STUSU starts debate on impeachment, new anonymous letter brought to council

Update: The St. Thomas University Students’ Union Student Representative Council has decided it’s in the best interests of students and the STUSU for vice-president education Ailish MacKenize-Foley to remain in her position.

During the most recent St. Thomas University Students’ Union Student Representative Council meeting on Dec. 2, members of the council discussed the Letter to the Editor that called for vice-president Ailish MacKenzie-Foley’s impeachment, once more. This time, MacKenzie-Foley and STUSU president Husoni Raymond were present. The Aquinian was kicked out of the room during the actual discussion, but Raymond gave a short statement near the end of the council meeting.

He said MacKenzie-Foley acknowledged the concerns raised by students in the letter and said the STUSU will be developping an “action plan” to address the perfomance concerns.

Raymond encouraged students with questions and concerns to reach out to representatitves and exectuives during office hours, emails or when they see them on campus.

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The Student Representative Council discussed impeaching St. Thomas University Students’ Union vice-president education Ailish MacKenzie-Foley at their Nov. 25 meeting.

The discussions follow The Aquinian’s publication of an anonymous letter to the editor on Nov. 18, where the author asked the STUSU to consider MacKenzie-Foley’s impeachment.

The letter was read in an in-camera STUSU meeting and also sent to The Aquinian. STUSU hasn’t publicly responded to the letter and its allegations yet. President Husoni Raymond said the STUSU is dealing internally with the concerns brought up by the letter internally and he’s met with MacKenzie-Foley.

“She acknowledges that there has been some issues and has expressed an interest in improving,” he said.

Another letter

STUSU’s Harrington Hall representative Tyler Dupuis said a Harrington resident wrote another anonymous letter addressed to STUSU councillors regarding the impeachment.

Before reading the letter, social inclusion representative Dorcas Tshimenga raised a motion to go in-camera, which meant the meeting wouldn’t go into the public record and the media wouldn’t be able to cover it.

The Aquinian asked council to keep the public interest in mind when voting. Eight councillors voted against going in-camera and six abstained out of 14 voting members.

Tshimenga read the letter, which asked councillors to address MacKenzie-Foley’s possible impeachment objectively.

“Your responsibility in these roles is to the students you represent and at times this will include making challenging decisions or decisions that you as a single individual may not agree with,” said the letter.

“Ailish has been in this position since May. If she has been unable to manage the demands of the role now, I ask you seriously councillors, when will the time come when she’s able to?”

MacKenzie-Foley wasn’t present at the meeting because she was in a Canadian Alliance Students’ Association Policy and Strategy conference in Vancouver.

Dupuis asked councillors to keep in mind MacKenzie-Foley wasn’t present at the meeting to defend herself.

He said the SRC needs to talk about the track record of the vice-president education, without implying removal.

Sexuality and gender diversity representative Tyler MaGee said the SRC should take the letter’s concerns seriously and discuss them.

“I think that all of us around this table don’t want to see anybody leave it, but I think that at the end of the day, this is what students are saying these are what their concerns are,” he said.

He then read the section of the STUSU’s bylaws that discusses the removal of a member and the section of the STUSU’s constitution that discusses the vice-president education’s mandate.

Under section four, sub-section five of the constitution, it reads “the vice-president education shall attend all regular and special meetings of the SRC and SEC, promote academic issues relevant to students to the relevant organizations, lobby all levels of government and organizations on issues of concern to students of St. Thomas University and perform such other duties as may be assigned to the vice-president education from time to time.”

Off-campus representative Kathleen Jones asked council how they are going to move forward with the discussion.

“We need to see both sides of the story other than just anonymous letters … We can’t just go off speculation,” she said.

Tshimenga said it was a good idea to address the letter even if MacKenzie-Foley wasn’t present because the letter is addressed to councillors.

She also said the discussion of the letter should be tabled for the next meeting to give MacKenzie-Foley the opportunity to defend herself and if the STUSU president would like to speak, since he was also attending the same conference as MacKenzie-Foley.

In an email, MacKenzie-Foley said the letter was extremely saddening and disheartening to receive.

“I don’t want any student to ever feel like I’m not properly representing them … I do want students to know that I have had their best interests at mind and I will continue to make that known with visible actions and not just with these words,” she said.

She added she feels her performance as vice-president education has been “somewhere in the middle.”

“I, personally don’t think I have done as poorly of a job as this letter is making me out to sound, but I also don’t think I have been fully excelling in my position or reaching my max potential within it,” she said.

For impeachment to take place, someone would have to bring an impeachment motion forward to council. The motion would be tabled for a week and voting members would vote on whether to remove or not to remove the STUSU member in the next meeting.

Respect and objectivity

Tshimenga said it’s important to be respectful when discussing the issue. She said even if The Aquinian was transparent, there was a lack of filter.

“I think that line was blurry when people voiced their concerns and that wasn’t respectful … This has to be a respectful conversation. It’s not meant to break anybody down, it’s not meant to criticize someone’s character,” she said.

MaGee said it’s easy to become empowered when you are behind a computer screen.

“It’s a lot harder when you are face to face.”

Jones said STUSU councillors need to look at the letter objectively.

“We have the responsibility of the students and if they don’t feel as if we are taking things seriously that’s not good. We need to make sure they have confidence in us,” she said.

Off-campus representative Megan Cormier told councillors to try to be unbiased if they are discussing the issue “in public with a large group of people” because it looks “horrible” on the Student Representative Council.

“Watch what you’re saying, watch who is around you because this is a very touchy topic that a lot of students are invested in both emotionally and through the student union,” she said.

The SRC tabled the discussion on the possibility for MacKenzie-Foley’s impeachment for their next meeting on Dec. 2.

With files from Caitlin Dutt

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