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End in sight for judicial blackout

by Archives November 13, 2007

The next Concordia Student Union council meeting will see the introduction of at least ten candidates for the Judicial Board. Filling the positions would mean an end to a four-month stint when both the Executive and council operated without the judiciary wing of student government.
Roughly equivalent to the relationship between the Supreme Court and Canada’s Cabinet and Parliament, Concordia’s Judicial Board (JB) reviews Council’s and the Executive’s decisions.
Rawan Hadid, currently the sole JB, explained: “If there’s any contestations on any decisions made [by Council or the Executive], the Judicial Board is supposed to render a decision. It’s supposed to interpret the bylaws and render a decision based on those bylaws.”
Hadid asked why it has taken so long for the Executive to address the issue. When one member graduated over the summer, the JB was down to two members and couldn’t rule on any decisions. The CSU’s bylaws require the JB to have a minimum of three members.
“People come to us asking us to make decisions about things and we haven’t been able to because we don’t have enough people,” said Hadid. “Disagreements do occur, especially during elections and an impartial body has to make those decisions.”
Former CSU councilor Fady Abdallah deplores the situation. He was recently ejected from his position on council by the CSU’s Chair Sarah Rodier on the grounds “he was not a member of the union” because he isn’t registered in any classes for the fall semester. He said he can’t contest his ejection because the JB isn’t functioning.
“The Judicial Board [requested] for the nominees a long time ago . . . I cannot contest my [ejection] because of this issue,” he said.
He added that with the absence of the JB, the Unity Executive is working with the chairperson to exploit the situation.
“If it’s Go councilors, it’s okay [to eject them], if it’s not Go councilors, then it’s not okay,” he said.
“It was a disaster,” he said, referring to a decision by last year’s council to overrule the JB regarding the legitimacy of Unity councilors Steven Rosenshein and David Kogut.
Rosenshein and Kogut kept their positions despite a ruling by the JB they were ineligible to run as independent councilors. “The Judicial Board’s decision should have been respected,” said Abdallah.
According to Hadid, the Board has been asking for new members since August. CSU President Angelica Novoa said the problem has been a lack of applicants. “It’s a matter of students not really applying to volunteer positions at the CSU. It’s a problem that we see all across the board . . . whether it’s the Judicial Board or council or anything else like that. Since September, we’ve been postering for this and advertising for it and waiting for people to apply,” said Novoa.
CSU councilor Andrew Fernandez says the Executive, who is responsible for seeking out applicants, has not been trying hard enough.
“It has been a very, very long time, that many positions on the Judicial Board have been vacant and I’ve noticed that there has been no great rush to advertise to fill them,” said Fernandes.
However, Hadid said the problems with the Judicial Board go beyond its lack of members. The Board’s office was moved to the Loyola campus this fall and the Board was left without a computer or a phone. Moreover, the Board’s paperwork went missing during the move.
Novoa seemed surprised when told of the situation. “I thought it was set up already . . . there’s been some hiccups in the process,” she said, adding she was thought the JB already had a computer in their office. She said the missing equipment will be provided for Hadid and any future members.
Novoa admitted that communication between the Board and the Executive has completely broken down.
“I don’t even know where they’re at and how many members are on the Judicial Board right now, I know we have to appoint some, but I don’t even have the accurate number. The judicial board members haven’t come to see me this year, I don’t know anything about them . . .I don’t have their contact info.”
The lack of communication is being felt by the JB also. Last May, the Board lost all credibility when its decision to disqualify Steven Rosenshein and David Kogut as councilors was overruled by Council and the two were reinstated.
Hadid called the decision “disgusting.” However, she takes greater issue with the lack of communication.
“We weren’t informed, we weren’t invited to the council meeting, we weren’t asked to explain our decisions,” said the JB member. “We were informed that [we were overruled] by the student press. We couldn’t do much about it. We have to depend on the good faith of the Executive and the Council to actually enforce our decisions. It’s not like we have security forces . . . We make a decision and it’s up to the students to actually stick to them.”
Novoa says she’d like to work with the Board and hopes the issues can be worked out. “It’s a two-way solution to it, I haven’t heard from this year . . . there’s no way I can know about the problems if they don’t bring them up.”

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