Staff and students from Concordia’s political science department came together at the Hingston Hall Java U last Thursday for an evening of wine, cheese, and plenty of schmoozing. Organized by the Political Science Student’s Association (PSSA), the event aimed to give students and professors an occasion to mingle in a relaxed environment. While some were there for free food and drink, for many it was an opportunity to get to know professors outside of class. One student, who wished to remain anonymous used, the event as an opportunity to negotiate a due date for an article. “I’m hoping to be able to hit the prof up for an extension,”he said.
About 200 people showed up, and although attendees nearly filled Java U to capacity, they represented only a fraction of the over 1700 students enrolled in the political science department. Concordia’s political science program boasts the highest enrollment rates in Canada and ranks third across Canada for the quality of its faculty. With events such as this one and the guest speaker series, featuring respected visiting lecturers such as Yale’s Bryan Garsten and Berkeley’s Paul Thomas, the program is making its mark in the political science community.
“We’re still building our reputation as a faculty,” said Canadian politics professor James Kelly, one of a dozen teachers in attendance. Kelly stated that Concordia’s program had several advantages over others, namely a collegial, friendly environment and a diverse student body.
Not everyone felt Kelly’s enthusiasm about the PSSA gathering. Pierre-Luc Bouchard a political science student who ended up at the event not knowing what it was for, was not aware it had even been planned. “I never even heard about this event, or any others like it, in my three years,” he said. Although Bouchard admitted to appreciating the free refreshments, he didn’t see the value of such a gathering.
Part of the reason Bouchard was in the dark about the party is that the PSSA, unlike other associations such as CASA, is not accredited. Consequently, it doesn’t have access to confidential student information such as e-mail. “That would probably be something to look into,” said attendee Peter Schiefke, VP of finance for ASPHA. For now, Schiefke explained, PSSA have to rely on sign-up sheets and word of mouth.
While organizers were ultimately happy with the turnout, they couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. “[PSSA President] Damon [Hartung], unfortunately, couldn’t make it here today. He’s in the hospital,” said Ali Emadi, PSSA’s VP of external affairs.
Although Hartung was absent his hard work for the association, was appreciated by those in attendance. “He has been instrumental in this and all the poli sci initiatives this year. He’s just a great leader,” said volunteer organizer Stephanie Brisson.”All this… it’s all his vision.”