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Kwantlen students vote to oust troubled board

Meeting marked by pepper spray, fire alarms, chants of “racism”


 

Photo courtesy of Matt Law for The Runner

Kwantlen University students who were meeting on campus Wednesday to oust their student leaders were temporarily interrupted after someone released a spray into the air—likely pepper spray— forcing coughing and teary students to flee.

Then, someone pulled the fire alarm.

After being let back into the building by fire officials approximately one hour later, students were just about to vote when someone pulled the fire alarm again, forcing them back outside.

But students were patient. Instead of losing quorum—250 voters—the crowd grew so large that organizers were able to spare 30 students to guard each fire alarm against troublemakers. Then, students voted nearly unanimously to remove the current board of directors and prevent them from running again. The vote signals a turning point on a campus where the student association has been the target of unusual scrutiny for months. At the end of the day, Kwantlen Student Association directors were escorted by security into their offices to collect their belongings.

Click here to see a photo gallery of yesterday’s events by Matt Law of The Runner newspaper.

Students called the special meeting after collecting 277 signatures from those who supported impeaching the Kwantlen Student Association board members Sean Bassi, Nipun Pandey, Nina Sandhu, Bobby Padda, Jaspinder Ghuman, Tarun Takhar, Shivinder Grewal, Money Dhaliwal, Gaven Pangley, Simmy Grewal, Kamalpreet Dha, Karamveer Dhillon, and Jagraj Hayreafter.

The petitioners are outraged that board members hid their ties with at least one former KSA board member who was being sued on behalf of students for allegedly mishandling nearly $1-million of student money. They were even more outraged that—even after the blood relationships were uncovered—the lawsuit was settled for zero dollars by the board.

Justine Franson (also known as Justine Takhar), resigned in August after it was proven that she is the sister of Aaron Takhar, one of the men who was sued. As Director of Operations, she had been appointed “the sole liaison with KSA legal counsel,” an apparent conflict of interest. Just a few days into her term, she replaced the lawyers who had overseen the case against her brother and fellow board members.

Takhar’s cousin, Nina Sandhu, remained on the board after her relation to Takhar was proven, although she abstained from voting on certain measures.

To read about the controversy that led to yesterday’s meeting, click here. To read a response to the article from former KSA President Sean Bassi (also known as Sean “Diddy” Birdman) click here.

Matt Law, a third-year journalism student and photographer for The Runner newspaper, told On Campus that two security officers were outside yesterday’s meeting guarding Sandhu and Bassi.

The apparent conflict of interest wasn’t the only reason students wanted to boot their board members. They were also upset that the board members gave themselves raises, lost $125,000 on a concert with hip-hop artist Jay Sean in September ($95,000 more than was lost on a similar concert last year) and spent $250,000 on legal fees, partly to sue those who accused them of wrongdoing.

Leading up to Wednesday’s meeting, there was confusion about when the meeting would take place. KSA board members posted online that a meeting would take place on Dec. 5, despite the fact that the student-organized meeting to oust them had been clearly set for Nov. 30.

Law, the photographer, reports that a large group of people outside of the ouster meeting were chanting “racism, racism…” as students entered the building to register for the special meeting.

Bassi told The Province something similar: “organizers of the purported meeting were ensuing [sic] hate speech against South Asians on campus in order to attract students to the meeting.”


 

Kwantlen students vote to oust troubled board

  1. Awesome! Kwantlen had their own Student Uprising. This isn’t about racisim , it’s about being fair to these poor students. Congratulations, Kwantlen. Here’s to a fresh honest start.

  2. Fantastic. Kwantlen students have had their school dragged through the mud by this so called association. The fact that someone would pepper spray innocent people shows you the students were left no choice but to call this meeting. Congratulations for standing up for your rights. Great investigative journalism.

  3. Unfortunately for the ousted KSA Members, numbers don’t lie. Ultimately the numbers show they wasted student money like it’s going out of style.

  4. As a Kwantlen student I wish I was able to attend this, but I didn’t think this would happen. I don’t really understand what the hell do these people think they can accomplish by doing this. This isn’t a country where you can halt an election by scaring everyone, or by triggering the fire alarm. The vote was going to happen anyway, and by doing this it only further reinforces their distrust towards you. If they wanted to at least try to get the students on their side they should have tried to explain themselves better or make some appeal like most politicians. Anything but acts of violence or pranks. I’m happy with the way things went though and that the students who attended got their chance to vote.

  5. @Lee

    The attempt at the fire alarm and pepper spray was to prevent the meeting from reaching quorum in time for the results to be valid. If we did not have 250 people in there by 2:30 we would have had to postpone the meeting by a week and do it all over again. Thanks to the fire alarm, we were actually pretty close to not having quorum in time.

    Personally I was having reservations about the bad standing motion. After the fire alarm and pepper spray (whom logic would dictate who is likely behind it) I voted (as with the rest of the membership) to place them in bad standing. I think the stunts pulled ruined any chance they had of getting some votes in opposition to the motion.

    As for the racism chants, give me a break. As several (South Asian) tweeters have said “Worst use of the South Asian race card in a long time.” If you look at the crowd who voted, it was representational of the Kwantlen student membership. Regardless of race this meeting was about the apparent conflict of interest and improper spending (cheques under $5000 to avoid internal control, very questionable spending on the concert budget etc) – nothing to do with race at all.

    • Ah, thanks didn’t know that part.

  6. Where is Kwantlan College? That is a real question, it is not noted in the article.

    • Sheila,

      Kwantlen is a multi campus university; we have campuses in Richmond, Surrey, Langley and Cloverdale. The SGM took place at our main campus in Surrey (72nd and 128th). We’re also no longer a college, but a polytechnic university.

      Congrats to all the students who attended! I’m so very proud to call myself a Kwantlen student! We rock!

  7. Its good to see them finally removed. Watching their behavior during meetings was often sad.

  8. It is amazing how much the ambiance on campus has changed, just over night. It’s like we all know exactly what happened, we are all extremely happy about it… but beyond that… more people are simply acknowledging the presence of each other today, that ‘eyes to the floor – get from point A to point B ASAP’ thing is gone! People whom I have never spoken to before are nodding and saying hello… and the campus just feels so much more open yet inclusive… I love it! THANK YOU to each and every volunteer who helped make this happen… Now I will be proud to graduate from Kwantlen next summer.

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