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SU Exec Officer Threatens to Resign

Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer Daniel Downes is set to ‘consider his position’, according to an email to the Students’ Union Elections Committee which has been leaked to Impact. The email follows a farcical display by one candidate which overshadowed Friday evening’s Presidential Debate.

The evening, which was designed to be the main showpiece of the electoral calendar before the Results Night on Friday 12th March, was being broadcast from The Den by URN, and was supposed to be an ideal opportunity for students to probe candidates about their policies and for the competitors to see what their rivals are made of. However, in a display described by Downes as “outrageous and completely degrading to the elections procedure”, candidate James Phillips raised uproar amongst listeners and the audience present.

Having made his first appearance of the campaign at a Candidate Question Time earlier in the day, Phillips – who had not submitted a manifesto and was reportedly signed up to the campaign by his friends while he was out of the country – had made it clear to Impact that “It was some mates that did it for me – I wasn’t going to do it, and then I just decided to go for it. I haven’t really thought about it yet to a great extent.”

During the day, Phillips’ principal suggestion had been to bring in a hopper bus to Ocean, while pointing out in response to the issue of a lack of female candidates for President that “I love girls”. In the evening he defended his lack of experience by referring to himself as a “lash captain”, while drinking several drinks – including shots – at the table.

Clearly there as a joke, Phillips further stirred up controversy in the audience, suggesting that anybody who didn’t drink was a “loser”, following which Downes received complaints from individuals with health issues which prevented them from drinking alcohol, along with religious groups. To quote Downes, “He completely dismissed mental health issues and dependence upon alcohol…James Phillips can not be allowed to treat Students’ Union Equal Opportunities policy or its student groups with such disdain and loathing.

“If he is not officially removed as a candidate in the election I will be considering my own position on the Exec.”

Phillips was asked to leave the event, and the Elections Committee are currently considering taking action against the candidate. With Philips silenced, the debate was able to return to a measure of normality. Topics covered included transparency and accessibility of the SU, how to achieve more funding from the University, satellite campuses, student transport and inclusion of black and ethnic minority students.

A particularly fierce debate erupted over the issue of what approach the President should adopt towards student drinking. With James Torrance advocating the lowering of drink prices in the Den and Mooch, the question was raised by the current Welfare Officer over whether a prospective President should be openly promoting increased consumption of alcohol. Will Vickers strongly attacked Torrance’s policy, arguing that student drinking is a serious welfare issue and that lowering drink prices is not the way forward. Azhar argued that there were many students who did not drink, and the Union had a responsibility to ensure that they were included in the social side of university life.

Candidates seized the opportunity to challenge and criticise their opponents. Torrance took the chance to speak out about gaps he believes exist in Ben Ingram’s manifesto, and was concerned that Will Vickers had not demonstrated involvement in the national campaign against rises in tuition fees. While Azhar felt that Mooch needed to be “the place to be” and advocated bringing more societies to hold socials there, Ingram said that he had already spoken to the manager and it was already well used for socials.

Despite such evidence of the increasingly heated competition between the candidates, by the end of the evening they seemed to have at least reached an agreement on one thing – a little friendly antagonism is a good thing. Torrance commented that a little aggression is healthy and Hannan Azhar professed that he too welcomed constructive criticism.

The question is whether students will come away from this tempestuous evening feeling better informed on their future President, or whether ‘Phillips-gate’ will overshadow the remainder of the election campaign.

Dave Jackson

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44 Comments on this post.
  • Albert
    6 March 2010 at 20:01
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    Would be interesting to see if he actually has the guts too…I bet he wasn’t expecting the email to get into the public domain…ha!

  • paul
    6 March 2010 at 20:58
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    Just to let you know Torrance and Azhar also argued they’d vote for each other. All the candidates really were stumped by the question (posed by a significant former member of the SU) and ended up tiptoeing round it in circles. They ended up just forming two fronts because they all know how each others campaigns are going and where the wind is blowing.

