CSU council voted against SEIZE’s proposed fee levy referendum question
The Solidarity Economy Incubation Zone (SEIZE) has once again been denied its proposed fee levy referendum by the council of the Concordia Student Union (CSU).
Last Wednesday, the CSU voted during a meeting that SEIZE’s proposed 35-cent fee levy was not feasible, and therefore, was withheld from ballot in the upcoming general elections.
SEIZE is a student-led, Concordia-based organization whose goal is to support solidarity co-operatives on and around campus. It was seeking a 35-cent fee levy from the CSU. The SEIZE fee levy referendum had been previously denied by the CSU last February in a secret ballot.
In a letter sent to the CSU’s chair, four councillors–Samantha Candido, Samuel Miriello, Eliza McFarlane, and Victoria Pesce—asked for a new vote on SEIZE on the basis that “the representatives of council did not vet the SEIZE project in good faith, [which] therefore invalidates the vote exercised.”
During the meeting, CSU councillor Rowan Gaudet said a fee levy from the Student Space, Accessible Education, and Legal Contingency Fund (SSAELC) was financially dangerous for the union.
CSU councillor James Hanna believes that directly funding co-operatives with the already-existing CSU funds would be a better option than funding through a third-party that will ultimately redistribute the CSU’s money.
“Having an institutionalized service will be an invaluable asset for these initiatives, as opposed to simply having the union act as a grant body, and one that does not have the capacity to mentor and develop new businesses,” said Marcus Peters, SEIZE project leader.
Additionally, the SEIZE project would be open to funding any co-operative—not just from Concordia—“but the priority would always be for Concordia students,” said Peters. SEIZE would also “seek other sources of funding to enrich the experiences and opportunities of those that would use the incubator services,” he added.
For a question to go to ballot, it must follow specific dispositions from the CSU’s by-laws like “receiving a respective amount of signatures.”
“We followed all of the union’s rules and procedures, resulting in a unanimous recommendation from the CSU’s policy committee to have council rubber-stamp the process and allow the student body to have its say,” said SEIZE in a letter to students.
However, SEIZE’s referendum question was still shut down by the CSU. According to CSU councillor Christopher Kalafatidis, it is important for the CSU to act as gatekeepers when deciding to pass a question to ballot.
“No student is going to open up all the finances of an organization, the budget and the by-laws and start understanding the institution. They are just going to go ‘do I like this idea, yes or no?’” Kalafatidis said, during council. “That’s why we have a gatekeeper. It’s to filter out different fee levy groups that submitted an application in order to understand whether or not it is responsible and then to bring that to the ballot.”
Photo by Gabe Chevalier.