By Gabriela Silva Ponte
The Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union (TMSU) kicked off its election season on Feb. 21 with a nomination period, where candidates collect nominations to be eligible for candidacy.
Aside from elections, the students’ union had its fair share of news this week, including two resignations, five removals of members and allegations of a “toxic” work environment.
Here’s everything you need to know about the TMSU over the past two weeks:
February BoD meeting
The TMSU held its February Board of Directors (BoD) meeting on Feb. 24. The meeting was initially announced to begin at 1 p.m. but the time was moved up by one hour without notifying the media or the public, as previously reported by The Eyeopener.
This violated Section 4.18 of the TMSU bylaws which state the public must be given notice and an agenda 72 hours in advance of its BoD meetings.
After a concern was raised by Faculty of Science director Sherry Pourghaz* regarding increased security on campus, the students’ union went on to announce its ‘No Cops on Campus’ campaign was not discussed by Board members prior to its release to the public.
Several Board members shared their dissatisfaction with the campaign, after which TMSU president Marina Gerges told the Board that the students’ union would be taking a different course of action.
“We cannot provide such a campaign and disregard all of the sexual assaults,” said Gerges. “It’s very i“I saw it for the first time in the newsletter,” said Gerges. “That statement should not have gone out.”
The TMSU set the date for the Annual General Meeting for Apr. 12 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
It amended Section 9 of its Election Procedures Code to change ‘independent’ election candidates to be listed as ‘non-slate’ on this year’s ballots in the hopes of avoiding confusion.
Lastly, the TMSU announced it would be partnering with Adobe to offer a discounted price on the Creative Cloud suite of softwares for all Toronto Metropolitan University students. The price would be $78 to $100 CAD per year, according to vice-president operations and finance chair Spyros Zarros.
BoG representative resigns
On Feb. 28, The Eye reported that Board of Governors representative Joel Kuriakose resigned from the TMSU’s BoD.
In an emailed resignation sent to TMSU executive director Reanna Maharaj and obtained by The Eye, Kuriakose said his time at the TMSU had been “quite difficult.”
He alleged in a call with The Eye that the current union claims he was abandoning his role as a TMSU member, however, he alleged he was consistently left in the waiting room of the Board’s Zoom meetings.
Kuriakose said in the call that he hoped to resign prior to March 2, where he said he was going to be removed from the TMSU by impeachment on the grounds that he had “abandoned” his role.
TMSU puts forward motion to ‘abandon’ five members
The TMSU put forward a motion to remove five BoD members due to abandonment of office at 6:20 p.m. on Feb. 28.
The five members—Arts director Kiera Gray, Board of Governors (BoG) representative Joel Kurikose, Faculty of Community Services director Zroha Khalid, Ted Rogers School of Management director Aman Mathur and April West—were accused of “abandoning” their duties to the Board.
Student groups director Ayra Rajpaul resigned before the abandonment motion was put forward, as previously reported by The Eye.
Gerges told The Eye that she received Rajpaul’s intention to resign on Feb. 1, but there was a clerical error adding it to the February BoD agenda.
The Eye was not aware of the motion to abandon when it was moved and was later informed on March 1.
Section 4.15 of the TMSU bylaws states that members that fail to attend three consecutive meetings or any four meetings of the Board can be removed on the basis of abandonment by a two-thirds majority vote and “shall be deemed to have delivered their resignation.”
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.”
Kuriakose sent his letter of resignation to TMSU executive director Reanna Maharaj at 11:50 p.m. on Feb. 28, as previously reported by The Eye.
Zarros told The Eye in an email that it was inaccurate to report that Kuriakose resigned from his position while the Board was in an active vote to consider his position abandoned.
He said Kuriakose resigned after it was made clear that Board members were being removed in accordance with the bylaws.
TMSU removes BoD members
The Board was given until 7 p.m. on March 1 to vote on the removal of the five BoD members.
The TMSU passed the motion to remove with two-thirds majority of the vote, as previously reported by The Eye.
VP equity resigns
Vice-president equity Areesha Qureshi resigned from the TMSU effective immediately at 3:31 p.m. on March 3.
As previously reported by The Eye, she cited a “toxic” work environment, difficulty getting projects off the ground in addition to “mis-management and political in-fighting” as reasons for her resignation.
“I hope that my resignation sheds some light on constant mis-management and political in-fighting at the TMSU,” said Qureshi, in an emailed statement to The Eye.
She alleged that during her term, neither she nor the Equity Service Centre staff received support from the rest of the team. “It has been a constant struggle to get any initiatives off the ground,” said Qureshi.
Gerges said it is “disappointing to see that [Qureshi] is making these claims after her resignation,” in an emailed statement sent to The Eye in response to the allegations.
“It is also unfortunate that [Qureshi] has resigned based on incorrect claims similar to those of a previous Board Member,” she said.
Gerges told The Eye in an email that the Board would be considering appointing a faculty director as interim vice-president equity in Qureshi’s place.
“Filling the position at this point in time does not leave much room for someone to learn about the TMSU and develop their own initiatives with less than two months remaining,” Gerges said in her email.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misattributed a quote to TMSU president Marina Gerges. The quote has since been amended.
*A previous version of this article listed this source under a different name but has since been updated to reflect the source’s preferred identification.