Shortly after 9:00 a.m. on Sept. 4, the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union released a media advisory stating that Coden Nikbakht is no longer the USSU president, citing personal circumstances.
Nikbakht was acclaimed as USSU president on March. 22, amid protests from students over allegations of sexual misconduct. In an interview with the Sheaf, USSU General Manager Caroline Cottrell stated that Nikbakht’s departure from the union had nothing to do with said allegations.
“There are issues of confidentiality, [but] what I will tell you… [is that] this has nothing, not one thing, to do with the allegations from the spring… The circumstances have nothing to do with that issue,” Cottrell said.
Nikbakht told CTV News that he was unable to register for classes and that it was requested that he discontinue his studies after not completing four classes for which he thought he was afforded extra time. Cottrell confirmed in an interview with the Sheaf that this status deems Nikbakht ineligible for a position on the USSU executive.
“If somebody ceased to be a student, the add-drop date is not relevant. Ergo, they’re no longer members of the union, and in accordance with the bylaw and The Non-Profit Corporations Act, they’re no longer eligible to be in an executive position,” Cottrell said.
Cottrell called a meeting of USSU staff at 9:00 a.m. on Sept. 4 to inform them of Nikbakht’s departure. Cottrell confirmed that Nikbakht was not in attendance, explaining that Nikbakht’s tenure with the USSU ended at midnight on Aug. 31.
“All the centre coordinators were there. The Louis’ managers were all there. The executive was there. Our staff falls into a number of categories. Everyone who could be there was in attendance,” Cottrell said.
Brent Kobes, vice-president operations and finance, has assumed the role of acting president, in accordance with the USSU Bylaw. The USSU media advisory states that a by-election will be held to fill the president’s position along with another ten positions on the University Students’ Council that have been vacant since elections ended in March. In an interview with the Sheaf, Kobes stated that the by-election should occur in October.
In order to proceed with a by-election, the USSU appointments committee, which will be struck at the first USC council meeting of term one on Sept. 6, will select two students at large to join two USC elected student councillors, an appointed assistant chief returning officer and a practicing lawyer as chair on the elections committee.
Applications for students at large will close on Sept. 17. Cottrell says that these measures are in accordance with standard USSU procedure.
“We will proceed according to the dictates of the USSU’s bylaw and The Non-Profit Corporations Act, wherever it speaks to what we need to do,” Cottrell said. “We have given [Kobes] our absolute support as he segues into his new role.”
Moving forward, Cottrell says that there are more factors at play for the USSU to consider.
“This organization is a whole lot larger and a whole lot more important than any single individual,” Cottrell said. “We want to move forward, and we want to have a good by-election, and we want to carry on with the business that we need to do.”
Nikbakht could not be reached for comment.
Emily Migchels / Editor-in-Chief, Tanner Bayne / News Editor
Photo: Riley Deacon / Photo Editor