The Fusion slate has won a landslide victory over Community in last week’s Concordia Student Union elections. The slate, headed by current vice-president services and Loyola, Prince Ralph Osei, won with 73 per cent of the vote, compared to 27 per cent for Community. Concordia students also voted to leave the Canadian Federation of Students, with 72 per cent voting against continued membership in the national student lobby group. Fusion also managed to pick up 26 of the 30 seats on CSU council, with Community winning three. Fusion also won all the undergraduate seats on the university Senate and both seats on Concordia’s Board of Governors.
“It’s a great night for us,” said Osei, while celebrating with his slate. “I think students saw the work the CSU has already done so far this year, and want to see it continue. And I welcome all students to help make our CSU work, and be one of the best from across the country.”
For Mike Xenakis, the presidential candidate for Community, said he was disappointed for the result. “I was surprised by how low [our vote count] was,” said Xenakis, although he said he wasn’t surprised he didn’t win.
Voter turnout was down from last year, with only around 3,200 out of 33,571 eligible undergrads voting, for a turnout of slightly less than 10 per cent. Last year, over 4,000 students voted. The election, unlike last year’s bitterly disputed election, proceeded very smoothly, according to chief electoral officer Oliver Cohen. The only hiccup provided by Thursday’s gas leak which forced the closure of Loyola campus, but Cohen said they were able to work quickly with security to secure the boxes. Voting at Loyola was extended to Friday. The results will be made official once the contestation period expires on Friday.
The vote was not without one major disappointment for Fusion, however. A significant point of their platform was getting the long-awaited student centre up and running within a year. This, however, was dependent on the passing of a referendum question which asked students to raise their contribution to the project from $2.00 per credit per semester to $4.50 per credit. That question was decisively defeated, with 2381 students voting against the fee levy increase and only 915 voting for it. The move means the CSU will not have enough money either to buy the building this year or pay for a long-term mortgage for the planned $43 million purchase. “Students have spoken,” said Osei. “It means we will have to go back to the drawing board.”
Alex Oster, the current Concordia Student Union VP of sustainability and services, said he would be meeting with university officials later in the week to discuss what would happen. “We’re going to have a brainstorming session and figure out what our options are.”
For now, the student union simply doesn’t have the money. The agreement between the CSU and the university administration stipulates that the CSU must make an initial investment of $10 million, and as of February it only had $6.52 million. The increased fee levy would have given the CSU $10 million by October, but at current rates of enrolment and at the current $2 per credit fee levy, it will take until fall 2012 to reach that amount. Oster stresses that date is “very volatile and could change. It depends on enrolment, too, and this year for example our enrolment went up.” For now though, unless another fee levy is passed in the fall, or next spring, it seems plans for the student centre may have to scaled back over the long-term from the current plans of a six-storey, 4,000 square metre building.
Xenakis had criticised Fusion during the campaign for building part of their platform on something that was dependent on a fee levy.
Cinema Politica, which shows activist and left-leaning films at Concordia every week, barely won their referendum vote, by only 15 votes out of a total of 3,333 cast on that question, despite only wanting a raise from two to seven cents a credit. The decision to award them the fee levy stood after a recount found they won by 22 votes. “We are a little surprised the margin was so close but we feel the overwhelming VOTE NO campaign that covered the entire campus regarding the CFS referendum question may have had the effect of blanket no votes. Given such a climate and the fact that all the other fee levy questions failed, it is an empowering moment for Cinema Politica Concordia.”
A proposed raising of Le Frigo Vert’s fee levy from 25 to 37 cents per credit was narrowly defeated by 53 per cent of students who voted. Xenakis, also a board member of the co-op food store, said it would put Le Frigo Vert into hard times. “We’re going into damage control mode. We’re not going to be able to expand the services we wanted to expand or set up a delivery service to Loyola. Some of the collective members of the staff are also going to have to be laid off over the summer.”
– Amy Minsky and Evan LePage contributed reporting to this story