I’m writing to express concern with a recent partisan thrust against local fee-levy groups, particularly with respect to the Concordia Student Union (CSU).
Council’s upsetting refusal to put two fee-levy questions on ballots for the upcoming CSU referendum certainly signals a problem for organizations like CUTV and the Co-op Bookstore, which provide important services, programs and internships to students, but who may not fall under the personal and/or political purview of what the CSU executive or majority of councillors consider to be “appropriate” organizations to be supporting.
Unfortunately this issue has trickled down to other levels of student governance, as ASFA president Audrey Peek recently refused to comply with a verbal agreement made between myself and ASFA’s VP academic to include an inventory of used books from the Co-op Bookstore on the ASFA Book Exchange website. Furthermore, with only five weeks of the semester remaining, the Academic and Advocacy Committee retains a sizable budget. In spite of this, my proposal to help advertise the Co-op’s upcoming used book sale was quickly countered with a question as to how the Co-op would help finance ASFA’s endeavours.
I find it disturbing that unions and federations, meant to represent their students on all levels, would intentionally avoid helping student initiatives, especially within a (hypothetically) independent framework of student elections and referenda. After the Sustainability Action Fund issue last semester, questions are beginning to be raised as to why there is such blatant hostility towards local, grassroots student initiatives.
In my humble opinion, our student union’s allegiance to national giant CFS (Canadian Federation of Students) is manifesting itself in a project to institute generic national student services and programs at Concordia. While it may sound admirable on a pragmatic level, it is no guarantee that students will be properly represented. Local fee-levy groups, such as the People’s Potato, the Concordia Volunteer Abroad Program (CVAP) and Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) have been instituted in the Concordia context, by students and members of the community who seek to enrich the fabric of Concordia student life and usually succeed in doing so.
The point here is not to denigrate the efforts of the union or insult the organization as a whole; it is simply to ask the following question: If student services and initiatives become a “one-stop shop,” what do we stand to gain, and what do we stand to lose?
Louise Birdsell Bauer
CSU and ASFA councillor