CSU Byelections, a Bust?

Legitimacy of Polls to Be Determined by Judicial Board

CSU President Schubert Laforest voices concerns regarding upcoming byelections. Photo Erin Sparks

The Concordia Student Union is set to hold byelections beginning a week from today—but a procedural slip-up in announcing open positions could mean the results will not be legally binding.

Confusion and miscommunication led to errors in the proper and timely posting of the executive VP Academic and Advocacy position, and in the number of regular councillor spots declared to be available.

The initial announcement of the polls took place on Nov. 2.

The posters put up didn’t include mention of the available executive position, and only declared three open Arts and Science spots, three for John Molson School of Business students, one in Fine Arts and four for students at large.

“I did not find out the VP Academic position was open until I read the newspapers on Tuesday [Nov. 6],” explained CSU Chief Electoral Officer Justin Holland. He said he made new posters to rectify his error immediately upon learning that the position should have been included on the list.

Since the first posting was made, more council spots have opened up, but it is questionable whether any of the positions announced after the initial Nov. 2 posting will be considered legitimate.

This validity of the byelections, debated amongst councillors, has nothing to do with the eligibility of the specific candidates themselves. Rather, issues were raised with the procedure that was followed in announcing and advertising the seats that they had run for.

“The problem is the process,” said student Senator Chuck Wilson. “Is the process being respected here? Largely it is not.”

The confusion concerning councillor positions was a result of a slew of resignations coming at different times—resulting in the vacancy of more positions—in tandem with sporadic updates passed on from the chair to the CEO.
Whether or not council was even in a position to resolve or clarify the mishap was raised.

“Council cannot declare anyone ineligible for elections—contestation needs to go to judicial board,” said VP Clubs and Internal Nadine Atallah.

“There are ways to go through with this, but we are setting a dangerous precedent—we are not within the purview of council right now.”

Councillor Gonzo Nieto agreed.

“We need a body that is not us to make the decision,” he said.

Council eventually passed two separate motions—one pertaining to the executive position, and the other to the open spots on council.

Both motions require that the issues be brought to the CSU’s judicial board, and include a caveat that the JB have access to a CSU lawyer for half an hour, paid for by the union.

This was added because the JB currently does not have access to its own legal advisor and does not have the budget to afford outside legal assistance.

The JB’s decision will determine which and how many spots are legitimately open for byelection.

Nick Cuillerier spoke on behalf of the JB, and assured council that the board would have a provisional decision in a timely manner, prior to elections.

Until the JB renders a decision, Holland said that the official open positions remain those announced on Nov. 2.

The repercussions of an invalid election could be potentially drastic for the CSU.

“We only have half a council,” said President Schubert Laforest. “People have been resigning for various reasons over the year—yes, we need to make sure we are following the rules, but we need to keep in mind the student involvement aspect of this.

“Student engagement will be stifled because of it.”