By Alexandra Holyk and Heidi Lee
Not one motion was on the agenda at the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) Board of Directors’ (BoD) meeting on Dec. 18 until RSU president Ali Yousaf announced the proposed removal of Board of Governors’ (BoG) student representative David Jardine.
Before approving the meeting’s agenda, Yousaf put forward an amendment announcing a motion to impeach and remove Jardine from the BoD.
Faculty of Arts director Alexandra Nash asked Yousaf why the motion was not included in the initial agenda sent to the board before the meeting.
Yousaf explained that he made it an announcement rather than a motion since an impeachment has to be done in two steps, according to RSU bylaw section 2.3e, which states that a notice to remove a director must be given no later than one board meeting prior.
RSU executive director Reanna Maharaj added that a similar process was completed last year when three out of six RSU executives were given notice of their impeachment at the Nov. 27 BoD meeting. Their impeachments were scheduled for the BoD meeting on Dec. 10.
The impeachment motion states that Jardine “acted in a manner that it is not in the best interests of the RSU and contrary to [their] duty of loyalty to the RSU.”
The motion further states that Jardine violated section 8.13 of the RSU bylaws, which requires directors’ confidentiality on matters discussed in-camera during RSU BoD meetings. This means they cannot communicate the information discussed to any third-party organizations without the consent of the board.
In this case, the motion claims Jardine is “rendering advice, assistance and confidential information” to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1281 and that “some of the information shared with CUPE by David Jardine was only provided to David Jardine during in camera sessions of the Board.”
CUPE Local 1281 is currently in arbitration with the RSU over the termination of five full-time staff members who were represented by the labour union.
According to section 8.15 of RSU bylaws, if a two-thirds majority of the BoD found any director to be in violation of section 8.13, the board will then decide a consequence for the director.
Jardine repeatedly asked why they were being impeached and if they’d be provided with the evidence against them ahead of Saturday’s meeting.
“I promise you I have no idea what this is in reference to,” Jardine said about their impeachment.
However, Yousaf insisted that Jardine was aware of the reasons for their impeachment, saying “I think everything is crystal clear…in the motion.”
“Believe me, I’m pretty sure you do have all the information,” Yousaf said, adding that the impeachment will be discussed further Saturday.
In order for Jardine to be impeached, two-thirds of the board members present at the meeting must vote in favour of the motion. This was changed from the RSU’s previous bylaws, which required the presence of all board members at the meeting to determine a two-thirds majority.
It is not yet known who moved the motion.
Director calls board environment “hostile”
According to Faculty of Community Services director Steph Rychlo, Yousaf lied about the reason for holding meetings on two consecutive days. Rychlo said Yousaf told them there was “too much to be discussed,” therefore a second meeting on Saturday was required.
Yousaf responded and said he wanted to hold an emergency BoD meeting on Dec. 12 to discuss the matter, however, since one board member did not consent to the meeting, it was postponed to Dec. 19.
Nash confirmed she was the one who did not consent to last week’s meeting. However, she said Yousaf should not blame her, a board member, for “not waiving their right to notice.”
Nash added that the board environment is hostile—members “intimidate and speak inappropriately to others.”
Although RSU executives moved on to provide the board with updates, board members circled back to the motion to impeach Jardine.
Chairperson Shoaib Ahmed said the discussion surrounding Jardine’s impeachment would take place at tomorrow’s meeting and that it was time to adjourn.
Rychlo pointed out that the board has been rushed to finish a meeting several times already throughout the fall semester and that this contributes to a hostile environment.
“I don’t think we need to be rushed to adjourn a meeting that we were told had to be cut up into two meetings anyway because they were going to be long meetings when it’s only been an hour and a half,” they said.
Ahmed proceeded to open the discussion to any remaining questions. Since no one spoke up, the meeting was adjourned.
RSU staff and executive updates
Financial controller Priya Paul and vice-president operations Liora Dubinsky said the financial audits for the past two years are currently underway and are expected to be completed by the end of January 2021.
Dubinsky and Paul also mentioned that 90 per cent of the cheques from the RSU’s initiatives including the COVID-19 relief grant and the Neill-Wycik relief fund have been sent to recipients.
Vice-president equity Vaishali Vinayak announced the launch of the RSU Food Box for Ryerson students experiencing food insecurity. She added that students can apply through a Google form to receive a bi-weekly credit for grocery shopping—$25 for pick-up and $20 for delivery. Vinayak also said she is looking to create a custom application for Ryerson students to use for grocery pick-up or delivery.
The RSU Food Box is not affiliated with the Good Food Centre, however, Vinayak said this was the best way to ensure students with food insecurities receive support while the centre isn’t operating due to the pandemic.
The form will be available from Dec. 21 to 23 and students’ eligibility for the program will be determined by the RSU.
Siddhanth Satish, vice-president education, said he is looking to lobby the university for a credit/non-credit (CRD/NCR) option for students’ final grades, similar to the option that was implemented in the winter 2020 semester. Satish explained that the RSU has received several requests regarding this from students over the past week and a half. He said he hopes to have everything completed before Dec. 24 when all of the university’s departments close for winter break.
Vice-president student life & events, Usama Sheikh, said he is working on finalizing winter Week of Welcome activities and collaborating with other student organizations such as RU Student Life and the athletics department to host events throughout the winter semester.
The next BoD meeting will take place tomorrow at noon.