Getting to know the Arts and Science MAs

Learn about the initiatives and goals of some of ASFA’s member associations

Representing over 20,000 students on campus, the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) is made up of more than 20 Member Associations (MAs) with the goal of organizing academic and social events for their students. The Concordian spoke with members of a few Arts and Science MAs about the work they’ve done this year and the projects they hope to continue in the future.


2016-2017 executives of CUPA. Photo courtesy of Samantha Briand

The goal of Concordia’s Undergraduate Psychology Association (CUPA) is to benefit students in psychology and neuroscience with both social and academic activities. “We really try to reach as many students as possible to make their Concordia experience more inclusive,” said Samantha Briand, the 2016-17 CUPA president. According to Briand, with approximately 1,400 students in the psychology department, it can be intimidating to get out there and interact with other students.

For their social events, CUPA collaborates with other student associations, such as the COMS Guild and the Biology Students Association to organize pub crawls where students go to different bars and complete a series of challenges. CUPA also organizes “Sexpo,” a kiosk aimed to inform students about sexual health. It is held every year during Valentine’s Day week at the Loyola campus. “We are the first association to endorse rapid HIV testing on campus,” Briand said. “We created this initiative and included it in our Sexpo event.”

The association’s executives also recently held an event at a cottage up north where 60 students were able to participate in different workshops related to academic success, such as how write an academic CV and how to get into grad school.

For the first time this year, CUPA participated in the annual psychology case competition alongside McGill, Université de Montréal and Université du Québec à Montréal. During the competition students presented on three main topics within the field of psychology. According to Briand, CUPA decided to form to break down barriers between Concordia and McGill, and also between English and French universities.


2016-2017 executives of SHAC. Photo courtesy from SHAC

Students of History at Concordia (SHAC) is an association that represents undergraduate students, professors and graduate students in the history department. “We host events where we invite professors and any students to really create this bond within the department,” said Athena Sita, this year’s SHAC president. “Every semester, we host a meet-and-greet for new and returning students where we have trivia games and play card games,” she said.

The association also hosts a panel discussion every year called “WTF to do with your History Degree?” where multiple guest speakers with history degrees working in various fields come to speak with students. “One of our guest speakers was a project manager at Bombardier, and another one was a teacher. This shows all the different aspects of careers through a history degree,” Sita said.

SHAC also brings together students and teachers to watch historical films and form discussion groups afterwards. The association also hosts a coffee break every two weeks, where professors sit down with students to discuss ongoing events around the world over coffee and snacks. “One of the coffee breaks was after the shooting at the mosque [in Quebec City], and our professors came to talk with us which made us realize that, if we are feeling unsafe, we can always talk to them about our insecurities,” Sita said.


2016-2017 executives of LSSA. Photo courtesy from Karinne Légaré

Concordia’s Law and Society Student Association (LSSA) focuses mainly on hosting academic-based events. They organize workshops where representatives of the University of Toronto and University of Ottawa law programs come speak with students to help prepare them for applying to law school and inform them of the expectations the universities have for their future students. LSSA also organizes wine and cheese events throughout the year, along with speaker events where lawyers are invited to semi-formal evenings to interact with students in a more casual setting.

“The association has existed for three years, and it has been [improving] each year. Our workshops are becoming more and more packed,” said Karinne Légaré, this year’s LSSA president. “We want to be the third party, the liaison between students and speakers or guests.”

According to Légaré, this year, the team has focused on expanding their network. For example, for the first time this year, the association got in touch with Concordia alumni who helped the association reach out to various guest speakers.

Next year, Légaré said the LSSA plans on getting in touch with law firms to potentially find internships that they can inform student body about.


2016-2017 executives for PSSA. Photo courtesy of Veronika Rydzewski

The Political Science Students’ Association (PSSA) holds many different academic events related to the various concentrations available to political science students. For example, the association organizes board game nights related to international relations. “There’s a huge amount of the student population in political science who study international relations, and therefore, we learn strategic relations,” said Veronika Rydzewski, the PSSA’s VP internal.

The association also organizes different workshops where students can learn more about public speaking and how to use the Robert’s Rules of Order, a method which is used to conduct meetings. It is used during meetings for other student groups, including the CSU and ASFA. “We also have debate practices every week,” Rydzewski said.

In addition, every year, a team of 20 to 25 students compete in Les jeux des science politiques against universities across Quebec and Ontario. The event is a case competition focusing on political subjects. Every year, 250 students meet to compete in this event.

The PSSA also organizes social events, including cinq à septs, trivia nights and end-of-year parties. Rydzewski said she believes students are enthusiastic and engaged in the events, and she is looking forward to seeing the creation of new projects and the continuation of successful projects next year.

