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PSSA case controversial

by Archives January 14, 2004

Former vice-president for the Political Science Student Association (PSSA), Joseph Burchill, may be barred from Concordia politics for five years due to accusations of financial mismanagement.

Yet, Burchill has some accusations of his own, mostly directed towards the PSSA.

According to Peter C. Schiefke, VP Finance for the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA), an Ad-Hoc judiciary committee was set up at the beginning of the school year to look into the financial dealings of the PSSA.

“There were a lot of transactions with the PSSA before most associations used their finances.” he said.

PSSA President Daniela Chivu told Schiefke that the missing funds were forged checks made out to Burchill.

According to Burchill, the checks were signed by PSSA VP John Gravel, who had signing authority. He said he admits that he, along with Gravel and another PSSA VP, decided to lend money to a friend who had promised to return it in triple. “We should never have done that and we knew that when we did it,” said Burchill. However, he said the money, though not in triple, was eventually returned and he put it in a petty cash box that the PSSA had.

Burchill said he had nothing to do with the second check that was allegedly forged. “Everything that was a question mark became ‘Joe did it.’ Which is ironic because I had no signing authority,” he said.

Schiefke could not give details about the case until it is presented to the Concordia Student Union (CSU) council meeting Tuesday night because it involves closed session information. “There are reasons why steps were taken against Joe and not against the others,” Schiefke said. “There was an attempt to be fair to every member involved.

Burchill wrote a letter to the CSU council expressing his concerns over what he calls “institutionalized sexism, racism and discrimination going on at the PSSA.”

He accused Chivu of racism and of using student money for filling up her car with gas and for suppers, “using the excuse that she has …[to do] ‘Presidential things.”

Chivu admitted using student money for personal expenses, but only when she’s taking care of PSSA matters. “Can I afford from my own pocket to represent students?”

As for comments of racism and sexism, Chivu said, “These are kindergarten games. I do not have time for gossiping.” She denied the accusations made by Burchill, calling them “catastrophes.”

Wendy Avalos, former PSSA VP, resigned in early October, a little before her friend Burchill did. She agreed with the concerns in Burchill’s letter to council, and had made similar comments in her resignation letter. On June 17, 2003, she had taken minutes for a PSSA meeting that records Chivu as saying that Arab students are “trouble makers that have less than a 2.0 GPA, which in her eyes, did not make them legible to receive representation from the PSSA.”

The minutes were never officially approved and Chivu denies having made such comments.

Avalos had also gone to see Reeta Tremblay, political science chair, with her concerns of alleged discrimination in the PSSA.

Burchill says he accepts his possible ban from Concordia politics, but hopes that ASFA and the CSU will look into his accusations.

“They are denying everything they did and they are still holding office,” said Avalos.

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