The judicial board of the Concordia Student Union unanimously voted to reinstate six formerly disqualified councillors elect following a public hearing on Monday, April 23.
The councillors were there to appeal the decision made by the CSU’s Chief Electoral Officer, Ismail Holoubi, which disqualified them for not filing their election expense reports on time.
The councillors present at the meeting were Rami Khoriaty, Charles Brenchley, Bella Giancotta and Ali Talhouni. Holoubi was absent from the hearing, as were formerly disqualified councillors Veryan Goodship and Johnny Alexandar.
Khoriaty insisted that the CEO was late to file the motion to disqualify the councillors and that communication between the councillors and Holoubi had been unclear.
“We didn’t have any receipts because we didn’t have any expenses,” said Khoriaty. “We had nothing to send to the CEO.”
After Holoubi disqualified the councillors on April 5 for failing to hand in their paperwork on time, the councillors requested to appeal his decision on April 11.
According to Khoriaty, some councillors did not receive emails from Holoubi regarding the expense reports, and those that did said each one was different.
“For seven people to make a mistake, it wasn’t us, it’s a mistake done by the CEO,” said Khoriaty.
Before the meeting was adjourned, councillors emphasized that they had all been acting in good faith.
“We did not commit electoral fraud,” said Brenchley.
Following the hearing, the board released a preliminary statement reversing the decision made by the CEO and reinstating all six councillors for the 2012 – 2013 academic year.
JB Chair Ceejay Desfosses resigned unexpectedly from her position the day before the hearing in an email sent to CSU Chair Nicolas Cuillerier.
Desfosses wrote that she would be unable to fulfill her obligations to the JB due to a lack of time since she will be “embarking on other endeavors.”
Two formerly disqualified candidates in the Concordia Student Union elections have been officially reinstated by the judicial board and have hit the ground running in the final days of campaigning.
At its March 16 meeting, the CSU’s judicial board ruled that A Better Concordia’s presidential candidate Schubert Laforest and VP academic and advocacy hopeful Lucia Gallardo should be allowed to participate in the elections, two weeks after being disqualified by the chief electoral officer when their student status came into question.
Laforest explained that his team had spent the weekend planning and that their focus was to “make up for lost time.”
He said that through intensive online campaigning, the release of individual candidate videos, and by maintaining a presence on campus, A Better Concordia would regain as much ground as could be expected.
“We need to coordinate as a team,” he said. “If we do that, we’ll be okay.”
Despite the setbacks suffered by his affiliation, “this experience has really brought the team together,” he said. “It’s taught us how we’re going to be operating in crisis situations.”
At the hearing, Gallardo and Laforest presented their case against the CEO Ismail Holoubi’s decision to disqualify them for not being registered students.
At the hearing, the affiliation presented evidence indicating that Gallardo and Laforest, both international students, had experienced procedural trouble with their visas and this was the cause for being temporarily unregistered.
“When you’re an international student, your status is volatile,” said Laforest.
Gallardo, who was in the process of transitioning between a short-term and long-term visa in early March, said that it was “a bureaucratic issue that was out of [her] control.”
Upon being notified by Holoubi on March 7 that they were not eligible to run, the two applied for temporary membership to the CSU, which they were granted by CSU council upon request. Temporary membership allowed them to still run in the election and participate in campaigning events.
The presentation of the cases for both sides at JB became fairly tense as the hearing progressed. At one point, one of the members of the board had to ask Holoubi to be more aware of his tone and “be nicer.”
Following the hearing, Laforest commented that “this has been a very arduous process,” and that he was looking forward to moving on.
“I feel I kind of lost out on the whole experience,” he said. “I had to spend all of my time dealing with this case as opposed to actually campaigning.”
Holoubi declined to comment further following the judicial board’s decision. Concordia Could Be’s presidential candidate Melanie Hotchkiss said that she was “unable to comment at this time seeing that the decision has yet to be rendered in writing.”
Polling for the elections was scheduled to take place March 20 to 22, but with the announcement that the university will be closed on March 22, the last day of polling will most likely be moved to Friday, March 23.
