GSU Council votes down president’s annual report in protest against lack of questions

Attendees of tonight’s GSU Council meeting and AGM were not satisfied with the limited opportunity to put questions to the president of the union

A motion to accept the annual report of the president of Graduate Students Union (GSU) was voted down at tonight’s GSU Council, with attendees citing their inability to ask questions of Scanlon as their reason for rejecting the report.

Gisèle Scanlon, the union’s president, laid out her annual report at the body’s AGM tonight. The report listed the work and achievements of the union over the past year.

Questions to Scanlon were permitted at the end of her presentation; however, only three Council attendees were permitted to ask questions by the chair, one of whom was cut off in the middle of her question.

Dáire Tully, the chair of council, cited time restraints in his decision to not allow for everyone who wanted to ask a question.

When the report was put to a vote of the Council, several attendees posted in the Zoom chat they would not be able to vote in favour of accepting the report due to the lack of questions that were permitted.

The motion to accept the report was voted down by 14 votes to 13, with three abstentions.

Camilla Roselli stated in the Zoom chat that “we can’t vote if there isn’t clarity”.

“I will not accept a report without proper answers either,” agreed Catherine Bromhead.

Irritation was further exacerbated because Tully muted one question that was posited by Shaakya Anand Venbar, who requested more clarity on the Covid-19 impact survey, to which President Gisèle Scanlon responded that she believed the GSU had been “quite transparent” about concerns.

A survey of the experiences of postgraduate students during the pandemic was recently run as a collaboration between the GSU and a campaign group, the PhD Workers’ Rights Group, which caused tensions after Scanlon said that were data protection issues associated with publishing the results.

After being muted, Anand-Venbar then took to the comments on the Zoom call, saying that “we should at least be allowed to ask more questions about the report at this stage”.

Fellow commenters critiqued Tully’s decision to mute Anand-Venbar, saying that there should be more opportunities to ask questions, especially as this had been the first opportunity for many members of the GSU to ask questions of their representatives all term.

Serena Foo, who was named as being re-elected to the position of Research Officer, noted, “That’s not right, Shaakya – you should be allowed to express your opinion”.

Before the vote was counted, Conor Reddy said of the lack of question-and-answer abilities: “This isn’t an unreasonable thing to ask of Gisele or any elected rep, it’s basic democratic accountability.”

GSU Council and the union’s AGM took place this evening over Zoom.

Audrey Brown

Audrey Brown is a Senior Fresher English Studies student, and the Deputy News Editor of Trinity News.

Finn Purdy

Finn Purdy is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News. He is a Junior Sophister English Studies student, and a former News Editor and Assistant News Editor.