As the Concordia Student Union campaign period progresses, The Concordian sat down with the 2012-2013 executive candidates from A Better Concordia. They were asked to discuss their strengths, platforms and goals for the next academic year. Voting begins March 20.
Interviews were conducted by co-news editor Joel Ashak.
Schubert Laforest — Presidential candidate (A Better Concordia)
Eligibility: This candidate was disqualified by the CEO and is in the process of appealing this decision to the CSU’s judicial board.
Strengths: Whatever I do, I endeavour to do it to the best and fullest capacities. I have been in student governance for a while being president of my student council in high school. I started running for member of the Linguistics Student Association and from there I was appointed to council by the executive. I ran for ASFA as VP internal and once I got it I realized there was so much I could do.
I believe in every one of the candidates on my affiliation and I believe in their abilities, I believe we have what it take to rework the system and make it as democratic and representative as possible.
Focus: The point that I have always been pushing for is sustainable governance. The perception of student institutions right now is relatively negative. Students think they are filled with people who are just trying to fill their CV. I want to change that perception and show them that these are students that are engaged because they care and because they want to induce changes in the community.
We really want to focus on direct democracy, especially with these big issues.
Tuition: Striking every five years is not the effective way to fight for accessible education. I think that it’s unfair to ask students to potentially jeopardize their academic standing in order to fight for this. Accessible education is a pride in Quebec. Being from the U.S., I know what it is to not have accessible education so I really want to see it preserved here. First, we need to do less “tag along” with the national student association and assert our role in the student movement. I want to work with students within the university to put pressure on the Board of Governors and the different levels of administration to implement these policy changes that will reshape the inner workings of the university.
ASFA elections debacle: To make things clear, what I do is make sure the CEO understands the legislation, so we are two separate entities. When it comes to the byelections, as much as I want to blame the CEOs and their incompetence in terms of how they decided to deal with things, I believe this is an institutional issue where the office is not structured properly. I did the best of my abilities to make sure things were done but at the end of the day, some decisions were theirs and theirs alone.
Student representation on governing bodies: I think that this seat is very important. We just saw that the university has been fined $2 million for administration mismanagement. That is just unacceptable and that is something a student representative won’t stand for. We need to make sure the university is accountable. As for our strategy, we need to rethink our strategy and abandon the hard line against governing bodies. We need to be more effective in using our voices. It’s not about numbers only. Once we find a way to be effective on the BoG, then we will be able to coordinate with other members to get our seats back.
Relationship between CSU and administration: The confrontational approach is clearly not working and we’ve seen it in the past year where the BoG is shutting down students and student representatives walking out of BoG meetings. I will never walk out of a BoG meeting. In my opinion, it’s unacceptable. The BoG mainly cares about their reputation and if we show that our projects will make Concordia more reputable, members of the BoG will be way more receptive toward students.
Andrew Roberts — VP sustainability
I want to put Concordia on the map for sustainability and work toward a future where we are true leaders and innovators in Canada.
Strengths: For the past year I’ve been president of the Geography Undergraduate Student Society, and we are part of the geography planning and environmental program that has a mandate to promote awareness on environmental policies. I was also sitting on the sustainability committee representing ASFA where I helped organize Green Week.
Focus: For me, orientation is the time to reach a massive audience of new students coming in. We need to work more on promotion, such as creating an updated sustainability website. I am up-to-date and aware of what is going on regarding sustainability on campus.
I want to be the guy at Loyola that everyone can approach and trust to make their experience at Loyola amazing.
Strengths: I’ve been at Loyola for five years and there is no other [CSU] position I’d rather have. I am the current president of the Concordia Undergraduate Psychology Association.
Focus: I want to develop a spirit and a sense of community at Loyola. The campus has a lot of potential with its great spaces and people, but needs this spark that would give it the same energy as downtown. I want to bring back the winter festival to Loyola, to create a music festival in the quad and introduce movie events. I also want to encourage clubs to have a greater presence at Loyola. I want more events than just cultural nights at Loyola.
Simon-Pierre Lauzon — VP external affairs
I would like to improve communication between the CSU and the student groups by focusing more on our common goals than the different ways we campaign.
Strengths: Part of my job as CSU councillor is to be part of the external committee so I’ve had my hands on almost everything involving CSU campaigning since my mandate started.
I’m a very direct person who’s not afraid to speak his mind. My strength is my creativity. I have ideas that have never been tried before and that’s what people expect of a VP external: different perspectives to deal with problems that are creative and original and effective.
Focus: First, I want to start a mobilization campaign that goes outside of our national borders. We will be above and beyond tuition increases next year and I want to research and change the way we see education by cooperating with international groups fighting the same fight. Second, with VP academic and VP sustainability, I want to implement a student run research paper. The idea is to take the work that students are already doing in their classes but to touch upon topics that both satisfy class requirements and the campaign ran by the CSU. That way, everybody is involved and informed.
I come from a lot of different experiences and that will help me bring something new. I’m a very passionate person. My portfolio is very close to me.
Strengths: I am the VP social of Humanitarian Affairs at Concordia advocating for human rights, and women’s rights more specifically.
Focus: My two main points are students in financial need and a sexual harassment policy on campus. I would centralize the information to not make students go from office to office to know what they’re eligible for in terms of financial need, and I want to work with the Simone de Beauvoir Institute to implement an effective sexual assault centre.
I am energetic, open-minded and a good team player
Strengths: I have been the co-president of Concordia International Students Association and this year I have managed a budget of over $40,000. We’ve organized various events and worked in collaboration with the CSU and many other associations.
Focus: I want to focus on the need of students and welcome their [suggestions] in the VP finance portfolio. I also want to break down the budget reports for every student to understand the reasons of the CSU budget variations. As for CUSACorp, I plan to tackle the management issue with control of inventories and improve marketing strategies through social media, notably. I also want to find other financial ventures to make CUSACorp more profitable, like increasing the number of ATMs on campus.
Alexis Suzuki — VP student life
I am passionate, hard-working and I just care a lot about Concordia and its students.
Strengths: Being ASFA VP communications and promotions has helped me see first-hand how events are organized at Concordia. It’s always been a great interest of mine not only to organize events, but to facilitate student life in general, and to make sure students are presented with the opportunity to get involved in a positive way.
Focus: My main focus would be collaborating with clubs and faculty associations to make sure both are incorporated in all aspects of student life. I want to be the liaison between these student groups and the CSU.
I am really excited to revitalize student life at Concordia, to reach out and get students involved. I also have a bit of a creative edge over my opponent, especially with my ideas of collaboration with the other executive candidates in my affiliation.
Nadine Atallah — VP clubs and internal affairs
I would love to establish an open relationship with every club and allow them to call me whenever they need something.
Strengths: I am very dedicated to my commitments, especially when it comes to the student body. I have been on CSU council and I have never missed council because it’s my job to represent students. I am also VP external to both the Lebanese Student Association and [Humanitarian Affairs, Concordia University], the latter for the second year in a row. My experience will only turn into dedication to expose these clubs to more students and make their student life an enriching experience.
Focus: [I plan to] introduce online voting to Concordia and implement regular general meetings open to every student in order to create a more direct democracy. Instead of having councillors voting for students, students would be able to vote and represent themselves.
We’re also looking into a strike referendum, one that would go on for three days and potentially be online in order to garner more student participation than a GA held during midterms at a specific time.
As for clubs, I realized that it is completely feasible to include clubs in every CSU event and therefore, get more students out to these events. Every student has a club out there for them.