It was all about accusations and resignations at the Concordia Student Union council’s most recent meeting.
On March 14, judicial board member Nadim Kobeissi resigned following the very public discussion of his complaint concerning fellow JB member Shannon Thomas and the tension and lack of respect that he said exists between them. Kobeissi said that Thomas’ past behaviour towards him had been “insulting” and “passive aggressive,” making him feel unwelcome at meetings.
As council prepared to enter into closed session to hear the complaint, former CSU councillor Tomer Shavit declared that he would not leave the room and demanded to know whether the JB complaint affected him personally. Shavit went as far as to say that council would have to forcibly remove him if closed session were to be declared.
CSU President Lex Gill encouraged everyone present to remain calm, saying that no such measures would be taken.
“I would rather see this meeting adjourned than see security called on [Shavit],” she said.
It was decided that the JB’s complaint would be heard in open session. Kobeissi was visibly uncomfortable as he stated his case.
Kobeissi said that Thomas showed signs of “incompetence” and that he was driven to make this complaint “out of desperation.”
In an interview with The Concordian, Thomas explained that since she first became a member of the JB, she did not feel welcome. She said that she felt criticized by other members for not knowing as much about Concordia politics.
“There’s no requirement to be politically savvy,” she said.
Thomas said that it was difficult to learn the bylaws and procedures since there was no clear system of file organization and very little training going into the position.
“It was evident that [Kobeissi and JB Chair Ceejay Desfosses] were threatened by me,” she said.
Thomas also said that nothing was communicated to her directly, and that Kobeissi’s statements at council shocked her.
“[Kobeissi] didn’t come to the meeting with any evidence,” she said.
Shortly after making his complaint, Kobeissi addressed council again, informing the room that he had officially submitted his resignation to the JB.
“It’s unfortunate that people who are trying to push for integrity have to step down,” said Desfosses. “I refused to participate [in Friday’s hearing regarding the reinstatement of Schubert Laforest and Lucia Gallardo as CSU candidates] because I felt that everything was being done in bad faith.”
Desfosses said afterwards that there had been “a lot of animosity on the board [that] kept getting worse and worse.” She called it a “match of he said, she said” and emphasized that she stood by everything Kobeissi said at the meeting. Desfosses said that the board brought up the issue of Thomas’ attitude many times.
“Every time we try to address the issue, we get defensiveness and mocking sarcasm,” she said.
Kobeissi declined to comment further following his resignation.
The two candidates disqualified after one week into the Concordia Student Union general election campaign, A Better Concordia’s presidential candidate Schubert Laforest and VP academic and advocacy candidate Lucia Gallardo, have filed a request to the CSU’s judicial board asking to be temporarily reinstated.
Both candidates sent their requests just after midnight on Monday asking for their candidacies to be temporarily reinstated until the JB finds a resolution to the case. Gallardo and Laforest claim that if the outcome of the appeal rules in their favour, they would have unfairly lost several days of campaigning. They are also asking that chief electoral officer Ismail Holoubi review his decision to not put the candidates’ names on the ballots.
In addition to their disqualifications, the candidates were also “shocked” to find out about a leak of an “outdated and inaccurate version of [their] private student records,” according to an official statement sent by the affiliation.
The statement went on to say that the “origins of the private documents are currently being investigated by multiple parties. It was also indicated that the leak most likely came from a faculty or department member.”
“How can someone get this document if not from us and why was it leaked to the press?,” said Laforest. “These documents do not just contain grades, but also very personal information that should not be made public. We filed a report to security saying that our privacy has been breached by someone within the faculty administration.”
Laforest said the affiliation did not know who was behind the leak, but he said that the dean’s office and the registrar were working to find out what happened and how the information got out.
Both Laforest and Gallardo were made aware of the disqualification decision by the CEO on March 5 just before the beginning of poster night, preventing them from launching their campaign fully. In an email to The Concordian on March 13, Holoubi indicated that after verifying again with the dean of students on March 7, neither Laforest nor Gallordo were registered students.
