Following votes not to remove Director and Arts Representative Igor Sadikov from the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Board of Directors (BoD) and the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Legislative Council, SSMU Legislative Council will consider a motion to remove Sadikov at its March 9 meeting.
“Be it Resolved that Igor Sadikov be formally removed from his role as Arts Representative to Legislative Council, effective immediately, for impropriety and for violation of the provisions of the Constitution,” reads the motion.
On Feb. 23, Sadikov issued a statement to fellow SSMU representatives, members of the McGill administration, and campus media announcing his resignation from the BoD, citing pressure from the McGill administration.
“Due to the interference of the administration, my continued membership on the [BoD] is, at this juncture, a legal liability for the Society, and it is in the Society’s best interest that I resign my position,” Sadikov wrote. “It has been a privilege to serve the Society as a director, and I hope to continue contributing to the Society’s activities through other avenues.”
On Feb. 6, Sadikov tweeted “punch a zionist [sic] today” from a personal Twitter account, causing significant controversy on campus. The BoD voted on Feb. 13 to retain Sadikov in his position as Director, but issued a formal censure against him and released a statement from Sadikov apologizing for his actions.
“I regret that members of the McGill community have felt unsafe as a result of the tweet, which, without context, appears to be a genuine call to violence,” Sadikov wrote. “[…] I do not wish to enact, and would not condone, violence of any kind toward anyone in my community. I hope that, despite the high level of attention it garnered, my tweet can be understood for what it was: a misguided joke with a political meaning, rather than a credible call for violence.”
Shortly following the BoD vote, a meeting was held between Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier, Sadikov, and SSMU President Ben Ger. It was alleged that during this meeting, Fortier threatened to withhold student fees collected on behalf of SSMU if the Society did not publicly call for Sadikov’s resignation.
“The University’s senior leaders shared their strong belief that the SSMU executives should ask for the resignation of SSMU Board member Igor Sadikov, who recently sent a Tweet inciting violence against a specific group,” Fortier wrote in an email to The McGill Tribune. “While McGill’s administration normally does not recommend a course of action to the SSMU leadership, this situation is exceptional. With any incitement to violence, it is the administration’s duty to intervene.”
Ger said that SSMU’s Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the university gives the administration the ability to exert influence over SSMU affairs.
“The MoA was referenced in viewing the situation,” Ger said. “The university was [saying], ‘Look the constitution lays out specific principles. You need to adhere to those.’ They basically [said], ‘Here’s the constitution. It’s our opinion that this is the case, is it yours?’ Ultimately, the executive said, ‘Yes it is our agreement between our bodies because technically, we’re tied to it.’”
In an email sent to the student body on Feb. 17, SSMU Vice-President (VP) Internal Affairs Daniel Lawrie announced that the SSMU executive board recommended Sadikov’s resignation due to his violations of the SSMU Constitution (16.1 Standard of Care), which requires every Director, Councillor, Officer, and member of any committee of the BoD or Legislative Council of the Society to conduct himself in good faith with a view to the best interests of the Society.
“Every [member of the SSMU BoD or Legislative Council] must uphold the Standard of Care for all members of the community as outlined in our Constitution,” Lawrie wrote. “It is the decision of the Executive Committee that Councillor Sadikov’s recent actions did not uphold this responsibility. More specifically, we believe that Councillor Sadikov’s actions were an incitement of violence and, for that reason alone, we have recommended that he resign from his position as a Director and as an Arts Representative to the Legislative Council.”
Sadikov did not comply with the calls for his resignation and condemned the university administration for involving itself in student-run institutions.
“This level of interference in student government is a new low for the university,” Sadikov told The McGill Daily on Feb. 17. “The Principal made it very clear that what she cares about in this situation is bending to political pressure from donors and alumni, rather than acting in the best interest of the campus community and respecting the decisions of the student groups affected.”
On Feb. 22, AUS Legislative Council voted 22-16 not to remove Sadikov. The motion was moved by a collection of departmental representatives.
“The movers of this motion […] feel that Representative Sadikov’s attempts to apologize for his tweet have failed to properly reassure constituent members of the AUS that he can represent them impartially and in good faith, particularly if those members are Jewish and/or Zionists,” read the motion. “[…] The movers of this motion strongly believe that his service and presence on both this council, and at the SSMU, is damaging to the society, a failure of service to the membership, and cannot continue.”
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the AUS Legislative Council motion to remove Igor Sadikov was moved by AUS executives. In fact, it was moved by a group of departmental representatives.