The Students’ Administrative Council (SAC) demonstrated a loss of faith in its leadership last Thursday when board members introduced a motion asking the president to step down.
The SAC board voted 31-8 in favour of the resignation of its president, Rocco Kusi-Achampong.
“It’s a complicated decision a lot of people have been struggling with,” said Alex Artful-Dodger, external commissioner for SAC.
The allegations against Kusi-Achampong involve what critics call his attempt to block new SAC bylaws and the lack of promotion for a party held Dec. 22 at the Guvernment night club as part of SAC’s 101st anniversary celebrations.
Artful-Dodger produced a long list of what she claims are problems with Kusi-Achampong’s performance. She accused the president of putting in only a quarter of his required office hours, failing to follow executive procedures, excluding motions from SAC’s meeting agendas, lacking respect for SAC members, and throwing more than 10,000 StudentSaver cards provided by the Canadian Federation of Students into a dumpster and covering them with rotting meat.
Kusi-Achampong vehemently denied the allegations.
“They are false,” he said. “They are patently false.”
SAC questions the success of the event at Guvernment and how its $22,000 cost was covered when the funds were not approved by the board.
Kusi-Achampong said the event cost only $15,000, with $7,000 spent on promoting the party. He also said it was in fact a success, comparing it to 2000’s Optic party, which cost $80,000 and brought out fewer students.
“You do the math,” Kusi-Achampong said. “Which one was more successful?”
Artful-Dodger said there is no proof that the people who attended the event were actually students at U of T. “You have a party at Guvernment on a Saturday, and surprise, surprise, 2,000 people show up,” she said.
Another grievance involves Kusi-Achampong’s asking SAC administrative assistant Andrew Ash to shut down the SAC listserv before the Jan. 23 meeting. The president claims he did so to protect its members from the malicious content posted on it, rather than to prevent them from viewing the motion requesting his resignation.
“I am the only one who has the misfortune of reading the hate mail every morning,” he said. “The issue was contentious enough to warrant the shutting down of the list server. It was only disabled from midnight until 9 or 10 a.m. I have no apologies for that.”
Artful-Dodger said Kusi-Achampong did not even stay for the whole meeting after SAC called for his resignation. “He wouldn’t even stay to defend himself. That doesn’t sound like someone who is committed or dedicated…. People are getting frustrated and desperate and will do anything to get rid of him.”
If Kusi-Achampong does not step down willingly, SAC directors intend to collect 2,000 petition signatures, which will result in a referendum according to SAC’s bylaws. Artful-Dodger has already collected 350 signatures.
“It’s unfortunate,” Kusi-Achampong said repeatedly. “It saddens me that it’s come to this.”
Other SAC members disagree.
“The allegations are very valid,” said Leo Trottier, a SAC director representing the Toronto School of Theology. “There are a lot of questions that are being raised.”
Kusi-Achampong pointed out that he has come through on many of his campaign promises, such as winning a discounted TTC Metropass for U of T students, and the on-line opt-out of SAC fees on ROSI, the web-based course registration system.
“We’re not operating in the traditional SAC way of lacking in productivity and results. We’ve got results. I’m proud of that. We’ve affected student issues…. We’ve come in and done the job.
He is taking the criticism in stride.
“The criticism is more in the disguise of praise…and in time this is what it will come to be,” he said. “It comes with the job. You have to have a tough skin.”
Kusi-Achampong does not think the petitions reflect students’ opinion of the job he is doing.
“Students on this campus will sign anything,” he said. “It’s indicative of the apathy.
“Thirty-one people voted for me to resign and 1,378 wanted me to be president,” Kusi-Achampong said. “I’m going to hold on and finish the mandate as the students gave it to me.”
“I voted for him and I regret it,” said Artful-Dodger.
“It’s likely that he will ignore what the students want, the way he’s been doing all year.”