CSU passes the questions that will appear on the referendum
Correction: A previous version of the article incorrectly stated that an additional student fee charge for Sustainability Concordia, The Link, and SEIZE could not be opted out of. They can be opted out — all fees collected for fee-levies organizations at Concordia can be opt-ed out of.
At the Concordia Student Union (CSU) meeting on Oct. 27, multiple questions were passed to be put on the referendum, including whether there should be a mandatory course on sustainability, and a charter of students’ rights. Here are some of the questions students will vote for in this upcoming election.
Position against transphobia
The CSU wants to add a position in support of trans, non-binary, and gender-non-conforming people to its positions book in lieu of the Quebec government’s proposed Bill 2.
Bill 2 will make it so that someone cannot change their sex on their government documentation without having gender-affirming surgery.
“It’s basically asking trans people to out themselves,” said Hannah Jamet-Lange, the CSU’s academic & advocacy coordinator.
Jamet-Lange explained that the CSU has a general position in their position book in solidarity with LGBTQIA2+ people, but Jamet-Lange wanted something that was specifically in support of trans, non-binary and gender-non-conforming people.
The position book is the CSU’s stance on political, social, and student-life issues. For any position to be added to the book, it must be first voted on by students in a referendum.
The CSU wants to know if students want Concordia University to implement a pass/fail grading option until the pandemic is over. For the 2020-2021 academic year, students were allowed to receive a pass/fail notation in one class per semester. It was implemented as a way to reduce stress and burnout in students.
“We’re still in the pandemic, and people are still struggling,” said Jamet-Lange, who explained that student stress has not lessened during the return to in-person classes due to the continuation of the pandemic.
Charter of Students’ Rights
This question is asking the Concordia community if the CSU should create a charter of students’ rights and responsibilities. Many universities have a charter of rights, including McGill and UQAM, but Concordia does not have one.
Jamet-Lange explained that the CSU wants to see if students are in support of the charter before the CSU puts in the time and effort of creating the document.
According to the question, Concordia is four times lower than the Canadian national average on sustainability learning outcomes in the curriculum. The question asks if students want Concordia University to commit to ensuring that all students learn about sustainability and the climate crisis in the curriculum by 2030.
Fee levy groups are organizations elected by students in referendums who receive their funding from student fees. They provide different services for students, such as free meals from The People’s Potato.
Multiple fee levy groups are asking to increase the amount of money they collect from undergraduate students, such as the CSU Advocacy Centre, which provides students with independent representation in disciplinary proceedings. They are asking for an extra $0.14 per credit, resulting in a total increase to $0.45 of the fee-levy amount, as the negative impact of COVID-19 has caused an increase in students reaching out for help. This means the centre has had to increase its staff and hours in order to support the influx of students.
Should this pass, an additional student fee charge will also increase by $0.42, to a total of $1.35 per 3-credit course, which cannot be opted out from.
Sustainable Concordia, an initiative that aims to reform systems that contribute to the climate crisis, is asking for an increase as their organization is growing and wants to give more support to their staff. The fee-levy increase will be to $0.07 per credit, resulting in a total increase to $0.22, and will be annually adjusted to the Consumer Price Index of Canada.
This fee-levy increase will result in a change of $0.21 to an additional student fee charge, to a total of $0.66 per 3-credit course, which can be opted-out from.
The Link, another independent student media publication at Concordia University, is asking for an increase of $0.10, resulting in a total fee-levy increase to $0.29. The organization has not requested a change to their amount since 2001 according to The Link, and seeks to increase funds to support their reporting, improve multimedia opportunities for students, enhance diversity and equitability, and account for inflation.
Should this pass, an additional increase of $0.30 for every 3-credit course will be added to the student fee charge, resulting in a $0.87 fee which can be opted out from.
A new fee levy group, SEIZE, is asking to be established. It will become, “a solidarity economy incubator,” which will, “engage students through the support, development, study and promotion of democratic enterprises.” SEIZE’s fee would be $0.29 per credit.
Should this pass, an additional student fee charge of $0.87 per 3-credit course will be added, a fee which can be opted out from.
The CSU is asking if students want them to advocate to the Concordia administration for the implementation of either live-streaming or recorded lectures. The CSU states that at the beginning of the pandemic, the university allowed for classes to be recorded. Now as classes return to in-person, recorded classes have been reduced, yet many students, such as international students, are still unable to attend them.
Photograph by Lou Neveux-Pardijon