DCSI operating in uncertainty

(From left): Toosaa Bush, Jaylan Hayles, and Geoffrey Olara pictured after they were winners in the DCSI election last spring. The trio were dismissed from their executive positions at the end of June. Photo credit: Jasper Myers

A month into the school year and Durham College Students Inc. – the school’s student government – is still operating without a president or vice-presidents.

President Jaylan Hayles, Vice-president, Internal Toosaa Bush and Vice-president, External Geoffrey Olara were dismissed earlier this summer, by DCSI’s board of directors.

The board is yet to announce a plan to replace the three.

But board of director Parastoo Sadeghein says students will be involved in the decision.

“We want to bring options to the membership, to the students, these are the options of what we were thinking of going forward, what do you feel would be something that you find will help the most,” says Sadeghein.

DCSI dismissed its president and vice-presidents at the end of June – after they took office May 10. However, students didn’t learn of the dismissal until the end of August. DCSI issued an email about the dismissal after media reports regarding the situation.

Hayles, Bush and Olara launched a human rights claim after a judge dismissed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit the trio filed in the wake of their firing, according to a report in local media from Aug. 24.

When students were informed, they were left with no explanation or reason, for the firings. The college knew of the dismissals immediately due to an agreement the school has with the student union, says Meri Kim Oliver, DC’s vice-president, student affairs.

“We were informed that night, but we weren’t informed why or anything of that nature,” says Oliver.

In a letter to students on its website, DCSI say they can’t comment on the dismissals since it’s a “confidential Human Resources matter.”

In an Aug. 27 letter to students on the DCSI website, Andrew Nunez-Alvarez of the board of directors wrote the dismissals were in the best interests of students and DCSI was still running and representing the student body.

Student politics at DC has had a rocky history recently.

Naqi Hyder and Peter Garrett assisted with the creation of DCSI in 2017 after the joint DC-UOIT student union, then known as the Student Association (SA) broke up the year before. According to Oliver, Hyder and Garrett were hired by a panel of student leaders from the various schools within the college, to create the student union, which is a separate entity from the college.

DCSI operated during the 2017-2018 school year without a board or any executives and Garrett and Hyder led the operations during that period. In February of this year DCSI held its first elections for the board of directors and for the three executive positions.

Hyder stepped down to run for president, but lost to Hayles.

Hyder then received the position of assistant general manager. The Chronicle tried to contact Hyder via email twice to ask about how he got the position, but didn’t get a reply.

According to the minutes of DCSI’s meeting June 19, Hyder took over the general manager’s (GM) role when former GM Jennifer McHugh resigned. When contacted by the Chronicle to speak about her departure, McHugh didn’t comment.

Hyder has since stepped down from the general manager position, but says he isn’t leaving DCSI completely.

Despite having no executive in place, the jobs and duties are still being done by the board of directors, according to Charles Wilson, the chairperson of the board.

Wilson says the board is making sure operations continue and they are still the voice of the students.