The three-page resignation letter alleges being “alienated from the executive committee,” excluded from meetings and discrimination concerns as reasons for leaving
Late Monday night, Ines Nour El Huda, operations commissioner for the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU), announced she has stepped down from her position.
The announcement was sent by email to the Fulcrum from the designated operations commissioner email account.
“After careful consideration and consultation from my doctor and family, I would like to inform you all that I am resigning from my position as operations commissioner of the University of Ottawa Students’ Union, effective immediately,” read the three-page resignation letter signed by El Huda.
El Huda cited differences with other UOSU executives as the focal point of her immediate resignation.
“The team setting, which has felt more like a clique than anything, has facilitated a space where not only do I feel unheard but effectively made it impossible to complete the role that I was democratically elected to complete by our student body.”
The letter specified a number of alleged incidents which led her to resign including her being allegedly “alienated from the executive committee” as well as allegations of being excluded from meetings and “concerns of misogyny and Islamophobia.”
“To further this sentiment of alienation, on countless occasions, my colleagues would host full meetings to which items directly related to the work I was actively completing, or my mandate, without even extending an invitation to myself.”
“I had raised concerns of misogyny and Islamophobia to the attention of the UOSU, following problems in a set of different meeting settings. For example, there was pressure and the expectation of us working above the expected hours as stated in the constitution, even on religious events and holidays throughout Ramadan and even on Eid.”
These types of alleged incidents, according to El Huda, played a part in her decision to resign.
“Time and time again, I was left feeling exhausted, which ultimately led to burnout, but not due to the volume of work I was receiving, but instead constantly being placed in the position of being unwanted.”
Recent absence from UOSU meetings
In recent weeks, El Huda was missing from two mandatory UOSU-led meetings including the Fall General Assembly (FGA) on Nov. 16 and the Board of Directors (BOD) meeting on Nov. 22.
According to Babacar Faye, the UOSU’s president, she was on an approved leave of absence for the FGA but not for the BOD. Faye had not heard from El Huda recently, and she did not return to work on Nov. 16 as anticipated.
However, during the question period at Sunday’s BOD meeting, multiple members of the BOD asked questions on why El Huda was still not present and expressed their concerns.
“First it was to be a two week break, then one month, and then she was to return on Nov. 16, yet here we are Nov. 22 and she hasn’t returned,” said Tian Kun Chen, one of the directors for the Telfer School of Management.
“We [the UOSU finance committee] have not had a meeting for the last two months, and have only had a handful of meetings since April, as we did not have enough people to call a meeting of the finance committee.”
The finance committee is unable to run unless there is a minimum number of members available to meet. According to Chen, given El Huda’s absence, the finance committee has not been able to meet at all in the last two months which therefore had significantly halted any work from happening.
Tim Gulliver, the advocacy commissioner for the UOSU, stated at the BOD meeting that the matter “is a private issue” and he believes they “should move on from this discussion in public.”
“We should be respectful of El Huda’s privacy, and her leave of absence is perfectly fair,” added Gulliver.
In the body of her resignation email, El Huda explained she felt as if there was no other option than to resign from the UOSU.
“I am very saddened by this tough decision I have had to make but, I was left with no choice.”
“My departing advice to anyone reading this is, in the end, you should always put your mental health and well-being first.”
Following the announcement of her official resignation, the Fulcrum reached out to both Faye and Gulliver who would not offer a comment at this time.
The Fulcrum also reached out to Amina el Himri (the UOSU’s student services commissioner), Marissa St-Amand (UOSU’s Francophone affairs commissioner) and Jason Seguya (the UOSU’s equity commissioner), all of which refused to comment at this time.
This article will be updated as new information becomes available.