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October 25, 2001 Student union president Sabrina Stea resigns



CSU president’s letter of resignation, presented to Oct. 18 meeting of CSU Council of Representatives.

To the CSU Council of Representatives and the students of Concordia,

I am informing you that as of 5 p.m. today, I am resigning as president of the Concordia Student Union.

My resignation is motivated by two reasons. First, I want to make clear that our student union can no longer tolerate the interference in internal student union affairs by the Concordia University administration. The second, that a new presidential election will be an opportunity for open debate and will encourage the wider membership to get involved in a direct way. An election will help clear the air of the misinformation being spread regarding the CSU.

In March 2001, I ran as President of the student union and won more votes than the two runners-up combined, with the second-highest voter turnout in the CSU’s history. My slate was open and forthcoming about its political orientation and made it clear that throughout our term we would fight for democracy, accessibility and human rights at home and abroad.

The administration, however, has steadily played a direct and manipulative role in seeking to undermine the student union by downplaying the mandate we had won from the student body.

As a university student, I strongly believe in the power and responsibility that students have within society to challenge the status quo. I think that it is ridiculous to claim that the Union should not be political. I believe it should act as a platform from which issues should be put forward, debated and more importantly acted upon. Universities have traditionally been a safe space for debates no matter how controversial, and students have a history of standing up and taking progressive stances.

However, the Concordia administration, elected by no one and accountable only to the profit-making interest, has over the course of the past five months embarked upon an ever-escalating campaign of interference into the workings of the CSU. It has done this because administrators are afraid of the political positions that our members have taken in democratically conducted student-wide elections and referenda which have been critical of their policies and governance, the growing privatization of university, and the human rights violations committed around the world.

During the course of my mandate, members of the university administration, including Dr. Lowy, have been complicit in:

– the arbitrary expulsion and banning from campus of two duly elected union representatives, Tom Keefer and Laith Marouf.

– the interference in the September 26th general assembly by telling students how to vote through the instructions of the Dean of Engineering and faculty members.

– the blatant refusal of university space and facilities to student groups, as well as the banning of postering on campus, impeding any and all direct communication with our membership.

– the tacit support of B’nai Brith’s disgusting comments regarding the CSU handbook and its “terrorist” nature, and its purported links to Osama bin Laden.

– the calling of an investigation of the CSU merely based on CSU-published articles criticizing corporations, on a fraud that occurred under a previous CSU executive, and on a controversial student agenda.

I freely acknowledge the fact that students may take issue with the CSU’s political positions, and that they have problems that they would like addressed. Nevertheless, I believe that during my time as president, the CSU has been completely successful in raising important issues and we have given space and visibility to the marginalized voices on campus and in society and we take pride in that.

The CSU is a democratic and accountable organization, and arguably the most democratic institution on campus. Any and all students can run for executive or council and vote in our elections, referenda and general assemblies. Students are the ones that should determine the policy and positions of their student union, not the university administration.

I can no longer tolerate this undermining of my mandate and of students’ right to run their own affairs. I am resigning in order to bring these matters to public attention and in order to allow students an opportunity to openly debate their differences and to emerge from a new electoral process with a strong and united student union.

I do not rule out the possibility of running for re-election. For the past five years, I have been involved in various university-bodies and in unofficial student organizations. As a Fine Arts student, and as president of the CSU, I have always fought for the interests of students by raising concerns about human rights, the role of education in society and about the dangers of corporatization and privatization in the education field.

This struggle is what a university education is about. I will continue to do so following my resignation from the CSU presidency and I hope that tradition will be upheld.

In solidarity,
Sabrina Stea