An online form collecting signatures for the removal of Abhisweta Bhattacharjee, the vice president of the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU), has been circulated online today.
It comes after a similar form calling for the impeachment of GSU President Gisèle Scanlon was circulated yesterday.
Jeffrey Sardina, who is completing a master’s degree in data science, created the form. In an open letter, Sardina wrote: “At the EGM yesterday, there were a series of electoral problems that have led me to conclude that the GSU cannot represent me, and that it cannot be trusted with running a fair and democratic election. As thus, I am in support of a vote of no confidence for the GSU president and vice-president.”
Bhattacharjee did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.
The GSU held a chaotic EGM on Wednesday night, during which several members were highly critical of GSU leadership, including Scanlon and Bhattacharjee. The Zoom call on which the meeting was being held quickly reached capacity and Bhattacharjee dismissed requests to ensure they could join the call.
When attendees continued to complain, the call was ended and a second one was set up with a larger capacity.
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.
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.