Rationing Representation

SGM Strike Vote Excludes Students

  • Graphic Eric Bent

Since the recent Board of Governors bloodbath, it’s pretty clear that the Concordia administration doesn’t represent us—but as it turns out, neither does our student union.

Well, at least not all of us.

I was excited to vote at last week’s Special General Meeting, where several hundred students called for a one-day strike on Nov. 10 in protest of the Charest government’s promised tuition hikes.

But, as a fine arts student, I wasn’t eligible.

As Concordia Student Union VP Advocacy Morgan Pudwell explained, only grad students and arts and sciences students would have their votes counted. The rest of us could “speak and participate,” she noted.

We’ve heard that before. Like plenty of students, I was outraged when ConU President Lowy told us that Freddy-Kruegering student representation on the Board was no big deal, since “Having a voice […] is more important than having a vote.”

The admin—and Board Chair Peter ‘We’re Done’ Kruyt in particular—seem to have more contempt for students in their pinky fingers than the CSU on its very worst day. Still, the basic principle and misunderstanding of democracy is the same.

The CSU throws this word around a lot. But letting 48 per cent of undergrads speak for the other 52 per cent isn’t even close to democratic.

CSU President Lex Gill explained that the decision not to call a CSU-wide strike was a question of logistics. “We’ve got six days left until Nov. 10 right now,” she said. That’s true, but it’s not like the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante sprung this whole Nov. 10 thing on us. The fact that the CSU couldn’t manage or be bothered to get organized and hold a general assembly over the past few months is worrisome.

The previous CSU, which included Pudwell, managed to do it with the WHALE back in February. They not only made quorum but also voted to lower it for future assemblies.
Look, it’s not that I think the current CSU has just spent the past two months hanging out in their office, huffing spray paint fumes and obsessively re-watching the first season of Game of Thrones. They have done a lot of great work; the balloons were cool and the flood of posters around campus is pretty impressive.

But a lot of that energy could have been directed towards calling a real, university-wide strike that would have raised awareness and gotten students stoked for Nov. 10.

And, for those of us in programs where we actually have to go to class—or fail—a strike would have put us on much more solid ground. In plenty of programs, students are heavily penalized for missing classes. It’s ultimately up to individual professors to decide what to do with students who skip. So now, on Nov. 10, a lot of us will have a tough choice to make. We really could have used our union’s help on this one.

I voted for Lex and Co. because I’m mad about tuition hikes and worried about the students who aren’t going to be able to afford to go to this university, let alone complain about its Roman Senate-esque politics.

If I wanted to just party with the CSU and play beer pong until I puke my own body weight in Molson Ex, I would have voted for the blue slate last April.

But the way things are going, we’re stuck with a pretty lame compromise. We’re weak on the tuition front and I haven’t puked once at a CSU-sponsored event.

What the hell?

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