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Letters to the Editor

by admin November 24, 2009

Letters to the Editor

by admin November 17, 2009

re: “New citizenship guide tries to pin down Canadian identity,” Nov. 17

Mr. Gravelle in his editorial is advocating a citizenship test every five years. Failure to pass this test would result is denial of all rights of citizenship. Mr. Gravelle, would my taxes which I pay to the federal government be reimbursed if I were to fail this proposed citizenship test, or merely my rights to citizenship such as education, health care, and voting? And where would the money needed to conduct these tests every five years come from? If I fail, can I ask for a re-evaluation (which any student at Concordia can request) ? If I miss the test due to medical reasons, can I apply for a Deferred Citizenship exam? What is someone gets caught looking at another person’s test, does this call for automatic withdrawal of citizenship? And just what is a “full-blooded Canadian” anyways ?

Regards,

Ted Obuchowicz, Jr. Eng., M.Eng.
VLSI/CAD Specialist (Jumpin’ Jack of CAD)
Part-Time Faculty
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re: “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions,” Oct. 20

The Concordian editorial Of Oct. 20 was an extremely caustic and harsh
critique of a fine student initiative.
I am a Concordia alum, and have lived and worked in Downtown Montreal for 25 years, some of those years in bookshops. I have seen many bookshops close their doors after two or three years of painstaking efforts. The Montreal economic environment is difficult to begin with and doubly so for the difficult market of books. Indeed, one could say that the road to Book Heaven is littered with the corpses of bookshops.

The Co-op was given a mandate and $20,000 start-up money by the student government. There followed a $10,000 loan from the CSU and $10,000 from a friend-organization. The $10 one time membership fee has also created $20,000 dollars (approximately), of revenue. But all this is over a six year time-period.
Ask any one who has worked in retail if $60,000 spread over a six year time-period is sufficient money to successfully insert a business into one of the most refractory markets of this country and you will be either be greeted with uproarious, deprecating laughter or be given the knowing, pitying look reserved for a pubescent youth who naively arrives in The Big City, hoping to make a fortune, with as only asset a body, a soul and ten dollars in pocket.

The Co-op Bookstore is not a threat to the Concordia Bookshop, or to Chapters, or to anyone for that matter, except perhaps to those who fear thought-food, one of the most difficult products to sell. The basic principle of cooperative endeavours is that, in return for a commitment of time and effort, members of a group can develop purchasing power to obtain products at prices which are advantageous, and more importantly, perhaps, gain control of the access to goods.

The Co-op extends that principle to all those who are communitarian in spirit but unable to give sweat-equity. The Co-op belongs to the traditions which gave us agrarian co-ops, credit unions, medicare, unemployment insurance, programs to help the handicapped and underprivileged, all of which are constantly threatened with discredit, as is the Co-op Bookstore.
For the price of one latte or of a beer, over a three year period, the students of Concordia can participate in a worthy effort, without even lifting a finger. That’s a bargain, if I ever saw one.

Andrew Macfarlane

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Coffee with Dabchy and Co., discussing the Library Contribution Campaign

As many of you may know, your CSU President and Co., have been hosting bi-monthly informal meet-and-greet sessions between the students and their government at Java U (Hall Building). Last Thursday’s discussion was well attended as it mainly focused on the upcoming referendum questions Nov. 24, 25, and 26.
The purpose of this letter is to answer and highlight questions concerning the Library Contribution Campaign. As of Tuesday, undergraduate students will be asked: Do you agree to contribute $1 per credit through the CSU for a 10-year Library Project?
Currently, the library offers free laptop loans; however, how many of us have had to wait quite a while to benefit from this service? If students vote yes, the CSU has been assured that the library will be able to immediately add 50 new laptops to their loan pool, on both campuses, for the new six-hour loan period! In addition, voting for this project will boost access to the loan of text books and course packs for all courses available at Concordia.

As soon as the floor above the Webster Library becomes available, the Library will expand to add more study space for students. The Libraries are committed to providing this as soon as possible. For now, having the library open 24 hours as of January 2010 is a resourceful way of using time as space. Students will know that they can study in a safe and quiet place anytime at their convenience.
A concern for students is how will their contribution be matched and accounted for. Donors will be matching up the contribution of students! We are confident that the donors lined-up will be inspired by the student contribution and match or exceed it. More so, the oversight committee will pressure potential donors to meet standards of corporate social responsibility.

A committee made up of librarians, students at large and student representatives will be constituted every year to manage and oversee this project. At the same time, they will be able to make sure that the safety and general study atmosphere of the libraries remains a top priority for beneficiaries. A contribution to the library is in no way an auxiliary fee or cash grab. By voting, students democratically determine whether they want an enhancement of the library services or to keep the status quo.

