Honi Soit: Alright, so let’s just start with a couple of basics. What’s your name, your degree, your campaign colour and your slogan?
Ruby Lotz: My name is Ruby Lotz. I’m in my second year studying Politics and International Relations and Political Economy. My slogan is ‘Rebuild with Ruby,’ and my colour is orange.
HS: Who’s your campaign manager?
RL: I have four campaign managers, two senior campaign managers and two junior. My senior ones are Roisin Murphy and Nick Forbutt and my junior ones are Mikayla and Shreya Sengupta.
HS: All right. Are you in a political party?
RL: I’m a member of the Labor Party.
HS: Beautiful. And can you take us through your history with student politics?
RL: I joined NLS in my first semester of last year. From there I got involved in Nick Forbutt’s USU election campaign; I was his junior campaign manager. And then during SRC elections, I was also a junior campaign manager for Pump for SRC. I was second on the Pump for Women’s ticket, and I’m now SRC Sexual Harassment Officer.
HS: So why are you running for USU Board?
Ruby: The USU is obviously an incredibly diverse and exciting community. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved since I first came to uni but through my involvement I’ve realised that it does have some flaws and imperfections. In recent years, we’ve seen people who are perhaps inherently quite anti-unionists be elected to Board. So, members of the Liberal Party really. I think there’s something quite problematic about these people being elected to Board. And I think in terms of some of the Board’s recent decisions, there has definitely been a move towards corporatisation and I think this is in part probably because there’s been people who have been elected who are quite anti-unionist. For a few examples, going back to 2017, the USU decided not to close some of its commercial operations to stand in solidarity with the NTEU strikes. And then also, I think last year it was, when the USU received sponsorship or sponsored a horse racing company; I think that’s quite problematic. And those are a few examples of this increasing shift towards corporatisation and I really think that is kind of problematic because the USU should be run for students by students and it should be prioritising the interest of students and I don’t think corporate interests are always in the interest of students. In terms of recent decisions made by the Board, there’s been a bit of a lack of transparency. This is something that I’m really focusing on in my policy. I’ve got a specific policy suggesting that the USU commission a transparency review, because I think, in recent decisions, for example around the decision to close daytime trading of Manning, that that decision was made without consultation with students and the Board made that decision in October, I think it was, and it wasn’t actually released to the student body until February by Honi Soit as well. I don’t think it was even the Board who released that and I think that’s quite problematic because in terms of the Board making decisions that are directly affecting students, I think those decisions should be made transparently. I don’t think they should be being made in camera. I suppose one other area that I’m really focusing on is that the USU should try and focus on increasing its accessibility. So, accessibility to students living with disabilities, accessibility for international students, and accessibility for students living with financial disadvantage.
HS: Thanks for the very thorough answer. What makes you better placed, do you think or what, maybe are the necessary qualities or experience that you have that makes you better placed than some of the other candidates?
RL: I do have a lot of experience in the C&S program. I think that’s something that distinguishes me from other candidates is the fact that I started up my own society. I started up the Drug Law Reform Society, and through that I’ve got a lot of knowledge about how the USU works internally and how it functions. I suppose another thing that distinguishes me from other candidates, is I spent a lot of time researching the USU and trying to prepare for this election by ensuring that I’m across matters that are relevant to Board. I think especially coming out of the crisis that is COVID-19, it’s going to be really important that people are elected to Board who are across Board issues, who are competent and who have spent time researching and investigating the Board’s history and how it operates.
HS: Which two candidates would you say you’re most compatible with, and which would you say you’re least fond of or least compatible with?
RL: I think Prudence is definitely a really good candidate. I really admire her involvement in activism and I also think our values align a lot. I think she’d be my top pick for a candidate. In terms of other candidates, it’s quite hard to say because obviously I haven’t seen their policies at all. With Prudence I know her a little bit better than the other candidates, but I have spoken to her a little bit about her policies. So I feel quite comfortable endorsing her. In terms of other candidates, I think they all seem very competent and very lovely but I don’t want to endorse anyone just yet without seeing their policies. In terms of people who I don’t feel particularly aligned with, as I mentioned before I do have a problem with people who are anti-unionist being elected to Board so members of the Liberal Party. So, Nick Rigby and Ben Hines. I don’t doubt that I’m sure they’re very committed and I’m sure they’d be competent, but I think it is quite problematic that people who are anti-unionists are being elected to Board, because obviously it does stipulate in the Board regulations that directors need to actively campaign against Voluntary Student Unionism, and I don’t really think it’s reasonable to expect many of the Liberal Party will be doing this, considering their party introduced Voluntary Student Unionism.
