CSU General Coordinator Survives Impeachment Question
Complaints Against Christopher Kalafatidis to Move to Judicial Board
With the smell of freshly-popped popcorn in the air, the Concordia Student Union’s offices were packed with anxious faces awaiting General Coordinator Christopher Kalafatidis’ fate Sunday night.
The general coordinator was facing a vote of no confidence and removal from office for dereliction of duties. A motion brought forth by 10 councillors stated Kalafatidis had used unprofessional language, actively prevented student representation on the Standing Committee on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence, and failed to fulfil his duties as chair of the appointments committee in regards to the Judicial Board, Sexual Violence Accountability Committee, or Senate.
The session closed when two councillors voted to remove Kalafatidis from office while three abstained and 15 voted for him to stay.
Councillor Maha Siddiqui, who was appointed as prosecutor, opened the floor by highlighting that the removal of the general coordinator wasn’t based on emotions or personal grievances, but rather specific instances where he failed to complete his mandate.
Kalafatidis said it wasn’t appropriate for council to be the ones working through complaints as “no legal law was violated.” Councillors said other avenues for reprisals had been blocked as there was no Judicial Board or Sexual Violence Accountability Committee, and so complaints had to be pursued through council.
“We tried to bring all of these things to the council. We mandated him to follow all of these things, and none of them were respected,” said Siddiqui. “And that’s another falsehood, that the GC said that it’s not violating any legal law. According to bylaw 7.1 of the bylaws, the GC is mandated to follow out the motions passed in council.”
Among the prosecution’s witnesses were councillor Hannah Jamet-Lange, who said Kalafatidis failed in his duties as the chair of the appointments committee. She said the chair is mandated to prepare and organize meetings and agendas, among other duties he did not fulfill. He also left important positions vacant.
Kalafatidis said he shouldn’t be held solely responsible for this as other members on the committee should have noticed the issues and brought them to his attention.
“Yes, I should have done it,” said Kalafatidis. “But also [Jamet-Lange] should have known I wasn’t doing it and pointed it out. We’re only going to succeed as a team. You can’t put the responsibility of everything on me, because sometimes I’m going to miss something, and sometimes you’re going to miss something.”
Margot Berner, a former councillor and a representative on the Standing Committee on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence, also testified. The committee is tasked with writing sexual violence policy for the school, and in light of Concordia’s history of mishandling sexual misconduct allegations, this has been a hot topic for the union over the last few years.
Berner was originally appointed at the end of the 2019 winter term. The former academic and advocacy coordinator, Mikaela Clark-Gardner, and the former general coordinator, Sophie Hough-Martin, had moved for her appointment, which was approved by Academic Caucus. Her appointment was then confirmed through council in the general coordinator’s monthly report.
“Yes, I should have done it. But also [Jamet-Lange] should have known I wasn’t doing it and pointed it out. We’re only going to succeed as a team.” —_Christopher Kalafatidis_
But, the appointments weren’t finished over the summer, and she was unable to fulfil the duties of the position. She had to be reappointed officially in October, and by then half of the mandate was over.
Arts and Science Federation of Associations general coordinator Evan Lee testified, saying Kalafatidis had worked closely with him to appoint representatives to Concordia’s senate.
Keroles Riad of Waste Not Want Not said that working with the CSU under Kalafatidis had been going particularly well. He said even without a sustainability coordinator, their relationship with the CSU had overall been better this year.
“[I voted no because] as a business it doesn’t make sense to have someone else take this position,” said councillor Victoria Pesce, despite being one of the 10 councillors who originally brought the motion forward, adding she does believe these complaints needed to be addressed before students at large.
Many councillors voted no as they felt the case was based on personal opinions of Kalafatidis and not bylaws.
“I think it’s completely belittling […] to say that it’s opinions, it’s emotions, because the proper bylaws and training regulations were stated. I don’t really see how you can say that it’s based on opinions,” said Elizabeth Tasong. She added that both sides had valid points and she hopes to see more complaints brought to the Judicial Board.
Councillor Jarrad Haas said it was mentioned that other complaints were brought forth by students at large following the call for impeachment that couldn’t be used as evidence.
“I think every single complaint should be brought to [Judicial Board] so that this can be done properly,” said Haas. “You can’t bring forward some complaints and a little while later bring forward more complaints. Bring them all at once, and if JB decides one way or another, then I think that’s the best course of action.”
The judicial board, however, cannot recommend impeachment. The council alone can make this decision, which would call for another vote of no confidence following a judicial board trial.
“I just want to say one thing that yes these complaints are valid but are these complaints valid for us to do a judicial trial? No,” said councillor Syed Salman Fahim. “There are mandated people for this job and it is their job along with a legal adviser […] who can make a decision. If that decision is a call for impeachment, I’m all for impeachment.”
A previous version of this article originally misspelled the last name of CSU General Coordinator Chris Kalafatidis as Kalafitidis. The Link regrets this error.