There’s been a lot written in the media and online about the recent LMSS story. Understandably lots of you have questions about why we acted and what it all means going forward. Here are a few of the most common questions:
What does de-ratification mean?
LMSS are no longer a recognised society of the Guild or the University. This decision was made jointly by our Board of Trustees and the University. As a result they no longer have access to Guild or University resources.
We recognise some of the valuable charitable and academic activity that LMSS undertook and so we are now proactively working with the medical school and students to establish a new society that is inclusive and reflects our values in the same way all of our other Guild societies do.
There are a number of associated societies, including Artefacts, that we are looking forward to registering as separate societies. It’s our hope that they will be able to continue their valuable activities.
The Smoker was over 12 months ago – why is this happening now?
Following the release of the proposed 2014 Smoker script concerns were raised surrounding some LMSS activity. As a result the Guild and University launched a joint investigation into all of the society’s activity. The investigation report was released in March 2015, outlining a number of recommendations for improvement. Since then, the Guild has sought to work with LMSS to create an action plan detailing how these recommendations will be implemented. Despite all this work, by late 2015 there were unfortunately still significant parts of the action plan not being addressed. Given over a year had passed we now felt we had no alternative but to take serious measures and de-ratify the society. This was not a decision that was taken lightly or quickly.
Allegations have been made against the Guild surrounding intimidation, bullying and harassment. We fully refute these allegations and are confident that we have acted in a professional manner throughout the investigation and subsequent decisions.
To clarify matters, the Guild does not have powers to refer students to fitness to practice as this is a process run by the University.
Why it is any of the Guild’s business if they hold a Men’s and Women’s dinner?
There are a number of reasons why we became involved in these events. Firstly, inclusivity is a key value we hold and one our 200 societies are happy to uphold, we believe all our activity should be open to all regardless of gender, race, and sexuality to name just a few. We did not ask anything of LMSS that we don’t ask of our other societies.
Secondly, following the release of the Equality and Human Rights Commission guidance on gender segregation for universities and students’ unions, the Guild sought specific legal advice on the LMSS dinners, so we could comply with the law while facilitating society activity. Following this advice, the Guild and the University had to advise LMSS that they should not hold separate Men’s and Ladies’ Dinners. If a complaint was made surrounding these events it would be the Guild, not LMSS, held accountable.
The Guild met with LMSS and advised them that if they felt the nature of their dinners exempted them from the legislation, we would be willing to discuss that and seek further advice if necessary. Subsequently LMSS advised us that the events were not gender segregated, and so we did not explore the possibility of exemptions further. Unfortunately, despite the reassurances that the events were not gender segregated, concerns were raised that the nature of the events had not changed from previous years.
There are certain exemptions to gender segregation surrounding religion and sport provision that are not subject to equality law and therefore can continue to go ahead. Where there is justification for positive action events can also be gender segregated. For example, as women are traditionally underrepresented in Guild elections and in Student Representative Officer positions, the Guild runs specific training sessions for women, aimed at increasing participation. These sessions are considered positive action, put in place to address a specific inequality. It is our hope that, in time, there will not be a need for such sessions.
Why does the Guild need LMSS’ money?
LMSS are not a separate legal entity to the Guild and, as a society registered with the Guild, they currently fall under the financial responsibility of the Guild. As a registered charity we have a duty to comply with our charitable objects, section 3 of our Articles, and ensure that all money, including societies’ money, is spent on furthering these aims. In order to do this we need oversight of these finances to ensure we are meeting our legal requirements. Firstly, so that external bodies such as our auditors and the University can have oversight and secondly so that we can be transparent with our members about how we spend the Guilds money.
All of our other societies use the Guild system to administer their finances and we required the LMSS to do the same but they did not wish to.
What about all of the great things LMSS do?
It is unfortunate that a view has arisen that the Guild is against the LMSS. The Guild recognises the valuable work that LMSS has carried out over the years and the value that medical students place on this. Unfortunately, this excellent activity does not mitigate subsequent investigation findings and concerns surrounding the society’s activity.
We are working closely with the Medical School to establish a new society and to ensure the continuation of the academic support for all medical students.
What is the no confidence petition?
If students are dissatisfied with the actions of a trustee of the Guild, and wish them to be removed from their post one way they can take action is to gather enough signatures to make us hold an all student vote of no confidence
Following the decision to de-ratify LMSS a petition was launched demanding the Guild hold a vote of no confidence in the Guild President.
In order for the vote of no confidence to go ahead 3% of eligible students must sign a petition calling for the vote. Currently this is 716 signatures.
If the petition reaches this threshold an all student vote is held
Our Articles outline that in order for the all student vote of no confidence to be successful:
What about the other 200 societies?
The Guild strongly believes we treat all our societies equally. They have access to the same resources and are subject to the same rules and procedures. All of our societies want to uphold the values of the Guild and act as ambassadors of the Guild and tell us that they gain great experiences whilst being active in their societies.
We are working with associated LMSS societies to register them as separate Guild Societies. We are looking forward to welcoming a new Medical Society and working alongside the Medical School to ensure that medical students still have access to amazing opportunities.