- Chair falsely accused by Working Class 'No' Campaign leader of posting referendum article's contents without her consent
- Campaign leader also expressed unsubstantiated concerns regarding ignorant comments indicating a toxic culture in society
Dominique Samuels, leader of the campaign against the creation of a YUSU Working Class and Social Mobility Part Time Officer and a first year student studying Politics and International Relations, has falsely claimed that Arthur Reynolds, the Chairman of the University of York Conservative Association, suggested she be "the face" of the 'No' campaign, and that the committee "would do all the work". She was "hesitant" at first but, convinced by the purpose of the campaign and its motives, agreed to join despite feeling somewhat "pushed". She admitted that the focus on convincing her to campaign had been "kind of flattering", but also said "it was easy for them to manipulate me, in a way, as I'm new to how the system works." Evidence given to Nouse disproves this statement.
She stated that, when a journalist asked the 'No' campaign to write an opinion piece for publishing online, Reynolds suggested he should be the one to write the piece, with Samuels agreeing due to her busy schedule. Samuels claimed to be unaware of the original article's contents before seeing it online, published on Student Voices (now edited). This has since been proven to be false.
Screenshots provided to Nouse by Samuels attempted to substantiate these allegations, showing Reynolds and Samuels openly discussing in a group chat his writing under her name. In response to her seeming to ask Reynolds if he did want her to write the article, he replied "I'm doing it pretending to be you, remember?" The second screenshot shows a private message between a 'No' campaigner and Reynolds, where he openly admits "I think she'll hate my piece too" in conversation.
Samuels stated to Nouse: "The contents of what he had written and the fact I didn't know what they were is the biggest issue."
However, Reynolds informed Nouse that Samuels was fully aware of the contents of the article, citing his own screenshots as proof. In his evidence, he received messages calling the article "perfect" and that it was "good", telling him "vvvvvv well done". He also stated that he believed Samuels would hate his article because she might be unsatisfied with the quality of his writing and the strength his arguments.
He believed that Samuels' introduction to the campaign was cordial, with screenshots showing that she was "excited to see what the results would be".
Samuels also stated that concerns had been raised by others about her being used as a political "token". "It's difficult to determine, because there are plenty of other people that could be used in such a way. I'm not the only black person in the Tory Society. However, my socio-economic background combined with my race and ability to articulate myself probably created the whole package for them."
Nouse had been informed that Reynolds made incendiary comments regarding these sensitive topics, though Samuels posited that "They weren't intentionally ignorant, they just were," and that the ignorance did not seem to stem from ill will; however she was unwilling to go on record with what any of these comments might have been.
"On the whole, the society has made me feel very welcome. It's just aspects that have made me uncomfortable. These outdated aspects are perpetuated by certain individuals. I, and others, want to bring the society into a more progressive way of being a Conservative, without these negative connotations."
A member of the 'No' campaign, who wishes to remain anonymous, when asked for their opinion on the subject responded that: "Dominique led the campaign because she wanted to. They may have used her as a tool, but she wasn't a token."
Arthur Reynolds provided the following statement to Nouse: "I'm disappointed that Dominique has chosen to lie about events that took place during the campaign. She was fully aware of the contents of the article in question, having read it in person (even making an edit) and signed off on the final copy.
"I never claimed that I should have been the only person writing opinion pieces for the campaign. On the contrary, I actively encouraged others to contribute. Publishing a variety of opinion pieces was initially a key strategy and many individuals volunteered to do so, though they never got around to submitting them.
"It's common practice for campaign material to be ghost written on behalf of a group's leader. Dominique was busy taking charge of other aspects of the campaign, so I was more than happy to convey our main messages on her behalf, with another fresher involved in the York Tories assisting me.
"I strongly dispute the claim that the York Tories have been unwelcoming this year. Membership is higher now than at any point in the previous academic year and turnout at events has been consistently high; more than 50 students attended our event with The Adam Smith Institute earlier this term and our debates have been better attended than ever before.
"Despite having received no complaints thus far this year, our society will take any allegations of offensive behaviour extremely seriously and we encourage members to come forward with any concerns they might have. We look forward to welcoming members, old and new, to our events this term."