Backlash over procedure from council

Photo by Marilla Steuter-Martin

A lack of communication and failure to follow procedure is interfering with the production of the Concordia Student Union once again.

Various changes to the organization’s bylaws are in danger of disappearing should they not be included during the general elections as a referendum question.This process not only went undone, but also went unnoticed until Judicial Board Chairperson Nick Cuillerier brought it to the attention of council last Wednesday.

The oversight could mean that revisions to bylaws ‘I’ and ‘J,’ and a modification to bylaw 10.2, fall flat before they were ever truly recognized. Bylaw ‘I’ was changed to reference bylaw ‘J’ to provide a committee to oversee the spending of the student centre fund.

The executive did not realize the implications until it was brought forth after Cuillerier saw a notice of polls poster at Concordia the same evening.

The mistake, while VP clubs and internal Nadine Atallah promised it would be quickly rectified, garnered backlash from council.

“This is a huge dereliction of duties,” said Councillor Chad Walcott. “I want to know what happened to let you screw up to such a massive degree.”

The executive did not have a clear answer as to why the notice requirement was never done other than it was an error.

As the notice requirement was not fulfilled, the CSU used a notwithstanding clause under the standing regulations since the changes were not announced in the postering.

“Any ordinary motion, resolution or regulation who derogates from the code can only be adopted with a clause stating that the motion operates regardless of the code of standing regulations. The clause must state which article(s) are not to be applied towards the motion. Such motion requires a 2/3 majority vote and will cease to have effect 4 months following its approval,” standing regulation 267 reads.

This allows the revisions to the bylaws to be put to referendum and the executive was mandated through a motion to issue an email to the undergraduate student body to inform them of the question before 6 a.m. Thursday morning but has to yet to do so.

Missing report, missing meetings

A Senate report from VP academic and advocacy Hajar El Jahidi was missing from the documents presented to council last Wednesday. Councillor James Vaccaro asked for the report but El Jahidi was absent due to illness. However, since Vaccaro and Senator Chuck Wilson were both present, they quickly went over the details of the last Senate meeting.

It also came to light that El Jahidi, since taking her mandate in November, has yet to attend any Steering Committee meetings. The total number of meetings is now at five, three of which El Jahidi was part of the executive for and has missed.

Speaking to The Concordian, El Jahidi said that her absences were unfortunate but were out of hands as factors including IT problems and sickness prevented her from being present for Senate and steering committee meetings.

“For steering committee I was very unfortunate as I haven’t been able to attend. For the first meeting I was out of town but I sent my regrets, and for the second one I was sick and I couldn’t make it,” she said.

El Jahidi also said omplaints about her absences were never brought to her prior to being aired elsewhere such as at CSU meetings, and that despite difficulties attending meetings she had made an effort to keep up with Senate and steering committee events.

“I’ve been keeping in touch with what’s been happening at the steering committee,” she said. “I tried once to talk to the other person who was at steering, I think it was Chuck [Wilson], but he wasn’t that responsive.”

Conversely, Senator Chuck Wilson said that is not true.

“That is not true — no one knew,” said Wilson. “Danielle Tessier would specifically ask me, awkwardly, if I knew if Hajar was coming.”

Wilson said that he was sending updates on meetings since February.

“I’m really not sure where this is coming from,” said Wilson. “I’ve been trying to keep everyone aware of what’s happening at Steering, and I’ve never heard so much as a peep from Hajar about it.”

Part of the responsibilities of VP academic include the coordination and the chairing of meetings of the student academic caucus, as well as sitting on Concordia’s academic bodies.

A Senate report has yet to be filed.

More backlash

The same meeting produced remarkable tension throughout the room, this time aimed at Chairperson Jean-François Ouellet for not following procedure during council.

During multiple votes, Ouellet counted abstentions within the total number of votes — a process that violates Robert’s Rules of Order. An abstention, or the refusal to vote, is not technically supposed to influence the outcome of a vote.

