GSU Board did not tell president to delay impeachment votes

Gisèle Scanlon had said that the union was “not empowered” to hold a vote because of ongoing Board proceedings, but the Board denies saying this

The Board of the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) did not advise the organisation against moving forward with impeachment proceedings against its sabbatical officers, despite the president claiming otherwise.

The GSU’s President, Gisèle Scanlon, said at Friday’s election hustings that the union was “not empowered to call that EGM” (Extraordinary General Meeting) because the Board has commissioned an “external report” into events which led to the impeachment being proposed.

However, the organisation’s Board confirmed to Trinity News that it had not issued instructions that the votes of no confidence needed to be delayed until its investigation was complete.

After a controversial meeting of the union in April, petitions were circulated calling for votes of no confidence in Scanlon and Vice President Abhisweta Bhattacharjee.

At the union’s election hustings this past Friday, Scanlon was asked by a member of the GSU why she had not “held the mandatory EGM to vote on your impeachment, despite the fact that 60 signatures have been collected and the charges were posted over 14 days ago?”.

She replied that “an external report has been commissioned, it’s taking place, several people have fed into it, when that report is completed it will be deliberated on by the Board”.

“Until the findings of that are discussed, we are tied to what’s happening at the board.”

When contacted by Trinity News and asked whether it had advised that votes of no confidence should not take place concurrently with its investigation, the Board replied that it was “currently exercising its oversight function under Article 20 (c) (i) of the GSU Constitution in relation to proceedings at the GSU EGM”.

The statement continued: “The Board has not considered any other matter and has not offered any advice to the GSU as the process of gathering information and fact-finding is still ongoing.”

It is not clear who advised Scanlon that the impeachment vote could not be held. Trinity News contacted the president for comment, but had not received a response at time of publication.

The union’s constitution says that its officers may be impeached “by a vote of no confidence which may be effected by a simple majority of the members at a General Meeting”.

It continues: “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 document does not specify any other criteria for the holding of an impeachment vote.

The union’s pre-2021 constitution also specifies that an EGM must be held if requested by at least twenty members of the union. The new constitution, the vote on which was one of the central controversies of the April meeting, merely says EGMs “may be held” in accordance with the union’s by-laws. No such by-laws are available on the union’s website. Notably, the statement from the GSU Board makes reference to an article in the pre-2021 constitution rather than the disputed new one.

Voting in the GSU sabbatical officer elections opened today and will run until Friday June 11 at 11:59pm. Results are due to be announced at noon on June 12.

Scanlon is running for re-election against former GSU Oversight Officer John Tighe. Bhattacharjee is also seeking re-election, unopposed.

Jack Kennedy

Jack Kennedy is the Editor-in-chief of the 68th edition of Trinity News. He is a Computer & Electronic Engineering graduate, and a former Assistant Editor, Online Editor, and Deputy Online Editor.