COMS Guild

Office of COMS Guild at the Communication and Journalism building at Loyola. Photo by Nelly Sérandour-Amar

The Communication Studies Student Association (COMS Guild) represents and hosts various events for students in both the cultural studies and communications programs.

“For the communications program students, we organize Prod Fest to show the different videos that students have produced over the semester,” said Catherine Dubé, the COMS Guild VP of cultural studies. “For the ones who are in the cultural studies department, we give them the opportunity to showcase their work in a journal that was initiated five years ago by the then-VP of cultural studies.”

This academic journal, called The Medium, is a peer-reviewed academic journal taking submissions every year from students looking to showcase their best essays and works. The essays are reviewed by the editorial team who is composed of fellow undergrad communications students, with the VP Cultural studies acting as the editor in chief.

The association also organizes panel discussions where they invite communications professionals and alumni to discuss the types of careers a communications degree can lead to.

COMS Guild also organizes social events, such as back-to-school and “Meet the Guild” events in the fall semester for students who want to meet their student association executives. The association also organizes its own end-of-semester parties.


WSSA logo

The Women’s Studies Student Association (WSSA) is ASFA’s smallest member association. “The fact that we are the smallest and newest, I would say that maybe our organization is less strong than other MAs,” said Éléonore Schreiber, a member of WSSA. The organization was formed three years ago.

According to Schreiber, the focus for the WSSA this year was to bring students together and strengthen the association’s presence within the department to ensure students in women’s studies were aware they have a student association.

“We also do study sessions with cupcakes, fruits and coffee where students have a chance to meet,” Schreiber added.

This year, the WSSA organized a fundraiser for Solidarity Without Borders which was held at Reggies. Solidarity Without Borders is a justice network based in Montreal that brings people together to support individuals confronting an unjust immigration and refugee system.

The WSSA also raised funds for this year’s black speakers series at the university, where various African-American activists shared their life stories and experiences with students and teachers.

“[We] very happy that we are able to bring support to both of these important organizations,” Schreiber said.

In the future, the association wants to create more events to allow women’s studies students to connect more with one another.


The LCSA office is located on the fifth floor of the Administrative building (AD) at the Loyola Campus. Photo by Nelly Sérandour-Amar

The Loyola College Student Association is the student group representing those enrolled in sustainability studies and diversity & the contemporary world minors. The association focuses on developing a close-knit relationship with its student body while also promoting sustainable and healthy living through workshops and events. Jenny Kuan will be the president of the LCSA for the 2017-18 year. The group’s leadership in the coming year will also include Matthew Leddy as the VP of sustainability, Elisa Cohen-Bucher as VP of communications, and Stephanie Inumerable as VP external.

“Due to LCSA’s small size, there is a closer relationship with its student body,” Kuan said. “If a student has a project or idea they would like to see taken into fruition, there is a much higher chance of it actualizing.”

The LCSA holds a number of events annually, including Cooking With Prof Nights, where students can enjoy healthy meals while getting to know their professors. The association also organizes workshops focused on sustainability and conservation. The workshops, which Kuan said the LCSA hopes to continue hosting next year, cover a wide range of topics, including creating DIY, environmentally-friendly cosmetics and beer. These workshops are available to the public and educate students on how to live sustainably and prepare homemade, eco-friendly products.

On April 12, the organization will be hosting an art exhibit at 5 p.m. at the Hive Cafe. The event, which will feature live music and work from students and Montreal artists, will be open to the public.


2016-2017 executives of CGLSA. Photo courtesy of CGLSA

The Concordia German Language Student Association (CGLSA) will be led by Shugofa Danesh, the organization’s president for the 2017-18 year. The CGLSA’s leadership will also include Morgan Rutty, VP of social affairs, Eleftherios Flavaris, VP of marketing, Ainsley Albert VP of finance, Taliesen Herb VP of academic and Frederic Leone, VP of internal affairs.

The group hosts numerous events throughout the year, including weekly coffee hours, where students can share coffee and refreshments with their peers while practicing their German language skills. The group also organizes an annual German-inspired essay competition, and hosts an annual trivia night event in collaboration with the Italian Student Association.

In the upcoming year, the CGLSA is hoping to make an impact in their department through a petition against the currently planned suspension of the German Minor, the only academic program offered in this field at Concordia. “The upcoming petition will be taking place in front of the Hive in the Hall building,” said Danesh. “We have created an online petition as well to increase reach.”

Danesh added the organization hopes to be able to protect the German studies program on campus, while enriching Concordia’s campus through the promotion of German language and culture.

