Popular Posts

October 11, 2005

KSA internal investigation - Kwantlen Chronicle

The way the Kwantlen Student Association bylaws were changed wasn’t the only controversy from the Sept. 29 KSA meeting. An internal investigation is underway regarding prizes that were handed out.

Mariana Nakhla said she “and four other members” of the executive board of the KSA are conducting the investigation. Nakhla, director of academic affairs for the KSA and member of the Reduce All Fees Party, said, “I can’t say anything else about that.”

According to a KSA attendance sheet, 256 students signed in, said Nakhla. Each student signed in was eligible to win prizes in a raffle-style giveaway. The advertisement campaign for the raffle was focused on the Surrey campus, said Nakhla. “We did give away some advertisement in Richmond, though.”

The prizes, which were paid for with student fees, included two iPod shuffles, three iPod nanos, three 27-inch TVs, five DVD players and a grand-prize $8,000 vacation to anywhere in the world for the winner, who must invite a minimum of three friends to accompany her or him.

It’s not clear which aspect of the giveaway the executive is investigating. The Chronicle will update students in a future article when more information is available.

Bylaws passed with no consideration - Kwantlen Chronicle

Steve Lee, KSA Richmond campus director, and Johnny Woo, KSA Richmond campus representative, share their concerns about the handling of the association's special general meeting.

Controversy has erupted after the Kwantlen Student Association passed a new set of bylaws at its special general meeting on Sept. 29.

The main purpose of the meeting – which was run by Aaron Takhar, director of finance, chairperson of the KSA board and member of the Reduce All Fees Party – was to hold a vote asking students whether or not to adopt a newly adjusted set of KSA bylaws.

"We have a new set of bylaws that we are presenting, and to approve these we can get straight onto the prizes," announced Takhar at the meeting.

Takhar introduced the bylaws as the only item on the agenda. Kulvir Gill, Richmond campus staff representative and member of the Reduce All Fees Party, moved that the changes to the bylaws be accepted, and Raman Mann seconded the motion.

According to a video of the meeting supplied to The Chronicle by Steven Lee, KSA Richmond campus director, the bylaws were approved at the meeting without debate. The video shows one student saying, “I would like to know, before we take a vote, what this is about.” As well, Laura Anderson, KSA Langley campus representative, also requested discussion.

Discussion was cut off, though, when Takhar said: “Before we get to what this is about, we have a lot of people who came for one reason, which is to win prizes, so why don’t we take a show of hands here?”

Takhar declared the motion to approve the new bylaws passed, announced the winners of the prizes and adjourned the meeting.

The video also shows Takhar claimed that the new bylaws had been available for students to read for three weeks prior to the meeting, but that’s being disputed by Anderson and others.

Anderson said she spoke with Takhar on Sept. 21 and asked to read the proposed changes to the bylaws, but “he said ‘they wouldn’t be ready [to view] for about another week,’” perhaps until only a couple days before the special general meeting. What took place at the meeting was “an absolute example of the incredible corruption” in the KSA, said Anderson.

Johnny Woo, KSA Richmond campus council representative, and Steven Lee, KSA Richmond campus director, also said the bylaws were not made available as Takhar had claimed.

Woo says he and Lee had asked to see the bylaws numerous times, by email and in person, including once about a week before the meeting, but were told the document wasn’t yet available.

“I asked Kulvir [Gill], I talked to Aaron [Takhar], we emailed them, and either it’s no response or ‘hey, you’ll find out soon enough,’” said Woo.

Rob Evans, student representative to the board of governors, which is a non-voting position on the KSA council, was critical of the role that prizes played in the process. “Unfortunately, the prizes were used for more than just getting people out to the meeting,” he said. “They were then used to facilitate the voting on the bylaws.”

“There was no dialogue” and no chance for the students to realistically consider the bylaws, he said.

“The bylaws are clearly invalid,” said Evans. “There was somewhere around $20,000 spent with no results.”

That’s not the view of the KSA executive. The bylaws are considered approved, according to Nakhla. “We’ve changed [the bylaws). We’ve changed the system – the whole hierarchy,” she said.

Despite attempts before the deadline, the Chronicle was unable to get comment from Takhar or other members of the executive, including Joey Atwal, KSA director of events, who did not return calls, and Jaivin Khatri, KSA director of external affairs, who said he was too busy studying for midterms for even a short interview.

Gill also refused an interview with the Chronicle.

“I’m not giving an article to the Chronicle,” said Gill, who wasn’t happy about a previous Chronicle article.

As for a reaction to what the changes will mean, Lee said: “They’ve basically given the president and the executive board all the power. Even general meetings don’t really have any power any more under this system.”

Lee said that students should also be concerned that “the ombuds section is gone” from the bylaws, referring to the internal body that is normally in place to investigate complaints.

To offer some perspective, Lee points to the student association at Simon Fraser University as an example of how things should be running.

SFU’s student association had a special general meeting Sept. 28, said Lee. “Their bylaw changes had been posted online and in the student society offices for about a month beforehand,” he explained.

The Chronicle will publish an article look at the new bylaws and what they mean for students in our next edition.