HS: In relation to the recent or the unprecedented crisis that the USU is facing right now, financially speaking, if you had to cut a million dollars from the USU budget where would you cut it from?
RL: It’s quite hard to know where the USU’s funding is going, because obviously they don’t really release financial documents to the student body, and I think this is quite a problem, and it is something that I’d like to focus on in my transparency review. If I had to guess where funding was going I would probably say I would cut funding from Incubate only because I think it’s catered towards a very specific, small group of people. I think SSAF funding should be spent on programs and clubs and societies that are accessible and relevant to the broader range of students.
HS: And given the kind of precarious situation as well, do you think that the recent decision of the USU to stand down most of its staff was justified as a result of the decrease of money coming in or do you think something else could have been done?
RL: I understand why they did it, but I don’t necessarily think it’s justified. Personally I’ve also been stood down from my job and it’s obviously been really hard. I haven’t been able to access any government support so I do really resonate with the anger that a lot of casual workers do have, and I do understand a lot of people’s anger in terms of the USU making this decision. I think what I would like to see the USU do is try and open up ways to create new streams of revenue during the crisis and ways they can employ staff. And so one of the things I think they could do is, at the moment they’re doing a food delivery service, and I’d like to see them expand that after the crisis as well as during. I think this is a good way to both act as a stream of revenue for the USU and also enable the USU to employ people.
HS: And so I guess just following on from that, do you think that the CEO, Heads of Department and board directors should take a pay cut during the COVID-19 crisis?
RL: Yes, absolutely. And I also don’t think it’s acceptable that students aren’t privy to the CEO’s salary. If she’s got a six digit salary it should definitely be cut and students should know how much she’s earning.
HS: And do you think that free ACCESS introduced last year is still viable given the USU’s current financial state?
RL: I think it is. I don’t think that the university is planning to cut that funding because it’s $1 million that comes from the university, I think it is still viable, just in terms of the actual relationship between the USU being reliant on the uni, I do see some problems in that. Obviously, the introduction of universal ACCESS has been really great and is super beneficial but I do think it is dangerous territory when we’re thinking about the fact that the USU is becoming increasingly dependent on uni funding, because that does sort of diminish its independence and it diminishes the ability to criticise the university.
HS: Do you think then, in terms of the USU taking a pretty firm stance on things, should the USU be taking a stance on how the university should be supporting students during this time? What do you think that stance should be?
RL: Absolutely, I think the USU should really be involved in activism. I would like to see the USU collaborate with the SRC on its activism. So in its current mutual aid initiatives, and it’s activism against things like ProctorU and student evictions. I would like to see the USU take a firm stance on those issues because they’re issues that are affecting all students. And at the end of the day, the USU is a student union that should be representing the interests of students and it does have conversations with the university, and it should be representing the interests of students.
HS: And what’s your opinion on how successful the current Board has been. Also, particularly on Connor Wherett’s presidency?
RL: I think the Board was very successful in terms of managing the transition to a new CEO and appointing a new CEO. I think they handled that really well. And I think a lot of that was Connor and his dedication to that. I’m also very impressed or very happy that the Board has moved the Ramsay Centre motion and I think that was a really important step that the Board needs to take in terms of taking a strong stance against racism and colonialism on campus. Aside from that, something that the Board has lacked, and I have mentioned this before, transparency. I really think that there is a problem with the Board, you know, increasingly moving in camera to make decisions that directly affect the student body.
HS: Cool. I guess just going on from that, do you think that Alexis Roitman was a good decision to implement as CEO and do you have any criticisms? Obviously we’ve already talked a little bit about the handling of staff layoffs during the crisis. Do you have any criticisms of that?
RL: I don’t feel like I know enough about Alexis to really make a criticism on her. I think that she has handled things as well as she could have. Obviously like she’s been faced with a very rare sort of situation. Not a lot of CEOs have to deal with this sort of thing until now. So I think she has managed things pretty well. I don’t really have a specific instance where I would criticise her, I would only criticise the fact that her salary is not available to students.
HS: And seeing so many decisions are made outside of Board meetings, do you think that the Board is truly student run?
