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Council says no to lower quorum

by The Concordian February 28, 2001
The council of representatives narrowly rejected a motion, six-to-six, to reduce the quorum of general assemblies from 2.5 per cent of the undergraduate population to 350 people.
Some argued at the meeting that a lower quorum would allow students to better exercise their democratic right, while others said this would allow small organized groups to hijack assemblies.
“In principal I support the motion to lower the quorum, said clubs commissioner Chris Schulz, “but I find it inappropriate to lower it since the Concordia Student Union (CSU) has alienated a large segment of the student population. Lowering the quorum will not renew student confidence in the CSU. This is not the right time to lower it.”
CSU president Rob Green wrote the motion because he felt there should be more general assemblies. “The general assembly is the most democratic way in which students can express their opinions and therefore the student has power. Any student can vote and speak in a general assembly and I love that,” Green said.
The motion was nearly passed at council. Six councillors voted for the motion and six councillors voted against the motion. In a situation where there is a draw, the motion is not passed.
“It takes an enormous amount of energy to get people to go to a general assembly,” said vp external Christina Xydous. “This should not be an impossible task. The current quorum prevents general assemblies from happening, which is a normal function of a student union.”
General assemblies are not usually well attended at Concordia and the CSU has had to put in a lot of effort to reach the quorum.
“To get people to last year’s general assembly on the administration fee, we had to paper the university with advertisements,” Green said. “we had to visit classes and we offered free food. It took all this to get the general assembly quorum.”
Other French universities have lower quorums and general assemblies are common occurrences, Xydous said. “This creates a more dynamic student union. Besides 350 people for quorum is not a ridiculous number, other universities have 12 people for quorum,” she added.
Commerce and Administration Student Association (CASA) president Rabih Sebaaly said CASA took the CSU’s example and increased its quorum to the CSU level of 2.5 per cent. He also said it is important to have this level of quorum to ensure that there is enough student representation for important issues that are voted on.
“I do not think that 350 people can represent 25,000 students, but I think that 2.5 per cent of students can,” Sebaaly said.

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