GSA elections 

By Karen Herland

Concordia’s Graduate Students Association can finally get down to business as usual after a difficult few months. The acclaimed GSA executive takes office Oct. 11, after an election was held in late September.

Interim Dean of Students Roger Côté declared himself “satisfied with the process.” That was not the case last April, when the elections for the 2007-08 academic year were originally held.

“There were complaints and concerns from a number of people, including some of the candidates. In the end, the number of concerns challenged the integrity of the electoral process and impeded the recognition of the outcome,” said Côté. Then Dean of Students Keith Pruden decided to annul the elections.

The previous executive ended their term in May. Patrice Blais, who was on council at the time, was named interim GSA president by council to ensure that the GSA met its corporate obligations over the summer, as well as reviewing the existing bylaws and preparing the Fall elections.

“I was already on the council, was a graduate student with legal skills and some experience running not-for-profit groups,” Blais said.

Without an executive team to back him up, Blais had to prepare the GSA handbook and orientation and oversee service delivery, in addition to addressing the problems. He spent a fair amount of energy producing a new set of bylaws.

“They clarified the role of every body and the division of powers between the executive, council and the general assembly.”

According to Blais, differences in the council last year led to an impasse. The existing bylaws require a two-thirds majority of council to make every decision. The difficulty of gaining such a large majority has taken its toll at different points in the GSA’s history. Last year, a one-third minority was able to block decisions they disagreed with.

“When you come to a wall, you can either turn right or left — if you stay in the middle, you hit the wall,” said Blais.

Council approved his reworked bylaws over the summer, but they were not adopted by the membership in a referendum along with the recent elections. Two other questions concerning fee levies for The Link and the Concordia Student Broadcasting Corporation were also defeated.

“The fact that the bylaw referendum did not pass does not preclude the new executive developing a different set of changes. The new executive and council will have to decide what they are going to do,” said Côté.


Concordia University