Response to Leaked Closed Session Tapes Reveal Controversy as CSU Council Awards Max Bonus to Former Academic and Advocacy Exec
Editor's note: This letter is in response to this story.
My name is Patrick Quinn; I was the Academic and Advocacy Coordinator at the Concordia Student Union from 2019-2020. Nine months ago, the student newspaper The Link published an article about me which does not accurately represent my work and motivations with the CSU. Because of that, I filed a complaint to the Conseil de Presse du Québec. Fortunately, The Link and I came to an agreement where I can tell my side of the story. That is why I am writing this commentary. I hope this commentary gives clarity to readers about who I am. I am a hard worker who puts 110 per cent effort in the work I do. When my colleagues put in hard work, I recognize their contributions.
What is the CSU?
The CSU, as some may not know, represents all 35,000 undergraduates equally. It is made of an eight person executive, elected in the March general elections, and a 30 person council (Board of Directors). The CSU is a $2 million annual operation with a $10 million contingency fund. In other words, whoever runs the CSU for the year has a lot of power and a lot of responsibility. That was something I took seriously when I was elected to the executive in March 2019.
My response to the claims in the article
I was initially contacted for an email interview for this article. From what I have been told by several journalists, it is common practice to offer an in-person interview, or at least a phone interview. I was not offered this by the journalist.
Consequently, this article lacked important information and context that my point of view would have provided. I would like to take this opportunity to add this information, to ensure the readers of this newspaper get a more complete view of the story.
I recognize the hard work of my colleagues. My predecessors on the CSU executive understood the eligibility requirements to sit on the University’s Senate and Board of Governors were punitive for people in failed and conditional standing and for independent students. Without their groundwork, my year’s student Senator team would not have been able to successfully convince the Senate to adopt the proposal.
In regards to the fall reading week proposal, I would like to add some clarity; I have not, nor wish to, take credit for the work of others. The article points out that I did not sit on a committee that worked on different possible scenarios for a fall reading week, if it were implemented. This is true, however the article conflates this with what I said I accomplished: holding a referendum where students could vote on the fall reading week proposal. I did not sit on this one specific committee for the fall reading week but I rolled my sleeves up to get the support of the student body for this idea. I am happy that this work paid off.
In November 2019, the student body voted overwhelmingly to have a fall reading week. In 2023, because of the work of this referendum campaign and because of the work of this committee, we will have a fall reading week. This is something I am proud to have played a part in.
I would also like to point out that the article makes a claim about something that was not actually my responsibility as Academic and Advocacy Coordinator. It claims that I did not tell a CSU committee (which I was not part of) that the Ombudsperson position was unfilled. According to CSU policy, the responsibility to appoint falls to this committee in question; it does not give the Academic and Advocacy Coordinator this responsibility, in the appointments process, to inform this committee. Had I had this duty, I would have immediately informed the committee. Since I was not part of this committee, I did not want to overstep my authority in this matter.
I am eternally grateful to have had the chance to represent students at the CSU for the 2019-2020 academic year. I was honoured to help students when problems became apparent. One memory stands out in particular, from the start of the pandemic in 2020: advocating for students and moving the administration to allow students to remain in residence, as opposed to evicting them with only three days' notice, as well as representing student interests by advocating for the institution of the pass/fail system and against online proctoring.
I hope my response helps provide some clarity about my work with the CSU. Working at the CSU was a challenging experience; I am, however, forever grateful to have had this experience because of the many people I had the honour to work with and because of the many projects I got to work on.