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.”