The Bangladeshi Student Association (BSA) has existed since 1988. For the second time in 15 years, the BSA has been asked to pack their things and move.
That’s because five of the International Ethnic Association Council (I/EAC) clubs- the African Students Association, the Bangladeshi Students Association, the Caribbean Students Association, the Chinese Students Association and the Hellenic Students Association- that occupy office space on the 7th floor of the Hall Building must make way for Concordia University Television (CUTV).
CUTV, with their offices currently located on the 6th floor of the Hall Building, approached the Dean of Students, Dr. Charles Bertrand, asking for a larger workspace since they felt too “cramped” in their current location.
“We have not [got] enough room for our editing facilities or production facilities,” explained CUTV executive producer Stephan Herman, hoping that their new space will allow them to increase last year’s 70 members and maybe double or triple their previous production output.
The dean finally granted CUTV the I/EAC club space without consulting the individual I/EAC clubs affected by this move.
In fact, Mashrur Mia, BSA’s VP internal, claimed that the only contact they had with the Dean of Students Office was through David, the office secretary, who called them to confirm they had to move their things by Friday June 20 at 1 p.m. or be moved.
When we came on Thursday…we saw that our stuff had been moved already. So, they told us they are going to wait until Friday for us to pack stuff up but they moved us before that,” explained Mia, claiming that their office supplies (computer, phone, fax…etc) were “just dumped” in the Walk Safe office.
When asked why the clubs were not consulted, Louyse Lussier, the dean of students’ assistant, claimed that the “I/EAC tried unsuccessfully on two occasions, to hold elections for the next academic year, so this made it difficult to meet with their representatives and as the out-going Chair was on vacation and changed an appointment, the project fell behind schedule.”
Lussier also confirmed that the “clubs will be temporarily housed in the old CUTV offices as well as the Walk Safe office on the 7th floor, just next to their current location.”
As for CUTV, Herman says all he’s waiting for now is the green light. “I’m waiting for a confirmation from the dean’s office that it’s time for us to go.”
Herman would not comment on the discussions he had with the dean of students regarding the space, citing as a reason that the dean asked Herman to “refer those kinds of questions to his office.” Herman also added, “Personally, I don’t understand why [the dean would want him to refer questions concerning the move] because I can tell you that I believe everything was done on the up and up.”
All that the dean’s assistant could confirm was that she was “not involved in the actual meetings so I am not able to comment on the discussions and decision process.”
All the while, Mia says he is unsure what will happen to their club next. As the BSA club is still active during the summer, Mia says they will have to book meeting rooms in order to proceed with their weekly meetings and arrange for upcoming events.
The I/EAC clubs are also facing funding uncertainties. According to Lussier, three years ago the Concordia Council on Student Life (CCSL) alerted I/EAC clubs their funding would be cut and advised the clubs to start securing alternate funding.
“A referendum request was made to the CSU, very shortly before the elections this year, which was refused. To the best of my knowledge, very little was accomplished by previous I/EAC executives to facilitate this transition, despite inquiries by the dean of students office,” said Lussier.
Mia acknowledges that funding has been an issue. He has attended the last CSU space and administration committee meeting, where a space plan was discussed and options were presented for I/EAC clubs if they come under CSU.
Brent Farrington, CSU VP student environment, confirmed that two options would be possible if I/EAC clubs become CSU clubs.
“The dean is continuing to fund them, for the next year, so what can happen is, they register their club right now and they are a club under the CSU and they don’t get a budget, but they get money from the dean’s office. So, they have two clubs: one under the dean and one under the CSU. And then, when the dean cuts off their funding, their year will have been up anyway…so their restriction will be lifted on the CSU end and they’ll receive a budget.”
The second option would be for the space and admin committee to extend special rights to current I/EAC clubs but that’s completely up to Council.
But, Lussier says that funding for the I/EAC clubs has only “been extended one semester (September through December) to allow them to finalize their transition.”
Mia also mentioned that BSA is comprised of 300 members, a majority of which are graduate students, so that under the CSU, the graduate members could not be part of the executive but could be, what Farrington calls “associate” members, otherwise they would be in violation of CSU by-laws. Farrington also added that I/EAC clubs could be prioritized for offices if they come under CSU, seeing as how they did have offices before.
For now Mia says BSA executives will have to discuss their options among themselves before making a decision. They have also requested a meeting with the dean when he comes back.
Dr. Bertrand was unavailable for comment since he is on vacation until mid-July.