Who needs accountability when you can just make shit up? ACTION drags the CSU to a new low…

That's right, it's blurry on purpose!

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 (well… except for all that shit Harper pulls…) 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).

Amine Dabchy aka "The Puppet Master"

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.

They're coming for you!

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.

13 comments

  • Evoloution, the Concordia party that conned me to vote for them back when I was a member of the Concordia Writer’s Group several years ago. The byline back then seemed to make sense to me at the time, but I was only to find out that they were real tyrants. They ordered us to endorse them, or at least tried to, but we refused to endorse them or any political group in the CSU elections, according to our group’s constitution which specifically stated that we were an apolitical group.

    Shortly after they were elected we found that the locks to our office at the Loyola campus had been changed, and we were effectively destroyed by them. They claimed to have sent e-mails to a nonexistant e-mail address that they had conveniently concocted for us, but didn’t tell us about at all, until well after it was too late. they also claimed, rather conveniently, that the e-mail account they opened for us was deleted along with our group. We had to bring in the RCMP just to get our belongings out from that office, which then sat empty for about three years.

    Later, Hillel was granted the space so they could have representation on both campuses. The Muslim Student’s Association then put a quash to that, and tried to take it as their own offices, even though they had stolen the common room for their prayers years earlier, and never allowed anyone else to use it. There was of course a lawsuit and a media blitz about it, partly because the CSU had agreed to let them be one of the only student groups with large, dedicated space at both campuses, whereas all other religious student groups were relegated to small offices.

    In the interim, I had attended screenings of several pro-Evoloution films, all of which were made with a high budget, and featured well-known speakers who had no connection whatsoever with the school, which were crafted to make the other student parties look quite bad, and even racist and anti-semetic. most of these films were shown off campus, and often not only shown to students, but more importantly, the parents of students and the people who donate money to Concordia, as well as the Evoloution Party of Concordia University.

    The truth was, that the CSU the year before that, were shit-disturbers, causing problems and demanding change without any true reason for change, and regularly used smear campaigns, irrelevancies and falsehoods. they did this to the point where the school refused to give the CSU any money, and another lawsuit was born.

    The Evoloution party of Concordia made me completely distrust any and all politicians afterwards, as I’ve strongly believed, and still do, that a successful politician is a corrupt politician, with very few exceptions. This is the party that claimed to be pro-environment and student economies while having water fountains removed and replaced with bottled-water vending machines. Though I’m not at all surprised, I’d had no idea that the Evoloution party of Concordia still existed, until I read this. thank you for the information about it, Ethan.

  • Remember this is the group who insisted they had never heard of AJ West.
    Who had texts from Heather Lucas on his phone, complete with her well known CSU phone number.

    Laurence I had no idea about all the CWG drama and I was there for all that stuff you mentioned. I’m not surprised at all. Those actions (key changing, “omg I have no idea how that happened”) are 100% Farrington Style.

  • Dude, these guys are so corrupt, so dismissive of students it’s not even funny. I could write twenty articles about how messed up they are. But I was trying to stay out of it, until they screwed with me directly.

    Thanks for the comments Wendy and Laurence, I invite anyone else who wants to vent to share their stories here.

  • didnt read your article but amine looks like a boss…goodjob!

  • pretty lame of NDP concordia
    they should be more involved in the elections…take a stand, support democracy, support a slate and stop being cowards. Maybe then you can gain some respect with the student union and body

  • Hey,

    I can feel the emotion in this article, and rightly so. Passed years (from what I have heard) have been ridiculous, and clearly you’ve gotten shafted on more than one occasion. I’m not here to defend nor start any arguments, simply to make a friendly amendment and ask a question.

    In regards to the 100 students being expelled from the CSU Council meeting, the real number was more like 40 to 50, give or take a few, not including councilors. In all honesty, they had the right to be there to support their friend Morgan as she publicly spoke her resignation statement. The real ruckus began when closed session was called and those students who were asked to temporarily leave felt screwed over.

    From their perspective I completely understand how that looked un-transparent, and in hindsight, as a councilor who voted in favor of that, I wish I or someone else had properly expressed the nature of why it was called, and that nothing would be hidden nor taboo as soon as open session returned. An alternative, once the storm of discontent arose, would have been to reconsider the motion for closed session. But everything is 20/20 in hindsight. That being said, for someone who is as knowledgeable and vehement when it comes to following rules of order during council, I wish you had been there.

    I really would have liked to continue the meeting to really hear all sides of the story in an ordered manner. Morgan could have shed light and gave further explanation to her claims. Teresa could have gone into detail on how a large group of students compiled and signed a letter simply expressing their discontent with Morgan’s performance in relation to some aspects of her mandate, although not asking her to resign, only to step up her game. Each and every student who had an opinion in the matter could have expressed them. It is unfortunate but that’s life.

    I feel like I strayed from my friendly amendment, and for that I’m sorry. At the end of the day, I feel as though there are many perspectives and opinions on this whole matter, and somewhere in the middle is the real truth and what actually happened.

    For what it’s worth, on behalf of myself, the person who deleted you post on the second page you posted on, I am sorry. Silencing you right out was not my intention, and there was misinformation going around to say the least, and for the record I feel as though there still is some misinformation happening on all sides.

    Lastly, my question. Am I one of those half-dozen worst offenders re-running? Just curious, not offended if you think so. Being a council veteran, I might actually take it as a compliment..

    jk 😉

    thanks.

  • Hi Carla, thanks for the comment.

    Really the endorsement issue is more to do with there not having been a meeting where such a thing could have been democratically voted on rather than a refusal to make an endorsement.

