With the Concordia Student Union elections a week away, The Concordian sat down with Unity party candidates for executive positions to learn who they are and what they stand for. With the recent resignation of the Wired slate, Unity is now running for executive unopposed. This team of executive candidates pride themselves on the services offered by this year’s CSU executive.
José Garcia, candidate for VP services said he wants to establish a “transition-in, transition-out service.” He said this service would be primarily geared to international and out-of-province students. The “transition-in” program would include guided tours conducted by students, in multiple languages. “We want to give a student’s perspective of what it’s like being here at Concordia.”
The “transition-out” program would help graduating students improve their CVs and teach them “how to rock in an interview,” said Garcia. Unity also intends to start a food and clothing bank for Concordia students in need, which would be staffed by student volunteers.
Although they would like to expand the CSU tutoring centre to cover as many faculties as possible, VP External Colin Goldfinch stressed that certain Arts and Sciences courses, such as languages, social sciences, anthropology, require more “unconventional” tutoring as opposed to engineering and business. To address this, he proposed offering students a database of certified tutors to complement the existing tutoring service. He added that students might qualify as tutors, which could be a potential source of employment for students.
When asked about his experience, André Audy, the candidate for VP Finance, said he had been an inventory manager, which entailed conscientiously gauging the stock levels and placing orders without wasting money. He also mentioned that his job entailed an attention to detail because he was also entering data and keeping records.
On the topic of meals and transportation costs expensed by executives this year, which total $6,500, including the yearly expenses-paid retreat, he said that whether the costs should be taken out of the executives’ expense accounts or from other parts of the budget depends on how strongly related the meals and transportation are to their duties.
“Obviously, if you’re taking a cab when you could be taking the subway, I don’t think that’s an expense that should go on the CSU’s budget at all,” Audy said.
“As for whether [the expenses] should go on events’ budget or not, I think that depends on whether it is directly related to the event . . . Let’s say if you have to meet a [corporate] executive for lunch to work out the [CSU] insurance, it’s a long-term plan for students, then it should be taken out of the expense account.”
If he were to mirror this year’s VP Finance, Fauve Castagna, and her dual position as the accountant for CUSACorp, the profit-making entity of the CSU, he promised that all financial documents concerning Reggie’s Bar and other CUSACorp assets will be made available to the public. Leroy said he plans to expand fundraising “so events like orientation cost less.”
On the subject of clubs’ funding, specifically on the issue of how certain clubs haven’t used any of the thousands of dollars allocated to them by the CSU whereas over 50 other potential clubs are waiting for approval, CSU Clubs and Sustainability candidate Priscilla Gomes will be taking a hard line.
“If clubs are not [using the money], money from students, then why are we handing it to [them]?”
However, she also said that part of the reason some of the clubs haven’t used any of their funding, which ranges between $250 to $9,000 this year depending on membership size, is that clubs don’t know how to use their budgets. She said that continuing a “clubs’ orientation,” an information session done by last year’s executive, could help fix the lack of information. A web designer and a printer for advertising materials are some of the resources a club can take advantage of. When asked if there is a solution to the issue of the long waiting list of clubs seeking approval and funding from the CSU, she said that she would have to “analyze which clubs have not been active with their budgets . . . I would give them warnings. If I could bring up more clubs at Concordia, I would be more than happy.”
Natalie Mai, running for VP Student Life and Loyola, said she wants to expand the CSU’s free lunch at Loyola. “Next year we want to invest more money in it, have a bigger budget, so we can serve more students.”
According to Mai, the free lunch serves 100 to 150 people every day, a number she hopes to double.
She said improving the Hive is also a high priority. “For Loyola students, aside from doing papers and studying, there’s not much to do,” said Mai.
She wants to show cartoons in the afternoon and have a concert series at the newly re-opened student space on Loyola campus.
While the “Reggie’s of Loyola” is now open, it still doesn’t have a liquor license.
“We’re working on it,” said Elie Chivi, running for VP communications, “but there’s an extreme difficulty with the administration.”
But: “not everything with student life needs to be associated with alcohol . . . there’s a lot of other things we can offer that are fun, and exciting and enjoyable. Obviously we’re going to work on it, because once we have it, it will give us access to a lot more types of events, but it’s not just about that.”
VP External candidate Colin Goldfinch said Concordia’s lobbying efforts must focus on reinvestment in post-secondary education by the government. He said he will attempt to gain the support of Montreal citizens by attracting the mainstream media’s attention on this issue.
“We need to bring this fight outside the student community . . . We need to remind Montreal that . . . we contribute to [local] businesses, we contribute to the art community, we also make Montreal more diverse . . . we contribute to the economy after we graduate.”
When asked whether a freeze on tuition should be the goal of student lobbying, he said in the debate over the freeze and ancillary fees, “we are nickel-and-diming ourselves,” and that the student movement needs to focus on broader issues.
He said that minimum wage hasn’t kept up with inflation, and that the government isn’t doing enough to encourage international students to work in Canada after graduation because of the difficulty in getting work permits and the lack of bursaries. More opportunities for them means the local workforce would benefit from their knowledge and the diversity they could bring, he said. “We need to focus on how post-secondary education can benefit society.”
Getting students involved:
Chivi said he wants to talk to students directly, in classrooms, to tell them about CSU events such as the Loyola Luncheon. Mai wants to get member associations, such as ASFA, to participate in CSU events and to send out e-mails to their members. They also plan to establish a “CSU info line” where students could ask question via text message.
“It could be as basic as where do I go to register, or it could be what do I do if I get accused of plagiarism . . . anything to do with your Concordia experience we want to be able to answer,” said Mai.