Researched and written by Keara Yim, originally posted on the GUSS facebook page March 6th:
Hi geography! I’ve sat down and written some responses to some of the most common questions/concerns we’ve been receiving about the strike. Hope the following responses are helpful, especially when it comes to understanding the ASFA framework that we are working within.
Aren’t there other measures we can take in response to the tuition hikes other than striking?
The decision to strike has not been made lightly by anyone involved. Significant actions have been taken in opposition to the strike since they were announced in the Spring of 2010. Since that time numerous protests involving thousands of people in the streets have taken place, shorter symbolic one-day strikes have taken place (including here at Concordia last February), the Conference of Quebec University Principals’ office was occupied, Hydro-Quebec’s headquarters were blockaded, and “The Manifesto of Quebec universities: for free, accessible, democratic and public universities” was released. In spite of all this, the government has not changed the proposed tuition hikes. Historically, striking has been the only strategy that has led to significant gains for students.
For a more detailed description of past activities check out Question 11 of http://freeeducationmontreal.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Why-Should-We-Strike-23-answers-for-students_updated-January-2012.pdf
Only around 40 people voted in favour of the strike mandate. Why is this decision legitimate when GUSS is comprised of almost 800 students?
ASFA bylaws can be found on this website. I have the relevant bylaw number listed in brackets (example: (ss.32)) so you can easily find the original statements yourself, hope that’s helpful!
GUSS must follow ASFA bylaws which state that quorum (the minimum number of people required to make a legally binding decision) is 2.5% of association members (ss.32). GUSS represents approximately 800 students and as a result quorum is 20 students. The fact that such a small number of people can make decisions affecting the entire association is not a condition that students are generally supportive of, regardless of their position on the strike. This is problem is not particular to this strike, or particular to one side or the other – it is a structural issue with the way that decisions are made within student associations.
Students should refrain from claiming majority support – there is simply no way of determining the position of every single student in the association.
That noted, there is no such thing as being apolitical. Not showing up to vote is in a sense a vote in itself, so regardless of your position please do some background reading, get informed, and come and vote so that whatever decision is made is a representative of the entire association!
A note about privacy and voting:
The vote at the general assembly is usually conducted through a show of hands. A ballot vote, however, can be conducted if proposed by a regular member and agreed to by the chairperson agrees and/or a majority of regular members agree (ss.38). Votes cannot be submitted by proxy.
Is it possible to vote if I can’t attend the GA?
The only way to circumvent a vote that requires everyone to physically meet at one time and place is through referendum. Calling a referendum requires a 2/3 majority vote of council, or may be called by a petition of 2.5% of the regular members presented to GUSS (ss.142). The petition must state clearly the intentions of the signatories for calling the Referendum.
Why was the next geography GA moved?
At the previous GA about 40 people showed up and the room we usually use (H-1271) was packed, hot, and uncomfortable. In anticipation of a higher voter turnout, GUSS was hoping to get the 7th floor CSU space for the next assembly. Unfortunately notifications for the next meeting were sent out before our use of the space was confirmed and a conflict came up, the next available time that we could use the space being Monday, March 12th.