Letter: I Voted For SEIZE—Now I Regret My Decision
I Supported Their Potential as a Fee-Levy, But Not Their Referenda
When the Solidarity Economy Incubation Zone presented their fee-levy application to the Concordia Student Union council of representatives, I was thrilled.
SEIZE sought to develop alternative economies and to support both undergraduate and community organizations in their pursuit of economically sustainable and democratic organizations. I believed that SEIZE could benefit the Concordia undergraduate community—as did 900 other students.
However, at a council meeting on Feb. 20 the fee-levy referendum question did not receive the two-thirds majority vote required for it to go to the ballot. In the days following the regular council meeting, I became more aware of the politics surrounding the referenda that SEIZE wanted to bring to the undergraduate body.
While SEIZE presented the fee-levy question very well and elaborated on all structural inquiries about the organization that was brought forth, they did not approach the second referendum question that they had planned to bring to the general elections—whether the $0.35 per credit fee-levy for SEIZE should be taken from the existing Student Space, Accessible Education, and Legal Contingency fund, should the fee-levy be approved.
During the council meeting they had rebuffed any attempts from councillors to discuss this question. To contextualize SEIZE’s referendum questions, 2.09 per cent of Concordia students voted heavily in favour of supporting SEIZE during the 2015-2016 by-elections, including using a portion of the SSAELC fund. In 2015, the SSAELC fund gathered $1.00 per credit from every student. At that time, the fee-levy that SEIZE is now requesting would still have been a large sum, but one that would be proportionally reasonable. Since the solidarity incubator referendum question had been passed, another question concerning the restructuring of Concordia Student Union fees has been voted on, lowering the SSAELC fund to $0.39 per credit.
The SSAELC fund was initially developed as a source of income for future CSU offices. Since its initial introduction, the SSAELC fund has shifted and evolved. Its purpose is no longer just to house the CSU, but to support all student spaces as well as to provide the funds for any eventual legal recourse that the CSU decides to take. At the end of the day, the CSU is a union and it must have the ability to fight for its undergraduate students using legal civil action and to do so, it requires a legal contingency. If the fee-levy for SEIZE came out of the SSAELC fund, it would almost entirely remove future funds from the latter, and in essence disarm the CSU.
SEIZE is a fantastic project and organization. The CSU and council has been mandated to support solidarity economy incubators, but our foremost responsibility is the sustainability of the union and the collective interests of Concordia’s students.
I want SEIZE to succeed, but not at the expense of our ability to defend students.
Jane Lefebvre Prevost
Arts & Science Councillor