Against all statutes, un-democratic and what could be seen as nepotism. The Student Union at LTH directed harsh criticism towards the decision by LUS’ board to appoint Sebastian Persson as a substitute in the LUS chair committee.
In the absence of Lund University Student Unions Association’s (LUS) vice-chairperson Linnea Jacobsson, the nine student unions of the University decided to appoint Sebastian Persson as acting vice-chairperson last Tuesday. Since 22 February, Persson has been working with LUS, and the new agreement lasts until 30 May this year.
The board of LUS had already reached a decision in the appointment, but chose to bring up the issue with the student unions since it is an issue of work environment.
TLTH directs harsh criticism
And there was much to talk about. Only a few hours before the question was brought up, the chairperson at the Student Union at LTH, Björn Sanders, sent out a statement petitioning for a denial of the board’s decision to appoint Sebastian Persson. The statement called the decision-making process un-democratic.
In the document, the Student Union at LTH directs harsh criticism towards the board’s decision as well as the process leading up to the decision. Among other things, it states that the board of LUS has greatly overstepped their mandates by not choosing to raise the issue in other instances.
“Fundamental erosion of legitimacy”
In addition, LUS’ accountants were criticised for failing to audit the decision-making process and the fact that Sebastian Person in his substitute role within LUS has represented the University’s students without their approval – something that TLTH holds could lead to great damage in trust.
“This is a fundamental erosion of legitimacy within our organisation and runs the risk of damaging the trust we have from students, members and the University severely”, chairperson Björn Sanders read out loud from his statement.
He added that the Student Union at LTH have a full understanding for the situation within LUS’ chair committee, but that an appointment of Sebastian Persson without a democratic election process would be reprehensible. He also highlighted the severity in the fact that Sebastian Persson himself had been part of the board that elected him acting vice-chairperson.
“It is true that Sebastian Persson abstained from the decision, but with only three votes left there is a great risk of bias. And even if that was not the case, it could appear as nepotism for the average student”, Björn Sanders said in his role as chairperson for TLTH.
The key issue: Election or appointment?
Instead, the Student Union at LTH pushed for a quickened election process for a substitute vice-chairperson. This would be done at an extraordinary meeting with free nominations.
The Student Union at LTH bases a lot of their arguments on the idea that the board at LUS had held an election for Sebastian Persson as substitute vice-chairperson. This, according to TLTH, is in violation of LUS’ own statutes on how an election process should be conducted and would therefore be un-democratic. LUS’ board, on the other hand, holds that there was never an election – but an appointment.
“My interpretation is that appointing someone is not the same thing as an election. Linnea Jacobsson is on sick-leave, but she is still vice-chairperson for LUS”, Cecilia Skoug said during the sessions.
Rather messy, it seems. But the other eight student unions were clear in their decisions. None of them followed suit with the Student Union at LTH, instead stating that LUS’ board had done the best of a bad situation.
“This has not been an election. LUS’ board have taken a great responsibility”, Tillie Johansson, chairperson for Corpus Medicum, said.
With the decision from the other unions, a common practice was created on how LUS’ statutes will be interpreted in the future. Being made a substitute will be seen as an appointment and not an election.
Cultural differences behind the conflict
Björn Sanders believes that the conflict between the Student Union at LTH and the other eight unions is based on cultural differences.
“At the Student Union at LTH, we have a different culture. Our supreme deciding body is a bit more powerful, and we have a more principled approach to these types of democratic processes. Many other have a more pragmatic approach”, he says, adding:
“We believe that democratic values trump pragmatic ones.”
The harsh words from the Student Union at LTH stirred up strong emotions among the ones to be singled out and was seen as a vote of mistrust. Read more about the reactions HERE.
Translation: Carl-William Ersgård