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Student roundtable turmoil continues with resignation

Future uncertain as member associations hold disaffiliation referenda

The Table de concertation étudiante du Québec (TaCEQ) faced yet another setback on Friday when the Vice-Secretary General of Communications and Internal Relations announced his resignation in a letter addressed to the student association. Guillaume Fortin, who was elected in May 2013, stated in the letter that he thought he “could work in this degrading situation, but I can’t anymore.”

Fortin’s resignation is just one of several pressing problems within the student roundtable, which has seen tension between members throughout the year. Recently, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) took first steps to leave the organization, with a motion passed during the February 6 SSMU Council creating a referendum question asking SSMU members whether they wish to leave the roundtable association.

SSMU VP External Samuel Harris noted that since the University of Sherbrooke’s graduate student society, Regroupement des étudiants de maîtrise, de diplôme et de doctorat de l’Université de Sherbrooke (REMDUS) voted to disaffiliate from TaCEQ this semester, SSMU is one of three student associations left in the organization.

“For TaCEQ the thing is, because REMDUS has already left, there are only three associations left, including McGill […] it’s kind of falling apart,” Harris told The Daily.

Additionally, with the loss of REMDUS, SSMU has lost its major ally in the roundtable association.

Regarding Fortin’s resignation, Harris said, “In terms of his job of communications, there really isn’t that much to do communications-wise – or even politically – because [TaCEQ] is starting to wrap up.”

Fortin stated in his resignation letter that one of the issues prompting his resignation was the cancellation of an inter-association congress originally planned for the fall of 2013.

In an interview with The Daily, Fortin addressed the issue, explaining, “We were putting a lot on this congress to make things better at TaCEQ, but in the end it got cancelled, so many people were sad and mad about this.”

Fortin noted that after four months of preparation, the cancellation caused tensions between member student associations.

“SSMU and REMDUS were pretty pissed off about [the congress] and it made for a very unpleasant meetings.”

According to Fortin, this also caused a roadblock for the rest of the work TaCEQ could have done this year.

With Fortin’s resignation, there are only two secretary generals left, but since one of the remaining secretary generals, Xavier Laberge, is from REMDUS, he will also be gone at the end of the month.

“In terms of actual secretary generals, as of March 1, there is only going to be one of three that started the year,” Harris told The Daily.However, he noted that Laberge will be hired back as a paid employee without his former title, as his role of finance and administration is critical to the organization.

Harris said he would be very surprised if TaCEQ elected a new person to fill Fortin’s absence.

“I think everyone kind of agrees there is no point in doing communications and social media if TaCEQ has nothing to announce,” a feeling that Fortin himself echoed, stating, “Right now with the current state and current situation with TaCEQ […] there was nothing really going on with the communication side of TaCEQ.”

As to the future of TaCEQ, Fortin explained that along with SSMU, one of TaCEQ’s two other member organizations, L’Association des étudiantes et des étudiants de Laval inscrits aux études supérieures (ÆLIÉS), will be holding a referendum on disaffiliation in February, leaving only the Confédération des associations d’étudiants et étudiantes de l’Université Laval (CADEUL) in the roundtable.

“It is pretty much the end for TaCEQ, I think,” he said.

SSMU members will vote on whether or not to leave TaCEQ during the SSMU referendum period, from March 14 to 21.