Image Credit: Beau Considine
Activities Officer Ollie Martin is to meet with members of the York Tory committee after a flurry of internal complaints about their fox hunting social, which is scheduled to take place on Friday. The York Tories have denied that the fox hunting social celebrates the illegal practise.
Speaking to Nouse, Martin said that he was “currently not confident that the fox hunting social aligns with all YUSU regulations and values” and would be meeting with the York Tories this afternoon to discuss the event.
The meeting will take place just over 24 hours before the social is due to start. Martin’s statement reiterated that the social had no prior approval of YUSU, and had not been submitted appropriately for checks through the Students’ Union’s Events Management System. He also said that YUSU staff were launching an internal investigation to “understand facts about the society’s plans.”
YUSU will only take action against the social if they find it to have breached the code of conduct.
The meeting comes as several former committee members have attacked the social, both in public and in private. Former Press and Publicity Officer for the York Tories, Tom Seston, has issued a statement alleging his former society (which he exited in protest earlier this year,) is “hell-bent of reinforcing negative stereotypes and a bad reputation amongst students.”
“They knew the event would be controversial, it always has been, but they decided to run it anyway because a few Bullingdon club rejects pressured them into it.” For Seston, the association with the deceased former conservative academic Roger Scruton is particularly egregious.
He argued that using the academic’s death as a defence showed how “toxic” the society had become, and said that many committee members now viewed the institution as a “posh boy’s drinking club.” He is not the only former committee member to send complaints to YUSU.
Yesterday saw the social attract more attention both from Yorfess pages, and the other York political societies. York’s Liberal Democats have issued a statement saying that they oppose “the celebration and normalisation of fox hunting, and support a continued ban”.
York’s Labour Club agreed. Speaking exclusively to Nouse, a spokesperson said that whilst condemnation of the event was not official policy, many committee members had submitted complaints. “The York Tories have no business promoting such an archaic and cruel practice on campus. It is in extremely poor taste for the York Tories to continue doing this social year after year.” They concluded that the social went against YUSU’s vision for an “open and inclusive” student body.
The York Tories this morning responded to criticism with a statement. They rejected the notion that the EMF system was required for the event.
“We are not going to make any further comment regarding the statement before our meeting with Mr Martin tomorrow. Regarding the complaints from former committee members including Mr Ton Seston, we do not believe that this event is proof of a toxic atmosphere as for the social, we reiterate that it is simply a dressed-up chase-style bar crawl. You do not need to support fox hunting to attend as many who enjoy the social do not support the practise yet still have plenty of fun! Ms. Helen Cain, who I believe has a different political view than us put it perfectly under Mr Martin’s statement. “The social is poking fun at a classic Tory stereotype, which many of the current members do not follow. It would be akin to the Labour Society doing a social about Marx, which only a margin of their members would actively be represented by in the society, but all would enjoy having a laugh over.”
Therefore, we believe that while we all still have a bit of youth left in us, we try not to take everything so seriously all the time and just live and let live. For your point about Sir Roger Scruton, he was a highly regarded conservative thinker, whether you agree with his ideas or not, he is undeniably a titan of conservatism and we make no apologies for supporting him. Our members decisively voted him Honorary President at our AGM last November, so it is fair to say he is complete opposite [sic] of a controversial figure in the York Tories. For your last point about us being a ‘posh boy club’ the majority of our committee is state educated and with members of BAME background [sic]. Hence we find this accusation as rather surprising. At last, for everyone who sees the fun side of life, the social is at 7pm on Friday, God bless!