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Letters to the Editor

by Archives March 18, 2008

Dear Editor,

Your story “CSU faces new, questionable challenges,” by Andrew Haig (March 11) contained a few errors and inaccuracies.

1. These complaints were not filed after any deadline, because they do not deal with the election per se, but with the CSU’s legal competence to act on ambiguous directives that the referendum happened to occasion.

2. There is no reference to the Quebec Civil Code in the complaints.

3. The complaints do not generally refer to natural right, but only in two places, points 3 and 4 of Matter

3. 4. There is no reference to corporate finance law. The reference to provincial law is to the Companies Act, under which the CSU Inc. was incorporated, and to the Act Respecting the Accreditation and Financing of Students’ Associations, under which the CSU was accredited as a student association.

5. There is only one reference to equality rights, as a secondary point of Matter 7, and only via a reference to the Code of Rights of Responsibilities, which itself refers to the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

6. Only three of the seven complaints deal with issues arising from the referendum. The other four have nothing to do with the referendum at all.
The question of the CSU violating provincial law is a secondary, though grave matter, at least one point of which Mr. Noah Stewart agreed to in the judicial board open meeting. All the complaints deal with bylaw violations.
One thing that the article got right is that these challenges do put the judicial board’s relevance into question. Regarding Mr. Stewart’s comments:

1. The board has not issued a decision, so it’s premature to speculate as to their disposition. If the judicial board did not consider these matters worthy of consideration, then they would not have held three open hearings to discuss them.

2. These complaints do not concern politics. I have not complained about the referendum or its questions, but of the ambiguities that have resulted from unclear questions and the merging of distinct issues that has left room for doubt as to whether the will of the electorate was polled accurately enough to act upon legitimately.

3. Previous disputes or controversies in which I have taken part are a matter of public record, or would be if the CSU was not in violation of its own bylaws by not providing the minutes of all its meetings. If these records were available, any member of the CSU could verify that my actions have been similar in every relevant respect regarding two CSU executives, one on the right and one on the left.

4. I do not know to whom Mr. Stewart refers to by the “many people” who “want to keep control of the school,” though perhaps he is aware of conspiratorial activities of which I am not. I am not a member of any faction – nor am I loyal to any political brand.
Anyone who wants to read the complaints can do so at: http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dcw8j3wd_8c4hxxvff.

Robert Sonin
Undergraduate, Philosophy

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Dear Editor,

What is the difference between the CSU Executive and Council? Why should I vote if there is only one Executive slate? What can councillors do to change student life?
I would like to address these questions by defining what I see as the three most important roles of the CSU Council.

1. Council should make the Executive accountable to their students.
This means publicizing important information about the CSU such as their budget, times and locations of council meetings, and any changes of fees, bylaws in student government and so on, providing further clarification if necessary. This information should be accessible to all students at all times, through a continually updated website or e-newsletter. Also, it is in the interest of efficiency and the student community at large to conduct a formal review of the Executives’ salary structure.

2. Council should seek out and advocate student rights, needs and wishes.
Council should mandate a regular general assembly that is convenient and accessible to students (both in time and location). Councillors should make available, at the very least, an e-mail address available to student associations and clubs who represent their constituents. They have the responsibility of advocating student initiatives on campus in a non-discriminatory fashion.

3. Council should restore students’ interest, faith and participation in politics.
All councillors should work to set an example that student government does not have to be petty. This means showing up to every meeting, actively participating by putting forward motions that will directly affect student life, and encouraging other students to get involved. For too long, students have been deterred from participating in politics by the actions (or lack of action) of their representatives, despite the consequences.
You, the students, are the boss.
The CSU Executive members are your paid employees. You pay them to provide you with services and events that hopefully benefit you in some way.
Councillors are your unpaid supervisors. They volunteer their time to represent you and work for your interests; they ensure that your employees remain worthwhile investments, and report back to you.
Although by voting, you are deciding whom to hire and you unfortunately only have one choice of prospective employee. However, you do have a choice of supervisors. Will you choose the supervisors suggested to you by your sole employee, or the supervisors who could act as an independent check on their autonomy?

Louise Birdsell Bauer
Arts and Science Councillor Candidate 08-09 (Independent)

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