As the confetti fell and the alcohol flowed on New Year’s Eve, many were celebrating the end of a tumultuous year marred by celebrity deaths, terror attacks and a shocking presidential campaign.
Many of us are still in shock, but we must begin to move forward, place our faith in 2017 and hope this year spurs change and prosperity. We must also look to the things we can control, namely things happening on our campus.
So this editorial is taking an unorthodox approach, voicing some changes our newspaper wants to see around campus.
1) No more shady student politics
In 2016, we saw the Concordia Student Union (CSU) go through some turbulent times, especially when their finance coordinator resigned under allegations of transphobic and queerphobic behaviour. It’s frustrating because we—the students—supported ACT Together and voted them into the CSU, only to find out we were supporting a nefarious individual. Moving forward, we need to ensure student politicians are properly vetted and that we are asking the right questions. We cannot afford to elect another individual—or political party for that matter—with toxic skeletons in their closets.
2) Classes focusing on indigenous issues
Concordia offers a wide variety of courses, but oftentimes it can be hard to find a course that focuses mainly on indigenous issues. Although there are a handful of courses offered by the history department and there is a department of First Peoples Studies, we want to see more. The university needs to integrate more courses and hire more First Nations professors who can synthesize their thoughts and experiences in lectures.
3) Transparency from the administration
Do you all remember the drama regarding international students and how the university tried to increase their tuition? It seems like the university tried to pull a fast one on us, but we—the students—are savvy and were able to campaign and put pressure to block the vote from going through. All we ask is for the administration to be upfront and honest with us, so we don’t get blindsided and have to write angry op-eds. We want to see more of a dialogue between the upper echelons of the bureaucracy and the students—after all, we are all key players in this symbiotic relationship.
4) Divestment from fossil fuels
The Concordian has previously reported the university holds investments in the fossil fuel energy sector. Bram Freedman, president of the Concordia Foundation, told the Montreal Gazette in 2014 the university has an endowment—a pool of investments—worth around $130 million, but would not say how much money is invested in the fossil fuel sector. According to Divest Concordia, however, the university invests roughly $11 to 12 million in fossil fuels and related industries. For years, students have been advocating for the university to wash its hands of this toxic tar and invest in environmentally-friendly sectors. We understand it’s hard to liquidate all holdings of fossil fuel investments, but we also understand the plight of the students, for it’s hard to grapple the fact that our institution is directly involved in a polluting energy sector. We think there should be an open dialogue between the administration and the students who push for divestment so we can create a university we are all proud of, not one that has its hands in the tar sands.