    Onto the bigger issue; Dan Downes is one hundred precent in the right and I heartily applaud the stand he is taking. Though no one involved in elections or the SU are allowed to say it without being attacked from all sides, Phillips was simply being a massive prick and a fucking waste of everybodys time. His ‘Losers’ comment was unnaccapetable and he should be removed immediately from the election.

  • paul
    6 March 2010 at 21:03
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    Just to let you know, Torrance and Azhar both argued (the same as Ingram and Vickers) that they would vote for each other were they not standing. The question (posed by a significant former member of the SU) stumped them all and they ended up dancing round the answer and forming two fronts because they all know how each others campaigns are going and they all know how they are faring.

    On to the bigger issue and I must say that Dan Downes is one hundred percent in the right and I heartily applaud the stand he has taken. Though no one in the SU is allowed to say it, Phillips was just being a prick and fucking waste of time. His ‘loser’ comment was unwarranted, unacceptable and for that alone he should be removed from the election.

  • Dalia Fleming
    6 March 2010 at 21:04
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    I would expect Dan to keep to his word. What happened last night was offensive to a variety of our students and as Equal Opportunities and Welfare Officer it is job specifically (as well as the entire exec in my opinion) to stand up for our students when their being discriminated against.

    I’ve already written about this somewhere else, but last night was poorly dealt with from the beginning and as Scott says basic rules are being ignored, or more likely, they were not aware of them in the first place. Our Union needs to be made more accessible and those running it need to be more aware and thoughtful of all of our students’ requirements to make events like last night more inclusive.

    Having been on Elections Committee last year, I know that running an election is very difficult and the time that Elections Committee is putting in to this (as most of them are full time students) is huge. But, there are definitely areas of this election that are currently being poorly thought through. I can only hope the representations that have been put in against elections committee are used constructively and that the second week of elections goes far smoother and more publicised for all of those involved.

  • Dan
    6 March 2010 at 21:24
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    While a number of James Phillips’ statements were – I sincerely hope – only made in jest, they demonstrate his utter unsuitability to be SU President. If he manages to avoid disqualification from the election, I would expect the students at Nottingham to have the sense not to vote for him.
    Of course, Phillips does highlight, whether he means to or not, the growing disaffection towards the SU among some students. Turnout is low in SU Exec elections not because people are unaware they are happening (it’s hard to miss) but because people don’t feel the SU is doing much for them. Whoever is elected will have to deal with this and begin to re-engage students who feel the SU is too bureaucratic, cliquey or self-serving.

  • A. Non
    6 March 2010 at 23:21
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    Dalia, you understand the pressures elections committee are under, that they can’t tell us everything, that they can’t respond to the criticisms and must follow due process. You understand how the system works and are playing it to your maximum advantage. You’ll gain a few cheap votes but not mine.

  • Wood
    6 March 2010 at 23:25
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    What was it that he said that was so outrageous? Throwing him out would be wholly undemocatic. As far as I can see, enjoying a drink and loving women would seem to represent quite a few male (and some female, Mr. equal opportunities) students. Why is this point of view any less valid than, say opposing tuition fee increases? Does equality of opportunities for UoN students only apply if they fit within Daniel Downes’ moral code??

  • anon
    7 March 2010 at 01:09
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    Wood if you cannot understand how describing a sizeable minority as ‘losers’ because they choose or cannot drink, is unjustifiable and simply offensive. What hope is there for this election this year ?

    I have a friend who simply cannot drink alcohol due to health issues. This isn’t about having a headache or the cold Wood, this is about ending up in the hospital on a drip for weeks or months. Why should my friend be tagged as a ‘loser’ because of circumstances out of his hands?

    Now regarding people who choose not to drink, due to their religion or simple conscious. We all have an equal right to choose what we do within a set of legal and moral frameworks. As equal & opps officer, it should be ones responsibility to represent everyone’s choices regarding alcohol.

    Now about being a ‘loser’ it self. How is choosing not to drink equate to you being a failure? failing your degree you could argue one is a loser. But choosing not to drink, how do you or what do you ‘fail’ at? But its clear what the ‘Lash Captain’ mean’t. One would be a failure within the eyes of him.

