Letter: Proposed GSA Bylaw Changes Mean Less Accountability

The Concordia Graduate Students Association called a General Assembly for April 6 which proposes bylaw changes.

The proposed changes and the deleted items were not highlighted in the documents that were sent.

Though the current bylaws of the association state that at least two general assemblies per semester except summer be called, only one was called this semester and one last semester, which did not meet quorum.

The required number of assemblies were increased to two per semester to increase student involvement and accountability. One of the proposed changes makes it possible for directors to call a “moral quorum” if there is no quorum at council meetings. This means that fewer people can discuss how about $600,000 of students’ money is spent.

The former president Soliman Abu-Samra did not call a referendum, which was requested by 420 students who signed a petition requesting for a referendum to remove the Canadian Federation of Students related fees of $14.04 per student, which was added to the GSA membership fee. Students previously voted in a referendum to discontinue the CFS related fees in 2011. The agenda also did not include a petition for bylaw changes prohibiting GSA representatives from holding staff positions.

The current GSA bylaws require that the agenda of the GA be ratified by council. The agenda, which was made available to members, did not include the required president’s report, and the included financial statements only showed expenditures up to Jan. 18. The agenda which is supposed to be ratified by council at least five days before the GA was not ratified, because council has been unable to achieve quorum required to hold a meeting this calendar year.

Parts of the GSA bylaws written to keep the association more transparent, and representatives more accountable, are not always abided. October to December council minutes, which are supposed to be made available to members online after seven days of each meeting, were not made available until March. This requirement is deleted in proposed bylaw changes.

Previous bylaw changes that made it mandatory for an external audit of the financial statements is also being ignored. The council voted on May 18 to have a notice to the reader rather than an audit of the financial statements. The abuse of power within the GSA makes it difficult for members to hold their representatives accountable, and proposed bylaw changes aim to make the association less transparent and representatives less accountable to members.