The Right to Serve

How Concordia Bylaws May Prevent Outgoing and Incoming CSU Execs from Sitting on University Decision-Making Bodies

Terry Wilkings, middle, has been on the CSU executive team for the past two years and has sat on Senate for three consecutive terms. Archive Michael Wrobel

If Terry Wilkings wins the race for the Arts and Science Faculty seat on Concordia’s Senate body, he will be ineligible to serve.

He hasn’t won yet though—there was a tie.

In last week’s general elections for the Concordia Student Union, two candidates ran for the spot on Senate. This included Wilkings, who has been on the CSU executive team for the past two years and has sat on Senate for three consecutive terms. His opposition was Zanib Nafees, a first-year psychology student looking to get more involved in university politics.  

After a ballot count on Thursday night, the tally read 364 “yes” votes for both Nafees and Wilkings, with 378 students choosing to abstain. There will be a recount on Friday, April 8, according to Mohammed AlNaggar, the Chief Electoral Officer of the CSU. AlNaggar said he would have to cast a vote in the event of another tie.  

According to Article 62 of the university bylaws, Wilkings will be ineligible to sit on Senate next year because it will be his fourth term, and students can only serve a maximum of three consecutive years.

One of the main motivations to run again was to add pressure onto the university in regard to changing this bylaw and others like it, Wilkings explained. He said some of the university bylaws on eligibility are contradictory to Quebec’s act on accredited student associations.

Article 32 of this law states that student associations like the CSU “alone” have the power to appoint people to university bodies like its Board of Governors, Senate, and appointment committees for senior admin like the president or provost.

“It’s the question of: do students alone have the ability to select who represents them or not,” Wilkings said.

Last month, the CSU council passed a motion to take legal action if an informal resolution could not be reached with the university in regard to these bylaws. At that point, the motion largely stemmed from student politicians being unable to sit on university bodies next year due to letters of reprimand they received from protesting in the spring 2015 strikes.

If the rules change and he ends up winning, Wilkings said he would like to serve a fourth term on Senate. If the CSU and university reach an informal resolution in regard to the situation surrounding student-protesters and a compromise is needed, Wilkings said he would possibly withdraw his Senate nomination.  

The aim is to keep the conversation on the CSU’s right to appoint its members to various institutional bodies as broad as possible, Wilkings said, and not solely focus on the circumstances surrounding student-protesters.

Nafees, the other competitor in the senate race, thought the election results were a hoax at first, given Wilkings’ extensive experience in Concordia politics. “That was a big thing for me to get a tie,” she said.

She has no prior experience in Concordia governance. Her friends from the Muslim Student Association, Nafees said, convinced her to run because they wanted someone affiliated with the group to represent them.

Even though she lacks experience, Nafees said everyone must start somewhere. Wilkings said his first term on Senate was his first official involvement in Concordia politics. “You want to give other people a chance,” Nafees said.   

By the (University) Bylaw

Article 62:

Student Senators who are appointed under Article o) and p) may serve a maximum of three consecutive terms, following which one (1) year shall elapse before they become eligible for reappointment.

Article 63:

Students elected to Senate shall be registered in an undergraduate or graduate program, be registered in a course or other for-credit activity, and be in good standing. Students who are in failed standing, in conditional standing or on academic probation or who have been sanctioned either under the Code of Rights and Responsibilities (Policy BD-3) or the Academic Code of Conduct within the three (3) years previous to their nomination are not eligible.are 16 spots reserved for student senators.

Quebec Act on Accreditation

Article 32:

An accredited students’ association or alliance may, alone, appoint students who, under an Act, regulation, by-law, charter or agreement, are called upon to sit or participate as student representatives on various councils, committees or other bodies in the institution. If several associations or students’ association alliances are accredited to represent the students of the various groups contemplated in section 2.1, the appointments shall be made upon agreement among those associations and alliances, or, failing an agreement, as determined by the institution reserved for student senators.

Board of Governers and the Senate: A Primer

The Board of Governors is the “senior governing body of the University and is responsible for establishing the legal and administrative framework for the University,” essentially making it the highest decision-making body at Concordia. There are three student governors out of a total 25.  

Senate is the second highest decision-making body at Concordia University. It’s the “senior academic body” that establishes procedures and is subject to the board’s authority. Out of 55 voting members, there are 16 spots reserved for student senators.