CSU calls on university for greater transparency in new open letter

The letter claims previous demands posed by the CSU were rejected

The Concordia Student Union’s (CSU) updated open letter condemns the university for dismissing demands previously put forward regarding the return to campus.

On Jan. 13, the CSU sent an open letter to the university demanding an organized plan for a return to in-person learning. As of Feb. 1, the letter has acquired over 3000 signatures, according to the CSU, who said they received mixed reactions in response to the university’s decision.

“As such, and given that our mission at the CSU is to represent the student body, we are in this response shifting focus on how to safely return to campus on a hybrid model basis, provide more and better accessibility and ensure proper mental health support systems,” wrote the CSU.

The letter explains that the Concordia Board of Governors — the highest decision-making body of the university — discussed the previously written open letter on Jan. 27. However, wrote the CSU, “this discussion took place in closed session as some governors expressed not wanting any discussion in open session to damage the university’s reputation.”

The CSU quoted Helen Antoniou, chair of the Board of Governors, in the open letter “Because there is an open letter, we will comment on that in the closed session because […] I don’t think it’s the habit of the university to speak.”

The CSU criticized the response of board members, arguing that “the fact that their focus remained on maintaining appearances is not only a dismissal of the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff but also shows disregard for any attempt at transparent communication.”

Concordia confirmed the return to in-person classes on Feb. 3 in an email to students at the end of January.

The university’s announcement noted health and safety measures put into place, highlighting the mandatory use of masks in shared indoor spaces and academic accommodations.

In their letter, the CSU argued that gaps remained in the university’s information regarding safety measures, drawing particular attention to challenges in accessing COVID-19 self-isolation forms for students who contract the virus.

“As a result of the university’s lack of care and transparency for its community, all of our demands made in the Open Letter sent on Jan. 13 were rejected,” wrote the CSU.

“As many students are currently in precarious situations; financially, mentally, physically; the lack of action taken by the university in supporting its students is deplorable”.

The CSU, in partnership with other faculty and student associations within Concordia, shared they have taken matters into their own hands “until the administration is willing to step up to the plate and take the wellness of its community as well as accessibility issues seriously.”

Among their initiatives, the CSU said they are creating a peer-support network, aimed at providing note taking services and potential recordings and live streams of classes. The union added that they plan to initiate ways for students to take part in contact tracing in classes.

Additionally, they aim to provide a limited number of K95/KN95 masks, reserved for higher risk community members.

In a previous email to The Concordian, Concordia University Spokesperson Vannina Maestracci shared that the university “already face[s] obstacles in providing N95s for the groups who do require them.”

The CSU’s updated letter contains a list of 20 demands, pleading for the university to acknowledge actions deemed necessary to ensure a safe return to campus.

Among the list is a request for “retroactive tuition reduction” or the waving of late fees, penalties and interest on tuition payments.

Additionally, the letter demands better communication with students and heightened transparency on behalf of the university regarding any future decisions made surrounding the return campus.

The CSU’s letter presses Concordia to introduce a fully hybrid winter semester, “not forcing anyone onto campus who cannot safely do so while simultaneously ensuring that students do not have to choose between dropping out of all their courses and risking their lives.”

The plea for hybrid learning is followed by a request to make all in-person course material available to students attending class online. The CSU also asks that exams and assignments are offered online for students unable to make it in person.

Escalating their concerns to protests and strikes if Concordia fails to respond to these demands is not off the table, warned the CSU in their letter.

“Should Concordia wish to reinstate any faith or respect from its community, the Concordia administration must simply do more.”



Concordia’s return to campus announcement sparks calls for greater flexibility

The university officially confirmed the return to campus on Feb. 3 in an internal email to Concordia students, one week before the scheduled date

With the official return to campus around the corner, some Concordia community members say the university’s lack of flexibility surrounding in-person courses is disappointing.

The announcement confirming the Feb. 3 date comes close to two weeks after the university initially notified students of the expected return-to-campus schedule.

The Quebec government gave educational institutions — including CEGEPS and universities — the green light return to in-person instruction as of Jan. 17.

“Not everybody has the luxury to come back in person,” said Sethe Nakib, a fourth-year marketing major. “We have other obligations, so being in person might be complicated for some individuals.”

Nakib currently lives in Toronto with her father, for whom she is a primary caretaker. She said she is struggling to arrange for someone to look after her father in her absence, delaying her move to Montreal.

