Councillors dub special council meeting out of order
A petition for a vote of non-confidence for University of Saskatchewan Graduate Student Association president Izabela Vlahu is yet to be voted on by councillors.
Presented on Oct. 28, the petition was signed by 13 graduate students and cited a number of examples of alleged misconduct from the president as reasons for her impeachment. The primary issues at hand appeared to be concerns over spending of GSA finances, including U-Pass implementation costs and executive travel funds, and a series of general allegations of poor governance.
A meeting scheduled for noon on Nov. 17 was originally planned as a time for councillors to vote on the declaration of non-confidence. However, after it was confirmed that the number of councillors present was not enough to meet the required two-third majority in order to pass the vote, those present voted 29 against, 12 in favour and four abstentions, which deemed the meeting to be out of order. Only 46 councillors were on hand of the 56 necessary to pass the motion.
Hardi Shahadu, a graduate student in environmental and sustainability, expressed concern over the timing of the Nov. 17 meeting and suggested that scheduling it for 5 p.m. would have decreased overlap with councillors’ working schedules.
“I think what has just happened is a waste of people’s time,” Shahadu said as councillors left the GSA commons. “When we sent the petition we didn’t set a time because we wanted to be reasonable so that the executives can call us and we’ll decide what time is suitable for everyone to attend.
“If you have leaders who don’t care, who are not willing to listen, who are not interested in consensus, this is what you get.”
Hardi was among the 13 councillors who signed the original petition calling for the special meeting of the GSA council in order to vote on the motion of non-confidence.
The option existed for the vote of non-confidence to be amended to the agenda of the next GSA council meeting, held at 5 p.m. on Nov. 18, but this possibility was not exercised.
Following the special council meeting, Dena Burnett, former GSA chair from 2012 to December 2013 and current PhD student in biomedical engineering, said that the motion on the vote of non-confidence should be brought before council again as soon as possible.
“The way organizations run, you can’t have dangling business. This motion could be anything. It could be something to run an audit for the organization; it could be to acquire legal consultation to help us out; it could be to have a puppy room; it could be for anything,” Burnett said. “Bottom line: it’s dangling business, and dangling business, in the best interest of an organization, should always be moved to the next agenda by default. There shouldn’t even be a vote on it; it should just be moved by default.”
The Sheaf approached Vlahu for a reaction to the council meetings on Nov. 17 and 18, but she declined the invitation to comment. However, she summarized the outcome of the former meeting and gave her thoughts on it in an email sent out to graduate students a few hours after the fact.
“I remain dedicated to promoting the interests of the GSA and all graduate students,” Vlahu wrote in the email.
It remains to be seen if the group which originally brought the petition to the GSA plans to rally their efforts and submit a petition for a second special council meeting or if they will move to amend a future agenda to vote on the matter.
Photo: Katherine Fedoroff/Photo Editor