CSU General Coordinator resigns mid-removal meeting

Elijah Olise stepped down as general coordinator as he was being removed from his position

Concordia Student Union General Coordinator Elijah Olise resigned in the middle of a special council meeting to remove him from office on July 27.

The general coordinator contested the meeting’s legitimacy and repeatedly cited expired bylaws before removing himself from the heated Zoom call.

The meeting lasted no longer than an hour, but Olise arrived 20 minutes later than the other attendees. CSU Chair Michelle Lam delayed the start of the session by 15 minutes before deciding to move on with the approval of council. 

Once Olise logged on, he immediately began protesting the validity of the meeting called by all seven of his fellow executives. As Lam tried to maintain order and proceed with the agenda, Olise remained uncooperative and continued protesting.

Student Life Coordinator Harley Martin presented the executives’ arguments for the removal, emphasizing their issues with Olise’s actions as general coordinator. “Elijah and the rest of the executive team had several issues that eventually led to a collective request for his resignation due to an irreconcilable breach of trust,” Martin said.

Some of these issues included the “refusal to cooperate with the team,” and “obstructing the democratic process of the CSU regarding appointments and interviewing of chairpersons,” the executives wrote in a letter to the chair on June 13. That letter also included accusations of “dismissing and silencing people during team meetings,” and “openly reprimanding or calling out employees.”

The student life coordinator continued. “Council, today we are asking you to support us in this decision so that we, as the executive team and as council, can carry out the work of supporting the students of Concordia University,” he said.

Olise joined the meeting in the middle of Martin’s speech. When Lam asked the general coordinator for his opening remarks, he instead called a point of order to discredit the meeting and invalidate his opponents’ right to call it according to the bylaws.

One of his defenses dealt with the timing between the set date of the meeting and its announcement. Bylaw 10.3.2. states that “five [business] days of written notice of the proposed removal from office” must be allotted, but according to Olise, he wasn’t given enough time.

He claimed the removal email was sent on July 22, but multiple council members interjected. The original email had been sent on July 18. Olise was most likely looking at the reminder email, sent four days later.

“Council, today we are asking you to support us in this decision so that we, as the executive team and as council, can carry out the work of supporting the students of Concordia University.” — Harley Martin

“Rushing a trial only ensures injustice,” Olise said. “I [know] what it takes to have a fair trial. These are based in the laws and values of the CSU and the [laws] of Canada... I don’t have a statement [because] this is not a fair and fundamentally just trial.”

When Lam shut down his use of bylaws 10.3.2. and 22.3., Olise defaulted to unratified bylaws from a 2019 CSU impeachment. A 10-minute recess was then called for the council to dissect Olise’s use of this bylaw. The outcome was not in the general coordinator’s favour.

Following the rejection of all his defenses, Olise announced his resignation effective immediately. Before anyone could interject, he left the Zoom meeting.

A collection of confused voices unmuted themselves following the former general coordinator’s exit. Lam nonetheless kept the meeting going, answering councilor Amina Vance’s question about the CSU’s next steps. “As per our bylaws, the next general coordinator will be decided amongst the executive team and appointed by council,” she said.

Following the approval of a motion acknowledging Olise’s resignation, executives Asli Isaaq and Sabrina Morena reassured and thanked the council members for their support and solidarity during what they deemed challenging times.

“It’s really really important that you guys show up for these things and we’re really really grateful that you did,” Isaaq thanked the council in an exhausted but resolute tone.