As the Concordia Student Union campaign period progresses, The Concordian sat down with the 2012-2013 executive candidates from Concordia Could Be. They were asked to discuss their strengths, platforms and goals for the next academic year. Voting begins March 20.
Melanie Hotchkiss — Presidential candidate
Strengths: I was involved for more than two years in the Dawson Student Union, a year and a half as president where I managed over 20 clubs. At Concordia, I’ve been involved in the School of Community and Public Affairs for two years and I have been a member of the CSU council for the past two years. This year I was also appointed student representative on Senate by the CSU council.
The role of the CSU president is to oversee the affairs of the union and what sets me apart from my opponent is the experience I have in all types of portfolios, gained through my mandate at the DSU and my experience at Concordia at the faculty and departmental levels.
Focus: First, I want to develop a better communication strategy so the CSU can reach out to students. Our team came up with the idea of a CSU application that would be synchronized with our website so students can know what events are happening on campus. For that to work, we are planning an overhaul of the CSU website, improving the navigation and making information centralized and easier to access.
Second, a lot of space on campus is either not used to full potential or students just don’t know about them at all. One of the short-term solutions is to create a student space map so people know where space can be found. My third point is to have a research-based CSU. We want to have somebody at the office working all the time on researching Concordia issues and making sure this information is available to students, especially during major campaigns.
Position on tuition hikes: Personally, I am completely against tuition increases, but in terms of our team, we don’t have a consensus on whether or not there should be a strike. We do have consensus, however, that we should always consult students and provide them the tools to make an informed decision. We have such a variety of opinions on the matter that we will be able to inform and listen to students with multiple perspectives. We also want to work with the faculty and department associations more.
DSU resignation: After a year and a half as president, I found myself elected with a totally new executive who tried to impeach me when they didn’t even know me. Me leaving made sense at that moment because I didn’t want to run with a team that thought I was incompetent after I fought so hard to make the DSU accredited. In this context at Concordia, it’s completely different. I don’t know all the members from the other affiliation, but the ones that I do know, I have an immense amount of respect for. I’m really not worried about being elected with executives from the other affiliation.
Student representation on governing bodies: I absolutely disagree with the reduction of student representation on the Board of Governors. Student representatives will have to really put their foot on the ground next year and make sure students are voiced on the BoG and the Senate. The thing we would like to propose is to get the alternate student board representative to have the right to second a motion. Currently, if the only student voting member tries to pass a motion and doesn’t find anyone on the board to second it, the motion won’t even be discussed.
Relationship between CSU and administration: You can strive to have an amicable relationship while still holding the administration accountable. My opponent was talking about negotiating with the administration, and although I think we need to have a dialogue, there’s a huge difference between discussing and negotiating. Negotiation implies compromise, but the BoG should follow their own rules and be accountable to the university community.
I sat on CSU council this year and we did a lot of events and I have a keen understanding of regulations and bylaws and won’t get trapped by them.
Strengths: I grew up with nature and developed a deep love and respect for it. In the past year, I sat in on the Sustainability Action Fund’s board of directors and it gave me an in-depth understanding of the projects regarding sustainability at Concordia.
Focus: Do research in the sustainability of The Hive and I want to push for smaller projects that are accomplish-able in a year such as integrating sustainability in student spaces and Concordia in general. I would implement an outreach and collaboration program to help faculty associations and student groups who want to integrate sustainability in their business models and their event hosting but don’t know how.
Cameron Monagle — VP external affairs
I would be a VP external that listens and collaborates and makes sure to be accessible to students.
Strengths: I started to get involved after the international student tuition hike [in 2010] and since then I’ve had a fire under my butt. I have been on the Board of Governors, sat on CSU council, and I’ve been a member of the mobilization squad and organized a volunteer program called the Alternative Spring Break program.
Focus: I want to work in collaboration with different student groups who are running their own campaigns and are doing a much better job than the CSU has ever done.
We’re 35,000 students and communicating with all of them is not an easy task. For tuition hike campaigns, a lot of students feel alienated, confused and uninformed. I think the key to improve this is to work with smaller student groups.
Enthusiastic, positive and open. I’m also all about fun and wanting to learn.
Strengths: It’s my fourth year at Concordia and I was able to see what is happening in the university. I was on the CSU’s events committee this year, I volunteered in most orientation events and I’ve been to all cultural nights. This gave me a good understanding of the structure of the CSU.
Focus: I want to improve communication with faculty associations who have better lines of communications with the students. I think the key is to improve the relationship with them. I also want to increase the diversity of events around campus.
Stephanie Beauregard — VP finance
I am honest, personable, pay close attention to details and I am really passionate and determined.
Strengths: I have been an assistant bookkeeper and worked as project manager in the music industry and I have handled large budgets for a long time. I have the academic experience with the hands-on job experience
Focus: One of our main focuses in the affiliation is accessibility. I want to take the work the CSU has done this year in terms of transparency and accessibility of the budget and break it down for all students to be able to see it and understand what’s happening.
I also want to improve the communication between CUSACorp management and the CSU in order to improve business relationships and marketing campaigns at Reggie’s.
When it comes down to it, I just love talking about educational policy
Strengths: I have sat on Senate for the past year and so I have seen how changes happen from the department’s curriculum committee, to the Senate. I also have a good understanding of technology and that is really important with things like eConcordia and new learning platforms.
Focus: I want to bring academics into the main focus of the CSU. We are students and when it comes down to it, there should be a bigger focus on academics. I want to increase the number of academic student spaces such as the Fine Arts studio and the Engineering lab.
I also want to work more with the faculty associations so they can feel like they are represented on the different academic bodies.
I’m fun, collaborative, and ready to make campus as exciting as I know it can be.
Strengths: I have a lot of experience with communication and conflict management, team management, and collaboration. I also understand how valuable it is to be transparent and promise things that are really feasible.
Focus: I want to collaborate with the student body at Loyola to better develop things that have been started downtown. I also want to get a Hive coordinator who will deal with things that happen at Loyola in general. The coordinator would be stationed inside The Hive, having it open more often to make that student space utilized the way it should be. In order to involve Loyola students in CSU events, I would like to do more classroom visits, be more visible and collaborate more with the media at Loyola.
I really want to be outside, in the quad and literally introduce myself to the student body and say “Hi, I’m Jonathan, VP Loyola, what is it that I could do to make your day better?”
I am new to council but I am very competent, I have a rich background in working with various associations. I also study marketing, which is exactly what VP internal and clubs does, promote events and attract people to them.
Strengths: I am currently president of the Muslim Students Association. It gives me scope of what a student club actually means.
Focus: As MSA president, it was tough at times to deal with the CSU given bureaucracy issues or lack of communication. I want to reach out to the clubs and simplify that relationship. It shouldn’t just be for finance or resources, or when there’s an issue.
What also gives me an edge is that I ran one of the largest clubs on campus. The amount of things that go through the MSA is incredible. Having this experience with the media, [President Lowy] the dean of students, it really gave me that scope in understanding the full picture.