    However, although I was VP External for the past two years I am no longer a super active member of the club, so the best thing would be to contact Nathalie Bocking and join the club. That way you could call a meeting and propose a motion to endorse one party or the other.

    Plus you could get involved in the Federal election, and those are always fun!

  • Hi Alex, thanks for taking the time to comment.

    I never would have missed that council meeting but I was deathly ill and had a fever of 103, I did watch the whole thing on CUTV though and I certainly would have had a thing or two to say if I was there.

    First, I’d like to address this thing about all the people there being Morgan’s “friends” that Tomer Shavit so impolitely brought up at that meeting. It is insulting to students who take the time to try to participate in the governance of the student union to dismiss them in this way.

    First, I think the majority were there because they had legitimate grievances with the union, and supported Morgan not because they were her friends, but because they were very active students who saw first hand the work she did on WHALE and supported her POLITICALLY, not personally. A good number also made clear they were there not to support her, but to oppose the actions of the CSU. Second, even if there were people there whose only reason for attending was to support their friend Morgan, they’re still students and still have the same right as anyone else to participate.

    On the video I counted well over 70, and I couldn’t see the whole room. It was the most packed council meeting I’ve seen in three years. The closed session was unacceptable, not a miscommunication. The same strategy has been used each and every time council is confronted by a large group of students at their meeting to make complaints. As someone who does have a lot of experience with rules of parliamentary procedure I can tell you that closed session is wildly misused by the CSU. It is intended only for discussion of CV’s and confidential details of an employee’s application for a job. There are precious few other circumstances where it is acceptable.

    I’ve made that clear and spoken passionately against the use of closed session to exclude students repeatedly on council, so no one can plead ignorance.

    I appreciate your apology, but during an election campaign you live and die as a team, fairly or not you are responsible for all the actions of your team. You communicated with me by private message on facebook, but deleted my post on a public page. That’s not transparency. However I appreciate you trying to correct that. The only thing that will fix this is a public apology, which Khalil has refused to offer.

    You guys need to stop trying to spin your mistakes and accept that the only way to deal with them is to own up to them and deal with the fall-out. As a student I was upset about the false endorsement, but I am furious about the attempt to silence me. I think most students are more angry about the cover-up than the crime.

    Finally Alex, you’re not the worst on council, that’s for sure. But you do tend to vote with them, as you did when you voted for closed session. I’m pretty sure you also voted against calling on external members of the Board to resign, something Council was forced to pass a month later after a student uprising at the Informational General Meeting. So while I do have respect for you, and you seem to care more than most about the principles you all pay lip service to, I haven’t seen you stand up to those who would ignore the students they represent.

    Until you’re willing to take a stand and fight them, you’re functionally just as bad (in that your vote always goes with theirs).

    Thanks again for the comment Alex, now will you commit to getting your team to issue a formal apology and retraction in the newspapers this week? I think we all await your answer with baited breath…

  • i was one of the students who attended that council meeting
    just to set the record straight we were about 50 students
    after the meeting i felt embarrassed for my involvement, as i was dragged their by friends, and sent apology letters to many of the councilors at it…at the time we were told to stand up for Morgan, but it didnt lead to anything and just ruined the meeting, which is what we were planning to do from the start.

    furhtermore i feel that this article is emotionally charged and exagerated!

    i wont be voting in this election, but question your ties with the yourconcordia slate? and wether your just another pawn, like i was, in their attempt to discredit a strong slate such as action

    • Hi Gabriel, thanks for the comment.

      The presence of students most certainly didn’t ruin the meeting. What ruined the meeting was the anti-democratic decision to misuse the closed session to exclude students and the inexcusable refusal to reconsider the motion in response to the complaints of their constituents. Councillors messed up, badly.

      As to your question, I have no ties to your concordia. In fact Lex Gill and I had a falling out over a year ago and have hardly spoken two words in that time. However I have been involved with the CSU for many years and know a lot about it’s internal workings and the role of Amine Dabchy. I also know that council this year has been dismissive to the point of contempt of students concerns, however they were expressed. What happened at that meeting was a culmination of Council’s disregard for students over the course of the year, not an isolated incident.

      I also would like to take you at your word, but when you suggest I’m a pawn being used to “discredit a strong slate such as action” I have to question if you don’t have more involvement in this election than you are letting on. I’m mad that my club was used as a pawn by a slate which doesn’t care much for telling the truth, I find their response unacceptable and I believe that if people try to hide things then they should be exposed. That’s my motivation.

  • i think you are overreacting…gotta love the drama before elections and how people make a huge deal out of nothing!

  • i think ethans personal opinions towards amine might be over-coloring this article/opinion piece

    lets face it this isnt the most practical reporter
    reading the link i understand that Cox’s idea of reform was to have 23 board members removed from office: “Cox motioned to have 23 board members removed from office”

    lets be realistic.

  • Thanks for the comments, James and Will.

    As to your point James I moved that the CSU call on all external members of the Board to resign. Hardly crazy given that two thirds of them have exceeded the maximum term limit in their own rules of 6 years.

    These members of the Board are CEO’s and Corporate Executives who are wholly responsible for the problems that the Board has caused the university, from Woodsworth to LaJeunesse.

    We need more seats for students, teachers and staff, and fewer for corporate reps who want to run a public educational institution like a business. If we must have so many external reps then they should at least represent the community. How about a union president, a community organizer, an NGO Executive?

    It is also important to mention that my motion was the same demand that all other internal groups representing students, faculty and staff had already made at that time. It is to the eternal shame of the CSU, and ACTION (the slate being run by the current Executive and including many councillors)that they voted down my motion, and were then forced to pass it a month later after students voted overwhelmingly in favour of it at a general meeting.

    Thanks for the responses, I hope that clarified my position.

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