Petition calls for vote of no confidence in GSU Vice President

A separate petition was launched yesterday calling for a vote of no confidence in the union’s president

A petition has been launched today calling for a vote of no confidence against Graduate Students Union (GSU) Vice President Abhisweta Bhattacharjee. 

This follows the launch of another petition yesterday which calls for a vote of no confidence against the union’s president Gisèle Scanlon. 

The petitions have been launched after the union’s Executive General Meeting (EGM) on Wednesday, which saw an unprecedented turnout with around 540 members in attendance on a Zoom call.

The petition against Bhattacharjee requires an individual to give their name, declare whether they are a graduate student, provide their Trinity email for verification, and indicate whether or not they support a vote of no confidence.

Trinity News has contacted Bhattacharjee for comment. 

Speaking to Trinity News, creator of the petition Jeffrey Sardina said that the “lack of proper proceedings at the EGM on April 14, including initial refusal to admit over 250 students, breach of article 27a of the constitution when unduly enacting the third constitutional amendment, and refusal to listen to raised constitutional concerns in the meeting have led me to believe that a vote of no confidence is due for the GSU VP.”

Sardina is an ordinary member of the union, and does not hold a role on the executive committee. 

In an open letter to graduate students, Sardina wrote that “at the EGM [on Wednesday], there were a series of electoral problems that have led me to conclude that the GSU cannot represent me, and that it cannot be trusted with running a fair and democratic election”. 

“As thus, I am in support of a vote of no confidence for the GSU President and Vice President.”

The new GSU Constitution, which was deemed to have passed on Wednesday, stipulates in Article 15a that “any representative of the union may be removed from office by way of a motion brought by at least 51% of the total number of individuals who initially appointed them”.

Before changes to the constitution were voted on at the meeting, Article 23 of the constitution covered removal from office.

Article 23 said: “Any member of the Executive Committee may be removed from office by a vote of no confidence which may be effected by a simple majority of the members at a General Meeting. The charges brought against the member of the Executive Committee must be signed by at least sixty members of the Union and posted in a conspicuous place in the Common Room and circulated via email to Union members only at least fourteen days before the meeting at which the resolution will be considered.”

With the passing of a motion to amend Article 15a to reflect the same rule as Article 23 of the old constitution, the GSU are required to update the new constitution. This would allow a member of the union to be removed “more easily”. This means that old constitution stipulation on removal from office still holds.

Bhattacharjee was elected to the union’s vice presidency last summer with 72% of the vote against opponent Joseph Keegan, who received 21%. 36 students voted to re-open nominations. 

During the EGM on Wednesday, multiple postgraduate students raised concerns over the voting system and how the meeting was conducted. 

During discussions on the motions, where one speaker was allowed to speak on each side, the Zoom chat was disabled. 

Members used handwritten notes held up to their screens to raise concerns that some were unable to vote; that the voting platform allowed users to vote multiple times; and that there was no verification process to check that voters were members of the union, which went unresolved.

Bhattacharjee repeatedly asked members to remove the handwritten notes, describing them as a distraction, and said that she would remove students from the call if they did not cease to show the notes.

The GSU is one of Trinity’s five capitated bodies alongside TCDSU, the Central Societies Committee (CSC), Dublin University Central Athletics Club (DUCAC) and Trinity Publications.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.