Here’s everything you need to know about the Jo Swo case
It seems this the end of the Jo Swo saga
On Thursday night, the UEA Union Council voted in favour of a motion to censure Jo Swo, the Welfare Officer who has been the centre of recent controversy involving a bouncer and a bag of crisps. The motion was presented after a vote of no confidence, which may have seen Swo removed from her position, was withdrawn.
The meeting saw an unusually high turnout, with 80 councillors reportedly filling the lecture theatre. The four rows from the front, which normally hold the more Union-affiliated councillors, remained mostly vacant. It seemed a little odd, as if people were deliberately shying away as far away from the front as possible.
The proposers of the motion took to the front and made their case; a “public condemning” was necessary, and emphasis was placed on how this would not directly affect Swo’s position as Welfare Officer.There wasn’t a single person prepared to speak against the motion, and the room was filled with uncomfortable silence.
The chair moved the room onto the vote. 10 seconds later, the result was revealed: 90 per cent of the room voted in favour of the motion; four people, in total, voted against. The Chair announced the censure against Swo had passed and moved onto the next motion. It was certainly quick, but looking back on those uncomfortable moments, well, it’s hard to believe that it was entirely painless for those most intimately involved.
The Tab reached out Dan Soper, creator of the Change.org petition to “reinstate the vote-of-no-confidence in Jo Swo” about the result. Dan’s petition, which claims that the original motion was not simply withdrawn, but “cancelled”, received over 90 supporters in its first two hours.
Dan stated: “I think as an elected official she needs to be held accountable for her actions, the Union is making itself look farcical by making a U-turn on such an important decision.
“The hypocrisy of the situation is ridiculous – were this to happen in any other workplace, the employee’s contract would be terminated.”
For the 278 supporters of Dan’s petition, the censure of Jo Swo will not be enough. Currently attempting to push the hashtag #JoSwoMustGo on social media, the discernible anger of these students is being championed by the petition’s maker:
“Here an elected official is seemingly allowed to get away with theft and assault. I made the petition because I wanted to give students who feel disillusioned with the Union, and there are many, a voice.
“The Union has made countless misrepresentative decisions and a lot of students are simply fed up with them.”
For others however, the passing of the censure was more than enough. One Union councillor, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I believe that the Motion of Censure was fair, I think that it’s important for students to make it aware that they do not agree with Jo Swo’s actions.
“I don’t think that there should be any further action taken, though – nor do I think that the vote for censure should be pushed forward into a vote of no confidence.”
This councillor, who stated that they has no relationship, professional or personal, to Jo Swo, continued by addressing the fierce criticism of the Welfare Officer: “I think that on the whole she’s had a very rough time with social media in her time as Welfare Officer, so it doesn’t surprise me that people aren’t satisfied with the censure vote.
“I think that it’s unfortunate, and disheartening, that a certain portion of the student body are clearly looking to see someone fail.
“She has admitted that she was wrong, and she’s apologised for her actions. I cannot understand why the censure vote and her ban from the LCR are not adequate punishment for some.”
Earlier this week we had the chance to ask Swo for further details on exactly what happened on that particular LCR night. What emerged was a story that didn’t quite match the dramatic versions of events that’s been presented through petitions, Yik Yak threads and general gossip.
“When I put my coat into the cloakroom I genuinely forgot to pay,” explained Jo, “and later, in the biting incident, I was being friendly and daft – I didn’t mean to hurt the guard but I understand it’s not only inappropriate but also sounds weird in the cold light of day.
“I know the team that work the LCR quite well and, whilst I thought I was being friendly and daft, it’s clear that to others I was being weird and crossed a line.”
We asked if, in the lead up to the bite, Jo had been asked or made to leave the LCR: “Yes, I’d been “red carded”, which is when the Venue staff ask you to leave and you have to come into talk to someone the day after.
“The night after I apologised straight away – as I’ve said previously, they have a difficult enough job keeping us all safe without me making it harder.”
We wondered if Jo thought, if not the bite, the matter of not paying for a packet of crisps and the cloakroom had possibly been blown out of proportion: “I wouldn’t say that’s been blown out of proportion, I get that if you’re the one that runs campaigns on harassment and behaviour then you have to take it on the chin if you behave badly yourself.
“I just hope that people can see that it was accidental, about having too much to drink and letting off steam- and that I’ve learned my lesson.”
Finally, we asked – of all the flavours in the world – why Ready Salted? “I love ready salted crisps, especially in a sandwich. Unlike my political views, my food tastes are pretty bland!”
With the Motion of Censure being passed, this might be the end of this particular saga. That’s perhaps for the best, however, because the only alternative would see things become truly uncomfortable for everyone.
The writer of this article felt obliged, for the sake of transparency, to disclose that he voted against Thursday’s Motion.