With files from Megan Hunt


ASFA invalidates elections

CEO blames lack of training on by-law violation

The Arts and Science Federations of Association voted on Thursday to invalidate their March election results after the election’s bylaws were broken. At the special council meeting, councilors discussed how the election’s by-laws were broken by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Samuel Miriello, which led council to invalidate the elections. Due to this decision, the organization voted to hold a new election in November and, until then, appoint the winners of the election to interim positions corresponding to the positions they won.

Miriello told The Concordian that he organized the election to the best of his abilities. “I would’ve loved to receive feedback from the ASFA executive, but instead, many of them spoke behind my back and never brought up their concerns,” he said.

He also believes that the ASFA executive should be sharing the blame for the elections being invalid, stating the fact that they underpaid him—he claims to have made $400 for over 100 hours of work—rushed him to start the elections only two weeks after being appointed and not training him properly.

Julia Sutera Sardo, current VP internal and soon-to-be interim president believes that “if an election fails, everyone needs to take responsibility for it.” When asked about the payment, she answered that the ASFA executive council did not decide anything about the salary.

If an election fails, everyone needs to take responsibility for it – Julia Sutera Sardo.

Miriello also brought up the fact that Chris Stephens, the elections coordinator whose task is to ensure that the elections proceed correctly, should’ve spoken to Miriello before contesting. “His job is literally to make sure elections happen correctly, and yet he never once tried to speak to me,” he said.

Sutera Sardo told The Concordian that Chris Stephens is there to help the CEO with Althea Thompson who are Members Association’s CEO. “I told Samuel that if he had any questions, he can direct them to Althea and Chris because I didn’t want any conflict of interests. I only did logistics and minor details of the elections,” she said. She mentioned that she gave Miriello all the information he needed such as the CEO report from last year, the by-laws to follow and a list of phone numbers.

Concordia Student Union News

CSU holds special council meeting to approve expenses

Council approves to allocate funds for renovations and new IT Software

The Concordia Student Union (CSU) held a special council meeting on April 5 to discuss a motion regarding renovations to the seventh floor of the Hall building and a motion to approve the financing of an IT transition from the software company VMWare IT to Google Apps.

Aloyse Muller, the CSU’s external affairs and mobilization coordinator, motioned to have the CSU council approve an expense of $25,300 for the Student Space, Accessible Education and Legal Contingency fund (SSAELC) to renovate the CSU’s legal information clinic and the seventh-floor lounge.

Muller presented a powerpoint, which included graphics to give an idea of what the final product would be following the renovations. According to him, the entrance of the legal information clinic will have a window added on the side, which will make the clinic more welcoming. As for the CSU student lounge, the space will be rewired to become a multimedia-friendly space that students can use for student-run events and presentations.

CSU’s coordinators and executives during the special council meeting. Photo by Nelly Sérandour-Amar

CSU finance coordinator Thomas David-Bashore motioned to have the council approve the allocation of $32,848.70 to transition their IT structure from VMWare to Google Apps. In his motion, it was also specified that the hardware costs, which are estimated at $27,557.09, would be spent over a period of five years.

According to David-Bashore, the current CSU IT infrastructure, which hosts their website and CSU e-mails, isn’t user-friendly and comes with technological glitches which compromise the CSU’s capacity to operate efficiently. According to David-Bashore, it is a good investment, since the hardware would last many years.


The Concordia Student Union’s brand new council of executives

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.

Omar Riaz (general coordinator) Photo courtesy of Omar Riaz.

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.

Soulaymane Al Alaoui (finance coordinator) Photo courtesy of Omar Riaz.

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.”

Veronika Rydzewski (internal affairs coordinator) Photo by Ana Hernandez.

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.


UPDATED: Official Results: Concordia Student Union elections

CSU CEO announces the official results to the elections this morning


The official results for the Concordia Student Union elections were posted on the CSU CEO’s Facebook page this morning. According to Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Stephani Moukhaiber, 1076 students voted.

The executives elected for the school year 2017-2018 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)
  • Ahmed Badr (external affairs and mobilization coordinator)

Riaz, Al Alaoui, Polanco and Badr were all running as part of Team Embrace ConU.

Sutherland, Ellis-Durity, Rydzewski and Mushtag were running within Team Connect.

All referendum questions also officially passed. Students agreed for the council of executives to have non-hierarchal positions, meaning that the general coordinator will have the same authority as the other coordinators. Students also voted for Concordia University to become a sanctuary campus, meaning that the student body will not be collaborating with the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) to give out information on any past and current faculty, staff and students.

