Union Treasurer Lachs accounts, membership figures

It has been drawn to HackOx’s attention that current Union big dog and presidential aspirant Noah Lachs has been found lacking in one of his duties, specifically that of the membership drive. Many treasurers view this as a great opportunity, and never pass up on the chance to harangue the crowd at hustings about how successful their membership drive was. Unfortunately, it seems that Noah wouldn’t need an ark to fit all this term’s new members, and could probably do so with a small fishing boat. Indeed, one Union insider described it as “the worst membership drive in history”.

Presumably, this would make quite an impact on the Union accounts. And these should be easy to come by, given the Union’s Rule 63, which states “(a) All termly and annual budgets and accounts, and all previous years’ Audited Accounts shall be kept in a file in the General Office for the inspection of Members during office hours with no prior appointment.” It goes on to say that “(b) All income and expenditure records will be available for inspection by any member by appointment with the President within ten working days.”

But rumour has it that the Treasurer and his good friend President Stuart Webber are concealing this from the members, and that the records from Michaelmas – the term in question – are not being made public, putting the President in breach of the Union’s own rules. This isn’t the first time such a travesty has happened. An investigation 6 years ago revealed The Union holding back receipts of officers’ expenses. Could that be it? Or is it embarrassingly low income from new members? Either way: this isn’t very accountable.

HackOx wonders what the Union elite could possibly have to hide. As ever, we are forced to ask: cui bono?

Cui bono, Noah?

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OULC Co-Chair quits in anti-Semitism scandal

Alexander Chalmers, Co-Chair of Oxford University Labour Club (OULC), this evening resigned his post in protest at what he called ‘poisonous’ attitudes to Jewish students within OULC. His statement, published on Facebook, is shown below:

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HackOx understands that the shock resignation came in the wake of an OULC meeting, in which a motion supporting ‘Israeli Apartheid Week‘ was carried. The project, according to its website, aims to “raise awareness about Israel’s ongoing settler-colonial project and apartheid policies over the Palestinian people”.

IAW also supports the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement, whose advocates demand a boycotting of all Israel-made goods, along with individuals (including academics, public figures, and professionals) who come from Israel. The movement has been widely criticised for effectively demanding a boycott of Israeli Jews.

Neither Chalmers’ critics nor his co-chair have yet publicly responded to his resignation.

It’ll be the OxStu wot winz it

Thanks to some anonymous tips, HackOx has learned that the wonderful student media of Oxford may not be as free and unbiased as it first appears. Indeed, it would seem that the snaky tentacles of both OUCA and the Union have managed to worm their way into some of Oxford’s leading journalistic establishments. So, who has their fingers in which pies?

First to OUCA, and it would seem that the electioneering of this term’s (currently uncontested) Presidential hopeful, Wojciech Woznicki, is not confined merely to the propagating of spurious tales about his former rival, Shane Finn. Perhaps taking a leaf out of Blair’s book, Woznicki has decided to align himself with candidates spread across the Oxford media, including current OxStu News Editor, Matt Burwood, running for the role of Political Officer, as well as current OUCA Treasurer and Cherwell Comment Editor, Patrick Mulholland, with whom he ran on the successful slate of George Walker last term.

Woznicki’s slate had also included two VERSA staff members: allegedly former HackWatch, Angus McNeill Peel, and current News Editor, Tom Munro. However, McNeill Peel has since left VERSA, being one of the “smattering of resignations” which followed editor Kate Bickerton’s decision to stay on as Editor-in-Chief, whilst Munro has dropped out of the running. HackOx can only assume that the phrase “conflict of interest” is one better understood by some OUCA members than by others.

It would appear that the importance of the media is not lost on current Union President Stuart Webber, either. He is believed to have implemented a new policy for allocating speakers for interviews to the student papers; rather than, as predecessors have done, dividing up speakers at the start of term, Webber is apparently allocating speakers to papers on a rolling basis, dependent upon how favourable his coverage has been in the respective papers each week. Crafty.

The upshot of this is that several articles from the Cherwell this term have been pulled, whilst their online-only peers at VERSA have tried the sycophancy route. The Facebook post was greeted by a snide remark from former VERSA writer Peter Johnstone, who stormed out of the paper last term after he failed in his application to become editor. Johnstone posted a screenshot from an apparent conversation between himself and Bickerton, who is pictured saying that VERSA does not “kowtow to [the] Union”.

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No bitterness here…

It is believed Union pressure was also the reason for the removal of a VERSA article at the end of last term about electoral malpractice at the Union, which disappeared within ten minutes of its being published. HackOx does not wish to comment on whether or not the close friendships between Webber and former-Union President/VERSA section editor Olivia Merrett, and between Merrett and then VERSA editor Jake Hurfurt, had anything to do with this.

