Students react to agenda

Tensions arose at an open forum held by the Concordia Student Union (CSU) where students were invited to air their opinions and suggestions regarding ‘Uprising,’ this year’s student handbook.
Despite being the source of heated debate on campus and beyond, the discussion took place in the Hall Building on Oct. 11 was more than half-empty. It was suggested by an audience member that the CSU did not advertise it sufficiently.
Union executives said many of the posters were torn down as a result of a crackdown on postering in the Hall Building.
CSU President Sabrina Stea was optimistic about the turnout. “There was a lot of people flowing in and out so I was satisfied with the fact that people were coming in for the amount of time that they could. Obviously, it’s something ongoing and hopefully more students will come,” she said.
While several in attendance lauded the handbook as a valuable educational tool, others condemned it as a vehicle for hatred and vilification. One student was concerned that there was not enough room to keep track of his schedule in the agenda. He pastes white paper over the pages and writes upon that.
The general sentiment among supporters of the handbook was that it is an informative document encouraging critical thinking ‘outside of the box,’ and educates students about minority-related issues that otherwise might be overlooked.
Concerns were voiced that in the process of raising awareness of certain groups, others received defamatory treatment.
A hot point of contention was the illustration depicting a military plane with the Star of David on it and it pointed to a tiny figure labeled intifada. Many said that it unfairly provided a one-sided depiction of a situation of enormous complexity in the Middle East.
“It should not be used as a tool for propaganda, but as a student-orientated, academic book that students can refer to on a daily basis”, said Patrick Amar, president of Hillel Concordia.
He also expressed disappointment that more students did not attend the meeting, considering the controversy the handbook has caused.
Chris Schulz, a political science student and a former CSU club commissioner, said that even though the CSU should have a political role, a better balance could have been struck. “They presented some views in which a lot of ways I could only call extremist and completely unrepresentative of the student body.”
He added the fact that it is with student money that these ‘radical’ views have been furthered.
Another student pointed out the irony that the handbook is financed also in part by advertising dollars, given the CSU’s anti-capitalist stance.
Stea showed unwavering support for the contents of the handbook. “The editorial board made it quite clear that articles that were not specifically backable would not make it in, and all the ones that did were factual. It’s not false information.”
One of the aims of the meeting was to provide the groundwork for the formation of a handbook committee, so that a broader cross-section of students would be involved in its production. No such committee has yet been formed. Stea said this will probably be accomplished by having more discussions like this one in the near future.
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