On March 31, UTSU Board of Directors Speaker Billy Graydon asked for Campus Police to be called to escort Danielle Sandhu, Executive Director of the Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students (APUS), from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Board of Directors meeting.
“Please leave the room,” Graydon told Sandhu. “Can someone call Campus Police and have her escorted?”
Mathias Memmel, UTSU Vice-President Internal and Services and President-elect, called for a motion to eject Sandhu from the meeting for livestreaming the meeting on the APUS Facebook page; Graydon ruled in favour of the motion.
The motion to prohibit livestreaming of the meeting was made at the beginning of the meeting when Sandhu was not present; justifications of the motion included the fact that some board members did not feel they could speak freely while being livestreamed.
Graydon’s ruling and request were not favoured by everyone in attendance. Tka Pinnock, UTSU Executive Director and the anti-harrassment officer of the meeting, intervened and declared that Campus Police would not be called.
“Miss Sandhu’s employer [APUS VP Internal Susan Froom] is here. We will let the employer deal with it… We will not be calling Campus Police,” Pinnock assured those in attendance.
Graydon rescinded his request to call Campus Police and later stated that he was “incorrect in making that call.”
Pinnock appealed the ruling and requested Sandhu to stop livestreaming. She said that she “[wanted] people to understand that… if I went to an APUS meeting, I’d expect a certain amount of courtesy that I’m trying to extend to… my colleague.”
Graydon reversed his ruling to eject Sandhu. Sandhu tried to ask a question, which Graydon ruled out of order. Froom requested that Sandhu stop livestreaming but said that she may live tweet.
Graydon accepted the concession from Froom and reiterated that he had reversed his ruling. Sandhu made a request to ask her question, and Graydon said she needed the permission of the board to do so.
Memmel then pointed out that the livestream was still up. Sandhu persisted in asking her question, and in response, Graydon reversed his reversal and asked her to leave the room.
“You have spoken out of order on multiple occasions. You continue to persist in doing so and you continue to livestream a meeting after you have been directed by both the board and a number of individuals to stop doing so. Please leave the room,” Graydon told Sandhu.
At this point, a five-minute recess was called. After the recess, Graydon apologized, citing the university’s Policy on the Disruption of Meetings as justification for the removal and saying that his recollection of the policy was “flawed.”
The policy is meant to uphold a “standard of conduct,” which allows “the maximum opportunity for dissent and debate,” taking into account the university’s obligation to “uphold freedom of speech and the freedom of individuals and groups from physical intimidation and harassment.”
The policy also recommends measures to be taken “if disruption occurs, and in the opinion of the chair of the meeting freedom of speech is denied.” Calling for Campus Police is not part of the recommendations outlined by the policy and Graydon acknowledged that “the policy does not specifically require that Campus Police be called.”
Graydon considered the act of “livestreaming after the board has expressed a clear desire not to have that happen is sufficiently disruptive as it makes board members, or some board members, uncomfortable in carrying out their duties.”
Nour Alideeb, President of the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), said the request to call the Campus Police was “completely inappropriate.”
“It’s a really weird dynamic because Danielle Sandhu is Executive Director of APUS but she’s also a woman of colour and [Graydon], the position that he holds as speaker of the board, but also a white male and the power dynamic there,” Alideeb commented.
Alideeb also noted that the UTSU is meant to be “a space that really promotes social justice and working against and combatting police brutality and the issues around that so making a threat like that was completely inappropriate, regardless of what policies are in place.”
Memmel agreed that “[Graydon] shouldn’t have asked that Campus Police be called.”
According to the policy, “Governing Council should be kept informed… of threatened or actual denials of freedom of speech, and of any measures that have been taken to deal with the situation.”
Graydon says that the UTSU is “still deciding how to proceed.”
The board subsequently voted to allow livestreaming.