Comment & Analysis
Jul 25, 2021

Starving the GSU of Funding May Force it to Reinstate Democratic Norms

The Capitation Committee this week suspended funding to the GSU until it addresses complaints concerning its April EGM.

By The Editorial Board

Some rather puzzling questions arise from the decision of the Capitation Committee this week to suspend the Graduate Students’ Union’s (GSU) funding until it addresses complaints about its April EGM.

It comes following an investigation by the union’s Board that was scuppered when the union’s President Gisele Scanlon and Vice-President Abhisweta Bhattacharjee failed to properly engage with it – demonstrating a staggering lack of respect for an important accountability structure in the GSU.

But Scanlon and her vice president Abhisweta Bhattacharjee were decisively re-elected for a second term in their respective positions. Are their supporters, then, simply unbothered by their woefully undemocratic conduct?


Separately – but equally damning – is Scanlon’s pending impeachment vote, which she has so far avoided holding. When fielding questions about this vote during the election, she pointed to the investigation as an excuse not to hold it. This excuse did not stack up then, and it does not stack up now.

Furthermore, is the pending vote now null and void, since the signatures to hold such a vote were collected in Scanlon’s previous term?

Constituents cannot allow Scanlon and Bhattacharjee to continue to bypass accountability procedures. Shrugging off such norms will lead the union down a dangerous path indeed. But Scanlon and Bhattacharjee have clocked up a long list of questionable decisions this year, culminating in major financial sanctions to the GSU. If funding isn’t restored soon, how will the union operate at all?

The GSU’s democratic norms have been damaged – maybe irreversibly. Starving it of funding could give the union’s leadership a final push to fix the GSU before it is too late.