CSU changes fall by-election dates

During a special council meeting, councillors vote on appointment to seats, election dates and AI implementation

CSU met on Sept 13 for a special council meeting Photo Ireland Compton

The Concordia Student Union (CSU) held a special council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 13. Twelve points needed to be addressed on the agenda, including a request for approval of an AI chatbot software for the CSU website, a number of appointed members to seats on committees and the change of the November CSU elections dates. 

Navi x CSU - AI chatbot 

The motion, presented by CSU Financial Coordinator Kareem Rahaman, was motivated by students’ need for a more accessible student-centred website. According to him, students struggle to find appropriate services due to the complicated navigation of the Concordia website. To remediate this, the chatbot called “Navi” would be added to the CSU website, where students could ask it a number of complex questions, and receive quick responses.

He clarified that 80 per cent of international students have experienced difficulty accessing services due to a variety of factors like late responses from Concordia service staff, trouble booking appointments, unhelpful advice and long waiting times for walk-in services. 

The project will be funded by the Student Space, Accessible Education, and Legal Contingency Fund (SSAELC). According to the CSU website, “the SSAELC Fund is … used for specific projects set out in the CSU bylaws such as carrying out studies, retaining professional services and contractors...” SSAELC is part of the CSU’s fee-levy groups and costs each student $0.44 per credit. 

A total of $170,000 would be set aside for the creation of the AI. That would include costs for training, prompt engineering, user interface and a number of security, documentation and monitoring costs to ensure a working product. 

According to Rahaman, if things go according to plan, the software should be available to students by May 2024. 

The motion passed with three votes in favour and one against.

Appointment to Committees 

Five out of the 12 motions during the meeting were dedicated to the appointment of CSU councillors to various committees. The list included the Sustainability, Clubs and Spaces, Library Services Fund and Fee Levy Committee. At least one councillor was appointed to each. 

Change of dates for November CSU By-Elections 

Due to the newly implemented Fall reading week, from Oct. 9-15, the CSU’s elections would coincide with the Arts and Science Federation of Associations elections. To solve any confusion, the CSU passed a motion to change the CSU November By-Election dates. 

The new dates are as follows: 

The nomination phase will last from Oct 2- Oct 27. The campaigning phase is from Oct 30-Nov 6, and the polling phase from Nov 7- Nov 9.

The motion was passed unanimously.