The Arts & Science Students' Union office at Sidney Smith. Sofia Habib/THE VARSITY

The Arts & Science Students’ Union (ASSU) removed Natalie Petra from its executive, effective January 27, following her absence at two previous, consecutive meetings.

According to the ASSU constitution, “Any Executive member who is absent for two (2) consecutive Executive meetings shall be in jeopardy of losing their seat.” 

The constitution also states that upon receiving reasoning for repeated absences, “The remaining Executive members must, by a majority vote, accept the reason(s). If the majority does not accept the reason(s) or if no reason(s) have been submitted, the member shall lose their seat.” 

The Executive Committee reviewed Petra’s absences and unanimously found the reasons presented to be insufficient.   

“This is not a decision the executive took lightly. We realize the implications of removing an individual from the executive committee,” read the committee’s press release. 

“Based on a pattern of behavior, the Executive [Committee] felt they could no longer accept the actions of this executive and felt voting to not accept their explanations of absence was the only appropriate course of action,” said Abdullah Shihipar, ASSU president, in a statement to The Varsity. Shihipar declined an opportunity to comment on his working relationship with Petra.

Some students have taken to social media to discuss the ASSU’s decision to remove Petra, who has engaged in online conversations with unnamed account holders on reddit. Several of these users have claimed to have been present at ASSU council meetings, Petra’s contribution to which is in dispute. Petra, writing from her own reddit account, said that she intends to appeal the decision and that she can provide documentation of which the ASSU executive was hitherto unaware.
The ASSU council is comprised of course union representatives and is responsible for initiating policies. The role of the ASSU’s Executive Committee is to implement the policies that come from the c
ouncil, as well as work with the administration and other student groups to improve the academic experience for Arts & Science students.

The committee considers this decision to be final; there will be no appeals process. 

“Our elections will be in March, so the position will be vacant until our Spring Elections. The Executive are confident we will be able to continue to host events and serve Arts [&] Science students during this time,” said Shihipar. 

Petra said that she is exploring her options, declining to comment further on the ongoing proceedings.

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