RL: Made outside of Board meeting or in camera?
HS: Well, both really: decisions that are made external to Board meetings and also those decisions that are made in camera.
RL: Yeah, well, I think in terms of decisions being made in camera, I do understand why the Board has moved in camera in some circumstances. For example when it’s discussing things like tenancies, private legal contracts that sort of thing. I understand why it needs to move in camera then. But in terms of making camera decisions like Manning, I really do not approve that. What was the other part of the question?
HS: There’s been criticism in recent years of decisions that are made outside of Board meetings. During the Presidency of Liliana Tai there was a little bit of a criticism that quite often decisions would kind of be worked out before they got to the stage of a Board meeting so it wasn’t exactly very democratic. And in addition to that a lot of decisions about the running of the USU will be made outside the purview of the Board.
RL: Do you have an example? I just haven’t really considered that before.
HS: I think the best example would probably be that Ramsay Centre motion which is before the one that was previously successfully put up. There was another motion that was kind of suggested and there were some internal dealings done amongst different board directors that meant that that motion was ultimately just quashed before it got to the point of being to a meeting.
RL: Right. Well I really haven’t considered that. I really think that decisions, if made by the USU need to be completely transparent. And I think decisions made prior to Board meetings or pretty much board directors going into a meeting with a preconceived idea or preconceived idea of knowing how you’re going to vote. I do think that’s problematic. It’s almost unavoidable to some extent, but I do think it’s something that should be worked on by the Board. I really don’t think that decisions should be made before they go to Board Meetings or anything like that. I understand how sometimes board directors can go into a meeting with an idea of how they’re going to vote but I do think board directors should be trying as hard as they possibly can to take their biases to one side and listen to all the evidence and make a decision based on evidence or the reasoning provided in a Board meeting.
HS: Maybe only one more general question about Board before we dive into your specific policies. Who would get your vote, of the current Board members, in say an upcoming USU presidential election and why?
RL: It’s hard to say because I think the executive election is going to be quite dependent on who was elected to Board so it’s sort of hard to say exactly who’s running. I think if I just had to pick anyone I would vote for Nick Forbutt if he was to run. Not because he’s my friend but because I truly think he is the most competent board director in this year’s Board, and I also think he’s truly dedicated to making the organisation better and I would trust him to navigate the USU through the aftermath of COVID-19.
HS: Cool. All right. Well speaking of Nick Forbutt. I think there’s definitely similarities between your policy statement and Nick’s from last year. Why do you think Nick has been unable to achieve these policies whilst on Board? What do you think you’re going to do to help achieve them?
RL: I think the reality is that last year, there weren’t many left-leaning people elected to Board. So Nick is really struggling to get some of his more left leaning policies through and I think those are the sort of policies that I have adopted in my policy statement. For example the harm reduction policy that I’ve got in my statement. He ran on a pill-testing policy, they are obviously very similar policies. This was one of the main reasons I actually got involved with this campaign because I’m obviously very passionate about drug law reform and that sort of thing. But in terms of him not actually being able to get that through, I think that comes down a lot to the fact that the current Board is quite right-wing. If I was to get on Board I would be voting in a way that is left leaning and trying my hardest to prioritise issues that I see as being important to the student body and issues that I think if they’re dealt with appropriately will seriously make the student experience better.
HS: Drugs, Sex and Consent week, kind of seems to me like a renamed Rad, Sex and Consent week, which was recently discontinued. How will your proposed Drugs, Sex and Consent week be successful where its predecessor failed and how will it differ?
RL: So, obviously in terms of how it differs, it is kind of broader in its topic because it obviously includes a focus on drugs and drug law reform and harm reduction strategies. But in terms of how it’s going to differ from Radical Sex and Consent, some elements of it will be quite similar. To my understanding, the reason that the radical sex and consent week was cut was because there was a lack of participation. I’ve read some Honi articles where the former President Courtney Thompson was talking about the fact that it’s really important, for Radical Sex and Consent week to be successful, that there are people on Board who are going to be prioritising it and making sure that the activities that go on during it are relevant to the student body. And I think in recent years or in those leading up to when it was cut, there wasn’t a board director who was prioritising this and recognising that it was actually really important to the student experience. I think all the topics, consensual sex, safe sex, fighting against rape culture on campus and promoting harm reduction; I think these are all really relevant topics and they’re really important and I don’t think we would have a problem in terms of getting participation as long as there is the political will on Board to make it happen.