The fee levy proposals for the fall semester of 2017 which passed include:

  • A decrease in the CSU Clubs fee of six cents per credit
  • An increase in the CSU operating fee of five cents per credit
  • An increase in the undergraduate Housing and Job Bank (HOJO) fee of three cents per credit
  • An increase in the Advocacy fee of two cents per credit
  • An increase in the Concordia Greenhouse fee by 12 cents per credit for undergraduate students
  • A decrease in the Student Space Accessible Education and Legal Contingency (SSAELC) fee of four cents per credit.
  • To transfer four cents per credit from the Student Space Accessible Education and Legal Contingency (SSAELC) fee to the CSU Operating fee to pay for the operations of the Dish Project. This project is a student-run service at Concordia that provides free dishware to student and community around Concordia.

The Concordia Student Union have also been mandated after the elections to work with the Concordia University Administration towards integrating sustainability and indigenous studies courses in all undergraduate programs.


The unofficial results for the new Concordia Student Union (CSU) representatives were published this morning on the CSU’s newly-elected Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Facebook page.

The  executives elected 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)
  • Ahmed Badr (external affairs and mobilization coordinator)

The results are deemed unofficial due to the winning margins being by less than 50 votes. Due to this, the votes will be subjected to a recount in the presence of the CSU’s judicial board.

For the referendum question, “Do you, as a member of the CSU, approve of the by-law changes that will render the executives to a more non-hierarchical structure?” the majority voted yes. Since the vote passed, the new council will be acting as a non-hierarchal union.

Approved fee levy changes include (as of fall 2017):

  • An increase of the fee levy for the Concordia Greenhouse by 12 cents per credit
  • A decrease in the CSU clubs fee by six cents per credit
  • An increase in the CSU operating fee by five cents per credit
  • An increase in the undergraduate Housing and Job Bank (HOJO) fee by three cents per credit
  • An increase in the advocacy fee by two cents per credit
  • A decrease in the Student Space, Accessible Education and Legal Contingency (SSAELC) fee by four cents per credit

In addition, both Concordia campuses will officially adopt the “Sanctuary Campus” status, meaning the university will not disclose any information about its current or past staff, faculty or students to the Canadian Border Services Agency, to protect them from the threat of deportation.


ASFA’s new VPs discuss their mandate

Students from the faculty of Arts and Science elected their new representatives for the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) on March 24.

ASFA’s new executive team consists of Julia Sutera Sardo (President-elect), Christopher Czich (VP-elect of social affairs), Bianca Bruzzese (VP-elect of external affairs and sustainability), Gregory Bedell (VP-elect of Loyola and academic affairs), Steven Tutino (VP-elect of internal affairs) and Francesco Valente (VP-elect of finance). The position for VP of communications and promotions wasn’t applied for in time for the elections.

Sutera Sardo, Tutino and Czich spoke with The Concordian about their upcoming projects and expectations for the 2017-2018 year.

Sutera Sardo, who is in her third year of political science and community, public affairs and policy studies, is happy with the election results. “It’s very nice to know people believed in me to fill the role,” she told The Concordian. Sutera Sardo said she is planning a few changes for her upcoming mandate.

President-elect Julia Sutera Sardo. Photo by Chloë Ranaldi.

“I would like to add the advocacy committee to the bylaws,” she said. Despite having ASFA’s support throughout the year, neither the task force nor the advocacy committee—groups that denounce any form of racism or sexism—have been added to the bylaws. Adding these policies to their bylaws is a way of ensuring they are official, according to Sutera Sardo.

She also said she is currently thinking of ways to facilitate the electoral process for the future annual general elections, by-elections and upcoming referendum questions. She told The Concordian this idea arose after the most recent electoral period, when ASFA was forced to extend their voting period on March 24 in order to reach quorum.

The newly-elected president said she also wants to encourage Concordia to develop a family policy to ensure students who are parents in the faculty of Arts and Science have access to the same education and rights as everyone else.

She will also continue to advocate that ASFA’s member associations (MA) provide free menstrual hygiene products. Sutera Sardo initially presented a motion at ASFA’s council meeting on January 12 titled The Support for Individuals that Menstruate Position Motion. It requests that ASFA finance and supply feminine products in all MA offices for students in need.

She also wants to make ASFA more inclusive and more representative. “We have an anti-racism position, and a sanctuary campus position as well,” she said, mentioning that ASFA just recently added these to their bylaws. “[This academic year] was the year of stabilizing ASFA, and I think that 2017-2018 will be the year of reforming ASFA,” Sutera Sardo said.

Sutera Sardo also mentioned she wants to openly support student engagement within the university and campus politics. “If I wasn’t engaged my first semester, I probably wouldn’t be where I am right now,” she said. She said she was hopeful about ASFA’s future based on how many students were engaged and voted during the elections. A total of 459 students voted.

During his campaign, Tutino did a lot of posting and advertising through social media, even though he was the only one running for the internal affairs position. “I told my friends to vote, and engaged students in my class to do the same,” he said.

