The controversial students welfare officer who was at the centre of the #killthewhitemen tweet has resigned amid allegations against her of bullying linked to the departure of the president of Goldsmiths Student Union.
The departure of Bahar Mustafa, 27, comes in the wake of an inquiry announced by the Students Union into allegations of bullying and harassment within the Sabbatical Officer team which runs the SU branch at the college. The allegations were believed to have led to the departure of Adrihani Rashid, the SU president, who announced earlier this week that she was leaving “due to personal reasons”
A row over the publication of a story in the student newspaper, The Leopard, about the allegations also led to the resignation of the editor and comment editor of the paper. However, that article has now been published and the two have returned to their posts, after ”reassurances” from the SU.
A statement from the SU reads: “…we did not intend to censor or suppress any information in an article that was written about the SU.” (…) “We are committed to offering our student opportunities in journalism and we respect our outlet’s right to criticise the organisation and hold us to account in a fair and transparent way.”
According to the article, Rashid resigned “because she was bullied and harassed by Alex Etches, Campaigns and Activities Officer, and to a lesser extent by Bahar Mustafa, Welfare and Diversity Officer at Goldsmiths SU”.
Sources have suggested that Rashid resigned from her £22,000 role due to the level of hostility from Mustafa and Etches, by alleging she was an undemocratic president. She is said to have refused their demands to issue solidarity statements backing protests and occupations carried out by other students.
Mustafa announced her resignation in a private Facebook post earlier today, acknowledging that allegations against her and saying: “I can no longer provide the support to students or officers (and I haven’t for some time) because I need to look after my mental health which has been eroded.”
She said she was confident an inquiry would shed light on the structural issues within the SU which had led to the ”mental and physical breakdown’ of all Sabbatical Officers.
The inquiry into the bullying and harassment allegations was backed by Goldsmiths itself, although the SU and The Leopard, which the SU funds, are run independently of the college. At the time, the union said: ”[It]takes these allegations very seriously, and having raised these with the Trustee Board, will be instigating an independent inquiry”.
Zak Thomas, the comment editor who had prepared the bullying story resigned when he discovered that the article had been shared among the people who were accused. According to Thomas, the SU also did not sign the article off “legally” as expected, putting the legal burden on him.
Editor-in-Chief, Sabrina Sharif, also resigned, saying in another statement on the website: “I vowed that The Leopard would be a paper that would be fair, always hold the SU accountable and relay to students what is happening there. However, I have found these goals impossible to meet due to the lack of support from the SU.”
She will now be stepping down as Editor-in-Chief after the next print edition of The Leopard is published in a few weeks.
An updated statement from the SU reads: “…we did not intend to censor or suppress any information in an article that was written about the SU.” (…) “We are committed to offering our student opportunities in journalism and we respect our outlet’s right to criticise the organisation and hold us to account in a fair and transparent way.”
According to Thomas, “Goldsmiths SU are now developing clear media law policy for all student media outlets funded by the union”.
The remaining sabbatical officers are Etches and Daniel Nasr, the education officer. All the Sabbatical Officers are elected, paid officials of the SU.
Mustafa, who is no longer a student at Goldsmiths was due to appear in court earlier this month for allegedly using the hashtag #killallwhitemen. However, the charges against her were dropped at the last minute due to insufficient evidence. That decision is under review after it was challenged by one of the original complainants.
She had earlier attracted controversy for banning white men from a meeting designed to discuss diversity.
Goldsmiths, which has previously declined to become involved in internal SU affairs, said in a statement: “We fully support the Goldsmiths Students’ Union’s decision to launch a thorough and independent investigation of allegations and want to see this take place as soon as possible.”
“We’re also pressing for interim arrangements to be put in place following the President’s resignation…. “
“We’ve enjoyed working with Adrihani …she’s a fantastic ambassador for Goldsmiths and for International Students and we wish her well for the future.”