Asmar appointed Acting-President, Smith not impeached as union looks to move past difficult month

Photo of TCSA Acting-President Mayra Asmar by Keila MacPherson.
Photo of TCSA Acting-President Mayra Asmar by Keila MacPherson.

The following are briefs from the Trent Central Student Association (TCSA) Board of Directors meeting held on March 1, 2015.

Temporary President Appointed

The resignation of the Trent Central Student Association’s former President Braden Freer was accepted during the TCSA Board of Directors meeting held on March 1, 2015. The position was then filled by the Vice President of University and College Affairs, Myra Asmar, who shall fill both positions.

“As of March 1, 2015, circulated prior to the meeting to all board members, there was a resignation letter sent to the board by Braden Freer,” said acting speaker Deborah Bright-Brundle, the Director of Athletics and Recreation for Trent University. The board motioned to receive the letter, effectively removing Freer from his position as President of the Association. In turn, this removed the discussion regarding his impeachment from the agenda, as such discussion was rendered unnecessary.

With the position of President vacant, the Association moved to fill it. Section V.9.1 of the TCSA By-Laws, Policies and Operating Resolutions states: “Should the position of President become vacant at anytime, it shall fall to another member of the executive to act in the capacity of President. The Acting-President shall be remunerated accordingly until such time as a new President can be elected.”

The executive consists of the President and the Vice Presidents of the Association, meaning Vice President of Campaigns and Equity, Boykin Smith, and Asmar were the options for consideration. It was suggested that Asmar become Acting-President and have a director be appointed to the Vice President position as per the TCSA By-Laws, Policies and Operating Resolutions.

Asmar said she had thought about the possibility and was willing to take the position of Acting-President, but she noted that she was reluctant to give up her position as Vice President. “If I were to take the position of acting-president and would have to show someone what this current position is like it may be too much to handle,” she said.

She suggested that she hold both positions, referencing section V.2.3 of the TCSA By-Laws, Policies and Operating Resolutions: “A director shall hold no more than one (1) office at any one (1) time except as an emergency replacement as authorized by the Board and until such time as a replacement is elected. Such a director shall only have one (1) vote, regardless of the number of offices held.”

“I could keep my current position and then just take on the daily responsibilities of the President,” she said.

The motion was passed to have Asmar cover both positions, with the Executive Committee to help her manage the additional workload. An additional motion was passed to ensure that the Executive and Executive Committee meet to work out the details of the new responsibilities for Asmar and the Executive Committee.

Vice-President Not Impeached

A lengthy discussion, one which included an in-camera component to discuss staff issues, concluded with the board voting against the impeachment of Vice President Smith.

The impeachment had been motioned due to several members of the Board feeling discomfort with Smith’s actions at the TCSA Annual General Meeting, some email communication, and other staff-related issues that were discussed in-camera. An impeachment would require a two-thirds majority vote, which was not achieved, with eight members voting against the impeachment and four members voting for it.

Carmen Meyette, Peter Gzowski College Cabinet President and the mover of the motion to impeach the Vice President, said the motion was made because she had “come to feel deeply uncomfortable with how our Vice President of Campaigns and Equity has represented himself and the Trent Central Student Association.”

Meyette said Smith’s motion to amend the agenda at the TCSA Annual General Meeting was an action that would “publicly discredit the Association President […] and the Board Resource Manager.”

Email communication was also discussed as being “inappropriately adversarial,” and Smith’s actions at the AGM allegedly “damaged the relationship of the Trent Central Student Association and its Board of Directors with our student body.”

As the director in question, Smith had the opportunity to speak against the motion before it was open for full discussion, during which he said he felt that the motion for impeachment was “ironically inappropriately adversarial,” and that he often felt that any time he disagreed with the Board, he was threatened with removal from his position.

Smith continued, saying that that he felt as though the impeachment  motion  “undermined [his] voice” in the TCSA and had the effect of “perpetuating discrimination.”

