Council also debates CREM endorsement, increased funding for First Peoples Week
The consensus was clear at the last Concordia Student Union (CSU) council meeting: financial security seems to lead to higher grades.
A review of the May 2017 General Undergraduate Survey at the latest CSU council meeting revealed that for every $1,000 of debt, students saw a 5 per cent decrease in grades, and scholarships result in a 4.5 per cent increase in grades.
The survey also asked the student body to answer questions about income, food security, financial stability, and experience with sexual assault and violence, as well as discrimination.
Former CSU Loyola coordinator Marcus Peters presented the findings to the council, but stressed that the results are not completely representative due to students unsubscribing from the CSU Live newsletter, which is how the survey was distributed. Another factor to consider, according to Peters, was the survey’s lack of questions regarding religion.
When students were asked if they had experienced any kind of sexual violence by someone within the Concordia community, two per cent of the respondents answered “yes.” An overwhelming majority of students who answered “yes” to questions about whether they had experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity said the incidents had taken place in classrooms or other departmental spaces, such as lounges and libraries.
“That should be something that we’re addressing—there is discrimination happening, and mostly in the classrooms where we wouldn’t expect it to occur,” said Rory James, a councillor representing the John Molson School of Business.
According to Peters, a total of 2,991 students completed the survey. The goal of the survey was to “make accessible all information on student life,” he said.
Peters added that the lack of interaction between the general student body and the CSU made a survey the most efficient way to gather information about undergraduates at Concordia.
Another portion of the survey concerned student food security. The survey found that the People’s Potato was serving an average of 265 people per day, with the cost coming to 73 cents per plate.
Support for CREM
According to a report presented by external affairs and mobilization coordinator Ahmed Badr, the CSU council decided on Oct. 4 to support the eight recommendations presented to municipal electoral candidates by the Montreal Regional Student Coalition (CREM).
The CREM is a political coalition composed of various university and CEGEP student unions. According to Riaz, coalition members approached the CSU about supporting the recommendations. These recommendations covered topics the coalition hopes candidates will address once elected, including transportation and the consultation of Montreal’s youth on issues around the city.
This became a contentious point at the meeting, as some councillors voiced concern over the lack of communication between executives and CSU representatives on the matter. General coordinator Omar Riaz confirmed the executives met and decided to support the recommendations, but the rest of the council was not consulted.
Councillors Rowan Gaudet and Rory James, and Arts and Science Federation of Association (ASFA) President Julia Sutera Sardo, among others, questioned the legitimacy of the CSU’s support since the matter had never been discussed at a meeting.
In response, Badr stressed that the CSU had only supported recommendations that fell in line with the CSU’s beliefs.
“[The CSU] supporting the demands is essentially us joining the coalition,” James countered. He and others argued the issue wasn’t the recommendations that had been supported, but rather that the CSU was endorsing the coalition—something the entire council should have been consulted about.
Representatives motioned for the CSU to rescind its support of the CREM immediately until the topic could be properly discussed by the entirety of the CSU council.
Continuous support for First Voices Week
The CSU moved to increase its financial support for the First Voices Week, an “Indigenous-led initiative to acknowledge and celebrate local Indigenous peoples and communities at Concordia and within the Montreal area,” according to the event’s Facebook page. First Voices Week is held in January and hosts events including speeches, concerts and discussions.
Last year, the CSU spent $4,000 to finance the event, but will now commit an additional $1,000. The goal of the additional funding is to secure this money for future years, to facilitate the funding process for the event’s organizing committee and to ensure the event has “room to grow,” according to Riaz.
Photo by Matthew Coyte