Say hello to the ConU bourgeoisie

[singlepic id=195 w=320 h=240 float=right]To the students of Concordia University,

So, the team here at The Concordian was hoping you could buy us a new means of transportation for the office. We’re not asking for much. A top of the line car maybe? It seems unfair now, but later when we’re cruising from Loyola to SGW while you wait for the shuttle bus in the rain, it will seem even more unfair. Let us explain.

Earlier this week, the Journal de Montreal reported that Concordia University is footing the bill for senior Vice-President Bram Freedman’s rental of a Lexus RX 350. As the VP Institutional Relations and Secretary General, Freedman is entitled to his new ride as per his contract.

The article stated that the six senior VPs at the university have access to $900 a month for rental and maintenance of a vehicle of their choice.

University’s spokesperson, Cléa Desjardins, confirmed that the majority of vice-presidents choose to receive this monthly allowance and while some “arrange their lease or car ownership themselves, some choose to have the university lease a vehicle directly.”

So why all the fuss? Well according to Le Journal, the rental contract between the university and the Montreal Lexus dealer rings in at $37,155.22. Once again, the problem lies in the continuing trend of institutional disregard for money management.

Concordia was fined by former Education Minister Line Beauchamp just this spring to the tune of two million dollars for handing out hefty severance packages like they were monogrammed pens. All the while, students protesting against tuition fee increases say they can’t afford to pay a dollar more, let alone another couple hundred dollars.

When is Concordia going to learn its lesson?

This is not a personal criticism of VP Freedman. He is simply taking advantage of the subsidies program available to him. Granted, he took it as far as he could carry it: a Lexus RX 350 rings in at a starting price of $44,950.

Freedman’s expense reports for 2011 also indicate that he charged the university $1,500 for maintenance on his car and another $788.10 in June of that year for insurance on said vehicle.

Why shouldn’t senior administrators be given perks for executing the difficult job of shaking hands and sitting on committees? All teasing aside, there’s nothing wrong with receiving some benefits, but not when they’re used to explain away unnecessarily costly purchases coming from students’ pockets.

Approximately 94 million dollars of Concordia’s overall operating budget in 2011 comes from student tuition fees, with another 272 million from federal and provincial subsidies. Nearly 80 per cent of the university’s revenue comes from public sources, giving them a responsibility to the students and taxpayers who finance them to spend that money prudently. This is a university, not a privately funded for-profit company and that is a fact the Concordia administration needs to wake up to.

As far as we are concerned, any student who pays fees at this educational institution owns a piece of that car, and that is why people should be outraged. If Bram Freedman isn’t giving us a ride to school each morning, why then should we have to pay for his?

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