GU Petition Reaches Magic Number
The Graduate Union plunges deeper into chaos as a vote of confidence against current president, Arsalan Ghani, receives the backing of an online petition.
**UPDATE** A quote has now been received from Arsalan Ghani regarding the allegations and the upcoming vote of no confidence, which has been posted at the end of this article.
The Tab has been informed that an online petition calling for a “motion of no confidence” against the current Graduate Union President, Arsalan Ghani, has reached the required 100 vote threshold.
The Tab understands that the GU vote is expected to be held on either the 9th or 10th of May.
The petition, posted online earlier this week, was proposed by Charlie Bell, a vocal member of the university council, Matt Grosvenor, MCR president of Clare Hall, and was seconded by Chris Page, the current CUSU Welfare Officer.
The petition is damning in its verdict of the Graduate Union President. Amidst other accusations, Ghani has been slammed for conducting himself “in a manner not befitting his office”, “accusing fellow student representatives of racism”, “rude and abrasive conduct” and an “unwillingness to work with the rest of the committee”.
The document continues to make claims that Ghani’s conduct “has dragged the name of the Graduate Union into disrepute” and has also “shown a contempt for the democratic system”. This petition comes at the tail end of a long-running saga at the Graduate Union, played out publicly in the other university student press.
It was first reported in TCS that the current constitution has put the GU’s charitable status in jeopardy, and that Ghani was refusing to work with the university – which has offered to pay for the legal fees – in order to resolve this issue.
Then came allegations that the current Graduate president was implicated in the disappearance of around £1000 from the GU safe and that he had also attempted to dismiss the Treasurer, Carmen Jack, from her post.
For his part, Ghani published a response in Varsity, refuting the allegations as “totally ridiculous”. He has since made headlines in a major Pakistani national newspaper, in which he accused his detractors of discriminating against him “on racial grounds”.
Ghani’s frequent appearances in the press also seem to have put a strain on his relationship with the wider graduate community, as e-mail correspondence between the Lucy Cavendish student union president, Shelly Gathigia, and Ghani indicated this week: “I am appalled as I’m sure most MCR representatives here are, at the continued media output you generate whilst at the same time sending emails assuring us of your commitment to dialogue!”
She continued, “Until a resolution is reached, Lucy Cavendish College will be reconsidering membership/affiliation”.
The Tab approached Charlie Bell for a comment, who told us: “After yet another attempt at dialogue this week, [Ghani] has added fuel to the flames with yet more lies; and now it’s time to regain the Graduate Union for graduate students.
“How he’s lasted this long is impressive; I take no pleasure in his removal, but I am quite sure it is the right thing to do, and I am absolutely convinced that Mr Ghani will no longer be GU President this time next month.”
Arsalan Ghani, speaking exclusively to The Tab, had this to say: “I think it is not only me, but all those people who stood for the rights of the people, that are often dragged into such situations.
“All these allegations of corruption, rudeness, refusing to work, accusing others of racism, dragging GU into disrepute, are baseless and totally absurd.”
He continued: “It’s on record that I represented students on all forums and fought for their rights under severe circumstances. My message to the influential people in the University is that you can use your staff, use your lawyers, use your rules, patronise reactionary students, manufacture consents to destroy student democratic institutions and their leaders, but you cannot do this for long.
“I am here and will fight till the end.”