GSU sabbats call report of non-compliance “misleading” and “unfounded”

The union’s officers claimed that they did engage adequately with the Board’s investigation

The sabbatical officers of Trinity’s Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) have claimed that the organisation’s Board lied when it said they did not comply with an investigation it was conducting.

The accusation was made today in an email to College’s Capitation Committee, which made the decision on July 22 to withhold funding until the union could be “shown as to have dealt with the complaints in a satisfactory manner.”

In the email, union president Giséle Scanlon and vice president Abhisweta Bhattacharjee claimed that they had sent the Board “25 emails in seven weeks which translates into three emails per week”.

“Therefore, the GSU finds the GSU Board members’ decision disappointing in that it is misleading, inaccurate, misrepresentative and unfounded. The GSU Board’s deliberation does not reflect the interests and spirit of a Union that is constituted to represent 5,000+ postgraduate students at Trinity College Dublin.”

It is unclear if, in making a finding on behalf of the GSU, Scanlon consulted with the union’s Executive, or held a meeting of the union.

To support their claims, Scanlon and Bhattacharjee provided a number of screenshots of the timestamps of emails they said they sent to the union’s Board. The screenshots did not include the contents of the emails.

The Board, which is empowered by the union’s constitution to provide oversight of its activities, said in its statement on July 21: “The Board communicated with the GSU Vice President in her capacity as secretary to the Executive (on May 1 2021) and the GSU President (on May 17, June 2 and June 23) to seek their response to issues raised…No such submission was received by the Board by the designated and extended deadline (Friday June 25) following interaction over a period of seven weeks.”

The Board’s statement did not claim it had received no communication at all from Scanlon and Bhattacharjee, saying instead that there had been “interaction”, but said that the Board had not received a response to the questions posed. The sabbatical officers’ submission to the Capitation Committee did not provide evidence that they had responded to the Board’s questions.

In a brief statement pending a full meeting, the GSU Board said: “The fairness and accuracy of the Board’s report speaks for itself. The release of a list of emails is meaningless without knowing the content of these emails and if these emails are being used to call into the question the Board’s report, the content of these emails should be made available by the GSU to the Capitation Committee. Claims of vindication based on a list of emails lack credibility.”

The Senior Dean, who recommended to the Capitations Committee on July 22 that it withhold funding from the GSU, left office with the departure of ex-Provost Patrick Prendergast on July 31.

This article was updated at 2pm on August 4 to add a comment from the GSU Board.

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.