CSU Moves Forward With Council Change

Motion to Amend Bylaws and Letters Patent Passed by Council

A second referendum will be held during the next CSU election to determine if a council change will be implemented. Photo Ireland Compton

The Concordia Student Union moved forward with its plan to redistribute council seats with a motion to send the question to referendum once more.

The plan would do away with its current proportional allocation to an equal distribution of seats across faculties regardless of their population.

Giving the minimum two days notice, CSU General Coordinator Christopher Kalafatidis called a special council meeting for Jan. 23 to vote on a motion to amend the CSU’s bylaws and letters patent.

The meeting occurred in closed session, and the motion passed. The results were nine votes in favour, one against, and three abstentions. Closed-session votes are anonymous but Peter Zhuang requested his opposition noted, while Leigh Kusaj, Hannah Jamet-Lange, and Victoria Pesce requested their abstentions noted.

The issue will now be returned to a second referendum. This time students will be voting to actually amend the bylaws and letters patent.

The current council is composed of 30 representatives, split proportionally by faculty. The new composition would see the faculty of arts and science split into two segments. The five faculties would then get three councillors each, plus one independent student for a total of 16 councillors.

The new makeup would give students proportionally unequal representation based on faculty. Kalafatidis sees it differently. “When I think equal, I think the same number,” he said.

Kalafatidis, who campaigned on the issue and initially brought it to referendum, said the move will force the faculties to cooperate. He argued that the current arrangement means the council is dominated by arts and science, by far the largest faculty. “The CSU should not be a shadow [Arts and Science Federation of Associations],” said Kalafatidis, arguing that too much overlap between the two unions leaves other faculties underrepresented.

However, some councillors see the move as potentially disenfranchising. “I think that faculty equality is not equality,” said Jamet-Lange, who worries that some faculties will face worse representation with the new arrangement.

“When I think equal, I think the same number.” —Christopher Kalafatidis

Another worry is the impact of reducing the size of council by almost half. Jamet-Lange says the workload is already high for councillors, and this would just make it worse.

Kalafatidis sees it as a move to increase efficiency. “My hope is that we could end up as efficient as the boards of the real companies that I’ve begun to study,” said Kalafatidis. He also added that the functioning of council would have to significantly change to accommodate the new size.

The reason it took until January to move forward with this motion was the need to verify its legality. “The last thing we want to do is expend so much capital on something that doesn’t end up even being legal,” said Kalatatidis, who started consulting the CSU’s lawyers after the by-election on the issue.

The short notice and timing of the meeting meant that many councillors were absent. “I wanted to get it done as soon as possible in the semester so I could focus on the bathrooms,” said Kalafatidis.

Related: CSU Plans to Upgrade Bathrooms Finally in Motion

Special council meetings are usually held on Wednesdays, the same day as regular council meetings.

“The explanation that was given, that people need to concentrate on the bathrooms for the rest of the semester, is not enough of an explanation to actually justify calling this in the middle of the day when people have class,” said Jamet-Lange, who skipped two of her classes to make it to the meeting.

Only about half of councillors made it to the meeting.

At roll call, the executives present were Kalafatidis, Academic & Advocacy Coordinator Patrick Quinn, Internal Affairs Coordinator Marin Algattus, and Student Life Coordinator Eduardo Malorni.

The Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science councillors present were Salman Fahim Syed, Selena Mezher, Tzvi Hersh Filler, Sean Howard, and James Hanna. The John Molson School of Business councillors present were Mitchell Schecter, Mathew Levitsky-Kaminski, and Pesce. The arts and science councillors present were Jamet-Lange and Kusaj. Fine arts councillor Zhuang, and independent student councillor Menachem Israily.