Concordia’s Student media comes together to profile this year’s CSU executive candidates
To cover this year’s CSU elections, The Concordian, The Link and CJLO News teamed up to interview several executive candidates. CSU elections will be held between March 15 – March 17.
Elijah Olise, general coordinator
Interview conducted by Zachary Fortier and Mohammad Khan, The Link
Elijah Olise is an urban studies student, currently working as a community organizer. Before running for general coordinator he planned to run as the CSU’s external coordinator in an effort to combine his work regarding housing, food security and community connection to Concordia and student government.
“I was hoping to connect the campus to work that I’m doing outside [school] and break down the walls of academia. To develop a mutually beneficial relationship for students as well as community members who are particularly part of marginalized communities.”
Olise wants to focus on further connecting the Concordia community and facilitating more student involvement with the CSU.
“I think it’s important to really invest more heavily into how we can build community,” said Olise.
As general coordinator he will focus on fostering this community through development of more clubs and events and encouraging greater democratic involvement within the CSU.
An ability to lead by example coupled with his decisiveness are some of the qualities Olise believes he possesses that will make him a good fit for general coordinator.
“When it’s necessary I’m decisive and ready to move forward on certain goals, past the talking phase and I encourage and inspire others around me to do exactly the same.”
Olise said some of his key values are community, inclusion, justice and sustainability.
Sean Levis, sustainability coordinator
Interview conducted by Cedric Gallant , CJLO News Editor
Sean Levis is a fifth year philosophy student at Concordia. In 2020 he began living at the Woodnote Solidarity Cooperative where he joined the finance committee, later becoming their treasurer. His major goals are to create greater institutional stability within the CSU and greater housing sustainability to Concordia students through supporting the Woodnote.
“The reason I chose sustainability was when I first moved into the Woodnote I realized that there was not a lot of support to ensure the sustainability of the organization itself,” said Levis.
“The reason why I’m running for the CSU sustainability coordinator is I think there are a lot of initiatives with regards to sustainability that need to be done within the Woodnote and I think there are some sustainability initiatives at the CSU that need to be undertaken as well.”
Levis wants to ensure that CSU councilors are more democratically connected to the faculties which they represent and held more accountable to accomplishing students wishes.
Encouraging more grassroots organizing by the student body, is one of Levi’s major goals. “The ability of students to organize in their member associations is somewhat limited because they don’t have the support or the resources that they could otherwise have from the CSU.”
Another of Levis’ key focuses is bringing food sustainability initiatives to the Woodnote to mitigate food insecurity. In addition to providing free hygiene products and bringing a composting program to the building.
Sabrina Morena, Loyola coordinator
Interview conducted by Evan Lindsay, Co-News Editor of The Concordian
Sabrina Morena is a third year human relations student at the Loyola campus. Some of Morena’s major goals as Loyola coordinator are to create more food options at the Loyola campus and creating a greater presence at the CSU there.
“I’ve been at Loyola the whole time throughout my undergraduate degree. […] There was a lack of presence of the CSU as well as lack of student life and sometype of engagement,” said Morena. “There should be some type of presence and some type of student life to make it more engaging and make those students who attend Loyola all the time feel like they matter as well.”
Morena said she wants to create more food options for students at Loyola or even create a discount card for restaurants around the campus. She also wants to bring more events like job fairs, orientation fairs and markets to the campus.
As Loyola coordinator Morena would try to highlight some of Loyola’s existing features like the Hive Café, a solidarity co-op program of which she is a board member.
“Many people I speak to in my classes don’t even know that the Hive exists or they might know but, they don’t know where it’s located,” said Morena.
“I want to bring more attention to [the Hive] because there could be some really cool initiatives that could be implemented at this location as well.
Meryem Benallal, finance coordinator
Interview Conducted by Zachary Fortier, The Link
Meryem Benallal is a second year student in political science. She has managed multiple companies, including her own, which lead to her running for the finance position.
“I opened my painting company with my husband. We had to do all the budgeting and the nitty gritty of a business. I learned a lot from that,” said Benallal. In addition to this, Benallal worked with two daycares managing their salaries, number of kids, different classes, and other regulations.
Benallal is a full time student and also a parent, which influences some of her biggest goals as finance coordinator. “My number one priority this semester is to hopefully fund or ease the struggles of student parents that I strongly empathize with.”
One of the important roles of the finance coordinator is to provide transparency to students on where their money goes – something Benallal thinks is very important
“Transparency is related to the students’ vision of where and how much they want to fund. I think we should first listen to what students want and their needs.”
Some of the areas that Benallal thinks require more funding are bursaries and CSU daycares. She also wants to provide greater transparency to students on where their tuition money goes and what students get out of that funding.
Fawaz Halloum, internal affairs coordinator
Interview conducted by Cedric Gallant, CJLO News Director
As the executive primarily responsible for clubs and spaces, Fawaz Halloum will work to guide student clubs, as well as organize communications within the CSU itself, including some financial matters. Halloum will also work to organize anti-oppression training within the CSU and the larger student body.
In his final year at Concordia. Halloum will draw on his experience as a founder of the Concordia Mycological Society.
“I truly hope to see more engagement from student clubs in experiential learning opportunities,” said Halloum.
“I do have a plan of creating a specialized fund for internships for mature enough clubs […] where they could conduct an internship if it’s appropriate to their mandate.”
One of his other goals is to create a special fund for journals for undergraduate scientific or arts programs.
Asli Isaaq, academic and advocacy coordinator
Interview Conducted by Zachary Fortier, The Link
Asli Isaaq is a second year sociology student. In the past she has been involved in the ASFA, particularly working in the Anti-Racism and Anti-Sexual Violence Taskforce. She was also president of her CEGEPs student association.
“Student advocacy comes with student mobilization,” said Isaaq.
“It’s very difficult for us to advocate for students if students aren’t involved first. Before we get to the step of advocating for students we first have to rally students behind us,” said Isaaq.
In addition to this, Isaaq said she wants to “set a new tone” with Concordia’s administration.
“I don’t doubt the incredible work that the past student execs have done. But clearly there is a point where something isn’t clicking,” said Isaaq.
“There has to be a point where we strategize and figure out how we can get what students want and also get this university on our side.”
Following the pandemic, Isaaq thinks students are missing support from the administration. She wants to ensure that students are not being penalized by the administration for how they are proceeding with education throughout the pandemic and beyond.
You can listen to the full interviews with each of these candidates on the CJLO News Podcast.[spotifyplaybutton play=”https://open.spotify.com/show/59h8RORpsFm3Vcp9jQWxAc?si=f0005a8255044f81″]