Multiple constitutional breaches in organisation of postponed GSU AGM

There is no provision for the appointment of an “interim board”, which the executive says it has done

The AGM of the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU), which had been scheduled for this evening, appears to violate the organisation’s own constitution.

Less than an hour and a half before the meeting was due to begin, at 7pm, the union emailed its members to announce the AGM was being postponed to December 9. The union’s executive said that “due to the high number of registered postgraduates, we believe that this decision is proportionate in maintaining the integrity of the electoral process.”

“The reason for rescheduling is to facilitate the task of cross-referencing almost 6,000 postgraduate students who are eligible to vote and voting attendees to the electoral register.”

There are two competing versions of the organisation’s constitution, after procedural issues occurred at the April EGM held to pass a new one. Under both versions, however, the union’s annual general meeting is to be held “before the end of the first full week of November”, making this year’s AGM more than a month late.

Additionally, the schedule of the AGM says students will have an opportunity to “ratify” the members of an “interim GSU board” that the union’s executive “selected and confirmed” over the last few months.

No part of either version of the GSU constitution gives the executive the authority to appoint board members, even on an interim basis.

The status of the organisation’s board generally is a matter of dispute. In September, after a report from the board found that the executive had failed to engage with an investigation by the board (which is appointed to oversee the executive) into its conduct, the executive announced that it believed that the board’s term had expired in July.

The executive did not explain at the time why it had waited until September and the conclusion of the board investigation to announce it considered the board’s authority no longer valid.

The new (2021) version of the constitution says that if a member of the board resigns between two general meetings, “an AGM or EGM shall be held within two months” to appoint a replacement. However, the GSU board did not resign and maintains that it is still in office. Even if the board had resigned in July, this was more than four months ago.

Additionally, that provision of the constitution also does not say that the executive board may “select” an interim board.

The schedule for the now-postponed AGM also does not include voting on the impeachment of President Gisèle Scanlon and Vice-president Abhisweta Bhattacharjee. It has now been more than six months since petitions calling for their impeachment received the required number of signatures to be voted on at a general meeting.

Scanlon had said that the votes could not be held until the board concluded its investigation, but this was later revealed to be false. This occurred before the executive said it believed that the board was no longer in office.

Due to the conduct of the executive, the union’s funding from college has been suspended.

Trinity News has reached out to the GSU president, vice-president and oversight officer for comment, but had not received a response at time of publication.

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.