Newly-elected coordinators discuss their plans for the next school year
The Concordia Student Union (CSU) has a new council of executives for the 2017-2018 school year.
The elected students are Omar Riaz (general coordinator), Leyla Sutherland (student life coordinator), Soulaymane Al Alaoui (finance coordinator), Devon Ellis-Durity (sustainability coordinator), Maria Gabriela Polanco (Loyola coordinator), Veronika Rydzewski (internal affairs coordinator), Asma Mushtaq (academic and advocacy coordinator) and Ahmed Badr (external affairs and mobilization coordinator).
Riaz, Al Alaoui and Rydzewski took the time to speak with The Concordian about their upcoming mandate and projects within the CSU.
The incoming general coordinator has been involved in student politics for as long as he can remember. “I remember being a student ambassador in elementary school, which is when I got interested in being involved in the decision-making process that affects students and everyone around,” Riaz said. This passion continued in CEGEP, where he became president of the Vanier College Student Association during his second year. “For my time as president with my team, we were able to accomplish great things that are still incorporated at the CEGEP,” he said.
Riaz joined the CSU team this year as a councilor, while also sitting on Concordia’s Senate. “My experience has been positive enough that I wanted to stay with the CSU. I think they do a lot of great things,” he said. “I also think that you have to be part of the decision-making to help make a change.”
For the upcoming school year, Riaz said he is aiming for more transparency. “I think that everything we do and decide should be available to students,” he said. He intends to create a new Facebook account dedicated to publishing CSU-related content, such as finances and summaries of meetings. “The CSU has an account already, but it’s just to make it more personal towards the students,” Riaz said. He also mentioned he would be holding Facebook Live events in order to answer students’ questions and concerns.
“[During the campaign], the first Facebook Live we did was in a staircase, which shows that no matter where we are, we will make ourselves accessible to the students,” Riaz said.
He and Al Alaoui, along with Polanco and Badr, originally ran together as part of Team Embrace ConU, but both said they are absolutely looking forward to working with members of Team Connect. “I am more than happy to support them and help them accomplish their goals,” Riaz said, adding that he no longer represents Team Embrace ConU, but rather all of the students at Concordia.
Al Alaoui said win or lose, he and Riaz want to speak with everyone who ran about their platforms. “Everyone has their ideas of what makes things better,” he said. He plans on meeting with the other candidates to implement their ideas. “It would be a shame for these ideas to go to waste. We want to foster the idea that, even if you lose an election, your ideas don’t end there.”
The newly-elected finance coordinator has already contacted the current finance coordinator, Thomas David-Bashore, to learn about the position in more detail when it comes to budgeting and finances in general within the CSU. “I just want to have a better understanding and take his insight, to grow the position, if you will. Tweak it to make it better,” Al Alaoui said.
He also plans on working alongside the Senate. “They are the highest academic body at Concordia, and we have the same goals to make everything better,” he said. “It wouldn’t make sense for there not to be a collaboration.”
Rydzewski, who was originally part of the Team Connect alongside Sutherland, Ellis-Durity, and Mushtag, said she is “excited to be working with [Riaz] and [Al Alaoui]. I think that when you look at their platforms and their campaign, they did a wonderful job.”
Rydzewski is currently a CSU councillor, and sits on the student life committee, the clubs committee and the policy committee. “As internal affairs coordinator, I will help out students with their clubs by improving them, and also I will be bringing new clubs,” she said. “I plan to create more student spaces on campus as well.” She also insisted it was important that students participated in the elections and said she is grateful for everyone who voted. “I encourage students to get informed in any ways that they can,” she said.
The Concordian also asked Riaz about his thoughts on the sanctuary campus referendum question that passed. “I think the CSU did a great job this year when the [Canadian Border Services Agency] was on campus. [The CSU] questioned them and found out what was going on and why they were there. I would love to continue to increase our efforts into making both campuses safe,” he said.