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As the union turns…

by Archives January 30, 2002

The CSU council of representatives has failed to install an interim executive to oversee the functioning of the CSU until the next round of elections in March.
At a meeting held Jan. 23, council voted not to permit the Representative Union to take the executive offices. Instead, former CSU interim President Patrice Blais has been in the president’s chair for the past week.
Apparently as a joke, Link reporter Steve Faguy was named VP communications. The title was revoked 24 hours later.
“Council is the biggest obstacle. It claims to represent students. It’s illegitimate, undemocratic, at best it’s completely farcical,” said RU Presidential candidate Chris Schulz. “This decision proves clearly that council is controlled by one group of people with one political agenda.”
The discussion kicked off, to the surprise of many, with councillor Tom Keefer proposing a motion that endorsed Chris Schulz and the RU as the interim executive.
“More students in this election, more than any other election in CSU history, voted for the RU as a slate,” said Keefer, who said that if the CSU is in fact “the most democratic institution on campus,” that it would place Chris Schulz as the next president.
Keefer, who ran on a slate against Schulz in last November’s byelection and withdrew before voting commenced, remains one of Schulz’s most vocal critics.
“It pains me to say it, [but] I don’t think anyone can offer a better alternative than putting the RU in. It’s only two months,” said councillor Brandi Heeren.
Many councillors agreed that by not putting the RU in office, that voter apathy, which has long plagued Concordia student elections, would become further entrenched.
Others councillors such as SPHR President Sami Nazzal and Samer Elatrash argued that if the RU was selected as the next executive, the CSU could be setting a dangerous precedent for future elections.
“If you allow the RU in on the basis of results of an election that has been nullified, then no matter how corrupt or however irregular the results are they will be taken at face value,” said Elatrash.
Nazzal added: “What people are saying is all this [allegations of corruption] doesn’t matter, we have 1,600 votes.”
Of the four contestations referred to the judicial board by dismissed Chief Electoral Officer Jessica Lajambe, which dealt with allegations of corruption that implicated the RU, only one was found to hold any weight.
Sharon Koifman, former VP external on the RU slate, was found to have participated in illegal campaigning and was issued a $20 fine and is barred from being an executive this time around.
The judicial board was present to answer any queries council might have regarding their rulings, and were subsequently grilled for nearly an hour on the finer points of their decisions.
Schulz came under further scrutiny when former presidential candidate Ralph Lee spoke what he knew of his ties to the administration. “The point is that the administration has invested a lot of money in Chris Schulz and like any good capitalist they expect a good return on their investment.”
Schulz denied any wrongdoing, saying that in accordance with a CSU formality by which slates had to detail any contact with administration upon registration for the elections, he had been completely honest.
Council selected from within its ranks a committee of six people to be responsible for interviewing potential candidates to fill the vacant executive slots.
Furthermore, it was resolved that those who comprise any interim government would not be called executives, as that would imply that they were democratically elected representatives. Anyone hired by the CSU to perform executive duties will be referred to as staff.
“I think a lot of people made a decision about the RU based on the basis of political beliefs about them and not because of the legitimacy of what they represent. You don’t take people who walk off the street, you take representatives who were elected,” said councillor Melanie Anestis shortly after she abruptly exited the meeting.
A weary looking Patrice Blais wound up the meeting, saying that another week at the CSU wasn’t necessarily something he was looking forward to. “The biggest reason that I wanted to leave is that I felt the student’s union wasn’t reaching the potential that I know it has. I hope that people can come together and we can actually do something productive instead of fighting against one another, because once we’re all divided, nothing gets done.”
Blais said he is in desperate need of a vacation, having toiled at the CSU without one since September 2000.
“Basically I don’t know what’s going to happen over the interim period, I’m sure that what happened tonight, there might be some repercussions,” he said, mirroring an earlier comment made by Tom Keefer that council’s decision not to select an executive elected by students was tantamount to committing political suicide.
Blais has since hired the members of the former interim executive, Ralph Lee, Eric Louis-Simard, and Sameer Zuberi, for a brief tenure of one week to help him keep the CSU afloat.
RU candidate Chris Schulz declined to say if he would seek legal recourse as he has said he would in the past. He said he situation will be addressed in an upcoming press conference.

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