Communication Breakdown: SNARC, the KSU and the Wall of Women

On Dec. 4, the King’s Students’ Union (KSU) used the “This Week At King’s” (TWAK) mailing list to send out a membership advisory (to those students who are TWAK subscribers) explaining why the Wall of Women would not go up in the Wardroom.

Four hours later, Students Advocating Representative Curricula (SNARC), the society behind the Wall of Women project, put out their own statement on Facebook and Twitter.

These online actions represent the culmination of months of miscommunications between both parties, bylaw and operations policy violations by the KSU. They also represent the confusion at the last two council meetings.

The Wall of Women’s demise this semester provides insight into a toxic culture that exists on this campus: fear of the social consequences that come from criticizing, or misunderstanding, what it means to be “socially just,” and an inability to have conversations about social justice where mistakes are allowed to be made.

At King’s, the KSU has the loudest voice in deciding what social justice means.

“King’s is an incredibly small school, and I’ve noticed in the past that there’s this kind of tendency to reprimand people who don’t agree with the party line of the KSU,” says Rachel Colquhoun.

Colquhoun is on SNARC’s executive team, and reinstating the Wall of Women was her top priority for the society this year.

The Wall of Women was a multi-society effort, put up in the Wardroom in 2014. It was a collection of photographs and portraits of women involved with King’s to counter the representations of men that dominate the rest of the campus. The wall was taken down because of Wardroom renovations in the summer of 2016. SNARC was born out of the original Wall of Women project. 

For a reinstated wall, SNARC set criteria: women who were “firsts” and “game-changers.” They also decided that 50 per cent of the wall would feature BIPOC (black, Indigenous and people of colour) women.

Colquhoun’s quest to put the wall back up exposed conflict between the KSU executive and the student body, and led her to file a formal complaint against the union.

A stack of documents sifted through for this article.

A stack of documents sifted through for this article.

8,487-word complaint

Colquhoun’s complaint, submitted on Nov. 20, 2017, outlines unprofessional KSU conduct and alleges bylaw violations by members of the executive.

The KSU executive consists of the president, the student life vice president (SLVP), the external vice president (EVP), the financial vice president (FVP) and the communications vice president (CVP). They also make up the executive committee, a body within the KSU.

Colquhoun’s complaint is over 8,000 words and chronicles every interaction between the KSU and SNARC over this past semester. To understand how relations between these two groups of students got to the point of rampant rumours and mass statements, the complaint needs to be deconstructed.

The KSU’s initial stance

On July 17, 2017, SNARC received an email from Brennan McCracken, president of the KSU. McCracken wrote that “it would be wonderful to see the rad and beautiful Wall of Women portraits back up…it’s an incredible student project that perfectly gestures to the Wardroom being a bar that is collectively owned/operated by students and that, by virtue of this, exists as a politically charged space.”

He added that “this is 100% a SnARC project,” and that if more work was required from the union, SNARC should get in touch with the SLVP, Lianne Xiao.

When SNARC replied on Sept. 20, they wrote that they would keep Xiao informed, and “would like to meet with advancement asap, as the (Wall of Women) birthday is in November, and in an ideal world it would be great to have something in the works by then.”

SNARC was meeting with advancement because the advancement office was going to pay for frames for the Wall of Women. Advancement wanted the Wall of Women’s aesthetic to match a newly renovated—and donor-funded—Wardroom, according to advancement director Adriane Abbott.

McCracken says SNARC’s Sept. 20 email indicated to him that they were interested in involving the KSU in conversations about the Wall of Women. “Because I hadn’t heard anything further about specific meetings or specific work being done on the project, I was operating under the assumption that that was not happening,” he says.

Colquhoun made the opposite assumption. In her formal complaint, she wrote that SNARC “never received a reply to our Sept. 20th email, leading us to believe that there were no issues with the project.”

She kept working on the Wall of Women—meeting with advancement, doing research at the archives, operating on the understanding that this was “100% a SnARC project.”

