It is nearing the end of the 2002-2003 academic year and by June, a new CSU executive will be taking the place of our current one. This year’s student union like in the past three years has been in the headlines for one reason or another. So how well did Sabine Friesinger’s slate do?
First, the positives.
At the beginning of the year, the executives did fight for the space on the Mezzanine and postponing the possible development of a cafeteria for a year. This is crucial space for students, which they need to hold their various functions, as there is no other space that will get them enough exposure. They did a good job in preventing the possibility and kept the pressure on the administration. Moreover, they also tried to get a joint trusteeship of the Mezzanine with the dean of students, in order to ensure that the space would be kept for student use.
A second good thing that the executives did was fight to end the moratorium on Middle East issues. This was of paramount importance for both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli students, but the main point was that students’ right to freedom of speech was trampled on and the student union tried to have it reversed.
The executives also made an attempt to deal with the issue of racism on campus by holding a general assembly. They did get the ball rolling, but that is only what they have done and nothing more. At least there will be an inquiry into this important issue that students have to deal with.
Now, the negatives.
Repeated requests from the administration, the university’s Board of Governors and a councillor from the CSU council of representatives to see the CSU’s budget, led to students wanting to know about the student union’s budget. The only thing that is made available is a general budget with no specifics and it does not even explain how their one million dollars are spent precisely. Also, more detailed books should be have been made available to students, so they could see whether the money is well managed. Not being fully open with their finances has made students become suspicious that something could be going on.
Furthermore, after Sept. 9, the student union did not appear to represent all students at Concordia and came across to being on the side of the protesters, and this sentiment was cemented by council’s decision to giving money to defend those who were arrested. Even though the council of representatives is the highest decision making, and a separate body than the executives, students associated this decision with the executives. The executives did not make that clear to students, nor did they oppose council’s decision. Also, being present at the protest made it seem that they were part of the protest, and again, making them seem partisan.
The most negative aspect of this year’s executives was their mishandling of tensions between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian students. These tensions have been going on for as long as the Palestinian uprising, and rising tensions post-Sept. 9 have made the debate non-constructive. The CSU and the administration did have a discussion the week after the event with both sides, but it did not do much. There was much more that could have been done by the student union to address the tension. The CSU seemed to give up or ran out of ideas of what to do.
Overall, the executive was average. They were not outstanding, as they do not have any vision on how to handle the pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli tensions and how to diffuse them. But they did fight for some issues that are important to students like the Mezzanine, the moratorium and racism. Nonetheless, there is still much more that could have been done. So they get a B-.