GU President, Arsalan Ghani

A motion of confidence has been called against the President of the Graduate Union, Arsalan Ghani. The petition, demanding that he publicly apologise and resign, requires 100 signatures from current graduate students at the university before being considered at an Emergency Meeting of the Graduate Union Council.

Arsalan Ghani wrote to Varsity in February to angrily defend his presidency of the Graduate Union, amid allegations of professional misconduct. Ghani contested inaccurate criticism of his behaviour, and defended his resolve to fix constitutional issues at the Union.

Charlie Bell, who jointly proposed the motion, said that: “We must take the initiative to deal with what has become an unacceptable situation at what is supposed to be our union.” He added: “This is not a decision we the proposers take lightly, particularly given the international press coverage which has surrounded the events at the GU. However, we simply no longer have any other option.”

The motion argues that Ghani “has conducted himself in a manner not befitting his office.” Among the reasons to bring about such a petition, Ghani is said to have accused student representatives of racism and launched attacks on University staff, in addition to non-attendance, a lack of co-operation with fellow GU executives, and rude and abusive conduct towards student volunteers.

A constitution has been lacking since September 2012, and Ghani argues that its absence, along with the CCSSU, has hindered the Graduate Union from making vital changes on behalf of the student population. This situation arose after the CCSSU (Council Committee for the Supervision of Student Unions), a subcommittee of the University Council, identi­fied that under the terms of the new constitution which the GU had been operating under since July of that year, the GU was operating with an insufficient number of trustees. In April last year, the CCSSU had presented and approved the constitution, before asking that Ghani suspend it and draft a new document.

Arsalan Ghani said in February that: “In order to divert the attention from the main constitution, non-issues are being propped up and highlighted to confuse the graduate community."

One point outlined in the motion states that: “Ghani has repeatedly used the Constitutional problems as a defence for his actions, and, indeed, through his conduct, slowed the process for resolving the crisis.” The GU council believes that the conduct of their President has “dragged the name of the Graduate Union into disrepute.”

*UPDATE* Monday 29th April 2013

Charlie Bell also said that: "I think we should be clear - this motion isn't about blaming Mr Ghani for the constitutional mess-ups which had occurred before he took over, but rather his utter refusal to deal with them, and the way he has gone about it; what it is about is saying that we, ordinary non-political graduates, are fed up to the hind teeth with the slurry of abuse, lies, and incompetence which has been thrown at us by Mr Ghani this year, and his continued determination to replace dialogue with diatribe. Enough, frankly, is enough."

The petition has received in excess of 200 signatures, as of Monday (29th April). Bell added: "'In my opinion it's now a case of when rather than if Mr Ghani goes. The sooner, the better."

Varsity approached Arsalan Ghani for comment, but has not responded by time of publication.