Champions of Change
Council Votes to Alter Standing Regulations, By-Laws
On Thursday evening, the Concordia Student Union approved major reforms to the CSU Code of Standing Regulations and the CSU General By-laws, including a restructuring of the executive and the elimination of the slate system.
“This was a particularly good moment for the [CSU],” said Lex Gill, the CSU president.
The reforms have the potential to significantly alter the CSU. The possible elimination of the slate system would force candidates for council to run on individual platforms, independently of any party.
A similar reform was introduced in the Arts and Science Federation of Associations this past year, which came under criticism after some positions had only a single candidate run for them.
For the executive, candidates could run affiliated with a team but would be elected as individuals, possibly resulting in an executive composed of a mix of team members.
In addition, the executive would be made up of the president and five set VP positions – Finance, Academic and Advisory, External Affairs and Mobilization, Clubs and Internal Affairs, and Student Life.
Once elected, the executive would have the option to add two additional portfolios with the approval of a two-thirds majority vote from Council. These VPs would not have to be elected by the student body.
These particular reforms, and several other changes to the CSU by-laws, depend on an approval by the student body in a referendum to be held in the fall semester.
Alterations to the Standing Regulations that are not tied to the by-laws, such as the elimination of the women’s caucus and a reworking of the sometimes perilous postering night, come into effect immediately.
“We have to do a lot of legwork to let [students] know why we made these changes,” said Gill.
All of the councillors at the meeting agreed that these reforms would likely help create a healthier and “less mean” election cycle. The changes to the system for the council were approved unanimously, but there was a small opposition to the system being applied to the CSU executive.
“I had voted against it because I was concerned that not every faculty would be well-represented on [an executive] team,” said Nadine Atallah, a councillor representing Independent students, who was one of two who voted against the change to the executive election system.
Atallah worried that some students may have the opportunity to get more exposure than others because of size differences between faculties. Because students would be elected to executive positions individually, it may make winning difficult for candidates from smaller faculties, said Atallah.
For most of the three-hour meeting, only 11 councillors were present—only one councillor more than the number of councillors required to make any council decisions binding, which may have contributed to the speed of the meeting. Gill said she was prepared for several days of debate over the documents.
Debate over the amendments and additions to the Standing Regulations and By-laws passed relatively quickly. Councillors pulled only nine items for discussion out of the over 100 changes to the documents, all of which were passed, save for one that was referred to the Policy Committee.
The reworking of the CSU’s structure was a difficult process, according to Patrice Blais, the CSU’s lawyer and a part-time professor at Concordia who headed the reforms.
In a letter to the CSU, Blais said that during his review of the organization’s records he found that minutes for council meetings from previous years were “terrible to read” and sometimes not available.
He added that there is a lack of “institutional memory” at the CSU. For example, one of the reforms in the Standing Regulations that was discussed during the meeting had already been passed by a previous CSU council, but had to be added again because no one had recorded the change.
The bulk of his recommendations were related to better training for members of the council to ensure proper legal procedures were followed. He warned councillors in the meeting that they could be personally and financially responsible for mismanagement of the CSU’s affairs.
“You don’t expect students, when they start to get involved, to know all of these things,” said Blais, however.
Proposed Reforms to Concordia Student Union General By-Laws
The slate system for the executive and council will be eliminated.
The president and vice-presidents will be elected individually to permanent portfolios.
Council will hire a legal adviser for the Judicial Board.
The Judicial Board will no longer create its own Code of Procedures.
The Senate of Faculty Associations will be eliminated.
Reforms to the CSU Code of Standing Regulations
Poster space during campaigning will be portioned out by the Chief Electoral Officer. The specifics of this procedure are still under debate.
Regular reports from CUSACorp are mandated
New section on “Financial Reporting and Transparency” was added.
New section recognizing “the role and independence of student media” was added.
The Events Committee and Women’s Committee will be eliminated.