Letter: GSA Needs More Transparency

It’s been almost six months since the present Graduate Student Association team took office, and they should have overcome their learning curve by now.

Council meetings, which weren’t initially announced to members, are now being announced. There has been more transparency in council affairs. However a lot still needs to be done.

There has been a lack of transparency in the finances of the association. The members haven’t received any financial statements for the 2016-2017 period. No financial statements were presented at the last General Assembly despite a bylaw requiring it. The last assembly was held on Nov. 7, the same day Concordia’s fall 2016 convocation ceremonies took place.

Recent bylaw changes mandated that the GSA have compulsory audits. It is unclear if an auditor has been appointed for the 2016-2017 year because no auditor was presented to members at the last Assembly.

A petition of members aiming to prevent directors from holding GSA staff positions was not presented at this assembly. It might not be possible for directors to objectively hold executives accountable if executives who they oversee, and who approve their monthly bursary payments, are offering them temporary jobs.

The removal of the Canadian Federation of Students and the CFS-Quebec component from the GSA member fees were not included in the agenda of the last assembly.

An amount of $14.04 ($6.84 for the CFS plus $7.20 for the CFS-Q) was maintained as part of the GSA fee meant to pay legal expenses to defend CFS and CFS-Q lawsuits. These cases have both been concluded.

There was previously an attempt to convert the GSA advocacy fee levy to part of the GSA fees without a referendum. GSA has been collecting an advocacy fee levy from Graduate Students for the GSA advocacy centre, which has not been functional.

The Concordia Student Union Advocacy Centre now provides advocacy services to graduate students.

The GSA plans to introduce bylaw changes in the next general assembly. The proposed changes are unclear, because members have not been informed of the bylaw committee meetings, and their minutes have not been made available to members.

An attempt was previously made to introduce bylaw changes to make it possible for non-GSA members to hold permanent staff positions.

GSA directors should do more to enforce the bylaws of the GSA and advocate for GSA members. GSA’s problems would not be solved by deleting articles, which help ensure accountability, or adding articles, which may not be necessary.

—Alex Ocheoha, former GSA President and Link contributor