HS: Just going on from that, obviously, social distancing regulations look set to continue for the foreseeable future. How are you planning on adapting a week like Rad Sex and or Drugs, Sex and Consent week, which is maybe not entirely feasible to be held on campus in the near future. Do you have plans for how you’re going to kind of adapt your policies to cope with that?
RL: Specificaly to the radical, sorry to the Drug, Sex and Consent week, I was planning to have that when the social distancing policies had worn off. But in terms of other policies that I’ve got, some of them are probably incompatible with the social distancing rules that are now in place but there are other policy areas that I focus on that are specifically for during COVID-19, so during the time when we have to social distance. A lot of it is sort of activist based, student welfare based. I’ve got policies on promoting student welfare during COVID-19 and ensuring that the USU is collaborating with the SRC to promote activism during COVID-19 and support students during this time. So I think realistically it’s unlikely that the Drug, Sex and Consent week would be able to happen during COVID-19.
HS: So as such a strong unionist then, and especially in light of staff being fired and more layoffs being likely, how do you reconcile that part of your politics and being a board director who might then oversee more significant job cuts?
RL: I think it’s important to have people on Board that are going to prioritise the needs of staff and students and are going to be dedicated to ensuring that the USU remains a union. I think I understand that I would have to oversee that sort of thing but I would be actively campaigning against as much as possible against cuts to staff.
HS: Another thing I wanted to address quickly was that your policy statement is obviously very wide ranging. There’s all sorts of different sort of policies ranging from, as you said before the Drug Sex and Consent week, all the way to umbrella hire, but do you you have a policy priority, something that you really want to get done?
RL: So, kind of like a top policy?
RL: Honestly, I think my main focus is transparency. I think the transparency review is extremely important. I’ve spoken about it a lot already and I probably sound like a broken record but I really think it is important that the Board is accountable to students and that it’s making decisions transparently. I also think that a transparency review is something that is very feasible and could probably be implemented quite quickly.
HS: So is that something you’re going to be really passionate about as soon as you get in. Is that something you want to launch immediately?
RL: Yeah, absolutely.
HS: Okay, cool. So, in terms of the subsidising of RSA courses for students, as part of your policy, obviously the union is in pretty dire financial straits. How do you propose the union would run those? Would it be the kind of thing where they would be run through the union itself or would the union be hiring people to come in and do it for them?
RL: I think the union would probably have to hire people to come in and do that. But in terms of having it subsidised, it wouldn’t be completely free, obviously, because that’s just not financially feasible for the union at the moment. So, it would just be a small price to pay. But really, I understand that it is probably one of my more costly policies, but I think that students have been one of the hardest hit groups during this crisis. So many people have lost their jobs. A lot of students can’t access things like Youth Allowance, JobKeeper, JobSeeker, and especially international students cannot access these things and I think the USU does need to remember that its priority is the interest of students and it should really be helping students come back from this crisis by supporting students as best the union can and I think this is a really good way to do that.
HS: So we wanted to give you an opportunity to respond to some of the allegations that have been brought up by Unity. If you’ve read our gossip section from this week I’m sure you can probably understand the attitude that we’ve taken to them, but we just wanted to see if you wanted to respond to them in any way given that they keep getting brought up.
RL: Yeah, sure. I appreciate that. Yeah, look, I think, for context, the comments were made when I was 16 towards my boyfriend and I really had no sort of conception of the weight of my language or the effects that my use of that language was having. I really just did not consider that even though it wasn’t intended to be homophobic, it was homophobic, really. Using that sort of language does alienate the LGBTQI community and I do apologise for using that language, and I really hope that people can see through that comment. and I hope people don’t think that reflected my views and I really hope that people don’t think that that reflects my views now. What it really reflects is ignorance, and immaturity and I do apologise.
HS: Is there anything else that you wanted to add?
RL: No, not particularly.
HS: Okay. Well, thanks so much for coming and answering our questions.
Following this initial interview, Honi Soit was made aware of the existence of further screenshots containing offensive material.
HS: We’ve actually come across some more screenshots since then that are a little bit more serious in nature and that we would like to get your response on, if that’s ok with you.
