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We need to move on

by Archives January 9, 2002
Utter chaos. Those are the first two words in Chief Electoral Officer Jessica Lajambe’s report on last November’s student union elections. Aptly so.
Those of you who hoped that a new year would bring about new faces in student politics are undoubtedly disappointed: we got new faces, just not the ones we thought we were getting.
Sometime over the holiday season, the current VPs resigned and interim CSU President Patrice Blais replaced them with new VPs, forming a sort of interim executive to ease the transition from Access to whatever is coming next.
The idea behind this is to make sure the CSU continues to be well-run and provide services while the electoral crisis is being sorted out, they said.
At best, this new executive will have been blessed through the most minimal definitions democracy: the CSU council of representatives has the dubious honour of authorizing this. At worst, this is an example of what student unions should not be doing: deciding for themselves who will succeed them, even if only briefly.
No matter how much we like or dislike the process behind this executive, the heart of the matter is that there are almost no rules to govern what happened last semester and all that resulted from it.
However, there are rules governing accusations of corruption, so one cannot help but wonder why the chief electoral officer didn’t know that any allegations of corruption could only be heard after the election was over. This was a costly error for the electoral system, but not a death blow. In fact, Lajambe successfully charted a course of action for the elections, allowing voters who cast ballots on the morning of confused Day One to vote again. Better yet, she did this despite the fact she had no authority under election rules to do it.
The death blow came with was her inability to render a decision about the many complaints that were filed by frustrated students. For example, Lajambe did not have neither the resources nor the staff to deal with the initial accusation of corruption.
All contestation cases will now go before the CSU judicial board. This new process may take a month. If it takes more than that, we would have wasted thousands of dollars of student money for an election that won’t really matter in the end – and this time, no one can say that nobody voted anyway.
This matter must be resolved quickly. Time, money and other resources will be focused on the vote while other matters relating directly to student life also need attention. Among other things, the union needs to speak out on postering and make sure students have designated poster locations and overzealous Concordia employees respect postering regulations. The union needs to take steps to provide support, symbolically or otherwise, for the new initiative to create a student-run cafeteria in the Hall Building once Marriott’s food service contract is up.
And besides, there are only three months left in this academic year and a bit more than five months left in the current CSU’s mandate. That alone should be enough to force the CSU judicial board to convene quickly and take care of this mess once and for all. Let’s hope students and the November byelections will not become victims of Kafkaesque judicial and political systems. Let’s hope people will not return to their old habits and stop caring.

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