At the Jan. 14 council meeting, the King’s Students’ Union (KSU) voted against two special resolution motions that would allow for two individuals to be expelled from the union.
The motions combined had more than three hours of debate between councillors and executive members, and required a three-quarter vote for the motion to pass.
The first of the two motions was for student and King’s Theatrical Society (KTS) member Chris Tully to be expelled from the union, as he felt that the union’s actions did not match up with students’ expectations.
“The reason that I wanted to leave the union was that I was uncomfortable with the way that the union deals with voices that it disagrees with on campus, and the way that the union handles itself when obstacles come up for it,” he said.
Tully also expressed concern about the KSU’s protocols for following their own bylaws in the meeting, claiming that he believes that the KSU only adheres to their own governing principles when it is convenient for the members of the union’s executive.
“I take issue with that because in an institution where we’re supposed to trust in our union, why would we trust in a union that doesn’t want to listen to the rules that they’re supposed to be following?” Tully continued.
The debate about Tully’s motion took over two hours and had members of the KSU on different sides of the debate.
Julia-Simone Rutgers, one of the union’s board of governors representatives, spoke out in support of both of the motions throughout the meeting, claiming that the choice to leave the union shouldn’t be anyone’s decision except for the person who is attempting to leave.
Rutgers believes that the concerns that the students had brought forward were valid, and that the union should be taking the time to listen to these concerns and to strategize ways to solve them.
“I think that we demonstrated a side of the union that is not the best way to serve the members, and so I’m disappointed to be representing a institution that would take measures like that. I realize that are many sides to the issue and that there’s a lot of complexity to the questions that we’ve been asking, but I also think that we’ve been making a lot of mistakes that we’re not quite ready to atone for, and that’s a disappointing place to be in,” she said.
Brennan McCracken, the KSU president, sat on the other side of the issue, voting against the motion. Though he does agree that the union needs to take the time to listen to student concerns and act on them.
“I definitely don’t want my vote to be reflective of whether or not I think the concerns of the students are invalid. I think it’s our responsibility to listen to what students have to say, and to hear them out and take those opinions into consideration. I hope that students don’t take from this decision that we’re not willing to listen and don’t want feedback, because of course there’s always room for improvement,” he said.
“I did vote specifically the way that I did because this is not something that there are mechanisms in place to deal with at the moment. It was unclear to me in the meeting and still don’t think I fully know what voting in favour of this motion, or having a student be expelled from the union would be a good thing for the students’ union.”
The second motion was for Beth Hawco, a fourth-year student and SNARC (Students Advocating Representative Curricula) member who also wished to be expelled from the union.
Hawco’s reasoning for wanting to leave the union is because she considers the actions of the union’s executive as inappropriate and doesn’t want to have herself tied to the union during the remainder of her time at King’s.
Though Hawco did not want to be interviewed, she prepared a short piece about her intentions moving forward:
“I don’t think I want to do an interview. I don’t trust the union not to create/perpetuate unnecessary drama,” she said.
She is instead choosing to take her remaining days at King’s and focus on academics and her work with SNARC, hoping that she will be able to avoid any interaction with the union.
Tully, however, has another plan.
“I think if they want me to be a member of their union so badly, that I will take an active role and more of an interest within the union. I problem that I have with that though is that when you’re a voice that goes against what the executive of the union wants, it’s very hard to bring forward any kind of change,” he said.
“I think one thing that will really allow for changes to be made will be to get new people in these positions. To really disrupt the culture that is in the KSU executive and council and letting people into those positions who are willing to listen to the membership.”
The union has committed to facing these concerns and according to McCracken, is in the discussion stages for what their next course of action will be.
For now, McCracken is encouraging anyone to bring forward any concerns about the union’s bylaws or governance to the communications vice president Cassie Hayward.
She can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org.