Allegations of electoral fraud took centre stage at the Concordia Student Union (CSU) November council meeting last Wednesday but the issue was postponed by councillors until next month’s meeting.
The controversy dates back to last spring when the Judicial Board (JB) ruled that the councillors-elect, Steven Rosenshein and David Kogut, had not been properly nominated for the election. The JB stripped the two of their seats and barred them, “from ever running in CSU elections again.” However, the Judicial Board was in turn over-ruled in a special meeting on Apr. 26 by last year’s council, a council which Rosenshein was the Chairperson.
The party in power, UNITY, set up a series of delay tactics to impede the opposition, Go!Concordia (GO) from re-opening the drawn-out issue prior to the meeting. A motion brought to the table by GO councillor Matthew Forget – calling on the Council to uphold the original Judicial Board decision to eject UNITY councillors Steven Rosenshein and David Kogut – was removed from the agenda by Council Chair Sarah Rodier on the grounds that the issue had already been settled.
Observing the proceedings on the sidelines Wednesday was student Ethan Cox who lost the election last year to Rosenshein, and now believes the seat is rightfully his. As a response to Rodier’s dismissal of the motion, Cox yelled for councillors to “defeat the agenda” of the council meeting until Forget’s motion was put back on it.
And that’s what they did as they refused to approve the agenda for the night – technically adjourning the meeting before it had even begun. Leaving members of the executive to argue with students observing the meeting.
As Council attempted to resume discussion CSU President Angelica Novoa and Cox continued to argue across the room. VP Communications Noah Stewart pleaded for order, “You don’t just start yelling over everyone else, you don’t bully people into listening to you.you say you want dialogue. Coming to the meeting and yelling at people, that is not dialogue,” he said to Cox.
Included in Forget’s motion are sworn statements signed by former councillors Antonio Alfonso Jr. and Nicholas Bleser, which claim they were not informed of the special meeting in April. According to the CSU By-laws, all councillors must be notified of a meeting in order for it to be legitimate. Forget charged that Rosenshein had chaired the meeting himself, to which Rosenshein said: “that’s a total lie, one of many you’ve told tonight.” Rosenshein declined to comment for this story.
But CSU President Angelica Novoa said that the fact that some members were not informed should not be grounds to overturn the decisions. “According to the by-laws then this meeting should not be happening either because I’m sure that somebody did not get the e-mail about this thing because it happens with e-mails all the time.”
UNITY executives and councillors – including Novoa and Stewart – were forced to admit however that the minutes of that meeting had gone “missing.”
“I have a lot of evidence here as to why we should enforce the Judicial Board decision, and as far as I know there’s no evidence to why we shouldn’t enforce the decision,” said Forget.
Ultimately cooler heads prevailed, “This is the one topic that we always have to deal with,” said GO councillor Julien Morency-Laflamme. “I’m not asking you to vote yes, I’m asking you that we discuss it to put an end to all of this . . . we don’t this is what Concordia politics will be for all year, people yelling . . . I thought about it and I wanted to laugh at us, this is a big joke . . . we can put an end to all those debates by just talking about it as decent human beings.”
His address was greeted with applause from the audience.
Laflamme then challenged the chair to add the motion to the agenda, and with a vote of six to four it was brought back to the meeting.
As council voted to address Forget’s motion after the agenda was approved, Stewart attempted to delay the accusations again by bringing pre-scheduled presentations ahead of Forget’s motion.
But it was to no avail since Forget’s motion had been brought up at a previous meeting and was not addressed, and was declared as “unfinished business.”
According to CSU by-laws, the motion must be at the top of the agenda.
The two sides came to another stalemate when it was time to discuss the motion. GO councilors argued that Rosenshein should be barred from voting because it concerns him specifically.
Chairperson Rodier dismissed the concerns however, declaring it was not a conflict of interest and Rosenshein should be allowed to vote. Despite the objections of opposition councillors, the council voted in favor of Rodier.
Though Go councillors hammered away with the accusations against Rosenshein and Kogut, the UNITY slate who held them off as they brought a new motion to the table to re-examine the evidence – requiring JB chairperson Tristan Teixeira to present a detailed report of the JB decision made last Spring.
There was none ready to be presented at the meeting however, as nobody told Teixeira that the issue would have been brought up at the meeting – the next opportunity for council to review the report will be in the next council meeting of December.
Go councillor Forget expressed his concern over this decision however. He said that a December council meeting might not meet quorum as it falls close to exam time, thus the motion to delay judgement over Rosenshein and Koguts’ seats on council could be delayed even further.