For his new role as VP of internal affairs, Tutino has already thought of projects he wants to accomplish next year. “I want to help with the lack of representation that some student associations might suffer from,” he said. The newly-elected VP is a theology major and is therefore familiar with the problems that the Theological Studies Undergraduate Student Association has experienced. “They have an association, but are not certified yet. They are not acknowledged by the university,” Tutino said, adding that it’s been an issue because the association should be taken into consideration like any other ones on campus.

VP-elect of internal affairs, Steven Tutino. Photo by Nelly Sérandour-Amar

He said he also wants to work with Queer Concordia and make them more visible on campus. “I want to hear their concerns, and I clearly don’t know all of the politics around it, but I want to create a dialogue with them and just speak with them,” he said.

Tutino plans to work on promoting gender advocacy on campus as well. “It was actually an issue for my campaign. People were wondering how can I make a poster with something that I’ve never experienced before,” Tutino said, remembering how people would question his knowledge on the matter. He believes gender advocacy should be more advertised and he wants to understand the issue more. “I’ve been going to meetings regarding the issue and I, myself, [want to help] with it,” he said.

Czich, the new VP of social affairs, is looking into organizing different events that would bring ASFA’s member associations closer. “I would like to do a [member associations] tournament, which means that basically each program goes head-to-head in different mental and physical challenges,” he said. Czich is also developing a few ideas for next year’s frosh. “I would like to collaborate with the CASA and other faculties for maybe some cinq à huit type of events,” he said.

The three VPs are confident working together will be a positive challenge, and that getting along with people from different backgrounds is part of the job. “If you’re committed to make an organization grow, then there should not be any problems,” Sutera Sardo said. “I’m also really looking forward to working in a non-hierarchal way because this is what ASFA is all about.”


Concordia represented at summit

Student Alexis Lahorra is one of 200 student leaders who took part in the mental health advocacy weekend in Toronto

Concordia student Alexis Lahorra participated as a student representative at the summit last weekend in Toronto.

The summit, organized by, brought together more than 200 students leaders from across Canada to come up with ways to cope with mental health. Nearly all of the students who attended were members of, a national network where students discuss mental health.

“We gathered all these students who are involved with mental health initiatives in Toronto for three days to learn skills and competences that they can use within their own community,” said Lahorra, who leads’s Concordia chapter. She was one of 12 students who helped barnstorm, plan, and execute the even.

Alexis Lahorra, a Concordia student, who helped organizing the summit.

Over the weekend, students learned about different skills related to coping with and improving mental health, and how to manage their own student groups and chapters. Participants were also able to exchange new strategies of coping with mental health and learn from each other. “Imagine meeting 199 new friends and inspiring one another. It was really cool to gather this weekend,” Lahorra said.

Lahorra, a communication studies student, was also there to share her story with mental health on stage in front of the other student leaders. During the event, she also spoke with Radio-Canada, CBC’s French media, about the work she does within Concordia University and about her own experiences with mental health.

“When I published the [interview] video on my social media, I received personal messages from people saying, ‘thank you for sharing your story and showing that it’s fine to not be okay all the time,’” she said.

At the summit, she said she learned students “have to know our limits and we have to know when to delegate tasks to our colleagues and friends.”

Lahorra is currently looking to create a collaboration between Concordia’s Health Services and the university’s chapter. “We are working on the peer mental health ambassador pilot project,” she said. “Students at Concordia, who volunteer or are executives, will eventually become mentors who connect students to the health services available [at the university]—a little bit like student mentors, but who advocate mental health especially.” Concordia’s next event is an expression night on Thursday, March 31 at Reggies Bar, where students will be able to share their personal stories related to mental health in front of an audience.

Concordia Student Union News

Meeting the candidates of CSU Elections

Concordians will vote for their next CSU representatives on March 28, 29 and 30

Undergraduate students from the university will be able to cast their vote on either campus for their new Concordia Student Union representatives between March 28 and 30. Most candidates are teaming up to bring their mutual ideas to life. The Concordian spoke to them about their plans.

Connect for CSU

Team Connect for CSU (pictured above) consists of Asma Mushtaq, Alex Milton, Marcus Peters, Devon Leigh Ellis-Durity, Leyla Sutherland, Veronika Rydzewski, Mustafa Bokesmati and Thomas David-Bashore. The team believes they have a very strong platform that speaks to the immediate needs of students. Projects such as updating the CSU website and advocating for international students are very important to them. Divesting and reinvesting in sustainability is also one of their main focuses. “Our projects will improve student life while continuing to implement sustainable and transparent practices within the union and updating documents and practices so that we are able to better serve students,” the team told The Concordian. The team plans to advocate for international students on campus, and prevent future tuition hikes. They hope to improve student engagement within the union by having stronger, more accessible and transparent communication with students.

