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by (letters to the editor) November 29, 2011

Demand Knowledge: Vote NO for the CSU bylaw changes

Today Concordia students will be going to the polling stations and casting their votes in the annual CSU byelections. There are many interesting and important questions on the ballot like the increased fee levy for CJLO and CUTV and the position of the CSU in regards to tuition hikes and accessible education.
One question seems to fall between the cracks. Its importance is marginalized and its repercussions unexplained.
This question is, does the student body wish to change their bylaws to a new set of bylaws that were penned primarily by current CSU President Lex Gill?
I’ve already probably lost most readers by this point. Who cares about bylaws?
Well that seems to be the assumption of the CSU since there has been no serious attempt to educate the student body about these bylaws and changes. Our bylaws are like our constitution. They are changed once every decade and should not be tampered with lightly, and without all the information available to students. The CSU has posted the “new and revised” bylaws on their website as if they had already passed referendum, and they removed the current bylaws so no student could access them. I find this to be unacceptable.
A student named Ace Szmolyan started a Facebook page where he provided all of the missing documentation to students. His unofficial “NO” campaign is called “Demand Knowledge: Vote NO for the CSU bylaw changes” and it was the first place where students could get their hands on the old bylaws, the new bylaws and the proposed changes.
The CSU then scurried to launch a very weak “YES” campaign trying to divert the attention of students from the negligence and incompetence of their executive team by telling us how “cool” the bylaw changes are and filling the page with articles about tuition… anything to get out of an actual debate or discourse regarding the actual proposed changes.
In this upcoming byelection, please join me and hundreds of like-minded students in showing the CSU that if they want our support, they need to involve us, they need to inform us and they must not keep information from us. Vote NO for the bylaw changes.
And check out the unofficial No page to see the debate rage on!

Tomer Shavit

Vote Yes! for responsible governance, accountability and student empowerment

After several drafts and numerous lively discussions on CSU council, it is now time for Concordia undergraduates to vote on proposed changes to the CSU bylaws. As a member of the CSU council for two years I have seen the proposed amendments and have been privileged enough to be a part of this process. These changes will give more power to individual students to hold their elected representatives accountable.
These bylaws limit the powers of the executive of the CSU and in this way ensure better governance and accountability. According to the current CSU bylaws, the president could use a presidential decree to make decisions, bypassing CSU council which serves as the checks and balances of the union. The use of this decree has been abused in recent years when presidents were reluctant to call special council meetings. The new bylaws guarantee that a decree cannot be used to bypass council.
The proposed bylaw changes also simplify the procedure to remove an elected executive member from office by replacing the recall procedure by an impeachment procedure. The recall procedure has never been used successfully because the people in office could easily interfere and delay it long enough to finish their mandate. The impeachment procedure would allow students to replace an elected official that is not working in the best interests of students or not fulfilling his or her mandate. In this case, the person will have to leave office immediately after a vote takes place in a special general meeting duly called for that purpose.
The new bylaws also empower CSU council and individual students to keep the CSU executive in check. The frequency of council meetings has been increased to ensure the executive’s transparency and accountability due to their need to report to council, the media and to students at large in these public meetings.
I am thrilled to see this opportunity to promote and uphold direct democracy at Concordia. Quorum for special general meetings has been decreased from 2.5 per cent to 450 students (representing roughly 1.5 per cent as approved by the SGM at the WHALE in Feb. 2011). This will facilitate the calling of these meetings more frequently to consult students and so that they can make important decisions directing the union.
I hope that Concordia undergraduates will approve these changes so that going forward they can actively hold their elected representatives accountable to their mandate.
On Nov. 29, 30 and Dec. 1, I encourage YOU to empower yourselves! Vote YES! to the proposed changes to the CSU bylaws!

Melanie Hotchkiss
CSU arts & science councillor
School of Community, Public Affairs & Policy Studies

Get informed and vote yes

Dear Concordia students,

You are reading this letter today on the first day of an extremely important CSU byelection. I have written many letters in the past about CSU elections each one full of hope and promises – this byelection is possibly the most important culmination of all of these promises: an opportunity to finally institutionalize meaningful change in our union. This Nov. 29, 30 and Dec. 1 you have the opportunity to vote on an entirely reformed package of the CSU bylaws. These reforms mean a more accessible, representative, accountable and democratic union. I have spent the majority of my time at the CSU over the past three years pushing for reforms like these and am so excited to finally have a chance to give you the union you deserve.

Please, read the documents made available to you at elections.csu.qc.ca, get informed, and vote YES to bylaw reform.

Also, CUTV and CJLO are some of the most accessible and supportive groups in this community that I have had the honour of working with. Please vote yes to their referendum questions as well. I am confident that their expansion of services and resources will only strengthen our community.

With high hopes and great respect,

Morgan Pudwell
VP advocacy & outreach of the CSU
Chair of the CSU policy committee
Chair of the Yes committee

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