The first Concordia Student Congress was held last week wherein representatives from student associations and faculties gathered with representatives from the CSU to discuss issues related to being an undergraduate student at Concordia.
“We had a pretty good turn out. I was pretty happy. We had I think over 20 associations or student groups from all four faculties,” said Gene Morrow, VP academic and advocacy, who was a primary facilitator of the event. “Everybody was really able to have very frank and constructive discussions about the challenges of being`an undergraduate student at Concordia.”
Antonin Picou, president of the Engineering and Computer Science Association, felt that this was a positive initiative in bringing to light issues that all faculties and associations face.
“It was really productive, we brought up a lot of points that were valid to all faculties and initiated discussions and got to have a feel for how they reacted to them and it was reassuring to know that we’re not the only ones that were having these problems,” he said.
During the March 6 meeting, the student congress adopted several proposals directed at the university administration. The proposals collectively asked the university to address their concerns regarding “student involvement in university governance,” “student evaluation of professors mid-semester,” “budgetary cuts to the academic sector,” the “intellectual property policy,” “co-operative education programs,” and “student space.”
The proposition regarding student involvement in university governance, asked that in order for students to be able to participate meaningfully in the governing of the university, that the administration guarantee that departments notify departmental student associations about the date, time and location of departmental council meetings, as well as send out minutes from previous meetings and “the agenda for the one being called.” As well they asked that “every department at the university should have at least one (1) Student association representative sitting on its departmental council. Student representatives should be allowed full speaking, voting, and moving privileges as full members of the council.” Furthermore, they require that member associations have the opportunity to speak with respective department chairs so that they might discuss “improving student representation on department councils.”
The proposals also spoke to what they felt student groups could do to address some of their concerns.
The congress is asking that student groups petition their “respective faculty councils or their professors” for informal mid-semester evaluations of professors, “in addition to the one included at the end of the semester.”
They are also calling on student representatives to talk to their faculty councils about the space needs of their members.
Additionally, as the congress was made up of faculty associations and the CSU, they collectively resolved to work with the dean of students in order “to develop and provide training to student leaders in the areas of respectful conduct, identifying troublesome situations and positive intervention thereon, and crowd management, with the goal of ensuring that deleterious actions or situations do not occur.”
Morrow was pleased with how the event turned out and has plans to put together a full briefing on the experience in the hopes that it will be re-initiated by his successor.
“I think we demonstrated that this could be an avenue for productive political discussions to occur. We had representatives from all four faculties and everybody was able to bring an important perspective to the process.”