“We’re going to have to make sacrifices that could be easily avoided if we just kept it remote until the end of the semester,” said Nakib.

The Quebec government’s current health and safety measures for educational institutions does not include distancing. However, this has not diluted students’ concerns about returning to classrooms.

Maria Calcara, a first-year child studies student, recalled feeling uncomfortable attending her in-person classes during the fall semester of 2021.

“Everyone was squished with one another, there was no protocol, no distance,” she said.

The thought of returning to physical classrooms on Feb. 3 is nerve wracking for Calcara.

“I’m kind of afraid and [returning to campus] has been causing me a lot of anxiety,” said Calcara. “Everyone should have a choice of whether they go back [in person] or remain online.”


A mixture of reactions 

Amid the pushback, the university’s return-to-campus announcement has also ignited sighs of relief from students.

“I’m really happy to get back,” said Nina Severa, a first-year film production student. “I really enjoy being in person and having the social part of school, so I’m really excited about it.”

As a result of COVID-19 health and safety measures, not having access to campus grounds prevented Severa and her classmates from acquiring necessary equipment for various class projects.

Now returning to campus, Severa said she is looking forward to getting her hands on the materials she needs and getting back to working with her peers.

“Just knowing that we are able to go back and we have access to the equipment, […] that’s great for us because we are able to make the movies like we planned to do,” said Severa.

Although Severa feels enthusiastic about returning to campus, she recognizes the need for more flexibility regarding class options beyond those in person.

“If a teacher can offer a hybrid course, I think it should be done so that everyone is accommodated and feels comfortable with the situation.”


Calls for greater flexibility 

On Jan. 13, the Concordia Student Union sent an open letter to the university calling on the university to “offer a fully online or at the very least fully hybrid semester […] ensuring that students do not have to choose between dropping out of all their courses and risking their lives.”

The Concordia University Faculty Association (CUFA) echoed the CSU’s concerns in an open letter of their own on Jan. 24.

Addressed to President Graham Carr, CUFA acknowledged that “faculty are divided on the issue of returning to campus.”

The CUFA’s letter pleaded for the postponement of the Feb. 3 return to campus, proposing a gradual return “by bringing smaller classes back first and then gradually adding larger classes as the situation improves.”

In the letter, CUFA  requested “Concordia consider allowing faculty to exercise their judgement and academic freedom to decide what they think is best for them and their students, whether this is to continue teaching remotely to return to in person teaching, or to use a hybrid model.”

“An across-the-board decision of a single return date for all is contrary to the flexibility required to adapt to this ever-changing situation,” wrote the CUFA.


Safety concerns 

Concordia’s announcement on Jan. 27 noted that “many measures have [been] put in place during the pandemic to protect the health and safety of the Concordia community.” Among these, the university highlighted the mandatory use of masks indoors and maintenance of ventilation and heating systems.

In a statement to The Concordian, Concordia Spokesperson Vannina Maestracci explained that “all preventative measures implemented by Concordia since the beginning of the pandemic have been in line with the directives and guidelines we receive from the government, including public health authorities, and this is still the case for Winter 2022.”

Contact tracing on Concordia’s campuses continues to take place despite challenges of restricted access to PCR tests in the province, according to Maestracci.

Regardless of the measures Concordia has put into place, several students feel that these are not enough.

Tyler Sedborn, a fourth-year accounting student, feels that returning to campus on Feb. 3 is a “quick move” on Concordia’s behalf.

“Why add risk if you don’t need to? You’re putting a lot of people who may or may not have had it already into one building or two,” said Sedborn. “I think that’s kind of a timebomb.”

In their letter, the CSU condemned the university for their “lack of leadership and clarity regarding the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff”, noting that the previous fall semester “saw a flagrant disregard for social distancing and mask mandates.”

Concordia currently requires a vaccine passport to take part in on-campus events and activities “not linked directly to the university’s academic, research and institutional work.”

“All my classes have 130 plus kids, and I don’t feel safe being in a room with anyone not knowing who’s vaccinated or not,” shared Seb Buche, a fourth-year leisure science student. “As if we didn’t have enough on our plates as students already during a pandemic.”


Photograph by Catherine Reynolds


My strange obsession: Day in My Life Vlogs

No Danielle-like-and-subscribe-buy-my-merch, it’s a day in MY life (I wish)

The extreme close-up of espresso dripping down into a marble mug.

