It’s the Grad Students’ Turn

Electoral Focus Shifts as the Graduate Students’ Association Heads to the Polls

GSA President-elect Robert Sonin Photo Christopher Curtis

The Graduate Students’ Association is hoping to raise awareness and get more students involved in its upcoming elections—generally an event of low interest for most graduate students.

“[The GSA] is pretty important for international students, [but a] typical grad student is not focused on that type of thing,” said Robert Sonin, who, having run unopposed, has already been acclaimed as president for next year.

Much of the election, which begins on April 5, has already been decided, as many of the positions are uncontested. All of the Arts and Sciences councillor positions are also acclaimed, mainly being held by the Your Voice slate’s candidates, of which Sonin is one.

Chief Returns Officer Roddy Doucet had to extend the nomination deadline because only one candidate had come forward to run for the four councillor seats available to JMSB graduate students.

After putting out a call, there are now 10 students fighting for the remaining three seats.

The GSA provides a variety of services for graduate students, including English and French language courses, art lessons and management of the GSA health plan. International students tend to take advantage of its services more than Canadian students, according to Sonin. The GSA wants to make itself more prominent to everyone, though.

“We’ve increased our advertising budget,” said Doucet. “We’re hoping to increase voter turnout.”

According to Doucet, turnout in last year’s elections was close to nine per cent—about 700 students. He is hoping that can be bumped up to closer to 16 per cent.

“There are going to be contested seats in Engineering and JMSB, which rarely happens,” said Doucet.

The GSA elections tend to be a calm affair. Doucet does not see them getting anywhere near as heated as Concordia’s CSU elections, which concluded with a Your Concordia victory last week.

“The people running are honest and they seem to be playing by the rules,” said the CRO.

As president, Sonin hopes to work with the new CSU to build on what they have done this year.

“We all know each other and have already worked together with campaigns such as the WHALE,” said Sonin. The Wintry-Hot Accessible Love-in for Education was a Concordia-organized protest in February against tuition hikes.

Sonin, who was a councillor for the Arts and Sciences faculty this year, wants to continue the work that has already been done by the current administration.

Past years’ financial records were “really obscure,” said Sonin. “Things weren’t being booked properly. There weren’t proper records.”

Now the GSA has a chartered accountant to do thorough audits and keep more control over the finances, however. Sonin says that he will continue to institute more accountable financial regulations.

The elections begin on April 5 and run until April 7. All graduate students at Concordia are eligible to vote.