BUSU Vice-President, External Affairs asked to resign; chose recall

On November 20, The Brock Press posted a story regarding Brock University Students’ Union Vice-President, External Affairs Peter Henen.

The story stated that BUSU President, Aidan Hibma, was tasked by the Board of Directors to run a recall petition to potentially remove Henen from his position. It’s expected that Hibma will present the petition at Wednesday nights Brock University Students’ Administrative Council meeting. The petition needs a minimum of 320 signatures for BUSAC to proceed with a referendum.

There are no records in any Board of Directors meeting minutes (available on BUSU’s website) regarding Hibma being appointed to run the recall petition, or Henen’s role with BUSU being questioned.

On Wednesday, The Brock Press received a document from Henen in which BUSU Board Chair Witta Nitcoyishakiye asked him to resign from his role as VPEA.

“It is the unanimous opinion of the BUSU Board of Directors that you are not performing to the standard we expect from our Elected Executives,” said Nitcoyishakiye in the letter.

The letter states, Henen’s consistency of being absent, late and missing meetings has impacted his ability to fulfill his duties as VPEA.

The letter further states: “Your disorganization, unpreparedness and lack of communication has negatively affected the projects you have been involved in and has put unnecessary additional stress and work on the rest of the team”.

According to the BUSU Bylaws, the justification for a Recall Petition is limited to:

“a. Demonstrable failure to make reasonable attempts to fulfill the duties and obligations of elected office, as outlined in the Legislation of the Corporation

b. Carrying out the duties of an elected official in demonstrable contravention of relevant Legislation or Policies of the Corporation

c. Engaging in conduct unbecoming of an elected representative of the Coporation or a demonstrable contravention of the BUSU Code of Conduct, as amended.”

The letter continues on about Henen’s performance with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance – an organization which “represents the interests of approximately 150,000 undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students,” according tot he OUSA website.  The OUSA is run by a committee from eight students’ unions across Ontario.

The Brock Press was able to obtain emails from Danny Chang, OUSA President and Matthew Gerrits, Vice President Education at Federation of Students (University of Waterloo Students’ Union), who both backed the work of Henen.

“Peter has been successfully communicating the perspective of his constituents in his capacity as VP External Affairs of BUSU,” said Chang in his letter. “Peter has provided a unique perspective on OUSA’s Steering Committee, making our members think outside of the box.”

The Brock Press reached out to Chang for comments, but did not receive a response back.

Gerrits backed Chang’s statement on Henen, saying, “Most of my meetings were with Peter, and he was responsible for being our point of person for discussions on mental health with MPPS and Political staffers”.

These documents were presented to the BUSU Board of Directors, but following review the Directors decided to move forward with the recall referendum. In the letter from Nicoyishakiye to Henen (dated Nov 19, 2018), the Board Chair says three letters from OUSA members, a Campfire Rationale document, exerts from BUSAC reports and statistics and comments from Henen’s Voting Video were reviewed.

The letter also states that Henen did not participate with the rest of the BUSU team with any of the election campaign planning, rather he focused on his own personal video.

Furthermore, the letter states that BUSU Board of Directors received documentation from OUSA professional staff regarding Henen’s performance and responsibilities. According to the letter, Henen missed plenary session at the First General Assembly, a transition conference, the Welcome Conference in May, Summer Student Alumni Event (Henen claims this was optional), Policy Symposium, Training Day and more.

Henen was again offered the option to resign, in which the letter says:

“We can jointly issue a statement that you stepped away from the role for personal reasons. BUSU would also continue to pay your BUSU salary until January, 31 2019. Finally BUSU will advocate for your to remain on the Brock University Food Committee until the end of the Winter term.”

Since the letter was issued to Henen, he has been asked to refrain from using the BUSU office.

Henen responded to the resignation offer by citing his refusal to resign.

“I am informing the Board that I have sought legal counsel on this matter and am requesting Board minutes from when this decision was discussed,” said Henen.

The Recall Petition has been ongoing.

Henen will not be allowed to sit in his normal chair on BUSAC for the November 21 meeting, but is allowed to be in attendance as an audience member.

The Brock Press will be present at the November 21 BUSAC meeting, providing updates via our Twitter @TheBrockPress. We will also post an update to this article following the conclusion of the meeting.


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