Home CommentaryOpinions CSU council meetings desperately need a new home

CSU council meetings desperately need a new home

by The Concordian September 27, 2011

With almost 50 people in H-760, meetings can get pretty crowded. Photo by Navneet Pall.

My experience attending the Sept. 21 CSU council meeting was, for lack of a better word, sticky.
The room in question, H(ot)-760, was cramped, overcrowded and felt like an oven. With more than two dozen councillors and a variety of curious witnesses, I’m happy student Alex Matak suggested the motion to mandate the executives to find a big enough room that meets all of the CSU’s requirements for subsequent CSU council meetings.
Sitting through the meeting became an exercise in patience and an alternative room is quickly becoming a serious requirement.
Matak even described H-760 as “not an atmosphere that encourages student empowerment,” referencing one of the promises of winning slate Your Concordia during last year’s elections.
Unfortunately, and this may come as a surprise, there is a lack of suitable rooms for CSU council meetings on Concordia’s two campuses.
CSU president Lex Gill began discussions with Hospitality Concordia back in June to try and find a more adequate room. The incentive to stay in H-760 is simple, she says.
“This room is provided for free,” she said. “Other free rooms on the seventh floor are smaller and while there is a larger room that would be available, it would cost around $300 a night.”
While the executives can be mandated to find a more suitable room, it obviously cannot force Hospitality Concordia to find one for them, so patience is of the essence.
Why not bring CSU council meetings to Loyola more often? Because of CUTV’s presence at the meetings, electrical considerations are crucial and thus, finding a room with enough electrical outlets and other technical specifications is apparently not as easy as it sounds.
The Hive Cafe and G-Lounge at Loyola campus are two open spaces that could easily accommodate the number of councillors and onlookers for a CSU Council meeting, provided that CUTV can set up there. They would just require enough chairs and tables.
Aaron Green, former CSU councillor and president of the Arts and Science Federation of Associations, explained in an email that while at least one ASFA council meeting per semester was held at Loyola in the past, usually in the AD building, there are other roadblocks to having them there more often.
“I wholeheartedly agree that more council meetings should be held at Loyola,” he said. “However, most councillors live downtown and making the trek to Loyola might prove cumbersome considering the shuttle bus’ final departure at 11 p.m.”
Green also went on to say that students in other faculties such as engineering, computer science and commerce may not ever set foot on the Loyola campus, which is a shame because of how beautiful and vibrant it is. Having more meetings at Loyola would make them discover another campus and allow them to get better acquainted with their school and peers.
The argument that the campus is hard to get to is fallacious, as the shuttle bus or a combination of relatively short metro and bus rides can easily take you there. Getting back downtown would be problematic, should the meetings go past 11 p.m., but perhaps a special shuttle bus could come at a later time and bring everyone downtown. Once a month isn’t too much to ask for this special service.
Students from NDG, Côte-des-Neiges and elsewhere in the west end could greatly benefit from attending these meetings, fulfilling the CSU’s hopes of having more student participation in events such as these.
“I think it would be a disservice to them [arts and science students] to not have at least one council meeting per semester at Loyola because after all, one-third of their students have their classes on the Loyola campus,” said Green.
A.J. West, undergrad representative on the Board of Governors, even brought up at last week’s meeting the fact that according to the CSU bylaws, meetings can be held anywhere in the city of Montreal, not necessarily on campus.
The only perceivable drawback to abandoning the Hall building is not having the opportunity to go to Reggie’s during one of council’s closed sessions, kicking back with a beer and waiting to return to the seventh floor.
In the meantime, it’s reassuring to know that Gill is working hard to remedy the situation.
“Location, cost and facilities all play a role in where we hold meetings—and in the past we’ve tended to rely on H-760 because it’s free to book, accessible and has the electrical specifications that CUTV needs,” she said. “I’m working to find bigger meeting rooms on both campuses for council to take place.”
As long as it’s not sticky.

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