The Concordia Student Union (CSU) space-plans meeting held last Thursday brought together some 15 student clubs, including the People’s Potato, to discuss the renovations that are to take place in Hall Building.
“Students need to realize that this is one of their concerns,” said Catherine Duchastel, member of the People’s Potato, about the new plans that may reduce the cafeteria space on the seventh floor.
Renovations have already begun on floors eight through 11 of the Hall Building. The university and the CSU are still negotiating over the changes to be made on the sixth and seventh floors. The CSU office will move to the seventh floor, possibly into what is now cafeteria space, according to the current proposition which is not final. The proposed contract is to last 20 years.
The People’s Potato was protesting in front of the CSU office two weeks ago, claiming that the union had disregarded transparency and accountability.
The members of the People’s Potato worried that the proposed changes would negatively affect their daily servings and limit student space on campus. They called against the “capitalist and repressive agendas of the current CSU,” according to their manifesto.
The CSU has since met with the People’s Potato and the two appeared to be in agreement at the conference, which called upon students to voice their concerns in order to help the executives finalize their renovation demands.
“I’m really happy that the CSU is on the same page as us in terms of a vision for student space; whereas the university is trying to get more conference room,” said Benoit Desgreniers of the People’s Potato, whose members arrived at the meeting baring food and switched around the formal positioning of the tables so as to have students facing each other.
Brent Farrington, CSU vice-president, is the chair of the space and admininstration committee. His main goal is to get more space for the CSU, for student clubs, and to move disabled student services to a more accessible area on the sixth floor.
“Over the past five years, the CSU has been requesting more space,” said Farrington. According to a study conducted by the CSU, 350 per cent more space than what is currently available is needed in order to accommodate all students.
There is presently 60 clubs under the CSU umbrella and only 25 of them have offices. That leaves 35 clubs without their own space and 17 of those clubs claim that they are having trouble operating as a consequence.
Farrington said that the space and admin committee will be asking for half of the eighth floor to be allocated to student clubs that need offices. Also, the current proposition suggests turning cafeteria space on the seventh floor into club space. But many worry that decreasing the cafeteria area will adversely affect students.
“Taking space that’s already useful and using it for something else it not as good of an idea as finding new space,” said David Parker of the Concordia Food Collective.
“This University does not have enough student space. The cafeteria is already too small, we cannot reduce it,” said Desgreniers.
Under the current plan, the CSU guarantees the exclusive use of two rooms on the seventh floor to the Muslim Student Association (MSA) for their Friday prayers that presently take place in the cafeteria. Those rooms will also be reserved for MSA during Ramadan.
The space and admininistration committee has not made an official demand yet as they are still contemplating what would be the best proposition. However, they are set on asking for more space.
“The university is very divided on space for students,” said Farrington. “We need genuine administrators to help us out to form these plans. Without it, the CSU has what is has had over the past several years, which is slowly lost some space. This union is determined not to.”
Desgreniers said that students need to come together in their demands. “WeIll win this by pressure and campaigns of student groups and students. Gaining more student space in the long term for everyone [will involve] having a bit of a fight with the administration to get that,” he said.
The space and administratiom committee will be meeting on Monday, Nov. 10 at 6:00 p.m.