Student executive member quits in 'lewd act' row
Wednesday 29 February 2012
A student union boss has stepped down amid controversy after being caught on camera with a woman simulating an oral sex act.
Ben Meakin, 21, issued an apology today and spoke of his long-standing support for women's rights.
He resigned from the executive committee of the National Union of Students (Wales) yesterday amid growing rumours about his actions.
He remains president of Aberystwyth University Guild of Students in the picturesque west Wales seaside resort.
His resignation came after allegations were made of inappropriate conduct with a female student at a pub over the weekend.
His outing to the pub with other students followed the annual women's superteams sporting event at the university.
A photograph apparently showing Mr Meakin taking part in a drinking competition at the pub appeared for a time on Facebook.
It showed a woman, thought to be student, on her knees on a stairway in front of Mr Meakin, apparently simulating a lewd act while he downs a beer.
He later announced via his own Facebook page that he had resigned from the NUS (Wales) executive committee.
The announcement attracted more than 80 comments, many of which dismissed claims that he was acting in a sexist manner.
One stated that the woman pictured knew that the competition was being photographed and that the photos would appear on Facebook.
Another claimed she was in no way forced to take part in the drinking competition or was unhappy with her treatment.
The university's student newspaper, The Courier, led with the story yesterday and detailed the allegations against Mr Meakin.
It informed students that "Meakin was in The Academy pub in Aberystwyth apparently competing in a drinking game while a female student simulated a lewd act on him".
It also carried his statement in full, which read: "I sincerely regret my participation in the social event held outside the Guild after our superteams day.
"I compromised my role as Guild president. This morning, I resigned as a member of the NUS Wales national executive committee. My actions go against the fantastic work of the women's liberation movement, which I fully support.
"Personally, I am a strong advocate for the women's movement. This is clear through my work banning the event Carnage coming to the Guild this year. I have learned from this experience and plan to carry on my work here at Aberystwyth University."
Steffan Storch, editor of The Courier, said the newspaper's report had "clarified" the situation for students.
"Speculation was rife and this clarified a lot of the rumours that were going around."
He declined to say what the rumours were but added that opinion among students was divided. Many took the view that what had happened was harmless fun.
Others took the moral high ground and thought someone in his position should not have taken part in such an event.
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