In the wake of a public accusation on Facebook alleging sexual assault, Akshan Bansal has been removed as vice-president campus life from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) Executive Committee. Bansal has also been removed from the union’s Board of Directors, which required a separate motion.
Ben Coleman, UTSU president, moved to impeach Bansal at an emergency meeting of the UTSU’s Board of Directors Wednesday afternoon. After an in-camera discussion, the board passed Coleman’s motion with 24 votes in favour, two against, one abstention and one spoiled ballot. According to the UTSU’s by-laws, Bansal’s occupancy of both offices was terminated as soon as the results of the vote were announced.
The union executive’s impeachment follows the surfacing of multiple complaints against Bansal regarding his workplace conduct, including a public allegation, posted on Facebook on December 14, that alleges Bansal committed a sexual assault. The UTSU responded with a statement calling directly for Bansal’s impeachment and condemning rape culture and violence on campus broadly. Five of the seven UTSU executives signed the statement.
Uranranebi Agbeyegbe, president of the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), did not sign the UTSU’s statement but responded on behalf of the UTMSU on December 22 calling for an immediate investigation into the allegation.
The UTSU’s Executive Review Committee (XRC), comprised of board members and tasked with keeping the executive accountable also received grievances about Bansal over the summer months. The XRC reviewed the complaints, which included claims that Bansal made sexist remarks and was inebriated at work, and recommended that Bansal be placed on probation. The XRC did not call for impeachment at that time.
According to the UTSU’s by-laws, if an executive position becomes vacant after the union’s fall elections process has begun, the opening must be advertised by the UTSU’s Executive Committee. Applicants must be interviewed and no fewer than two candidates must be forwarded to the union’s board of directors for consideration.
The Executive Committee released an official statement on the impeachment late Wednesday evening, noting that “it is important that, as the leaders of the UTSU, executives uphold the mission and values of the organization. We therefore encourage our members to continue to hold their elected leaders to account.”
Bansal did respond to immediate request for comment from The Varsity, mentioning that he was distraught following the meeting’s conclusion.
This story is developing; more to follow.