Not A Student, Not Resigning

CSU VP Academic & Advocacy Gallardo Responds to Council

CSU VP Academic & Advocacy Lucia Gallardo’s student status has come into question once again Photo Erin Sparks

The Concordia Student Union is a revolving door, and if it’s happened once, you can rest assured that it’ll happen again.

During the first regular CSU Council meeting of the 2012-2013 academic year on Sept. 19, VP Academic and Advocacy Lucia Gallardo was found not to be a student following a Student Status Verification Report done by the Chair in coordination with the Dean of Students Office.

Gallardo was absent from the meeting, did not submit any written response or provide the reason for her absence to council.

“My priority at the time was my personal wellbeing,” said Gallardo in an interview with The Link. “It was a very difficult week, to say the least. I’ve been really overwhelmed.”

This is not the first time her status as a student at Concordia has been called into question. Gallardo was found not to be a student during the elections in March as well, though she was reinstated.

“I’m just surprised that it came to this,” said Arts and Science Councillor Chad Walcott. “I would have expected her to at least come prepared, knowing that this is strike two.”

After a long debate on the issue, Walcott proposed a motion that would have council request for Gallardo’s immediate resignation. The motion passed.

On Monday night, five days after the council meeting, Gallardo released a statement to council—but it was not a resignation.

“I wholeheartedly ask Concordia students to grant me the opportunity to work on this solution for the week, before giving up the portfolio I feel so passionate about,” wrote Gallardo.

In her letter, Gallardo makes an emotional plea to students, citing personal family and financial issues as her reasons for not being registered by the DNE deadline.

Some councillors, however, feel that this response is not only inadequate, but also problematic.

“Students elected councillors to represent them at council, and councillors voted for her resignation,” said Arts and Science Councillor Gonzo Nieto. “She seems to be bypassing the will of council, or ignoring it.”

Before the motion to have Gallardo resign was passed, a motion to grant her a 15-day grace period was proposed by Arts and Science Councillor Juliana Ramos. That motion failed.

“I think that it’s pretty bold for them to be asking for an extension given the fact that she was granted one during elections under the understanding that she would fix her student status problems,” said Walcott.

CSU President Schubert Laforest disagreed on this, however, drawing a comparison with a similar situation in last year’s executive, involving Gallardo’s predecessor.

“I found it rather unfortunate that council didn’t accord the 15-day grace period, namely because of the executives that were in that similar situation last year,” said Laforest in reference to former CSU VP Advocacy and Outreach Morgan Pudwell’s resignation in the spring after being found to not be a student. “I thought that they would at least be understanding in that regard.”

In April, Pudwell resigned, citing “health-related issues” in a letter to the CSU. She was later found not to have been a student, despite serving on the executive, and receiving pay, for the entire year.

Some councillors feel that while the two situations are related, Gallardo’s conduct, and namely her absence from council and the lack of a letter, made all the difference.

“I don’t think that a motion calling for Lucia’s resignation would have been necessary had she just done what she should have done in the first place, and either show up to council and deliver some sort of explanation, or resign,” said Walcott.

“She chose to not show up and not resign. There needs to be some form of accountability. These are different situations.”

Gallardo says that she is trying to rectify her situation, and that it might be resolved as soon as this Friday. She hopes that students and council have patience, though she would ultimately respect their decisions, she said.

“If the student body supports my resignation, that’s fine,” said Gallardo. “I was voted in to represent them and if they don’t want me as a representative, what can I do but resign?

“But I feel like, given the context of the situation, what happened last year—and given that I’ll probably receive an answer by Friday—I want to ask for that extension.”

In the event that an executive refuses to resign, council can vote them out of office. CSU bylaws require a 10-day notice to be given to the person in question, and then a two-thirds majority vote at council.

“I’m hoping that it doesn’t have to come to that,” said Nieto. “I’m hoping with the motion from council, it’s understood that that is the will of council and she will follow suit.”