HS: So, we have found some screenshots from a few years ago. One is about someone who has posted a picture of Nazis marching with the comment that ‘caption is so relatable’ to which you’ve responded with a meme that reads an SS trip leading a young Jewish boy onto the train to Auschwitz and it’s a picture of a man pointing a boy onto a train. And we’ve also found another screenshot from four years ago in which use a derogatory term for African American people. Those are the two incidences we’re talking about. We want to verify that you did say those things, and to just ask how old you were when you said them?
RL: If I’m completely honest I don’t really know what you’re referring to, so I’d need you to send them through to me. Can you send a message of them or a screenshot because I don’t really know?
HS: Yeah, sure. Just give me one second.
RL: Because I really have no recollection, but obviously these were four years ago or whatever.
HS: Ruby are you able to see this here?
HS: Okay, so we were made aware of this screenshot here, in which you responded to this comment here with this image, I believe.
RL: I mean, It does look that way.
HS: And then we were also sent this.
RL: Look, I don’t know, these are comments that were made years ago and like honestly, I have said this before and I’ll say it again that I really had no conception of the impact of my language. I was 14 or something when I was making these comments.
HS: Take your time.
RL: I’m gonna take one sec sorry.
HS: That’s okay. Do you want to go and grab a glass of water and come back Ruby, because we’ve got time so feel free to take a couple minutes and come back.
After a short break.
RL: Hi can you hear me? Sorry, I just need to take a second to wrap my head around this.
HS: So as far as we can see from the screenshots this was around three years ago, which would have made you about 16. Is that correct?
RL: I’d probably be 15.
HS: All right, cool. I’d just kind of like to know why you did post these kinds of comments? Did you think that it was funny, were you not aware of the historical context at the time?
RL: Yeah, honestly, I really just did not consider the fact that the jokes that I would make would be hurting other people and I also didn’t consider the fact that they would stay online. It’s really difficult for me, obviously, just because I truly do not consider myself a racist or an anti-Semite or anything like that. I’ve always… sorry, I’m trying not to cry.
HS: That’s okay you can take your time responding. Obviously the historical context of Nazism is something that you learn from around about the end of primary school and certainly in your early high school years. Was that something that you weren’t super aware of at the time?
RL: No, it wasn’t that I wasn’t aware of it, I suppose, I just wasn’t aware of the fact that, you know by making a joke of it, I was… you know… obviously I’m aware in hindsight that that’s just such an awful thing to do. I’m really beating myself up right now. I’m very embarrassed because I have a lot of Jewish friends and a lot of African American friends, which is like really a horrible thing to, you know, potentially, be seen as something that I am. Honestly I was somewhat aware of the historical context of this stuff. I just didn’t really realise the way in which jokes could perpetuate really harmful racism and anti-Semitism.
HS: I guess kind of like the biggest question for us is that we obviously gave you an opportunity to respond to the screenshots that we were aware of yesterday. And I’m just kind of wondering why you didn’t address these ones?
RL: I had no idea about these screenshots, they’ve never been shown to me. Unity never bought these up so I truly had no idea that they existed. I also had gone through my Facebook to make sure I hadn’t said any more problematic things. I did not find any of that stuff. So I don’t really know where this is, and that’s why I didn’t bring it up yesterday. I truly wasn’t aware of it.
HS: So you don’t remember making the comments at all?
RL: No, I absolutely do not remember making the comments but I do remember having that language when I was in high school to be honest.
HS: Okay. I mean, obviously you’re saying this is a few years ago for you. You were a bit younger. I guess I’m just curious to know what you’ve done to grow politically past this?
RL: Honestly, I have just become so much more aware of the fact that even something said in passing, even something that was intended as a joke, has the capacity to hurt communities. It has the capacity, as I said, to perpetuate racism and anti-Semitism. Even if I don’t personally see myself as a racist or an anti-Semite in any way. I, by making those jokes, recognise that I was perpetuating that culture and I’m really, truly so sorry about that. I’m really devastated and disappointed in myself.
HS: Maybe adding on to that, do you have any tangible examples you can give so that students can know that you’ve changed?
RL: Yeah, I mean, look, I’ve been involved in activism. If you want, I can send you photos and stuff that sort of thing. I mean, it’s difficult like…I just sort of…never…I’m really struggling right now.
HS: It’s okay, take as long as you need. if you need to go and grab another glass of water and come back let’s all right.
