Committed Enough to Sit on Senate?

Debate Over Eligibility of Independent Students

While conflicts between students and administrators may be at an impressive low this year, the documentation governing them has been revealed to have some subtle, yet noteworthy, contradictions.

As it stands, Article 57 of the university’s bylaws limits, among other things, student membership on senate to those registered in a major.

The Concordia Student Union’s standing regulations, however, reserve one seat on the body for an independent student.

Calling this an “institutional incompatibility,” undergraduate student senator Gene Morrow brought this discrepancy to the attention of senate.

He says he is considering bringing forth a motion to change the university’s bylaws to the body.

It makes sense, he argued, to leave the decision of choosing a capable representative in the hands of the student union.

“The CSU already has the responsibility to appoint its members to Senate,” he said. “The student union ought to be the one who makes the decision regarding people’s commitment to the institution.”

Although if brought to a vote, Political Science Senator and Concordia University Part-Time Faculty President Maria Peluso would not be in favour.

Any body, Peluso says, needs to have rules regarding membership. She added that excluding independent students makes perfect sense because they are more like permanent residents, where a majoring student is akin to a citizen.

While she’s happy Concordia welcomes independent students, she said, “They can’t expect to have to same privileges as a student who’s committed to a major.”

Peluso’s wording is not unlike that put forth by the university. Morrow raised the question to Senate in a January meeting, and the official response provided at the following meeting was that previous senators felt that any student representative should be “fully committed to the institution.”

For Morrow, however, that represents a misunderstanding regarding many independent students.

“There is the impression that independent students are new students, but as an actual fact, independent students are often students who have been at Concordia a long time,” he said. “Many independent students are actually students who have graduated and became independent to stay on.”

He added that this is particularly common among CSU executives, who would register as independent in order finish their term at the union.

This was partly the case for CSU VP Loyola Stefan Faina, who graduated last year with a degree in psychology.

Faina was elected to Senate by council in September, but had to step down when he realized his status as an independent student rendered him ineligible.

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