Still No Fine Arts Rep on CSU Council

Students Seek Representation, Union Seeks Solution

The Concordia Student Union council meeting had a few extra audience members on Jan. 23—ones that had no intention of keeping quiet.

Several fine arts students sat in the corner of the room, ready to voice their dissatisfaction of representation—or lack thereof—on the body. Although they are dues-paying members to the union, not one fine arts student currently sits on CSU council.

“Take some of your boatloads of money and give it to us,” said fine arts student Alyce Dressner.

The CSU bylaws state that at least two representatives for each faculty must sit on council. However, three resignations last semester and the absence of a candidate running in November’s byelections has left council falling short of that mandate.

This reality has left fine arts students feeling they aren’t getting their money’s worth.

CSU VP Student Life and Sustainability for the 2010-11 academic year Laura Glover resigned as fine arts councillor on Oct. 21, citing a lack of time to perform the job.

After a tallied attendance of meetings was announced on Nov. 2, fine arts representatives Michael Mercer and Nicolas Martel had to step down, as CSU bylaws state that councillors cannot miss three or more scheduled regular meetings.

Once it became clear the faculty had lost all its representation on council, Fine Arts Student Alliance VP Clubs and Services Erika Couto brought the issue to council’s attention at their Nov. 28 meeting. Circa that time, Couto had also begun circulating a petition asking the CSU to hold a second byelection.

Fast-forward to the winter semester, however, and it looks like a byelection isn’t in the cards.

“[A byelection] wouldn’t be done well due to the time frame. I think the right call is to look for an alternate solution,” said CSU President Schubert Laforest. The union is currently without a chief electoral officer, who would oversee the vote, and the CSU general elections are just over a month away.

“A Fail-Safe Mechanism”

Before the winter break, a committee was formed to address and solve the fine arts representation issue.

Laforest, along with VP External Simon-Pierre Lauzon and councillors Benjamin Prunty, Hardial Rosner and Ramy Khoriaty, formed the committee and have met once since.

At that meeting, not all members were present. Rosner was absent, citing email issues as reason for her absence. The committee has yet to present any kind of solution to council.

Laforest said his priority, along with the short-term goal of giving fine arts students a voice on council, is to create “a fail-safe mechanism so this doesn’t happen again.”

His proposition is to create a way for faculty associations to recommend a representative with full voting rights at council, if ever there is no representation for that faculty following a byelection.

This would require an amendment of CSU bylaws, which needs a two-thirds majority of council’s support to take effect during his executive’s mandate.

However, Laforest was excused from Wednesday’s meeting due to illness. In his absence, council passed a motion that doesn’t need a change of bylaws.

The motion allows three ex-officio fine arts representatives to sit, which would grant them all the powers of a councilor with the exception of voting rights.

With that decision, the fine arts audience left Wednesday’s meeting. FASA has declined to comment on the motion until after their Feb. 6 council meeting.

“I really don’t see how it’s okay for them to think that’s where this will end,” said Dressner. “They seem really confused between fine arts students and FASA. They don’t owe FASA anything, but they do owe fine arts students representation because we pay them union dues.”

With council adopting the ex-officio motion, it’s unclear where this leaves Laforest’s “fail-safe mechanism.”

“Maybe ex-officio was the right way to go,” said Laforest. “Potentially, even if I was there, council would have decided ex-officio would have been more appropriate.”

It was brought up repeatedly at council that keeping lines of communication open with student associations is the responsibility of VP Student Life Alexis Suzuki. In the CSU bylaws, the VP Student Life is “the liaison for faculty associations.”

Suzuki says that she has not contacted any fine arts students regarding representation, and that no one has gotten in touch with her.

After Wednesday’s council meeting, VP Clubs and Internal Affairs Nadine Atallah has agreed to work with FASA and attend their next council meeting to find a solution to the groups’ issues, which she said “stems from a general lack of communication between the CSU and FASA.

“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter whose job it is, but who’s in the best position to talk with them,” said Atallah.