The lo-fi beats shimmering over aesthetically pleasing B-roll footage of candles being lit, coffee being sipped, and hydro flasks being filled.

The La Croix-stocked fridge.

Let’s not forget about the eloquently lit bathroom consisting of The Ordinary skincare products, guasha stones, and eucalyptus hanging over a rainshower.

Hi. My name is Mélina and I have a slight obsession with “Day In My Life” vlogs.

There’s something about watching people on YouTube go through their days doing supposedly productive and wholesome things that just… gets me. From the morning coffee, to the seven-step skincare routine, to the weekly trip to the Village Juicery, I want it all.

When I open a video and see that it’s more than 10 minutes long, I know it’s going to be a good day for me. The truth is, I usually end up watching these videos for inspiration hoping they will encourage me to at least try to have a YouTuber-esque day in my life as well.

A day that is worthy of being accompanied by lo-fi beats as I film myself sipping an oat milk latte in my Barefoot Dreams robe, sitting on a white fluffy couch next to a perfectly manicured tall plant.

These YouTubers fill me with a different sense of “put-togetherness” that I haven’t quite felt before. At the same time, they also remind me that I should probably be getting to tasks that I’m avoiding, which is usually the case.

Through watching these vlogs, I too feel I am living the seemingly perfect life I get to witness through my laptop screen. Only in a less trendy, less glamorous, but equally caffeinated sort of way.

I may not be living out my life in a high rise apartment in New York City, grabbing expensive brunches with the gals, and reading spicy books by Colleen Hoover under fairy lights in a low-key type of coffee shop in Brooklyn, but I’m still living my best life.

However, if there’s one thing that these videos have taught me it is the absolute therapeutic pleasure of perfecting a skincare routine.

This has to be my favourite part.

Sometimes, I’ll stand in front of the mirror with my headband on, hair tied back, and snuggled in my bathrobe and recite my entire skincare routine, step-by-step. I do the whole shabang in a very “Harper’s Bazaar get unready with me” type of style.

I start with a classic, “Hey Guys! So I’ll be running you through how I take care of my skin…” and then go on to describe the benefits of each of the products I’m using each step of the way. I even do a little smize and shimmy in between steps, just to make myself FEEL like a real YouTuber.

The only people truly witnessing my routine are my cats, who like the warm bathroom floor.

You’re lying to yourself  if you’re reading this and thinking, “That’s weird I would never do that.” I know who you really are and you can’t hide from me.

Bottom line is that “Day in My Life” vlogs keep me sane these days, sort of. They’re that extra sprinkle that make my days better.

I’m not an influencer (if you didn’t catch that already). I know I can’t afford most of the things that they have or do.

In the words of Miss Ariana Grande: “I see it, I like it, I want it, I [don’t] got it.”


Graphic by James Fay


A delayed return to in-person learning was Concordia’s only realistic option, according to some students

The university recently announced that in-person classes would resume on Feb. 3

Concordia University’s decision to delay the return to in-person learning beyond Quebec’s recently announced date of Jan. 17, 2022, was the move that many students saw coming. Concordia shared in a statement that the university plans to welcome students, faculty, and staff back to classrooms on Feb. 3. 

 “I’d love to [return to in-person learning], but I want it to be safe and have everyone feel comfortable, because school is supposed to be a place where you feel safe,” said Selma Ferdjioui, a first-year journalism student at Concordia. 

“I don’t want to go back and worry about us all getting sick.” 

 Concordia University initially planned on extending online instruction until Jan. 19, following the province’s guidelines for educational institutions. However, according to some students the previous date to return was unrealistic. 

“COVID cases are still going up so it wouldn’t make sense to make it in-person now, when COVID cases are getting worse,” said Julia Lecompte-Robbins, a first-year early childhood and elementary education student at Concordia. “Everyone’s health is more important than getting back to in-person classes right now.”  

 University students across Quebec attended a mixture of their classes online and in-person during the fall semester of 2021. In the wake of surging Omicron variant cases and hospitalizations in Quebec, many students said that returning toa primarily  online learning platform feels like the obvious and necessary move.    

 “Even though my life is very limited to being at home and not doing much, I would rather do that than go out, get sick, or give COVID to other people,” shared Ferdjioui.

