In the final meeting of the Trustee Board for academic year 2007/2008 changes to the SSP presented by the Union media were accepted. These changes now explicitly allow comment to be published referring to the performance of any ICU Department while attempting to maintain protection and anonymity for its individual members of staff. This followed on from a perceived censorship of Felix after then ICU President, Stephen Brown, ruled that comments on the performance of the Finance Department were prohibited under the Staff/Student Protocol.
On closer inspection of the Code of Practice (it's a slow Summer for news) a significant omission appears to have been made. This could potentially allow for the performance and conduct of any individual member of 'Union Staff' to be discussed in public without breaching the current Staff/Student Protocol.
The omission relates to the description of the Union as an ?employer? and referring to 'Union staff'. Changes made during John Collins' Presidency meant that all permanent staff working in Imperial College Union, including the Sabbatical officers, are now employees of Imperial College, not Imperial College Union. Simply put, the Union is not an employer and there are no ?Union Staff?.
As with all things constitutional, the exact wording is open to interpretation: firstly by the President and ultimately by the Union Court. A simple solution to the problem would be to define ?Union Staff? as ?those staff who are employed by the College to work in the Union's Buildings or Services?. However, this could prove to be even more problematic for College Human Resources.
As staff employed by the College to work within the Union, ?Union Staff? are afforded protection under the SSP. The same is not true for other College employees with comments and interviews regarding their conduct and performance being considered fair game. This calls into question the justification that College uses for allowing a small fraction of their staff protection under the SSP while not providing the same for academics, commercial services or other Imperial College employees. Owing to this disadvantage and discrimination we should either be free to comment on all College Staff, regardless of where they work, or the SSP should be amended to afford all staff the same protection. If the latter becomes the case then the Union will be unable to comment on any member of the College, including the Rector, and its existence under the 1994 Education Act becomes dubious.