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VUWSA Exec Member Guilty of Misconduct

VUWSA Exec Member Guilty of Misconduct

By Angela Mabey

VUWSA executive member James Sleep has been found guilty of misconduct by the VUWSA exec, following comments made in his Salient column earlier this month.

VUWSA received a formal complaint following the column’s publication in the 3 May issue of Salient.

Sleep made reference in the column to “the rich kids who you might find yourself sitting next to”, and “the one’s [sic] that seem to think it’s a status boost to say they live in Weir House”.

The exec found Sleep had breached the VUWSA Code of Conduct (CoC) by making negative and disrespectful comments about VUWSA members.

The CoC requires VUWSA exec members to “treat everyone fairly and with respect” and “Show respect to the person…”.

When asked to make a public apology for the comments made in the column, Sleep initially refused to do so.

“No, that is not something I will be doing. I am not prepared to make a public apology in Salient. I don’t see why I need to.”

Following the meeting, Sleep contacted Salient to say he had “had second thoughts” and would apologise in a later issue of Salient.

Sleep did acknowledge using the stereotypes “was unacceptable” and agreed to apologise to the complainant, but only after it was suggested by the exec.

Sleep’s column was discussed in a recent select committee hearing about Roger Douglas’s Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill, a bill which would introduce voluntary membership to all students’ associations.

VUWSA President Max Hardy told Salient he was disappointed that Sleep had made the comments.

“The accountability of executive members is ultimately to the students.

“VUWSA expects higher standards of ethical conduct of its executive members that we generally expect of the general public.”

Sleep told Hardy during the investigation that he did not believe the phrases were offensive, and said he was attempting to be “deliberately provocative”.

Hardy said in his report to the exec that Sleep “showed a general disrespect to the process” and “did not take the allegations seriously”.

Sleep told the exec that he accepted the misconduct finding, but disputed that he had not taken the complaint seriously.

Sleep says turning up to the meeting and talking about the complaint was enough to be seen as taking it seriously.

Exec members were concerned by Sleep’s actions following the meeting with Hardy, when he was heard laughing about the issue.

The misconduct decision does not require the exec to take any disciplinary action against Sleep.

Three misconduct findings would result in serious misconduct and further action would be taken at that point.

An agreement between Salient and VUWSA means that all columns submitted by exec members are not edited by Salient, subject to libel laws, before being published.

This story was syndicated by the Aotearoa Student Press Association via Salient www.salient.org.nz

http://www.salient.org.nz/news/vic-closes-undergrad-enrolments

ENDS


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