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CSU faces new, questionable challenges

by Archives March 11, 2008

With students set to vote on reforms to the CSU’s judicial board, a series of new bylaw challenges have drawn into question the board’s relevance within Concordia.
The first case, brought by philosophy undergraduate, Robert Sonin, challenges the legality of last year’s by-election on human rights grounds and over alleged conflicts with Quebec law.
However Sonin’s challenge comes months after the deadline for electoral contestations and is likely to be dismissed as a result. Sonin said that his challenge was filed after the deadline because it has taken him this long to prepare his case.
“This [challenge] has been in preparation for several weeks; I just wanted to be sure that I had dotted all of my Is and crossed all of my Ts.”
A similar challenge filled in December, by independent student Chadi Marouf was dismissed by the JB for having missed the deadline by a single day.
The challenge makes reference to both the Quebec Civil Code and the philosophy of “natural rights”; much of which was deemed irrelevant by the JB.
At the first hearing to discuss the complaint, JB Chair Tristan Texteira expressed confusion at Sonin’s repeated reference to corporate finance law and equality rights.
“Why did you think we could take into consideration the [Quebec statute]?” said Texteira. “Our actions have to derogate from the bylaws [of the CSU].”
Because of the appeal’s lateness and its lack of attention to CSU bylaws, CSU VP of Communications Noah Stewart expressed confidence that the JB would dismiss Sonin’s challenge in much the same way it dismissed Marouf’s.
“It’s pretty clear that the board wasn’t convinced by his argument; that they’re just going to throw it out. I mean, let’s be honest, he has no case, really.”
In addition to being a current student Sonin, like Marouf, is already a graduate of Concordia. Sonin also sat on the CSU council between 1996 and 1998.
Stewart argued that the challenges are being driven by older conflicts. “Because of the sorts of confrontational politics Concordia had in the past many older students have internalized the past disputes . . . many people want to keep control of the school however they can’t.”
Also the board is a challenge to a referendum question, included in the upcoming spring election, if it passes it will limit JB members to one-year terms, although they could subsequently apply for renewal.
The challenge, brought by student Mathew Fiorentino, argues – based on Quebec Law and Supreme Court decisions that making JB members answer to council every year would weaken the body’s independence.
According to Stewart, Fiorentino’s challenge, displays many of the same failings as Sonin’s, and may place the judicial board in a conflict of interest.
While Texteira said he couldn’t speak about cases currently before the board, he said that a desire to maintain tenure would not influence his decision. “I never let my own feelings enter into a case.”

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