Oct. 4 meeting

On Oct. 4, 2017, Colquhoun met with Xiao. According to Colquhoun, she intended to discuss what the new community standards for the Wardroom might be. After Wu Tang Night last year, the KSU committed to drafting new guidelines for the Wardroom space. SNARC was planning a Wardy night to celebrate the end of their upcoming annual conference in January, a separate event from the Wall of Women. They hoped to bring in a BIPOC artist and wanted to talk about that.  

Colquhoun, in her complaint, writes that talking about Wu Tang Night and race is a “touchy subject;” for her own comfort she requested to have the discussion in private.

That request was denied. Xiao, about the meeting, says she “had no idea what that conversation was going to be about.” Later, she mentions that she had a feeling it would be about equity issues and that conversations about equity can become emotional.

“It’s obviously a hard thing to talk about because conversations about marginalized voices come up with a lot of feelings. Often those emotions are directed at the person of colour, that’s a common occurrence,” she says. As a person of colour, Xiao held the meeting in the public front office of the KSU for her own safety and comfort.

According to Colquhoun, the conversation quickly moved from the Wardroom community standards to talking about SNARC as a society, how SNARC could operate within an anti-oppressive framework, the Wall of Women, whiteness, making the Wardy a safe space on campus and how SNARC could be more inclusive with an all-white executive. Xiao agrees that they covered a wide range of topics. Michaela Sam, the KSU’s services and campaigns coordinator (SCC), also became involved in the conversation.

After the meeting, Colquhoun began to hear about it on campus. She heard that Xiao’s “identity as a racialized student made the conversation difficult because of the nature of the issues we had discussed.”

“It was frustrating to go through that time period hearing about the meeting vaguely, but never hearing from Lianne herself what the issue was,” Colquhoun recalls. These are difficult conversations to have.

In the response to Colquhoun’s complaint, the chair of the KSU wrote that Xiao felt “unable to reach out to SNARC to discuss her feelings regarding some of the aspects of (the) meeting on October 4.”

At a later meeting between the SNARC executive, Xiao and Sam, Colquhoun asked why her request to hold the Oct. 4 meeting in private was denied. First, she says Sam told her that no one else had been around, so Xiao had to stay in the front office. Colquhoun said that wasn’t true, there were other people in the room. McCracken confirms that he was in the front office for the entirety of the meeting.

Then, Colquhoun was told that Xiao had heard concerns from a student about SNARC not being an intersectional society, which made Xiao uncomfortable and led her to want to hold the meeting in a public space. According to Xiao, “lots of students have concerns about a lot of societies on campus, so I hear a variety of things here or there.” She adds that no formal complaints had been heard about SNARC.

McCracken says that “if we do hear things about societies we usually discuss those and take those to the society.” He too says that the KSU hadn’t discussed any complaints about SNARC as an executive or at council.

Later in my conversation with Xiao, Xiao said she had heard concerns from students about “who’s being represented on the wall, and how they are being chosen.” When asked if SNARC was aware of those complaints, she said: “we keep them private as per people’s requests.”

The changing answers bothered Colquhoun. In her complaint, she writes that “the constant switch of answers discredits the KSU’s pledge to be honest and transparent with its constituents. I don’t think the KSU has been honest with me or SNARC throughout this entire experience. I no longer trust the KSU to be honest and transparent.”

A new KSU position

The Oct. 4 meeting marks a shift in the KSU’s attitude towards the Wall of Women. The next day, SNARC received an email from McCracken about Colquhoun’s meeting with Xiao. He wrote that the KSU hadn’t heard about the Wall of Women project since the summer, and that SNARC should “include myself and Lianne in any future communication with the Advancement Office. Does that sound good?”

To Colquhoun, it didn’t sound good. SNARC replied saying that they didn’t “see the necessity in having the KSU involved in the initiation of this project.” They were still operating under the assumption that the Wall of Women was “100% a SnARC project.” They didn’t hear back from McCracken, and continued work on the Wall of Women.

