On harmony, unity and identity at Concordia

This year has felt like an all-time low for student engagement. Concordia Student Union candidates ran largely unopposed, debates were poorly attended and voting polls looked like ghost towns throughout the election. On an even wider scale, events organized by the CSU have seen low turnout, the Stingers are playing half-empty arenas and the overall campus atmosphere feels less like a community and more like a time-card-punching establishment where people go to do their time and move on.

This is partly the fault of event organizers but, for the most part, it’s students who can’t be persuaded to pay attention or care about anything outside of themselves.

Concordia president Alan Shepard says he has encountered a “hunger” from the campus community to know what makes the university special, what defines us. This is something we can all relate to: we’re not McGill, we know that, but that’s about it. At the moment, there is no unity at Concordia.

It is incredibly ironic to be named for a word that means agreement and harmony, when there is so little to go around.
This is something that a little clever rebranding could do a lot to change. Once you find out what people like about this university, and more importantly, what they don’t like, then the possibilities are endless. Knowledge is power, and creating an environment where people want to spend time, and want to promote and recommend to others should be the school’s top priority.

President Shepard is concerned about the reputation of the university, as he should be. Finding an image-conscious public face for Concordia was a brilliant move and he is absolutely correct when he says that changing the way this school is perceived starts with changing the way people inside the community see it.

Concordia has all the makings of a great university. This year has shown a really serious change in tone from the one before and new management has a lot to do with that. It’s going to be a while before the ugly stains of Concordia’s history are washed away and, realistically, they may never be fully forgotten. But we like the idea that just because the old girl has made mistakes in the past, it doesn’t mean she can’t improve now.

We all make jokes about Concordia being a second-rate institution that’s plagued by mismanagement but it’s that exact attitude that keeps us where we are. Every year new students, staff, faculty and administrators come to Concordia and see something entirely different from what may have been there the year before. It is hard to get a clear picture of what Concordia is but we appreciate the people who bother to ask the question in the first place and care enough to take on the challenge of finding out.

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