positions risked repetitional damage to the society, the college, and the union.
- That EFS failed to report an extremely serious incident at a society event to the union in a timely manner.
The following sanctions were upheld against EFS:
- Disaffiliation, suspended for a period of 18 months. (Should EFS have any further disciplinary action upheld during that time period, the sanction will be activated and the society disaffiliated from Students’ Union UCL with immediate effect; for a period of no less than two rounds of affiliations (equivalent to one academic year), before application to affiliate a new society can begin.
- A ban on all society non-core/social activities (as defined by the union) until Monday 26th September 2022.
- The entire committee of EFS (not including Bloomsbury Capital Committee) to be removed from post with immediate effect.
The Students’ Union has given the following statement:
“In line with item 3.3.2 of the Students’ Union UCL Club and Society regulations, Activities Zone are asked to appoint a panel of three officers to hear a disciplinary case. One those officers must be the Activities and Engagement Officer. Panel members receive training and are supported by experienced staff when hearing a disciplinary case. The panel was unanimous in the EFS disciplinary case decision. An interim committee for EFS has not been formed and we’re working with the society to support them in most appropriate way before an election can take place in the new year.”
In response to the interview process, one of the former committee members involved said they helped organise a meeting to rectify the situation and made sure apologies were issued to first years.
They added: “In my opinion it’s the worst allegation against us. I regret not reporting it, but at the time we [the committee] dealt with it quicker than anyone could have.”
After being contacted by The London Tab, the other committee member involved said: “I have never conducted an interview before, I was not trained in doing interviews, I did it [the interview] because no one else volunteered.”
“The aim wasn’t to stress people out, I did it [asked the questions] informally but I can see certain questions were not necessarily funny or professional.”
“I just wanted to make it less stressful for the candidates. I resigned as well, which the EFS statement doesn’t actually say. I did not ask how many people did you sleep with. That has no relevance in interviews.”
“I asked if you had just been on a night out, and you were hungover, or like you were with someone, would you be able to leave and do the work, or would you stay with said person. I admit to my wrongdoing and I completely deserve to have some form of punishment. But I feel I have been scapegoated a bit.”
More than one of the students interviewed for the first year representative position has confirmed that the question, “How many people have you slept with”, was asked as well as the questions listed above.
On the allegation of failing to fulfil duty of care to its members, the former President said: “Look, hold me accountable by all means. But I can’t be held responsible for such a big event with 150 people where I can’t know exactly what’s going on.”
The former Socials Executive said: “Being on socials I organised the event but it wasn’t necessarily organising the drink it was calling up the venue, and when we were there, there was drinking of wine in large quantities.”
On the allegation of failing to report a serious incident in a timely manner, the President said: “As we stated in our public statement on the 2nd December, we adamantly believe that regarding an incident at our co-hosted Freshers’ club night event, we followed our training provided by the Students’ Union to follow the victim’s wishes of not escalating the incident to the SU. The first thing in our training says not to report anything without the victim’s permission.”
The former EFS President believes that certain individuals, but especially the Economics and Finance Society as a whole, has been treated unfairly by the Students Union.
Members of the former committee have told the London Tab that the months long process has caused them immense stress. After dealing with “unwelcome messages” and “in-person confrontations” the former committee told the Students’ Union that the “sharing information with irrelevant parties and constant emailing” was having a direct “impact on [their] mental health.”
The investigation, and subsequent appeals process led by a panel of elected student officers from the Activities Executive has now been completed, in an email sent to members the Union said, “elections for a new committee [are] to be held via the union website in January 2022.”
The former President plans to appeal the decision and escalate the ruling to the Students’ Union Board of Trustees.