President of LGBT+ Association quits ‘overpoliticised’ role

By Tania Chakraborti

LGBT+ Association President Jess Frieze has announced her resignation, citing the politicised nature of the Students’ Union as her primary reason for leaving the post.

Her resignation was initially announced via the Association’s official Facebook page on the 17th November.

Frieze said: “It’s with a heavy heart that I have to announce that I am stepping down as President.

“I have thought long and hard about this decision and it has not been an easy one, but I feel it is the best thing for me and for the Association.

“Until an EGM is called, Alexandra Thomas will be Acting President, and I wish her and the exec every success during the rest of the year.”

In an interview with Purple Radio’s Caitlin Allard a few days later, Frieze elaborated on her reasons for stepping down.

She cited how her aims for the Association did not comply with her view of the nature of the Students’ Union as being inherently political: “I’ve come to realise that the aims I went in with probably aren’t feasible and I’m probably not the best person to lead the Association.

“The Association is political because it is an SU organisation and SU politics, student politics, is always going to be like that, which is I don’t think I realised when I ran for the role.

“I feel that for some people being involved with the very political side, is great, the Association probably makes a massive difference to them.”

When asked what she thought the Society could offer to those who did not feel politically involved with the movement, Frieze stated: “That’s where I’m unsure. I know that for LGBT+ people it can feel that your every move is politicised I’m just not sure it was the right context to offer it, it’s kind of very grassroots… I don’t know, I think that’s probably why I chose to resign.

“Because I think for that kind of scene, the political get-involved scene, it’s perfect, there are some absolutely wonderful people working with the Association… I am not sure I am the right person to lead the Association in that.”

Following Frieze’s resignation, Palatinate spoke to Students’ Union Welfare and Liberation Officer, Rosa Tallack.

Tallack said: “Jess has contributed so much and has put so much hard work into the LBGT+ Association, and I have no doubt that she and her caring nature will be sorely missed.”

When asked for a response to Frieze’s belief that the SU is politicized in nature, Tallack responded: “Durham SU’s groups and Associations are all democratically run – and politics in the sense of elections, transparent leadership and representing the group’s needs, will and should always be an intrinsic part of taking part in them.

“Politics in the more external sense – e.g. campaigning on issues and having a position on political matters, is something that the members and leaders of each group are free to decide how much or how little they should be involved with…

“If members or execs feel that they’re not getting this balance correct, or the democratic processes aren’t quite right to support this, then myself or other Officers would certainly use SU’s expertise and support to work with the group on this.”

Photograph: Sophie Gregory

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