This year’s CSU agenda, entitled Surprising, is leaving a much different, and better, impression on students than last year’s edition.
“It has a good sense of humor, a good tone… not too ‘In your face’,” said Janice, a fine arts student.
According to CSU President Sabine Friesinger, the 2002-03 edition of the free agenda aims at guiding Concordia students through campus life and current political issues, while providing enough space for individual thinking and to write down assignment due dates.
“[The agenda] is a guide for new students and returning students. It covers the basics: campus and issues,” said Friesinger, who contributed to last year’s edition of the agenda, Uprising. She considers the message carried in the new edition of the handbook one of critical perspective, leaving room for people to make up their own minds. “There is enough space for people to write down their own things. We just gave tools that will help satisfy their needs, not ours,” added Friesinger.
Last year’s version of the CSU agenda produced a huge controversy, contributing to the eventual resignation of several CSU executives. And although people are talking about the new handbook, it is not causing outbursts like last year’s, which was compared to a handbook for future Osama bin Ladens.
The administration of the university, which spoke out against the handbook last year, quickly commented the agenda through its Executive Director of Communications, Dennis Murphy. He said the administration found the agenda ‘different’ from last year’s. He also finds the information about the campus correct, even though jokes were made about the administration in the process. He also added the handbook does not appear to contain offensive comments or articles.
“People respect the ideas expressed in [this year’s] agenda,” said Sabine Friesinger, “and, as the Union should take positions that students back, this year’s agenda is not an attack on people.”
Students had a somewhat mixed, although mild, reaction to the new handbook.
Lee, a fine arts student, said that “either you are going to be all inclusive or not” in the message.
Others like Paul, a business student, are saddened by the fact that no special dates have been outlined in the calendar, not even civic holidays. “Some things are not commented and dates that are not considered OK to celebrate or that are taboo, especially important dates for minorities, have been removed,” he said. But he also agrees the description of some of the “anniversaries” mentioned in last year’s edition has been used by “bigger groups” to make the rest of the message look foolish. Last year, the administration and others spoke out against special days entitled “Steal Something Day” and “Anti-Colonialism Day – Burn the [Canadian] Flag.”
Nick, studying journalism, considers the CSU agenda to be meaningful since last year’s ‘uprising’ theme is preserved while its extreme methods are not. However, he does not consider the handbook the most efficient organizational tool, with half of it filled with text, leaving less space for the calendar.
“At least it’s free,” he added.
In time for the beginning of classes, Surprising also differs from last year’s edition in many other ways.
Kealia Curtis, VP Internal of the CSU, feels this year’s editorial goal was to “inform people of good politics instead of shoving it down their throat.” Believing that it is important for students to be politically aware, she considers the political message of this year’s agenda similar to last year’s, but with a different method to demonstrate it.