After a fraught 18 hours after news broke that both of the slates running in the 2011 CSU elections were disqualified, the April council meeting took place with almost nary a mention of the unprecedented decision. Chief electoral officer Oliver Cohen, who put out the decision late Tuesday night, was not present at the council meeting.
Before presenting her presidential report, CSU president Heather Lucas issued a statement on behalf of her executive that highly criticized Cohen’s move.
“It is shocking and unfortunate that the CEO has made the decision to disqualify both slates, as it makes a mockery of the CSU, and ultimately does a disservice to the most important people at this university, the students.”
She reminded meeting attendees that any recourse would not happen through the council or the executive.
“Please don’t believe for a second that any of us will have a hand in any of the rulings,” she said. “We can only hope that the judicial board will render a decision that is in the best interests of the 30,000 students at Concordia.” As if following Lucas’ lead, there were no discussions about the disqualifications at council.
Speaking after the meeting, current councillor and, up until late Tuesday night, president-elect Lex Gill stated that she and rival Khalil Haddad would be filing a grievance with the judicial board about Cohen’s ruling. After the meeting, she confirmed that they would be filing within the five juridical day limit to speak out against the CEO’s decision.
Gill also motioned to establish the CSU annual general meeting on May 9 and have Cohen present a report to the CSU.
Many disqualified candidates, either elected or defeated at the polls, showed up at the council meeting, including several current councillors and students-at-large like Haddad and ex-VP sustainability and promotions Morgan Pudwell. The entirety of the meeting proceeded as usual, ending in under three hours.
Cohen disqualified all the candidates on both Action and Your Concordia in separate emails late Tuesday night, citing violations to postering, polling procedures and campaigning rules, among other regulations. However, the exact details of the violations were not released. In addition, YC candidates have been banned from holding or seeking office for the next two years. The slate was accused by Cohen as having submitted false election expense reimbursements. No one, including candidates, have been able to contact Cohen since he sent out the ruling.
Four independent candidates were the only ones to not be disqualified by Cohen . Former arts and science councillor hopeful Alex Matak was present at council. She played down any suggestions that she might be able to take the seat she lost two weeks, citing that her big concern is the democratic process and that students’ voices are heard.
“I’m most interested that the way students voted shines through,” Matak said, adding, “I didn’t get elected, and that’s fine, but the most important thing was that the democratic process is honoured.”
Lex Gill was voted by acclaim onto the presidential search committee to replace interim president Frederick Lowy. The Board of governors secretary Danielle Tessier specified to Lucas that the one student member must be a current councillor, but did not set a timeline for the committee.
VP Loyola Hassan Abdullahi will be writing a presentation to the external governance review committee on behalf of undergraduate students. He stated it will urge the university to allow students more say in governance. Some councillors encouraged students to submit their own opinions to the BoG secretary. Abdullahi stated that he will make his comments open to students before he submits the the extended deadline on May 2.
Council first rejected a motion to match fundraising by first-year club Humanitarian Affairs at Concordia University. The organization is sending 13 students on a trip to a leadership symposium and refugee camp; the total cost for expenses, including fees, flight costs and medical and school supplies for distribution at the camp is almost $38,000. HACU asked council to grant the group $5,000 to match their fundraising efforts. Had the CSU made the donation, it would have defrayed $380 from each student’s total cost to $2,121.54.
Most councillors spoke out against the motion, citing concerns that the costs would impact too few students. HACU founder and 2010 trip participant Teresa Seminara spoke in favour of the motion, highlighting that the students on the trip would return to the campus and spread what they had learned to other members of the student body.
Councillor Michaela Manson shared those concerns. “It just doesn’t seem to be justifiable to give $5,000 for13 people to participate, where you could put $5,000 locally and achieve a lot more,” she argued.
VP Loyola Hassan Abdullahi said he was concerned that the fact that HACU did not apply to financial committee for funds was setting a precedent for clubs who skip applying to fincom or special project funding and go straight to the CSU for support.
VP finance and clubs Ramy Khoriaty added that the clubs budget, which has $2,000 remaining, would not be able to accommodate the cost. The motion failed with no votes in favour of the motion.
But towards the end, Khoriaty motioned to cover the costs of the medicine. Finally, council voted to award $575 to HACU to cover the cost of the medicine.
The Hive is set to open by fall 2011. Meanwhile, fine arts students will present their designs for the Loyola student space next week. VP Loyola Abduallahi said a soft launch is being prepared for this spring.