Congress Weekly

THE FRESHMEN’S FIRST SESSION: Congress Weekly – September 18th, 2020

Written by Si Wen Shen
Edited by Bhromor Rahman

With the elections now over, Congress members gathered this weekend at the school campus for their Retreat. This is the first weekly meeting for the new members and it was quite the loaded one!

Elections Result
After a heated campaign week, we have the results for our three elected Congress positions. Yu Zheng Lu won her bid for Coordinator of Cultural Affairs, Allison Engo will be our Coordinator of Charities and Volunteering and the captivating Coordinator of External Affairs campaign culminated in Pratham Mehta’s victory. 

As for appointed positions, candidates passed through three rounds of selection. Three students were finally appointed to their respective positions. Thomas Khairy is our Administrative Assistant this year (Laurence will finally be relieved from writing the meeting minutes). Anne Lin Arghirescu will be in charge of Internal Affairs, and Yena Lee is the new Financial Assistant.

For details about the vote results, please refer to Mahin Sekendra’s post in the MSU Facebook group.

Voting System glitch
Some of you may have heard about some issues related to the ballot count. Surprisingly, the numbers displayed by Omnivox and numbers on the voting site that Congress has used in the past years were actually different. However, there should be no concern over the results, as the winning candidates were very much the first choice in both sets of data. Laurence used two different independent softwares to double check the results on both sites, and it was ultimately decided to display the numbers from Congress’ traditional site at the publication of the results. We can only assume that Omnivox malfunctioned somehow, which never happens of course. 

Hitting under the belt
Unfortunately, there were a number of problems that occurred during campaigning. As many of you already know, an unprecedented 3 candidates were disqualified. For the sake of their privacy and to not stain their records, their names were not made public.

The incidents, which involved more than just the candidates, included cyberbullying and racism. One case raised during the Congress meeting consisted of racist comments and rumors being spread on a particular platform, targeting a certain candidate who had no opportunity to defend themself on said platform.

As stated during the meeting, such behaviour is unacceptable coming from Marianopolis students. Some do not realize the severity and damage they have caused by their words and actions. Congress, as well as select school staff members, are privy to the names of those involved. As the candidate in question of that case does not want to pursue the matter any further, Congress will not go beyond giving a warning to the offenders. However, a repeat offense will not be tolerated and there will be heavy repercussions. 

Election Aftermath

For an entire week, Congress had been in constant contact with the concerned candidates. The entire incident has taken a toll on their mental health due to the pressure. Both Congress and the school counselors will have follow-ups and check-ups with them. School counselors will be available for therapy sessions if needed.

Last Monday, 2 of the disqualified had reached out to MWR’s Editor-in-chief to tell their side of the story and accused ERC of misconduct. MWR had inquired about the possibility of writing an article on this topic and had received a rather positive response from Laurence. However, as the week progressed, the gravity of the situation was assessed and both Congress and the candidates in question decided to not publish anything on the topic, as the repercussions of a publicized Disqualification article could be very grave. Congress states that it is, by no means, trying to censor MWR and tries to be as transparent as possible, but for the sake of the privacy and mental health of all the people involved, no details or article should be published. However, Congress can only try to educate and inform the student body, they cannot stop rumors from spreading.

In light of such events, two members of Congress will be running a campaign against cyberbullying, which is also highly relevant given the virtualization of the semester. 

Also, it is suggested that future election campaigns be restricted to Instagram and Facebook, as well as limiting the language to English, perhaps allowing French. 

Social Justice Committee
Tristan suggests that all members of the SJ Committee take the Mental Health First Aid seminars, especially with the Tell Me Your Story project in progress.

General Assembly
The bi-annual General Assembly will take place online, on the Facebook MSU group, from September 29th to October 1st. All students are encouraged to participate. It is also MANDATORY for ALL CLUB EXECS. 3 participants will be randomly selected to win 25$. For more details, please refer to Maria Azadian’s post on the MSU Facebook group.

Emergency Funds
Congress had launched an Emergency Funds project last semester to aid students in need of financial aid due to COVID-19. The project halted with the end of Winter semester 2020, but in the light of the devastation caused by the pandemic and more issues to come, it may be relevant to start the project again. According to Congress’ finances, it may be possible to dedicate a total of 3000$ to 4000$ to the cause. The vote passed by unanimous consent among the members of Congress.

Brebeuf Student Union Update

The Brebeuf Student Union has always maintained good relations with our school’s Congress and Laurence, a Brebeuf alumni, had some news to share. 

Every year, there is usually a joint training camp involving multiple cegeps, which Marianopolis has almost never attended as it is traditionally held during our Fall elections. However, this year, neither Marianopolis nor Brebeuf has received any clear information about it, so it will likely be postponed, which may allow Marianopolis to attend this time around. 

Brebeuf and several schools have also seen the #MeToo movement gaining steam. For now, no accusations have occurred that involve Marianopolis, but the situation remains to be seen.

As you all know, students can be involved in committees, which are led by members of Congress. The first year Congress members are also welcome to create a committee if they’d like. Students can become members of such committees through application and interview. However, a reminder that application does not guarantee acceptance.

Congress Volunteer
In past years, Congress has had a club-like group of Congress Volunteers, who can help around during Congress events. It was often an option for students who wanted to participate in Congress activities but were not in committees. It was suggested during the meeting to set up this “club” again this year.

Climate Strike
Many of you may have seen Edward Li’s post on the MSU Facebook page about the Global Climate Strike on September 25th, asking Congress to endorse it. However, at the time of the meeting, the petition had not yet reached the 100 required signatures. Thus, Congress cannot endorse the strike. 

Furthermore, the official date of the Global Climate Strike is September 25th this Friday. However, the Quebec Climate Strike (affiliated with GCS) will be on Saturday the 26th. Organizers explain that they chose a saturday because of accessibility concerns as many may not be able to afford to strike on the 25th. 

Congress cannot endorse a strike that is not on the official date, especially with an incomplete petition. Moreover, Congress will also have to ask for Edward to change parts of his post on Facebook, as the strike he is calling for is not on the official date. Of course, Congress will not discourage any students from going, but please keep in mind the ongoing pandemic and protect yourself accordingly, and also make sure to balance your school work and communicate with your teachers.

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