The Slumbering, Blundering Council

  • Graphic Paku Daoust-Cloutier

A few councillors have complained that we are not covering the Concordia Student Union enough. It’s not our job to make the council newsworthy, but they probably have a point.

There are certain aspects of the CSU that certainly deserve more coverage: months of negligence, incompetence and mind-boggling immaturity.

Let’s start with negligence.

So many basic administrative tasks have fallen through the cracks with the CSU that it would be laughable if it weren’t so damned sad.

Executive reports come in late or unfinished. Job postings struggle to surface, if they’re posted at all. Important motions are tabled for weeks because of procedural delays. The list goes on.

By far the biggest blunder—and the source of many other, later blunders—was how long council has waited on training. Scheduled for the end of January, most councillors will have spent an embarrassingly long part of their mandate without really understanding how to do their job.

Imagine if you showed up for your first day at a restaurant job and the chef tossed you a copy of the menu, said, “Good luck, kid, figure it out.”

Being a councillor is not supposed to be guesswork, but that’s what most of our councillors have been doing for the past five months.

They waste hours arguing about procedures that no one—not even the chair—understands. To solve exactly this problem, these rules have been codified in a handy book, Robert’s Rules. There’s even a For Dummies version, if the 816-page original is too taxing.

Sometimes they seem to just forget these things. Other times they’re just incapable of doing them correctly.

This week saw some talented and bright new councillors. So bright, in fact, that they had to direct some of their fellow councillors who have a relatively large amount of experience to their own standing regulations.

To all councillors and especially the executive: please read and understand your own standing regulations. After showing up, it’s the absolute bare minimum you can do.

All of this might be somewhat excusable (well, probably not), if all of the councillors and executives acted like adults.

Acting like an adult means not delaying an important council meeting for almost an hour because the pizza hasn’t been delivered. It means not dressing like you’re ready to eat popcorn in bed and have a Gilmore Girls marathon. And certainly means not routinely falling into hissy fits and communal tantrums.

And it’s not just in meetings. Executive reports, which should be the guiding hands for unions to come, are so poorly written they would fail a CEGEP English 101 course.

We keep sending different editors to help cover CSU meetings, and every time we’ve sent one to their first CSU meeting, they’ve consistently been blown away by a council that can’t even behave itself as well as a high school senate.

If our first impressions are so poor, then what impressions are the student leaders making on our administration?

For the first time in nearly a decade, we have some leaders at this university we can be proud of. University President Alan Shepard and Board of Governors chair Norman Hébert are not perfect, but under their guidance, Senate and BoG meetings have become a place of useful and respectful dialogue.

It’s just particularly unfortunate that the first student leaders they were introduced to are just so embarrassing.

We’ve taken note, councillors who want more coverage. But be forewarned: you might not like what we have to say.

See you Wednesday.

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