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ASFA by-election referendums

by Jad Abukasm March 12, 2019
ASFA by-election referendums

Structural changes could be made to the federation’s mandates

The Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) will be holding two referendum questions during its next by-elections.

Changes in the mandates of executives

Following last year’s executive restructure, ASFA’s current executive team pointed out issues with how the mandate for each position was divided.

The advocacy and executive coordinator position, for example, “needed to be separated into two distinct positions, as both mandates themselves are quite a huge amount of work, and when put together, didn’t make much sense,” said Marguerite Rolland, ASFA’s current advocacy and executive coordinator.

The proposed by-law suggests dividing the standing advocacy and executive position into two distinct mandates. Firstly, the mobilization coordinator would be created to carry out the advocacy mandate and the executive coordinator would be renamed general coordinator.

“The goal of [this change] is to represent the interests of arts and science students, and empower causes that arts and science students care about,” said Rolland.

The Loyola and sustainability coordinator will be removed under the proposed by-law.

“After consulting with Loyola MAs the conclusion has been that they do not feel that the Loyola coordinator system is the best approach [to represent them],” according to the motion.

The Loyola mandate will be absorbed by a standing committee composed of one member from each of Loyola’s member associations and will promote collaboration between these associations. This change is meant to better represent Loyola students within the federation.

“For all the hard work that Loyola coordinators have put in, Loyola member associations have mostly worked cooperatively through CAABS and other horizontal methods of cooperation,” said Nicholas Gertler, ASFA representative for the communications student association, COMS Guild. “This restructure is going to formalize that and make sure that Loyola MAs always have the institutional resources to continue doing what we’re doing.”

The CAABS is a coalition of Loyola member associations that sets aside a portion of their budgets to create joint events for Loyola students.

The sustainability mandate will be divided between the student life coordinator and the financial coordinator. The policy explains that this change will better ensure that member associations uphold sustainable practices. This division was proposed to facilitate the “overwhelming responsibility” previously held by only one executive. The policy explains that “the purpose of this change is to embed sustainable practices into everything ASFA does, rather than tokenizing it as an afterthought.”

The proposed by-law would create two appointed coordinators: the elections coordinator and the frosh coordinator. “They will remove significant burden from the internal coordinator and student life coordinator, which will enable these coordinators to better complete the rest of the duties associated with their mandates,” said Rolland. A position was specifically created for frosh since it is the largest event put on by ASFA and requires months of preparation.

“This shift of work load will also enable the student life coordinator to use part of the summer to begin planning the student life initiatives for the rest of the academic year,” Rolland said.

A few changes also appeared throughout the new proposed by-laws for clarification on executive mandates. Rolland assured that these changes to ASFA’s structure will not affect the next general elections since the positions being filled will be the new ones.

Whether executives should have a vote in council

In an effort to reform ASFA, the federation will be asking the student body whether executives should have a right to vote in council.

“Allowing the executives a vote on council empowers them to be involved in the decision-making process that directly impacts their work and mandate,” said Rolland.

The proposed change would not only give direct decisional power to the executives, but it would also make executives more accountable. The current rules of ASFA do not require executives to attend council, something the federation hopes will change.

“Their attendance would be mandatory,” said Gertler. “There would be a formal accountability process if executives aren’t present.”

“I think it’s worth noting that students vote for ASFA representatives while they have no idea who’s going to council meetings,” said communication student Hannah Gold-Apel. “Expecting the [member associations] to represent the students’ interests more than the elected representative seems to me ridiculous.”

Some councillors, however, think this measure will defy the role of councillors towards ASFA executives.

“As per this definition, the council of representatives is the oversight committee of the organization, including the executive body,” wrote Jane Lefebvre-Prevost, councillor for the Women Studies Student Association, in a statement to The Concordian. “To give voting privileges to those whom the committee is ultimately overseeing can potentially backfire terribly, and as someone who has been with ASFA for many years, it’s better to be proactive than react once something goes awry.”

According to Lefebvre-Prevost, such voting powers could impede on some decisions such as the removal of executives from their positions. Since delicate decisions require a majority of two thirds of the council representatives, executives’ votes could act as a blockade.

“While we have had a fantastic team this year, future executives may not be as ethical as others in their responsibilities and may work towards blocking the two thirds majority vote to remove their colleague,” said Lefebvre-Prevost.

To counter future unethical actions by executives, Lefebvre-Prevost suggested an amendment to allow executives one unanimous vote. This would synthetize the executive’s frustration with the potential conflicts. However, the amendment did not pass.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin.

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