OUSA Demands Proctor and Campus Watch Be Stripped of All Disciplinary Powers For Off-Campus Actions

OUSA Demands Proctor and Campus Watch Be Stripped of All Disciplinary Powers For Off-Campus Actions

This was written before the protest but we assume it was lit

After political infighting and threats of no confidence, OUSA came together last week and dramatically voted to both support the Proctor Protest and to demand that all off-campus disciplinary powers of the Proctor and of Campus Watch be removed. 

Critic went to print on Thursday, so we don’t know what went down at the Friday protest, but here’s a rundown of the intense shit that led up to the best OUSA Exec meeting ever. 

Critic broke the Proctor BongShell story Monday morning. As other media started jumping on the story and student outrage swelled online, Josh Smythe, OUSA Re-Creation Officer, started a “Proctor Protest” event on Facebook, which called for Dave Scott to sign a “Code of Proctor Conduct,” and launched a change.org petition calling for his resignation. As of Thursday, the protest had a thousand people going on Facebook and 2.2 thousand interested, and the petition had 2152 signatures.

Josh signed the petition as “Josh Smythe, OUSA Re-Creation Officer,” and spoke to several media outlets about it, which is against the OUSA policy that only the President can make comment to the media. 

 All eyes (ok, maybe not all eyes) were on OUSA to see whether they would jump on this protest and use the largest student mobilisation in a decade to affect some real change. 

Wednesday’s OUSA Exec meeting was a shitshow. The Exec voted not to support the Protest because they felt it personally attacked the Proctor and they weren’t comfortable calling for his resignation. 

Josh offered to remove the petition entirely and allow OUSA to control the message of the protest, including the demands presented to the Proctor, but the Exec still held reservations. Some felt it was a matter between the flatmates and the Proctor, and some felt that the messaging had already become too negative.

The exec went to a vote, with 5-4 against the protest. James Heath, Tiana Mihaere, Dermot Frengley, and Josh were the four votes in favour, and Umi Asaka abstained. Caitlin Barlow-Groome did not vote, as she was the chair of the meeting.

“I wonder whether this comes across as a weak response from OUSA,” said James. 

This wasn’t the end of the drama at that meeting. Tiana said that Josh shouldn’t have spoken to the media and thought he owed Caitlin an apology. “I do not trust you to speak on my behalf,” she said. 

Caitlin told Josh “I’m personally fucked off with you” and demanded three things as reparations for his actions: a public apology to the Exec, a public apology to the Proctor, and the withdrawal of his OUSA title from the petition. She then said that if Josh did not meet these demands in 24 hours, she would take him to a vote of no confidence to remove him from his role.

Josh said “Thank you for your comments” and left. Half an hour later he sent an email to the Exec and Critic saying that he would not submit to her demands and that if they brought a motion of no confidence against him, he would retaliate by doing the same to every person who voted against him. “My breathas will turn out and they will be super mad,” he said.

Despite Critic expecting a bloodbath the next day, overnight both sides calmed down. The meeting the next day was massive. Normally OUSA meetings attract three people to watch. 150 people showed up at the meeting, so many that OUSA had to move the meeting to the gym on the top floor of Clubs and Socs to fit everyone in. It was like a throwback to the 1970s when everyone cared. 

After some back and forward, Josh and Caitlin managed to put their egos aside and compromised. Caitlin withdrew the demand to apologise to the Proctor and Josh apologised to the Exec and promised to edit the petition to remove his OUSA title. Caitlin accepted his apology. 

The Exec then re-discussed supporting the Protest. Josh said that he would make it explicit that the protest was not personal and that they would “accept that [the Proctor] has humbled himself and give him a second chance. However, we will still submit the Code of Proctor Conduct.” He also said that he thought the protest could easily adjust slightly as “we are a modular and nimble people”.  

Abigail still had reservations that the protest was too personal, but the rest of the exec appeared to have changed their minds. They voted 9-1 to support the protest. 

James and Caitlin then brought up going further than the scope of the protest and using the power of student outrage to push for real change. They proposed changing the University’s policies to strip the Proctor and Campus Watch of all disciplinary powers outside of campus, which, if successful, would be a massive deal.  

Despite a brief discussion on whether this would mean that students would be open to the “full force of the police,” the exec voted to unanimously support the motion calling for the disciplinary powers to be removed. 

After the meeting Caitlin spoke to Critic and said she would be at the protest and that she was looking forward to it. She also said that she thought the call for powers to be removed was “achievable” and that she would start fighting for it immediately.  “My breathas will turn out and they will be super mad,” 


This article first appeared in Issue 25, 2018.
Posted 1:29am Friday 28th September 2018 by Charlie O’Mannin.