Ellie Greaves, the VP Women at Oxford SU, has resigned in order to “prioritise [her] health and wellbeing.”
The news comes after she came under significant criticism at this week’s meeting of the SU Student Council.
Jeea Chadha and Ffion Samuels, the co-chair and LGBTQ+ rep for It Happens Here, the SU-associated anti-sexual violence campaign, were the proposers of a motion to change the wording of a motion passed at the previous Student Council meeting which mandated the VP Liberation and Equality (for this year, VP Women) and VP Welfare to continue preventative work on colleges using NDAs. The changes included mandating the VP Liberation and Equality and VP Welfare to work alongside It Happens Here to organise and attend meetings relating to the preventative work, and to express displeasure with the VP for Women.
The VPs would have to include It Happens Here in all discussions regarding NDAs, and be more transparent and professional in their communications about these discussions to campaigns.
Samuels said that they wanted to hold sabbatical officers to “a high degree of professionalism” especially as “members of campaigns are (…) unpaid volunteers.” They said “I’ve spent like two years of my life working on this and it’s actually being made much more difficult with the current VP Women.”
Samuels described how when they had tried to contact Greaves they received no response to their emails over the entire summer, and eventually had to resort to contacting the VP Women on Facebook. Samuels also alleged that Greaves “kept on cancelling meetings with me very last minute” and that It Happens Here were not made aware of the time sabbatical officers went on leave.
Samuels also said that Greaves did not act like someone in a professional paid position as “she complained about another campaign to me (…) I can’t trust in that relationship [between the campaign and the sabbatical officer] if she’s going to complain about another campaign.”
Chadha said that “It Happens Here has not been treated very well in this situation and it would be really great if the (…) sabbatical officers are held to a higher level of professionality, especially when working with campaigns who are unpaid volunteers.” Greaves was also accused of having “actively caused harm towards our committee members through triggering them through bringing up very difficult, unnecessary things that have really affected their mental health.”
The It Happens Here representatives also criticised the fact that the campaign was only mentioned in the minutes, not in the NDA motion itself, and that the official Oxford SU Records also did not mention Ffion Samuels by name. They said, “we were the ones who drove this project within Oxford, with Ffi even talking to local MPs about this and putting this on a national scale.” They also alleged that Greaves failed to consult with It Happens Here in “any way, shape, or form” in regards to the motion, and that sabbatical officers have taken undeserved credit for the NDA campaign.
Elliot Cooper-Brooke, co-chair of the SU’s LGBTQ+ campaign, said at the meeting, “the SU has a systemic issue when it comes to supporting campaigns. At the end of last term, Clay [the other co-chair] and I were at the centre of a massive national media pile-on and we got no official support from the SU.”
Greaves apologised for “contributing to a trans-exclusionary narrative” after she made comments to The Times and Cherwell about the changes made to the VP Women position which attracted significant criticism. However, her reflections on this incident seem to have contributed to her perceived lack of professionalism with Cooper-Brooke saying Greaves talking about it “puts me in a weird position” and “it’s a bit bizarre to talk to me about that.”
A role review instigated in 2021 expanded the VP Women position to VP Liberation and Equality, with the change taking place from the 23/24 academic year. Kennedy Aliu was elected as the new VP Liberation and Equality last week.
Greaves’ statement in full:
“After much consideration, I announce that I am resigning from my role of VP Women at Oxford SU. I have made this decision to prioritise my health and wellbeing.”
“I am very proud of the work that I have managed to do so far, including running a successful club night, contributing to university information around spiking and having the opportunity to work with so many passionate students. My time as VP Women has been challenging and I have learnt an incredible amount along the way. To everyone who has supported me, whether during my election or throughout my time as a Sabb, thank you. I will continue to work on my projects at the SU until the 17th of March. I am hoping in this time to do as much work for students as possible.”
“Finally, I hope that we continue to see a culture of respect and kindness grow throughout the Oxford student body, a space for everyone to be welcomed and heard. I wish nothing but the best for the entire SU team, and for the newly elected officers in their upcoming year.”