The President of the Students’ Union at Queen Mary University of London had resigned on April 9, Wessex Scene understands.
In a letter titled Resignation Letter from your Students’ Union President, Dr Talhah Atcha, a postgraduate student in Global Health, outlined that he has returned to work as a doctor amid the coronavirus pandemic and will work at the NHS Nightingale Hospital in London.
In the resignation letter, Atcha declared: ‘I have to leave the office of President which is what I want to tell you all in this email’, before advising that ‘if after 2 months, things have subsided enough and I’m no longer needed in the NHS, I will come back.’
The letter then goes on to say:
This year I’ve been working hard on fixing a lot of democratic and governance issues that I’ve noticed over the last 10 years, whilst trying to ensure the Student Voice is at the heart of every decision we make. The democratic structures and our Board of Trustees will change from next year and the way the Union operates is following suit. Not only that but we as an Executive Officer team have all worked on several wide-ranging projects which will empower students to run their own projects and campaigns, get more involved and have the ability to directly lobby the University themselves via being able to set-up petitions through the Students’ Union website. The Union will change from a representative based democratic system to one that is a mix of a participatory and representative democracy. This essentially means more of you will be able to get directly involved.
There’s so much more I wanted to do and I’ve started handing stuff over to the other Executive Officers and some staff. I had originally wanted to write a 5 year digital transformation plan in May/June but ironically this work is now being sped up thanks to the virus. Student Group development will come more into focus next year (it’s the one regret I have about this year that we couldn’t do more on this) and I’m hoping with more Executive Officers we’ll be able to get more involved at a national level as other Students Unions’ do. When I first decided to run, I made so many plans of what I wanted to achieve knowing that I would never be able to achieve everything I wanted to do, but hoping I would get through a large chunk of it. Whilst I think I have done a lot there was a lot more I wanted to do that I’m no longer able to do and that is a hard pill to swallow. With the effect the virus has had on you and the Union I feel like I’m abandoning all of you, the other Exec and staff at a truly awful time when I really should be leading the Board and that is also a hard fact to deal with.
Atcha then explains that though the decision was not taken lightly, ‘it was definitely the right one.’ He writes that due to being equipped with skills in A&E, ITU and microbiology, he ‘could not in good conscience not put these skills to good use when so many people are dying from such a horrible disease.’
Atcha ends the letter by thanking those who have either shown support or got involved with the Union throughout the year. The letter concludes:
This is a difficult time in everybody’s lives, the world has suddenly changed and the future looks much darker, but I know you’ll all make it through if you help look out for one another as you have done throughout this year. And when the opportunity comes along to help make other peoples lives even the slightest bit better, and you have the capacity for it, grasp it and help shine a light in the dark, a lot of people could do with it right now. Good luck to all of you with whatever you decide to do in the future, I hope you make the world a better place for those you care for and everyone else around you.
Alright I’m going to stop now. I hope I don’t end up seeing any of you in the hospital so please look after yourselves and take care!!! I am truly wishing you all the best!
Atcha can certainly bow out holding his head high: he was the first mature student to become President in what he calls ‘a very long time’, and is now using both his degree and masters knowledge to help contribute to the nation’s efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.