Dalhousie

Sagar Jha resigns because he does not agree with DSU’s direction

Sagar Jha resigns because he does not agree with DSU's direction
DSU president Sagar Jha is letting council decide whether he should keep his job. (Photo by Ian Froese)
written by Ian Froese
April 10, 2014 7:08 pm
DSU president Sagar Jha is letting council decide whether he should keep his job. (Photo by Ian Froese)

DSU president Sagar Jha, seen here in a file photo from March, resigned from his job on Wednesday. (Photo by Ian Froese)

The Dalhousie Student Union’s now former president Sagar Jha clarified why he decided to resign in an open letter emailed to all DSU councillors on Thursday.

In the letter, Jha explained that he is resigning for one sole reason: he does not agree with the direction that DSU council is taking the union.

“I have seen a shift in culture and attitude, where solid governance, reason and consideration of the entire membership are being sacrificed in the name of personal political and philosophical ideologies,” he wrote.

Jha surprised council with his decision to resign at last night’s council meeting.

The full text of his letter is below:

An Open Letter to DSU Council:

Last night I chose to formally resign during a council meeting. There are a number of specific reasons that have led me to this decision. However, upon a great deal of reflection I have realized that there is one fundamental reason that I had to resign.

I wish to clarify that my decision to resign had nothing to do with either my status as a student, nor with any discussions with Students Nova Scotia or the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA). Below you will find the sole reason for my sudden resignation.

My reason to resign is simply that I see the direction the DSU council wishes to take the union, and I cannot be a part of it. I have advised council against this direction; ultimately they have decided to not take any form of that advice. I cannot lead the organization to the direction council is setting forward, which I believe goes against the best interest of Dalhousie Students, and the union’s own sustainability as an organization with integrity.

I have seen a shift in culture and attitude, where solid governance, reason and consideration of the entire membership are being sacrificed in the name of personal political and philosophical ideologies. Every motion that comes forward seems to have a hidden agenda and not to have been given proper consideration on its implications. It seems that the union and council are determined to make this agenda the priority over students and the long-term implications on the health of the union.

This has been a year where students have been alienated by the operations and politics of the union. We see this in our 10.9% voter turnout, the lowest in a decade. The Dalhousie Student Union has normalized the practice of making rushed decisions, disregarding its own policies and constitution, and deliberately shutting out opposing arguments against some ideal society or vision that hasn’t been articulated. If the union’s governance does not lend itself to understanding as many diverse perspectives as possible, how can it be considered a deliberate democracy?

If the union continues on this path, I fear that we will be losing those students whose opinions are being neglected. I fear this could manifest itself in specific faculties and student groups legally disaffiliating with the Dalhousie Student Union.

The Dalhousie Student Union has done good work this year. I am proud of the DSU and I believe in it, however I don’t believe in the direction it is going.

This is a plea for next year’s council and executive to restore the relevance and integrity of the Dalhousie Student Union. Councillors, your personal opinions are not to be considered at the table, your job is to represent your constituency. Do not forget that you have legally obliged to oversee the best interests of the Union. If you have not read the constitution and all of the policies, you do not have the right to criticize any of them (as each policy or by-law does not exist in a vacuum but effects other policies and by-laws).

To the average student who may read this (thank you for paying attention and getting this far), thank you for allowing me to serve as your President. I apologize for my sudden resignation. Please, ask to meet with your councillor and urge them to ensure the union’s relevancy. Give them your ideas on how the student experience can be improved in big or small ways.

Sincerely,

Sagar Jha
President
Dalhousie Student Union
May 2013-April 2014

5 comments on “Sagar Jha resigns because he does not agree with DSU’s direction

  1. Disgruntled Dal Student on

    I’m sorry, but tell me again at what point did Sagar in any way possible this year try to change the status quo this year? Frankly, all he’s done he make the DSU look even less credible, and hopelessly out of touch with regular students, all the while vindicating just about EVERYTHING that’s wrong with the DSU. On top of that, the fact that he has the audacity to complain about hidden agendas when the SUB renovations and the CASA/SNS debacle were obvious legacy projects is nothing short of hypocrisy.

    Now he’s suddenly he’s walking away thinking he has the moral authority to call the DSU council out? Pathetic stuff.

    Do away with the DSU and its hopelessly ineffectual and out of touch representatives; this joke of an institution needs a badly needed overhaul if it ever wants any shred of credibility as a representative student organization.

    Reply
    • Also a disgruntled Dal student on

      While it may not be explicitly stated in the letter, I don’t think Jha is actually abdicating responsibility on his part for the whole mess, simply saying his is now very awake to it, and cannot let it continue. Naturally, anything that you let happen under you when you are president is ultimately your responsibility, but in a 1-year position, sometimes it takes too long to wake up to what’s really happening. Not saying he did a great job of it, but at least he bowed out calling it out. Someone had to. So does he have the moral authority to call council out? Yes. Not because he was ‘better’ than them, but because pretty much anyone has more moral authority than council now. He may have failed to recognize this stuff before (or even helped it along), but you can’t very well hate on someone for calling people out once they’ve figured it out. Just hate on them for screwing up so bad in the first place. I’ll consider the letter his apology, even if it wasn’t stated.

      Could’ve mentioned how much of it was his own fault though…would have made the letter that much more potent. Regardless, he is still completely right about what’s happening right now, so I very much agree with your last paragraph. If the DSU wants any credibility, they need to actually ask students what they want, and be willing to hear that they (the council) weren’t right in their initial ideas, and change them. That’s the point of a democracy.

      Reply
  2. Yolo420Swag#Noscope on

    From my knowledge, Jha dropped out of his only class this term, and because of the constitution was unable to be the president anyways. So instead of getting kicked off in a lengthy process, this is probably his way of appearing to be more in control of his fate.

    Reply
    • Also a disgruntled Dal student on

      Incorrect: Council voted not to impeach him for that particular violation, so that process was already done, and he was allowed to stay. This likely had nothing to do with the not-a-student-gate. But who knows? Maybe there’s some deeper stuff we don;t even know if going on. Aliens!

      Reply

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