Team Unity

Amina Chemssy

Team Unity for CSU consists of two candidates so far: Eddy Kara, who is running for the position of general coordinator, and Amina Chemssy, who is running for the internal affairs coordinator position. The duo believe diversity is an essential part of Concordia’s student community. “It is important to welcome and be open to diverse insights and opinions,” they told The Concordian. “Only together can we achieve things for Concordia.” They plan on putting a Social Transparency Plan into effect, which they said will help with communication between students and the CSU. They will also put forward an Act of Concordian Equality which will ensure they are inclusive to all students at the school—everyone will be treated as equals. They also want to build trust between the CSU and students. They will do this by creating different projects to motivate students to believe in their own future. They hope to strengthen relations between the student organizations.



Agunik Mamikonyan

Agunik Mamikonyan

Agunik Mamikonyan is running as an independent candidate for the general coordinator position. “I didn’t want to make this election too political by being in a team,” she said. “I really want to make it about the students.” With the experience she has attained over the last few years, including being the general secretary for the School of Community and Public Affairs Students’ Association (SCPASA) and currently holding the position of vice-president of external and sustainability for the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA), she believes she is qualified for the position. “The role I had with the SCPASA definitely helped me with building my leadership role. I can offer direction, facilitation and I guarantee that my team will be well-organized,” she said. Mamikonyan wants to be further involved with the co-op housings, and bring more diversity and structure to the student union. If elected, Mamikonyan said she will be transparent and dedicated to her work, her team and all students.



Embrace Con U

Embrace ConU

Embrace ConU consists of candidates Omar Riaz, Soulaymane Al Alaoui, Gabriella Polanco, Carlos Vasquez, D’Anté Hanna, Émilie Leduc and Ahmed Badr. The group of students came together with the goal of representing all students from the Concordia Student Union.“What makes us stand out is that we have a big stance on the lack of [faculty] representation in the CSU. We believe that, for the last three years, for example, the students from the John Molson School of Business have not been represented well by the student union,” said Al Alaoui, who is running for the position of finance coordinator. Embrace ConU is focused on three particular projects, which they call “pillars.” First off, the team has a strong focus on students and wants to make the university a more welcoming space for students by funding more clubs, student projects and faculty associations. The second pillar focuses on the university community and creating a sense of belonging for everyone at Concordia through different events and ensuring more open communication with heads of departments about student needs. Finally, the group plans to concentrate on economic and ecological sustainability, and building partnerships that will help the CSU grow, according to the team.


ASFA passes motion to protect students

ASFA councillors discuss students right to study and pray

A motion to condemn Islamophobia and officially take part in Sanctuary Campus was passed at the Arts and Science Federations of Associations (ASFA) monthly meeting on March 9.

These motions were passed in response to the fake bomb threat targeting the school’s Muslim community on March 1.

The motion stated that ASFA condemns Islamophobia and any form of religious discrimination, and that ASFA supports current and future campaigns to fight Islamophobia on campus and any action taken by the CSU to do so in Montreal.

“While we do have an anti-racism position, [the councillors] wanted to be sure that we had something very specific to the kind of racism that we experienced at Concordia on March 1,” Julia Sutera Sardo, ASFA’s vice-president of internal affairs and administration, told The Concordian. She said ASFA is be taking this opportunity to show that they are more than a political association and they have the power to protect their students. “Taking a position that condemns any forms of religious discrimination is something that we have to work on as an association to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

ASFA wants to ensure the protection and safety of Muslim students because they have been seeing a lot of discrimination towards Muslim students in particular. “It doesn’t matter what religion you are. As a student, you are entitled to have your space to pray and experience your religion in any way. Having discrimination against any religion is completely ridiculous,” Sutera Sardo said. Concordia students who practice Islam have a religious space on the seventh floor of the Hall building, near the Concordia Student Union (CSU) office.

ASFA also voted to officially take part in Sanctuary Campus with the CSU. A Sanctuary Campus is when a college or university adopts policies to protect students who are undocumented immigrants. This term is modeled after “sanctuary cities” which have been adopted by over 30 municipalities in the U.S., and so far, four cities in Canada. “The councillors brought this point forward and we really applaud them for doing so,” Sutera Sardo said.

“We wanted to have a motion that allows ASFA to support officially Concordia to become a Sanctuary Campus in Montreal,” Sutera Sardo said. “We want to make sure that all students are treated equally and that they’re not sent back somewhere else or that their rights to study are denied.”