“Why should I as a society have to go to the KSU at every point and explain what I’m doing?” Colquhoun wonders.

McCracken says that the intent behind his email was to communicate to SNARC that, because the Wardroom is a collectively owned space, “it’s within (the KSU’s) jurisdiction to be involved in that conversation.” He says that increasing KSU involvement in the Wall of Women was mandatory at that point, not an option, as SNARC understood it to be.

Throughout the Wall of Women saga, SNARC and the KSU have consistently drawn opposite conclusions from the same emails and conversations. Yet miscommunications weren’t the reason behind the Wall of Women shutdown, according to McCracken.


Hitler and Cornwallis

On Nov. 6, Colquhoun met with Jenn Nowoselski, the KSU’s hospitalities coordinator, and Paisley Conrad, the Wardroom’s general manager. At this point, the Wardroom had been booked for the Wall of Women birthday party on Nov. 24. According to Colquhoun, SNARC was still looking to find out about the Wardy’s community standards for their planned January 2018 Wardy night. McCracken directed them to Nowoselski, and a meeting was set up.

Once again, the meeting veered off course and ended up being about the Wall of Women. According to Colquhoun, it quickly became clear that Nowoselski didn’t think the project was a good idea. Colquhoun says Nowoselski thought the wall could make the Wardroom an unsafe space for students.

“I asked her to explain,” says Colquhoun. “She told me to imagine that they put a portrait of Hitler up on the Wardroom wall, that that would make people uncomfortable. I said those weren’t comparable things. The follow up was, okay, what if we put up a statue of Cornwallis in the Wardroom…I asked what this meant, and Jenn said the Wall of Women couldn’t go up in the Wardroom.”

Nowoselski is a union staff person, and when contacted for an interview she directed me to her supervisor, McCracken, who couldn’t explain the context behind the Hitler and Cornwallis comments.

In the response to Colquhoun’s complaint, the chair writes that McCracken acknowledged “that the Hospitalities Coordinator regrets and apologizes for the language and specific examples that she used.”

It was Nowoselski who shut down the Wall of Women. According to McCracken, the aesthetics of the Wardroom are within her jurisdiction. In the KSU operations policy, where the hospitalities coordinator’s responsibilities are outlined, there’s no mention of the physical Wardroom space. The clause that most closely relates to Nowoselski’s involvement in the Wall of Women is her duty to “assist in the planning and implementation of special events taking place in the bar or under the liquor license(s).”

The meeting with Nowoselski was where SNARC first heard about problems with the Wall of Women, including perpetuation of power structures.

McCracken expands on Nowoselski’s concerns, saying that “there are questions of tokenization, and there are also questions about the ways in which a Wall of Women, as opposed to a wall of men, does uphold a gender binary that may erase some voices who don’t identify as men or women.”

He went on to state that “everything that I said to my knowledge has been communicated to the society.” The emails between SNARC and the KSU don’t support that statement. Not until the mass email to the student body did SNARC hear anything from the KSU about specific problems with the Wall of Women.

The KSU never communicated to SNARC that the Wall of Women couldn’t go up. Instead, McCracken sent an email to the advancement office, which Colquhoun was told about. That email focused on a lack of communication as a reason for shutting down the wall. This despite McCracken’s insistence that miscommunications played no part in the decision.

SNARCon funding request

Though the Wall of Women was no longer going up in the Wardroom, SNARC continued to work on another major project: SNARCon, their annual winter semester conference.

On Nov. 14, Colquhoun submitted a funding request to Zoe Brimacombe, the KSU’s financial vice president. The request was for $1,065.00, to pay the SNARCon coordinators and offer honoraria and drink tickets for the panelists, presenters and Wardroom performer.

When funding requests are submitted on time, KSU protocol is that they end up on the agenda for the next council meeting. SNARC’s request wasn’t late, and was supposed to be on the Nov. 19 council agenda.