In a March 10 email, Holoubi had said, “Both of these candidates are not taking any classes at Concordia this semester. Therefore they are not eligible to run.”
The affiliation responded by releasing a statement saying that “double major student Lucia Gallardo and honours student Schubert Laforest are both registered full-time international students at Concordia University.”
In Gallardo’s case, she explained that at the moment the CEO verified her student status, her short-term student visa was in the process of being switched over to a long-term student visa. But Gallardo maintains that she has always been a registered student.
Laforest explained that his student status was related to “financial aid,” but did not want to go into further details because of the pending judicial board hearing.
“The CEO was more concerned by meeting his deadlines than the actual bylaws,” said Laforest.
“That is also why there is an inconsistency between being disqualified and not being eligible and this also why we are arguing the case. What we know is that both [Lucia] and I are full-time registered students.”
Current CSU President Lex Gill pointed out that the decision to disqualify the two candidates was not Holoubi’s alone. She explained that for every general election, the CEO sends the list of candidates to the dean of students, who sends it to the the registrar to make sure the students are registered for classes.
“Both of these candidates are international students and sometimes people get de-registered in the process of change of immigration status, for example,” Gill explained.
Gill explained that if the appeal to the JB does not go through, the elections will still be held and no new candidates will be allowed to run in the A Better Concordia affiliation. If the positions are uncontested, students will have the choice to vote “yes,” “no,” and “abstain” for the presidential position.
The opposition affiliation, Concordia Could Be, lead by presidential candidate Melanie Hotchkiss, released a statement March 11, affirming their faith in the JB and respect for Gallardo and Laforest’s decision to appeal.
“We want students to continue to evaluate both affiliations, and we hope that they will support Concordia Could Be based on our merits,” read the statement.
The affiliation stated that they want the upcoming election “to be about candidates and platforms, not the Chief Electoral Officer.”
“For too long CSU elections have been marred by controversy,” continued the statement. “Faith in our student union has slowly been deteriorating, and we hope for a quick, fair, and honest resolution.”
The chair of the JB, Ceejay Desfosses, said she hoped members of the board would meet early Tuesday morning and that if there is a hearing concerning the case, it will be made open to the public. However, Desfosses said she was unable to judge on the length of time that is needed for the JB to make a decision.
As the Concordia Student Union campaign period progresses, The Concordian sat down with the 2012-2013 executive candidates from A Better Concordia. They were asked to discuss their strengths, platforms and goals for the next academic year. Voting begins March 20.
Interviews were conducted by co-news editor Joel Ashak.
Schubert Laforest — Presidential candidate (A Better Concordia)
Eligibility: This candidate was disqualified by the CEO and is in the process of appealing this decision to the CSU’s judicial board.
Strengths: Whatever I do, I endeavour to do it to the best and fullest capacities. I have been in student governance for a while being president of my student council in high school. I started running for member of the Linguistics Student Association and from there I was appointed to council by the executive. I ran for ASFA as VP internal and once I got it I realized there was so much I could do.
I believe in every one of the candidates on my affiliation and I believe in their abilities, I believe we have what it take to rework the system and make it as democratic and representative as possible.
Focus: The point that I have always been pushing for is sustainable governance. The perception of student institutions right now is relatively negative. Students think they are filled with people who are just trying to fill their CV. I want to change that perception and show them that these are students that are engaged because they care and because they want to induce changes in the community.
We really want to focus on direct democracy, especially with these big issues.
Tuition: Striking every five years is not the effective way to fight for accessible education. I think that it’s unfair to ask students to potentially jeopardize their academic standing in order to fight for this. Accessible education is a pride in Quebec. Being from the U.S., I know what it is to not have accessible education so I really want to see it preserved here. First, we need to do less “tag along” with the national student association and assert our role in the student movement. I want to work with students within the university to put pressure on the Board of Governors and the different levels of administration to implement these policy changes that will reshape the inner workings of the university.
