CSU Council Update: Motion to Remove Advocacy Positions Fails
Motion Was to ‘Restore Democracy’ By Passing Positions Through Referendum
The Concordia Student Union’s council shut down a motion to remove all positions not passed by referendum from the positions book by secret ballot on Wednesday night.
The motion, brought forward by councillor Danielle Vandolder-Beaudin, would have rescinded over 50 points. The entire sections on Indigenous solidarity, feminism, the motion on academic freedom and freedom of expression, a position stipulating that the university commit to giving high quality education to all students, and more would be removed.
Some councillors argued the positions were adopted by council without going to referendum and therefore do not represent the students “whereas the purpose of the CSU is to represent the positions of its membership.”
Others, like General Coordinator Sophie Hough-Martin, said that it’s the job of democratically elected representatives to take these positions. She added that it’s not always possible to send timely positions to referendum.
Student Life Coordinator Michele Sandiford said that the positions council take are just as legitimate as the financial decisions they make, and that “if the positions book isn’t representative of students, then we’re going to say that all decisions here aren’t representative [of students.]”
Councillor James Hanna pointed out that some positions were several years old and had become outdated, but others argued that it would be a better idea to update those and leave the solidarity positions intact.
Gigi Cordeiro, an Arts and Science Federation of Associations councillor, suggested that the positions could be reviewed and brought to be voted on by students at the CSU’s General Assembly and that, right now, council would be “doing what [they] think is right” but “aren’t representing students at all.”
“If you don’t think that these motions and these positions represent the interests of the CSU members, then I would like you to kindly ask those you represent […] whether or not the CSU should stand in solidarity with Indigenous students, [..] should stand in solidarity with the feminist public, […] should stand in solidarity with international students who face mass deregulation here, which is incredibly relevant to a 2019 context, and ask them if they care about receiving high quality education,” said Hough-Martin.
“Yes, it’s harder to pass feminism that way, it’s harder to pass Indigenous solidarity that way, but at the end of the day it’s much more worthwhile,” said councillor and incoming general coordinator Christopher Kalafatidis.
“Do I think Concordia is a feminist university? No I do not. Do I think the average student has solidarity with Indigenous people? I do not. And that is why I don’t think it should be in the positions book until we fought to change the minds of our students,” he continued.
He referenced the way McGill changed the Redmen name through student mobilization and a referendum, and he believes all decisions should be undertaken this way.
Former councillor Thomas David Bashore pointed out that by sending all positions directly to referendum, the possibilities of amending motions and bringing outside speakers to motivate is lost.
Former Political Science Student Association VP External Patrick Groeneveld-Meijer said that, by removing the positions, it doesn’t mean that the CSU is against them.
“Not having a position is in itself to have a position,” said Jarrad Haas.
Mylène Baghdisar said that all universities have positions and that they’re important because they push students to mobilize and take action—like the position against Bill 21 she brought to the CSU and ASFA.
When Vandolder-Beaudin motioned to have the vote by secret ballot, she was met by backlash from several people in the room, who said that the motion was intending to restore democracy but that secret ballots remove accountability.
“Everything we do in this room is inherently political and by standing by this vote and saying ‘I will not put my name to the decisions I am making in this room’ you are saying ‘I will not be held accountable for my actions’ and that is despicable,” said Hough-Martin.
With files from Rowan Kennedy
A previous version of this article states that Eduardo Malorni said that by removing the positions, it doesn’t mean that the CSU is against them, when, in fact, this was said by Patrick Groeneveld-Meijer. The Link regrets this error.