 “I think [delaying the return to in-person classes] is a smart move on Concordia’s part,” said Karim Ghrayeb, a first-year economics student at Concordia. “It only takes one student who has COVID to spread it, so opening all the schools is a risk.”  

 In response to the rapidly evolving public health circumstances in the province, Concordia notified students that “should there be any change to [the return to in-person classes on Feb. 3], we will give faculty, staff, and students a week’s notice.” 

 The lingering uncertainty of whether Concordia will resume in-person classes has led some students to delay the process of completing their studies. 

 Dina Bastounis, a first-year journalism student at Concordia, said that the initial return to online classes in the winter semester was a significant contributing factor in her decision to delay registering for her core courses. 

“I need to be in the mix of it, where the environment is conducive to my learning,” she said. Living with a full house composed of others trying to make do with remote work and school made this a challenging task for Bastounis. 

 “For me to continue in the journalism program, I knew what would work for me and what wouldn’t,” said Bastounis. “I told myself that this was probably going to remain online for more than two weeks and decided to put it off and do it properly next year.” 

 For third-year biochemistry student Cindy Huang, the mere possibility of moving classes to in-person was a risk she couldn’t afford to take. 

 “I didn’t register for courses this semester because I didn’t feel safe going to school in person,” said Huang. “I don’t see any point in going back right now.” 

 The nature of her work often brings Huang into close contact with those who have tested positive for COVID-19, she explained. The unpredictability of Quebec’s evolving public health situation, coupled with Concordia’s lack of hybrid options for the winter semester, is what she said forced her to put a pause on her degree. 

 “A school is supposed to teach people that your life is more important than anything else,” said Huang. I think it’s ridiculous that you have to choose between going to school in-person or online at a time like this.”

While the return to in-person learning may be scheduled for Feb. 3, students wish to see more decisive actions taken on Concordia’s behalf.  

“There’s so much back and forth,” said Bastounis. “Regardless of what the situation is, people want a definitive date that is somehow realistic instead of it being week-by-week. The university would be better off serving us by just simply deciding.”

 Although not his first choice, Jay Tee, a first-year economics student, believes that sticking to an online semester would avoid further complications for students. “They should be more decisive,” he said. “Instead of extending our return to classes, they should just say that it will be from home and that’s that.” 

 With a tentative return date ahead, students hope that any future decisions made by Concordia in the coming weeks will be reflective of the province’s COVID numbers.

  On Monday, Quebec reported 5,400 new cases of COVID-19 and 54 deaths. Accompanying this number, the province reported a new record of 3,381 hospitalizations, an increase of 81 from Sunday, including 286 in intensive care. 

“If we still have the same amount of COVID cases as we did when they decided to put school online and add the curfew and close things, obviously returning to in-person classes might not be the greatest idea,” shared Ferdjioui. “If cases get lower and lower, then why not return? At the same time, I don’t want to go to school and be scared of getting COVID either.”

 Returning slightly later than expected is a “better option” than returning on Jan. 19, said Lecompte-Robbins. However, she believes the consequences are likely to remain the same. 

 “It’s taking away two weeks where people can be exposed to COVID by being at school,” said Lecompte-Robbins. “At the same time, we’re going back anyway and [COVID] is still going to circulate around campus either way.”

 “It’s not going to fix the problem permanently, but it helps,” said Ghrayeb. “I just hope that [returning on Feb. 3] is not a rash decision just to get people back into studying in classrooms, at the risk of increasing cases.” 


Photos by Caroline Fabre

Looking for winter activities to get the holidays started? I’ve got you!

Our list of things to do in Montreal this holiday season may help make up for the dreadful winter weather around the corner.

It’s getting darker, colder and, and let’s be honest, kind of gross. Our days are getting shorter, while night dominates most of the hours in a day. The light in the sky escapes our eyes at 4 p.m. and, once again, we find ourselves taking our “afternoon” walks in the dead of night. I’m being a tad dramatic, I know. I can hear my mother’s voice making its way through my ears, telling me to “Look at the positive side, bun.”

While it may be easy to dump a cloud of doom and gloom over the Montreal winter, why not embrace the fact that the holidays are just around the corner?

Glistening lights and holiday drinks have entered the chat folks, so pay attention. In the spirit of the season, I’ve put together a few fun and festive things to fill your winter days.

