Business and engineering students
attended a Concordia Student Union general assembly in large numbers on
Sept. 26, and massively outvoted the CSU executives activist agenda.
The alumni auditorium of the Hall Building was filled to capacity with
well over 800 students, including a large turnout from the two professional
They had at least two issues in mind. One was the withdrawal of companies
from student-organized job fairs as a result of a CSU publication denouncing
several Montreal-area companies. The other concerned the nomination of
student representatives on Senate and the Board of Governors.
Cristelle Basmaji, president of the Commerce and Administration Students
Association (CASA), was one of the key organizers of the unusual turnout
of these students, many of whom had never been involved in campus politics,
even to the extent of voting in CSU elections. She sent letters to business
students urging them to attend.
At the assembly, Basmaji and others succeeded in getting a resolution
to ban several corporations from campus moved to the top of the agenda;
it was soundly defeated. She also introduced a motion to permit CASA and
the Engineering and Computer Science Students Association (ECA) to nominate
their own representatives to the Senate and Board, as was the practice
until last year. This was passed.
After that, most of the students got up and left the assembly, leaving
it without a quorum, 550 students.
A motion was introduced that would have moved the remaining items of the
assemblys agenda to the CSUs Council of Representatives. However,
Basmaji and others successfully argued that it would be undemocratic to
have a demand to the university for the reinstatement of excluded activists
Tom Keefer and Laith Marouf decided by a group of 30 students. As a result,
the assembly was adjourned.
Basmaji is in her third year and has attended many CSU assemblies, but
always felt very much in the minority when faced with the
current executives anti-capitalist agenda.
She agreed that the assembly had been an education in civics, both for
the CSU executive, which has claimed to speak for all Concordia students
although it got votes from fewer than four per cent, and for the mass
of students who traditionally leave student government to the politically
committed. This was a big change, she admitted.
A group of students started circulating a petition last week to recall
the current CSU executive. Basmaji said she felt sure that more than enough
signatures would be collected. If 10 per cent of the student body, or
about 2,400 students, sign the petition, an election must be called within
Meanwhile, the CSU handbook, Uprising 2001-2002, continued to anger
many outside the university. On Oct. 1, Bnai Brith denounced its
virulent attacks on Israel, and called on police to investigate the publication
as an incitement to violence.
An essay in the National Post by Jonathan Kay on Sept. 28 ridiculed
a poem in the handbook by the confused Mia Brooks that calls
for an intifada against the patriarchy, and called CSU activist
Keefer a notorious loudmouth.
For the second time in a month, The Gazette published an editorial
denouncing the CSU as a personal playground for a bunch of radical
The universitys administration continued to receive angry and curious
calls from the public, and has made a formal request to the Quebec government
to investigate whether the activities of the CSU contravene the charter
and bylaws of the student union. However, Education Minister François
Legaults initial reaction was that his ministry would not intervene.
See also: Major
donors take a wait-and-see attitude