“There are going to be losers”

Students Voted Off Board at Governors’ Meeting

Photo Julia Wolfe

Student representation is set to be slashed on the Board of Governors, the highest decision-making body at Concordia University, after a vote was passed to amend the membership makeup.

Immediately following the vote, the four undergraduate and one graduate student representatives walked out of the meeting in protest.

“The same people who have the ability to say how the University functions […] and make decisions that directly impact the lives of students are the same people who have explicitly stated and formed a motion saying they don’t want students at the table,” said Concordia Student Union President Lex Gill following the meeting.

By the end of this academic year, undergraduate students will have only one seat on the Board—going from 10 per cent voting power down to four per cent.

“It’s about students having a massive stake in the university, and the university closing them out of the decision-making process,” Gill continued.

Throughout the meeting, the student reps put forward various motions to change or delay the passage of Article 23 in the Bylaws, which effectively breaks down the Board of Governors’ composition and limits student representation. They were voted down.

Article 23 had been an unresolved issue on various Board and Senate committees over the last month, and student reps called for it to be debated further.

“Postponing is not a solution,” said Board member, and member of the Ad Hoc Governance Review Committee, Rita de Santis. “We need to forge ahead to put these policies in place […] to immediately bring our governance [structure] into the 21st century.”

De Santis went on to explain that students should be thankful to have the proposed “alternate governor” because other universities offer their undergrads even less power. The alternate will not have voting rights on the Board, but can participate fully on committees.

“Your voice isn’t going down too much,” she told the student reps, “[but] there are going to be losers.”

Throughout the meeting, tensions grew between the Board executive, student reps and audience members. Immediately before the vote, undergraduate student Alex Matak—who ran as an independent candidate in last April’s CSU election—was vocal in her dissent.

“The fact of the matter is, [the Board] has sat here and said very eloquently that [they] care about students and care about the Concordia community and that [they] want to keep in mind the bigger picture,” she said. “But Peter Kruyt has, throughout this entire meeting, policed student speech more than anyone else, he’s stopped them from talking and he’s been condescending to them.

“This whole morning has been [about debating] Article 23. Perhaps that’s an indication that there is something wrong with what you’re about to vote on. I’d like to let you know that as a student at Concordia, if you vote this through, I’m going to be very ashamed, and I think a lot of other people are too.”

Kruyt responded to Matak, saying, “What you are doing is a disservice to the students.” He then suggested, “Perhaps we shouldn’t have an audience [in the meetings] at all.”

The Amendments were then passed through secret ballot, though Gill challenged the Chair as to why the vote—which she called the most important in Concordia’s governance history—wasn’t more transparent.

Stay tuned for more coverage.