Get skatin’

It’s time to dig your skates out of that bag in your closet, wear your thickest socks, and hit the ice. Let’s be honest, nothing quite says “Montreal holiday season” like skating outdoors. While rinks remain open throughout the winter, there’s something special about strapping on a pair of blades during the holidays.

If you’re thinking of locations, the Old Port is definitely the place to be. The twinkling lights of the city paired with the sound of music and the mystic St. Lawrence River right by the rink makes for an enchanting outing.

If your feet start to hurt (and, let’s face it, they always end up doing so), you can always take a step back from the rink and grab a hot cocoa… or a beer. Did I mention how perfect this activity makes for a fun and flirty date? You couldn’t have picked it better.

If this activity doesn’t seem perfectly storybook enough, I don’t know what is.

Markets, markets, markets! 

Tis’ the season to venture out to holiday markets! This has to be one of my favorite holiday traditions, no matter what city I’m in. The best news is that there’s no shortage of them in Montreal. What better way to join in on the holiday-spirited fun than by embracing the magical sights and sounds of each unique holiday market?

Whether you’re hitting the Village de Noël de Montréal at Atwater Market, the Marché de Noël de Jean Talon or Les Jardins d’Hiver at the Esplanade de la Place des Arts, you have options. Of course, several measures have been implemented at these different venues to ensure the safety of all visitors and employees, including the government-mandated vaccine passports.

Regardless of which location you decide to visit, you’ll find food, drinks, and fun little knick-knacks you can pick up for your loved ones as kitschy holiday gifts. Nothing says “holiday season in Montreal” quite like warm and welcoming holiday markets, right?

Let there be light (and sparkles) 

As the days get shorter and the nights grow longer, Montreal has several different activities that will light up your winter days — literally. Time to fill up your thermos with a hot drink of your choice (I don’t judge), bundle up, and enjoy some light installations around the city.

First stop: the Luminothérapie playground at the Quartier des Spectacles. Getting your hands on the funky mixture of interactive art and light pieces will make you feel like a kid again. After you’ve had your fun there, take a stroll downtown. Allow yourself to be amazed by the holiday decor and lighting installations, all of which are guaranteed to distract you from the icky winter streets.You can also enjoy some pop-up shows and holiday activities offered from XP_MTL.

Your last stop? You don’t want to miss the stunning multimedia show Aura at the Notre-Dame Basilica. The universally-acclaimed show features stunning visuals and incredible music. The luminous experience will truly take your breath away, making it an unforgettable, magical evening.

Get your tickets for holiday music and shows! 

Holiday music and theatre shows are back and better than ever. From Dec. 9 to 28, you can catch The Nutcracker, presented by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, at Place des Arts. After years of watching the Barbie Nutcracker version (which will never get old), I can say that this activity is definitely at the top of my wish list.

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal is contributing to the festive joy with several different concerts. Included in the line-up are La Poste du Paradis, Handel’s Messiah, Hervé Niquet and Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ), and many more. You can also make your way to the Bourgie Hall at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to enjoy their holiday concerts, including A Very Merry Christmas by the Montréal Guitare Trio and A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Taurey Butler Trio.

Take a break from that essay, lab, or project, grab your winter gear, and go enjoy some festive fun! Let’s embrace Montreal’s holiday sparkle while we still can.


Feature graphic by Madeline Schmidt


‘They’re not listening to us’: students express concerns over Concordia’s winter plans

Concordia students express that Concordia’s plans for the winter semester prioritize those who can physically return to campus, while neglecting others

As Concordia plans for a primarily in-person winter semester, some students feel like the university is moving forward while leaving others behind.

According to a public statement released by Concordia Provost and Vice-President Anne Whitelaw, students can expect most of their courses to be in-person or a blend of in-person with online components.

With the exception of eConcordia courses — classes specifically designed for online delivery — students will need to be on campus to take their courses for the winter semester.

The administration’s decision has sparked feelings of neglect among Concordia students for whom making it to Canada in January is not yet a reliable and safe option they can count on.

“With COVID-19 and Delta variants, I don’t feel safe going to campus,” said second-year commerce student Aditi Baldowa.

As a result of health issues she did not want to disclose, Baldowa has been attending her fall courses remotely from her home in Mauritius. On Nov. 8, she was de-registered from her fall classes.

