Argy-bargy in Sheffield SU as Education Officer BLOCKS Welfare Officer on Facebook

But the SU says it won’t influence their work

An argy-bargy broke out at the UK’s number one Students’ Union and the Education Officer blocked the Welfare Officer and nine members of the elected Council on Facebook.

It all started when Women’s Officer Lily Grimshaw reacted angrily to the way a Council member referred to Education Officer Ellie Lynas in the third person.

Grimshaw spoke “with the same tone someone would tell off a dog” over her anger at the way he talked about Lynas, councillors said.

Councillors sent a letter to the Officers demanding an apology but were met with a facilitated meeting where they were accused of “internalised misogyny” and sexism.

Education Officer Ellie Lynas ended up blocking the Welfare Officer Holly Ellis and nine members of the elected Council on Facebook.

One Councillor told The Tab: “For her criticism to be so harsh and public was odd. If it was a problem, an email could have been sent out.”

But Grimshaw says she has no regrets and said: “I stand by my decision to call out behaviour which I deemed at the time to be disrespectful and condescending to my fellow female colleague.

“For my response to be weaponized as ‘authoritative’ and ‘aggressive’ demonstrates the continued lack of understanding around implicit sexism.”

It comes after the rent strike organisers slammed the Officers as an “undemocratic puppet to the university” over their lack of public support for the rent strike – despite a motion passing unanimously to do so.

There is also discontent in Sheffield SU after an Officer privately disagreed with SU President Beth Eyre’s condemnation of the Arts Tower occupation as “unnecessary”.

Eyre told The Tab: “There is so much more to the SU and our work than this private argument in SU Council. The issue is very sensitive for all parties involved and nobody’s mental health is improved by prolonging this.

“We have created space for the individuals concerned to clear the air on a number of occasions and would now like to concentrate our work on improving lives for all our members.”

A spokesperson for the Students’ Union said: “Our Student Officers are elected as individuals, and there are naturally always disagreements and debates which arise each year. In such a difficult and intense year for everybody, this team has been no exception. All student representatives, including Student Officers, have the right to retain boundaries on their personal social media accounts to create a healthy balance with their work, and this is especially important while everything is functioning online this year.

“This shouldn’t distract from the achievements of this year’s Student Officers, who have relentlessly campaigned for Forgotten Students during this pandemic. We have lobbied the University to secure over £9million in compensation for students and tirelessly campaigned for increased academic protections and wellbeing support, on top of running fundraising and awareness campaigns throughout the year. We are incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved.

“Each member of the SU Council, including the Student Officers, is passionate about representing students and voicing the issues they care about. This can result in lively discussions and debate. The Women’s Officer role exists to challenge and call out behaviour that they recognise as derogatory, and we should be very careful before we start policing the tone of our liberation officers.

“There was a disagreement, as stated, involving the Councillor and the Women’s Officer. This subsequently resulted in a separate meeting to provide an opportunity to understand and listen to each other’s perspectives and agree on how to work together for the remainder of the year.

“This disagreement is not representative of the work that takes place at SU Council. All students are welcome to attend or read the SU Council papers which are published on our website. The meetings are a space to represent student views and this year new policies have been passed including a sustainable purchasing levy and reforming the Student Officer team. We are concerned that the mental health of individuals involved in these incidents is placed at further risk by publishing comments which might negatively affect them. Sheffield SU is continuing with our focus on improving the lives of students.”

Featured image Holly Ellis. Credit: Sheffield SU

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