The National Union of Students (NUS) is conducting an investigation after allegations of bullying and intimidation were made against the NUS president, Shakira Martin, by her fellow officers.
Martin has denied the allegations, accusing her critics of electioneering as campaigning begins in earnest ahead of NUS officer elections in March.
She has also made counter allegations, claiming she is a victim of “racism and classism”.
One of the complaints against Martin, made by the NUS women’s officer, Hareem Ghani, is that Martin had shouted and swore at officers on a number of occasions.
“Whilst I am sure Shakira Martin is under immense pressure, I do not think this behaviour is befitting or acceptable for a president,” she said.
“People should feel safe and secure in their place of work. They shouldn’t be made to feel anxious or upset at the prospect of being in the same environment as the president.”
Martin vehemently denied being a bully and said bullying should play no part in student politics. She said she felt traumatised by the attacks against her on social media, which had brought her close to quitting her role, and claimed they fed into a stereotype of an angry black woman.
“I believe the victimisation I’ve suffered is because I’m a black, working-class woman,” she said. “For the past few weeks I’ve been a victim of racism and classism.”
An NUS spokesperson, confirming that a number of complaints were under investigation, said: “We take the health and wellbeing of those that work for us seriously and any breaches of codes of conduct will be dealt with appropriately.”