Editorial: Students Belong in Concordia’s Highest Decision-Making Bodies

Concordia’s Senate and Board of Governors Are Lacking Student Representation

Student representation is decreasing on Concordia’s governing bodies.

The Senate and the Board of Governors allow a certain number of Concordia Student Union representatives to sit on both governing bodies every school year, however, these numbers have seen a decline over the years.

In Senate, these numbers decreased from 20 to 12, and from six to two representatives on the Board of Governors. There is also no representation for independent students, with seats only delegated to undergraduate and graduate students.

Out of the 18 universities in Quebec, Concordia is one of three schools that demand students be in good academic performance to take part in the university’s democratic bodies, while none of the country’s U15 universities, the top research universities in Canada, demand good academic performance for students to join their governing bodies.

Students need be involved in largest decisions made on campus. Students need a higher say in how the university spends its funds and how policies and academics are organized on campus because they are the ones directly impacted. They can provide a better understanding of what it’s like for administrators, faculty, making regulations beneficial for all Concordia students.

General Coordinator of the CSU Sophie Hough-Martin was recently barred from sitting on Senate and the Board of Governors, because she had a GPA that wasn’t high enough to consider her eligible to participate.

After receiving marks from last year her GPA went up, meaning she’ll soon be able sit on Senate and the Board.

But students shouldn’t have to fight for those seats in the first place, and while her situation is fortunate, we can’t expect other students in the future will be as lucky. Since students are the ones who stand to be negatively impacted by their academic standing or university sanctions brought against them they need to have more say. We hope to see the university increase the amount of student representation on both bodies, and want Concordia to move away from eligibility policies which border on being discriminatory–as academic success often depends on one’s own physical or mental health.

Things might be looking up. At the beginning of October, Senate voted to reconsider these eligibility requirements under a committee pushed for by the CSU. We hope this leads to policy change which will allow students with lower marks to also participate in our school’s democracy.

While the administration has agreed to look over their regulations barring certain students from sitting on these governing bodies, we need to remember this isn’t the first time a student has been prohibited from Senate or the Board of Governors.

In 2016 then-Senate fine arts representative Marion Miller and then-CSU General Coordinator Lucinda Marshall-Kiparissis were barred from Senate after they received letters of reprimand due to having sanctions under the university’s academic code of conduct and code of rights and responsibilities. The sanctions resulted from their involvement in protests against provincial austerity measures in the spring 2015.

The same sort of committee was called then to review the eligibility of students with sanctions under the university’s academic code of conduct and code of rights and responsibilities, and in the end they moved to allow students with sanctions to continue sitting on Senate by the fall. But similar changes were not made for students who continue to be barred for not having high enough grades. There are still barriers for many students who should have the right to be involved.

Concordia’s academic performance requirements are out of date, backwards and discriminatory to may students. Students stand to have their academic performance impacted by things such as sexual assault–but if victims who’ve suffered low grades as a result of their trauma aren’t able to take part in how the school drafts it’s sexual assault policies, are we really going to be able to listen to all the people whose voices deserve to be heard?

Current eligibility requirements also fail to respect the provincial Act Respecting The Accreditation and Financing of Students’ Associations, which states accredited student associations alone have the right to appoint students to governing bodies within their university.

The administration expects students to be in good academic standing, but fail to follow provincial legislation in good faith.

Student representation matters because we are the ones who pay for and attend this school, not those receiving the cheques. Maybe it has been a few years or decades since senators have been in the position of being a student, so having those who are in the situation voting on things that directly impact them is vital.

At The Link it is our duty to inform the student body and hold the administration, the CSU, as well as other student organizations accountable. But having students on Concordia’s governing body is essential for student dialogue. We will continue to advocate for higher representation of students on these decision-making bodies, as we believe it is in the students’ best interest.

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