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A student union according to ConU students

by Archives November 14, 2001
A number of Concordia University students were interviewed as to what their opinion was of a student union.
“We need people to represent us,” says Lydia El-Cherif, a 20-year-old creative writing student. “Governments represent the people. Student unions represent the students.”
So, what constitutes a good student union? “A good student union… represents the whole population of the student body, not just the views of those in the student union,” replies Mary-Ann Stemberga, a 20-year-old English literature student.
Its purpose should never be forgotten. “A student union serves the student body.
It does not dictate, direct or harass,” says Brent Schaus, a 30-year-old English literature student. “An honest attempt to survey the needs of the entire student body should be carried out. They are not accountable only to the 4% of the student populace that voted them in.”
Consequently, not only should a student union be a godsend to its students, but to its university as well. “A good student union can make us proud of our school,” protests Matthew Raymond, a 20-year-old psychology student.
Making its students proud is something the current CSU has failed to do. The occurrences of this semester are a clear indication of what a student union should not be. Due to all the controversy and ruckus the union has caused, Concordia has a long way to go before it gets the one it needs.
Paolo Della Rocca is one Concordia student who sometimes has felt reluctant to tell people what university he attends. “I know people who see Concordia as a farce,” admits the 19-year-old history student.
When it comes to the downfall of the CSU, students can agree on one thing it failed to do. “Not representing the students,” Della Rocca says. “They were elected by a very small minority of students which is pathetic.”
Brent Schaus agrees. “They did not try to reflect the needs of the student body as a whole. They sought to dictate,” he says. “I feel that their approach was excessively didactic, and gave the impression of contempt for their people. Too many of their actions seemed fuelled by fear and hatred. Contempt.”
While many were outraged by the Uprising agenda or by the CSU trying to ruin student job opportunities in corporations, others think of past history. Denise Dawn Hubert, a 20-year-old journalism student believes the CSU’s downfall is “[t]he same as every democracy’s downfall: in the end, it’s not the well-intentioned, honest or intelligent people who get the positions. It’s the people who sound most convincing, who play to the desires of the ignorant masses.”
Fortunately, things can change. “There is hope for the CSU if those in charge stop to think of the long-term effects of the decisions they are making,” says Ann Bernier, an independent student. Decisions must be made in the best interests of students. In order for this to happen, there needs to be open communication between the two factions. Working together, students and their union must stand united, and rely on one another for support.
Learning from its past mistakes will be important in helping the future student union try to prevent history from repeating itself. Electing new student representatives and trying to regain the respect it deserves are steps it has to take to reestablish itself as the protector of students’ rights and the voice of its student population.
“Hopefully, there will be a better representative of the students. People who are more in tune with the students, not their own ideas,” says Andrea Brown, 19, an English literature and history major. “I hope that more people will get involved and vote.”

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