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October 25, 2001 CSU manoeuvres over recall election



More than 3,000 Concordia students signed a petition to recall the student union to election.

More than 3,000 Concordia students signed a petition to recall the student union to election. At left, Chris Schultz, and at right, Ralph Lee. Both were unsuccessul candidates in the CSU elections last March.

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

by Barbara Black

The executive of the Concordia Student Union maintains that a petition to recall them is invalid because president Sabrina Stea resigned before the petition was presented.

More than 3,000 signatures were collected over a two-week period on a petition to hold an election before the current term is up. Organizers of the petition effort had some difficulty delivering it, however, as no chief electoral officer had been appointed by the CSU and no members of the executive turned up at their offices on Oct. 18 to receive it. Instead, students Chris Schultz and Ralph Lee gave the petition to Dean of Students Donald Boisvert, who promised to present it to the CSU executive.

That night, the CSU Council of Representatives met in a special meeting. Reportedly, it was a stormy one.

Many council members, even those who would normally not side with the CSU executive, were upset over receiving lawyer’s letters delivered by a bailiff and wanted to know who provided Schultz with the councillors’ home addresses. The matter was raised the next day at University Senate (See Senate Notes). Regarding the appointment of a chief electoral officer, the council agreed to post the position, since it is a paid one, and have someone in place by Wednesday of this week.

Stea resigned Oct. 15 (See statement), but has said that she will continue to be active and may run for re-election. Patrice Blais has been appointed interim CSU president, but the executive has also said that they will all resign before the next election.

For his part, Schultz and his supporters claim that the council is not respecting its own bylaws regarding the timing of the election. It should be held 30 days after the petition was submitted, which would mean mid-November. The council has extended that by two weeks, ensuring that the election would be held during the last week of classes, on Nov. 27-29.

Keefer, Marouf granted access

On Oct. 10, the first day of an injunction hearing before a Quebec Superior Court judge, Laith Marouf and Tom Keefer were granted limited access to the university to fulfill their duties as CSU executives.

Keefer and Marouf had been excluded from the university on Aug. 20 after an altercation with Concordia security guards. However, the court refused a request by the two men that Rector Frederick Lowy’s decision to exclude them from Concordia premises be set aside and that it be referred to a university hearing panel. The two men have started proceedings for an injunction to force the university to reinstate them. Their access to CSU offices was granted in the context of a safeguard order, an order by the court to protect the petitioners’ rights until the conclusion of the injunction proceedings. These are likely to continue in the courts over the next few months.

Former CSU VP finance charged with theft

Sheryll Navidad, former vice-president (finance) of the Concordia Student Union, has been charged in the disappearance last year of $193,062 of students’ money.

Other members of the CSU executive became aware of the theft during the summer of 2000, but it was not made public by then president Rob Green until just after the CSU held a successful referendum on provincial accreditation, in October of that year. Green and Navidad were the signing officers for the CSU, whose annual budget of about $625,000 comes from compulsory student fees. Far from being embarrassed at having signed the blank cheques that led to the apparent embezzlement of about one-third of the union’s annual budget, Green claimed that he had been victimized as much as anyone.

The CSU hired a forensic auditor, whose report was given to the Montreal Urban Community police last spring, and the CSU executive member Patrice Blais did an exhaustive inventory of the group’s tangled finances.

Navidad’s whereabouts are not known; nor is it known whether any of the money is left.