Sabbatical Officer Radcliffe Camera
Credit: Cameron Samuel Keys

SU to cut Sabbatical Officer team by half

The Oxford Student can reveal that the Student Union will scrap three Vice-President Sabbatical roles, half of the elected team, for the next academic year as part of its transformation plan.

The roles affected are VP Welfare, VP Equality and Liberation, and VP Activities and Community. Alfie Davis, Joel Aston, and Alisa Brown have been elected in those roles.

The posts are currently held by Rosalie Chapman, Kennedy Aliu, and Mia Clement respectively. These roles are not represented in the University Council, and are instead written into the SU’s bylaws, making the change at such short notice possible.

SU President Danial Hussain wrote: “The reality is that the SU has spread itself too thin over recent years, leaving it unable to offer the right professional and personal support to Sabbatical Officers, and by association, to students.”

These comments from a piece written in Cherwell. In that piece, Hussain announced the laying-off of multiple staff, including sabbatical officers that were elected by the student body.

On a social media post by Cherwell announcing the piece by Hussain, a former SU sabbatical officer wrote: “[Because] of this review several real people lost their jobs during a cost of living crisis! [Really], really good people who made helping university students their livelihood. [The] work they put in, mostly behind the scenes, was far from “ineffective” – but instead of creating infrastructure to better effectively communicate this work, they now will not be doing it.”

This team reduction and the transformation plan has been announced amid “increasing concerns about the SU’s ability to operate and represent the student body effectively”.

The SU has been troubled by numerous scandals this year. These include the porn scandal surrounding SU President Danial Hussain revealed by journalists from The Oxford Student, the chair of Student Council resigning in protest against the SU’s “disregard for democratic principles”, the SU blocking a motion of no confidence in the SU President, and questions over the efficiency of sabbatical officers more generally.

In a comment to The Oxford Student, the Oxford SU stated: “The Students’ Union has put in place a Transformation Plan aimed at revolutionising our operational practices to better serve our student body. Working with our colleagues at Oxford University and the Students’ Union’s trustees, this plan has already prompted us to reevaluate our approach to ensure we are setting the foundation to provide the most effective student representation we can. 

A pivotal aspect of this restructuring involves a difficult yet necessary decision: reducing the number of sabbatical officers by half in the coming year. This measure is not a reflection on the capabilities or performance of any individual officer. The Sabbatical Officers taking up post in the academic year 2024/25 are those identified in the University regulations as the student representatives on University Council: President, Vice-President UG Education and Access and Vice-President PG Education and Access. 

We are navigating these changes with the future in mind, committed to building a Students’ Union that delivers an effective and representative structure, and one which will offer the best support and training to our Sabbatical Officers, who do an incredibly important job. We appreciate the understanding and support of the student body as we embark on this journey of reform.”

Alfie Davis, Joel Aston, and Alisa Brown have been approached for comment.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Image Credit: Cameron Samuel Keys

Image Description: Radcliffe Camera