Former President of ECA on why he was disqualified.

Alex Stojda was disqualified as he ran to be President of the Engineering and Computer Science Association (ECA) for a second year

In March, Alex Stojda, then-President of the Board of Directors for the Engineering and Computer Science Association (ECA) was disqualified from running for reelection because of a bylaw infraction.

ECA’s bylaw B.4.1.3 states that, “Current executives of another society, association or committee that has financial affiliations with ECA, excluding all ECA appointed committees, shall not be eligible to be the President or Vice-President of Finance of the Association.”

Stojda was disqualified because it was his first year as President of the board of the ECA, and he was on the executive board at Reggies Bar, which has financial connections to ECA.

“I disagreed [with the disqualification], but I was willing to rectify the situation and resign [from Reggies] because the ECA is the thing I care the most about,” said Stojda.

He explained that he tried to appeal the decision, and said his bylaw infraction was minimal and easily remedied, but it was not accepted.

He also stated that bylaw B.4.1.3  was added in March 2019, halfway through his term on the executive board at Reggies.

When he became President of the board, he explained, the issue of him also being on the board of Reggies was never brought up.

“In one word, I feel betrayed,” said Stojda. He explained that while he understands that different interpretations of bylaws happen, the issue is that he was never allowed to argue against it, “Or have the three years of my work as an executive on the ECA considered.”

“My offer to resign from Reggies was never addressed and it was never explained to me why that option was unacceptable,” said Stojda.

He admits that he wasn’t surprised by the accusation, as it was election time and it is common for “the dirt to come out,” but he was surprised by the verdict.

A petition created in May to reinstate Stojda garnered just under 150 signatures, but the petition was never acknowledged by the ECA CEO Febrian Francione. Stojda explained that the support for the petition is a significant amount as the average voting turnout for the ECA is around 350 students.

The petition claims that the issue with this verdict is that Reggies does not fit into the bylaws definition of an organization, as it is an independent organization.

It also states that if the bylaw was interpreted correctly it would allow Stojda the opportunity to resign from Reggies and re-run for presidency.

According to Stojda, besides asking CEO Francione to reconsider, there is nothing else he can do, as the ECA doesn’t have a board of appeals.

He believes that if ECA had a similar board, such as the Concordia Student Union’s (CSU) judicial board — an independent judiciary branch of the CSU — he would be able to make it clear that he would resign from Reggies for the new election and have the disqualification overruled.

Stojda also admits that after three years of hard work, this verdict has heavily impacted his mental health; thus, he has decided to stop pursuing the issue and redirect his time to new opportunities.

“Despite all of this, I had a great three years representing the students and I only wish I had a fourth,” said Stojda. “I am worried that the work that I have been doing will be stained by this situation.”

The CEO has not responded or commented on the petition, nor have they responded to any of our communications. The article will be updated if they respond.


Photographs courtesy of Alex Stodja


Making an investment in legal recognition

The Engineering and Computer Science Association is officially heading into its second week of campaigning in hopes of being officially recognized as a legally accredited student association in the province of Quebec — at an expense of more than $13,000.

The campaign period lasts from Jan. 14 to Jan. 28, with executives from the faculty association visiting around 20 classrooms a day to garner support for the vote. The polling itself will span from Jan. 28 to Feb. 14 where students can choose to endorse the move for accreditation or vote against it.

The entire procedure for the ECA in its effort to achieve official autonomy from Concordia and legal certification from the provincial government cost the student association over $13,000. VP finance Chuck Wilson explained that while accreditation is expensive, it is necessary to spend the money.

“The risk of failure is greatly decreased with an increase in money spent,” said Wilson. “If we have more polling days, we have more turnout and paying our elections staff is pretty much necessary.”

Melanie Hotchkiss, who is co-ordinating the campaign, explained that the university and the student organization have a “good relationship” since it is provided with office space and the fee-levy it collects, something that the administration is not obligated to provide.

“More than anything else, accreditation would be more like an insurance policy,” said Hotchkiss.

The issue is to attract as many students as possible since the provincial government requires 25 per cent of the ECA’s membership to support the motion. Therefore, the faculty association requires a minimum of approximately 900 students to vote ‘yes.’

The ECA is reaching out to students through flyers and information booths located in the mezzanine in the Hall building and on the eighth floor.

In order to ensure that the vote is as accessible as possible to undergraduate students, the ECA invested in having roaming polls with clerks visiting classrooms so individuals can vote before and after courses.

With four clerks, the roaming polls alone are costing the ECA close to $5,600 and the stationary polls amount to more than $3,000.

“We have to hedge our bets and make sure our students get out and vote,” said Wilson.

Overall, the ECA is allotting more than $10,000 to the polling to guarantee a two-week vote provides students with enough time to cast their ballots.


On the road to accreditation

Concordia University’s Engineering and Computer Science Association will be sending students to the polls as it seeks official accreditation as a student association this January.

The faculty student association will be holding a vote from January 28 to February 14 to obtain accreditation under Quebec civil law. In order to be eligible for formal recognition, the ECA must obtain the support of 25 per cent of their undergraduate student body in engineering and computer science.

Therefore a minimum of 900 students must vote yes in the polling for the accreditation process to move forward. This is a factor that has stopped previous executives from pursuing accreditation due to fear of failure to meet the requirement, according to ECA VP finance Chuck Wilson.

Lacking accreditation can be problematic because it limits student associations in terms of funding and accessibility. For example, the university is not technically nor legally obligated to provide the ECA with funding stemming from a fee-levy although it does anyway.

According to ECA President Ali Talhouni, what the ECA doesn’t have access to is the membership list of its students from the Dean of Students Office.

“We’re treated as an accredited association,” said Talhouni. “It’s the only thing we don’t get and the dean of students doesn’t give it to us.”

The student organization lost its company status following the transition from a paper registry to an online database for the Registraire des entreprises du Québec. The ECA’s status was revoked because the ECA failed to file their annual declaration as a company for several years.

Under law, student associations are unable to achieve accreditation if they are not a legally recognized company.

Lawyer Patrice Blais was present at an ECA council meeting to explain the procedure for applying for accreditation with the provincial government.

“What the ministry wants [is] to ensure there is a process and everyone can vote,” said Blais. “The ECA will be officially recognized as an association and accreditation gives you protection.”

To oversee the vote, the ECA officially appointed Judicial Board Chairperson Nick Cuillerier as their accreditation president. Melanie Hotchkiss, a student senator, will co-ordinate the campaign.

Exit mobile version