Home Opinions Some modest proposals

Some modest proposals

by Archives October 10, 2001
Comments expressed within these pages and through other media are revealing a new-found discomfort with the current state of affairs at our student union. Many students, alumni and observers alike seem astonished that this particular executive is actually governing.
It may be a surprise to the uninitiated that to date, the process that brought this CSU executive to power and that which regulates their activities has been followed more-or-less to the letter.
Seizing on the moment, the CSU council of representatives recently proposed several measures aimed at curtailing the scope and power of the executives’ actions, described by one councillor as “putting some controls on the executives.” Among them is the suggestion to screen all executives’ documents before publication. This includes posters, manifestos and even student agendas. This is a good first step in ensuring long-term confidence in the way the CSU is run.
But the CSU council should not be timid in suggesting further changes to the union’s structure to prevent abuse in the future and bring the whole organization down to its true grassroots – not outside lobbies or other external pressure groups, but regular Joe Blo students.
The following is a small wish list of suggestions to improve the way the student union functions:
The union should clearly define who is represented by whom on the CSU council of representatives. There are currently 14 arts and science councillors, but none of them is associated to a particular department. Concerned constituents have 14 people to turn to, but the councillors themselves would have a hard time determining whom to consult if they needed advice from students. To solve this, representatives from each faculty should be divided up and shared between students in different departments. Larger departments could have more than one councillor, while smaller departments may share one.
Senate and Board of Governors (BoG) appointments should be made directly at election time. Right now, the various faculty associations appoint student members of these organizations, in conjunction with the CSU. Direct elections will not only be more democratic, but will give students a glimpse into what these mostly unknown organs actually do.
Votes at general assemblies should no longer be done by a show of hands. Whoever turns out in the greatest numbers tends to intimidate the opposition, either by an eventual degrading of civility (heckling and shouting, for example) or simply by their sheer numbers. There were reports this year’s general assembly was peppered with rude interjections and inappropriate comments, and this has been true of previous assemblies as well. While the discussion should be held in the open as they are now, students attending the assembly should vote in private, not unlike the way presidential and council elections are held. This circumvents the possibility of people voting with the crowd to avoid being jeered at.
Most importantly, the annual general elections should occur earlier in the winter/spring semester. The way things are now, campaign and election time are smack in the middle of final projects and some final exams. This makes it difficult for the average full-time student to devote any decent amount of time or attention to matters of political importance. The current system also favours those who are taking fewer classes. All things being equal, these students can devote more of their time to worrying about a political campaign. An earlier general election will promote more student participation, making the whole process a bit more reflective of the actual mood of students.
These are only a few suggestions that could change the way student politics is run at Concordia. Hopefully, other concerned students will raise their voices and suggest other ways of making sure the student union’s actions are an accurate representation of all students’ needs.

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