Morgan Pudwell, VP sustainability and promotions for the CSU, has resigned, marking the fourth resignation of a CSU executive this academic year.
In her letter of resignation, sent out to CSU councillors, student media and other members of the Concordia community late last Thursday, Pudwell wrote “The union continues to move in a direction that directly conflicts with my values and this is a path that I cannot support.”
The remaining members of the executive have offered a different reason as to why they believe she resigned, however. “If she felt all this stuff from the beginning, why is she saying this a week before elections are happening?” said CSU president Heather Lucas. “Why not in January? Why not right before the new semester begins? The timing is very sketchy.”
VP Loyola and Advocacy Hassan Abdullahi elaborated, saying “Ultimately, it is an opinion of ours that the series of unfortunate events that have occurred starting with her resignation are politically motivated ones.
“We feel that the CSU is being used as a battleground for petty politics, and as the CSU executives we’re duty-bound to uphold the integrity of the CSU so it does not get mingled into such behaviour,” he continued.
Pudwell agreed that it was politically motivated, “in the sense that this is an important time of year for students to start thinking about representation on campus and I think it’s important they know what representation has been pretending to be this year.” As for running, she would only say that she wanted to get involved in some way to make sure students interests were represented at Concordia, but that she had no plans as of yet.
But as for her reasons for resigning, Pudwell reiterated that her confidence in the executive had been declining since the student centre campaign in November, and said that an executive meeting last Wednesday really sealed her decision to resign. “They basically went around the table and said they didn’t trust me,” she explained. “They went around the table and said they didn’t think I did my job and […] they sort of criticized my involvement with other student leaders on campus.”
Lucas presented a very different picture of that meeting, saying that “We had basically hashed everything out; we had talked about our issues that we had, and we talked very frankly and openly, and there was no indication about her resigning or her leaving the team.”
“She was a part of the team; we considered her a part of the team. She was a part of the family,” she added.
But the feeling wasn’t shared. “I think it got so bad that I couldn’t address it in any other way but resigning,” Pudwell said. “As much as I tried to say that this is a two-way street and we should all be working on things, it sort of always felt like it was everyone against me.”
What started off as a group of eight executives has dwindled down to a group of five, and one thatÂ looks much different than the Fusion slate elected by students last spring. First, VP finance-elect Nikki Tsoflikis resigned before ever even entering office. She was followed by the surprise resignation of president Prince Ralph Osei who left his seat to pursue higher education in Europe. Then last month Tsoflikis’ replacement Zhuo Ling resigned citing the time commitment.
But none of those executives left in as conflictive a fashion as Pudwell.
In her letter of resignation, the former VP goes on to highlight various areas in which she disagreed with, or was unhappy with the course of action taken by the CSU and its executive.
The controversy regarding the student centre was one such area, as Pudwell asserted that she was “lead to believe that the executive had been working to change the exploitative currently existing contract with the administration,” but that the changes to the contract, and serious efforts to consider alternatives to the Faubourg, were not made.
VP external and projects Adrien Severyns disagreed. “During the campaign, and prior to the campaign, I sat down with her on a couple of occasions and spoke with her and asked her if she had any concerns and if she wanted to talk about specific points regarding the campaign or contract.”Â But he said she did not express any concerns until right before the voting period, something Pudwell explaining saying she simply trusted the other executives but became alarmed following newspaper articles and many student complaints. She also said she was then simply pressured to support the executive on the issue.
Former CSU president and student Board of Governors representative Amine Dabchy’s involvement in the CSU was also called into question by Pudwell in a section of her letter titled “Questionable Alliances.” She wrote that he has “clearly disregarded the needs of students” on the Board and has failed to follow CSU bylaws and report to council. According to Pudwell, Dabchy had clear influence over the executive, shown by his ability to call an executive meeting despite no longer being an executive, and the tendency of certain Board members to relay messages to students trhough him rather than directly through current president Lucas.
Dabchy released his own statement in response to the allegations, saying that he attended a council meeting to report on the situation and was open to questions, among other things. As for the CSU, Lucas said Dabchy “is on his own. He has no influence on this executive.” She also added “We’re friends and I’m not going to apologize for my friendship with Amine Dabchy.”
Pudwell also said she has spoken to someone who was approached by Heather and subsequently brought into meetings with Dabchy in regards to forming a team to run in the upcoming CSU elections. “There’s been a few people come forward saying that they’ve been approached by other executives to be on this team,” she said. “I’ve heard from a few people that they’re involved in some way or another.”
Lucas vehemently denied these allegations and any personal involvement in forming a team. “This is absolutely not true. I’m busy with two portfolios, I take two classes, I don’t give a shit. I have no time for that,” she said.
Other areas of concern cited by Pudwell in her letter included “University Governance,” “Potential Financial Mismanagement,” and “Lack of Trust and Respect.”
Ultimately, Pudwell wrote “I hope that my resignation will encourage the current CSU to re-evaluate their actions, and to turn back to the students. We are all implicated in these failures; the CSU is only as strong as its members, and we must continue to expect more.”
While the CSU was not willing to accept her allegations, Abdullahi did say “I think we can be held accountable on one aspect of this entire thing. And that is not being able to resolve our differences at this table. It’s really unfortunate that this event turned out to be made into a broad public event. We really believe that we could have resolved this issue.”
Most of Pudwell’s accusations were denied in a letter sent out by the remaining CSU executive the day of her resignation. In that letter, the executive also wrote that they hoped Pudwell will attend this week’s CSU council meeting, which she has confirmed that she will be doing.
For the rest of the year her portfolio will be split between Andres Lopez (promotions) and Abdullahi (sustainability).