At times it was a debate of ‘he said, he said’, but the polls have closed and Brock University undergraduate students have voted.
Peter Henen has been removed as Vice President, External Affairs within Brock University Students’ Union with 65.7 per cent of students voting to no longer have Henen represent them as an executive.
Voting took place between December 4 and 6, as 2,925 Brock undergraduates voted in favour of the referendum.
Henen was voted as the 2018/19 VPEA back on February 15, 2018, with 50.6 per cent of voters choosing to elect him. His opponent, Ja’Miil Millar, received 49.4 per cent of the votes. There was a 35.3 per cent voter turnout (5,572 total votes) for the 2018 February BUSU Executive elections, with 549 students choosing to abstain for the VPEA. Henen officially took office in May 2018.
It was mentioned at the November 21, Brock University Students’ Administrative Council meeting that 2017/18 VPEA Nadia Bathish would step in if students voted to remove Henen. Bathish would hold the position for the final four months (January-April) until the next elected VPEA takes over in May 2019.
In an email to The Brock Press, Chair of BUSU’s Board of Directors Witta Nicoyishakiye said, “As per BUSU legislation, the position will be filled through a process that is transparent to the membership.”
“As the former VPEA and a potential candidate, [Bathish] was approached. Nevertheless, the Board will facilitate a formal process in the coming week,” the email concluded.
Henen’s recall process began following a meeting with himself, BUSU President Aidan Hibma, BUSU General Manager Robert Hilson, BUSU Director, Operations (Human Resources) Kate Swiatek and Nicoyishakiye. The meeting was held on Nov. 19, in which Henen was asked to resign or they would begin a recall petition.
Had Henen resigned, he would’ve been allowed to hold his position until the end of January, he would continue to be paid, he would remain on the food committee and BUSU would announce he resigned due to personal reasons.
The cause of the recall was after the BUSU Board of Directors determined Henen was unorganized and was absent or late for a handful of meetings. A total of 24 absences have been documented, as Henen had used up all his sick days and vacation days.
There have been public statements made regarding personal matters affecting Henen, but he chose not to step away for a leave of absence.
On Nov. 20, the Board of Directors appointed Hibma to be at the forefront of a recall petition, which needed 318 undergraduate signatures and received a total of 375 signatures – the university’s Office of the Registrar confirmed 367 of those signatures to be legitimate undergraduate students.
The petition was brought forth to the BUSAC council on Nov. 21, officially sending Henen’s VPEA position to referenda.
Henen told The Brock Press following the Nov. 21 Council meeting that he felt “culturally ousted” within BUSU from day one. He was also the only executive to vote against the Student Engagement Levy, which passed in the October By-Elections.
In an interview with The Brock Press, Hibma said the recall was no personal attack on Henen or his decision to vote against the Levy, but completely based on his performance through seven months in office.
Students were asked to vote on the following question, with a ‘yes’ vote removing Henen from office and a ‘no’ vote in favour of keeping him:
“Do you support the recall of Peter Henen, Vice-President External Affairs, from elected office pursuant to Article XII, section 1 of the Constitution of the Brock University Students’ Union, Inc., effective immediately upon the success of this referendum?”
BUSU’s next elections will be held in February, as students will vote for the 2018/19 Executive team.