HackOx does not hold out much hope of securing Union interviews in the near future…

Rhode rage: Oriel JCR condemns the governing body

The students of Oriel College met this week and they were not happy. After the recent discovery of a secret governing body meeting, the JCR (and everyone else) found out that the “listening exercise” was at an end and that Rhodes will not be falling. The students are understandably a little bit hacked off. The agenda for their JCR meeting offered two motions to condemn the governing body, and another to condemn the leaking of the decision to the Daily Telegraph, as well as a sizzling motion about water bottles, and a controversial call to stop buying newspapers. Incidentally, if you’re from the Telegraph and you’re reading this, drop us a line next time you like HackOx content. HackOx noticed.

The first motion condemned the Governing Body for “failing to listen to the voices of students” and “revoking the opportunity that was promised to students in the six month listening exercise”. Minutes from the meeting show that at least one individual felt that the students had been “sidelined”. The Governing Body got away with it this time though, as in the end the JCR voted to not vote on this motion, worried about what it would achieve, and what it would look like if the press found out (oh no…).

Next up came a motion to condemn the College “for failing to inform the JCR President that an unscheduled Governing Body meeting took place”. You know it’s a bad sign when you need a Telegraph leak to inform you about a meeting you should have been invited to. This didn’t just involve wounded pride, and one member raised the point that the College may have broken the law in not informing their Student Union about this meeting. Intriguing… This motion passed with a whopping 56 votes in favour, and only 17 against. Take that Oriel!

Finally, the third motion was to condemn “the gross breach of trust that led to The Telegraph acquiring and publishing Governing Body papers”. After lengthy debate, it was decided that this wouldn’t achieve anything and the motion was crushed. 6 in favour, 45 against.

HackOx wishes Oriel JCR the best of luck in their struggles. After all, it looks like their relations with the College Governing Body are on a rocky rhode to nowhere…

Kiran Benipal removed from Cuntry Living over pro-rape message

Kiran Benipal, former chair of OUSU’s Campaign For Racial Awareness And Equality (CRAE), was today removed from feminist Facebook group ‘Cuntry Living’ for sharing a message described as pro-rape. The message has since been deleted, but remains visible below on her own Facebook page:

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The decision to remove her over this post was not, however, obviously approved by all administrators of the group. Alyson Cruise, long-time mod (and renowned wielder of the banhammer), ‘liked’ the post on Kiran’s profile.

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This is not the first we have seen of a Cruise-Benipal alliance: on the 17th of January, the former elevated Benipal to administrator status herself.

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This decision was eventually rescinded after widespread outcry, although Cruise did not let go without a fight:

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Aside from her comments on race-mixing and Jews (Kiran opposes both), Benipal has recently attracted controversy for remaining friends with self-confessed rapist Oluwatoyosi ‘Annie’ Teriba. The latest post is not dissimilar to a defence of Teriba (whose victims chose not to go to the police).

 

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Another gem
HackOx wishes Kiran the best in seeking employment.

Browne’s return to the Union contested

HackOx can reveal this evening that a snake previously considered extinct is returning to the Oxford Union’s long grasses and swampy marshes. That’s right folks, David Browne has announced to his horde of online fans that he has been “ratified by Standing as the newest Senior Member of the Library Committee!” Glory and honour untold!

Corks were popped and toasts were heartily raised at the end of Trinity term, as the Hack World and Oxford’s womenfolk watched this lecherous serpent slither off to Exeter. While it has long been known that Ireland’s finest export nurses a desire to grease the seat of the hallowed Union Presidency, such fears were able to be laughed off with ease until recently; if he’s denied access to most of Oxford’s kitchens, how could he get back into the Union?

But the Union staff haven’t taken the same precautions as many Oxford Colleges, and they still permit the white-gloved sleuth on their premises, content to offer him, by appointment, what he was never able to win through election.

The plot thickens, however. HackOx has been made aware of an objection to Mr Browne’s appointment. While this could easily have been made on the grounds of taste and common decency, this particular protest is actually grounded in the rulebook. A cursory glance at Rule 25 (b) (ii) (2) reveals that a Senior Member of Library Committee must be nominated in the seventh Public Business Meeting of each term. Thus, this coronation is patently invalid. So, if any noble Member wants to make an objection, now would be the time…

HackOx awaits a decision with bated breath. With the way Browne’s going, soon the Union will be the only place left in Oxford which he’s allowed to frequent.

Green peace? Not in the King’s Arms

The Green Party, of all the UK’s political parties, is the one most associated with peace and tranquillity. This, however, was not the case in the Oxford Student Greens’ final Trinity Term meeting in 2015.

A quick glance over their minutes from that meeting reveal that the young activists incited the rage of the KA barman by refusing to leave when asked.  The minutes reveal that after being told that they “have to leave the pub”, the Greens remained to discuss further issues until the barman became “angry that [they] didn’t leave when [he] told them to.” The minutes close on this rather pointed note. Not very communitarian.

Perhaps, we submit, this was this a revolutionary and rebellious act against the monarchical oppression found in the name of one of Oxford’s favourite drinking establishments.

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Whilst HackOx would simply love to be able to bring you more news of what is surely Oxford’s most serious political scandal in recent times, we unfortunately can’t; although the Oxford Student Greens’ website states that “The Revolution Will Be Minuted”, there are no minutes more recent than those from the first week of Michaelmas 2015.

HackOx can only assume that either the student group has disbanded, or that The Revolution Will Only Be Minuted So Long As We Can Be Bothered, thereafter continue behind closed doors whilst the rest of the world goes about their daily lives.

We can but wonder what other dirty secrets lying in the missing minutes of the Oxford Student Green Party…

It’s me that you need (in your manifesto)

Manifesto scrutiny for last term’s Union elections seemed so simple. Henna Dattani, running for Secretary, claimed to have bagged Sir Elton John as a speaker. During questioning by the ROs, Union President Charlie Vaughan confirmed that this was the case, and spoke effusively of Henna’s central role in securing this big name. No objections were raised, and her manifesto was accepted.

Imagine, then, Henna’s surprise when, later that same day, Rob Harris claimed that it was he who had done most to ensure Sir Elton’s appearance, and his rep strongly insisted that Henna’s claim was false. More confusingly yet, when recalled for his testimony, Charlie Vaughan changed his tune: to the frustration and eventually fury of the ROs, he now insisted that Henna’s role had been minimal – the real credit belonged to Rob.

Although Henna’s claim was eventually upheld, the arguments reportedly lasted well into the night. But what had provoked such a u-turn from the Union elite? HackOx surely doesn’t think it had anything to do with them learning that Henna would be contesting their chosen candidate for the presidency…

Jihadi Jack: Oxford’s homegrown ISIS soldier

It has emerged that a resident of Oxford and participant in the Oxford University Islamic Society has, for the last two years, been located in Syria fighting for Islamic State.

Connected to several unnamed student members of the University, it is believed that Jack Letts (who has since adopted an Islamic name) has already been made known to MI5 by his father. Letts allegedly converted to Islam several years before leaving Oxford.

After his conversion, Letts set up an alternative Facebook profile, which has since been removed by the company. He retains a minimal online presence under his birth name.

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Letts’ current profile picture

Letts is believed to have attended Cherwell School, which in 2012 obtained Academy status. He is a member of Oxford Muslim Network, and ‘likes’ Oxford University Islamic Society on Facebook. Oxford ISoc are known for being one of the few non-sport societies to host gender-segregated social events, as seen on their website:

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Both are held on Friday evenings.

Whilst there is no suggestion that either ISoc or the Oxford Muslim Network had a role in Letts’ radicalisation, what is known is that the process happened during his time in Oxford, and was sufficient motive for his flying to Syria to join ISIS.

Profile picture notwithstanding, Letts’ Facebook profile is not unusual. Below are some of his ‘likes’:

“I Was Born To Travel”. Evidently.

Jack Letts and ISIS have been contacted for comment.

Oxford UKIP in outfarageous recruitment error

In one of the party’s rare moments of PR mismanagement, at the start of the Christmas vacation a UKIP recruitment email was sent en masse to certain members of the University. Its goal appeared to be the establishment of an Oxford UKIP society.

The email, however, committed the unfortunate mistake of failing to blind carbon-copy its recipients – with the consequence that all those on the fledgling mailing list, apparently hand-picked as potential ‘Kippers, could see all other recipients.

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‘Get out of my DMs UKIP’ is possibly our favourite response yet to the Purple Peril. HackOx also enjoyed the Comic Sans.

The sender, Elizabeth Robbins, studies History at Lincoln (and last term met her icon at the Union).

Included on the list is Omar Rana, the Oxford Forum’s Head of Speakers, who is rumoured to be ‘close personal friends’ with renowned historian David Irving. Also included is Rob Harris, the Oxford Union president-elect; Oliver Shore, former OUCA whip; and finally a prominent member of the OUCA white-tie brigade, who allegedly has a fondness for toasting ‘BNOC Powell’…

HackOx wishes OxKIP the best: perhaps their next email will be spared the Junck(er) folder.