Was not given a hearing in accordance with the UGSS constitution

Dear Editor,

The Constitution and Standing Orders of the University of Guyana Students’ Society (UGSS) are very clear when it comes to disciplining a member. I have remained silent with reference to the allegations that were levied against me so as to allow due process to take its course. However, given the recent action of the society to suspend me without a hearing I am left to conclude that the society has its own agenda. According to the constitution, if it shall appear to the executive council or shall be represented to the executive council by a member that there is reason to believe that any member/s has been guilty of conduct injurious or prejudicial to the society, or any of its members, the executive council shall send to such a member a notice by registered post of conduct imputed to him/her and shall afford him/her an opportunity to give an explanation in person within 21 days.

Furthermore, if on consideration of such explanation, or in the absence of any explanation, the executive council shall be of the opinion that such member ought to be suspended from enjoying all or any of the rights and privileges of the society, it shall be entitled to suspend such a member for a period as it thinks fit or to expel him/her from the society.

Editor, as you are aware, UGSS Executive Council sent me on administrative leave (after I had admitted to borrowing funds) pending the outcome of an audit. I am yet to receive a missive bringing to my attention the reasons that I am guilty of conduct injurious to the society and I am also yet to be afforded the opportunity of giving an explanation in person within 21 days. It is most unfortunate that the UGSS Executive Council did not commission an independent hearing so as to allow me the opportunity to relate what actually occurred during the month of December with reference to the finances belonging to UGSS. I am extremely disappointed to say the least, that a conclusion was come to without a hearing, and that I received a missive dated June, 22 2013 from the Secretary, stating that I was guilty of misconduct while performing the duties of President of UGSS and also of the misappropriation of funds by converting and spending the society’s funds on my personal expenses.

The records will show that indeed monies were borrowed from the society, which is nothing new, and as long as you are a bona fide student of UG you can borrow from UGSS. The act of borrowing is constitutionally permitted (Section 28). On December 3rd and 5th, 2012, I approached the other two signatories of the account and requested their blessing via their respective signatures to borrow money from UGSS. This was granted. Other senior members were also aware of this and were supposed to ratify the already borrowed monies at the December statutory meeting. This was never done for reasons I am unaware of.  When it was brought to my attention that the entire council did not ratify this I sanctioned an extraordinary meeting of the council. At this meeting I informed members present of the money that was borrowed and because the matter was already in the public domain, I excused myself from the meeting so that the council could deliberate. The meeting ended prematurely and two prominent members resigned on the spot. I was then written to by the Secretary informing me that a decision was taken to send me on administrative leave pending an audit. I was also informed that I will no longer be performing the duties of President.

Editor, I find it extremely strange that I was found guilty of misappropriation of funds (converting and spending on my personal expenses) when funds were released to me by the other signatories of the account and also other senior members were aware of this. In addition, other members from this same administration had borrowed money from UGSS. I must say monies from the UGSS account can only be withdrawn via a cheque with the minimum of two signatures. Suffice to say monies were never appropriated in the first place. A budget was submitted but never approved by the Board of Governors. In addition, all borrowed resources were repaid in full on March 28, 2013. Notwithstanding the above, I have served with three other administrations and students have borrowed from at least two administrations before this and who knows maybe many administrations before that.

The Constitution also says that the President, Secretary and Treasurer shall receive an honorarium, the level of which shall be determined by the society, but shall not be less than one year’s tuition fee. The executive council on the advice of the Secretary and Treasurer, shall determine the remuneration and other conditions of service of all members. Foreign students pay a tuition fee of US$4000. Local Students pay $127,000 except students who study special programmes such as Law and Medicine.

Editor, I am fully convinced that external political personnel were a part of this mischief to defame my character, maybe because I was becoming too popular within the university community, and also because I am a prospective parliamentarian for APNU. I joined the PNCR in 2010 and became a national candidate in the 2011 elections. I spoke at many public meetings. I was further told that I will be serving as a parliamentarian during the latter half of the 10th Parliament.

Editor, maybe I was too young to fly this high, hence my wings have been clipped. A few with big mouths were calling for my resignation. I did not resign because I am not guilty of the allegations. Because of the publicity this issue got maybe the best political move was to get rid of me. I cannot undo what was already done, however I present to your readers the facts with the hope that a fair conclusion can be drawn now that I have spoken. I will take all the negative stones that are being thrown at me and lay a firm foundation to build a successful building.  I anxiously await the critics.

Yours faithfully,
Ganesh Adjtya Mahipaul

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