As of next Friday, Concordia students will have a new student government and most of the slates that are running have said they want to rebuild our shattered reputation and do something about racism on campus. These are important issues that need to be addressed and all the slates want to do their best to achieve these goals, but whichever slate takes over next year, they are in for a challenge.
Next year’s student union needs to do more to reach out to alienated students, otherwise it is not doing its duty. The newly elected slate must also at the same time deal in a constructive way with the above mentioned issues.
One of many reasons why there is such a low voter turnout for student union elections is students feel alienated because they think the union is doing nothing for them. The winning slate should take the time during the summer and really find out what students want from their union. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the union to listen to what their students want and not focus on just a few issues, but on wider-ranging ones. More importantly, the executives need to reach out more to students who are not part of either side of the Middle East debate and not part of the People’s Potato, but those who do not ordinarily take part in either activity. These are the students who feel the most alienated.
The best way of dealing with our shattered reputation is by trying to ensure constructive debate on the Middle East. This in itself is a challenge, as some people on both sides are constructive with the debate, but it gets out of hand with those who are disrespectful. The union must take a firm stand that unconstructive debate like shouting in people’s faces is unacceptable. But since the CSU and Hillel are in court over a lawsuit, the dean of students and the CSU should jointly crack down on unconstructive debate.
As for the racism issue, it is definitely on campus and the student union should continue in the right direction in dealing with this issue, but it cannot go at it alone; without at least another party involved, it would lack credibility. It will need the help of an independent individual or an independent organization, along with the university’s administration to either put an end to speculation of whether or not it exists and do something concrete about it.
The 2003-2004 academic year will be difficult for whichever slate will take over Sabine Friesinger and her executives, and unless more outreach is done to alienated students, next year’s slate will have to deal with the same problems as this year’s union sand there will be no progress whatsoever in Concordia’s reputation.