Brimacombe was going to be out of town for that council meeting, so she emailed Colquhoun and asked if it was okay for the funding request to be postponed to next council, on Dec. 3.

Colquhoun said she’d rather that didn’t happen, but Brimacombe wrote back that “this funding request will need to wait until next council. It will be on the agenda for December 3rd.”

That’s not what happened. The request did end up on the Nov. 19 agenda, with no warning for SNARC. It was then immediately debated in camera for 28 minutes, meaning that no minutes were taken and only the executive, councillors and the chair were present. During this time, Drew Guyan, one of the SNARCon coordinators, was able to rush to the meeting.

Once out of camera, the live blog of the meeting describes confusion about how the funding request ended up on the agenda, without Cassie Hayward’s knowledge. Hayward is the CVP; she puts together the agenda, minutes from the previous meeting and executive reports. Those documents are then sent to Sam, the SCC, as a “two-step editing process,” says McCracken. Sam sends the agenda to councillors and prints off copies to bring to meetings.

The council live blog from Nov. 19 states that “Cassie is apologizing for her lack of diligence with the agenda. (The funding request) was put on the agenda without her knowing.” Later, “Lianne says Zoe put the item on the Agenda.”

According to Xiao, Brimacombe failed to recognize that because the request came in on time, it would be put on the upcoming agenda. So Brimacombe sent the request in to Sam, the SCC, and forgot to tell Hayward.

Brimacombe says she has no responsibility over which agenda funding requests are put on, it’s “always just the one after they get submitted.” The request was always going to be on the Nov. 19 agenda, and it was Brimacombe’s understanding that it would then be tabled until the Dec. 3 meeting.

“That had been my intention, that’s what I communicated to the society,” she says. In an email to SNARC following the confusion at council, Brimacombe reiterated that it was her “understanding that the request would be postponed to December 3rd, as I had communicated.”

SNARC had no idea their request would be on the Nov. 19 agenda. In her email to SNARC after the council meeting, Brimacombe acknowledges that it’s “important that societies be aware ahead of time when their funding will be debated.”

Brimacombe explains that she sent the request in late because she was away and had overlooked it in her email. “It was put on the agenda like any other motion…the motion was just added at the last minute,” she recalls. Not by Hayward, however, who had compiled the agenda without the funding request on it.

When asked if someone other than Hayward had added the motion to the agenda, Brimacombe said, “I don’t have a clear answer for you.”

At the next council meeting, on Dec. 3, Brimacombe addressed the confusion. The live blog states that Brimacombe “sent the motion to the editor of the agenda and forgot to tell the CVP.”

Hayward wasn’t able to grant an interview request and directed me to McCracken instead.

The funding request was passed at the Nov. 19 meeting, without a recommendation from finance committee. As Brimacombe thought it would be dealt with at the Dec. 3 meeting, “there hadn’t been a robust conversation about it at finance committee,” she says.

According to KSU operations policy, “Finance Committee is charged with reviewing all King’s Students’ Union society funding.”

The Nov. 19 council meeting demonstrates dismal communication between paid, elected officials, and from those same officials to a society within the student body. It appears that Hayward had no idea who put SNARC’s funding request on the agenda, while Xiao knew that it was Sam, and Brimacombe understood that it was “the editor of the agenda.”

The next day, Colquhoun filed her formal complaint.

(Photo: Isabel Ruitenbeek)

(Photo: Isabel Ruitenbeek)

Chair’s ruling and outdated bylaws

In her complaint, Colquhoun details her perspective on these events, events that led her to “believe that the KSU has unfairly treated and targeted SNARC and myself.”

She describes feeling pressure to keep quiet.

“When I decided to file the complaint, people were like ‘don’t do it,’” she recalls. “There are social consequences on this campus for disagreeing with the KSU, or what is the loudest view.”

