The Social Science Students’ Council could be put on hiatus until after elections are over, a decision that has left councillors scratching their heads.
Yesterday, the SSSC executive sent an e-mail to all Social Science councillors outlining the recommendation that all SSSC activities will be suspended until February 12.
The decision was made because Lisa Le Nguyen, the current president of SSSC, is running for a second term — an unusual occurrence for Social Science — and for the council to continue its day-to-day duties in those circumstances was considered a conflict of interests. The speaker of the Social Science council, Connor Scott, recommended the decision to the SSSC executive.
Le Nguyen declined to comment for this story, instead providing a statement to The Gazette that contained the same text as the e-mail sent to the councillors.
“I think that it would be prudent to call for a prorogation of council until the end of elections. Based on the previous inabilities of members to demonstrate ‘professionalism’ and a commitment to the mission and mandate of our organization since the announcement of candidates,” the statement said.
Office hours and regular duties for councillors would be rescinded but according the statement, the proroguing would not affect department representatives, senators and USC councillors who can still conduct themselves outside of SSSC as their positions dictate.
Proroguing council has met resistance from some councillors arguing that it would be a disservice to their constituents.
Jack Litchfield, a Social Science senator and Le Nguyen’s opponent for the SSSC presidency, said that the idea is an overreaction and that only the executive stepping down would eliminate the conflict of interest.
“I don’t think we should prorogue council as a whole. I still think we need to effectively represent our constituency during elections period. I have had students with concerns up to me related to my senate role and I would feel really bad if I couldn’t represent them in those roles,” Litchfield said. “I think it’s very important for the president to stand down because [she] has a lot of influence and power, but the other positions of council are just constituent representatives.”
In an e-mail to The Gazette, Olivia Griggs, the vice-president communications for the SSSC wrote that nothing was set in stone yet.
“Currently, the executive of the Social Science Students’ Council is in the process of deciding how to handle this decision and where to go from here for the best interests of our council,” Griggs said.
According to University Students’ Council’s legislative assistant Andrew Shaw, he couldn’t recall any instance when the USC, much less the SSSC, had ever prorogued. At the last all-candidates meeting, Kojo Hayward, USC governance officer, advised the faculties to continue running their student councils regularly.
Pashv Shah, chief returning officer in charge of overseeing USC elections, said he understood the SSSC executive’s intent but disagrees with the decision. He reiterated that the decision is solely the SSSC’s and its executive’s to make.
“I was kind of shocked because I think it’s an overreaction of what happened in the [SSSC] room or council or office,” he said. “The instigator of something like this usually comes from the executive or speaker because they want to remove themselves from a situation making a decision for council that might conflict with their campaign.”
An SSSC meeting is scheduled for Tuesday to discuss what decision will be made.