Between the Motions//

AMS starts Social Justice Centre investigation following defamation lawsuit

On Monday night, AMS Council approved a new code change allowing the society to launch an investigation into the Social Justice Centre after the group allegedly consulted lawyers without informing the AMS.

Here’s what you might’ve missed.

New investigations code change

Council proposed a code change that allows the appointment of an ad hoc committee to undertake an investigation when there are allegations against a resource group for violating the society’s constitution, bylaws, code, policies or the resource group section of the operations committee's policy manual.

Resource groups — like the Pride Collective, Social Justice Centre (SJC), the Women’s Centre and Disabilities United Collective — are advocacy subsidiaries of the AMS that raise awareness for social issues while offering students safe spaces to find community.

AMS Interim President Ben Du said the AMS is “putting forward this code change because recent observations of legal liability have discovered vulnerabilities regarding the accountability measures we have in place for subsidiary organizations such as resource groups.”

This ad hoc committee will prepare a report and recommendations on the allegations. Some recommendations include issuing a warning, public reprimand, suspending financial accounts or booking privileges, eliminating office privileges and deconstitution. The code change said Council will make the final decision by a two-thirds resolution.

Resource group members spoke about their concerns over the new investigations policy.

Sagorika, on behalf of the UBC Women’s Centre, said “this alarming change could leave resource groups vulnerable for years to come.”

They also said the change could impact resource group’s relationships with the AMS, which would open them “up to a multitude of risks including but not limited to bad faith reactionary organizing and motivated targeted campaigns.”

Aleena, the incoming SJC co-chair, said their organization has been subjected to “defamation, death threats and intimidation” over the last year.

“We fear a code change to allow us to be deconstituted might be used to further suppress us,” said Aleena.

Du said the proposed code change is not to “deconstitute any one resource group.”

“We want to ensure that the structures that we have in place are appropriate to ensure that resource groups the same with other subsidiary groups are held accountable to the same standard that we do with other groups,” said Du.

Sagorika and Aleena also asked for resource groups to be consulted regarding the code change.

Du said the Executive Committee believes consulting resource groups about a measure to hold the groups accountable “to be exceeding the parameters of consultation.”

The motion carried through secret ballot, with 19 in favour and 4 opposed.

AMS launches SJC investigation

Du then moved a motion to appoint an Ad Hoc Investigations Committee to investigate the SJC’s alleged violations of the society’s code.

Du said this is because the SJC contacted lawyers without AMS authorization. According to section 2, article 19, subsection 1 of AMS code, the society’s lawyers can only be contacted only by the authorization of Council, the president or the managing director.

In February, the SJC filed a lawsuit against Hillel BC Society, alleging Hillel's former contractor defamed them by distributing “I [heart] Hamas” stickers with the SJC's logo around campus in November 2023.

The motion for the appointment of an Ad Hoc Investigations Committee to investigate the SJC passed through secret ballot, with 20 in favour, 1 opposed and 2 abstentions.

Du appointed interim VP administration

Council also suspended code to forgo a formal interview process and moved a motion to appoint Du as interim VP administration for a period beginning April 20 and ending April 30.

Du was appointed interim president in December 2023 after AMS President Esmé Decker took an extended leave of absence. He previously served as the 2022/23 AMS VP administration.

No rationale was given for Du’s appointment or VP Administration Ian Caguiat’s leave.

Ian Caguiat is an incoming member of the Ubyssey Publications Society Board of Directors. The Board has no control on the editorial operations of The Ubyssey.

A previous version of this story misspelled the name of incoming SJC co-chair Aleena. The Ubyssey regrets this error.