Although Baldowa said she has submitted proof of receiving her study permit, she shared that Concordia’s International Students Office (ISO) has continuously denied her the chance to continue her fall courses, on the premise that she has not physically collected her permit in Canada.

“I don’t see why I should be there,” said Baldowa.

The ISO website states, “All International Students will need upload their immigration documents (CAQ, Study Permit, Passport) through their MyConcordia as soon as they arrive to Canada or as soon as the documents are issued.”

Although her fall courses were on eConcordia did not require her to be physically on campus, she said that this was not enough to keep her enrolled.

“I have tried telling [the ISO] that I have health issues and that I’m not fit to travel for the moment,” she said. “They don’t understand that and only tell me that I need to be there or else they will deregister me.”

After losing one semester, she must retake her fall semester courses this winter. Despite the fact that most of her winter courses are set to be delivered through eConcordia, Baldowa fears the consequences she will face if she does not make her way to Montreal in January.

“I worked so hard for the whole semester, and now all my classes are cancelled,” she said. “If I don’t come, they will deregister me again from my winter term, and that will have a really bad impact on my study permit renewal. I might not get it again after it expires in 2023.”

Baldowa expressed that the university’s actions neglect students’ potential health concerns, such as her own.

“They’re not being supportive at all,” she said. “They are telling us that we can’t have online classes but aren’t considering the fact that some students can’t be there.”

As the countdown to the winter semester continues, Baldowa said she feels restrained by the potentially negative consequences of not coming to Canada in January. With growing concerns for her health, Baldowa feels excluded from the university’s vision for an in-person winter.

When asked how the university’s plans to respond to health and safety protocols concerning their winter semester plans with regard to students with health concerns, University Spokesperson Vannina Maestracci responded that it is “too early to tell” in a statement to The Concordian.

“We are constantly assessing the  evolving pandemic situation and adjusting as needed,” stated Maestracci. “Any change to measures would also be in line with guidelines provided by Public Health with whom we talk regularly. Right now, the existing measures remain in place.”

Another student who has expressed concerns is Jane, who wishes to remain anonymous. As someone with pre-existing health conditions, she feels the university is not doing enough to accommodate the concerns of students like herself, who are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of the virus.

“They’re not asking the students what they want,” she said. “If they’d actually take the time and listen to the students, they would provide those that can’t be here with another option.”

Jane is diabetic, asthmatic, and suffers from anxiety. She said she has not felt safe to take a bus since the start of the pandemic and is just now beginning to leave her house for walks and trips to the grocery store.

“It’s step by step,” she said. “Being among a whole lot of people raises the anxiety factor to a whole other level.”

Making her way to school where not everyone may be fully vaccinated is a daunting thought for Jane. Coupled with the fear of catching the virus, she feels that the university is treating the winter semester as a pandemic-free slate.

“It’s still the pandemic; we’re not finished,” she said. “If you have a bunch of people that aren’t vaccinated, you’re going to end up with a lot of people externally sick if it [COVID] gets passed around.”

Concordia does not presently have a vaccine policy for attending classes. However, Concordia Health Services strongly recommends getting vaccinated.

Although Jane has been able to attend her courses online this semester thanks to accommodations provided by her professors, she fears that her health issues will force her to delay the completion of her degree.

Maestracci has shared with The Concordian that such concerns should be “addressed by departments — since it is impossible to have a one size fits all approach as there will be variations across departments as well as differences depending on the course.”

The extent of how the university’s current health and safety protocols will carry out this winter is another concern for students. Some say Concordia’s COVID-19 prevention policies have not been adhered to enough this fall.

“I see how many people don’t wear masks properly or don’t wear masks at all when they’re supposed to be,” said Lauren Friesen, a first-year history student at Concordia. “If people aren’t really abiding by the rules now, then come January, it’s just going to get a lot worse.”

Friesen worries about the unexpected consequences of students returning from winter break. “I just fear that there’s going to be another breakout, especially over winter and Christmas time,” she said. “I feel like they should be prepping for the worst case rather than the absolute best case scenario.”

While Friesen does not consider herself at any particular health risk, she recognizes the frustration that students with health concerns are facing.

“I feel like moving almost everything in-person is kind of ignoring those students,” she said.

Despite some of the challenges that certain students are facing, the move to an in-person winter semester comes as a much-needed change of pace for others.

