The CSU council meeting for the month of October kicked off with the ejection of three councillors from the table: Emily Tetrault, Fady Abdallah and Jason Gondziola.
The three were deemed ineligible to sit as councillors because they had not registered for any classes in Fall 2007. According to VP Communications Noah Stewart, the Office of the Dean of Students had confirmed the academic status of the three upon the request of the CSU.
Gondziola challenged Council Chair Sarah Rodier’s ruling to no avail. He was voted down 10-9.
A shouting match ensued as members of the audience, notably Ethan Cox and graduate student Chadi Marouf, stood up and launched a tirade against Rodier.
Cox and Marouf were adamant that independent councillor Steven Rosenshein had committed electoral fraud and violated election by-laws last spring to obtain a seat on council.
They asked how, if Gondziola, Tetrault and Abdullah were ejected, Rosenshein could remain a councillor.
Security was called to coax the two observers to leave the room, but Cox and Marouf held their ground. “Have you seen Parliament?” Marouf asked one of the security guards.
After a recess was called, council voted to go into closed session in order to hear the applicants for Senate and the Sustainability Board positions.
New programs, more funding
When the meeting resumed, council voted to add a question to the November referendum ballot asking students to vote for an increase in the CSU’s fee levy by $0.25.
CSU VP Finance Fauve Caustagna said the money would go to four new programs for students, including free lunches at the Loyola campus, an emergency food bank for students, a new tutoring centre and an initiative called CSU 101s.
(At $1.50 per credit, the CSU fee levy currently amounts to $36 per year for a student taking four classes per semester. The additional $0.25 would bring fees to $42 and generate approximately $160,000 for the CSU. If it passes in the referendum, the new fee would take effect Winter 2008.)
Chadi Marouf asked Caustagna why the CSU would ask for more money from students when it has already spent just under $200,000 on orientation this year.
In answer, Caustagna stressed the importance of orientation activities which, she said, provide the strongest links between students and campus life.
Stewart added that the CSU fee levy hasn’t changed since 2001, and that the existing budget does not account for inflation or rising operational costs in general.
In a later interview, Caustagna told The Concordian the figure $200,000 was out of context.
According to Caustagna, the CSU only paid $30,000 toward the costs of orientation. Another $85,000 was covered by subsidies from the administration’s New Student Program, which allocates funds for any orientation-related activities initiated by student groups. A further $25,000 was brought in from fundraising by the CSU during the summer.
“I do the books and I don’t even see $200,000 anywhere,” she said.
The campus-wide referendum, which includes the question of whether to increase the CSU’s fee levy, will take place next month on Nov 27, 28 and 29.
All discussion breaks down
Shouting matches continued to break out within the conference room – specifically over a petition for a General Assembly.
The petition consists of 270 signatures from students in favour of a GA on Oct. 25. The assembly’s purpose is to hold a vote on whether students would agree to participate in a general province-wide strike to protest the rise of tuition fees in Quebec.
Rodier changed the date to Oct. 29 – the Monday after the date requested by the petition – because she had a midterm exam. The place and time will be 11 a.m., at H-110 in the Hall Building.
Furious, three members of the audience stood up and berated Rodier for changing the date.They said this change would likely result in a lower turnout and the GA risked being de-legitimized. The petition’s organizers say students would have to be re-informed about the time of the meeting.
As shouting matches broke out, security was called in for a second time to confront Marouf and Cox. When the two refused to leave, Rodier threatened to call the police.
The issue of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus was added to the agenda at the last minute by Molly Haigh, an Arts and Science councillor. The council voted unanimously to look more seriously into whether existing bathrooms on campus could be converted to a gender-neutral standard.