I strongly urge that, when the full AUSU council meets on September 9, 2015, a proper election take place to fill all three executive positions on council: President, Vice-President External & Student Affairs (VPEX,) and Vice-President Finance and Administration (VPFA.)
Information currently on the AUSU website suggests that only two of those vacant positions will be filled by a vote of council members. Information provided in an AUSU press release on May 7, 2015 indicates that Shawna Wasylyshyn assumed the president’s role under bylaw 126.96.36.199. That suggests she?or council as a whole?presumed that Ms. Wasylyshyn could assume the office of president for the remainder of Mr. Nixon’s term without a proper vote of council.
Council must respect both the spirit and the intent of the bylaws and policies governing AUSU and its council members, and not fall into the trap of cherry-picking a letter of law, however convenient, as justification to commit a wrong action.
Council has the opportunity now to extricate themselves gracefully from this error, and that is by allowing the intended procedure take place: a vote of sitting council to fill the vacant position of President.
To demonstrate the spirit and intent of AUSU bylaws and policies, I refer to the following. (Further insight can be gained by examining the background documents used to develop those bylaws and policies.)
Policy 6.2.1 states: “Council shall elect by vote of council and by secret ballot the Offices of President, Vice-President of External and & Student Affairs (VPEX), Vice-President of Finance and Administration (VPFA), and any other executives (herein referred to as “Officer” or “Office”) that council deems necessary, from among the currently elected councillors.”
Further, bylaw 188.8.131.52 states: “In the event of a vacancy in an Office of AUSU, Council shall elect a Councillor to the vacant Office immediately or by the next Council meeting.”
It is clear from these bylaws that the intent is that the office of President is one voted on by council, and that an election to fill the vacant office is to take place immediately when the office becomes vacant. This has not, thus far, occurred since Mr. Nixon resigned as President on May 6, 2015, leaving the office of President vacant. There is simply no provision for the office of President to be filled without a vote of council.
AUSU council has, in its press release of May 7, 2015, referred to bylaw 184.108.40.206, which states that the duties of VPEX include “accepting the Office of President immediately upon its becoming vacant” despite AUSU policy 2.03.03 which clarifies that the VPEX only assumes the functions of President in the absence of the President. In the case of a President’s resignation, the VPEX should have assumed the functions of President only as long as needed to fill the vacancy by a vote of council. There is no expressed intent for the VPEX to seize the office of President on an indefinite basis and to prevent a proper vote of council to fill the vacant position.
There is no precedence for the vacancy to be filled without a vote of council. On the contrary, when a AUSU council president has resigned during their term on previous occasions, a vote of council took place to fill the vacancy. (Such as when AUSU President Barb Rielly resigned the position, among others.) A vote of council is what ought to happen now.
I offer this recommendation constructively, and for the betterment of AUSU, its council, and its members. If a vote to fill the office of President is not held, strife and dissension in AUSU and its council are likely to continue, which will be detrimental to AUSU’s members and its mission. If a vote is held, the duly elected council president (which may well turn out to be Ms. Wasylyshyn) can fulfil the duties of their position with the knowledge that they carry the support and confidence of council as well as a legitimate mandate.
A proper vote to fill all three executive council positions is the way to move forward, in the best interests of AUSU and its members. In closing, I will remind council of policy 2.01.03, which states that “councillors’ behaviour must inspire confidence in the integrity of the student government.” Council must ensure that their actions accomplish this.
Inspiring behavior is what we all should shoot for. – ED