President of the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) Gisèle Scanlon did not comply with an investigation by the GSU Board, despite repeated attempts to contact her over a period of seven weeks.
The investigation was launched after a controversial EGM in April, where members raised major concerns about compliance with the union’s constitution. The fallout of the meeting led to calls for Scanlon and GSU Vice-President Abhisweta Bhattacharjee to be removed from office.
The Board, which is tasked in the union’s constitution with providing oversight and advice, released the final report from the investigation earlier this month. The report was just one page long.
It said that the Board had attempted to contact Bhattacharjee once, in early May, and Scanlon three times, in mid-May, early June and late June, but no reply was received.
“Consequently, the Board is unable to make any substantive findings or to offer strategic advice to the GSU in relation to the EGM,” the report said.
“It is our view that the Board has not received adequate engagement from the GSU and that in the future the GSU should engage constructively with the Board. We are disappointed at the lack of adequate engagement in this matter.”
Scanlon had previously expressed the importance of the investigation, citing it as a reason why votes on her and Bhattacharjee’s impeachment could not be held. These comments were made in early June, after the Board’s first two attempts to contact Scanlon.
However, the Board confirmed to Trinity News at the time that it had not advised Scanlon that the investigation was a reason to delay the vote. Scanlon has yet to confirm who made that decision. It also remains unclear if votes on the impeachment of the two officers will be held now that the investigation has been concluded.
Trinity News contacted Scanlon and Bhattacharjee with requests for comment, but has yet to receive a reply.
In a statement accompanying the release of the report, the GSU Board said: “The report of the GSU Board was submitted on 20 July to the relevant parties and to the Senior Dean for the attention of the Capitation Committee.”
“The Board is dependent on the trust and co-operation of all parties to exercise its functions effectively – unfortunately, co-operation from one of the parties was not adequate.”
It went on: “The Board therefore indicated to the Senior Dean that it was unable to make substantive recommendations due to the lack of adequate engagement from the GSU. This is a disappointing outcome for the Board as we had hoped to offer oversight which would assist the GSU.”
“We have concluded this process in a timely way to indicate that the internal oversight process available from the GSU Board on this issue has now been exhausted.”
Both Scanlon and Bhattacharjee were deemed re-elected to a second term after the union’s elections in mid-June. Concerns were raised about the conduct of the election, including by Trinity’s Postgraduate Workers’ Alliance (PGWA) after a delay in the release of the results.
The PGWA requested that the union publish evidence of the raw results from the electronic voting company and details of how it was confirmed that everyone who voted was a GSU member. The group also said that the impeachment votes should be held. The GSU did not respond.