ASFA elections debacle: To make things clear, what I do is make sure the CEO understands the legislation, so we are two separate entities. When it comes to the byelections, as much as I want to blame the CEOs and their incompetence in terms of how they decided to deal with things, I believe this is an institutional issue where the office is not structured properly. I did the best of my abilities to make sure things were done but at the end of the day, some decisions were theirs and theirs alone.
Student representation on governing bodies: I think that this seat is very important. We just saw that the university has been fined $2 million for administration mismanagement. That is just unacceptable and that is something a student representative won’t stand for. We need to make sure the university is accountable. As for our strategy, we need to rethink our strategy and abandon the hard line against governing bodies. We need to be more effective in using our voices. It’s not about numbers only. Once we find a way to be effective on the BoG, then we will be able to coordinate with other members to get our seats back.
Relationship between CSU and administration: The confrontational approach is clearly not working and we’ve seen it in the past year where the BoG is shutting down students and student representatives walking out of BoG meetings. I will never walk out of a BoG meeting. In my opinion, it’s unacceptable. The BoG mainly cares about their reputation and if we show that our projects will make Concordia more reputable, members of the BoG will be way more receptive toward students.
Andrew Roberts — VP sustainability
I want to put Concordia on the map for sustainability and work toward a future where we are true leaders and innovators in Canada. Strengths: For the past year I’ve been president of the Geography Undergraduate Student Society, and we are part of the geography planning and environmental program that has a mandate to promote awareness on environmental policies. I was also sitting on the sustainability committee representing ASFA where I helped organize Green Week. Focus: For me, orientation is the time to reach a massive audience of new students coming in. We need to work more on promotion, such as creating an updated sustainability website. I am up-to-date and aware of what is going on regarding sustainability on campus.
Stefan Faina — VP Loyola
I want to be the guy at Loyola that everyone can approach and trust to make their experience at Loyola amazing. Strengths: I’ve been at Loyola for five years and there is no other [CSU] position I’d rather have. I am the current president of the Concordia Undergraduate Psychology Association. Focus: I want to develop a spirit and a sense of community at Loyola. The campus has a lot of potential with its great spaces and people, but needs this spark that would give it the same energy as downtown. I want to bring back the winter festival to Loyola, to create a music festival in the quad and introduce movie events. I also want to encourage clubs to have a greater presence at Loyola. I want more events than just cultural nights at Loyola.
Simon-Pierre Lauzon — VP external affairs
I would like to improve communication between the CSU and the student groups by focusing more on our common goals than the different ways we campaign. Strengths: Part of my job as CSU councillor is to be part of the external committee so I’ve had my hands on almost everything involving CSU campaigning since my mandate started.
I’m a very direct person who’s not afraid to speak his mind. My strength is my creativity. I have ideas that have never been tried before and that’s what people expect of a VP external: different perspectives to deal with problems that are creative and original and effective. Focus: First, I want to start a mobilization campaign that goes outside of our national borders. We will be above and beyond tuition increases next year and I want to research and change the way we see education by cooperating with international groups fighting the same fight. Second, with VP academic and VP sustainability, I want to implement a student run research paper. The idea is to take the work that students are already doing in their classes but to touch upon topics that both satisfy class requirements and the campaign ran by the CSU. That way, everybody is involved and informed.
Lucia Gallardo — VP academic and advocacy
Eligibility: This candidate was disqualified by the CEO and is in the process of appealing this decision to the CSU’s judicial board.
I come from a lot of different experiences and that will help me bring something new. I’m a very passionate person. My portfolio is very close to me. Strengths: I am the VP social of Humanitarian Affairs at Concordia advocating for human rights, and women’s rights more specifically. Focus: My two main points are students in financial need and a sexual harassment policy on campus. I would centralize the information to not make students go from office to office to know what they’re eligible for in terms of financial need, and I want to work with the Simone de Beauvoir Institute to implement an effective sexual assault centre.
