A significantly lower budget for this year’s Concordia Student Union’s Speaker Series will only affect the quantity, not the quality of the guests for the events, according to Adrien Severyns, VP External & Projects.
“My plan is to have less speakers, but bigger names, and relevant messages that would cater to the majority of our students,” said Severyns in an email.
The budget of $45,000 that was approved by the CSU council in June for the Speaker Series was halved from one year prior.
So far, Severyns has been able to secure Holocaust survivor, author and humanitarian Dr. Elie Wiesel and former governor general Adrienne Clarkson for speaking engagements on Oct. 19, 2010 and Jan. 13, 2011, respectively.
In an email, the CSU’s VP Finance Zhuo Ling said the CSU is still looking for organizations within Concordia to help foot the bill for some of these events, including Wiesel’s $50,000 speaking fee.
Ling estimates the transportation, security and logistics costs of the event at around $20,000, and is hoping the Concordia Council on Student Life, to which the CSU has applied for funding, can lend some support.
Renowned Canadian scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki was slated to speak at Concordia on Sept. 28, as students who got a copy of the CSU’s free agenda will notice. However, Suzuki will be in town that day promoting his new book, The Legacy, at McGill University’s Pollack Hall and will not be making a stop at Concordia.
Negotiations for the speakers were underway in May, Severyns explained, and the agendas were sent to the printer in June, so they could not reflect changes to scheduling that occurred over the summer months. He admitted that because Suzuki is in his last year of touring for speaking engagements, he is more difficult to get a hold of. Severyns is confident that a Suzuki event “will most probably happen sometime in the winter semester.”
Severyns said his goal in selecting the speakers was to best represent the CSU’s events during the academic year. Wiesel will be here during the peace campaign and Clarkson will be discussing the importance of diversity, the CSU’s theme for this year.
Severyns has also attempted to book Stephen Lewis for AIDS Awareness week, co-CEO of Research In Motion (home of the Blackberry) Jim Balsillie and Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky.