Credit: Amy Bush
Credit: Amy Bush

KUSU Women’s Officer resigns after allegations of bullying

Written by Tonje Odegard and Elizabeth Stromme

Kingston University Students’ Union Women’s Officer Allison Taylor has quit, saying she feels bullied out of her role.

Her resignation follows claims that an offensive Snapchat picture had been sent and rumours were allegedly spread that she was pregnant.

Taylor, 22, said: “It really hurt my feelings. I don’t want my name to be attached to this year’s Union anymore, because I do not believe in the way they conduct themselves both professionally or personally.

“I’m quitting because I don’t feel comfortable there and I don’t like it anymore.”

However, Taylor stressed that she would continue campaigning as that was the commitment she had made.

The Snapchat picture showed Taylor in an executive meeting, with the word “death” and a red X drawn on her.

Taylor said she felt she had experienced lack of support and hostility for months, and that the alleged bullying was the final straw that forced her to hand in her resignation earlier this week.

She said that after she and other part-time officers had launched a petition to force a vote of no confidence against VP Student Life, Naveena Satter, the internal conflict in the SU became more evident.

However, Taylor does not understand why she was allegedly targeted.

 

The Snapchat taken of Taylor

The Snapchat taken of Taylor

 

In recent months the union has been hit by internal dissent and turmoil, with several accusations of bullying, personal agendas and dirty politics within the SU.

LGBT Officer, Amy Bush, said: “Right now, Kingston University Students’ Union is an embarrassment to student politics.

“Instead of a representative and united force for positive change, it is a divided, hierarchal organisation hosting career-orientated students chasing their own personal agendas.”

Taylor also said she had lost faith in the SU long before the claims of bullying emerged, saying it was due to a divide between the full-time sabbatical officers and the part-time officers.

She said a couple of the part-time officers, herself included, have been branded as “bad, evil, radical” and “extreme” because of the position they took in votes and campaigns.

Bush and Taylor, alongside the External Campaigns Officer, Alistair Farrow, were the main initiators of a petition to provoke a failed vote of no confidence against the VP Student Life, Naveena Satter, with the aim of removing her from her role.

In a leaked version of the official investigation document, containing Satter’s evidence denying allegations about the way she had performed her job, Satter called the process a “witch hunt”.

It read: “It almost seems that these officers simply did not want me involved. This makes me feel this is a very personal attack on me as a person rather than my role as VP Student Life.”

Lizzie Carse, a former VP Student Life, strongly opposed Satter’s claim, saying: “Students calling a vote of no confidence is not a ‘witch hunt’, it’s holding elected officers to account.”

Carse also said she had met students, who were not directly involved with the Union, who claimed that they had faced “inappropriate and offensive language” when seeking help from the Union.

She said: “For any student, getting involved with the Students’ Union is meant to be an empowering experience. It’s meant to be a safe and inclusive space where students are able to create positive change.”

Third-year politics and international relations student, Faith Gaiger-Roscoe, who also has been heavily involved with the Union, claimed she had also been cyber-bullied.

She said she was losing confidence in the Students’ Union and indicated there was a divide between the full-time officers.

On top of the internal turmoil in the SU, the organisation is facing a lack of student engagement and awareness about Union activities, in addition to a significant financial deficit.

The SU has chosen not to comment on queries from The River at this time.

About Elizabeth Stromme

3 comments

  1. I hope that those who have made threats are held accountable for their actions. Circling someone and writing “death” is not just bullying, it is the epitome of unprofessionalism, and ultimately, illegal to threaten someone’s life. Whether or not this person meant the remark seriously or not, it is disturbing to think that a person in any type of student leadership role would conduct themselves in such a manner.

  2. I understand how this can seem as though it is cyber bullying but why has she decided to quit her position? She has stopped her duty which is to represent women students, that’s not what I elected her for. So what if there are stupid snapchats being sent, what the hell is snapchat for if not stupidity. Raise a professional complaint and sort it out. Don’t quit.
    Aside from that, who cares about snapchat. I bet she’s on snapchat anyway. Was she sent this? I doubt the person who took this sent it to her.

    • From what I understand professional complaints were made and support from the students union was lacking. Bullying is a very serious problem and should never be taken lightly. If she felt that she wanted to quit her position as a result of bullying that is her choice. I am sure you are aware the extreme psychological effects bullying can have on one’s self-esteem, anxiety, depression – to mention a few effects – let alone the number of suicides a year that happen as a result of bullying. Therefore comments on a news article such as your own basically victim blaming and stating that she shouldn’t have quit her position or use snapchat (which is completely missing the mark here) is really petty. For starters do you actually know the full extent or course that the bullying took place? Do you know how this made Allison feel or if Allison had/has any other mental health disabilities that this may have made even worse? Do you know if Allison also had other things going on at the same time in her personal life which along side with bullying could have driven her to contemplate self-harm/suicide. I’m guessing you don’t know these things!?
      People from all walks of life, all professions, all ages self-harm because of bullying. I am actually writing my dissertation on this topic, and comments such as yours when somebody has taken an active step in removing themselves from a volatile environment do not help.
      Have some compassion for your fellow humans, and next time think before you speak!

      In other news great article Lizzie!

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