Where in the world is Oliver Cohen?

The CSU elections undeniably present a heavy work load for their main organizer, chief electoral officer Oliver Cohen. With two large slates, four referendum committees and a team of election volunteers to take care of, it’s understandable that Cohen may not always be in his office, or quick to respond to phone calls and emails. Cohen has not been very accommodating to campus media, often getting back to requests for an interview at the last minute, if at all. While we’re not pleased with the situation, this year’s elections highlight a much more serious issue with the CEO: a lack of availability to election candidates and referendum committees. Members of both slates running in this year’s election have expressed their frustrations about being unable to reach Cohen, even on issues like sanctions which could seriously affect their campaigning. Members of CJLO, campaigning in favour of an increased fee levy for their organization, also struggled to reach Cohen for days with serious questions about their own campaign. There is no reason why either of those parties should ever have to wait for days at a time for answers that could ultimately affect their victory or loss in this spring’s elections. The problem may lie in the fact that the CEO, as a neutral party, is not accountable to anybody. When a councillor asked about the CEO’s behaviour at a recent meeting, the executives threw up their hands, saying “We don’t control him.” With certain executives running in the current elections, this makes sense. But Cohen and future CEOs should have someone keeping them in check. Maybe the CEOs of FASA, CASA and ASFA could step up to the plate? Regardless of the solution, we need a CEO who is completely dedicated to the process. ASFA’s CEO Nick Cuillerier provides a fantastic model, dedicating himself full-on to the job, responding to emails and calls within hours in most situations. This is the type of individual we need on the job, so that the elections come down to the votes of the students, and not the confusion of the candidates. And while we’re at it, more media availability would be nice too.

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If you were thinking that the all-mighty, all-male external governance review committee was too good to be true, well, you were right. Turns out fixing Concordia’s governance faults comes with a price tag: a cool $60,000.

The members who will be doing the work on this will be billing the university a few dollars; to be exact, they will each log $1,000 a day for up to 20 days of work. We thought only celebrities made that kind of money.

Concordia and the other Quebec universities got what they wanted last week – namely, large increases to tuition mandated by Finance Minister Raymond Bachand in the provincal budget. They’ve long asked for the money to close their looming debts, replace old infrastructure and refurbish and update programs to remain competitive. But while McGill and Laval, for example, might get new facilities or a small deficit with their windfall of cash, we can’t help but get the sinking feeling that our dollars are going towards paying to fix a school we didn’t break, and that should have never been broken in the first place.

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A big round of applause goes out to the councillors at Wednesday’s Concordia Student Union’s council meeting, or as we like to call it, March council meeting – take two. It was refreshing to hear councillors legitimately calling out the CSU with big financial questions, even if their efforts were a little misguided.

One councillor asked to know whether the CSU was audited annually. What a laughable question. If you are a member of the board of directors (which is effectively what council is – it’s like the board of a company or the Board of Governors for Concordia) and are supposed to hold the leadership accountable, how do you do a good job if you do not know what the organization’s basic checks and balances are? Great question, Councillor: the answer is yes, the CSU is audited annually.

Now, if you knew that, and saw that the CSU was forgoing the audit one year, or was having trouble with their auditor or documents, then you have to ask questions. Another councillor asked whether there were quarterly statements, like the ones companies issue – great suggestion! Keep up the proactive work.

With one council meeting left on the books in April, it’s great that some councillors are now stepping up to the plate and finally asking some productive questions. It’s nice to see that they’re catching on to what their job entails.

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