RL: Yeah, I don’t know. I suppose you’re planning to publish this as news?
HS: I don’t really want to comment too much on our coverage. I think it’s obviously going to inform our profile of you. We will be raising it in our profile. Obviously prior to this we were operating on information that was, albeit problematic, not to this degree. This has kind of changed our perspective on that. So we just wanted to get your thoughts on it but again, if you want to take a couple minutes to just kind of have a breather we’ve got time.
RL: Is it possible for us to call back in twenty minutes? I just need to have a lie down for a second because I just really wasn’t aware of these screenshots.
HS: Yeah I’m okay with that. We’ll call you back in 20.
Ruby took a 20 minute break. In this time, she messaged us expressing some doubt over whether or not the screenshots had been doctored. She agreed to rejoin the call, accompanied by her campaign manager Roisin Murphy.
HS: So, kind of where we left off was we had talked a little bit about the age that Ruby was when she made these comments and Ruby’s feelings of regret around potentially having made them. Now you guys are saying that they’ve been doctored. I’m just wondering if you could explain that a little bit for me?
RL: I was just saying that because I haven’t been able to find them. You know how you can use the search function on Facebook. Yeah, I’ve been struggling to find them. But I think I found one of them. The anti-Semitic one and I’ve deleted that. And my mom just found the other one because I’ve been searching for it. It didn’t come up immediately, I found that and I’ve deleted that. So I can confirm they weren’t doctored.
HS: Okay, great. I think we should maybe then go back to the questions we had before. How have you moved on from this period in your life, what kind of actions have you taken to show the students that you’re politically distant from this?
Roisin Murphy: Now if I can just jump in here and ask if you guys are gonna be asking Ruby questions, is there not a way she could make a statement?
HS: Ruby’s welcome to provide us with a statement after we’ve finished asking questions. But we do have a couple more questions we’d like to ask.
RL: Yeah, sorry I’m just struggling to be coherent.
HS: That’s okay. Again, feel free to take your time.
RL: What was the question, how I’ve moved on?
HS: We’d just like to know what actions you’ve taken since this period. Now that we’ve established the screenshots aren’t actually doctored. How have you progressed in your attitude toward race and advanced politically?
RL: Yeah, I suppose, very simply, I’ve grown up. I have realised that that language is completely unacceptable and since coming to uni I’ve gotten involved with the left movement. I’ve been involved in activism, I’ve been involved in student politics, which actively fight against racism and anti-Semitism. It’s really hard obviously. These comments were made when I was 15 and 14, I just I, because obviously I’ve gotten the comments now I can see the year were posted and the age I was.
HS: What year were they posted in?
RL: They were posted in 2016 at the beginning and then towards the end of 2016.
HS: Okay, cool. The reason why I wanted to ask that question is just because it seems to me that the way that you answered our former one, in terms of how you’ve moved on, you mentioned that you have Jewish and African American friends to quote you, which is an interesting answer to provide to that question. I’m wondering if you could kind of go a little bit further specifically into the way that your own politics – have you been involved in any kind of anti-racism campaigns, do you have any ideas for how you can prove to the student body that you have moved past these kinds of ideas?
RL: Yeah, for starters I wasn’t using that as a defence or anything, I was just saying that it’s very embarrassing that there’s potential for my Jewish and African American friends to see this and then possibly, you know, think lower, because I used to say quite shitty things, that I had bad language. I wasn’t citing it as a defence, ‘like I have these friends like I’m clearly you not this way.’ It wasn’t really what I was intending to do at all. In terms of specific examples of anti-racism and anti-Semitism. I’m trying to remember specific protests and stuff that I attended. I remember it was one during O-week I think, a demonstration against racism on campus that I was at. I’m just struggling to remember exactly examples, because I…
HS: It’s alright you can take a little bit of time. We understand these are hard questions so you can take some time to answer them.
RL: If you don’t mind, I will just go through and have a think about specific examples of activism that I’ve been involved in, in terms of attending protests and that sort of thing, just because I can’t remember specific examples. So, if I can just send you those later?
HS: Yeah. Okay, just the last kind of broader question that we have is that you were quite young when you made these comments. You’re obviously still quite young now. The response to these is that obviously they’ve been quite distressing to you. You’ve forgotten that you’ve made them, now you’ve deleted them. I guess I’m just kind of wondering, do you think that you’re mature enough to run for union Board? It’s obviously quite a big position. Do you think you’re in a good place at the moment to run?
