Changing of the Chair

Incoming CSU Chair Jean-François Ouellet. Photo by Erin Sparks
Former CSU Chair Nick Cuillerier. Photo by Erin Sparks

“If you have a chair that’s not necessarily up to par, it can be very detrimental for the CSU,” said Nick Cuillerier, former chair of the Concordia Student Union and Chief Electoral Officer of the Arts and Science Federation of Associations.

“You have to be able to tell people who are very passionate about what they believe in—or perhaps even aggressive—‘You’re not speaking right now, that person is.’”

Cuillerier announced earlier this year that he would not be serving a second term as CSU chair, staying in the position as interim chair from the end of his term on June 1 until Sept. 30, as per council’s request.

Université du Québec à Montréal transfer student Jean-François Ouellet was appointed as the new chair on Oct. 3.

He says his experience as a member of the Association étudiante du module de science politique de l’UQAM—as well as in New York City participating in Model United Nations—greatly helped his chances of getting elected as chair.
Ouellet intends to bring structure to CSU meetings.

“As the new chair, I’m trying to bring some sort of framework in which we could facilitate the discussion to have more productive and fructuous meetings,” said Ouellet.

“As of now my expectations are to install that framework and to instill in their mind the idea that the CSU Council is a place where we should be politically correct. We’re not there to spend our days and nights, we’re there to concentrate on certain problems and get those problems resolved quickly.”

But spend their days and nights there is exactly what they did. Last term, the CSU held 26 meetings—twice the amount of a standard 13-meeting term.

“A challenge I had was just organizing the meetings and making sure they went smoothly because they were so frequent,” said Cuillerier.

Ensuring fairness and sensitivity concerning issues in CSU meetings can be a difficult job.

“My personal belief is that if you’re having some friction with the chair, then the chair is not doing a good enough job,” he said.

“It was a great experience, but it was also a very challenging experience. The one thing I can definitely say is that it builds a great amount of personal character to go into a room and work out a bunch of issues and a bunch of problems to be solved.

“It’s worth it to get involved; it’s an unforgettable experience. It’s rewarding, it’s challenging and you’re not the same person when you leave that job.”