By Racy Rafique, Gabriela Silva Ponte and Jake MacAndrew
The Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union (TMSU) has approved a motion to remove five of its Board of Directors (BoD) members for ‘abandonment’ of office.
The abandonment motion passed with two-thirds majority of the vote.
“Out of 23 total votes, at least 21 of them were in favour of each motion,” said Spyros Zarros, TMSU vice-president operations, in an email sent to The Eyeopener with the results of the vote.
Votes were collected via a Google Form that was emailed at 6:20 p.m. yesterday from Zarros to the Board. Voting closed today at 7 p.m.
Board of Governors representative Joel Kuriakose, Faculty of Arts director Kiera Gray, Faculty of Community Services director Zroha Khalid and Ted Rogers School of Management directors Aman Mathur and April West have been removed from the Board.
Removed BoD members will be ineligible to run for the BoD again. According to Section 4.4 of the TMSU bylaws, any individual that has “abandoned, been impeached or dismissed as a Director” is “ineligible for the Board of Directors.”
“Due to the time of year with two months remaining, we recommend not filling the positions left vacant,” said Zarros in an email obtained by The Eye.
The directors were removed on the basis of abandonment, per Section 4.15 of the TMSU bylaws that state that directors who fail to attend three consecutive meetings or any four meetings of the Board “shall be deemed to have delivered their resignation” and can be removed by a two-thirds majority vote of the Board.
In the email sent to the BoD last night and obtained by The Eye, Zarros said the TMSU has been reviewing requirements of the bylaws and the alignment with the honorarium of up to $3,000 that Board members are set to receive, as discussed in the TMSU’s last BoD meeting on Jan. 17.
“Upon reviewing the attendance at Board of Directors meetings and the general meeting, we have found that a number of members of the Board have not attended a number of sessions required in the By-Laws and that the positions are now considered abandoned in accordance with our By-Laws,” Zarros said in the email to the BoD.
Zarros told Board members in an email obtained by The Eye that those named in the motion would be unable to participate in the vote.
This is in accordance with Section 4.12 of the TMSU bylaws, which state that a director “shall not vote on any resolution to approve the contract or transaction” in which the director may have a material interest, said Zarros in an email to The Eye.
“This is a common understanding around Conflict of Interest that the Board Member facing this vote would have a real or perceived material gain from the outcome of the motion,” said Zarros.
“It’s like the motion came out overnight,” said Kuriakose. “[The TMSU] suddenly revoked everyone’s right to vote.”
Kuriakose alleged that he had already been speaking to Board members about resigning before the motion to remove him began.
“Seriously, you’re going to impeach a guy that has already made the initiative to leave this Board,” said Kuriakose in response to the voting result.
“It’s a chess game that’s perfectly played by them,” said Kuriakose. “And it’s right in time for [TMSU] elections.”
TMSU president Marina Gerges told The Eye in an email that the motion was not about elections but rather about holding members accountable in order to be a “more transparent Students’ Union.”
“By putting forward this motion, we abided by our new set of bylaws,” said Gerges. TMSU’s bylaws were updated in December 2022—the first time since November 2016—as previously reported by The Eye.
“This is ultimately about upholding fiduciary responsibilities to fulfil the mandate that members have given us,” said Gerges.
Kuriakose submitted his letter of resignation to the Board at 11:46 p.m. last night, as reported by The Eye.
In an email to The Eye, Zarros said it is inaccurate to report that Kuriakose resigned from his position while the Board was in an active vote to consider his position abandoned. However, The Eye was not made aware of the vote until after the story was published.
Zarros said Kuriakose resigned after it was clear that Board Members were being removed in accordance with the bylaws.
Kuriakose alleged in a call with The Eye that the current students’ union claims he was abandoning his role as a TMSU member. However, he alleges he was consistently left in the waiting room of the Board’s Zoom meetings.
“This is news to us,” Zarros wrote in response to the allegation.
The Eye reached out to West and Mathur but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
With files from Thea Gribilas and Abeer Khan