Dec. 2, 2016
By Chahira Merarsi and Jake Wray
Bullying council members into silence, staff resisting changes by elected members, and booze on the students’ dime are just a few of the accusations being levelled against the Langara Students’ Union by sources who talked exclusively to The Voice.
The allegations come on the heels of the abrupt firing of the LSU’s general manager Desmond Rodenbour, who claims he was hired to implement reform. At the same meeting, the LSU also fired its legal counsel, which had recommended Rodenbour, and an elected board member.
Harsimran Malhi, who was elected in this year’s spring election, said she was fired last week after spending months trying to enact reform in the student union.
Staff allegedly threatened board members
Malhi said the LSU staff threatened to take legal action if she kept trying to improve transparency and modernize the union.
“We were threatened a few times,” she said. “It was like we were told ‘you’ll face grievances because this is not something that is our job.’”
Officially, she was fired for missing two board meetings. She said she had alerted the GM that she would miss the meetings for personal issues that had come up.
Malhi said she felt like some staff were unsupportive.
“We saw threats were given to us because we were trying to ask for policies because if you don’t know what the policies say, how can you do something?” She added that as a council member, they would be “accused of things again and again.”
Malhi said it was made very clear to her when she was elected, that asking questions was not seen favourably by the staff.
Malhi said staff also balked when council members discussed hiring legal counsel.
“They basically walked out of the meeting,” she told The Voice. “We wanted everyone to be on board. But the reaction that we got was really unexpected.”
Allegations of financial impropriety
Emma Leigha Munro, a former LSU member-at-large, said she witnesssed questionable financial decisions, although Malhi claims she never witnessed any evidence of that.
“There were definitely things that were questionable,” Munro said Thursday. “Such as alcoholic beverages at a party, open tabs, board parties, Christmas parties.”
Munro told The Voice that she was suspicious of LSU spending and her feeling was that staff wielded the real power in the LSU while elected members were treated as pawns.
“I feel like they ran the whole thing and we were just there because they needed it to look like we were there,” Munro said.
Another source familiar with the LSU said he was unimpressed with the way things were run and staff often pressured council members to do their bidding.
The source expressed concern about the number of people pushed out over the last 16 months.
“It’s essentially like putting Langara back into the dark ages,” he said.
The Voice reached out for comment from the LSU, which did not respond.
Another issue raised was how staff tried to prevent elected board members from connecting with other student societies, including the umbrella Alliance of B.C. Students.
In an April 2016 email obtained by The Voice, LSU staff member Gurbax Lealh instructed ABCS officials to always contact LSU staff before approaching elected LSU council members.
The Voice, Thursday, attempted to contact the LSU for comment and got no response.
Langara College officials also declined to comment.
Article originally appeared in The Langara Voice