ASFA is responsible for 25,000 students, and for them, it’s important that these students feel comfortable studying at the university. “We want to make sure they have a space to study and to not be bothered because of something that is on paper. It doesn’t matter what it says—if you’re a student, you should be treated properly and you have a right to an education,” said Sutera Sardo.

She encourages all other student associations to support the Sanctuary Campus movement.

Concordia Student Union News

CSU to demand academic amnesty at next senate meeting

The student union is also proposing to increase the fee levy of Concordia Greenhouse

Academic amnesty and increasing the Concordia Greenhouse fee levy were discussed at the CSU monthly meeting on March 8.

The CSU decided they would demand academic amnesty from the senate for students who might have missed classes in the days following the bomb threat that was made on March 1 targeting the school’s Muslim community. The targeted buildings were evacuated and no bombs were found on-site after an SPVM search. That afternoon, Concordia president Alan Shepard sent a letter to all students saying classes would resume for the rest of the week. “For students whose classes and exams were affected by the evacuations, or if you have other concerns about completing your coursework or exams, please speak with your professor. I hope that professors will be flexible in light of this very unusual situation,” he wrote in his letter.

While the CSU appreciated the gesture the university made by sending this letter, they did not feel it was enough. “It was a nice statement—the [intention] was there but they didn’t go farther,” said Sophia Sahrane, the CSU’s academic and advocacy coordinator. She told The Concordian the student union will try to convince the university senate during their next meeting on March 17 to request amnesty from all departments. “The students cannot just hope that professors will understand. They need to know that, if professors refuse to give them academic amnesty, they have different resources to protect them,” said Sahrane. “Having this academic amnesty ensures students that they have alternatives and that they should feel comfortable about not going to class if they don’t feel good about it.”

According to Sahrane, the only department at the university that have offered academic amnesty so far is the department of Geography, Planning and Environment. “They have sent out a notice to all of their teachers and faculties to not count the absences from March 1 to 3,” she said.

During the meeting, the CSU also passed a motion stating they will be presenting a motion at the Greenhouse’s annual election to increase the Concordia Greenhouse fee levy. Sahrane, who presented the motion, is proposing to increase the fee levy from 12 cents per credit to 24 cents.

“They are having issues with their facilities, but also offer twice as many services as they used to when they initially started,” said Sahrane. She said she believes it would be a great investment. According to her, the Greenhouse has been providing extra services and without ever asking for a fee levy increase. “This increase is to ensure that they can keep going and that their [needs are] answered.”

Students are allowed to use the Greenhouse space to study, for group work and they can also buy plants and seeds. “They also offer internships depending on the students’ needs. It’s a very diverse group that is providing a lot for its community,” Sahrane said.


Last week’s bomb threat: looking into the future

The university and different student organizations give their take on how the situation was handled Wednesday morning

Less than a week after there was a bomb threat which targeted Concordia’s Muslim community, some organizations at Concordia community are looking back at how the university handled the situation.

“I feel like the administration has not taken the right initiatives,” said Eamon Toohey, a member of Solidarity Concordia, a group working to make the university a more sustainable and equitable socio-economic system. Toohey believes the university’s administration could have made better decisions concerning students’ safety, like what the Concordia Student Union (CSU) proposed, which was to create an amnesty for students to miss classes for the rest of the week.

Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota believes the university was responsive to the threat on Wednesday morning. “We did everything according to the book. We brought together our emergency team, we contacted the police who were on site very quickly and we did an assessment on the level of danger,” she said. “We made the decision to evacuate two of the downtown buildings because of their mention in the letter.”

Mota told The Concordian that, if any other threats are made, the university will respond accordingly, as they did last week. “We are very fortunate that it was a hoax, but we do absolutely take a threat seriously, and we have a solid, committed security team working hard in the university to deal with it.”

The Hall building (H), the Engineering, Computer Science, Visual Arts (EV) and the Guy-de Maisonneuve (GM) building were evacuated rapidly on Wednesday morning, at approximately 11:30 a.m.

“The JSMB building wasn’t closed because it was not targeted in the letter,” Mota said. “Our experts, who evaluated the risk on campus, said that there was [no threat] for this particular [building].” Mota said the university will discuss ways to ensure security of the Muslim community Tuesday morning.

As a response to last week’s threats and other recent attacks against the Muslim communities throughout Montreal and Quebec, such as the shooting at the Quebec City mosque on Jan. 29, the CSU announced on Monday via Facebook they would collect donations at each workshop during their Anti-Consumerism Week. “All of the money collected will go towards the National Council of Canadian Muslims, an organization that advises and advocates on behalf of Canadian Muslims and others who have experienced violations of their human rights and civil liberties,” it was mentioned on the post.

Photo by Ana Hernandez.

