University Bylaws on Student Eligibility Will Not Change, Concordia Senate Decides

Two Proposals Affecting Rights of Student-Protesters Fail To Pass

Concordia University’s Senate met on Friday, April 22, where among other agenda points, the issue of a bylaw regarding student eligibility was discussed. File Photo Nikolas Litzenberger

The debate about whether Concordia students can solely choose who represents them on various university institutions continued at a monthly Senate meeting on Friday, April 22, with no clear resolution.

Two proposals—one by the university and the other by students—were raised to resolve a contentious university bylaw that prevents students from serving on Senate, the Board of Governors, and other Concordia bodies if they’ve been sanctioned under the school’s Code of Rights and Responsibilities within the past three years.

Both proposals failed to pass by a majority vote. At the meeting, Concordia President Alan Shepard said the matter will be sent back to Senate’s Steering Committee for further review.

This bylaw has become an issue in recent months, after about two dozen students received letters of reprimand—the most lenient of consequences—from independent tribunals under the Code for their participation in strikes and protests against austerity measures in the spring of 2015.

The university’s proposal acknowledged this issue and allowed for students with letters of reprimand to continue serving.

The proposal by the Concordia Student Union went further, asking that any student enrolled in a for-credit course, not in “failed standing,” and not suspended or expelled, be eligible to serve on bodies like Senate.

In March, the CSU council voted to take legal action against the university if informal resolution in regard to these bylaws could not be reached.

“It’d be a shame to be on the front page of the newspaper for a lawsuit,” Shepard commented at one point during Friday’s debate, which lasted almost two hours.

“It’d be a shame to be on the front page of the newspaper for a lawsuit,” — Concordia President Alan Shepard

Students have been arguing they have the ability to appoint whoever they see fit to serve on Senate and the Board of Governors because of Quebec’s law on accredited student associations.

It states that student organizations like the CSU “alone” can appoint their representatives.

This argument took a broader scope last month after outgoing CSU General Coordinator Terry Wilkings ran for Senate knowing he would be ineligible to serve because it would be his fourth consecutive term.

Another university bylaw states that a student senator can only serve three terms consecutively.

As it stands, Marion Miller will be ineligible to server on Senate next year even though Fine Arts students voted to have continue the role. File Photo Nikolas Litzenberger

Originally, Wilkings tied with another candidate for the Senate spot in the March CSU General Elections.

After a recount, Wilkings won the seat by a margin of seven votes, according to a Facebook post by the CSU Chief Electoral Officer.

At Friday’s meeting, student Senators mostly voiced a unified argument that their proposal stems from the principle they should have sole right to make their own decisions.

Marion Miller, who has a letter of reprimand, said students don’t question the appointments that faculty or administration make to Senate, the Board of Governors, and other committees.

Because of the letter, Miller can’t sit on Senate next year even though 132 Fine Arts students voted “yes” to have her continue her role, and only two said “no.”