By: Sergio Arangio, Managing Editor
To begin March’s board of director’s meeting, the board decided to push an item on their agenda looking at February’s executive report down the list, so that the board could first discuss legal matters surrounding the ratification of elected SCSU candidates. These legal maters were discussed behind closed doors, in an in-camera session, with what appeared to be a lawyer present.
After the over half-hour closed-door discussion, the board welcomed the public back inside and proceeded to revisit their decision from February’s board meeting to not ratify the elected candidate for VP-Operations, Ray Alibux.
The board seemed to make a point of not mentioning Alibux by name, only referring to the position of VP-Operations. This was in stark contrast to their previous meeting, where the names and merits of particular candidates were openly discussed ahead of deciding whether to ratify them.
This time, SCSU president Nicole Brayiannis asserted that personal opinions of board members towards elected candidates should not play a role in the overall democratic procedure.
“Ultimately what the board is doing … is justifying the process, not speaking to the individual,” Brayiannis said. “We [are] only validating the student vote.”
They went on to say that since Alibux obtained the majority of votes before and after recounting the ballots for the VP-Operations position, then that should be reason enough to move forward with ratifying him.
Leon Tsai, the union’s director of historical and cultural studies, expressed that she felt this ratification process has been inequitable but that if the board wishes to reconsider the VP-Operations role, then she would not contest. “It just feels like we’re just trying to reconsider because we got called out,” she said.
In response to being refused his elected role in the previous meeting due to his proximity to a controversial story involving alleged transphobic remarks by another candidate on his SCSYou slate, Alibux responded with a piece in The Varsity decrying the illegality of the board’s actions, given that he received the majority vote.
Later in the meeting, Tsai came to the conclusion that as long as the board voted openly on Alibux’s ratification, as opposed to the previous meeting’s secret ballot, then she would consider that an equitable situation. The board voted unanimously to backtrack their decision to refuse Alibux and then largely voted ‘yes’ to ratify him, save a few members who declined to vote.
That now officially makes Ray Alibux the SCSU’s VP-Operations for the 2019-2020 school year.
Emergency Motion: Food Safety at Rex’s Den
Near the beginning of the meeting, director of computer and mathematical sciences, Soaad Hossain introduced a last-minute motion regarding concerns over the improper food handling by staff at Rex’s Den, to be discussed later in the meeting. Owned and operated by the SCSU, Hossain cited the potential for food poisoning for students who dine at Rex’s as the reason for his motion.
Hossain claims there has been an issue with hygiene at Rex’s Den, namely with hand washing among staff and a lack of maintenance of food handling equipment, such as the restaurant’s refrigerator.
Meanwhile, Arda Erturk, a student-member of the food committee at UTSC, was granted speaking rights in the meeting. He used those rights to call attention to the lack of SCSU presence in UTSC Food Committee meetings to discuss food safety in Rex’s Den.
He claimed to have sent an email to executive director Francis Pineda informing him of a committee meeting on March 12. Pineda, who was present at the board meeting, explained that he had called in sick and could not attend, adding that he did not recall ever receiving notice of any prior committee meetings. Vice president of academics, Ayaan Abdulle was said to have attended the March 12 meeting instead but was unable to answer questions about Rex’s Den’s operations, since the restaurant is not under her portfolio.
Pineda spoke about the process of health and safety inspections at Rex’s Den, recalling a recent health inspection when an inspector witnessed staff members washing their hands only some of the time when handling food. Pineda said this was considered a minor error, to which Hossain responded that the issue is anything but minor.
According to the City of Toronto’s DineSafe database, Rex’s Den had undergone an inspection on March 7, where it was found to have committed two ‘crucial’ errors and one ‘significant’ error:
1) Failure to store potentially hazardous foods at the proper temperature
2) Failure to ensure proper hygiene
3) Poorly-maintained food equipment
The restaurant received a conditional pass, which is given when one or more significant errors are caught. In that case, a restaurant has up to 48 hours to correct their mistakes before receiving a fine and a second opportunity to correct any infractions. If the business fails again, the matter would be taken to court.
At this time, Rex’s Den remains open for business, Pineda has stated that the re-inspection date is tentatively March 27th, 2019.
Meeting abruptly adjourned
During the discussion of Rex’s Den’s food safety, chair Hildah Otieno realised that the meeting had lost its quorum, meaning that the meeting lost its minimum number of board members required to make voting decisions, since some members left partway through the meeting.
The chair took the moment to implore the remaining board members to come to the next board meeting on time, given the late start to the current meeting, so that all matters can be dealt with before members have to begin prioritizing end-of-semester obligations like exams and final assignments. Otieno also advised the members to prepare and read through each other’s motions ahead of time to streamline the process.