Throughout the complaint, Colquhoun refers to bylaws that she alleges were broken by the KSU executive. The chair of the union, Charlotte Sullivan, in her response to Colquhoun’s complaint, notes that “the Bylaws and Operations Policy linked on the KSU Website do not reflect amendments that have been made to them over the past few years.”

It’s the chair’s responsibility to interpret bylaws and deal with formal complaints made against the union.

In other words, Colquhoun was using outdated bylaws to support the claims in her complaint. At council on Dec. 3, Hayward reported that she’d updated the bylaws and operations policy online, and the differences between the old and new versions are stark. Specifically, the sections that refer to the responsibilities of union staff people—the hospitalities coordinator and the SCC.

Colquhoun says the fact that the bylaws weren’t kept up to date put her in a difficult position. “I think I have access to these documents that I can use to protect myself, but I don’t,” she explains.

McCracken acknowledges that it’s “unfortunate” that students haven’t had access to the correct governing documents for the KSU, “especially if those discrepancies did cause confusion over the past number of months.”

The bylaws were updated by the CVP after Sullivan noticed the problem. According to those same bylaws, it’s the duty of the CVP “to ensure that accurate, complete and updated information concerning Union activities is placed on appropriate bulletin boards and on the Union website.”

It’s also the president’s responsibility to “enforce a due observation of these Bylaws.”

Sullivan’s response to Colquhoun’s complaint finds only one bylaw that was specifically violated: bylaw 3.4h, the SLVP’s responsibility to “ensure clear lines of communication between the Executive and all societies and their officers.”

But Sullivan notes that the miscommunications weren’t “entirely the fault of one member of the executive.” She writes that the president and FVP also failed to communicate clearly with SNARC.

Colquhoun agrees. “I don’t think that any one person is at fault,” she says. “I think the union, the executive of the union, are at fault for their actions.”

According to KSU operations policy, union executives and councillors can be impeached for not “performing their constitutional duties, bringing disrepute to the Union, or breach of Bylaws.”

The chair also acknowledges that Colquhoun’s rights, “as affirmed by the Founding Provisions of the KSU, were violated.” Those rights are listed in the KSU bylaws, and include “the right to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Upon receiving Colquhoun’s complaint, the KSU contacted Graham McGillivray, their lawyer. McCracken wouldn’t say why, only that it has to do with staff relations and human resources that he’s obliged to keep confidential.

When I called McGillivray and introduced myself as a student journalist from King’s, he said he had no comment and ended the call before I could explain what I was calling about.

Council Dec. 3

On Dec. 3, Colquhoun went to the KSU council meeting to demand an apology from the union for the violation of bylaw 3.4h.

She submitted a motion “that the KSU apologize to Rachel Colquhoun and SNARC for a violation of Bylaw 3.4h.”

The executive voiced concerns about the motion. They argued that bylaw 3.4h falls under the responsibility of the SLVP, and it wasn’t exclusively her fault.

“I’m the only racialized person on this executive team,” says Xiao. “That’s a big identity that I feel, and in my position I can’t separate my SLVP identity and my racialized identity.” She was concerned that the bylaw violation targeted her job description specifically.

The live blog states that Xiao spoke about how, as a racialized woman, the motion was inappropriate and would affect her for the rest of her life. She said that it’s hypocritical for the KSU to pass motions in support of Masuma Khan, and then target their own racialized students.

The fact remains that a bylaw was violated.

Councillors Cedric Blais and Daniel Whitten spoke in favour of the motion, saying that it should be possible to make an apology while acknowledging that not only Xiao was at fault.

Brimacombe proposed an amendment to the motion: that the KSU apologize to Rachel Colquhoun and SNARC for miscommunication. This was eventually passed, but only after a heated discussion.

“What the minutes don’t capture and what the live blog doesn’t capture is how intense that room was,” says Julia-Simone Rutgers, a KSU councillor who was at the meeting. Councillors are a step down from the executive on the KSU hierarchy.

