A motion approved at an October meeting of the University of Manitoba Graduate Students’ Association to appoint Andy Bonar as GSA president and Aaron Glenn as executive-at-large has caused ongoing tension with certain members of the GSA.
At the most recent council meeting on Jan. 27, the motion was brought up again during “business arising” from the Dec. 9 meeting, when rescinding the motion and holding a new election was discussed.
During the Dec. 9 meeting, the motion was tabled to this past week’s meeting where Glenn ruled it out of order and said it should not have been tabled at all.
“I’m ruling the tabling out of order and we won’t be voting on this motion,” said Glenn.
Glenn explained to members of the council that, considering the motion had already been executed, it could not be rescinded.
“There are other avenues if there’s a problem with the job Andy’s doing as president, or the job I’m doing as executive-at-large. There are other avenues.
“This meeting was on Dec. 9, [the meeting] to appoint us [was] on October 28. [ . . . ] We worked all of November, all of December. We got cheques. I don’t know about you, but I cashed my cheques,” said Glenn.
“Jokes aside, we’ve been doing our job, and we can’t rescind a motion that’s already been executed, to make a long story short.”
Meaghan Labin, Health Sciences student representative, expressed her concern with the motion. According to Labin, the GSA had made a mistake in policy and, in doing so, set a bad precedent for the organization.
“We wanted to bring this to the council, to the executive, to show that the GSA is responsible and is required to, if they make a mistake, go back and rectify it,” said Labin.
According to Peter Nawrot, GSA vice-president (advocacy) and author of the letter, during the Oct. 28 meeting, the council rejected the votes of the Health Sciences students present, and the two thirds of the vote required of council to elect a new president and executive-at-large were not met.
Nawrot stated in the letter that he believes these actions violated the GSA constitution.
“The issue that arose from this vote of council, upon receiving legal consultation, brings into question the legitimacy of the actual vote because the council violated it’s own constitution and bylaws,” explained Nawrot.
“The constitution was violated when the proxy votes from the members at the health sciences campus were not accepted, by not accepting the proxy votes the legitimacy of appointment is questionable. By denying these proxies, the voices of 400 graduate students were silenced.”
Labin began to comment on some of the incidences that occurred at the Oct. 28 meeting that were outlined in a letter to the GSA executive.
Glenn interrupted, saying, “We’re not debating this motion.” She was then accused of lying by GSA President Andy Bonar.
In a letter detailing his response to the allegations, Bonar stated, “I understand that the vote did not go the way you liked, and [I] am sympathetic that Council did not support your actions. However, I do not think that threatening lawsuits against the association is the best way to gain back their trust.”
Bonar explained the motion to rescind was out of order because a motion to rescind cannot take place once the action has taken place and is public knowledge.
“Especially when that action is contractual in nature and that contract has been ratified through payment,” said Bonar.
Bonar also stated he believes the conflicts are not rational in basis, therefore there is currently no way to solve them.
“There is not a problem with any actions taken by council or its chair, so there is nothing to address in that venue. The problem lies with personal relationships, the mending of which will require efforts be made personally, not through emails and public protestations,” said Bonar
Nawrot said he also felt progress is not being made on these issues.
Bonar said despite the fact that there is no record of the vote, “It seems clear that the person who moved the motion and the person who seconded it were two of the three people who voted against the appointments in the first place.”
— with files from Ashley Gaboury.