September 27, 2020

BY JORDAN JOHNSTONE

Students will no longer have a voice in selecting the president and vice-president of Conestoga Students Inc., if the student association has its way.

CSI held its annual general meeting on Oct. 21 in the Sanctuary with higher than average student turnout (approximately 35 students). Attendees were told that the organization wanted to amend its bylaws regarding the hiring of the president and vice-president. For most of the college’s 47 years, CSI has selected the president and vice-president from current members of the board of directors, except in the last two years. In 2013 CSI changed its policy to allow anyone from the student body to run for these positions. However, CSI wants to revert to the original format, stating in a suggested bylaw amendments document that “after trial it has proven to not be a viable option.”

“By having executives chosen who are student elected, we have had some major issues with transition, training and knowledge, with a lot of our traditions being lost,” said Sheena Witzel, assistant general manager of CSI.

Witzel also stated that electing the executive positions from within helps ensure that a consistent, knowledgeable person is hired, who is willing to take on the responsibility and risk of being the CEO and head of a $5-million corporation.

With some schools, such as Humber College, having lawsuits pending against subpar student boards and other colleges removing the student councils completely due to issues, CSI thinks it is a gamble to hire the executives from the student body.

“Best example I can offer is, after I was elected in February, in May I could have refused to sign for the rec renovations and that project would have been scraped,” said Jeff Scherer, CSI’s current president.

Currently, in addition to voting on these two positions, the student body elects all board of directors. CSI officials think students should trust this board to choose the executive positions. They also believe that since the president and vice-president receive a salary, that this is a personnel issue and, therefore, shouldn’t be part of a student vote.

At the meeting student Zoey Ross asked if this was just a way to exclude the student body and avoid rogue, risk-taking candidates being voted into the positions.

“It’s not about us being afraid of risk, it’s because there were major issues and it has caused problems. It’s not a matter of being afraid of risk, it’s the fact we were exposed to it,” Witzel said.

However, in a stunning twist after all the discussion about bylaw amendments, a student from the Cambridge campus, at his first CSI meeting, pointed out to the board of directors that under their own bylaw policies, section 7.12, that quorum had not been reached.

Requirements for quorum mandate that 10 per cent of students vote, either in person or by proxy, to change the bylaws on executive positions. Since CSI had received only 333 votes they could not hold a vote on the proposed amendments.

The student association will now have to schedule another general meeting and gather 1,100 proxy votes. This meeting must be advertised at least 21 days before its scheduled date.

In other business Scherer updated the student body on the recreation centre’s renovations and removal of the rink.

“We are adding a triple gymnasium, renovating the top spine area, we are going to turn it into a student lounge area,” Scherer said.

Another food vendor will be opening in the upper area once the renovations of the rec centre are complete.

CSI listened to the student body’s request for a healthier option on campus, initially having Booster Juice on board before that company walked away due to concerns about foot traffic in the new lounge area. Now Scherer said he is almost certain Pita Pit will be the new vendor.

Scherer also stated that the new rec centre will have a 5,000-square-foot multipurpose room, bigger varsity change room, retractable bleachers in the new gym and a chiropractor and massage therapy office.

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