The Lister Hall Students’ Association has been found guilty of breaching the university’s code of student behaviour, and will be suspended from registering as a student group for a year, effective May 1, 2014.
The Office of Student Judicial Affairs launched an investigation in January into complaints of hazing, stemming from incidents that occurred during the opening ceremonies of Henday tower’s annual Skulk event. The LHSA will have an opportunity to appeal the decision.
LHSA President Samuel Wright said he couldn’t comment on the details of the incidents, but he said the LHSA immediately cancelled Skulk and fired and evicted the person responsible once allegations were made.
“It came down to one person’s actions,” he said. “No matter what, the LHSA is strongly against hazing. We want to nip anything that could be associated with that in the bud.”
Students’ Union President Petros Kusmu said the SU will be speaking with the LHSA and the university administration to ensure a fair process exists for the LHSA’s appeal. He noted that the SU absolutely does not condone hazing, but its role in this incident is to ensure justice exists in university governance.
“We believe it is unbelievably important for students to have an elected representative body and the LHSA plays an unbelievably strong role in that,” he said.
But Wright said he’s unsure how long the appeals process will take. The university has placed sanctions on the LHSA, requiring its executives to turn over their assets, hand in their keys and refrain from holding elections until the appeals process is over, which Wright said could extend well into the summer.
“We’re basically being told we can’t function,” he said.
These events follow a long history of difficulties between the LHSA and the university. In July, 2012, the administration announced major changes to the residence, citing urgent health and safety concerns. The changes included a new alcohol policy and structural changes to Lister’s staffing, which led to nearly a year of heated negotiations between the two parties.
The SU eventually filed a judicial review against the university, whi-ch culminated in an out-of-court settlement last May. Wright said the LHSA has been working ever since to repair its relationship with the administration and ensure the LHSA’s presence on campus and in Lister is rebranded.
“With all of the amazing steps we’ve made this year, we’ve proven through the other three tower events that we can run these huge, amazing events,” he said.
“Not having an elected representative of peers within Lister for these residents is shameful. It would be a huge mistake to remove student representation from a place like this.”
Wright added that he’s concerned about a stigma surrounding Lister after decades of difficulties, but he said the LHSA has recently displayed leadership in preventing such incidents from occurring.
“The university without the LHSA would be a much worse place, in my opinion,” he said. “We’re going to keep fighting this and we’re going to spend the next two months (doing so), until we are forced to hand in our keys.”
The Office of Student Judicial Affairs refused to comment on the specifics of the case.
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Vice-President (Advancement) O’Neil Outar will be leaving the University of Alberta, effective August 31, 2014. Outar has accepted a position as senior associate dean and director of development for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.