On November 25, SSMU’s Legislative Council voted to approve a motion calling for the resignation of President Darshan Daryanani in light of his ongoing absence. As per section six, subsection 1.2 of SSMU’s Internal Regulations of Governance, the motion was scheduled to be ratified by the Board of Directors (BoD) at their December 2 meeting.
Although Executives previously told the Daily that SSMU’s staff have “nothing to do with the politics of the Society,” they have since characterized Daryanani’s absence as an HR issue, separate from Society politics. Because of this, the reason and duration of Daryanani’s absence have not been shared with the Legislative Council, and Executives have not confirmed whether Daryanani is on paid leave.
VP Finance Éric Sader discouraged the Board from ratifying the motion, claiming that it made incorrect assumptions about Daryanani’s absence. “He has not been delinquent in his duties, he is on leave,” Sader said of Daryanani, disputing the motion’s claim that the President should be “held accountable for delinquency of duties.” Sader then reiterated that the President’s absence is an HR issue which can only be discussed in confidential session. VP External Sacha Delouvrier echoed Sader’s comments, stating that HR matters and the confidentiality of Daryanani’s absence prevented Directors from ratifying the motion. “Whether I agree with the content [of the motion] or not […] I sincerely don’t believe that we should go around HR matters,” he said, asking Directors to oppose ratification. However, he said that a motion calling for a Special General Assembly (GA) regarding an Executive would be “a different story.”
Management Representative Nathaniel Saad asked Sader and Delouvrier why they did not raise their concerns during the motion’s debate period at the Legislative Council meeting. Sader explained that his capacity as an Officer of SSMU is different from his capacity as a Director: “I felt the need to abstain because of knowledge that I had as a Director, and […] thought that it was not my place to be discussing those issues.” Delouvrier agreed, stating that it was more appropriate for him to discuss the motion at a Board meeting. He continued, “I just simply think that the motion itself asking for the President’s resignation is not the right way to go about this situation.”
Saad countered that ratification of the motion would not be an endorsement of its claim about delinquency, but would instead be an acknowledgement of the Legislative Council’s desire to enact the motion. He also pointed out that the motion includes an option to call for a Special GA: in the event that Daryanani refused to submit a letter of resignation within 48 hours of the motion’s ratification, a Special GA would be scheduled for the beginning of the Winter 2022 semester. Saad encouraged Directors to “consider taking that route” when contemplating ratification. After Saad’s comments, the Board elected to move discussion of ratification into a confidential session to be held later in the evening.
The confidential session lasted for over two hours. Upon returning to public session, Sader advised Directors to invoke section six, subsection 1.4 of the Internal Regulations of Governance, which states that the BoD may overturn the Legislative Council’s vote if doing so protects the Society’s “legal, financial, or operational well-being.” Saad asked whether the motion could be amended to address the Board’s concerns and be eligible for ratification. Sader said that answering Saad’s question would violate the confidentiality surrounding Daryanani’s leave of absence. Directors voted unanimously to postpone the motion indefinitely.
In an email statement sent to the Daily following the meeting, Saad expressed disappointment in the Board’s decision. “I’m confident that both myself and the other councillors will keep pushing to hold the SSMU execs and board accountable,” he continued, “but I believe some serious constitutional changes are needed because SSMU should be accountable to the student body above all else, but right now they’re not.” Saad also pointed to section 13.2 of the SSMU Constitution, which states that students can call for a special GA with a minimum of 50 students from four different faculties. He said that Councillors will be “ready to hit the ground running next semester and keep working to get some answers.”