Keny Toto — VP finance
I am energetic, open-minded and a good team player Strengths: I have been the co-president of Concordia International Students Association and this year I have managed a budget of over $40,000. We’ve organized various events and worked in collaboration with the CSU and many other associations. Focus: I want to focus on the need of students and welcome their [suggestions] in the VP finance portfolio. I also want to break down the budget reports for every student to understand the reasons of the CSU budget variations. As for CUSACorp, I plan to tackle the management issue with control of inventories and improve marketing strategies through social media, notably. I also want to find other financial ventures to make CUSACorp more profitable, like increasing the number of ATMs on campus.
Alexis Suzuki — VP student life
I am passionate, hard-working and I just care a lot about Concordia and its students. Strengths: Being ASFA VP communications and promotions has helped me see first-hand how events are organized at Concordia. It’s always been a great interest of mine not only to organize events, but to facilitate student life in general, and to make sure students are presented with the opportunity to get involved in a positive way. Focus: My main focus would be collaborating with clubs and faculty associations to make sure both are incorporated in all aspects of student life. I want to be the liaison between these student groups and the CSU.
I am really excited to revitalize student life at Concordia, to reach out and get students involved. I also have a bit of a creative edge over my opponent, especially with my ideas of collaboration with the other executive candidates in my affiliation.
Nadine Atallah — VP clubs and internal affairs
I would love to establish an open relationship with every club and allow them to call me whenever they need something. Strengths: I am very dedicated to my commitments, especially when it comes to the student body. I have been on CSU council and I have never missed council because it’s my job to represent students. I am also VP external to both the Lebanese Student Association and [Humanitarian Affairs, Concordia University], the latter for the second year in a row. My experience will only turn into dedication to expose these clubs to more students and make their student life an enriching experience. Focus: [I plan to] introduce online voting to Concordia and implement regular general meetings open to every student in order to create a more direct democracy. Instead of having councillors voting for students, students would be able to vote and represent themselves.
We’re also looking into a strike referendum, one that would go on for three days and potentially be online in order to garner more student participation than a GA held during midterms at a specific time.
As for clubs, I realized that it is completely feasible to include clubs in every CSU event and therefore, get more students out to these events. Every student has a club out there for them.
As the Concordia Student Union campaign period progresses, The Concordian sat down with the 2012-2013 executive candidates from Concordia Could Be. They were asked to discuss their strengths, platforms and goals for the next academic year. Voting begins March 20.
Melanie Hotchkiss — Presidential candidate
Strengths: I was involved for more than two years in the Dawson Student Union, a year and a half as president where I managed over 20 clubs. At Concordia, I’ve been involved in the School of Community and Public Affairs for two years and I have been a member of the CSU council for the past two years. This year I was also appointed student representative on Senate by the CSU council.
The role of the CSU president is to oversee the affairs of the union and what sets me apart from my opponent is the experience I have in all types of portfolios, gained through my mandate at the DSU and my experience at Concordia at the faculty and departmental levels.
Focus: First, I want to develop a better communication strategy so the CSU can reach out to students. Our team came up with the idea of a CSU application that would be synchronized with our website so students can know what events are happening on campus. For that to work, we are planning an overhaul of the CSU website, improving the navigation and making information centralized and easier to access.
Second, a lot of space on campus is either not used to full potential or students just don’t know about them at all. One of the short-term solutions is to create a student space map so people know where space can be found. My third point is to have a research-based CSU. We want to have somebody at the office working all the time on researching Concordia issues and making sure this information is available to students, especially during major campaigns.
Position on tuition hikes: Personally, I am completely against tuition increases, but in terms of our team, we don’t have a consensus on whether or not there should be a strike. We do have consensus, however, that we should always consult students and provide them the tools to make an informed decision. We have such a variety of opinions on the matter that we will be able to inform and listen to students with multiple perspectives. We also want to work with the faculty and department associations more.
DSU resignation: After a year and a half as president, I found myself elected with a totally new executive who tried to impeach me when they didn’t even know me. Me leaving made sense at that moment because I didn’t want to run with a team that thought I was incompetent after I fought so hard to make the DSU accredited. In this context at Concordia, it’s completely different. I don’t know all the members from the other affiliation, but the ones that I do know, I have an immense amount of respect for. I’m really not worried about being elected with executives from the other affiliation.
