A Council Divided

Exec’s Resignation Letter Sheds Light on Troubled Union

  • VP Academic and Advocacy Lucia Gallardo, center, addresses council during a special CSU meeting on Sept 26. Photo by Corey Pool

Over the last six months, the Concordia Student Union has been marred by accusations, disqualifications, reinstatements, internal political turmoil and most recently, the resignation of a member of the executive.

Late on Sunday night, CSU VP Academic and Advocacy Lucia Gallardo resigned from the union by way of a letter that brought to the surface issues of division within the student union.

“I find the whole situation very unfortunate,” said CSU President Schubert Laforest. “I lost a very good executive. It was a pleasure to have Lucia on the executive, and this is a great loss.”

During this year’s first regular council meeting on Sept. 19—which Gallardo was absent for—it was announced that she was not a student, following a Student Status Verification Report.

A majority of council voted to request her immediate resignation, yet Gallardo still applied for late registration, asking council to reconsider their decision.

Despite her attempts, the will of council remained firm on the decision.

“The manner in which this whole situation has played out has shown me a side to the CSU that I can no longer be a part of,” wrote Gallardo in her letter.

Gallardo’s letter is openly critical of the union she’s leaving behind—specifically, of a handful of councillors who fought to have her removed.

“What is currently happening at CSU Council is a disservice to students,” the letter continues. “It is disappointing to see the blatant disregard for the student body and the money it pays its union, for weekly Special Council Meetings full of personal hidden agendas.”

Less than 24 hours after Gallardo stepped down, another resignation was announced.

“After several days of thinking, I have finally decided that I am resigning from my current position as an Arts and Science councillor,” wrote Juliana Ramos in a letter addressed to Concordia students.

A former president of the Latin American Student Organization, Ramos explains in her letter that she thought that being part of the CSU would help her close her studies “with great pride.”

“Unfortunately, what I have witnessed in the past several council meetings has really changed my view on the role of council and I have been tremendously disappointed by the games that are being played without really wanting a better university for us students,” Ramos’ letter went on to say.

Though Laforest says that Gallardo’s resignation letter was her own and not necessarily the opinion of the executive as a whole, he agreed that it did illustrate the state of tension at the CSU.

“There is a very unhealthy atmosphere at council this year,” said Laforest. “This is something that councillors have expressed to me, it’s something everybody feels and it’s something that this situation has accentuated.”

“It’s not a matter of serving the students anymore; it’s a matter of putting your friends in the right places. It’s a disservice to Concordia University.”
—Nadim Kobeissi, Political Science Student

Gallardo mentions several councilors in her letter by name, including Chad Walcott, Gonzo Nieto, Laura Glover and Melissa Kate Wheeler, criticizing their handling of her situation while warning students of their involvement with last year’s executive, alleging that they disregarded CSU Standing Regulations and conspired against her.

“You should pay attention, Concordia,” wrote Gallardo. “Because half of last year’s executives sit on this year’s council, and demand answers without asking questions, take up seats on committees that prevent newly involved students [from taking] up that chance, try to place their old president [Lex Gill] on the Board of Governors even after their year is over.”

Though Walcott remains convinced of council’s demand for Gallardo’s resignation, he did lament the state of affairs left by such a contentious resignation process.

“We didn’t want it to have to come to an issue of interpersonal conflict and, at least in my opinion, it’s not,” said Walcott. “There are pretty clear bylaws that outline what a member of the CSU is, and unfortunately Lucia doesn’t qualify because she is not a student.

“The fact that she’s coming out with accusations that are largely false and based on emotion, it’s unfortunate that this is the way it has to end.”

These back-and-forth arguments, and the growing tensions between two sides of the union have raised concerns amongst students at large.

Political science student Nadim Kobeissi resigned from his position on the Judicial Board of the CSU last spring following Gallardo’s disqualification from running in the CSU elections, and her subsequent reinstatement.

According to Kobeissi, both sides of this situation are at fault for the chaotic state of the union.

“The current CSU is very obviously formed of different little social groups of people who stick to each other and who are messing with each other so that their friends can have positions and others cannot,” said Kobeissi.

“It’s not a matter of serving the students anymore; it’s a matter of putting your friends in the right places. It’s a disservice to Concordia University.”

Though Gallardo claims to have “mixed emotions” about what has transpired over the past few weeks, she thinks that this situation could be a seen as a learning experience and an opportunity for the union.

“The CSU needs some drastic changes, and maybe people who wouldn’t normally run should consider running now,” said Gallardo.

“I think the CSU needs some new blood. I think that might be better for the student body than having us keep running.”

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