‘This is wholly unacceptable either from a business or from a charity or from whatever the SU regards itself as. The appalling disregard of eight years of contact with, employment by and support for student groups by myself and by Cardiff Life Model Collective and by my other business Wales Outdoors in favour of the actions of a new Art Society president without any attempt at settling this matter in an amicable manner is as close to as beyond belief as I think I have been in all of my business associations.’
This was, in part, the last message I sent to Cardiff University Students Union. And it took a while to get to there and there was, as expected, no response.
After 8 years of delivery of low cost life drawing sessions for Cardiff University Students Union Arts Society with us often teaching and modelling for the price of just modelling and following a rather hefty disagreement with the current president of the society, who really did not understand model safety or engage with advice from Cardiff Life Model Collective, we have had links permanently severed with the SU.
Not only have we lost a small amount of work with the Arts Society, due to the handling of the dispute by the Art Societies committee and then the management of the SU offering no mediation or method to remedy the matter, we have decided to offer NOTHING to the SU in the future and no favours to Cardiff University students or any of their organisations. So no discount at our sessions, no freebies for any of their societies and more importantly no fundraisers for any of their events or organisations, such as Cardiff Nighline or the LGBTQ+ Society.
The bare bones of the argument are as follows:
Cardiff Life Models are contacted and asked to provide a model for a taster art session. The Art Society asked for a female only and after investigation they wanted a female only to work in a bar environment where drinking was being encouraged and as a taster session they didn’t;t know who would attend and that there would likely be upwards of 50 people. I said this was inappropriate and that we might consider two models with one being male and that it would be better held somewhere else other than Revs. They in their wisdom then went behind my back and began negotiations with a Cardiff Life Model Collective model who of course informed me. Eventually they were back in touch with a day to go agreeing to our terms but that was too late as I was away in the Lake District and had patchy internet connectivity. I therefore said no but we’d be happy to work with them in the future.
I received a vitriolic attack from the Art Society President, obviously as her advertised event would have to be cancelled. But that definitely was not our fault. Again, to cut a long story short, the Art Society said they would never use us again!
I contacted the SU through their complaints route and there was no response so I trawled the internet and sent my complaint to a few SU names and eventually received a standard response stating they had done nothing wrong. More importantly they stated that the SU is a student led body and so it appears that students are supported in making mistakes. I feel this is putting young adults in danger. There simply needs to be more oversight.
The main problem I had was that they wouldn’t answer this question:
What would you do given this demand? – ‘I give you four days notice to supply me with a naked female to be in a bar where discounted drinking is being encouraged and where anyone can come along to observe her and the minimum number expected will be about 50 people…’
Part of the corporate response I received was :
‘Whilst we understand that you have supported the Art Society and a number of additional student led services and societies for a number of years, unfortunately the Art Society are under no obligation to continue to work with you for the supply of life models.’
That support amounted to effectively hundreds of pounds a year being given by me, an individual, to SU organisations. Well, fuck them! Kinda ‘no more Mr nice guy.’
The ding donging of the emails make for interesting reading and I was going to copy them into this blog but this post is already long enough, but suffice to say I regard the SU organisations across the UK, in general, as dangerous.
If SU’s allow students free reign to run their societies, without oversight, without encouraging the working through and resolution of problems, in supporting an Art Society to wilfully decide to ‘enganger’ a life model, I want nothing to do with them.
And it might seem mean to say Cardiff University Students will have to pay full rate, currently £10 per session, and will be disallowed the student discount but the thought is that this will open discussion about the reasoning for this decision and maybe this will filter back to the SU and perhaps the university and maybe, just maybe, there will be time given to a review of operational procedures at Cardiff University Student Union and perhaps at all of the SU’s across the UK. In our dreams…
And the 2020 Art Society president wasn’t really at fault. She was out of her depth, unable to see why what she and her committee were asking for was just wrong. And when I denied her request her response was to lash out in a totally unprofessional manner. I was effectively protecting her and her group as well as the model. What if there had been problem with her booking? Perhaps an unsavoury character in attendance or someone taking photos and leaking them or the model being followed after the event… Who would have taken the fall, the president, the committee, the SU? And that’s the problem, the SU management wholly supported unsupportable actions and that to me screams DANGER DANGER DANGER…
Shame on them!