French Club president Antonin Mongeau was furious when he got voted off the Clubs Committee. Now, because his replacement didn’t actually want the spot, his seat will remain vacant this semester.
The committee, which gives recognition and funds to UTSU clubs, has three spots for club executives. The committee was re-struck after the Fall by-elections last Friday and UTSU board members voted on the three spots.
VP campus life Athmika Punja, who chairs the committee, nominated Natalie Orellana for a seat. Though Orellana was not present at the meeting, she won over Mongeau.
Punja told The Varsity on Jan 31, “I sent out the call-out […] only two days before the meeting, and [Orellana] got back to me really quickly and said that she couldn’t make it on Thursday but she really wanted to be part of it. I guess it was sort of my duty to nominate her.”
In fact, Punja sent an email to Orellana on the day of the meeting, less than an hour before it was due to start, saying that there was a spot available on the Clubs Committee and inviting her to join. Orellana, president of the Current Affairs Exchange Forum, did not know what the Clubs Committee was.
Punja said that Orellana should have known about the committee from clubs training, which is mandatory for all club leaders.
“At that time it had only been Antonin and Jimmy Lu, so when I sent out the call-out, I saw it as an opportunity to fill that last seat. When I sent out the call-out, I didn’t expect that there would be a big change in the Clubs Committee, the outcome did surprise me.”
Punja’s email to Orellana did not mention the vote. Orellana replied that she could not come to the meeting and asked for more information about the committee. “I can’t today, but maybe next time you guys have a meeting I could come,” she wrote.
Punja told it differently. “The e-mail that I got from [Orellana] said she did [want to join the committee], she just couldn’t make the first meeting.” Later, Punja revised her statement, saying, “I got that she was interested from her email, so I nominated her.”
Punja replied saying that she would add her to “the list,” and that she should make it to the next meeting. By the time Orellana saw this message, she was already a member of the committee, but didn’t know it: “I didn’t assume that I was committing myself to something. There was nothing about voting or whatever.”
“She’s said she doesn’t want to be on it, but we’ve pretty much made all the decisions so far. I guess it’s going to be two people again.”
Mongeau said the vote was done hastily to remove him from the board for political reasons. Punja admitted that she voted against the French Club president, accusing him of being out of order during meetings.
UTSU execs denied that the vote was politically inspired, and repeated that committees are re-struck after by-elections every year. According to UTSU bylaws, committees are supposed to be re-struck in November.
“I only got the directions to re-strike the committee from Adnan [Najmi, VP internal],” said Punja. “I didn’t find out until Tuesday, the meeting was on Friday.” She said she had not checked the bylaws for the rules. “He [Adnan] is the policy guy, I obviously took his word for it.”