You call this a supply store?

Concordia’s art store puts the pain in painting.

The DeSerres employee is tired of seeing my face. That’s the only way to explain his eyebrow raise as I trudge into the Atwater station art supply store for the tenth time this week. He’s seen it all, from my frantic rush to find oil paints 30 minutes before my first class to the avalanche of pastels I caused in the third aisle. He hasn’t seen the last of me, though—I’m beginning to think I’ll spend more of this semester in the DeSerres than I will in the studio. 

My loyalty to the business is caused by necessity, not by choice. Professors stress the importance of well-sourced materials, but a lack of viable options forces students to take what they can get. At the start of the semester, I hoped I would be able to furnish my supply needs entirely through Concordia’s art store (for those who aren’t aware, the art store is located in the basement of the LB building, just past the bookstore) as I assumed it would be the most affordable and accessible option. A single visit proved my assumption wrong: I discovered high prices and a shocking lack of stock. With the store missing even the basics, I turned to the next logical option. 

Of course, supporting a chain store is not ideal. It is important to be proud of where your materials come from and the resources you use to create your work. Buying from smaller local shops is always possible, but many small businesses are out of the way (and therefore inconvenient for frequent visits) or overpriced. Artists—especially student artists—are short on time and money as is. “I think it’s ironic that the main resource for art supplies on campus isn’t budget friendly,” says Andrea Chenier, a third-year studio art and art history major. 

At the same time, buying required books is alarmingly easy. At the bookstore, reading material is organized in alphabetical order in sleek stacks, which makes finding books a breeze. If a book is on your syllabus, it’s likely to be at the bookstore. Used books are displayed at a reduced price, ensuring a second option for those who don’t want to spend too much. Why, then, does the same system not apply at the art store? Surely, stock should be determined by demand—and this demand is high across the demographic. With Concordia being a university well-known for its fine arts programs, and Montréal being a city renowned for its art scene, our lack of options is pitiful. 

A better-stocked art store may seem like a frivolous wish, but it would improve the artistic processes of countless students. A well-rounded art store means less stress and less money spent. Most of all, it means far less time at DeSerres. But while I’m here, should I get a points card? Might as well.

Student Life

Your summer 2022 budget travel guide

 Here are a few tips, tricks, and resources to make your summer a memorable and adventurous one!

Not sure what you’re going to do with your summer? We’ve compiled some cheap options and resources that you can use this summer that are student discount friendly.

Travelling may be difficult with COVID-19 restrictions, so all of the destinations listed are open to vaccinated travellers leaving from Canada as of April 14.

But first, here are the tools you will need to find the best prices for accommodation, flights, and transportation.



To find the cheapest flight on any airline to any destination, sites like FlightHub and KAYAK are the places to go. Some trips may also have special call-in prices that could be lower than what other sites may estimate. Just remember that these are third-party agencies, so getting reimbursed for a cancelled trip may prove more difficult.



Finding a place to stay depends on the budget of the traveller. For those feeling adventurous or on an extreme budget, the website Couchsurfing allows travellers to stay on a local’s couch completely free.

If that idea is a little intimidating, hostels are also a great option to meet other travellers. Hostelworld is the one-stop site with millions of reviews, and finding a hostel in any city with it is a breeze.

If you prefer privacy, Airbnb or Trivago are also great options for private accommodation like hotels or apartments, at a premium. Although, depending on the size of your group, Airbnb may end up costing much less than a hostel stay.



Depending on where you decide to go, public transit and walking is always the cheapest option, but if you have to hop on a train or want to rent a car, here are some great resources: HappyRail (Europe), Eurail (Europe), and KAYAK (global).

It’s also important to remember that Uber is not global, and if you’re somewhere where taking a cab is a consideration, it’s important to research average prices beforehand — don’t let yourself be the tourist that pays triple what they should. Also, remember city taxis are not always safe at each destination. A quick Reddit search should help you learn from other tourists and even some locals.

With gas prices being at an all-time high, the classic summer road trip may not be the cheapest option. Instead, check out train prices for super cheap round-trip prices this summer:

(prices vary by date of departure) 


Montreal to Ottawa: $74+

Montreal to Quebec City: $76+

Montreal to Toronto: $98+


For those wanting to catch some rays this summer, here are plenty of cheap flights to beaches to choose from:

All prices listed were found using Flighthub for the months of May, June and July.


Miami, USA: $350+

With plenty of beaches to choose from, Miami is a great city to explore this summer with its vibrant nightlife. You can grab a room in a hostel for as low as $25+/night.


