A form collecting signatures to remove Trinity Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) President Gisèle Scanlon from her role, based on “recent events”, is circulating online this evening.
The GSU held a chaotic EGM last night, during which several members were highly critical of GSU leadership, including Scanlon and the union’s Vice President Abhisweta Bhattacharjee.
The petition, which is a Google Form, states: “Based on the events of the recent GSU EMC [sic] we hold the president unfit to continue in their present role. Therefore, we see fit that they should be removed from their current position.”
It is unclear who created the form.
According to the GSU constitution, “any member of the Executive Committee may be removed from office by a vote of no confidence which may be effected by a simple majority of the members at a General Meeting. The charges brought against the member of the Executive Committee must be signed by at least sixty members of the Union”.
The EGM was rife with controversy, including the use of a voting system that did not verify whether those using it were actually entitled to vote. Several attendees reported that they were unable to vote, while others said that the voting link allowed users to vote several times.
The amendments that were passed during the meeting included a major overhaul of the constitution. However, one of the most contentious amendments relating to the constitution did not receive a two-thirds majority, as specified by the old constitution.
Two of the most controversial parts of the amendment – one which changed the procedure for removing members of the executive committee and another to limit the focus of elected members to their mandated issue or cohort – were then voted down in a subsequent motion at the end of the meeting. However, it did not receive a two-thirds majority.
However, the part of the constitution that reduces the necessary support to a simple majority did not pass by a two-thirds majority, which is required under the old constitution. It was, nevertheless, accepted as passed.
Multiple members at the meeting called the validity of the votes into question, since there was no verification process to ensure that those voting with the link provided were actually GSU members.
The union also shot down a motion to divest from Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union, but two votes had to take place on the issue. When voting ended for the original motion to divest, it appeared that it had lost by two votes, but Bhattacharjee, who was chairing the meeting, said that it was a tie and as chair had the casting vote.
She later said that it had come to her attention that the vote was “not a clear one” and that members would vote again. By then, there were around 255 people on the Zoom call, down from around over 500 at the start of the meeting.
Bhattacharjee sent the voting link into the Zoom chat box, but there was no way of verifying whether those with the link were in fact GSU members.
The chat box was otherwise disabled for those on the call. Attendees who wanted to speak did so by writing short messages on paper and holding them up to their cameras. Several protested the decision to read out the entire new constitution section by section. Others wrote messages on the slides that were being presented by Bhattacharjee.
Scanlon has been contacted for comment.
Correction: 9:54pm, April 15th, 2021.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that a GSU representative can be removed if at least 51 per cent of the total number of individuals who initially appointed them vote for their removal. In fact, a member of the union’s executive committee can be removed by a vote of no confidence which has the support of at least two third of members present and voting.