He also said that rather than finding the relationship between the TCSA and the student body being damaged, he had many students thanking him for bringing the disruption of procedure to light.

The full discussion had individuals speaking on both sides, touching aspects such as the chain of command process through which a member of the Board should address issues and similarities between emails sent by Smith and other members of the Board. Following the discussion, the Board moved into their in-camera segment to continue the conversation.

After the in-camera session, the public returned to the meeting room to vote on the matter and continue with the remainder of the meeting. The vote was decisively against the impeachment.

New Staffing Plan Accepted

A new staffing plan for the TCSA was presented and accepted, after discussion on both sides of the issue. The time sensitive issue had to be addressed at the March 1 meeting in order to provide enough time for hiring processes to be followed.

“I’m in favour of this motion, it went through Finance and Operations,” said Queer Students Commissioner James Abbott. “They went through and critically picked apart this plan and I personally feel they have done a well enough job. Honestly to go against it would be to go against the word of five individuals who were involved in that, so I have no problem approving that as they proposed.”

Smith noted that he had no intention of offending anyone who worked on the plan, but “I just have a lot of concerns with the staffing plan proposed,” he said. “They unfortunately don’t coincide with our Operating Resolutions,” he added, citing the hiring processes outlined in the TCSA By-Laws, Policies and Operating Resolutions document.

“My problem with the staffing plan is more of an ideological one,” said Women’s Issues Commissioner Betty Wondimu. “We are asking students to invest into three permanent staff positions and the [Vice President positions] are going to receive a pay cut.

She stated concerns that by brining on additional staff positions there will be less student representation. “I guess my ideological problem with this is the fact that we’re a student union and executive positions are elected by students and represent the interest of students,” she said. “Having full time positions leaves that room for lack of representation and that’s my biggest concern.”

Tracy Milne, TCSA Operations Manager and Benefits Coordinator said that out of all the positions in the staffing plan, only three are full-time positions and that all three are alumni from the institution.

“I believe that all three positions are incredibly important to the Association, in that they are positions that I do not believe should fall with students. I believe that there are some responsibilities that require it not be effective by turnover,” she said, adding that new student positions have also been created this year.

When it was called to question, the motion to approve the staffing plan as presented was passed by the Board.

Student Centre Coordinator Position Created

The creation of a Student Centre Coordinator position was proposed, discussed, and approved in principle, as time constraints on the meeting left questions relating to funding and some position details unanswered. The Board approved the position with the stipulation that the Executive Board meet to iron out the specifics of the position before hiring is done.

“The University needs this position to go forward, they don’t want to go forward without somebody to take the lead on the project. This position that we would hire would be someone who would see it through to completion,” said Abbott, who added that once the student centre is built, the Board can choose to extend the position to become the Student Centre Manager.

“Right now we’re specifically looking at a person that’s going to work with the architect, report to the board, report to the executive, work in our office, and they’re going to oversee the coordination,” said Abbott, emphasizing the necessity of a stable position that is not impacted by the TCSA overturn.

Committee Struck to Address Staff Grievances

Smith motioned to have the Association strike an ad hoc committee who will deal with a number of staff grievances that have arisen. In motivating, he pointed to the operating resolutions, and said “staff grievances have been brought to our attention, we now must strike a committee to address the situation.”

In the operating resolutions it is stated that the chair of such a committee must be a Vice President but Smith noted that neither he nor Asmar could do so for this committee and suggested appointing someone external from the association to the position.

About Zachary Cox 29 Articles
Zachary is a first year student in the Trent/Loyalist Journalism program, who has a wide range of interests from sports to politics to alpaca sweaters. He thinks Trent University and Peterborough are pretty neat and enjoys writing about the community for the Arthur. Other ventures that he is or has been involved with include the likes of the Youth Advisory Council for the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games and Rotary Interact. Down the road, Zachary can see himself working somewhere in the world as a field journalist, or perhaps trying his hand at intellectual property law.