    So taking this to its logical conclusion, people are failures if they are not undertaking the same social actives as others. However, we all do things differently to one another. Some of us smoke and some of us don’t. Some of us dance and some of us don’t. Some of us drink and SOME DON’T. You get the picture Wood?

    Calling a section of the student population a ‘loser’ is not how you strike a balance between Equality and Opportunity for all. It is about respecting people’s choice of words, ideas and activities as long as they respect others.

    I am a student who enjoys drinking and I call for Phillips to be removed as a candidate. Daniel Downes well done.

  • Luke Place
    7 March 2010 at 01:12
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    I think it’s important to separate the discussion about James Phillips’ behaviour at the presidential debate and the discussion about the choice of venue. The former seems to be an issue with a reasonable amount of consensus, since James Phillips was widely criticised and was removed from the event.

    More pressing is the question of whether we should be holding these events within such premises and I don’t recall any of the presidential candidates properly pinning their colours to the mast within this debate. If I recall, many of the comments were along the lines of “this should be looked into” or “this event shouldn’t necessarily have been held in here” rather than a robust condemnation of the venue choice.

  • Dalia Fleming
    7 March 2010 at 09:48
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    A. Non if you read my response on my fan page (which I previous did not mention because I was more putting my opinion out their rather than campaigning) you can see this is not playing a system to my advantage.

    Equal Opportunities and Representation is a huge part of my experience and life, having been Women’s Officer, being on Elections Committee, LGBT Committee and more. I am on a national student committee tackling the representation of women. All of this is because of my passion for students rights , equal opportunities and democracy. If that is what you would like to call playing the system, then fair enough. Because as a full time student I have and will continue to put my time into what I am passionate about; whether running in an election or not. My experience and playing within the rules set out is something I am proud of.

    If you have any questions about my campaign, policy or experience, please feel free to ask. Possibly on the fan page, so as to not take over this Impact thread.

  • V
    7 March 2010 at 17:23
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    Pathetic. Bunch of children pretending to be adults. He said something you disagrre with, which also disagrees with Union policy. Some of the other candidates also have views which clash with current Union policy. You don’t see Roxy threatening to resign over some Education candidates being against the funding blueprint. Grow up, grow a pair and realise that whether you like it or not, many students think being a lash captain is great. Represent them.

  • Emily
    7 March 2010 at 18:12
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    In response to V. I think what you fail to grasp is that the issue is not concerning what the candidate’s personal views are, I agree with you that people are entitled to their own views and that somebody disagreeing with them is not grounds for a situation like this and that most candidates disagree on a variety of things in the elections. But that is not the issue. The issue is the candidates reaction, comments and behaviour in relation to students asking him questions about the link between mental health issues and alcohol and about the religious students and others who do not have equal opportunities to participate in social activities as a result of the heavy involvement of alcohol. His personal view may be that he likes to drink and thinks students should be able/allowed to or even that alcohol is a big thing at university (whether this is positive or not, it could be a factual statement) it is quite another thing to say in response to students questions about very important equal opps and welfare issues that he thinks students who dont drink are ‘losers’ and thereby not only insulting a large group of students who he would seek to represent but also showing no concern, and even disregard and disdain for students’ religious views, mental health issues and welfare.

  • Michael Etienne
    7 March 2010 at 18:26
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    I agree with anon and Luke is absolutely right.

    It is clear that James doesn’t want to be involved in the campaign. I find it hard to understand how anyone can seriously fail to understand their potential to cause upset. Whether or not you actually agree with those who take offence is a seperate issue.

    However, there are a number of much more fundamental issues that are being drawn out that have to be addressed, the choice of venues being one of them, but also the sense among large sections of the student body, that the SU does not and is not interested in representing them.

    This is not to decry the real efforts that some individuals make in their work at the SU but too often, when it comes to the crunch, people perceive the SU- as an institution- lacking the courage to really take a stand on the important issues.

