SFU Student Society Impeachment Movement

Ryan mentioned it earlier and I thought I would give a bit of an update about what’s happening at SFU these days.

Just after summer semester finished this year, I received word via email that several staff of the SFSS, or Simon Fraser Student Society had been sent home on paid leave for an indefinite period of time. They were apparently locked out of their offices and their computers were searched at a location off campus. One staff member was allegedly interrogated for several hours without being allowed any legal or union representation, and this investigation resulted in her subsequent firing.

For the past few years, student politics at SFU have been rather boring, to say the least. Student society elections are usually characterized by incredibly low voter turnout, and the past several annual general meetings have been unable to go ahead due to lack of quorum (500 out of about 20,000 students).

But it seems that this issue has succeeded in capturing the interest of many students, and controversy has been boiling and tempers flaring ever since.

On the one hand, the SFSS claims that what they did was correct and justified, but that they are unable to release any information until the arbitration process has finished with the union. But their opposition, the Students for a Democratic University, maintain that the SFSS is corrupt and that this veil of secrecy is more politics than process. SDU has organized almost from the start for the impeachment of the current SFSS executive.

What became extremely clear in a public debate between the two sides on October 12 was that neither side is completely neutral. The current SFSS executive obviously has an interest in staying in power and clearing their names of wrongdoing. SDU maintains that it is a group of interested students concerned with the accountability of the SFSS, however it is important to note that the group is made up of a number of former executives of the SFSS. Over the course of the debate, it appeared that the controversy for some on both sides is somewhat personal as well as political. And while so many accusations are in mid-air, it is difficult to tell exactly who is right. I don’t believe that enough information is public for anyone to be sure.

All I can say is that the SFSS’ inability or unwillingness to release solid details on anything, their rising expenditures due to legal fees and the fact that they seem to have difficulty presenting only one version of their own story is not helping them.

Students for a Democratic University called a Special General Meeting for yesterday afternoon with motions calling for impeachment of several members of the SFSS executive. Shortly afterward, the SFSS called an Annual General Meeting for the exact same time, at a different location on campus. Some have speculated that the choice of time was not a coincidence, and that perhaps it was an effort to lure students away from the impeachment meeting.

I was unable to attend the entire Special General Meeting. However, I do know that it looked like it definitely had quorum, and though the official results have not yet been publicized, it is very likely that more than a few people were impeached.

There has been question from the start as to whether the Special General Meeting was called according to rules outlined in the SFSS constitution, and whether or not the SFSS will choose to honour the results from any voting that took place there. But opponents suggest that the SFSS failed to provide adequate notice to students of their Annual General Meeting, rendering it invalid.

The Peak, the SFU student newspaper is published every Monday, and between issues, information on campus events is usually sparse. Hopefully formal statements as to the results of both meetings will be released before then, but if not, I guess we just have to wait for Monday…

4 Comments so far

  1. Allen Pike (unregistered) on October 27th, 2006 @ 12:46 pm

    I’m an SFU student who is somewhat involved in the student government (the CSSS). The Special General meeting definitely met quorum (500 students was required and 750 showed up) and every single motion was passed – this hasn’t happened in a decade at SFU. To say the motions passed by a landslide is an understatement: motions were on the order of 700 for, 6 against. Also of note is that the executives that have been impeached are not acknowledging the meeting that impeached them, and have issued a memo claiming complete control over the SFU student society, freezing its resources, and more. Word is that the former President isn’t even a student anymore, so this is pretty bold of them. Overall, it’s quite a mess, and unless the impeached directors back down soon, there’s likely going to be some legal action.

  2. Ryan Cousineau (unregistered) on October 27th, 2006 @ 12:51 pm

    Here’s a pretty comprehensive summary of the SGM proceedings. Short version: the impeachments passed handily at a quorate meeting.

    Now the legal wrangling over the validity of this meeting must begin. However, my bet is that the simple fact of 750 students showing up and staying for a 3-hour meeting, and a fairly serious adherence to the normative procedures is going to carry the day in court.

    It sounds like the AGM barely achieved its mini-quorum.

  3. Erin (unregistered) on October 27th, 2006 @ 5:14 pm

    Thanks for the updates, both of you. I certainly hope that the SFSS chooses to honour the outcome of the SGM, especially since it was so well attended.

  4. Ariane (unregistered) on October 29th, 2006 @ 5:37 pm

    FYI- they sure aren’t honouring the outcome… last I heard, they had been camped out in their offices all weekend…

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