King's President Chris Mullan is facing renewed pressure this week, after King's Afro-Carribean society expressed its intention to bring a motion of no-confidence if the King's trustee board leave him in place following their investigation. A petition for a general meeting to discuss it has already begun circling, however it must receive around 1,000 signatures to be valid.
The chair of King's ACS organised a meeting last week, which was billed as an open forum where King's students could discuss their feelings about Mullan's behaviour. The event was a more civilised affair than the witch-hunt sparked by the NUS Black Students Officer, who admitted at the meeting to having broken the rules regarding the NUS investigation. When asked why she had gone public with the allegations while an investigation was taking place, she responded:
"I didn't have any problem separating myself off from the NUS. Me going public with what 100 people heard said is for me not breaching a process. The investigation procedure is flawed, and the people accused took too long to hand in their submissions. It took three hours to evict the people concerned from the room. NUS procedures were not followed on the day, so why should I have any faith in them. I was told that the investigation would take two weeks, and I thought that was too long; for me no long investigation was required. It has now taken 6 weeks."
The President of Birmingham University Guild of Students recounted what she believed she had heard the King's President say during the NUS event which started the affair. The Active Political Leadership event features a role-playing exercise with a university, "Fibchester", providing the setting for a series of tasks. These include dealing with confrontations as a way of preparing sabbatical officers for their coming year.
On this occasion Fibchester was in an area with a large proportion of ethnic minorities and the audience were able to ask questions of the Vice Chancellor, played by NUS President Wes Streeting. At the ACS meeting the BUGS President claimed the following was said:
"With reference to widening the participation of black students. Do you think this a good idea? Don't you think we should introduce metal detectors because of gun and knife crime. This is socially undesirable."
However, this account differs from her original complaint to the NUS, which gave the quote as:
"Vice Chancellor, you are aware of the implications in attracting more students from the local community, such as increased knife crime. Is this really desirable?"
The argument has now moved from whether the suspended King's President made racist comments to his behaviour in the aftermath. The issue of whether the comments were racist has been recognised as subjective, however growing numbers seem to agree they were offsensive and Mullan's subsequent have been unhelpful.
In an email circulated to members of the anti-Mullan Facebook group states:
"We acknowledge that the issue of racism is a subjective topic. However the behaviour of Chris towards this incident is clear for all to see.
- Chris Mullan has not acknowledged that his comments (intentional or not) could be interpreted in a manner that could cause offence.
- Chris Mullan has not apologised out-right for the offence that was caused to the original students that complained and to the student body of King's College London for bringing our university in to disrepute.
- Chris Mullan has been dishonest in regards to the outcome of the investigation against him. He has released a statement via several publications claiming that he was completely cleared despite the fact that he has clearly been told he must receive Equality Opportunities training before he may attend further non-democratic NUS events.
- Chris Mullan has not acknowledged that his complaints (sic) could have caused offence"
Mullan's statement indicated that he had "expressed regret" during the investigation, however it also failed to mention that while the complaint of racism was not upheld, he will not be allowed to attend further non-democratic NUS events until he has attended "training relating to the 'widening participation' agenda". In a public statement NUS President Wes Streeting finally announced the results of the two complaints arising from the NUS "Active Political Leadership" training, with the findings against Mullan as above. The complaint against Craig Cox, alleged to have held up a "Bring Back Slavery" sign, was upheld even after appeal and he has been banned from all non-democratic NUS events.