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John McDonald was a faculty rep for engineering students.
Michael Grondin/the Gauntlet

Engineering representative resigns

McDonald says he will continue with his duties

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Engineering representative John McDonald resigned on March 20 from his position on the Student Legislative Council. According to the University of Calgary Students' Union bylaws, all representatives need to be enrolled in at least one class to be a faculty representative. McDonald is not registered in classes this winter semester. su vice-president academic Ola Mohajer said that representatives have to be active members of the union, which is defined in part as someone who pays su fees.

"I thought it would be better to resign right when I knew about it," said McDonald.

McDonald is convocating in June and he had finished the requirements for his electrical engineering degree in the fall semester.

"When I ran for the position of engineering representative, I thought I read through the bylaws and constitution quite thoroughly," said McDonald.

He knew he wouldn't be in classes in the winter, but was registered in classes when he ran for the position, so he thought he had fulfilled the requirements.

The Schulich School of Engineering and the U of C still consider McDonald a student until June.

"Had I known about it and done nothing the recourse would have been someone putting forward an impeachment motion and asking, why didn't you resign if it's within our bylaws?" he said.

Also, he said resignation was the only option he had because he's bound by the rules and regulations of the su.

"So I put forward my resignation letter. However, I said I'm going to continue to do everything I said I would for the su and for my constituents, because my word is my bond," he said.

Mohajer said she was saddened by the situation, but remained hopeful for McDonald.

"[McDonald] is an excellent elected official, what he's done speaks to his character and how much integrity he has and how noble he is."

Mohajer continued, "what is most admirable about [McDonald] is that he wants to continue doing this work even though he can't vote at council."

Mohajer commented that McDonald has done some great work this year, especially on the tedx event.

McDonald doesn't think his resignation will affect his constituents because he's still doing his duties.

He sat on the operations and finance committee and was active with slc through the summer. He was the president of the Engineering Students' Society in 2010-2011, and had been involved in the ess for three years before becoming the su's engineering representative. McDonald also spearheaded the idea for the creation and sale of the engineering faculty's scarves.

"If I can make an impact on the student experience and the community at this school, that's good enough for me," said McDonald.

McDonald feels he has grown as an individual from being involved in student organizations.

"Education is one part of the university experience but the extra-curriculars are what really make you stand out in the business environment," he said.

Mohajer said executives are informed that they have to be in a course in both the fall and winter. The election package said that representatives must be students. Representatives are advised to go over the bylaws to understand how the union functions.

The bylaw that forced McDonald to resign exists to prevent people who are not students from running in the elections and, if elected, change the direction of the su.

Representatives must be students so they can have a first hand knowledge of student issues.

According to Mohajer, if an elected representative wasn't going to classes they wouldn't be experiencing what other students are experiencing.

"It would disconnect them," said Mohajer.

McDonald, although dissapointed, understands the bylaw.

"I think the rule is fair because it's there [to stop] people who want to take advantage of the system," he said.

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