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Mullan Facing No Confidence

Sep 29 2008 22:47
Ashley Brown
The Afro-Caribbean society at King's is to bring a motion of no-confidence against their student union President.
The mob has calmed, but is still asking questions about Mullan's future (Photo: Katy Routh)

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:

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
NUS Black Students Officer, Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy

"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."

Changing Story

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.

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 comment which caused offence, from the original complaint (which differed from the quote given at the ACS meeting)

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?"

Changing Attack

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.

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Discussion about “Mullan Facing No Confidence”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Oct 02 2008 10:52

Chris posted the following on a Facebook group supporting him yesterday:

A short reply to the message sent out by the Chair of the ACS.

I will simply respond specifically to the 3 points raised:

1) Since everyone seems to be taken offence at a multitude of variations at what they have been told I have said, I have not felt the need to apologise for offence taken by people who have heard or read very twisted versions of what i have said. I think the people who should be apologising are those that are seeking to create problems and divisions where there were none, and have been preying on people's passion for equality. To stand up and deliberately exaserbate the situation by attributing to me inflammatory language that no-one else has claimed I used is quite frankly dangerous and the harm it has caused to the community at King's is inexcusable.

2)At APL, when i was told two people had been upset at what I said, I immedatiately expressed regret and asked that a message be passed on to the two complainants that I had of course never meant to cause any kind of offense, and apologised for their upset.

3) Since not even the two complainants were told of the final part of the adjuicators result, and since it was an optional, and confidential, activity to be caried out, and since they had emphatically cleared me of making racist remarks, and not upheld any complaint, I feel my statement was entirely accurate, and was as follows:

"The NUS have made clear that neither of the two complaints made against me have been upheld. It was also found that I had not intended to cause any offence, that I have co-operated fully with the NUS investigation, and that I expressed regret for any possible offence inadvertently caused. They have also noted that my question was not motivated by any racist agenda."

It should also be noted that I wasn't 'banned from NUS events until [I have] attended equal opportunities training'. but that I 'would benefit from training related to the "widening participation" agenda' and should partake in some before going to the next NUS non-democratic event.

I should also make clear that I had offered to meet with the leaders of the facebook group, to listen to their concerns and to answer their questions. It also feels like some people have decided to get rid of me regardless, when the investigation was ongoing, they were waiting for the outcome of it, when that came back saying I did not make racist comments, they dennounced it. It is clear that they are no longer concerned with actually tackling the issues, but instead attacking a person.

Oct 02 2008 13:06

What makes me sad, that even if this no confidence motion fails (which it should, being a farce from the outset), it will not be the end of this sorry saga.

Is it not time to deal directly with the bullying that continues to hound Mr Mullan- we don't accept it in primary schools for crying out loud, why is it ok at Universities?

3. Anon   
Oct 02 2008 14:31

So in summary: Bellavia lied, and broke the rules, the nus cleared him, jennifer larbie has started lying to build up more anger, some people want to kick him out just becasue, and the poor sod is probably a wreck. This is worse than primary school bullying, this is serial targeted abuse that is based on racisim. Racisim that a white guy must be racist if he says something that a non-white person finds offensive.


Oct 03 2008 11:05

c.f. The case of Isis and Richard Riordan, in Freakonomics and also on Wikipedia (

Essentially a little girl called Isis met the California Secretary of Education. He claimed her name meant "dirty, stupid girl*". Several black assembleymen complained, notably Mervyn Bymally of Compton, who said, "[Isis is] a little African-American girl. Would he have done that to a white girl?"

Unfortunately it turned out that Isis was actually white. All complaints were dropped. Bellavia will surely not make the same mistake and allow the truth to get in the way of a nice little political agenda, especially as she's riding under the banner of 'equality'.

*I believe this was a misguided joke based on the less-than-salubrious Egyptian goddess.

Oct 03 2008 12:14

Whatever happened to discretion? Could they not have had a word with him?

Oct 03 2008 12:28

The Black Students Officer must be seen to be a strong leader for black students. As we all know, the best way to demonstrate what a great leader you are is to persecute people who dare to offend you (or, in some areas, just stab them).

How else can black students feel happy with their own existence if they aren't able to abuse white people the way their ancestors were abused?

Oct 03 2008 13:32

That should of course have been surrounded by <sarcasm></sarcasm> markers.

8. si   
Oct 03 2008 22:04

its a sad world where sarcasm has to be highlighted by markers.

9. @ si   
Oct 04 2008 11:03

<sarcasm> i agree <sarcasm>

Oct 05 2008 10:58

I'm not sure I agree with you on that point si. It's a common problem that the internet lacks any tone as a print medium, yet lends itself to a conversational style of writing. That's why we have emoticons.

Dec 19 2008 15:44

I voted for him the first time round and by damn I'd vote for him if he stood again!

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See Also

  1. The Pot that Called the Kettle Black
    19 Sep 08 | Random Rant
  2. A Statement from Chris Mullan
    10 Sep 08 | Widening Participation
  3. Mullan Cleared by the NUS, Suspended by KCLSU
    10 Sep 08 | News

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