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What’s new with the CSU

by Nelly Sérandour-Amar August 30, 2016
What’s new with the CSU

The CSU executives preparing for one of their biggest year yet

For the Concordia Student Union, one thing is clear—students’ needs come first. Here is what you can expect from CSU’s coordinators this year.

Orientation Concordia

Orientation is the first big project for the CSU this year, as it will welcome students from all different programs starting next week. Rachel Gauthier, the student life coordinator, is currently organizing the 30 events that will be taking place from Sept. 6 to 16. These 10 days of activities include concerts featuring local bands, club fairs, a hip-hop show and a special night out to the OUMF 2016 festival.

It’s the first year that the CSU will be partnering up with the OUMF “Gala humour de la rentrée,” taking place on Saint-Denis street. “This festival is completely french, which is really cool because it’s something that was never done before, and Montreal is a bilingual city,” Gauthier said.

Another major event during orientation will be “Wellness Day,” which will include workshops focusing on mental, social and physical wellness. Gauthier said she wants students to know what resources are available to them, and to partake in activities that make them feel better.

For more information on the CSU’s orientation week, visit their website: csuorientation.ca.

Divest Concordia

The CSU has also partnered up with Divest Concordia, which aims to divest from the university’s investment in the fossil fuel industry.

“Concordia still has investments in fuel companies that are extremely harmful to our nature,” said Aloyse Muller, the head of the campaign and the CSU’s external affairs and mobilization coordinator. Muller said he wants to create social discussion about the issue through multiple avenues, one of them being from a financial point of view.

He also wants to put an emphasis not only on climate change, but on the communities that are affected by it daily. Open to all, Divest Concordia is looking for people to get involved  in various ways, such as discussion of the issues through art, demonstrations and petitions.

Sustainability at Concordia

Sustainability coordinator Lanna Galbraith said there are different projects in progress aimed to make students feel more comfortable and included at Concordia.

Starting in September, she said she hopes that the number of gender neutral bathrooms for students will increase.

Galbraith said there will also be emphasis on having a CSU that is more representative of the various cultures and ethnic backgrounds present at Concordia. She said the goal is to create workshops on social issues, now that environmental and economical topics have a good framework.

“I think it’s time to start a couple of social projects so that, when we think of sustainability, we don’t only think of it as environmentalism,” Galbraith said. In fact, sustainability is a balancing act that includes environmental protection, social responsibility and good economic practice, she said. Additionally, the CSU is working to make their office space more accessible for all students.

Affordable Housing for Students

Coming to Montreal for the first time to start university can be a bit scary, which is why HOJO, the CSU’s Housing and Job Office, helps students find safe, clean and affordable housing in Montreal. The union will be partnering up with UTILE (Unité de travail pour l’implantation de logement étudiant), a non-profit organization based in Montreal dedicated to creating affordable student housing. Their goal is to build student housing with below average rent that will be managed by students, said the CSU’s General Coordinator, Lucinda Marshall-Kiparissis. “By building cooperative student housing that is not beholden to commercial interest, we’re able to say that we want affordable housing for students, and we want it so we’re not being a detriment to the neighbourhood,” she said. UTILE already purchased land on the plateau, but the project will take two to three years to really take off, she said.

Daycare

With a daycare already available at Loyola Campus for faculty and staff, CSU is taking the initiative to bring a daycare to the Sir George Williams (SGW) downtown campus for students with children.

Sophia Sahrane, the academic and advocacy coordinator, is currently working on this project. “This project was launched eight years ago when the university conducted a study to see if the undergraduate and graduate students needed a daycare,” she said. “The study yielded positive results and earned municipal approval, however, the initiative faded and nothing happened.”

“Not only do these parents have a job, but they have a kid, classes to attend and homework to do,” the CSU’s general coordinator, Marshall-Kiparissis, added. Sahrane receives emails from parents interested in the daycare on a daily basis. “We need the paperwork from the government, which should arrive soon, and then we will start demolition and open registration,” Sahrane said. She mentioned that the daycare will be located on Bishop street, focusing on undergraduate students’ children, but with some place for graduate students’ children as well.

For more information on these projects, the CSU encourages students to visit their website, csu.qc.ca. They have offices on Sir George Williams campus (H-711) and at the Loyola Campus (CC-426).

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