Also at http://www.thesil.ca/article.pl?sid=07/01/11/2011209&mode=thread
“Hattie is back” is what graduate students echoed across Simon Fraser University on Wednesday.
According to an email release sent from Sam Brunn, of the Simon Fraser Student Society, the new Board of Directors of the SFSS voted to reinstate Hattie Aitken to the position of Graduate Issues Coordinator, with “full back pay and damages”.
The reinstatement of Aitken brings an end to an issue that has divided the student society and resulted in the impeachment of five Executive Officers. The issue began on Aug. 3 when the Labour Relations Committee of the Board of Directors and the Internal Relations Officer terminated Aitken from her position after she had worked for the student society in four different positions for over 26 years.
The reason for her dismissal was not disclosed, and many students questioned both the motivation for and the method of terminating Aitken.
Clement Apaak, immediate past SFSS President at the time, was one of these students. “Nowhere in SFSS policy does it say that the IRO or Labour Relations Committee can terminate an employee,” said Apaak.
The power to terminate rests with the Board of Directors, a body composed of 15 elected students that is equivalent to the McMaster Student Union Student Representative Assembly.
Apaak felt that “the [the impeached officers] intentionally chose not to follow proper procedure because they had something to hide and terminated Hattie for political reasons and to further their agenda.”
During the first week of classes in September, a petition to call a Special General Meeting was circulated among students.
The organizers who circulated the petition did so because they felt members of the Board of Directors had abused their power and violated policy.
9.8 per cent of the SFSS membership signed the petition. SFSS by-laws state that a petition of 5 per cent is required to call a Special General Meeting.
SFSS President Shawn Hunsdale refused to call the meeting since the B.C. Society Act, the act that governs student unions in British Columbia, states “directors of a society, on the requisition of 10 per cent or more of the voting members of the society must convene a general meeting of the society without delay.”
This decision caused uproar among the student body and some members of the SFSS stated they would take their call for a SGM to the SFSS Forum.
The SFSS Forum is a governing body consisting of over 50 students elected by students within their department plus the members of the SFSS Board of Directors. The SFSS Forum holds many reserve powers within the SFSS including the ability to, by two-thirds vote, call a Special General Meeting.
The Forum was scheduled to meet on Sept.27. It was announced in advance that a motion would be brought forth to call for a SGM to impeach seven members of the Board who were collectively known as the “G7.”
On Sept. 26, the day before the meeting, Member Services Officer, Glyn Lewis, sent an email to all members of Forum. In the email, he stated that he had cancelled the meeting due to an anticipated lack of quorum.
Immediately, other members of Forum who supported the SGM motion emailed the Forum listserve stating that Lewis, as Members Services Officer, did not have such power.
Members of Forum proceeded to hold the meeting, without members of the G7 present, and managed to reach the number required for quorum. The members present voted to hold a SGM on Oct.25 for the purposes of a student vote on the impeachment motions.
The G7 disputed this, declaring the meeting invalid, and proceeded to hold an Annual General Meeting at the same time as the SGM. Many felt this was done in order to confuse students and prevent quorum at the SGM.
The Oct.25 took over three hours. Students had an opportunity to hear both those in favour and opposed to the impeachment speak.
The motions to impeach the seven members were voted on individually. All were impeached by an overwhelming margin. In the case of the President, over 99 per cent (724-6) voted to impeach him. According to The Peak, many of those that spoke in favour of his impeachment said they were upset about the termination of Aitken and what they felt was a smear campaign against her by members of the G7.
The members of the G7 immediately took the three SFSS members to court who had organized the impeachment drive. One of them, Titus Gregory, maintains a popular blog at www.studentunion.ca.
The case was heard in the Supreme Court of B.C. on Nov.30 and Dec.1.
On Dec. 4 the Supreme Court ruled that the MSO did not have the power to cancel Forum, that the SGM was valid, and that the G7 were impeached and had to vacate the SFSS offices.
SFU students voted in a by-election to fill five Executive Office and two At-Large Representative positions that were created by the impeachment.
The election ended on Dec.19 with Derrick Harder elected as SFSS President. According to Harder, the new Board met immediately on Dec.21.
At this meeting they voted to have Aitken’s grievance go to mediation before Mark Brown of the Labour Relations Board of British Columbia.
Following mediation, the new SFSS Board of Directors voted to overturn the decision of the previous Board and reinstate Aitken to her position. Aitken will be returning to work Jan.15.
Titus Gregory said that he was “very happy with the decision.” “I worked with Hattie for one year, and she is an honourable, trustworthy person,” said Gregory.
Gregory felt that the termination was very suspicious and is confident the new Board of Directors made the right decision in bringing Aitken back.