Langara Students’ Union fires general manager

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Reported by Sean Hitrec

The general manager of the Langara Students’ Union, hired to implement reforms, was abruptly fired last week, The Voice has learned.

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Desmond Rodenbour, was hired in 2016 to help reform the Langara Students’ Union. Photo by Alyse Kotyk

The news that Desmond Rodenbour was let go was not announced to the student body. His firing coincides with a special general meeting called by the LSU for Dec. 7 — during the exam period — to implement unexpected new bylaws that would extend the council’s term beyond the usual one year.

“The bylaw changes being considered at the Dec. 7 [student general meeting] were not drafted by me or anyone at my company. In my view, they’re patently unethical,” wrote Rodenbour in a message to The Voice, confirming he’d been sacked.

Currently, the council’s term runs one year, from the start of September to the next year’s fall semester election.

The new bylaws would move the end of council’s term from September to December. It would also extend the current councilors’ terms for an additional four months, until Dec. 31, 2017.

Listen to our podcast featuring an interview with Rodenbour regarding the most recent LSU election.

Their term extension would allow them to preside over the next three general assembly meetings where the LSU council is meant to explain to the student body how they spend their money.

The new format would also exclude students in one-year programs—such as general business management, engineering transfer and journalism — from running for council. In the fall, two journalism students ran for council. Neither were elected.

The Voice learned that LSU lawyers from Borins & Co. were also “turfed”. The law firm would only confirm that it “does not represent the LSU at this time.”

The LSU would not comment on the firing of Rodenbour and its team of lawyers, and neither would the college. When The Voice went to inquire about the quietly executed move, the LSU office told the newspaper to ask any questions through the LSU general contact email.

Rodenbour started in the summer of 2016 with goals of reforms and transparency.

In a meeting with a Voice reporter in September, Rodenbour said he wanted to encourage the student union to move in a more modern direction, in keeping with the other student unions.

The reforms Rodenbour was aiming for are now unlikely to materialize.

Transparency is key for student unions in B.C.

“Student unions run best when they unite students,” Jenelle Davies, secretary treasurer for the Canadian Federation of Students’ B.C. branch, said in response to the news. “It’s in the best interest of all students for all these internal issues to be dealt with in an open and transparent way.”

Read our related story about a recent survey led by Rodenbour that had meant to address student concerns here.

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