“It’s been so long,” said Anika Michalko, a first-year behavioural neuroscience student. “I’m very excited to be able to do more in-class projects and exchange ideas with people a lot more.”

While Michalko doesn’t consider themselves touched by health and travel issues, they agree on Concordia’s responsibility to help accommodate students impacted by such obstacles.

“Having recorded lectures is super essential,” said Michalko. “I think that would help out people a lot.”

The winter 2022 class schedule is expected to be finalized later in November. Once published, current and prospective students will be given the chance to enroll in their designated classes, set to begin on Jan. 6.


Photograph by Lily Cowper

A previous version of this article stated that “We are constantly evolving the pandemic and adjusting as needed,” stated Maestracci. An edit has been made to the article to reflect the original quote, which said “We are constantly assessing the evolving pandemic situation and adjusting as needed.”


Municipal elections are coming up, but will students be heading to the polls?

Concordia students spoke with The Concordian about the upcoming municipal elections, and whether or not they will be casting their votes

With Montreal’s municipal elections right around the corner, some Concordia students say that casting their vote on Nov. 6 and 7 has never felt more critical.

In the past, first-year Concordia student Roxanne Tesar, 22, did not consider herself as someone interested in municipal politics. This year, she headed to the polls.

Tesar says that she wants to see change when it comes to municipal politicians’ priorities in Montreal.

Questions surrounding Bill 96 — a bill looking to recognize Quebec as a nation with French as its official language — and systemic racism in Montreal are issues that feature prominently on Tesar’s mind this election season. 

“I’m connected because I’m not bilingual, I’m anglophone and I’m a person of colour,” said Tesar. “Issues regarding racism and language affect me.”

Issues concerning language rights and inclusion, public safety, and systemic racism were among those tackled during Montreal’s English-language mayoral debate on Oct. 28.

While Tesar is participating in this year’s municipal elections, she says that she understands why some students may not feel as inclined to do so.

“It’s harder to get involved when you feel like you’re in the dark,” said Tesar. “If you think that it’s pointless and then stop becoming informed, you’re not going to want to be involved.”

Julia Lecompte-Robbins, 20, said that she does not feel invested in the upcoming elections. “I’m not very involved in it I guess,” she said. “I’m not very political, that’s pretty much it.”

Driving past vibrant posters of different councillors in her riding of Beaconsfield is the limit of her awareness of municipal politics this election season, she said. While Lecompte-Robbins voted in the recent federal elections in September, she felt that the scale of Montreal’s elections has impacted her willingness to vote.

“[The municipal election] is very small,” she said. “I don’t find that it has that big of an impact as it would if it was provincial or federal.”

For Lecompte-Robbins, encouraging young people in particular to vote in this election and being politically aware feels unnecessary.

“We’re young and it’s not like we own a house, most of us live with our parents,” said Lecompte-Robbins. “It’s mostly our parents that deal with the stuff that happens, so it’s not much of a concern for ourselves.”

Béatrice Soucy, 23, a political science and human relations student at Concordia, said that she feels discouraged by the low number of young voters in her age group.

“Our generation is the future,” said Soucy. “It’s sad to see young people losing faith in politics.”

Concordia graduate journalism student, Duncan Elliott, 25, believes that participating in the municipal elections is important now more than ever.

“The municipal decisions directly affect your street, your home, your community,” said Elliott. “I see that a lot of people don’t vote in their municipal elections, but I think it’s the one people should vote for the most.”

Municipalities are responsible for close to 60 per cent of Montreal’s public infrastructure. From bike paths and community centres to road signage and the police department, the City Hall plays a critical role in managing key services of everyday life. Municipal elections historically have low voter turnout. In 2017, only 43 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot. During Canada’s federal election later in September of this year, 62 per cent voted. 

“The fact that not a lot of people vote in [municipal elections], I think is where younger people can really have their voices heard in the community,” said Elliott. “A lot of people complain, but not a lot of people do anything about the complaints that they’re issuing. Now is the time to do something about it.”

Lack of voter participation among young people is nothing new to overall voting trends. There is a significant gap in voter turnout between younger and older age groups in Canada. Half of Montrealers aged 56 or older cast their ballot in the 2017 municipal elections, compared to only 29 per cent of those aged between 18 and 35.

According to the 2015 National Youth Survey from Elections Canada, a lack of motivation and access are the two key barriers preventing young people from voting.

