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OUCA President suspended after announcing motion of no confidence

On the evening of the 12th of May, Caleb van Ryneveld, the President of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA), announced that a motion of no confidence had been called in his leadership.

He claimed that this motion had been called by by Returning Officer Jake Dibden, which has been disputed.

The President went on to describe the ‘dangerous constitutional situation’ that this has caused, as the Returning Officer has historically overseen elections within the Conservative Association.

Van Ryneveld continues that this situation “reflects the more serious ongoing issue” of offices in OUCA being determined with little or no input from members of the association. He also promised a counter-proposal to reform OUCA’s constitution to “promote good governance and restore power to the members.”

OUCA’s constitution states that any member of OUCA can make a motion of no confidence in anyone with an elected position in the association. The accused office holder has to appear before OUCA’s disciplinary committee to make a statement and answer questions relating to the issue. Alternatively, they may submit a written statement to the committee.

They must also make the committee aware of any witnesses within 24 hours of being informed of the allegation. These witnesses must also be questioned by the disciplinary committee or submit a written statement.

On the morning of 14th of May, Peter Walker, the President-Elect of OUCA, announced that OUCA’s Returning Officer had received a “corporate complaint against Mr Caleb van Ryneveld alleging a number of charges”, and that he would be suspended, with Walker now the Association’s Acting President.

When approached for comment, Walker said that “Mr van Ryneveld further implies a connection between this [the motion of no confidence] and the legitimate election by the disciplinary committee of our Returning Officer.

“The implication of this email is that this motion was brought by the Returning Officer – this is untrue… I can confirm that no OUCA inbox has received any such motion.”

Walker went on to say that he was “made aware by the Returning Officer that he had received a corporate disciplinary complaint against Mr van Ryneveld, alleging a number of serious charges. As such, I gave my written agreement… to impose an interim suspension of 7 days on Mr van Ryneveld.”

When asked why the President might fabricate a motion of no confidence, Walker declined to comment.

The last time that a President of OUCA was removed was in 2021 over financial misconduct charges.

Both Dibden and van Ryneveld declined to comment, citing rules and precedent in the Association that it would be inappropriate to do so.

Image Credit: Sidharth Bhartia via WikiMedia Commons