By Jonathan Fowlie
A RyeSAC vice-president is a board of directors’ vote away from being kicked out of office after he called RyeSAC management “corrupt” and “nepotistic” in an open letter last week.
The RyeSAC executive committee passed a motion to impeach Sajjad Wasti, vice-president finance and services, in a meeting held last Wednesday afternoon.
RyeSAC president Darren Cooney then called an emergency RyeSAC board meeting, to be held as soon as possible, where members will begin the process of deciding whether or not Wasti will be removed from office.
“This isn’t necessarily a positive step, but our hands are tied,” said Cooney on Monday. “There’s nothing else we can do.”
Wasti said the meeting on Wednesday, where the motion to impeach him was introduced, was “emotionally very charged.”
“It started off with expressions of frustration and anger from everyone.” He said. “Crystal [Adair, vice-president student life and events] and I were of course very quiet all along.”
Wasti said that people at the meeting immediately confronted him and said comments such as “why did you have to go about it this way?” and “[this letter] diminished the work we’ve done over the past six months.”
Cooney then introduced a motion to impeach both Wasti and Adair. It was such an emotional moment that Cooney began to cry as he read the motion.
“It was rough,” said Cooney. “I certainly don’t want to see two of my friends get kicked out of the organization, but again, I feel that our hands are tied.”
The original motion called for the removal of both Wasti and Adair. A close friend of Wasti’s, she voiced her support for him in The Eyeopener last week and said that “my resignation has been on the table since the health and dental plan change.”
“They were quoting both newspapers and basing our removal on those papers,” said Wasti,” because those articles included an expression from [Adair] and me to resign.”
Cooney said that as soon as Adair made it clear she had no intention of resigning, and that she did not help Wasti with the letter in any way, the committee removed her name from the motion.
“Crystal was included in the original motion because I was under the impression that she had a hand in writing the letter,” said Cooney. “I thought she was supporting the libellous statements made in the letter.”
Cooney said he wasn’t surprised that Adair expressed an intent to resign in the campus media.
“Crystal [Adair] has been threatening to quit since May, maybe June at the latest. She threatens to quit because she doesn’t like things that are political,” Cooney said.
“It’s like the situation with the little boy who cried wolf, and I’m desensitized to it.”
Now that the motion to impeach Wasti has been accepted by the executive committee, the RyeSAC board will have to meet me as soon as possible to discuss the issue.
The board will then have to get together a second time, at which point it will need to vote on whether or not Wasti should be impeached for his actions.
In order to remove Wasti, two-thirds of the 22 member board need to vote in favour of the motion.
While official debate will take place either later this week or early next week at the first emergency board meeting, the letter has already prompted discussion in numerous avenues on campus.
Almost immediately after the letter was released to the Ryerson community last week, board member Dave MacLean sent an e-mail to the listserv that is sent to all course union and student group leaders in support of Wasti’s comments.
“Sajjad’s statement is probably the most honest and straight forward statement from RyeSAC’s execs so far this year,” wrote MacLean.
This message spurred such a heated response that the listserv is now being moderated to ensure it is only used for official e-mails.
“The purpose of the listserv was for passing along information only,” said Cooney. “In recent days that had fallen to pieces and people were using it for their own personal political goals and a cross-debate was raging.”
Cooney said RyeSAC Operations Manager Rob Emerson and Campus Groups Administrator Leatrice Spevack took action to make sure “only the proper information as defined by the criteria was flowing through the listserv.”
Others said the working relationship in the RyeSAC office has also deteriorated and communication has become very difficult.
“The office is certainly not the same as it was before. It’s tough to get work done when you know the people who are supposed to be working with you are working against you,” said Ken Marciniec, vice-president education.
“What kind of team do you have when half of it is threatening to resign?” added Cooney.
While Wasti agreed that communication has become very difficult, he said “I don’t care what’s going on in here because it’s extremely clear that I’m not wanted in this office. Before writing the letter I had thought of the worst and the worst is now happening.”
Despite these repercussions, Wasti said he still has no regrets about writing the letter.
“I am proud to announce the opening of debate at Ryerson,” he said. “Whether I get impeached or not, that’s a different issue, but this will go somewhere I’m sure. The debate has been unleashed now.”