RL: Yeah, I mean I was in a really good place to run. I really think that anyone who doesn’t consider themselves a racist or an anti-Semite would be quite distressed by these sorts of allegations. Obviously they were just kind of thrown at me and I didn’t really have time to think and it has been really distressing and I honestly feel like since coming to university especially I’ve definitely matured and I can definitely recognise that comments and language that I used in the past is absolutely unacceptable. And I, again and again, apologise for that. Obviously I am upset, but I hope people don’t think I’m emotionally unstable because I think this is quite a reasonable thing to get upset about.
HS: Is there a particular reason that you made the conclusion that they might have been doctored?
RL: Yeah, because I couldn’t find them. when I used the search function I could not find the comments. This was immediately once you sent them, I tried to find them and I couldn’t find them. And then obviously, that was quite concerning because I didn’t have any recollection of making the comments.
HS: Yeah, I mean can you see how it might seem that by you saying they might have been doctored, it might appear as a bit of an avoidance technique when previously we already discussed you feeling quite aggrieved or quite sad about having made these comments. Then you’re saying that they are doctored. Can you see how that might seem unlikely to us?
RL: Well obviously I’m not now saying that they were doctored. It was the immediate conclusion that I jumped to when I couldn’t find the comments because I didn’t have recollection. Obviously when you told me about this I was just upset. I used bad language and I made that homophobic comment, so I was like, look, I don’t have recollection of making these comments but there’s the possibility that I could have. So that’s why I reacted the way I did when you first brought it up. And when I couldn’t find them on Facebook, I became concerned that they could be. But now I found them and I’ve come clean that I did make them. Honestly, it wasn’t some sort of tactic.
HS: When we first raised the screenshots to you, when we first suggested their existence, you seemed to immediately understand that it happened around three or four years ago, at least that’s what you told us. So when we said ‘oh we found some more screenshots you asked us, were they from three or four years ago? And then you said, there was a point in the middle where you said, you didn’t even know what they were. And just then of course you told us they were doctored, now you found them. It just seems a little inconsistent from our end.
Roisin: We’ve already told you guys that we have received screenshots in the past from student Unity from three or four years ago, so I’d assume…
RL: That that was the homophobic screenshot, that wasn’t this.
HS: I guess that kind of comes into a little bit of our confusion though because we had previously brought up that screenshot yesterday during Ruby’s interview and asked if she wanted to respond to it, which was obviously a different situation at the time, and it is a little bit confusing to me that, given that chance to respond she wouldn’t also kind of engage with or bring up previous problematic behaviours and try and make amends or explain those. And then today we’ve found further screenshots and there’s been a little bit of an attempt to deny them by saying that they’ve been doctored. So, we’re just a little bit curious about why you’ve chosen that approach to this situation? It seems curious to me.
RL: I mean I wasn’t saying that they were doctored I was just saying that they could potentially be because I couldn’t find them. Yesterday I did not know that these existed. I knew I had bad language in high school, that is just something that I knew. I had no clue that I had made these comments, which is why I obviously didn’t comment on them. Unity had never shown us these comments before. So I really didn’t know. And in terms of my reaction today obviously, you guys just showed me the screenshots, and I just reacted in a way that was genuine. I was just really upset.
Roisin: I just think that there needs to be a bit of emotional leeway for the shock that Ruby would’ve felt seeing those to be honest.
HS: Yeah, and I think we kind of have given Ruby quite a lot of space today to respond to them. I’m just curious as to how you could forget making those kinds of comments in the first place, especially when you did tell us at the beginning of your interview that you had gone back through and deleted previous instances of problematic content on your Facebook.
RL: I hadn’t deleted previous instances. I had searched for them and I couldn’t find anything, aside from that homophobic comment that I had made. I genuinely had searched through and I couldn’t find anything and even today, it didn’t immediately come up.
HS: Right. Okay. Ruby did you want to send us a statement? You’re more than welcome. Do you have our email address?
RL: No, I don’t think so. I could write that down.
HS: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
RL: Honestly, just that I am incredibly sorry about these comments that I made. I’m really upset with myself. I will send you a statement just because I’m a little bit incoherent at the present time. I’m very upset about this.
HS: Alright, cool. Well, thank you for answering our questions. I guess we’ll let you know if we need anything else.