  • Rob
    7 March 2010 at 18:31
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    V: well played. Oh no, wait sorry, that is ridiculous. That is like saying that some students love racism, therefore they have to be represented. It’s a nonsense. This isn’t just a case of disagreeing with alcohol consumption on a large scale, this is about him breaking the Equal Opportunities by saying something which discriminated against people in relation to their race, religion or health issues. This is what we pay the guy for and if we can’t let him do the job then why the hell do it?

    Taking the decision to step down is probably more adult than ‘lash banter’, considering that the Exec are paid and there probably aren’t that many ways to pay your rent (I happen to know that Dan is an actual sabb and on a year out of his course). I think that decision is an incredibly bold one, especially when he was bound to be faced with idiots, such as yourself, clearly not understanding the actual implications of Phillips’ comments or Downes stepping down.

  • Alex
    7 March 2010 at 20:15
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    You either accept and embrace democracy and freedom of speech, or you don’t.

    These comments are patently boorish and offensive – most probably, they suggest he is unsuitable for office – but rudeness is not against the law. I hope students reject these views at the ballot box, but if they don’t and opt for the ‘lash captain’ manifesto, then they will have been validated fairly and legitimately.

    Fair and free elections are the bedrock of any democratic process. Any impulse to arbitrarily censor or sideline a candidate that seeks to participate in them – however obnoxious he or she may be – is positively antithetical to this principle.

  • anon
    7 March 2010 at 20:50
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    I disagree Alex. Too often people such a yourself, place freedom of speech as some unrivalled principle. I believe history has taught us a very important lesson that while freedom of speech is a requirement for healthy democracy. So to is the freedom of minorities and their right to be free from unjustified and intentional discrimination.

    Fair and free elections are more than just simply ones right to say what they want, how they want and to whom they want. What kind of SU are you hoping to build, where we allow some one with who wants to run for a position that demands an appreciation of respecting everyone’s opinions, ideas and choices. To make a mockery of what the position is suppose to defend and support? What if he said those who don’t have sex are losers? or those who don’t smoke? or practice a certain religion?

    Some times unchecked freedom of speech can pose a danger to the democratic process itself. We must balance freedom of speech with the freedom from hatred and marginalisation. This is why we have to have representational officers in the first place!!

  • one of the lads
    7 March 2010 at 21:53
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    to be honest, james phillips represents a candidate who actually has some influence over students because he has clearly more charisma than all the other mugs combined.

    yes he’s a bit of a joker, yes, his policies are garbage, but he is trying to (i imagine) highlight how the majority of students couldn’t really give a shit about the SU or the elections, and actually his satirical presence at the presidential elections has won my vote.

    He is trying to highlight what is wrong with the uni and the SU by showing the weaknesses of the other candidates (everyone was more entertained by what he had to say than the others) and showing that quality is lacking across the board.

    Vote Worm, vote Ko phagnag, and frankly vote for a bit of fun. Take the sticks out of youre arses, and laugh at the mockery he is making (intentionally) of you chumps.

  • Will Latter
    7 March 2010 at 22:19
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    Lash Captain for the win. Lash..Stash…Gash and Bant. Isn’t that what uni’s all about? stop taking life so seriously.

  • brunoalbutt
    7 March 2010 at 23:13
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    No, Will Latter, no it’s not.

  • Andie Blendl
    7 March 2010 at 23:19
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    I fully support Dan Downes, having been there Friday night myself – and being unable to drink for health reasons.
    Can anybody who defended James Phillips actually imagine what it’s like, not being able to participate in social activities that most students seemingly enjoy, and then being made fun of? Or even being called a ‘Loser’? Now, let us add to this living with an illness, regular discrimination, exclusion from most activities and sports – I strongly believe that Phillips completely fails to see that many members of the SU actually face these problems on a daily basis and discriminates against them.
    I wholeheartedly want to thank Dan for speaking out for those that normally nobody speaks out for.
    And James, if you want to know who you’ve called a loser, come see me at Question Time tomorrow. And if you’ve got the guts for it, you’ll apologise.

