ASFA has been a sinking ship for quite some time now. The only difference is that just last week it tried to call on students for help, but someone fumbled with the flare gun and now the ship is on fire.
Needless to say, it’s not really a surprise seven Member Associations are abandoning ship and piling into the lifeboats. It’s every student for themselves and the Executives are being left to go down with the ship.
This comes on the heels of the referendum vote, which took place last week—and turned out to be a complete farce, not to mention a waste of time and money. ASFA had the opportunity to restructure itself and grow as a Federation, but instead it seems to be business as usual with new shady practices and questionable actions coming to light.
Wasn’t this the reason we took to the polls to vote on the proposed restructuring of ASFA in the first place?
However democracy had its way and Concordia students voted 329 to 277 (with 95 abstentions) to keep ASFA just how they’ve always known it. Or did they?
Over the weekend, mixed reports started filtering in with various complaints, including reports from our staff, citing their frustration and confusion at the polls.
It’s not like we didn’t know what we were going in to vote for. Talking about the possible restructuring of ASFA has been a hot topic around the office, with masthead members being firmly entrenched in both the “yes” and the “no” camps. There have been debates, arguments, and even occasional quarrels about what to vote for and why. But on the voting days themselves, there was only confusion and head scratching.
If you know what you want to vote for, there should be no confusion when you read the ballots and choose to vote for, against, or to abstain.
And yet, at the polls there was a missing ballot question, people had to come back the next day or in an hour or not at all (it wasn’t clear), and no one seemed to be able to answer what question was going towards the restructuring of the federation.
The second question, which asked if The Hive should have a fee-levy increase and was not in fact about restructuring ASFA, was spoiled after the first day of voting when the wording was found to be incorrect, and had to be re-issued and re-voted on during the second and third days of voting.
The polling clerks pushed a booklet of edited bylaws towards us and repeated “I can’t tell you that” so many times they sounded like a broken record. The booklet of restructured bylaws was in around point eight font with no spacing and with many paragraphs highlighted or crossed out with comments on the side saying “phrase highlighted for emphasis.” At the station on the ground level of the Hall building, no clear summary of the changes was presented and the polling clerks at the station refused to answer if the proposed bylaw changes were the ones that would restructure ASFA.
Returning the next day to fill out the missing ballot at the SP building at Loyola created better results, with someone actually able to say the proposed bylaw change would, in fact, restructure ASFA. Too little too late, as you can only vote once.
And this is before we take into account the partisan signs that marred this supposedly democratic event. One example is a “vote yes,” sign that was placed beside the ballot box while the referendum was occurring, according to David Easey, The Concordian’s Opinions editor who worked as a polling clerk for the referendum.
Out of the students who came out to vote, 47 per cent voted against the proposed changes and 39 per cent voted for it, with a difference of just 52 votes. That’s not even considering the 95 students who voted to abstain.
In a free and fair contested vote, the need for a clear majority can be required to pass anything. And in the case of the ASFA referendum—considering how the freedom and fairness of the election is clearly questionable at best—there just doesn’t seem to be a clear outcome for the vote. And oddly enough, ASFA seems to agree with us for once. An ASFA special council meeting will be held this Thursday to decide if the referendum will be considered invalid or not. If it’s found invalid students may get a second chance to vote during ASFA’s general elections in one month. This Thursday’s meeting will also discuss whether MAs should be allowed to abandon ship.
Maybe some of us will manage to escape this sinking ship, but for all we know the SS ASFA is taking us all down.