Student representation on governing bodies: I absolutely disagree with the reduction of student representation on the Board of Governors. Student representatives will have to really put their foot on the ground next year and make sure students are voiced on the BoG and the Senate. The thing we would like to propose is to get the alternate student board representative to have the right to second a motion. Currently, if the only student voting member tries to pass a motion and doesn’t find anyone on the board to second it, the motion won’t even be discussed.
Relationship between CSU and administration: You can strive to have an amicable relationship while still holding the administration accountable. My opponent was talking about negotiating with the administration, and although I think we need to have a dialogue, there’s a huge difference between discussing and negotiating. Negotiation implies compromise, but the BoG should follow their own rules and be accountable to the university community.
Iain Meyer-Macaulay — VP sustainability
I sat on CSU council this year and we did a lot of events and I have a keen understanding of regulations and bylaws and won’t get trapped by them. Strengths: I grew up with nature and developed a deep love and respect for it. In the past year, I sat in on the Sustainability Action Fund’s board of directors and it gave me an in-depth understanding of the projects regarding sustainability at Concordia. Focus: Do research in the sustainability of The Hive and I want to push for smaller projects that are accomplish-able in a year such as integrating sustainability in student spaces and Concordia in general. I would implement an outreach and collaboration program to help faculty associations and student groups who want to integrate sustainability in their business models and their event hosting but don’t know how.
Cameron Monagle — VP external affairs
I would be a VP external that listens and collaborates and makes sure to be accessible to students. Strengths: I started to get involved after the international student tuition hike [in 2010] and since then I’ve had a fire under my butt. I have been on the Board of Governors, sat on CSU council, and I’ve been a member of the mobilization squad and organized a volunteer program called the Alternative Spring Break program. Focus: I want to work in collaboration with different student groups who are running their own campaigns and are doing a much better job than the CSU has ever done.
We’re 35,000 students and communicating with all of them is not an easy task. For tuition hike campaigns, a lot of students feel alienated, confused and uninformed. I think the key to improve this is to work with smaller student groups.
Lina Saigol — VP student life
Enthusiastic, positive and open. I’m also all about fun and wanting to learn. Strengths: It’s my fourth year at Concordia and I was able to see what is happening in the university. I was on the CSU’s events committee this year, I volunteered in most orientation events and I’ve been to all cultural nights. This gave me a good understanding of the structure of the CSU. Focus: I want to improve communication with faculty associations who have better lines of communications with the students. I think the key is to improve the relationship with them. I also want to increase the diversity of events around campus.
Stephanie Beauregard — VP finance
I am honest, personable, pay close attention to details and I am really passionate and determined. Strengths: I have been an assistant bookkeeper and worked as project manager in the music industry and I have handled large budgets for a long time. I have the academic experience with the hands-on job experience Focus: One of our main focuses in the affiliation is accessibility. I want to take the work the CSU has done this year in terms of transparency and accessibility of the budget and break it down for all students to be able to see it and understand what’s happening.
I also want to improve the communication between CUSACorp management and the CSU in order to improve business relationships and marketing campaigns at Reggie’s.
Chuck Wilson — VP academic and advocacy
When it comes down to it, I just love talking about educational policy Strengths: I have sat on Senate for the past year and so I have seen how changes happen from the department’s curriculum committee, to the Senate. I also have a good understanding of technology and that is really important with things like eConcordia and new learning platforms. Focus: I want to bring academics into the main focus of the CSU. We are students and when it comes down to it, there should be a bigger focus on academics. I want to increase the number of academic student spaces such as the Fine Arts studio and the Engineering lab.
I also want to work more with the faculty associations so they can feel like they are represented on the different academic bodies.