  • Anon
    8 March 2010 at 01:23
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    @ One of the lads: the only thing that Philips’ managed to highlight is his complete unsuitability as a presidential candidate and frankly, represents a small element of what is wrong with student culture.

    That he thought it suitable to dismiss the views of a significant proportion of the student population and describe them as ‘losers’ is not only completely unacceptable but really a very sad indictment (his) student life in that he sees alcohol as such an intrinsic part of it.

    “Take the sticks out of youre (sic) arses, and laugh at the mockery he is making (intentionally) of you chumps” – Philips wasn’t mocking anyone of Friday night but instead showed himself as a cruel and stupid fool and not somebody I wish to be represented by in either an Exec position or as a Nottingham student generally. I seriously hope you rethink your vote or do you too think it’s OK to treat people in the manner he did?

    I sincerely hope not.

  • Sid Shady
    8 March 2010 at 10:56
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    Articles and threads like these only give phillips the legitimacy he definitely doesn’t deserve. Stop giving him the attention he craves by pointlessly stating the obvious. The point of democratic elections is that anyone can stand, so get on with it. I sympathise with Downes’ frustration but ultimately he just comes across as throwing toys. Will Gordon Brown resign from the General Election just because the BNP and the JEDI party are standing? No, and he certainly won’t legitimise them as viable opponents by criticising them either.

  • Dave Jackson
    8 March 2010 at 11:18
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    Quick point of information there Sid, I believe that’s exactly what Gordon Brown has done:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/5418918/Gordon-Brown-urges-voters-not-to-back-BNP.html

    Pertinent quote: “For a long time people have argued that we shouldn’t talk about them because it just gives them the attention that they crave. But I think now is the right time to expose the hatred and extremism that they peddle. ”

    You probably need to get Gordon Brown on the same hymnsheet as yourself before you start making claims on his behalf.

  • Sid Shady
    8 March 2010 at 14:21
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    Point taken regarding criticism but the main point, which you’ve chosen to ignore, still stands. Rather than threaten to resign, which only makes Downes look like he’s lost control of the situation, why doesn’t he back his own policies and, if he feels they deserve it, scrutinise the policies of Phillips? If this article headlined, as the one you’ve cited does, ‘Downes Urges Voters Not To Back Phillips’, then perhaps he might have done more than shoot himself in the foot by merely give more attention and publicity to the very subject he’s complaining about.

  • Sid Shady
    8 March 2010 at 14:23
    Leave a Reply

    Stick that your hymnsheet and sing it.

  • T Lovelace
    8 March 2010 at 20:37
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    lash lash lash, James Phillips is my god.
    people don’t deserve equal rights

  • T Lovelace
    8 March 2010 at 20:38
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    lash lash lash james phillips is my god
    people don’t deserve equal rights

  • J-Dog
    8 March 2010 at 20:52
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    Look everyone, James loves the lash, who doesnt?
    James loves the ladies, who doesnt?
    I think james would have been an absolutley lash-tastic SU president and anyone who thinks otherwise can have a blow on my dick hole.

    Jimmy ‘Lash President’ Phillips.

  • Ctrl.Alt.Del
    8 March 2010 at 22:28
    Leave a Reply

    James Phillips is our king,
    We’ll stick by him through anything.

    He’d have been great if we’d voted for him,
    He’d have bent over backwards, gone out on a limb.

    Stop acting like this election is life or death,
    Just because he said losers under his breath.

    We like him so much because of his motion,
    That a hopper bus would be great between Lenton and Ocean.

    Now stop getting so stressed, it’s not a big deal,
    Let’s all pop to Portland for a Boots meal deal.

  • C Dodd
    8 March 2010 at 23:01
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    I think everybody is overlooking the obvious fact that this is fucking hilarious.

