Concerns about the GSA Accreditation Process
I was troubled by the flawed process used in the accreditation referendum for the Concordia Graduate Students’ Association.
I believe if a process is wrong, the result is also wrong. If you come from a country where elections and referendums are accompanied by various irregularities, you will find this very disturbing.
The whole process was undertaken with so much desperation and a lack of attention to detail. The campaign, which left some students feeling harassed, was designed to create a bias. The referendum question was not approved by the GSA’s Council of Directors and the polls were not announced. The university was flooded with posters from the GSA’s “Yes” campaign shortly before the voting period, tactically shutting out any “No” campaign.
The “Yes” campaign did not educate members on the benefits of accreditation. Their slogan “Vote YES for GSA’s independence” was misleading. The referendum was for accreditation under Quebec’s Act respecting the accreditation and financing of students’ associations, not independence. The GSA has already been operating independently without any oversight.
Other reasons given to students, such as the ability to demonstrate against the university or the government without being shut down, were also extremely misleading. The GSA actively participated in the 2012 student protests without being shut down.
The act permits accredited student associations to fix their dues. Students were misled in a referendum conducted in April 2014 to keep an increase in membership dues disguised as a fee levy for advocacy services.
About 2,300 votes were cast, with about 900 cast on the first day. This can be attributed to performance-related payments, which were offered to mobile polling clerks based on total votes cast. There were a total of 700 votes in the last GSA elections. Classes were disrupted and students, who didn’t understand what accreditation meant, were told to vote yes for GSA’s independence. They were denied the basic right of freedom to make a choice.
There is a lack of interest if executives cannot mobilize 25 per cent of GSA members without spending 10 per cent of their budget without members’ approval. The voting period was strategically set before the GSA’s budget for 2014-2015 could be presented at the Oct. 23 general assembly.
The accreditation contract, which was not in the best interests of the association, was signed by former president Mohit Kumar during his last days. This was suspiciously higher than the amount approved by the previous Council of Directors. This makes the motive for the accreditation look mysterious.
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