A look into the CSU’s plans for the future
The Concordia Student Union (CSU) elections are underway, and for the second consecutive general election year, the executive team is running unopposed. Eight members comprise the guaranteed winning team, led by candidate for general coordinator, Eduardo Malorni.
Their platform, Brick by Brick, focuses on COVID-19 measures and safety, community building, advocacy and accountability. The Concordian, The Link, and CJLO hosted a group interview for the candidates, to hear more about their platform and plans for the future.
General Coordinator Eduardo Malorni
Candidate for general Coordinator Eduardo Malorni aims to better help students with the difficulties they face while pursuing their degree this upcoming year.
He plans on addressing a variety of complaints students have had about online learning, including mental health concerns, higher workloads, and issues with proctoring services.
Malorni also wants to work with other student unions to demand a change in tuition fees, considering how many students “are not feeling like the quality [of education while remote] is the same as it was in the past.”
Part of their platform will also be supporting students that would not feel comfortable returning to campus in the fall, and to help with the return to in-person activities on campus, when that time comes.
Malorni, who’s been a part of the CSU for over two years, said one of the greatest things he and other members of the CSU helped to achieve was the pass/fail option for students last year. The same year, however, several councillors resigned, citing a toxic environment.
“Those were some of my friends who resigned,” said Malorni. “I think it’s very important to fix that.”
He said he will continue to push for an affirmative action program in the CSU, and have more discussions with racialized minorities for their input on what else the union could change and provide.
This year, he wants to increase student involvement in the CSU.
“By far the biggest struggle we’re going to have is trying to improve upon our recruitment,” said Malorni.
One of the ways he wants to tackle the issue of increasing student involvement is by improving the branding of CSU services on campus. Malorni said he has seen many students wrongly attribute CSU services to the university, or just outright not know that the CSU is behind several initiatives on campus.
He said he feels confident that his team can tackle these issues going forward this year.
Sustainability Coordinator Faye Sun
Faye Sun is running to be the next sustainability coordinator at the CSU, with the objective of connecting students to sustainability initiatives and resources at the university.
One of such initiatives at Concordia would be transforming on-campus lawns into food gardens. For Sun, restoring habitats for pollinators is one of the top priorities.
She added that urban agriculture and gardening will also benefit Concordia students in the long run.
“If we don’t invest in urban food security [right now], we might not have any food in 80 or so years,” the CSU candidate added.
Being an Environmental Science major, Sun also aims to focus on environmental justice and sustainability issues that specifically affect Indigenous and African American communities.
“Eighty per cent of all of the environment that’s ecologically protected is on Indigenous land, and that’s definitely not a coincidence,” she said. “That’s why I believe in Indigenous sovereignty and stewardship.”
By striving for eco-friendly policies in an urbanized metropolis, Sun hopes to put Concordia on a green path towards sustainability.
Academic and Advocacy Coordinator Hannah Jamet-Lange
Hannah Jamet-Lange aims to advocate for accessibility, anti-discrimination, sexual violence measures, better mental health services, international students, and climate justice. One of her main goals is to strengthen the code of conduct and the sexual violence policy, with the end goal of making the CSU “a more welcoming, supportive and safe environment for everyone.”
Jamet-Lange is in her third year in Communications, Sexuality Studies, and History. They got involved with the CSU in her first year at Concordia, with the Campaign Against Sexual Violence.
Currently there is a question going to referendum to change CSU bylaws, making the code of conduct and sexual violence policy easier to enforce. Jamet-Lange said that is already a great step forward, and as academic and advocacy coordinator they wants to ensure it is enforced if it passes.
Jamet-Lange stated that she also wants to create better definitions around the different forms of harassment and discrimination.
It’s crucial to have clear definitions when complaints go to the Judicial Board, so the board “doesn’t have to refer back to a dictionary or interpret what is seen as racism, what is seen as sexism,” said Jamet-Lange.
They said that the new executive team wants to work together to create a better culture around harm prevention.
External Affairs and Mobilization Coordinator Camina Harrison-Chéry
Camina Harrison-Chéry’s main goals are creating spaces for students to feel safe, specifically creating and supporting spaces for BIPOC students, tackling the lack of diversity at Concordia, and working on better mental health services.
“I think that since I’ve come to Concordia, I felt like my mission has been just to create spaces on campus and off campus where students feel safe, that they know they can contribute and that their opinions are important,” said Harrison-Chéry.
