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Councillors calling for “Change”

by Archives March 18, 2008

Now that Unity’s only rival party has dropped out of the running, their sole remaining competition this year will be a group of a dozen or more councilors running under the “Be the Change” affiliation, simply known as Change.
The main focus of Change, considered the voice from the left on campus, is accountability and transparency.
“First of all, it’s the council and not the executive that’s the supreme governing body of the CSU. Legally speaking, it’s like the board of directors,” said Andrew Fernandes. He said Change would have a bigger impact on council if they gain a majority this year.
Responding to queries about promises made by Change members last week that they would fight for a higher minimum wage and for free tuition, Fernandes also noted, “Obviously these aren’t things that are in the direct power of the CSU to legislate, but it is the job of the student union to fight for the interests of its members.”
Change will motion to have the CSU budget, which is projected to be over $1.7 million this year, made available on the CSU website, so that students can know all the CSU’s expenses and intricate finances.
“I think that a lot of students don’t even know when [or where] council meetings are,” said Louise Bauer, running for one of the 13 seats representing arts and sciences. She added that she would also like to see monthly general assemblies for students. Though she agrees with a lot of the ideas being pushed by Change, she is running as an independent candidate.
All of those present at the interview, including Roberto Tesolin, Amero Mainy, Katherine Bélanger and Alex Winterhalt, agreed that this year’s Unity executive was strong by way of offering services to students, but weak on advocacy.
“They offer useful services to students, but they sometimes forget the ‘union’ part of the student union . . . But where is the support when our members are being discriminated against and being shut down?” asked Fernandes.
“The reason I joined Change is because of the clubs [and] associations because there has been massive discrimination in the past,” explained Mainy. As examples, he cited instances where events organized by Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) or Cinema Politica have been hampered by Concordia’s security measures.
In particular, he cited SPHR’s showing of Occupation 101, for which the university deemed necessary to hire additional security guards, and originally charged the documentary presenters the extra costs.
“The discrimination [against] clubs in the past . . . the CSU could have avoided if they got involved,” Mainy said.
He added that students not being able to handout “flyers” where they want is also a concern.
This brought up the issue of the Comprehensive Space Agreement, an agreement between the CSU and the university’s administration on the guidelines concerning the use of space on campus.
“It’s been two years at least . . . and I haven’t seen any results,” said Fernandes, referring to the negotiations taken up by former CSU president Khaleed Juma and the Experience slate, the precursor to this year’s Unity. Change will raise a motion to give next year’s executives a mandate to present to council a monthly report on the negotiations’ progress.
“Besides, there are also pressure tactics the CSU can use. The CSU can give [students] the right to give out flyers on campus. Clubs are supposed to have this right,” suggested Tesolin.
Change councilors believe the CSU budget could also put more focus on informing students.
“It’s really a fiscal thing . . . I would like to see less entertainment, and more funds for educating students on issues which affect them federally and provincially,” said Bélanger, who will be running to represent the fine arts faculty.
Change will also try to tackle the lack of student life at Loyola campus by creating a “Loyola inter-departmental council,” composed of representatives from departments that are based out of Loyola. They would be given a budget with which to advertise and hold events.

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