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Constitution issues stifle CONMUN fee levy application

by The Concordian October 14, 2014

Concordia’s model UN contested application rejection for fee levy
by Nathalie Laflamme and Gregory Todarro

On Wednesday, Oct. 8, it was discussed at a CSU meeting whether the application Concordia Model UN (CONMUN) submitted in order to apply for a fee levy could be accepted.

CONMUN had submitted their application on Sept. 12 after collecting 1,000 signatures from students. On Oct. 1, the CSU policy committee and CONMUN met in order to discuss the issues the policy committee had with their constitution. The committee explained that their issues with the document stemmed from ambiguities in the constitution, as well as a late submission of their request.

In the rebuttal CONMUN presented to CSU this week, they described the two-hour meeting with the policy committee as having had a “hostile” environment, and said their constitution had been unfairly “shredded” for seemingly minor issues.

“We felt that this decision of the policy committee to reject our application to hold a fee levy referendum based on our constitution was completely unjust,” Nathanaël Dagange, CONMUN president, said.

However, this was news to CSU VP academic and advocacy Terry Wilkings, who chairs policy committee meetings.

“I was very surprised to see the language in the rebuttal document in terms of the environment being hostile,” he said. “I honestly felt like the meeting was conducted with mutual respect and was a highly collegial affair.”

The reason the policy committee was so thorough with eliminating ambiguity from this particular constitution was to set precedent for future applications, according to Wilkings. He explained that the CSU is currently working to improve how the constitutions for future fee levy groups are set up.

“The ambiguity that currently exists is something the policy committee is making a priority to review, and we’d like to put in place a standard review process so all applications are being treated in the same manner year in, year out,” Wilkings said.

The other issue brought up by the policy committee was dealing with the date the application was submitted. According to Benjamin Prunty, CSU president, it has yet to be decided whether the notwithstanding clause will be used to exempt CONMUN from abiding by this limitation. However, he warned of the dangers of setting a “dangerous precedent.”

“If we accept applications outside of our regulations for no compelling reason beyond the fact that some of our members have shown a good deal of initiative, then we are communicating to everyone that that is all it takes, but that should not be the case.”

Prunty added that unlike other initiatives from the past, such as the Concordia Food Coalition, there is “no pressing matter needing to be attended to by CONMUN, among other differences between the two situations. If we don’t send their questions to ballot, they will continue to operate, presumably, as the well-funded CSU club in much the same way as they have in the past.”

The policy committee will announce on Oct. 17 whether the ambiguities of the CONMUN’s constitution have been successfully dealt with.

“We are still in the process of reviewing the application, but it is definitely possible that, if major inconsistencies can be addressed, that policy committee will change its previous recommendation,” Prunty said.

CONMUN had applied for a fee levy of seven cents per credit starting in the winter 2015 semester. If their application is approved by council, students will vote on whether or not CONMUN will be able to have this fee levy at the winter by-elections.

 

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