RiZe, Cut the Crap and New Community discuss their plans for next year
Three slates are running in this year’s general election for the Concordia Student Union (CSU). Online polling for the CSU’s elections will be held from 9 a.m. on April 2 to 9 p.m. on April 4.
The general coordinator is the leader of the executive team that governs policies related to all undergraduate students.
Christopher Kalafatidis, the general coordinator candidate for Cut the Crap, said he would focus on fixing the sanitary conditions of bathrooms, implementing an online opt-out system, and extending the nomination period for elections. Cut the Crap is “a statement saying ‘lets get things done,’” he said. The bathrooms “are a symbol of the most obvious problem that Concordia students see,” he said, adding he would like to see renovations and maintenance.
Kalafatidis would also implement fixed election dates so students are aware when to vote each year. “Right now, we have to wait for our CEO, which is always a point of last-minute, and everything is in chaos,” he said, adding that he wants to extend the nomination period from one-to-two weeks to three months. “This would encourage democracy and it would encourage competitive elections.”
Giving students the right to get their money back from fee-levy groups is a priority for Kalafatidis. Fee-levy groups are student-run organizations around Concordia that help students socially and financially. Currently, students must reach out to each group individually to get their money back. “We would create a system in collaboration with [fee-levy groups],” he said. “If it was online, you could check a bunch of boxes.”
Cut the Crap’s goal is to put students first. “I think you should vote for Cut the Crap because we are standing for the students who are never considered in elections,” he said. “We are the only slate to consider the rest of Concordia.”
Margot Berner, general coordinator candidate for riZe, said “this [position] is extremely close to my heart and almost everyone who I care about has been affected by these issues. I believe the university should be a safe space for students. I really want to advocate for students everyday and have that be my job.”
The name riZe is a reference to Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise,” but it also stands for rising up against oppression and all forms of discrimination.
Berner wants to make sure international students get an affordable health plan and that mental health services are affordable for all students. “We would provide more health insurance surrounding mental health, so that people have coverage and it doesn’t break their bank to go and [pay] for a therapist,” she said.
Finally, Berner wants to help student associations fight against unpaid internships and be an institutional support network that can give students the resources they need. “Everyone should be paid for their labour,” she said.
Berner feels she is fit to be next year’s CSU general coordinator because of her experience on council, the Concordia Food Coalition board and as an Independent Jewish Voices executive. “I also have personal lived experience, which is really important for this job,” she said. “I’m a survivor [and] I will fight absolutely for the things I believe in.”
Marcus Peters, the general coordinator candidate for New Community, has also been on council for two years and is the current academic coordinator of the Sociology & Anthropology Student Union. He was the CSU Loyola coordinator in the 2016-17 academic year and he was previously on the board of the Hive Café and Concordia University Television.
Their slate name was created to reflect their three goals: fossil fuel divestment, shutting down international tuition hikes, and advocating for the survivors of sexual assault. “Our platform is mostly built around three projects that will have sweeping impacts […] What we will be doing is creating a new community,” Peters said.
Peters joined the fossil fuel divestment campaign when he first arrived at Concordia in September 2013. The campaign’s goal is to push the administration to fully divest from fossil fuels and any other toxic industries. “We became the first campaign in Canada to pressure the university to start to divest in fossil fuels,” he said.
Peters wants to re-create the health and dental plans, as well as expand mental health services for students. As for advocating for survivors of sexual assault, “we would want to work with the Sexual Assault Resource Centre and develop a very thorough and well-vetted policy on harassment and assault,” he said.
Making students more aware of the benefits of fee-levy groups is a better option than allowing students to get their money back, according to Peters. “Before we have a discussion of online opt-outs, we would look at educating the student body as a whole.”
Peters said his experience and vision is what stands out from the other general coordinator candidates. “I don’t see projects of the scale that we are proposing being incorporated in any of the platforms,” he said.
Meet the independent candidate
The academic and advocacy coordinator candidate, Jane Lefebvre-Prevost, who stands on a single-person slate called No More Slates, is running independently. She wants to bring awareness to certain flaws she believes exist in the electoral system. “By moving away from a slate mentality, we can limit political nepotism in our institution and further encourage electors to research their decision so as to have the representatives who truly represent the will of the student populace,” she said.
Lefebvre-Prevost wants to help low-income students through specialized bursaries based on financial need and identity—such as one for trans students and another for Indigenous students—rather than academic merit. “These students need a subsidized tutoring system that would allow them to afford to improve their grades without financial penalty,” she said.
Lefebvre-Prevost recommended that students “research the candidates who are running, listen to them speak, and most importantly see if they listen,” she said. “Then vote for the candidate that you believe will advocate for the needs of all students, not just the few, and who will truly represent the will of the undergraduate body.”