SGPS to hold referendum on Day

Nick Day during the SGPS council meeting on April 12.
Nick Day during the SGPS council meeting on April 12.

During the Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) council meeting on April 12, a motion was passed stating that the SGPS will hold a referendum on April 26 and 27 regarding Nick Day’s removal from his position as Rector. There is still no policy in place to remove a Rector.

The motion, which had previously been defeated at the SGPS Annual General Meeting (AGM) on March 22, was brought to SGPS council after 480 signatures were were petitioned, equating to 10.7 per cent of the SGPS membership. 10 per cent of SGPS membership is required to add a motion to the council’s agenda. The referendum question will read:

“Shall the SGPS membership recommend to the University Council of Queen’s University that Nick Day not continue to hold the office of Rector of Queen’s University at Kingston.”

A similar version of this question was used in the March 22 and 23 AMS Special Student Vote, which resulted in a 72 per cent vote in favour of the AMS making a recommendation to the University Council to remove Day from office.

At the SGPS AGM, a motion was passed requesting the SGPS council send a letter in support of Day to the principal, the provost, the chair of the Board of Trustees, the chair of Senate, the AMS president and the University chancellor.

Although some SGPS councilors had requested to table this motion until after the referendum to ensure that the SGPS remained a neutral body, but the motion passed regardless.

The letter defends Day’s actions in the name of academic freedom. It states: “We urge the … student body to affirm its commitment to principles of Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression by voting ‘no’ on the referendum …”

Connor Langford, MASc ’12, helped collect signatures on the petition to bring the referendum motion to SGPS council. He said that while he supports the referendum, he doesn’t support the letter being sent to the University Council.

“As a graduate student, I personally am embarrassed to have such an inflammatory and poorly researched letter sent to such a large number of administrators at this University,” Langord told the via email.

The letter also states that those collecting signatures to bring about the initial AMS referendum were part of partisan student organizations. Langford said that this discredits the amount of hard work that went into collecting these signatures.

It is also stated in the letter that:

“The position of Rector is accountable to the entire Queen’s University student body and not any particular student government or constituency."

Langford said that because of this, a referendum is the most logical step forward to ensure accountability, but that signing a letter in clear support of one side of the issue is irresponsible.

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