AVEQ Waiting for More Members

Concordia Students’ New Provincial Representation Operating with Interim Staff and Short-Term Budget

  • The Concordia Student Union is now affiliated with the Association for the Voice of Education in Quebec. File Photo Josh Fischlin

The new provincial student representation that Concordia Student Union membership voted to join last semester is operating under an interim staff as it awaits to see if other student unions will follow suit and join as well.

The Association for the Voice of Education in Quebec (AVEQ) is currently being run by a temporary staff of five positions, according to interim Communications Coordinator Isaac Stethem. This includes former CSU President Benjamin Prunty, who announced he was hired to be the interim Administrative Coordinator through a Facebook post on Tuesday.

In the CSU by-election last semester, a referendum question passed to join AVEQ at a fee of $3.50 per semester. For the vote tally, 498 students said ‘Yes,’ 338 said ‘No,’ while 263 abstained.

So far, the CSU is the only student association to have gone to referendum to officially join with AVEQ, Stethem said. Part of what the interim coordinators are doing now is visiting different campuses and student unions to discuss AVEQ in anticipation of upcoming referenda, he added.

Recently, they presented to both the undergraduate and graduate student unions at McGill, according to Stethem. Within the next two months, a minimum of four to five unions will vote on joining or not, he said, including the ones from the Université du Québec à Rimouski and the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières.

“Hopefully in a few months we’ll know what associations make up [AVEQ],” Stethem said.

Since they’re in a transitional period, a short term budget is being created, he explained, and hinted it will be released publicly next week.

In December, the council of the CSU approved a transfer of $60,000 to AVEQ as startup costs to pay for the interim coordination staff, as well as legal, translation, and meeting fees.

Transparency is one of the ethos AVEQ advertises on its website, and on there, it provides a diagram of the percentile breakdown of what student money will be used for.

Stethem said all of these costs aren’t being accounted for yet—such as the student executive salaries—and a longer term budget will be constructed for next year once they know their full membership of student unions.

According to a job posting, the Administrative Coordinator position—now fulfilled by Prunty—pays $16 per hour for a total of 30 hours per week. The start date began on Jan. 18, and its projected end date is May 13.

Stethem said he and his new colleagues were hired by a committee which included the CSU and representatives from other student unions that have been helping create AVEQ since its beginnings last summer. AVEQ was partly founded by different student leaders around the province in response to the inactivity of the Fédération Étudiante Universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), which is a soon-to-be-dissolved association the CSU disaffiliated with in December.

CSU General Coordinator Terry Wilkings said that he and his fellow coordinators, Marion Miller and Gabriel Velasco, were part of the hiring process. Prunty was the CSU President last year and is currently serving on the union’s council.

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