CSU Sustainability Coordinator Position Still Vacant

No Appointment Has Been Made Since Resignation of Selena Mezher Last Summer

Seven months after their slate’s election, the CSU has failed to fill the Sustainability Coordinator position. Photo Brian Lapuz

The Concordia Student Union Sustainability Coordinator executive position has been vacant since the resignation of Selena Mezher in June 2019.

The Sustainability Coordinator is the executive responsible for the implementation of sustainability policies for the Union.

Following Concordia’s recent plans to divest from fossil fuels, something that has been advocated by previous Sustainability Coordinators, the administration is recognizing sustainability as a global issue that begins with a change in policy.

Alongside this university wide change, there have also been quite a considerable amount of sustainability campaigns recently. The 2019 Fall Orientation included a Sustainability Mixer and a Climate Talk, and the CSU has taken on “Sustainability and Climate Justice” as their annual campaign.

CSU External Affairs and Mobilization executive Isaiah Joyner said even though his role doesn’t require him to be in charge of sustainability projects, he has been “working a lot in the sphere of sustainability this year” due to the theme of the CSU’s annual campaign.

“Even though the other executives can and should make an effort to include sustainable practices in their work, there can be more work, and more efficient and effective work done when there is a person whose main focus is sustainability,” said Hannah Jamet-Lange, an Arts & Science CSU councillor.

On April 4, 2019, the Cut The Crap slate was elected and Selena Mezhez was elected to the Sustainability Coordinator position.

According to Jamet-Lange, due to the disqualification and subsequent reinstatement of the slate, Mezher had left the country, would only be returning in August and hadn’t been responding to messages.

She added that, because Council saw it as crucial to have somebody active in the position, they motioned for her to either “send in a report within a week” or to call a special council meeting to have her removed from the position. This would then give the executive team 20 business days to recommend three new candidates for the position.

Mezher resigned from her position as Sustainability Coordinator a week later.

In situations like these, Section 7.3 of the CSU by-laws states that the responsibility of appointing a new CSU executive falls on the General Coordinator, Christopher Kalafatidis.

Immediately after Mezher’s resignation, both Kalafatidis and the CSU councilors began the process of appointing a new Sustainability Coordinator.

Jamet-Lange said that the appointment was delayed because some counselors wanted the Appointments Committee to assist in the selection of the candidate. According to her, the Appointments Committee would screen candidates in advance and recommend the qualified ones to council for interviews.

However, the executive’s final decision was that Kalafatidis would have sole responsibility over selecting a new coordinator and that council would then ratify his decision.

“Even though the annual campaign this year is focused on Climate Justice and Sustainability, it does not seem as if the ones responsible for finding a Sustainability Coordinator are particularly focused on it.” —Hannah Jamet-Lange

This matter caused a disagreement between the councillors and the executive team, and was taken up with the Judicial Board. Jamet-Lange said the Judicial Board agreed that Kalafatidis should have sole responsibility over the appointment of the new Sustainability Coordinator and that Council only must only approve his decision.

“The CSU published a public call-out in the Fall semester for a Sustainability Coordinator. “ said Kalafatidis. He then added that he interviewed five candidates, selected the best one and then presented them to council at the Nov. 13 council meeting. Council did not approve the candidate.

However, Jamet-Lange’s account of the situation suggests Kalafatidis’ process of finding a new Sustainability Coordinator was done in a manner that was more discreet to the CSU Council.

She says that apart from “a quick update in closed session during the second September meeting,” council wasn’t informed during the process. Furthermore, after council didn’t approve of the candidate, they motioned for Kalafatidis to bring in two more potential candidates to the follow-up Nov. 27 council meeting. Kalafatidis reportedly agreed to this.

However, on the Nov. 27 meeting, he did not bring in any candidates.

“The General Coordinator did not respect the motion passed by council and he also did not give any explanation as to why that was,” said Jamet-Lange.

No CSU council meeting was held in December due to a lack of quorum. In the follow-up January meeting, it was revealed that Kalafatidis had not included any information around the process of finding a new Sustainability Coordinator in his executive reports for December and January.

During the January meeting, CSU councilor Maha Siddiqui questioned Kalafatidis about both this absence in his executive reports and about his inability to bring two candidates in to the Nov. 27 meeting.

“His reply mostly addressed the fact that the councillor hadn’t privately reached out to him before to ask for the information. To which councilors responded that it should not be their job to reach out to executives about things that should be mentioned in their reports,” said Jamet-Lange.

She added that Kalafatidis told Council that the executive team was currently in disagreement on whether or not to appoint a new Sustainability Coordinator at all – which is why he didn’t include it in his report. Since then, Council hasn’t received any new information.

To Jamet-Lange, the CSU executive team’s lack of communication to the Council not only reflects their lack of respect towards councilors, but also their lack of respect towards both sustainability and the Sustainability Coordinator position itself. She believes the executive team hasn’t done enough on the issue of finding a new Sustainability Coordinator.

“Even though the annual campaign this year is focused on Climate Justice and Sustainability, it does not seem as if the ones responsible for finding a Sustainability Coordinator are particularly focused on it,” she said.

“Leaving the Sustainability Coordinator position vacant for seven months—although some tasks have been taken on by other people—means that the executive team will automatically be doing less in that regard simply because of the lack of another executive to do the work,” she continued.

“Eight people would be able to get more work done than seven, so not finding a qualified Sustainability Coordinator means actively making it impossible for the CSU to do more work related to climate justice and sustainability issues.”