Presidential Candidate Breaches Elections Rules

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Elections Committee have found that a Presidential Candidate in the current SUSU elections has breached the Elections rules as well as Staff Student Protocol.

Union President

This rule breach has been referred to SUSU’s Disciplinary Committee, and could result in the candidate being recalled from their position if elected.

At 01.13am on Monday, February 24, a tweet was posted from Ellis Sims’ account threatening to fire the Chief Executive of SUSU on his first day of office, if he were to be elected.

Elections committee considered this to be a serious breach of both the Staff Student Protocol and the elections rules, and have consequently referred the matter to the Disciplinary Committee. Both committees are student-led.

This tweet broke rule 4.6 of elections campaigning which states: ‘It is prohibited to make reference to specific SUSU staff members in campaigning.’

Staff Student Protocol promotes a good working relationship between staff and students and protects staff and their employment relationships with SUSU.

Sims faces a disciplinary hearing next week. If elected, the issue will increase in seriousness. The hearing will not be held before voting has closed due to the time restraints and how disciplinary hearings work.

If Sims is elected as Union President 2013/14, it is possible that the outcome of the disciplinary hearing may result in Sims’s recall from the position.

The tweet in question  poses a substantial risk to SUSU, since it could be exposed to legal action if the tweet was to be seen as defamatory. This is further problematised, as the Union President is also the Line Manager to the Chief Executive and Chair of Staffing Sub-Committee of the trustees.

Current Union President Sam Ling said:

SUSU’s primary purpose is to work together to make a difference to the lives of our students. Staff form a key part of making this happen, and the election rules are there to ensure that no advantage can be gained by candidates making references to individuals.

Ellis Sims told the Wessex Scene:

It was sent from my Twitter account and it breached Staff Student Protocol. I’ve been disciplined for it. It was my mistake, and I own up to it. I just hope that it doesn’t happen again.

The electorate will be informed about the rule breach on the SUSU website, on the ballot paper and by adding a note to Sims’s manifesto.

Message from Elections Committee:
Ellis Sims (President Candidate) has broken Election Rule 4.6 by threatening to dismiss a member of SUSU staff on his first day in office, if elected. It is important that voters understand that as a result of this action Ellis is awaiting a disciplinary hearing which might recall him from the position of President, if elected. SUSU also faces serious legal consequences as a result of his actions

This incident is close to home but highlights the bigger problem surrounding Twitter-users and the law. As seen this week when social media users were found to be in contempt of court for circulating alleged pictures of James Bulger’s killer, Jon Venables. To find out more about Twitter and the law click here for an article from the BBC.

We encourage constructive and considerate comments about the situation but personal and offensive comments will not be tolerated.

Stay with The Wessex Scene in the lead-up to Friday’s results.

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I come from South West London and am studying English at Southampton. I am interested in journalism and considering it as a career after my degree. I have interests in Sports and Music and have written for a sports magazine called Sportsister before. I am keen to get involved in as much as possible whilst at Uni and writing about my experiences could be a very rewarding thing. :)

Discussion4 Comments

  1. avatar

    Oh look, it’s almost like the sabbaticals don’t REALLY have any power in SUSU and are puppets for the full time staff…

    Ellie Sellwood
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    Every student at this uni who is a member of SUSU is subject to Staff Student Protocol and cannot make public adverse comment about staff members, disciplinary action would have been taken for any breach of these rules. The fact that a Presidential candidate breached the rules makes this more serious.

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    Constantin (Am I dumb to say who I am?)

    I find it hard to believe that a candidate is not allowed to say he will fire a high member of staff. If he believes that this employee is a problem in the union and that the student life is better of by fireing this person, it should be legal to say that. Staffing is a key issue in the union and I can’t believe it is forbidden to talk about it. This is a freedom of speech issue. I find that rule and therefore that hearing pretty stupid.

    wannabe lawyer
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    Its legally not allowed nationally, not just in SUSU, as it could be seen as constructive dismissal, as well as defamation seeing as I doubt he knows them. Employers are legally protected to be able to work in an environment where they are not harassed, and need to be proven that they are unfit for the role.

    Just googling something along the lines of how to fire someone brings up a load of articles on the dangers of doing it properly without ending in a tribunal, and outwardly saying that someone will fire someone if elected isnt in any way allowed – and could be a huge lawsuit as a result.

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