STUSU unaminously impeaches OC rep

The St. Thomas University Students’ Union passed a motion and voted to impeach Brandon LeBlanc from his off-campus representative position at a meeting on March 16.

The vote was 14-0, with LeBlanc abstaining. This vote concludes the request for LeBlanc’s impeachment by fellow off-campus representative Jimy Beltran. He motioned for this at a meeting two weeks prior.

“Although [OC] has overcome many challenges, one of them can no longer be ignored,” Beltran said.

“That Brandon LeBlanc’s disrespectful and condescending behaviour that not only has insulted our members as a committee, but also whole student body. His behaviour has also jeopardized the image of the STUSU as an open and democratic organization with the student body.”

Chairman Jeremy Keats opened the floor to Beltran. He invited five students who have worked with LeBlanc on the OC committee to share their experiences interacting with LeBlanc, one of them also delivering a sixth testimony from an absent member.

The five students, four of which were female, shared similar general sentiments. They said LeBlanc was disrespectful, made sexist comments, lacked leadership and did not consult the team as a whole and compared the team to past years’ in a negative way. Messages were read showing LeBlanc used the word “hierarchy” when talking about positions within the committee. They also said LeBlanc referred to the committee as “assistants with no voice” and made negative comments about Beltran and third OC representative Eduardo Móntañez.

First-year student Emma Graham shared her experience interacting with LeBlanc via Facebook. Following an intramural game during the most recent election week, LeBlanc posted on the OC Facebook group congratulating them on a successful game.

Graham said she commented on the post, “calling him out” for having barely attended any games with the exception of the last one and allegedly using it as a platform for re-election as OC representative. LeBlanc deleted her comment three times before he messaged her privately, telling her to “Grow up haha.”

As the conversation continued, LeBlanc began sending Graham winky faces at the end of his responses. She told him to stop sending her winky faces but he did not stop. He also went on to refer to her as “girly.”

Graham said she felt the comments were sexist and demeaning.

When the floor was opened to LeBlanc, he said Beltran was correct in specific sections of the Code of Conduct he claimed LeBlanc violated, but not in others.

LeBlanc specifically said he did not commit severe nor persistent harassment and did not consider any of the interactions sexist.

“It sounds like you guys have a gender problem … There’s nothing like I would only like to work with men, or would prefer to work with men. That’s just not true,” he said.

He also maintained he was mindful of the position and its public image.

LeBlanc responded to accusations of telling committee members they don’t have the right to make decisions by asking to see said messages, although he wasn’t sure if they existed or not.

“I’m sure it was taken out of context. When I say you do not make decisions, that is not related to the committee at all … That is related to other things I do as an OC rep,” he said.

He said the conversation between he and Graham was a private conversation “until [Beltran] made it public,” and that what happened between he and Graham was an exercise of his freedom of speech.

LeBlanc had prepared a PowerPoint presentation and shared it with all in attendance. It showed screenshots of the Facebook conversations between he and Graham, reiterating her earlier statements. It also showed screenshots from a private group chat LeBlanc was not involved in where he pointed out “sexist nicknames” members had given themselves.

The members in question were present and confirmed they did not feel the nicknames were sexist as they gave them to themselves as a joke.

After an hour and a half, Beltran made his final comments on the matter, asking voting members of the council to appeal to their most sincere human sense.

“If [you’re] someone telling [someone] to stop sending winky faces, and they’re sending winky faces to you, wouldn’t you find that insulting? If someone is telling you to grow up, and [they] erase your comments from Facebook three times, is that something acceptable for you?

“It’s fine, all of us are committing mistakes, it’s fine to apologize … how many times are people going to keep being insulted, feeling shame and not being welcomed in a committee that belongs to STUSU? … This person is unfit for this position.”

Beltran went on to say the matter was not about losing a position, but about a human sense of respect and dignity.

LeBlanc was re-elected as an OC representative in the STUSU general election on March 3. Vice-president administration Philippe Ferland confirmed the governance committee met last Tuesday and decided that since the election already passed, LeBlanc will still hold his position next year. Ferland said they are looking to change the respective bylaws accordingly.

LeBlanc calmly addressed the Student Representative Council before Beltran motioned to vote on his removal.

“Have I done some wrong in the committee? Yes, I have done some. That is only one aspect of what I do as an off-campus rep,” he said.

“To try and remove me from all those things … just is unnecessary … I think for the best of STU right now and the off-campus committee, it’s better if I’m not there at the moment … I’ll be back in a month and a half anyway, I’ve been re-elected, I have the support of the students.”

After the SRC voted to remove LeBlanc from council, social inclusion representative Rebecca Kingston requested a motion to remove LeBlanc from the meeting immediately. The SRC proceeded with the motion and the majority voted in favour.

LeBlanc put on his jacket, packed his bookbag and left the room.

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