That time the student council was hijacked: A retrospective of the KSA scandal

Few would expect the world of university student politics to be half as amoral and ridiculous as its real world counterpart, yet Kwantlen is only a few years removed from a political debacle that fits that description. This is the story of how former Kwantlen Student Association members defrauded Kwantlen students and refused to step down once caught, persisting even after the situation passed the point of ridiculousness.

It’s important to note that the KSA representatives implicated in this story have since been removed from the student association and their actions in no way reflect on the curreKSA_logo_RGB (1)nt KSA members. I have chosen to omit the names of any students and/or former students involved in the scandal, although their names are available on public record.

In November 2011. calls began to be made to oust several elected members of the Kwantlen Student Association, the organization that controls funding for student life, raised from student fees, amid allegations of corruption. The allegations were about questionable spending of money meant to go to student programs. On assuming office earlier in the year, the KSA board almost immediately approved a vote to raise their own salary by 40 per cent. Among other allegations of mismanaged or missing funds was money spent on the council’s legal representation and over $100,000 spent on a concert.

The pay boost wasn’t the most serious accusation. This incarnation of the council had not been the first to have issues with corruption and at the time they took office. the KSA had pending lawsuits against previous council members. One of the first decisions of the 2011 council was to drop the lawsuits. On Aug. 6, 2011, the Runner (KPU’s student newspaper) reported that multiple council members had given false information when registering for student elections. The home addresses of these council members were discovered to have been falsified to hide the fact that some of these current members were directly related to the previously ousted members: The same members that the new batch had voted to drop lawsuits against.

These new development proved enough to outrage students and faculty alike. A petition was circulated and was successful enough for the Kwantlen Senate to demand a general meeting be called to consider the removal of five KSA executives and eight council members.

The KSA resisted the proceedings and went so far as to dismiss the petition, claiming the the organizers of the petition misled signees.Despite that, a general meeting was called for Nov. 30, 2011, when the situation quickly descended into ridiculousness.

Student turnout for the event was massive (relative to the usual turnout for student civics) with 352 students turning up to vote, despite the KSA’s attempts to stop the proceedings. As students waited in line to register, fire alarms were twice pulled, forcing would-be voters to evacuate. At one point during the proceedings, pepper spray was released in the halls of KPU Surrey as part of efforts to keep the minimum of 250 voters needed to go through with the impeachment from voting.

Attempts to sabotage the impeachment process proved to be in vain, and in the end the 352 students voted unanimously to remove the 12 members. They were also placed on poor academic standing, which barred them from participating in campus politics. As the results of the vote were read out, the crowd at the meeting reportedly cheered as each member was impeached.

It wasn’t the end of the story.

The day after the proceedings, campus security served the ousted board members notices from the university, instructing them to leave the campus. Not only did they disregard the letters, but the former board members chose not to recognize their removal from the KSA. The five ousted executive directors attempted to re-enter their former offices, presumably to resume their positions. They were escorted out by campus security, although not without resistance and confrontation.

The fiasco ended with the second generation of corruption in the KSA being dragged kicking and screaming from the halls of KPU with all the dignity and professionalism students have come to expect from the group. Legal proceedings between the individuals and the university would go on for years. The vacated seats in the KPU would go be given to other students and thus far all has been quiet from the KSA.

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is a student journalist at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. He is also a regular contributor to the Runner, KPU's student publication.

1 Comment

  • Tristan Johnston
    Reply December 8, 2014

    Tristan Johnston

    I remember when I first came to Kwantlen and starting getting into journalism that this scandal was still very fresh in everyone’s mind. I think this is as very concise way of explaining the scandal to people who weren’t here for it.

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