The student union believes building a wall would negatively affect student groups
The Concordia Student Union (CSU) has decided to stand in solidarity with the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and other students against a proposed renovation in the Hall building at Concordia’s downtown campus. The renovation in question is the construction of a glass wall on the seventh floor of the Hall building, between a small and large lounge near the CSU office.
While both lounges can be accessed by student groups for free, the larger lounge is bookable through the CSU and the smaller lounge is bookable directly through the university. Currently, the lounges are not separated by any physical barrier and student groups can use both spaces for larger events, such as the MSA’s weekly Jumu’ah prayer.
According to Aloyse Muller, the CSU’s external affairs and mobilization coordinator, both spaces are central to student life on the downtown campus and the pending renovation would negatively affect student groups on campus.
During the CSU’s monthly meeting on Feb. 8, the union welcomed Yann-Lazare Makayat Bouanga and Mohammed Allalou, two guest speakers from the MSA, to discuss their opposition to the proposed wall. They believe this renovation will limit the capacity for weekly prayer sessions and reduce the amount of space available for student groups to meet and hold events. They said the university has suggested the student group place a limit on the capacity of the weekly prayer sessions to prevent the need to use the smaller lounge. However, the MSA is against this idea, claiming it could harm the group’s sense of community and lead to Muslim students being turned away from a public event.
During the meeting, Muller proposed a motion for the CSU to officially support the MSA and officially oppose the construction of the wall. The motion also promised that the CSU would seek to maintain the ability to allow student groups to access the small lounge area, and that, if the MSA struggled to find adequate space for prayer sessions in the future, the CSU would help them acquire it. The motion passed unanimously.
“Concordia claims that the attendance of the Friday prayer must be limited to its current attendance otherwise there would be too many people on the seventh floor for its floor capacity,” Muller told The Concordian, “But this problem, in terms of floor capacity, is not the MSA’s fault. The MSA has enjoyed this space without problems for a numbers of years now, after having been pushed from space to space by Concordia throughout the years.”
According to Muller, the CSU and the MSA plan to meet with staff from the university to discuss possible solutions to this issue.
*Since publication, Meryam Nejjar, VP of communications for the Muslim Student Association said the issue has been resolved at a meeting held Feb. 13 between CSU and Concordia president Alan Shepard. “The school told us they will not be building a wall, but rather keep it as a rotating panel like it is now, which resolves the issues that CSU and the MSA had with regards to the space,” said Nejjar.