Members of the Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) board who were impeached at a meeting on the Surrey Kwantlen Polytechnic University campus last week say they plan to take their fight to the Supreme Court of Canada if the “botched” and “unfair” situation is not resolved.
Last Wednesday afternoon, at a special meeting that was delayed by fire alarms and pepper spray, more than 350 students voted for the removal of a dozen of 16 KSA directors. The Special General Meeting (SGM) was called after a 277-name petition was presented earlier in November, demanding the members of KSA be removed, placed in bad standing so they may never run for the KSA again, and a new set of bylaws installed. The vote passed unanimously. Interim directors were also appointed and a new election called for early in the new year.
However, the ousted group called the meeting “botched” and said due process was not followed. They say the general meeting was actually called for Monday, Dec. 5 and that they had rallied their supporters to show up on that day, not Nov. 30.
KSA president Sean Birdman said his group sent a complaint to the university noting the rising tensions and a perceived racism as all 26 of the targeted students are south Asian.
“The University did nothing to protect us,” Birdman said. “Shockingly, they responded by banning our councillors from campus altogether, changing the locks on our office doors, and handing the keys to the opposition group purportedly appointed on November 30.”
Birdman and his colleagues want last week’s meeting declared null and void. If not, the fight will proceed to B.C. Supreme Court, the group vowed this week.
Much of the initial opposition to the executive elected early this year began after it was discovered the association had put a lawsuit involving former director Aaron Takhar and others on hold. At the time, it was revealed at least two of the newly elected directors are related to Takhar – his sister Justine Franson and cousin Nina Kaur. Franson has since resigned. The longstanding lawsuit, which involved the alleged mismanagement of more than $1 million in students fees, was subsequently dismissed without costs. There are also allegations the current executives raised their pay by 40 per cent, spent $100,000 on a concert and spent thousands of dollars on legal fees.
Jennifer Campbell, Langley Campus Director for the KSA, said students are finally having their voices heard.
“Over the past months students have attempted to attend council meetings to have their concerns heard only to be met with intimidation through private security at council meetings and public reports that vilify them,” Campbell said.
“Students took the first steps to building stronger student governance at Kwantlen,” said Ehssan Ghahremani, one of five Interim Directors of the Society, appointed last week.
The ousted group of students planned to rally Monday afternoon to demand the university “recognize and resolve what are blatantly unfair practices” by some students and university officials and grant the “rightful” board of KSA directors access to their offices.