Rutgers says that though the bylaw violation did put the blame on Xiao, and it wasn’t only Xiao’s fault, that “doesn’t mean that the only thing that happened was some vague miscommunications.”

Rutgers submitted her own amendment to Colquhoun’s motion, that “the executive committee issue an apology to Rachel and SNARC for the chair’s ruling.” In her opinion, this was a way to apologize for the bylaw violation without blaming Xiao.

After a discussion that ranged from Masuma Khan to Xiao’s future job opportunities to whether bylaws are a colonial construct, Rutgers’ amendment failed.

McCracken had the last word. The live blog reads: “Brennan is surprised that we are still having this conversation. We cannot pass this motion. Wants to acknowledge that so many of these conversations have been about equity work on campus. Can’t believe that accountability is more important than equity work on campus.”

The choice came down to accountability or equity—not both. Essentially, Rutgers’ amendment was painted as being racist towards Xiao.

“As a racialized woman, it was so damaging being in that room,” says Rutgers.

“[The KSU executive is] manipulating the structure of the bylaws to convince us that it’s unethical and in fact racist to tell them they’ve broken bylaws. Which was absolutely freaky,” she adds.

Colquhoun agrees. “I think the KSU forgets that it’s a power structure on this campus,” she says. “I’m very shocked that the KSU thinks that they can just ignore their own bylaws.”

Not an isolated event

The Wall of Women isn’t the first time issues of transparency and miscommunication have been raised within the KSU.

“There’s been a trend—people who are naysayers about the union, people who have critiques or challenges to the union get shot down. There’s not that willingness for transparency and openness and humility about mistakes that were made,” says Rutgers.

In the 2016-17 report of the chair, Sullivan, who was chair last year as well as this year, wrote about missing minutes. The minutes in question were from the fall 2015 KSU general meeting. According to Sullivan, they were missing, then found and passed at a later general meeting.

Sullivan goes on to write that she was approached, in December 2016, by a member of the KSU executive. “The person who approached me told me that the minutes had actually been written by the President (then Aidan McNally), the Services and Campaigns Coordinator (Michaela Sam), and other members of the executive using informal notes taken at the GM, live tweets from the Watch and what folks who’d been at the meeting could remember.”

Most troubling was that, when they were passed, the minutes were presented “as what one would normally expect KSU minutes to look like.” Sullivan writes that “we could have been more transparent with our membership,” and that she was “misled about this decision for a few months.”

She also describes a separate instance of poor communication between the executive committee and bylaw review committee last year, concluding that “the issues I faced in my position this year mostly revolved around failures in communication.”

The chair’s report was presented at the KSU’s spring general meeting last year. After an in camera session during the first council meeting this year, on Sept. 17, 2017, McCracken moved to strike the chair’s report from the minutes of the spring general meeting. His motion passed, meaning that Sullivan’s report, and its critique of communication within the union, is no longer a part of the KSU’s public record.

Students react

If you’ve made it this far, here we are: the Wall of Women isn’t going up in the Wardroom and the KSU executive sent out a mass email explaining why.

In the email, they write that the original Wall of Women didn’t make the Wardroom a safer space for everyone.

“Racialized women were only represented in a token way, and Indigenous women were not represented at all…we raised these issues when we were informed that there was a hope to reinstall the project.”

Colquhoun was floored by the email. “I had never heard the majority of what was in that email. They didn’t discuss it with us,” she says. Power structures weren’t mentioned until her meeting with Nowoselski, and never by the KSU. SNARC, she says, had talked about how the old wall was very white. Their solution was to have the new wall feature an equal number of white and BIPOC women.

Clearly, the problems that the KSU brought up in their email are valid. Most would agree that issues of tokenization are real at King’s, and marginalized voices do go unheard. Maybe splitting the wall fifty-fifty between white and BIPOC women isn’t the right solution to those issues.

But, says Rutgers, the executive didn’t communicate those concerns to anyone.