“[The] CSU has been encouraging people to use resources available to them off-and-on campus through a living Google document which has been disseminated through our networks,” general coordinator of the CSU, Lucinda Marshall-Kiparissis told The Concordian. The union encouraged their staff to not come to the office on Thursday and Friday “if they did not feel safe on campus while still compensating them for scheduled hours, if they did opt to not come in,” she said.

The CSU’s current goal is to get the university to offer universal academic amnesty for students who missed class, assignments, exams or other academic activity from Wednesday to Friday. “The university decided to only encourage professors to offer academic amnesty to their students, but only for Wednesday from the evacuation time onwards and only for classes held in the evacuated buildings,” said Marshall-Kiparissis.

According to Marshall-Kiparissis, many of the CSU members still feel unsafe on campus and feel like the way the university handled the situation was incomplete. “My colleagues and I, at this point, will be trying to make this a Senate issue at their meeting next week.”

The CSU is still working with the Concordia community, including the university, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and other groups to plan different courses of action and support in relation to what happened last week.

Additionally, the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) will present a motion related to the bomb threat at their upcoming council meeting this Thursday. ASFA published a statement last Wednesday morning in support with the Muslim community. “We respect and recognize the diversified experiences of and barriers faced by all students at Concordia and, as per our anti-racism position, condemn all acts of discrimination and terrorism,” it said in the letter.

SPVM spotted inside the Hall building. Photo by Ana Hernandez.

Julia Sutera Sardo, VP of Internal Affairs and Administration told The Concordian ASFA’s Advocacy Committee and the Women’s Studies Student Association reached out to MSA planning future events with them to help Muslim students. “They responded that they were overwhelmed with support and they will let us know shortly,” said Sutera Sardo.

The Concordian contacted the MSA about any plans going forward, but they did not respond before publication time.

Bail hearing postponed

The bail hearing for Hisham Saadi, the 47-year-old man who is charged with carrying out the bomb threat letter, has been postponed to Wednesday, March 8, according to CBC News. The hearing was originally scheduled for last Friday but was pushed to Monday. The newly postponed date was requested after Saadi’s lawyer asked for time to review new evidence from the Crown in relation to the bomb threat against Muslims that closed three Concordia university buildings, according to the same source.

Saadi was arrested at his Cote-des-Neiges apartment early Thursday morning. The apartment building was evacuated while police searched for explosives on Thursday, but none were found. Saadi is reportedly a PhD student in economics, according to CBC News.


ASFA to host annual internship fair

The student association’s sustainability committee invited local companies to the event

The Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) sustainability committee hosted their first local internship fair on Feb. 16 and are already looking into making it an annual tradition.

“I wanted a fair that mutually benefited students and local companies,” said Agunik Mamikonyan, ASFA’s vice-president of external affairs and sustainability. “These companies will benefit from the extra help that they can get from students who themselves need internships.”

The fair, which took place in the EV atrium from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., hosted multiple local companies and organizations such as Engineers Without Borders, Campus Potager and ForUsGirls, among others. Some Concordia community organizations were also invited to come showcase their companies, including CUTV and Concordia Food. “At least a couple hundred students actually stopped and had conversations about the organizations and the internships opportunities that they offer,” said Morgan Crockett, who is part of the sustainability committee. The committee is responsible for organizing events revolving around environmental, social and economic issues.

“People think that when an organization is local, there will be no internships offered and only volunteering, but there can be some really interesting internships,” Crockett said.

Mamikonyan said she wanted to organize the fair, because she realized students often look for work or internships in different cities or with different organizations outside of Montreal. “This fair is a way to show students that, instead of having to go work for a huge corporation or just having to move for the summer to work, they can actually help their community by staying in Montreal and working for the local companies,” said Mamikonyan.

Of the 10 companies present at the fair, Mamikonyan said each takes one or two interns for the summer, depending on their needs. “Unfortunately, some companies and organizations didn’t answer the invitation, which is why next year we will start planning earlier,” she said.

With this being a new initiative for ASFA’s sustainability committee, Mamikonyan said every year they will have to improve it. “It’s one of those events that would work well on a yearly basis,” she said. “I would let the organizations know about it months ahead so they can have the staff ready to come represent the companies.” She said this would also help ensure students can apply for these internships in time. Due to late scheduling, most of the companies’ internship deadlines had already passed by the time ASFA’s internship fair was held. “I hope to improve the timeline by next year, since many of these places already had their interns chosen,” said Mamikonyan.

She believes that the fair should have the same impact as Quadfest, which is a social celebration that happens every fall semester at the Loyola campus. “I think if we have Quadfest, we could have something more sustainably-oriented,” Mamikonyan said. “We are going into a future that is really defining sustainable development, which is why we should support the development of the community.”

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