Furthermore, council lost patience with Ouellet when he refused to acknowledge Councillor Gonzo Nieto’s challenge to the chair toward the end of the meeting.

Both Nieto and Walcott left shortly after the challenge was disregarded.


ASFA elections are back on

Graphic by Katie Brioux

After confirming last week that the general elections had been postponed indefinitely, Arts and Science Federation of Associations President Alex Gordon told The Concordian on Monday that the polling dates have now been set for March 5, 6 and 7.
The campaign period begins for a second time Feb. 29 and runs until Sunday, March 4.
Gordon said that the original dates following the postponement were in conflict with the Concordia Student Union’s nomination period for its general election and thus new dates had to be chosen.
The ASFA president admitted that the current dates are still in violation of the ASFA bylaws that state that the elections must not overlap with the CSU campaign period.
Despite ASFA’s commitment to adhering to its bylaws, Gordon said “the breaking of the bylaws is what has to happen right now.”
Due to “extenuating circumstances, we had no option but to push back the dates,” said Gordon. “This is the soonest we could properly get the elections running.”
Although there may be some confusion by the time students head to the polls in the midst of the CSU campaign period, Gordon is hopeful that there will be no negative impact on voters. He has been in communication with members of the CSU executives who have been “very sympathetic to the situation.”
The election was postponed due to procedural complications and a lack of communication since chief electoral officer Chris Webster resigned unexpectedly just before polling began on Feb. 15.
Gordon had emphasized since elections were first postponed that they were “definitely not cancelled,” but that “all voting that’s taken place so far has been voided.”
He went on to say that the complications, one of which was a technical issue with the computers at polling stations that didn’t allow students with minors in arts and science to vote, made it impossible for “procedure to be followed to the fullest.”
“We can’t legitimately count [the ballots],” he said.
Andrew Roberts, the president of the Geography Undergraduate Student Society, an ASFA member association, feels that the technical difficulties “truly shouldn’t have gotten by.”
“Whether an oversight on the part of IT or on the election officers, the validity of voting hinged on this issue and is a primary reason for the delay,” said Roberts. “It can’t be overlooked in the future.”
Roberts called the postponement “sad but necessary,” and he is not the only member association representative that feels that way.
“It’s unfortunate that things happened that way but I am glad ASFA did not turn a blind eye and pursue the election regardless,” said COMS guild co-president Renée Tousignant. “We would rather have a fair election than a shady one that would see all ASFA associations question the elected executives next year. Overall, we are glad it’s been dealt with that way.”
Former ASFA CEO Nick Cuillerier said Webster’s resignation was partly to blame for the delay.
“We need responsible people who want to take on big projects,” Cuillerier said. “It starts with getting people who are interested in student politics to get more involved on the administrative side.”
Cuillerier went on to say that he hopes future CEOs understand the responsibility that comes with the position. “Sometimes being CEO can be a thankless job and we need to make sure they get the credit they deserve,” he said.
The three deputy electoral officers will continue to oversee the process, advised by VP internal Schubert Laforest. ASFA DEO Luke Gerald added that the DEOs were looking into hiring someone with more electoral experience and a better understanding of the process involved in order to help them run the general election.
One of the reasons Webster was said to resign as CEO was because he disagreed with a decision rendered by ASFA’s judicial committee. The decision was regarding executive candidate Eric Moses Gashirabake’s desire to switch positions during the original campaign period in early February.
In its statement released on Feb. 16, the JC found that Gashirabake would be held responsible for “breaching the spirit of fair play during the course of the electoral process” for switching from VP internal to VP academic and Loyola affairs, a move that had originally been green-lighted by Webster.
Gashirabake wrote in an email to The Concordian that he plans to appeal the decision.
The JC ruling, issued before the postponement of the general election, stated that 65 votes would be docked from the total number of votes Gashirabake received and that one-fifth of his total campaign expenses would be revoked.
Chris Webster could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts to contact him.

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