The Concordia Student Union council respected the will of approximately 150 students who attended an Informational General Meeting last month and passed five motions approved by those students on issues ranging from fighting tuition increase to regulating credit cards on campus. A sixth motion regarding the creation of an ad-hoc student centre and student space committee introduced by councillor Lex Gill, at the behest of the IGM attendees, was also passed.
While each motion was successfully passed with few dissenting, the discussion of the motions was one which highlighted tensions between councillors.
After all of the motions were introduced, independent councillor Ethan Cox moved that all six be passed omnibus but councillors voted this down.
“Last month was bad enough, guys. You clearly went against the will of the students. Everybody knows that, it was demonstrated quite clearly at the IGM and quite frankly by the number of people sitting in this room right now,” Cox replied, referring to how the CSU council responded to the firing of Judith Woodsworth. “If you don’t approve every motion that was passed by our students who elected us at an IGM I will resign in protest from council on the spot […] There’s no question that we have an absolute obligation to pass what was put to us by our students. The insanity of the people’s conception of democracy in this room is beyond belief.”
Councillor Menachem Freedman replied to his comments by asking the chairperson to request all councillors avoid “pejorative comments and rhetoric.” Freedman also explained why he voted against the omnibus motion, saying “We’ve never seen these motions before. I think it’s our responsibility to the students to hear each one of them individually so we actually understand what we’re voting on and passing.” This statement was echoed by multiple other councillors.
Tension among councillors peaked when representative Stephen Brown said “I believe that by looking around, people are growing tired of your belligerence, Ethan. We all respect the will of the students. Personally I’m not going to sit here all night […] while you berate us and pretend that somehow you’re more democratic than we are.” Cox responded with a point of personal privilege stating “I would like the chair to restrain members from personally attacking me please.”
A technical malfunction caused a break in discussion and actually served to calm council, with all motions passing relatively quickly afterwards, with a few minor amendments to the wording.
Notably, council passed a motion which mandates the CSU to call for the resignation of all external Board of Governors members. This stricter stance was rejected by a majority of councillors at the council meeting in January, where they instead called on only those board members who had exceeded their terms to resign.
Cox also followed this discussion with a motion of his own. He moved that any representative who does not comply with part of a motion which called on student representatives on the board of governors and senate, whom they listed by name, “to represent forcefully and persistently to the bodies they sit on,” be asked to resign by the CSU. Some councillors and VP Loyola and advocacy Hassan Abdullahi vehemently opposed the motion, calling it redundant and unenforceable. Pointing out that those in question could not be forced to resign, Cox and supporting councillors responded that the CSU calling on them to do so would act as a symbolic fail-safe, pushing them to follow through on actions they have been mandated to complete.
After a lengthy discussion, Cox’s motion failed in a close vote, 10 to eight.
The meeting was well-attended by students at large, many of whom were at the IGM, as well as organizers of the WHALE day of action who spoke out in favour of the motions. These students also spoke on behalf of WHALE and asked everyone at the CSU to increase their participation in the event and use all the resources available to them to increase awareness about it. With the strong support of certain councillors like Lex Gill, council approved a motion mandating the CSU to contribute $1,900 to the WHALE event, matching the Graduate Students’ Association’s contribution.