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Letters to the editor:

by Archives January 31, 2007

Dear Editor,

Two weeks ago, I learned that our student government was planning a policy change forcing the fee levies for independent student groups to expire every three years. This would affect at least 13 student groups at Concordia, including CUTV, CJLO radio, the Concordia Student Broadcasting Corporation, People’s Potato, The Link, Frigo Vert, The Concordian, Cinema Politica, Art Matters, l’Organe, QPIRG, Centre 2110 and Sustainable Concordia.

I find it problematic that for two successive years motions like this have been put forward without any consultation between our student government and affected organizations.

Last year a motion was presented by a CSU executive that would have transferred all of the funding from the CSBC to the CSU, again without notifying us. Luckily, a sympathetic counselor told us and we managed to rally enough concerned members to make ourselves heard in Council, leading to the motion’s withdrawal.

History repeats itself. Once again, we’ve had to hear about our student government’s plans through the grapevine instead of directly.

There are obvious problems with the proposed changes: Most importantly, the changes gravely threaten Concordia’s heritage. Some of these organizations have existed for decades. Calling their funding into question could very well herald the disappearance of groups that define and make Concordia what it is.

Imagine a Concordia without Art Matters or the People’s Potato, or without a student newspaper for that matter.

Second, this policy will further burden these already taxed organizations by forcing them to spend valuable time and money every three years on re-election campaigns to secure their funding.

We have more important things to do than fighting for our survival unnecessarily, such as bettering our organizations and increasing our memberships.

Finally, I’ve heard that the motivation behind this policy is to ensure accountability of fee levy recipients. While this is a noble goal, I’m somewhat confused by the approach. This proposal does nothing to ensure accountability, but instead threatens the livelihood of independent student groups. It’s like killing the patient to cure the disease.

Since discovering this, a number of groups have met. We agree that this policy is ill-conceived. In response to our concerns, CSU VP Academic Anika Henry has assured me by email that this policy will not go ahead without proper consultation. I’ve asked for a letter of promise to this effect, as well as the draft of the policy.

We’re still waiting.

Jason Gondziola
Station Manager, CUTV
Member of the Board, The Link
Media Advisor, Cinema Politica

Dear Graduate Students,

The GSA has now been essentially declared non-functional by the Dean of Students, for clear reasons related to the ineptitude, belligerence and disregard for procedure on the part of four executives. Minutes, audits, transparency, honesty: all missing from these executives. This has been a disastrous year, with laptops bought and sold by fiat, duly-voted budgets called invalid by execs who voted for them, a sham general assembly and, despite denials by execs involved, plenty of incoherent yelling coming from our elected executives. Grad students placed their trust in them, and it is time for grad students to revoke that trust.

On the 11th of January, after long efforts at normal operations and resolving difficulties in the GSA, six councillors supported a motion calling for four executives and one director to resign. The individuals were chosen due to their involvement in an improper general assembly, where:

–Three days’ notice was given in The Link instead of the mandatory 10;

–Council was neither informed nor consulted;

–Participants ran through the motions of impeaching the VP finance without informing her or allowing her to speak in her own defence;

–Participants illegally tried to change the composition of GSA Council, and Molham Chikhalsouk subsequently attempted to pass the change off as legal at Concordia’s Board of Governors.

In last week’s The Link, it was reported that “Chaher Alzaman, GSA VP services, said that all the bylaws and regulations concerning the assembly were respected and quorum was reached. According to Alzaman and the president, Molham ChikhAlsouk, Hashemi has been successfully impeached.”

The bylaws clearly state that a 10-day notice in a student paper or The Thursday Report (now The Journal) is required.

Students got three, without an agenda.

Alzaman and Chikhalsouk would like students to believe that because they knew that the purpose of the assembly was to impeach, that the posters and ads could go up with no agenda, no mention of impeachment and no notice to Hashemi of the proceedings against her.

We don’t buy that this is proper, not by the letter of the by-laws and not by the principles of natural justice.

Petitions are circulating to impeach Chikhalsouk, Alzeman, Kazam and El-Hamawi. These guys claim they’ve done nothing wrong and that the suspension of the GSA is personal. It’s only personal in a world where three is greater than 10 and graduate students are mind- readers. It is not our place to determine whether they are deluded or lying at this point, only to throw them out, starting with a duly-completed petition, fair procedure and resounding vote that graduate students demand accountability from them. The case against them on the sham general assembly is clear and documented to death. If anything, we regret not bringing this to the general graduate student population sooner.

Eric Hortop (GSA Director, Science)
Vesra Hashemi (GSA VP, Finance)
Vanessa Nicolai (GSA Director, Arts)

Dear Editor,

I hate the new logo. It looks like something belonging to a coffee bar or children’s bookstore, or a dot-com start-up, circa 1997! It’s lacking in history, in authority and grace. A totally soulless symbol.

Moreover, repeating the word university twice, just reeks of the ridiculous language politics that has plagued Montreal for 30 years.

This logo says only one thing: Concordia has NO identity but wants to LOOK important.

David Srigley

On Jan 23, Concordia University testified before the Quebec National Assembly’s Parliamentary Commission on education.

Concordia was represented by our president Dr. Claude Lajeunesse who stated clearly that he supports a lift on the province’s tuition freeze. Unfortunately, although this may be the position of the university administration, this is certainly not the position of Concordia’s students and their families.

It’s ironic that the university that received a $61 million government grant to build yet another building downtown has become the leader in a bid to increase tuition fees.

As usual this is a question of priorities, not funding. The goal is for governments to decrease dollar for dollar every increase in tuition fees students pay – slowly abdicating the responsibility of maintaining quality and affordable education. In other words, tuition may go up, but the government will pay less and the universities will be no better off. So what will solve the funding crisis?

A shift in priorities, from the university to governments. As Quebecers, we already pay the highest taxes on the continent, why download the debt on to individual students and their families? Already student debt is reaching $12 billion nationally – think of the interest the banks will be collecting over the coming decades as students who were forced to take out loans to pay for their education are further penalized.

Furthermore, we rarely hear about the fact that every year the bottom line for students and their families gets more expensive. Unregulated fees charged by the university increase every year, as does the price tag for out-of-province and international students, who pay thousands more in differential fees.

If we had a funding problem, why we would try to solve it by looking to the demographic that has the least to give and that suffers the most in doing so? To ensure education is a right and not a privilege of the wealthy, we must maintain the freeze on tuition fees. It would be a critical mistake for governments not to prioritize education. If the government thinks that funding education is too expensive they should consider the cost of ignorance.

Justin Levy
VP External, CSU

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