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Three UTSU directors deemed to have abandoned office under bylaws

Attendance improved since last year by six percentage points
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UTSU Board attendance

In the annual analysis of attendance at University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) meetings, The Varsity found that three out of the total 33 members of the UTSU Board of Directors met the terms outlined for “Abandonment of Office” under the UTSU’s bylaw 10. 

The data used in the analysis came from a total of 55 meetings, comprising eight monthly board meetings from April to December 2020, the Annual General Meeting (AGM), and a series of committee meetings.

This year’s analysis shows an improvement in attendance from last year, when 15 per cent of directors resigned or had been deemed resigned in February 2020. This year, that number was lower, at nine per cent. 

2020–2021 attendance

The Varsity received attendance lists for monthly board meetings, the AGM, and committee meetings. According to these records, three out of 33 total board members have accumulated sufficient absences at board meetings to be considered to have abandoned office. The total average attendance of directors across board meetings and the AGM was 84.85 per cent, indicating that, on average, board members attend 84.85 per cent of board meetings, including the AGM. 

Directors who meet the bylaw’s conditions for abandonment of office include St. Michael’s College Director Zoe Chen, who has accumulated five absences during their term, and  Professional Faculties-at-Large Director Rose Mohammad, who has accumulated 3.5 absences.

There was also one board member, Victoria College Director Ava Harrington, who has accumulated two “Unreasonable Absences” at committee meetings. Both of these instances occurred at Governance Committee meetings. 

The Varsity heard from Harrington. Of the two meetings that she missed, she said that they were both scheduled in advance. Of her reasons for missing meetings, she said, “My two instances of absences were: one was because of a flight, and I forgot to email them, and the other was because of work, and I also forgot to email.”

Reflecting on her absences at committee meetings, Harrington said, “I’m disappointed in myself that I missed enough to have… deemed my resignation, and I do hope the UTSU holds me accountable for that.”

Continuing, she reflected on her role in the UTSU. “I feel like I’ve done enough good work that I won’t be removed from the board… but I do hope it’s something that we acknowledge, and that’s something I’ll push for.”

Grounds for removal

According to bylaw 10, one of the ways in which a board member can be removed from office is if they violate the guidelines for attendance. This means that if a member of the Board of Directors misses enough meetings without a reasonable excuse, they may be removed from office or determined to have abandoned their position. 

Board members can be classified as abandoning office in three circumstances. This includes when a member has two unreasonable absences; 2.5 reasonable or unreasonable absences plus absence for three meetings in a row; or 3.5 units worth of any kind of absence. 

Board members can also fall under “Abandonment of Office” if they miss two properly scheduled committee meetings that they are meant to attend and do not take appropriate measures such as “proxying their vote” or “sending regrets.”

UTSU President Muntaka Ahmed, Chen, and Mohammad did not respond to requests for comment.

Editor’s note (February 8): An attendance record provided to The Varsity by the UTSU inaccurately claimed that New College Director Karel Peters had two unreasonable absences. This article has been corrected, and, as Peters only has one unreasonable absence, they have been taken out of the article. The Varsity regrets this error.