Harrison-Chéry is a Communications student and an entrepreneur of Haitian descent. She is the founder of BUYPOC, pop-ups that support BIPOC youth run businesses, and the owner of a headwrap brand called Urban Wrapper. At Concordia, she works to advance the Black perspective in the community, and is a member of Concordia’s task force on anti-Black racism.
To her, it’s clear that students see a lack of diversity in professors and the curriculum. Thus, Harrison-Chéry wants to work towards more diversity at Concordia, such as training staff to be aware of their biases.
“We [the CSU] are definitely responsible in terms of applying pressure and keeping that momentum,” said Harrison-Chéry, who explained that recently, with the Black Studies Department and the Black Perspective Office, there has been a lot of momentum in creating more Black spaces at Concordia.
As external affairs and mobilization coordinator, Harrison-Chéry plans to advance equity for BIPOC students through a number of initiatives, such as supporting the Black Studies and Black Perspectives Office, and investing in events that advance the Black perspective and centre around Black experiences.
Loyola Coordinator S Shivaane
S Shivaane is running for Loyola Coordinator at the CSU, and aims to improve learning conditions for Concordia students at the Loyola campus.
Shivaane’s top priorities include upgrading the shuttle bus service to and from the Sir George Williams campus, as well as providing healthy and affordable food options for Loyola students.
She noted that, in general, Loyola “has a lack of services and … amenities that pull students to stay there.”
Shivaane plans on laying foundations for “food co-ops,” which she expects will create more student jobs.
As for the shuttle service, she believes that the bus fleet needs to be expanded. According to Shivaane, the lack of accessibility is what makes Loyola seem like a distant campus, despite everything it has to offer.
“There are some students who are graduating, who have been here for four or five years, and they said that they’d never been to Loyola — which is so unfortunate, because it’s a beautiful campus,” Shivaane explained.
By pushing for a reliable shuttle connection, more study spaces and healthier food options, Shivaane is convinced that more Concordia students will be able to appreciate Loyola’s greenery and European-style architecture, and have a pleasant academic experience overall.
Finance Coordinator Aria Khaksar
Running for Financial Coordinator is not a small feat in a year where there have been class action lawsuits against universities for tuition rates. Aria Khaksar intends on addressing the issue head on.
He said, “I think after the year we’ve had with COVID, and of course the education level that has decreased … we need to talk to the school and to the board to lower tuition for students.”
Many students will be happy to hear this is an issue the CSU’s next financial coordinator is taking seriously.
“Tuition is something that has not decreased in forever and it keeps going up,” said Khaksar.
This is not a change that will happen on its own, since only the students are aware of the realities of online learning.
“It’s something that is very difficult for the school to understand, because for them the education that we’re getting online right now is the same that we would have in person,” said Khaksar.
Student Life Coordinator Malcolm Asselin
Student Life Coordinator is a challenging position in the midst of an academic year like none other. But challenges are what make life interesting, and Malcolm Asselin is excited to revive the student body.
He is prepared for the realities of next year, saying, “I want to be ready for both an online and in-person environment, just because I think it’s good to be prepared.” But this will not stop his goal of reaching students.
“I think a big challenge is, obviously, getting our information [on student events] to be interpreted and centralized, [because it] is key to reaching as many students as possible,” said Asselin.
Once students are informed, they can start participating in student-led events, such as Concordia’s Got Talent, an interdisciplinary event that is hosted by faculty associations collaboratively.
“It was the first time that all faculty associations collaborated together for an event, and we had an amazing engagement, students were involved. There was like some type of community being built here,” said Asselin.
For the coming year, one of his goals will be to bring together all associations at Concordia to work together in gathering the student body. He said, “I want more work like that, getting faculty associations to collaborate together for events.”
Internal Affairs Coordinator Harrison Kirshner
Harrison Kirshner is running to be the next internal affairs coordinator at the CSU, and hopes to concentrate on elevating clubs under the student association’s mandate.
Kirshner wants to help develop clubs by increasing their recruitment and getting the CSU more directly involved, “mak[ing] it easier for clubs to recruit, because that is really something that’s difficult during the online environment.”
He is also looking into making a Facebook page for CSU clubs to post material they would like the CSU to advertise. The CSU would then be able to advertise their clubs on the newsletter, on their page, on their social media and more.
This could help get the university back on its feet when we come back to in-person learning. He said, “I believe that incorporating club recruitment into those mechanisms is something that we should do.”
Logo courtesy of the Concordia Student Union (CSU)