Concerns were raised at the first 2013 meeting of the Concordia Student Union over the amount budgeted to the CSU’s Judicial Board, which councillor James Vaccaro said could lead to a potential conflict of interests in the future.
According to Vaccaro, the JB, which can be called on to interpret bylaws and settle disputes between members of the CSU, has only been budgeted one-tenth of what is meant to be given to the JB according to the standing regulations. Despite the regulations stating clearly that a global amount of no less than $5,000 is to be given to the JB for their work that includes funding for legal fees for lawyers and consultations, to date only a figure of roughly $500 was allocated to the board in the budget.
Vaccaro voiced concern that should the JB be asked to step in on a matter involving the CSU, it would be forced to first go to the CSU to ask for funding before it would be able to take any actions, something that Vaccaro said would cause a clear conflict of interest.
Nadine Atallah, VP clubs and internal affairs, told council that historically the JB has almost never used more than a few hundred dollars each year, which was why so little was budgeted to them this year. Atallah also proposed sending the matter to the policy committee for review, saying that the matter did need resolving but that altering the standing regulations to more accurately fit the financial needs of the JB might be a good idea.
Vaccaro explained that he was disconcerted that it needed to be brought up at council and that councillors who knew of the issue weren’t concerned.
“The thing that I found a little odd is that the executive is putting $500 in the budget for the Judicial Board, knowing full well that their minimum allowed budget is five thousand dollars,” said Vaccaro. “So right off the bat as your budget is being accepted, you’re going against the regulations of the union.”
He went on to explain that the appropriate funds should be made available in spite of not needing the entire sum in the past.
“It feels to me that the executive feel this is a non-issue, but if it does become an issue it will be a matter of importance.”
Council voted to send the issue to the financial committee and the policy committee for review.
Post-mortem orientation report
During a discussion of the upcoming winter orientation, councillor Melissa Kate Wheeler brought up the ongoing issue of Alexis Suzuki’s orientation post-mortem, a document submitted earlier in the year that Wheeler and others have raised complaints about in the past. The document, meant to be a summary of the successes and failures of orientation as well as recommendations for possible improvements, was considered short and unfocused by councillors like Wheeler, who told The Concordian that none of the failures of the orientation were mentioned and that its successes were played up to be greater than they were.
“There were a lot of problems with orientation. There was low attendance at a lot of the events and it sort of screamed poor planning in a lot of ways,” she said. “It’s a learning experience every year and no orientation is ever perfect, and nobody expected it to be perfect, but there were a lot of problems and they went completely unaddressed in [Suzuki’s] post-mortem.”
The wording of the post-mortem was also an issue for Wheeler, who said that nowhere in the report were words like ‘failure’ or ‘improvement’, compared to words like ‘success’ and ‘amazing’ appearing 12 times and nine times respectively.
Another point of contention remains Suzuki’s proposal to write a how-to guide for future orientations. Chad Walcott, another councillor to raise concerns over the post-mortem, told The Concordian that he was uncomfortable with the idea of Suzuki writing such a guide given that this past orientation was what he called the “least attended Orientation that I’ve seen at Concordia in the last 5 years.”
“To date, she has not demonstrated that she is able to be self-critical of her work, and as such I believe this limits her ability to give future VPs any insight into effective ways of running orientation,” he said.