Akshan Bansal, vice-president, campus life, of the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) is off the hook for now, after the UTSU’s Executive Review Committee (XRC) revealed that they are not planning to recommend his impeachment.
“The Executive Review Committee does not currently plan, and has never in the past planned, to put forward an impeachment motion in response to the complaints brought forward against the Vice President Campus Life,” said Khrystyna Zhuk, arts & science at-large director and chair of the XRC.
Earlier in the year, the UTSU’s Executive Review Committee received reports regarding Bansal’s behaviour, many of which criticized his performance of his executive duties, as well as his work ethic. The minutes of the XRC meeting at which the allegations were discussed were put forward for approval at a meeting of the UTSU’s Board of Directors, held on July 12, 2015.
While the Board did not discuss the specific nature of the allegations at the meeting, the specific nature of the complaints surfaced in the minutes. According to the minutes, the XRC considered three complaints, anonymized to Complaints A, B, and C. There was some overlap in the complaints, including concerns about a lack of logged hours, lack of preparation for the incoming year, suspected instances of inebriation, and concerns regarding sexism in the office.
The minutes show that the XRC discussed Complaint A in-camera, but do not state whether Complaints B and C were discussed.
“To be honest, the process has been really difficult, and these allegations have really affected my mental health,” said Bansal, when asked about the allegations.
“Between the allegations and also being denied my democratic right to vote at the Board, I feel like I can’t participate which is detrimental to the effectiveness of my role as VP campus life on the basis of student representation,” he said. The vice-president, campus life, as an appointed position, is not currently entitled to vote at meetings of the Board of Directors, but is technically a non-voting member.
“I want to defend my staff, and myself but that is not possible whilst also respecting the process of the Executive Review Committee,” said Bansal. “It seems like a double standard when the board doesn’t file complaints against other folks who have been having trouble logging hours or displaying appropriate conduct,” he added.
Matthew Celestial, Woodsworth College director, moved a motion to strike the minutes concerning the allegations from the Board Package, which was ultimately defeated. At the Board meeting, he said that his decision to move the motion was related to the sensitivity of the topic itself, and what he viewed as the ‘slanderous’ nature of the complaints present in the minutes.
Sania Khan, UTSU vice-president, equity, and Grayce Slobodian, one of the UTSU’s orientation coordinators, agreed with Celestial, since the minutes also noted additional concerns regarding staff members who worked with Bansal.
However, other board members felt that striking the allegations from the minutes would impair the transparency of the UTSU. Board members against Celestial’s motion made the argument that striking the minutes would only be removing what was already said, since no motions were passed at the XRC’s meeting.
The investigation regarding the allegations is ongoing. “The committee actively attempts to understand the roots of all complaints from a variety of perspectives and seeks to put forward only fair and reasonable recommendations to the Board of Directors,” said Zhuk.
Zhuk said that the XRC anticipates being able to submit a formal report on the investigation to the Board of Directors at next regularly scheduled UTSU meeting.