“I think it’s because they don’t think they can effect change,” said Elliott. “Not only do I think that it’s important for people to have their voices heard, they should try to be more involved in the community so they can make more well-rounded decisions.”


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt


The U.S./Canada land border is re-opening: Here’s what that means

Some hopeful travelers say that the opportunity to cross the U.S./Canada land border should have happened a while ago

The world’s longest undefended land border will re-open to fully vaccinated Canadians for non-essential travel on Nov. 8.

The land border between Canada and the United States first closed on March 20, 2020. After 19 months, those with American friends and family or those just looking to get some cross-border shopping done will now be able to cross the land border.

The news was a welcome breath of fresh air.

Breanna Sherman, 23, normally visits her family in Florida once a year for the holidays, but border closures have barred her from doing so.

“This December, it will have been two years since we last saw them,” said Sherman.

Among the family who Sherman has missed is her cousin’s newborn daughter, born in May 2020, which the pandemic has kept her from meeting.

“I hoped I would see her in December of 2020, but that didn’t happen,” said Sherman. “When I eventually meet her now, she’ll be one and a half, not even a baby anymore, which is sad.”

“It will be fun to not only be in Florida for the first time in two years, but also continue that tradition of driving and sitting in the car with my family for two days.”

Michelle Lam, 22, says that although she’s enthusiastic about visiting the U.S. again, the lineups she expects at the border are worrying.

“I feel like it’s going to be chaos at the border,” said Lam. “I’m kind of nervous about it.”

While air travel into the United States has remained open to Canadians with proof of a negative COVID-19 test administered three days before they travel, some feel that driving is a more affordable and easier alternative.

“Not everyone has the luxury of being able to afford to fly. It’s just more accessible to everyone that wants to travel,” said Sherman.

Lam shares Sherman’s sentiment, saying “I feel very safe travelling by land, because it’s me and my car driving across the border as opposed to flying in the States, where I have to go through an airport and sit in a tube with however many people for X amount of hours.”

Before travellers get ready to hop over the border for a weekend, there are a few details to pay attention to.

All travellers, whether coming in by land, sea, or air, must be fully vaccinated in order to enter the United States and are required to show their proof of vaccination.

After speculation, the United States confirmed that travelers with  a combination of either FDA-approved doses, including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen, or those approved by the World Health Organization, which include AstraZeneca, are considered fully vaccinated.

Travelers arriving by land or sea — that is by car, bus, boat, ferry or train — from the United States must provide proof of a negative PCR test taken 72 hours of their expected arrival into Canada.

The news of the re-opening did not come without criticism from hopeful travelers.

“It really makes no sense to me that it’s taken the U.S. this long to open the border,” said Sherman. “Not only are our vaccination rates way higher, but they could have just asked for proof of vaccination and a recently negative Covid test.”

The Canadian government reopened its land border to U.S. travelers in early August. As it currently stands, 74 per cent of Canadians are considered fully vaccinated, compared to 57 per cent of Americans.

Lily Cowper is a dual-citizen of the U.S. and Canada. She has flown to Florida and Virginia twice to visit her family since May 2021. Her travels did not come without complications.

“Everytime I went, there was so much drama,” said Cowper.

Cowper said that the cost and requirements for COVID-19 tests made visiting her family in the U.S. a cyclical headache.

“Every time I went back and forth, I had to pay hundreds of dollars extra and had to change my flight,” Cowper explained.

Cowper and her boyfriend went to visit her family in Virginia in September. After taking multiple tests to ensure they received results in time for their return flight to Canada, the test that did come on time contained a lab error. As a result, they were turned away from their flight.

Cowper says that she and her boyfriend each paid the equivalent of $300 CAD to receive a last-minute airport test to re-enter Canada.

“I’m happy that they’re finally opening up [the land border] and I hope they drop the testing requirement,” said Cowper.

The option to cross the land border into the U.S. without proof of a negative COVID-19 test is a cost-effective decision that Cowper says should have happened a while ago.

“It’s about time. Why are we constantly living in the past if we’re vaccinated?”

For Cowper, the opportunity to get in her car and drive to the U.S. could not come sooner. She says that the re-introduction of a more simplified way of travelling from one country to another is necessary.

“This whole two years has been so complicated, the rules are always changing, they don’t make sense,” Cowper added. “All I want to do is visit my family.”


Graphic by James Fay

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