Jonathan Braziller — VP Loyola
I’m fun, collaborative, and ready to make campus as exciting as I know it can be. Strengths: I have a lot of experience with communication and conflict management, team management, and collaboration. I also understand how valuable it is to be transparent and promise things that are really feasible. Focus: I want to collaborate with the student body at Loyola to better develop things that have been started downtown. I also want to get a Hive coordinator who will deal with things that happen at Loyola in general. The coordinator would be stationed inside The Hive, having it open more often to make that student space utilized the way it should be. In order to involve Loyola students in CSU events, I would like to do more classroom visits, be more visible and collaborate more with the media at Loyola.
I really want to be outside, in the quad and literally introduce myself to the student body and say “Hi, I’m Jonathan, VP Loyola, what is it that I could do to make your day better?”
Museb Abu-Thuraia — VP clubs and internal affairs
I am new to council but I am very competent, I have a rich background in working with various associations. I also study marketing, which is exactly what VP internal and clubs does, promote events and attract people to them. Strengths: I am currently president of the Muslim Students Association. It gives me scope of what a student club actually means. Focus: As MSA president, it was tough at times to deal with the CSU given bureaucracy issues or lack of communication. I want to reach out to the clubs and simplify that relationship. It shouldn’t just be for finance or resources, or when there’s an issue.
What also gives me an edge is that I ran one of the largest clubs on campus. The amount of things that go through the MSA is incredible. Having this experience with the media, [President Lowy] the dean of students, it really gave me that scope in understanding the full picture.
With a turnout of about 30 students, the first of two Concordia Student Union general election debates started last Thursday in a civilized atmosphere.
Each of the A Better Concordia and Concordia Could Be affiliation candidates for president, VP external, VP sustainability and VP internal and clubs were gathered on the 7th floor of the Hall building to present their campaign platforms and answer students’ questions and concerns.
Candidates were notably asked to develop their campaign promises on issues such as Reggie’s continual deficit, student representation on governing bodies, student spaces and ways to improve the communication between the student body and the CSU.
“There was a lot of talking about collaboration and communication between different student groups, as well as about the tuition hike debate,” said A Better Concordia presidential candidate Schubert Laforest after the debate. “Students seem to be eager to make Concordia more cohesive and I think both affiliations felt that need.”
Although candidates for VP external were not debating that day, a repeated concern was the CSU candidates’ ability to represent students in major external campaigns. The debate took place a day after students gathered at a CSU general assembly voted in favour of a week-long strike against tuition hikes.
After it was pointed out that the candidates running in this general election would only be dealing with the aftermath of the tuition hikes debate, both affiliations admitted that this year’s CSU campaigning lacked communication with students and sometimes misrepresented them.
“Some groups were forced in taking a position they did not believe in in that debate,” said Concordia Could Be VP sustainability candidate Iain Meyer-Macaulay. “Faculty associations and departments play a large role in disseminating the information. It’s important to let these organizations who directly represent students know they have the opportunity to take position against a campaign.”
A Better Concordia VP sustainability candidate Andrew Roberts said that many students were not given the chance to have an open discussion with the CSU.
Laforest added that, in the future, he believed the CSU should use a direct democratic approach where all students would have the opportunity to vote in a referendum, rather than a general assembly.
When asked about the general outcome of the election debate, one student questioned the organization of the event and its promotion.
“I consider myself fairly immersed in Concordia politics and I only knew about this debate the same morning,” said the student, who asked to remain anonymous. “There was no advertising, no Facebook page, and look how small the turnout was. The debate went very well and all candidates have very solid platforms, but the next debate should have more advertising.”
This feeling was also shared by several candidates, who expressed frustration with the formatting of the debate.
“It was so frustrating to be up there because I have so much to say and no questions were addressed specifically to my portfolio,” said Concordia Could Be VP finance candidate Stephanie Beauregard. “Most of the questions were touching upon VP external portfolios when they weren’t even debating.”
The next debate will be held this Thursday, March 15, from noon to 2 p.m. at Loyola’s The Hive, and will see each affiliation’s presidential, VP external, VP academic and advocacy, VP student life and VP Loyola candidates take part. Polling kicks off March 20.