GSA Elects New Vice-Presidents
General Assembly Sees Executive Committee Grow From 3 to 5
Nine months after creating the positions, the Graduate Students’ Association finally filled the posts of VP Academic and Advocacy and VP Mobilization at a general assembly on Thursday.
Software engineering student Shewetaank Indora easily defeated Mostapha Marzban, Alex Ilobuchi Ocheoha and Robert Sonin for the position of VP Academic and Advocacy in a show-of-hands vote.
Meanwhile, Sonin, a philosophy student and former president of both the GSA and the labour union Teaching and Research Assistants at Concordia, won the much closer vote for VP Mobilization over Rohit Patil and Shide Salimi.
Over a hundred GSA members—far more than the 63 required for quorum—crowded into the EV building auditorium for the vote, which was moved up to the top of the agenda. Still, some argued that the new executive positions are unnecessary, including current GSA President Mohit Sharma.
“The roles and responsibilities for those [positions] are contradicting with the roles and responsibilities with other staff members’ positions,” Sharma told the assembly.
He suggested, for example, that the VP External and hired staff members like the outreach and campaigns coordinators are already performing the tasks assigned to the VP Mobilization.
“From my perspective, it’s a waste of money for you, for all of us students,” said Sharma.
Nadia Hausfather, last year’s VP External for the GSA, disagreed. She had been on the Council of Directors when the decision was made to slash the GSA executive from seven members down to three, and in retrospect described it as an unsuccessful experiment.
“In my experience, three executives is not enough for a student association the size of the GSA,” said Hausfather, who attended Thursday’s GA. “The graduate student association of [the Université de Sherbrooke] and the graduate student association of [Université Laval] have at least seven executives in addition to seven paid staff.
“In terms of the staff,” she added, “the staff are different than executives because executives are elected to carry out a political vision, right? The staff does what the executives decide and what council decides.”
Indora and Sonin will only get to keep their jobs for two months, until the GSA’s annual general elections in early April, when they may be eligible to run again.
Last April, GSA members voted in a GA to increase the size of the student association’s executive committee by creating the two positions.
Thursday’s long-awaited vote had been on the agenda at the GSA’s last GA in November—along with a motion put forth by the Council of Directors to abolish the new positions altogether—but these were ultimately postponed because of a lengthy budget debate and a loss of quorum.
The proposal to abolish the positions was defeated at Thursday’s GA, and the election of the two executives then went ahead as planned—after which much of the crowd left.
Nevertheless, enough stuck around to maintain quorum and continue with the other elections on the agenda, although there were few candidates. Firas Al Hammoud was the sole nominee for the available spot as the GSA representative on Concordia’s Senate—the university’s senior academic body—and was elected. Marilou Andrey (Fine Arts), Juliette Lees (Arts and Science) and Marie-Hélène Vanier (Arts and Science) were admitted to the Council of Directors by acclamation.
The assembly lost quorum before getting to a number of other agenda points, including a motion regarding the GSA’s stance on the provincial government’s proposed Charter of Values.
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