South avoids impeachment

Impeachment is not imminent for Students’ Union President Rob South, despite calls for his removal from office by student activists.

A straw vote at Tuesday’s Students’ Legislative Council meeting established that the disqualification of South would not come from within the SU. The written straw vote, which asked, "Do you support the impeachment of Rob South as well as provincial pressure?" resulted in 15 "no" votes and to five "yes" votes.

The SU Executive was adamant, however, in insisting South apologize to students for his refusal to second a zero per cent tuition motion at Friday’s Board of Governors meeting.

"I think what appalls me the most is that I haven’t heard yet what I feel to be an expression of remorse for what has been characterized as a miscommunication," said Vice-president Academic Heather Clitheroe. "… Honestly, I don’t think you can talk about healing when there’s nothing to start healing with."

VP Events Jared Lorenz said he, like Clitheroe, needed an apology.

"I felt more betrayed than I’ve ever felt," said Lorenz. "It ripped out my soul. I can’t come into work and be passionate anymore. All I want to hear is ‘I’m sorry I hurt you.’"

VP External Nassr Awada maintained the zero per cent motion should have been seconded.

"If you had put any other students on campus [in South’s position], in that five seconds with 75 students screaming ‘second that motion,’ I think they would have entertained seconding the motion," he said.

South defended his actions to the over 40 students in the gallery and SLC.

"I am in the difficult position of representing over 20,000 students," said South. "I’m sorry and sad that I couldn’t do everything for everybody at that point in time. I’ll say it again: you can’t look at that moment in time in isolation… I’ve done a good job."

Various commissioners spoke at length about their feelings on the matter, and while they differed about South’s actions, no commissioner spoke in favour of his disqualification. Phrases like, "let’s move on" and "we need to present a united front" were bandied about by nearly every speaker.

South clearly desired what he called a "healing process."

"I just hope that as a council, as an organization, as representatives of the student body, that we can try and not ignore that hurt, but just move past that hurt," said South. "Debating it any more won’t do any good."

At the end of three-hour discussion, members of the gallery remained divided. Some engineers held signs like, "Rob is good," while members of the Revolutionary Anarchist Kollektive asked for South’s removal. With the straw vote, however, it was clear the immediate threat to South’s job had dissipated. The meeting adjourned shortly after.

All four VPs expressed disdain for the SLC meeting, saying nothing was resolved and no apology was made.

"I’m more frustrated than ever," said VP Operations and Finance Amanda Affonso. "No clear direction was given."

Each VP vowed to continue to represent students to the utmost of their abilities, as did South.

"I firmly believe in a zero per cent increase," said South. "I think there needs to be a [tuition] roll back. Unfortunately, the conditions are not there yet and I’ll continue to do my best to change them."

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