Newly elected members focused on issues of transparency, mental health
After three days of student voting, 12 new members have been elected to Concordia’s Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA). In total, seven students were elected to ASFA as coordinators for the 2018-19 academic year, and an additional five were elected as independent councillors.
For the newly elected officials, being elected to ASFA is an opportunity to focus on a wide range of goals, from implementing accessible voting measures to helping students access mental health services.
Patrick Quinn, a re-elected independent councillor, said one of his primary goals is to make the voting process easier for Concordia students.
“More often than not, I hear students complain about how time-consuming voting is, how complicated it is, and the lack of participation associated with student elections,” Quinn said. “It’s going to change now. As an elected [ASFA] independent councillor and an Arts and Science councillor [on the Concordia Student Union council], I will be working with my colleagues to make online voting happen,” he told The Concordian.
Quinn also mentioned the importance of transparency and avoiding conflicts of interest in student organizations. This year, CSU executives Omar Riaz and Soulaymane El Alaoui were issued formal warnings after accepting a paid trip from Lev Bukhman, the CEO of Alliance pour la santé étudiante au Québec, the company the CSU uses to provide students with health and dental insurance.
“This academic year has made it clear to students that elected officials need to review ethics and conflict of interest policies. As an elected representative on the CSU council and on the ASFA council, I will review current policies and see if there are any changes to make,” Quinn said.
For independent councillor Tori Smith-Ayotte, mental health is an issue of critical importance, and she is focused on working with the CSU, ASFA member associations and non-profit initiatives, such as Jack.org, to improve emotional wellbeing on campus.
“Most people aren’t aware of the [mental health-related] events and workshops available to students, and I have learned firsthand how going to these events and finding where I belong at Concordia can change someone’s life,” Smith-Ayotte said about the importance of campus resources, adding she would like all students to be included in the conservation surrounding mental health.
Marguerite Rolland, who was elected as the advocacy and executive coordinator for the 2018-19 academic year, told The Concordian, she will be working on providing students with opportunities to make a community impact and gain volunteer experience for their CV and official co-curricular record.
Rolland said this project will be a monthly volunteer series in which ASFA selects a Montreal-based non-profit or charity and organizes day-long volunteering excursions. Students would participate in as many of these volunteer days as they wish, and if they attend eight during the school year, they would receive 50 confirmed volunteer hours on their co-curricular record.
Rolland said she is hopeful this project will reduce scheduling conflicts and organizational hurdles that may keep students from volunteering, as well as help them gain experience with a wide range of charitable organizations.
“ASFA will do all the paperwork, organizing and technical work,” Rolland said. “Ideally, we’d like to have a different aspect of community involvement with each [non-profit] partnership, so students can build connections and find the type of volunteering that works the best for them.”
Along with student concerns, Kayla Miller, the newly elected Loyola and sustainability coordinator, is looking to tackle environmental issues next year.
“Reducing our ecological footprint is integral to achieving environmental and economic equity and promoting sustainable consumption within the federation,” Miller said, explaining that one of her goals is to minimize waste produced during Orientation Week activities. “I want to completely eliminate the use of plastic cups, plates and cutlery by providing reusable materials […] and I aim to incorporate locally sourced vegan food options.”
Other students newly elected to ASFA include Bakry Alsaieq, Elliott Boulanger, Fatima Janna El Gahami, Gaëlle Kouyoumdjian, Evan Lee, Enya Leger, Justin Occhionero and Caleb Owusu-Acheaw.
ASFA president Jonathan Roy told The Concordian he is happy with the election results. “I’d like to extend my warmest congratulations to all the elected candidates, and look forward to working with them in the transition,” he said.
Newly elected ASFA members:
Councillors: Evan Lee, Gaëlle Kouyoumdjian, Justin Occhionero, Patrick Quinn, Tori Smith-Ayotte
External affairs and communications coordinator: Fatima Janna El Gahami
Loyola and sustainability coordinator: Kayla Miller
Student life coordinator: Enya Leger
Advocacy and executive coordinator: Marguerite Rolland
Internal affairs and administration: Elliott Boulanger
Finance coordinator: Caleb Owusu-Acheaw
Academic coordinator: Bakry Alsaieq
ASFA referendum results
During election polling on March 27, 28 and 29, students voted “yes” to three out of four referendum questions posed by the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA).
The referendum question regarding an increase of $0.18 per credit for ASFA’s fee levy (what would have been $1.40 per credit) was the only one that did not pass. The proposal failed by only three votes.
ASFA president Jonathan Roy said he is “disappointed” the fee levy increase did not pass, but said it gives him hope to know it only failed by a few votes. “More of our students are recognizing that an increase would only benefit us overall, so there’s always next year,” he said.
Prior to the elections, Roy told The Concordian the federation’s fee levy had not been increased in a few years and that ASFA currently receives the smallest fee levy of all the student associations, despite having the most members.
On the other hand, the Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse (CUCCR) will receive funding from students to upgrade their facilities and continue providing free, reusable items and materials to the community. Student voters approved a $0.04 per credit fee levy for CUCCR, which will be implemented with registration for the Fall 2018 semester.
The other two referendum questions that passed both concerned ASFA bylaw revisions. Voters approved a general bylaw revision that will, according to Roy, declutter the current bylaws, making the administrative aspects of the federation more fluid and allowing ASFA to run more efficiently in the future. The electoral also voted “yes” to the addition of a clause to ASFA’s bylaws that requires the federation to take no action in opposition to Indigenous sovereignty. Both bylaw reforms will take effect on June 1, 2018.
Roy said he is “very happy” the bylaw reforms passed. He said he feels the changes voted in by the electorate reflect the values of ASFA and their membership, and he is glad the federation is “standing in solidarity with Indigenous peoples.”
Graphic by Zeze Le Lin