  • Abigail Bates
    9 March 2010 at 10:22
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    I find these allegations outrageous!!! I know James very very well, if you know what I mean. He is a very sensitive person, and is the first person to come over and give me a cuddle when I am feeling down. Although his rugged exterior might suggest otherwise, he is in fact a “big softy” who cares a lot about others and is very understanding of other peoples beliefs.
    Racist? How ridiculous! What do you think he was doing in Thailand for the fifth time when he missed the presidential meetings?
    No manifesto? Didn’t he propose free buses to Ocean and campus? He gets my vote….we do LOVE OCEAN!
    As for Daniel Downes, I don’t think he understands the possible consequences of making such harsh allegations, clearly without sufficient evidence, that could be seriously damaging for my future husbands career prospects. Would Downes like to be labelled a “virgin” or “ugly” without sufficient evidence? I think not. Or maybe just the “virgin” bit, I’ve been on his facebook profile.
    I think James should be given the opportunity to be reinstated.
    I told you I’d always be there for you Jamesy!!

  • BNOC
    9 March 2010 at 10:29
    Leave a Reply

    Do we cross out the BNP from general elections? so much for a democratic presidential vote!

  • Steve Williams
    9 March 2010 at 12:52
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    Hear, Hear C Dodd — it would be even funnier if it wasn’t so farcical. People have got to grow up and realise that getting offended is part of life; throwing the book at someone because of it is brainless. I’m offended by morbidly obese people, as I am by the incomprehensibly thick. I don’t go around calling for them to be slung in prison. Get over it, and throw your PC bandwagon over the cliff.

  • Myfanwy New
    9 March 2010 at 17:13
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    I think its great that we finally have a good looking SU candidate.x

  • TeversalTrooper
    9 March 2010 at 21:12
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    I think the turnout at the debate, which consisted of roughly 15 people goes to show what the majority of people were doing on friday eve……….prelashing for ocean! The SU isnt seen by the students to be doing very much, no presidents ever seem to get anything through that truly changes lives. The presidents get a nice little addition to their CV and the student population has another gimp pretending to run the show!

  • The O Lash
    10 March 2010 at 15:08
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    I hate reading all this PC rubbish. The fact of the matter is simple. Lash Captain is probably far more representative of many people because he’s not taking himself seriously. Most people who run for any position on the exec are doing it for their egotistical CV, rather than because they give a shit about representing people. Don’t get so worked up about it. Lash Captain carries about as much responsibility as “Lenton and Wortley JCR Committee Member 07/08” anyway.

  • Lash Vice-Captain
    10 March 2010 at 16:14
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    Being a Lash Captain isn’t easy guys stop belittling the position

  • The O Lash
    10 March 2010 at 17:52
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    Well said Lash VC. Nottingham Lash Soc anyone?

  • WormFan_100
    10 March 2010 at 21:46
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    Worm provides policies we care about. No lectures on a Thursay is obvious- you don’t see lectures on a Saturday after Ocean do you?

    I don’t even know what this years president is called let alone what he looks like. Worm has the name and face you can trust, let alone the ploicies.

    Worm for the win.

  • WormFan_101
    11 March 2010 at 14:54
    Leave a Reply

    I agree with all of the above.
    Plus Downes is a shlad.
    ROFLCOPTER kthankbai

  • Banter Bus Ticket Inspector
    11 March 2010 at 19:49
    Leave a Reply

    David, the fine for riding the banter bus without a ticket is 3 fingers. consume you nerd.
    ps.
    if you are wondering where to get a ticket for the banter bus then you are clearly a shlad and will never get a ticket.

  • The O Lash
    12 March 2010 at 02:39
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    Even bigger fine for riding the banter bus armed with a shlid

  • Banter Brigade
    12 March 2010 at 14:42
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    Tbh, the “lash captain” would probably actually do things that the student body actually wanted, or cared about and is a figure that people could relate to.

    The only reason I wouldnt vote for him is because of his low quality chat and coz he has been wearing sandels and jack wills throughout the winter period which is tragic

  • lr
    13 March 2010 at 02:27
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    excuse me while i LOL

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