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Is there yet hope for CSU accountability?

by Archives January 8, 2008

No one can deny that the CSU executive is, in some limited capacities, skilled at getting things done. Certain things, they do well: Pulling together an ad hoc coalition of universities and CEGEPS for the campaign on tuition; planning a huge multi-ethnic party that closed Mackay street for 3 days of Orientation; long-term planning (the adjustment of the letters patent to access the monies for the building fund), and their ability to transform a once-defunct student space at Loyola into a spanking new party zone.
However, when it comes to its internal politics, this executive also seems prepared to do anything it feels is necessary to hold onto power. The Dec. 12 special meeting was the most recent of Unity’s attempt to bury allegations of electoral fraud and, seeing the precedent set by the party, it’s conceivable they will succeed.
With the passage a motion striking all discussion of possible electoral fraud from future council meetings, and addition of three councilors who will likely support them, Unity’s position has gotten stronger than ever.
I have seen over the past three months just how powerful the position of Council chairperson can be. Sarah Rodier did not hold back from trying to remove motions from the agenda, and was even able to allow councilor Stephen Rosenshein to vote on motions dealing with the allegations involving him. She will likely dismiss all further attempts to bring up the issue of possible electoral fraud with the reason as she did before – the issue has been “settled.”
Having secured the motion from December’s special meeting, the issue may be settled on paper. But to me, it is not. Just how valid is the “proof” that was brought forward, after seven months of claiming there was none? To me, there is still nothing to substantiate the special meeting on April 26, 2007. Unity cannot expect anybody to take the minutes seriously.
Moreover, the way they were “discovered” is questionable at best. How is it that councilor Mitch Kahan, would have a copy of the minutes while three CSU presidents, former and current, members of the Unity executive as well as the three other councilors present at the special meeting do not? He was not stated to be the secretary of that meeting (in fact, he could not be legally because he was a voting councilor). The secretary was current President Angelica Novoa, who has shifted the blame to the secretary, saying she has the computer document but has “disappeared” and could not be reached. That secretary was not even at the meeting.
I cannot understand how an office with paid staff could simply lose an important document in the age of word processing and email; in this day and age, there is a backup of everything. Yet, the CSU had only one hardcopy of the minutes, besides Kahan’s. In the workplace, somebody should have been fired.
These circumstances have led many – namely the opposition-at-large Ethan Cox and Chadi Marouf – to believe that the meeting had never happened. But you cannot easily prove that something never happened. However, on the other hand, Unity’s attempt at providing evidence in its own defense has done more to discredit itself than what Cox and Marouf have done so far.
I believe that Unity does not lose documents in its office; I give them much more credit than that. I admired that they were able to set up a K-OS concert on Mackay Street. And though there wasn’t a huge turnout for the Nov. 22 protest for tuition fees, they were very organized in trying to get the students out. I believe that the Judicial Board should investigate the minutes of the April 26 special meeting because the executive have not and will not be able to explain what happened to them.
The miraculous appearance of meeting minutes that people have been looking for for seven months won’t put the luster back in the CSU. However it is quite possible that Unity will manage to get away from the allegations of electoral fraud. But it will come at a great cost to the CSU’s image as a democratic governing body for students.

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