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ConU in review

by Jacqueline Di Bartolomeo September 6, 2011

Both Concordia University and the Concordia Student Union had an eventful 2010-2011 school year. Notably, a spate of resignations afflicted both bodies, leaving a student body and a community concerned and hesitant about the future of their school. Students manifested their concerns by staging protests and sit-ins, and by voting for Your Concordia, a slate that ran for the CSU on the grounds of public consultation on touchy issues such as a student centre. The Concordia community called for a governance review – a call heeded by the university.

Wednesday, Sept. 8:  Concordia VP advancement and alumni relations Kathy Assayag steps down for “personal reasons.”

Wednesday, Sept. 29: Following in colleague Assayag’s footsteps, Concordia VP services and one-time acting president Michael Di Grappa leaves the university to join McGill’s administration as vice-principal (administration and finance).

Thursday, Nov. 25: Students vote down a proposed fee levy increase. The referendum question polled students on their feelings towards increasing the amount currently being collected per credit for an envisioned student centre from $2 to $4.50. The students’ response is overwhelming: No, thank you.

Wednesday, Dec. 22: Concordia president Judith Woodsworth resigns. She too cites “personal reasons” for stepping down, although it is soon revealed that she was ousted by the Board of Governors. Woodsworth collects two years’ salary as severance pay, or $703,500.

Tuesday, Jan. 4:  CSU VP finance Zhuo Ling announces his resignation, stating he is unable to fulfill the time commitment necessary for the position. VP clubs and outreach Ramy Khoriaty takes over the position for the remainder of the semester.

Friday, Jan. 21: Former Concordia rector Frederick Lowy officially takes office as interim president. Lowy’s previous stint as head of the university spanned ten years, from 1995 to 2005.

February: CSU president Heather Lucas confirms the union’s interest in the Faubourg Ste-Catherine building with the university, calling it the “most realistic” and “most affordable” option for a student centre.

Friday, March 4:  Concordia Student Union VP sustainability and promotions Morgan Pudwell hands in her three-page letter of resignation. In the letter, Pudwell cites concerns over potential financial mismanagement and governance, disagreement with the executive’s decision to back a student centre at the Faubourg, and a lack of trust within the executive team.

Monday, March 14: The CSU elections for the 2011-2012 school year kick off on what is commonly known as poster night (or “that night where everyone runs around with large sheets of paper and sticks them to walls.”) Two slates face off: Your Concordia and Action.

Thursday, March 17: In the provincial budget, Quebec finance minister Raymond Bachand outlines plans to raise tuition fees by $325 a year for five years as of Sept. 2012. The hike brings the cost of a university education for a Quebec student to $3,793 per year.

Friday, March 18: The university announces the appointments of the three members of the external governance review committee. Bernard Shapiro, André C. Côté and Glen A. Jones are named to the committee and are each paid $1,000 a day for their work, for a maximum of $20,000 per committee member.

Friday, April 1: The results of the CSU election are announced: Your Concordia, headed by Lex Gill, pull out ahead with a 336-vote margin of victory.

Wednesday, April 6: Concordia University announces its plans to gradually phase out bottled water on campus. Over a three-year period, water fountains will be upgraded and replaced when necessary. That first step has a $100,000 price tag.

Tuesday, April 12: Both Action and Your Concordia are disqualified in an after-the-fact decision by chief electoral officer Oliver Cohen. Cohen alleges numerous examples of improper conduct on the part of members of each team, including campaigning during the polling period and using club resources to campaign.

Wednesday, April 27: After a long and heated hearing, the CSU judicial board rules to reinstate Your Concordia as the winning slate, and to uphold the disqualification of Action. The slate was later reinstated by the CSU council.

Wednesday, June 15: The external governance review committee releases its 39-page report, in which the three members of the committee point out a number of flaws in the university’s structure. They detail 38 recommendations to the university in order to ameliorate what it calls a “culture of contempt.”

Wednesday, Aug. 31: In a press release and mass email to students, the Board of Governors announces its intention to implement the recommendations of the external governance review committee which pertain to the board.

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