NUS President, Wes Streeting, has today released a statement accepting responsibility for blocking a fellow NUS Officer's email account ahead of an Extraordinary Conference to ratify NUS Reforms. The Black Student's Officer, Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy, discovered that her email and blackberry had been blocked by the President after she had circulated a statement against the reforms on a number of email lists.
The lists, compiled by Ribeiro-Addy, had included staff members of NUS and it's member student unions. It is NUS policy that staff should not be subject to or able to comment on the policy or political ramblings of the Union and Streeting made a decision to block the account after receiving complaints of this nature. However, Streeting did not make an attempt to contact the Black Student's Officer about the email before giving the instruction to close the accounts.
Supporters of Miss Ribeiro-Addy believe that it was an attempt by the Pro-reform President to restrict the circulation of the statement, which included support from respected campaigners and politicians such as Doreen Lawrence OBE, Poet and Novelist Benjamin Zephaniah and Labour MP Diane Abbott. Mr Streeting immediately responded to the email from Ribeiro-Addy by releasing an 'offical response' in support of the NUS Governance Review whch was received by students' unions that had not recieved the initial statement by the Black Student's Campaign.
The decision to block the email account and prevent the circulation of the statement is questionable, especially given the imminent gathering of an Extraordinary Conference to discuss reforms. Imperial College Union, no longer affiliated to the NUS, will not be attending the Conference tomorrow so it will be interesting to see whether the president's actions have damaged the reputation of the reformers and how much strength this will lend to the anti-reform campaign.