An Emergency Student Council meeting has been called for Friday, March 19th to discuss the alleged mishandling of sexual assault allegations by UCC Students’ Union and to elicit an apology from officers involved. The motion states that the SU “have made incorrect decisions which have caused distress for students during times when they needed comfort” due to their “lack of knowledge” in handling issues of misconduct.
The meeting comes just weeks away from the election of the next Students’ Union, the lead up to which has featured “many serious allegations of sexual assault” against one presidential candidate and issues of “misogynistic social media posting” against others, the motion reads.
Following allegations of sexual misconduct made on social media against prospective candidates in early March, UCCSU posted a list of supports accessible to students after they had received “a number of queries related to an issue on Twitter.” The SU acknowledged that the University was formally notified of the issues “and will be acting accordingly” before reminding students that “the appropriate place” for any complaints was Campus Watch.
The Student Council will be asked to form a belief on the motion put forward for the emergency meeting, that students who “voiced their concerns on social media and were vocally opposed” to the nomination of the reputed candidates “have since been harassed on social media by [their] supporters.” The motion alleges that sabbatical officers of UCCSU then “cautioned” those outspoken students on social media “about their online comments and the legal actions that could follow.”
A number of resolutions to the issues raised are proposed within the motions, including the elicitation of a “statement to all students which apologises for the Student’s Union inadequate response to the recent election controversies and reaffirms its commitment to stand in solidarity with victims of online harassment and victims of sexual assault.” The motion to be discussed at Student Council also believes that, in order to “become a better avenue for support to students in need,” UCCSU must co-ordinate with “independent, expert bodies” to undergo training and develop a new, comprehensive approach to issues relating to “sexual assault, reproductive rights, sex work, et cetera.”
The next Student Council meeting was scheduled to take place on March 30th, in the midst of voting for the prospective UCCSU. However, an Emergency Meeting was called for Friday, March 19th at 6.15pm following the agreement of a necessary fifty council members. In a notice to students on Twitter, the UCC Student Council wished to remind that the meeting is “available for all students to attend and speak at, not just class representatives.”