Concordia Student Union elections are like a really bad soap opera, or a train wreck. They’re oftentimes appalling, but once you make the mistake of looking directly at them you can’t seem to look away.
For those of you who don’t know me, I have been a CSU Councillor for the past two years and before that I led the two-year drive to accredit the Dawson Student Union against ferocious, and often illegal, opposition from the Dawson administration.
So you can tell that I have a particularly virulent case of the madness that compels some of us to get involved in the largely thankless world of student politics.
But this year, I promised myself, I was well and truly out. Instead of slogging through the unreasonably vicious trenches of another CSU election, I was taking a leave of absence from my union to work for the NDP during the upcoming federal election.
No backstabbing, no corruption (wellâ€¦ except for all that shit Harper pullsâ€¦) and the opportunity to work with a whack-load of awesome people and like-minded progressives.
But sure enough, just when I thought I was out, I got sucked back in.
Before I go any further, allow me to provide some background for the uninitiated.
You see, the CSU was run for many, many dark years by a dynasty of CV minded, administration-backed right-wingers known as Evolution, who moved from winning elections by overspending campaign limits by thousands of dollars to stuffing ballot boxes when even their massive financial advantage wasn’t enough (no seriously, they eventually got caught when one of their pet Chief Electoral Officers fessed up).
In order to beat them and ensure that elections could be run fairly and without ballot box stuffing, all the left and progressive groups formed a temporary alliance with a group of Evolution defectors led by Amine Dabchy. Unfortunately he turned out to be every bit as despotic and power-obsessed as Evolution and has sought to form a new dynasty in his image, first as President and then as puppet-master, ever since.
So we’ve suffered through a CSU controlled by a bunch of tragically incompetent representatives, who seem to take a perverse pleasure in refusing to respect the wishes of their constituents.
Now Amine’s new handcrafted slate of empty vessels, who love talking about their opposition to things like tuition increases, but hate it when students actually try to take action to prevent them, is running under the banner of ACTION.
Which brings us to how I got sucked back into this morass. You see when the campaign started ACTION’s website featured an impressive list of around 25 student clubs and organizations who endorsed them. Everyone from the campus Conservatives to NDP Concordia, from the Biology students association to the Sustainability Action Fund. The only problem? It was entirely fictitious. That’s right, why bother going to the trouble of asking groups for their endorsement when you can just make it up?
After some confused conversations between members of NDP Concordia we figured out that no one from the club had authorized the endorsement. So I posted a note on the wall of ACTION’s facebook page complaining that the club never authorized the endorsement and asking for an explanation.
Within the hour my post was deleted and I was blocked from their facebook page. So much for the accountability and transparency they’ve been campaigning on eh?
I have communicated my request for a public apology and retraction to several members of the slate, and left messages for their presidential candidate, all to no avail. The entire endorsements section of their website has been taken down, leading us to believe that the half dozen groups we know didn’t agree to endorse them weren’t alone.
The funny part about this whole saga, aside from the fact that Evolution did the exact same thing two years ago, is that it wouldn’t be nearly so bad if they hadn’t attempted a half-assed cover-up. If they had accepted that they screwed up and publicly explained their actions in response to my post, rather than trying to hide it from students, they might have gotten some credit for being honest and taking responsibility for their actions.
Sure, the cynical would argue that most students visit slate websites shortly after the campaign starts and removing it doesn’t change the impression of most students that ACTION is overwhelmingly supported by groups that had no intention of endorsing them. Or that their explanation to the student papers, that it was an error caused by their EXPECTATION of being endorsed by all those groups, and you know, not bothering to check, is a transparent fiction.
But it wouldn’t be as bad as trying to prevent students from finding out what they did. This from a team that is asking us to TRUST them with over 2 Million dollars of our money.
The whole problem with the CSU this year, which culminated in the CSU trying to expel almost 100 students from a public council meeting two weeks ago, is that they treat their constituents with contempt. ACTION is certainly not making a compelling case that they will be any different, and why would they be? At least a half dozen of the worst offenders from this year’s CSU are running for them.
So you can certainly gather from this article that I have no intention of voting for ACTION, however it’s very important to point out that NDP Concordia is not endorsing any slate or candidate at this time. Although you can certainly guess that we’re none too pleased with ACTION. Us poor dippers just wanted to stay out of it. So be aware that the opinions expressed in this article are my own, not those of the party or the campus club.