Helen Downie
VP Academic and Policy Reform
Concordia Student Union

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re: “A nation of soldiers we are not,” Nov. 17

Cameron Fenton has written a gem of an opinion piece. The real tragedy of our government is not that Stephen Harper has already entered history as one of the most unethical persons ever to sit in the House of Commons but that not one individual in the Senate, whose members are protected from elections, or the House of Commons has the moral integrity and ethical courage to denounce what is going on.
Plato told civilization long ago that the reason for war is economical. To get people to slaughter one another politicians cannot tell the truth to the people that they should please give their lives so others can become rich and powerful, instead they cloak the reasons for war in terms of democracy or religion, in other words the values that the particular culture holds dear.

David Sommer Rovins
Independent Student

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re: “in defence of alcoholism” and “enhanced interrogation is not torture (nov. 10)

While I don’t always agree with the opinions presented in your Opinions section, this week The Concordian really took it to new lows. You featured an editorial praising the joys of being a drunk from a young woman who clearly has, or is developing, a very, very serious problem. At universities across the country, student binge drinking and alcohol abuse are serious issues. The fact that your paper endorses students getting bombed out of their minds a minimum of four times a week is totally irresponsible. And, to the girl who wrote the article, a word of advice: maybe life wouldn’t seem like “a big fucking ball of ass” if you weren’t always drunk or hungover. There’s lots of help out there, and you need it.

But another article you chose to publish shocked me even more. This opinion piece defended Guatanamo Bay as a prison that respects human rights (saying the prisoners gain weight and eat healthy food), and says that the interrogation techniques used there are not torture – even endorsing waterboarding as a humane practice! Heads up – this downright ignorant article flies in the face of EVERY major human-rights body’s opinion, as well as the current U.S. government’s. The writer clearly thinks he is being witty, but instead has displayed his total lack of intelligence for all to see. None of these pieces came from your own writers, rather you chose to pick them up from a wire service. I understand the concept of balanced reportage, but what you are doing is giving a forum to twits who are dispensing ill-considered, irresponsible opinions. If your only goal was to set tongues wagging and stir up controversy, you achieved it – at a heavy toll to the credibility of your paper.

– Liz Faure, writer for The Link

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In light of Judith Woodsworth’s comments

We are shocked to learn that Judith Woodsworth, the president of our university, thinks the American model would be a good model for Concordia. To those who say students in Quebec are spoiled for wanting to protect our education system, you may now understand why we are so concerned. Some of us came from the United States to avoid these types of social policies; we would not have been able to afford Concordia if it had ‘American-style’ tuition. Some of us came from other countries and because of recent tuition hikes for international students at Concordia, have to consider transferring to more affordable universities.
The American model, in which most students pay a flat tuition, ‘while those with financial difficulties are subsidized by the schools,’ is not as effective as the president makes it sound. It means turning education into an industry in which it is sold and paid back over a lifetime. Loans and debt affect not only students’ well-being and academic performance; they affect their career choices, because to pay back their debt students must choose high-paying jobs instead of work that responds to the social responsibility our President highly praised in her speech to the Canadian Club of Montreal.
While Woodsworth is right that the student financial assistance regime is problematic, this would not be the case if the government prioritized funding our education system. We disagree with the president’s idea that ‘the best solution’ is to charge tuition to those who have money and support those ‘who are really in need.’ The ‘model’ for Quebec universities should not be an American model that grants gifts only to those lucky enough &- or poor enough &- to receive a scholarship, but rather a model based on universal access to education. We wonder if the president realizes that through her comments, she is excusing the Quebec government from its responsibility to prioritize basic services such as education.
Not to mention, it is disconcerting for us that the first person the president cited in her speech was the CEO of General Electric. We wonder if this is a sign that the private sector is increasingly dictating how our president thinks about education in this province. We worry that the president thinks our education system should be run like a business, according to a profit-making rationale, instead of for the benefit of critical thinking, learning and a healthy, just society.

– Nadia Hausfather, PhD Humanities, Concordia University
– Robert Sonin, M.A. Philosophy, Concordia University
– Douglas Smith, B.A. Spanish (Expression & Culture) / Études françaises, Concordia University
– Erik Chevrier, M.A. Special Individualized Program, Concordia University
– Odile Laforest, B.A. SCPA, Concordia University
– Lex Gill, Concordia student
On the part of Montreal Students Against Tuition Increase (MSATI)

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