PSSA General Assembly Legitimacy in Question
By-Laws Broken After Meeting Held at Reggies, Prohibiting Minors from Participating
In the weeks following the Political Science Student Associations’ General Assembly on Jan. 30, questions have been raised over its legitimacy.
This article has been updated.
On Feb. 10 a letter from a political-science student was sent to The Link that dubbed the assembly a “democratic catastrophe.” The letter claimed the PSSA not only violated their own by-laws, but also called out the association for electing a “rigged” oversight committee.
The author of the letter, Annie Yeo, called out the GA for being “illegal” since the PSSA held the meeting at Reggies Bar, which goes against provincial law since it prohibited students who are underage in the department from attending.
Yeo said she chose to publish the letter anonymously to avoid being subjected to a hostility from her classmates.
Yeo also mentioned the association failed to follow their own by-laws because they didn’t ensure the assembly would be accessible to all PSSA students 10 days in advance.
“As accommodations were not made for potential minors […] within the stipulated deadlines within the PSSA bylaws, it was not a legitimate GA,” said Sophie Hough-Martin, general coordinator of the Concordia Student Union and political-science student.
“That contravenes the Companies Act and the Accreditation Act, which states that all members have the right to exercise their vote,” she continued.
PSSA President Chris Kalafatidis said he was under the impression Reggies Bar was an all ages venue, and that students would only get carded if they ordered alcohol. According to Reggies’ policies, anyone below the legal drinking age isn’t permitted entry, regardless of the event being hosted.
“I didn’t see anyone specifically so drunk to do that, but at the same time you shouldn’t be be mixing voting and alcohol. You should be sober when you vote.” – Annie Yeo
Reggies Bar General Manager Justin McLellan informed the PSSA of the misunderstanding, leading the association to post a public notice on the day of the assembly. It mentioned accommodations would be made for underage students who wanted to attend, but Kalafatidis said no minors reached out.
“It’s not a problem to have a GA at a bar when you have a back-up plan, it’s just that we didn’t announce that back-up plan well in advance,” Kalafatidis said.
“The letter does have a legitimate point, it should’ve been advertised way in advance and it’s possible people under 18 were discouraged from attending,” he continued. “In that sense potentially it could be recognized as illegitimate, however this is the largest amount of students we ever had at a GA.”
Prior to the GA, Hough-Martin addressed the crowd suggesting a second meeting be held at a more accessible location. Hough-Martin told The Link this resulted in her being accused of undermining the PSSA executive team.
“It puts the association at risk of losing their accreditation, which I mentioned at the GA,” Hough-Martin said. “I was incredibly uncomfortable, as a member of the PSSA, that this happened.”
During discussions on matters such as their budget, Yeo said members were drinking throughout the assembly. She said the PSSA had measures in place to kick out attendees if they were too intoxicated.
“I didn’t see anyone specifically so drunk to do that, but at the same time you shouldn’t be be mixing voting and alcohol. You should be sober when you vote,” Yeo said.
Motion to Kill Strike Discussion
At the assembly the floor agreed that the CSU be contacted to create a referendum on an undergraduate-wide strike against unpaid internships.
Kalafatidis acknowledged the intention of the motion was to “change the subject” and kill all discussion of a political-science student strike. “And it did,” he said.
Kalafatidis said an honest discussion should’ve taken place on whether the department wanted to strike, but “it probably would’ve gotten rejected.”
By the time CSU could call a referendum for their general elections in the spring, Hough-Martin said strikes in departments like journalism or communications would have already passed.
“For me, rather than an association taking a principled stance on whether or not they wanted to go on strike, this read as a very cowardly move,” she said. “There was an opportunity to say ‘the PSSA doesn’t want to go on strike,’ instead they did not and to me that’s incredibly problematic.”
‘Rigged’ Oversight Committee
Yeo’s letter also called out the recently elected oversight committee, put in place at the GA, for being corrupt and “stacked up with [Kalafatidis’] friends.”
Yeo said she’s concerned that it “will inherently produce biased policies.”
Committee members include Victoria Bolanos-Roberts and Gabriels Guppy-Garba, who are part the Concordia Model United Nations executive team.
“That just shows me that the writer of the letter had absolutely the worst intentions, because firstly the ballots were counted in front of the entire group of people,” Kalafatidis said. “I don’t think the election was rigged.”
Currently, Kalafatidis is rewriting their by-laws to reform the oversight committee as a board of directors for the PSSA. Kalafatidis said that the oversight committee presently fails to hold the executive team to account.
“The oversight committee is complete garbage,” he said. “The board of directors will be independently elected and their job is to have actual power over the executive.”
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the PSSA organized ConMUN events when they do not. The Link regrets this error.