Students Say Yes to BDS
Controversial Ballot Finally Tallied
A week after the Concordia Student Union by-elections ended, the final referendum question received a verdict. Out of the 2,500 students that voted, 1,276 of them support the CSU endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel movement, while 1067 voted ‘No.’ There were 237 abstentions.
Five students were overseen by the CSU Chief Electoral Officer Andre-Marcel Baril as they counted the votes. Javier Hoyos and Lauren Luz, representatives from the “Yes” and “No” sides of the BDS campaign respectively, waited, choosing to pass the time by watching Netflix together.
“It’s fair. We saw the votes being counted. It’s what everyone at Concordia wanted,” said Luz, a member of the Concordians United Against BDS. “We’re not going to stop.”
The vote count occurred after Baril announced the suspension of the original tally on Thursday, Nov. 27. He sought the consultation of an independent firm which practices law and specializes in cases such as these.
The No to BDS committee was sanctioned due to undisclosed reasons that Baril will address in a report to the CSU. The committee appealed to the Judicial Board a day before the elections with multiple allegations against Baril and the process of editing the question. This ultimately led to the use of an alternate question.
“The only thing you can really do is give fines,” Baril said. “You can’t really kick out a side of the referendum question.”
“I was worried that some of the allegations would snowball and really have a confounding influence the outcome of the election, in which case, I wouldn’t know what to do.”
The CEO position is separate from vested political parties like the CSU so an independent firm was necessary for advice, he said. Their advice was mainly to see how to handle breaches in by-laws and regulations by both committees, according to Baril.
“It wasn’t long. It wasn’t expensive,” the CEO continued. “It was just a sit-down and talk about this for an hour and was more productive than doing this on my own.”
Hoyos, the chair of Concordians in Support of BDS, called the victory “crazy and unbelievable” as “we did not think we would win.” He added that the whole process was fair and transparent, but there was “a lot of contention between both sides.”
The exact way in which the CSU will endorse the BDS movement is unknown at the moment. Hoyos said that a committee will be created to consult the council and students to ensure that whatever they decide is “proven” and “not arbitrary.”
“There are a lot of blueprints to follow. There are a lot of universities who have adopted this already,” he added. “We want this to be a legitimate process.”
Hoyos is looking for suggestions from all parties. “I just told Lauren [Luz] that she is more than welcome to participate,” he continued.
“They’ll definitely be taking input from all the students as to how they’re going to go about implementing this now,” Luz said.