Letter: Progress at ASFA, but Far From Enough

On March 15, 16 and 17, ASFA will be asking its members to approve a substantial reform of its bylaws, and usher in a much needed restructuring of how it works to represent students’ interests. I would strongly encourage students to vote “yes,” but I say so with reservation.

With what recent history has shown us, I doubt anyone would disagree that ASFA needs to change. It needs to severely downsize and ensure that its executives and councillors are not at odds over conflicts of mandates. ASFA’s priority should be to serve as a platform for its member associations to represent their members, not as an impediment.

For these reasons, I salute the efforts by the current executive team to propose these substantial changes, for their work to eliminate the culture of unaccountability and dysfunctionality that plagues ASFA. Despite having these sweeping changes being presented at referendum, one of the most important was left out: the ability for accredited departmental associations to exercise their legal right to represent their members.

Under ASFA’s current and proposed bylaws, it continues to retain an article prohibiting its members from having a fee-levy. As more of its member associations are becoming accredited, it is denying the ability of the associations to represent and act in their members’ interests. Should any association fail to comply, they are removed from ASFA.

By entrenching this regulation in its bylaws, ASFA is effectively subordinating member associations to itself, and preventing these associations from exercising a right provided for by law. The act concerning the accreditation of student associations is clear; all associations that benefit from its protection have the sole right to represent their members. This clause denies students the ability to empower their associations to represent their interests. This is not a trait of a representative institution.

Next week, although students will have the opportunity to throw out the current defunct structure, our work will not be done. We must remember our real goal of creating a representative association that will not get in the way of its member associations representing their students. To ignore this shortcoming in the proposed changes will condemn department associations to being subordinated to ASFA.

I believe students recognize the dire need for ASFA to change and will vote for this restructuring, but I would implore that they recognize the structural flaws that will continue to exist and to demand a more just and representative ASFA.

— Jason Poirier Lavoie, president of the Political Science Student Association of Concordia University

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