By Natalie Sit
Student Senator Nick Vuckovic has been removed from the University of Calgary Senate by the Students’ Union for failing to give a required report to council. Vuckovic claims the removal defames his character. He is also angry a serious three-month illness was not considered during the motion.
Vuckovic was scheduled to speak at the Tue., Apr. 14 Students’ Legislative Council meeting about his Senate activity but did not attend SLC. He was to provide a written report in lieu of a verbal report but also failed to do so. Fellow Student Senator Robbie White was not present however he did provide a written report to council.
Vuckovic said White’s report touched on both their activities, much like Vuckovic’s fall report to council had. However, in the opinion of Vice-President Operations and Finance Gavin Preston, Vuckovic failed to report to SLC.
According to the Terms of Reference between the Senate and the SU, student senators are required to provide at least one written report per semester.
Also of concern were Vuckcovic’s missed meetings. Vuckovic missed two Senate meetings in a row, which is contravention of bylaws.
However, Vuckovic has been sick with whooping cough, or pertussis, for three months, missing both school and work. He missed both the January and February meetings due to his illness and missed the March farewell meeting to complete an essay, catching up on school work. He missed the SLC meeting to write a final.
"If they have made such a move without talking to me that is not surprising," said Vuckovic. "This SU has managed to bungle everything else it’s done this year. As of this moment I could only guess as to why they’ve decided to impeach me. If they have decided to impeach me without even allowing me to defend myself, that is very disappointing. "
On Wed., Apr. 14 Vuckovic asked Preston why the motion was put forth without Vuckovic’s presence.
"It’s because I betrayed him by backing another [Op-Fi] candidate [during the 2003 SU General Election]," said Vuckovic who was the 2002-03 VP External. "He’s doing it because he has a grudge."
Preston said it is not revenge for Vuckovic’s past actions but a matter of accountability to remove Vuckovic.
"The basis of his removal is it is the last SLC and there is no report from one of the Senate members," said Preston. "If he’s upset, I understand, but he has no one to blame but himself."
White does not understand why SLC would remove Vuckovic so late in the semester and says it’s "grandstanding." White knew Vuckovic was sick during the winter semester and did the report for the both of them.
"We were in contact with each other, so the report was from the both of us," said White. "My report foucsed mainly on what the senate has been doing in general, not just what Nick and I have done."
Some members were concerned Vuckovic was not notified of the motion. Both Op-Fi Commissioner Lisa Willott and VP Academic Demetrios Nicolaides voted against the motion.
"We didn’t give him a chance to justify his attendance," said Willott. "I don’t think we should boot him."
Vuckovic is also considering a lawsuit against the executives and SU.
"It’s a shot on my character," said Vuckovic. "They decided without me there. It hurt my character."
Executive Officer of the Senate Brenda Tweedie said the senate will not make this an issue.
"Student representatives are selected by students and it’s up to them to address their performance," said Tweedie. "Student representatives make a great contribution to senate."
The next step is to send an official letter to the senate office and the Alberta Learning Ministry as the senate is created by the Post-Secondary Act. The motion passed with 15 in favour and two opposed.
A student senator has been re- moved before from office. In 2001, Kelly St. Jean failed to attend any Senate meetings and was removed.The motion passed with 15 favour and two opposed.
This is not the first time a student senator has been removed from office. In 2001, Kelly St. Jean failed to attend any Senate meetings and was removed.