By Jonathan Fowlie
RyeSAC executive Sajjad Wasti put an end to three weeks of bitter and divisive controversy by submitting his resignation to the board of directors at an emergency meeting Monday night.
“Understandably, the present upheaval being experienced at RyeSAC is taking its toll on everyone,” wrote Wasti, vice-president finance and services, in a letter to RyeSAC President Darren Cooney.
“During these turbulent times, I find it extremely difficult to carry out my duties as vice-president finance and services. I believe it would be a greater disservice to students at this university if I were to carry on given the present environment,” he continued.
The resignation came after the RyeSAC board voted last Wednesday to reconsider an Oct. 21 decision not to bring any consequences against Wasti for his accusations that RyeSAC management was “corrupt” and “nepotistic.”
The decision to reconsider came after a member of the board said she was confused about the vote on Oct. 21.
Sheila Nykwist, director of communications and design, sided with Wasti on Oct. 21, but said at Wednesday’s SAGM that she was confused about the motion she had voted for, and wanted another chance to debate the issue.
The board brought the question back to the table in a 10-to-4 vote, largely because members said they wanted to see two separate questions: one on impeachment and the other on all other forms of disciplinary action, such as a letter of apology.
Discussion of punishing Wasti on Monday was shut down by the eleventh-hour news of his resignation.
A copy of Wasti’s letter was handed to each board member. Once other business had been cleared away, board chair Nona Robinson asked if anyone would support a motion to accept Wasti’s resignation.
After a long sombre silence, Cooney raised his hand to support the motion, which was seconded by graduate students’ director and executive committee member, Christine Johns.
Before voting, Nykwist asked Wasti to explain his decision to resign.
“It’s pretty clear in the [original] letter itself that RyeSAC needed to change,” he said, showing very little emotion. “We are really split. We are really far apart. I don’t see a way of working with this executive again.”
The board voted 11-6 to accept Wasti’s resignation.
After the votes were counted, vice-president student life and events, Crystal Adair, stormed out of the meeting, yelling “goodnight” on her way out the door.
Adair was in tears outside of Oakham House, where board members Dave Maclean, Aradhana Choudhuri and RyeSAC staffer Dawn Murray tried to console her.
After Adair left the meeting, Wasti casually got up from his chair, ate a chocolate candy off the table and collected his papers. Before strolling out the door, he took his cellphone out of his pocket to check the screen and grabbed the cardboard sign with his name on it from the table in front of him.
He then methodically donned his scarf and coat and disappeared into the night. He did not speak to the press and could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Reaction to Wasti’s surprise resignation was mixed among board members.
“I can’t believe how upset I was when I walked in here today to find out that [his resignation] was on the table,” said Maclean, who voted against accepting Wasti’s resignation. “What do we gain by him resigning? He runs away from the voice of students.”
The board will decide how to choose the new vice-president finance and services at its next regular meeting on Dec. 17. In the meantime, executives and staff have agreed to cover the duties of his portfolio.