“(The Wall of Women) is students taking initiative and saying we see a problem, we want to try and fix it. And not doing it perfectly…but certainly putting in an effort, and the union being like ‘it’s not the way we would do it so we can’t do it at all.’ This is the union unilaterally making decisions,” says Rutgers.

Colquhoun feels that there’s no room to make mistakes at King’s, especially not when talking about what equity should look like. “I think that we were never given the chance to improve from the KSU,” she says.

Daniel Whitten, a KSU councillor, has been collecting anonymous opinions about the Wall of Women shutdown on his Twitter account.

When he invited students to send him their thoughts, in the wake of the KSU’s email, he was worried about an onslaught of disaffected dude-bros complaining about social justice warriors at King’s. That’s not the response he’s gotten at all.

“It’s all been voices who are marginalized in one way or another on this campus,” he says.

So the KSU, in shutting down the Wall of Women, hoped to protect the most marginalized on campus. Yet, Whitten is hearing from people in that same community, who are opposed to the KSU’s decision.

“What I want to bring out, and what I hope everyone takes to heart, is that there are equally strong voices, and equally affected voices on both sides, who feel that unilaterally shutting (the Wall of Women) down as an exercise of power does them harm,” he says.

“I don’t think that these are necessarily disparate groups. I don’t think that one group on campus feels that the Wall of Women is good and one group feels that it’s not good. I feel like there’s a nuanced discussion to be had,” Whitten continues.

Everyone involved in this drama is so careful and polite.

The KSU writes that “we don’t think it was the intent of (SNARC) to uphold harmful structures.” Whitten says he doesn’t think it was the intent of the KSU, as a power structure on campus, to marginalize students. Colquhoun emphasizes that the KSU executive aren’t “bad people,” but she doesn’t agree with their actions. Xiao says she doesn’t think it was intentional, but she felt targeted at the Dec. 3 council meeting.

Each person tiptoes around the other’s intentions, assuming to know what those might be. There’s fear here.

Fear of speaking out against the KSU. “With the way that everybody talks about these issues, the executive has the power to paint somebody as the bad guy…and if the union says this and this is racist, people are going to believe them,” says Rutgers.

In this ‘woke-Olympics’ about who’s the most socially just, the KSU has the voice best suited for telling people they’re not being woke enough, she says.

Whitten talks about being a white, cisgender man, a few years older than most other students on council. “I have all of this privilege and I’m not afraid to tell the KSU when I disagree with them,” he says. The unspoken truth is that students without that privilege would fear speaking out.

Colquhoun, in her complaint, writes that “I should have felt comfortable and safe to criticize and ask for explanation regarding the choices and actions of the KSU…I did not.”

There’s also fear on the part of the KSU executive, of admitting that mistakes were made and that they are a part of the power structures they seek to dismantle.

There’s fear of saying the wrong thing, of not being progressive enough. That fear has stifled problem-solving. Instead of speaking openly and possibly making mistakes, a students’ union shut down a student society’s project and left the student body confused.


ClarificationThis article originally stated “According to the union’s bylaws, they have the highest level of authority within the KSU” in reference to the executive members of the King’s Students’ Union. That sentence has been removed from the second paragraph of the “8,487-word complaint” section due to the following email the Watch received from Charlotte Sullivan, the chair of the KSU: 

“… the article misrepresents the hierarchy of power within the Union as it’s explained in the Bylaws. I believe that the hierarchy was misinterpreted backwards. The highest decision making body of the KSU is a referendum, followed by a general meeting, followed by Council, and followed by the Executive Committee. So basically, Council is SUPPOSED to hold more power than the exec, the general meeting (and therefore the general membership) is SUPPOSED to hold more power than all elected officials, and so on.”

Correction: The Wall of Women was not specifically a SNARC project as previously described in the article. It was a multi-society effort pre-dating SNARC, however, SNARC was born out of the original Wall of Women. Changes have been made in the first section of the article to reflect this.