Cancún, Mexico: $500+

Remember to pack your sunscreen when you go, because the summer heat in Cancun stays around 30 degrees. Even though the heat will get to you, you won’t have to sweat the cost with hostels being as low as $9+ a night.


Montego Bay, Jamaica: $500+

The white sand beaches and crisp blue waters of Montego Bay are a great place to spend your summer lounging around or exploring. Hostels start at $25+/night.


Guatemala City, Guatemala: $500+

Guatemala City has a mix of great food, jungle temples, secret coves, and colourful neighbourhoods for you to explore this summer for cheap with an average cost of $39+/day including hostels priced at $10+/night.


San Jose and Liberia, Costa Rica: $600+

Costa Rica offers plenty to do, whether you want to sit and lounge the whole trip or hike up an active volcano. Both San Jose and Liberia have hostels priced at $13+/night.


Bogotá, Colombia: $650+

If you want to have a mix of city and jungle, Bogotá is the place for you. With plenty of historic sites and culture to experience, there will never be a dull moment on your trip. Hostels are cheap starting at $5+/night.


Belize City, Belize: $750+

If you’re looking to catch some waves and surf this summer, Belize may be the destination for you. The city has an array of activities to choose from, from exploring caves to whitewater rafting — it’s perfect for the active traveller. With hostels starting at $35+/ night, this destination is the most expensive option.


Leaving the tropics, here are some cheap flights to Europe where you could either choose to stay or grab a cheap train or flight with Ryanair or easyJet to anywhere from North Africa to the Middle East and Asia.


Dublin, Ireland: $550+

This summer you can experience the vibrant Irish nightlife or explore medieval castles and the beautiful landscapes featured in shows like Game of Thrones. Hostels start at $28+/night and one way flights out of the country for as low as $22+.


Lisbon, Portugal: $700+

A beautiful city to explore on foot, Lisbon offers travellers a perfect European experience for cheap. Hostels start at $18+/night and flights to other cities start at $41+.


Paris, France: $700+

The daily cost of living in Paris makes this one of the most expensive destinations on the list, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to travel to on a budget. Parisian nightlife and art make the city a great destination for those who want to gain some European culture this summer. Hostels start at $26+/ night, and this is a great city to travel from with flights out of the country as low as $12+.


The world is back open for you to explore after the last two years of COVID-19, so take advantage of some cheap destinations this summer and go somewhere new!

It’s important to remember that you do not need to have a lot of money to explore the world. Just because you are on a budget does not mean you have to settle for a staycation this summer!

Student Life

Wellness on a student budget

School can be stressful but taking care of your physical and mental health is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and practicing wellness. 

Students who are physically active tend to perform better on tests; it improves cognitive performance, according to the Centre for Disease Control’s website. Physical activity also helps reduce stress and anxiety as well as the risk of cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, and more. According to a article, yoga and meditation also help reduce stress as well as chronic pain, inflammation, and could even improve sleep quality.

It’s clear that physical activity helps keep you mentally and physically in shape, but it can sometimes negatively impact your wallet. Gym and wellness studio memberships can be expensive for someone on a student budget, but many places around Montreal offer free trials and budget-friendly prices.

For fitness enthusiasts, if you’re on a tight budget, why not try out all the gyms for free?

Monster Gym in Dollard-des-Ormeaux offers a one-month free trial and the gym is open 24/7. The large facility includes a bistro, a hair salon, a supplements store, a boxing gym and even a yoga gym. While those are not included in the free-trial, other gyms like Econofitness, Gold’s Gym, and Buzzfit allow you to try their facilities out for a day. Buzzfit and Econofitness are also known for being on the lower-end scale for membership prices if you’re looking to stay committed to one gym for the semester or the year.

If you want something more challenging, CrossFit LaSalle offers a 14-day trial for the low price of $1. Crossfit is not your typical workout; it’s described as a “high-intensity fitness program incorporating elements from several sports and types of exercise,” in the Oxford dictionary.

For easy access, Le Gym on Concordia’s downtown campus (located in the basement of the EV building) offers a variety of classes under $50 per semester. There are several different types of yoga, spinning, zumba, pilates, aerobics, HIIT, martial arts, team and individual sports, and more. For a student-priced membership, Le Gym charges $30 for one month and $70 for four months. Loyola also has gym facilities you can join (the PERFORM Centre), although it requires a separate membership from Le Gym’s.

For those who prefer something more mindful and spiritual, Ashtanga Yoga Montreal offers free yoga classes from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at their downtown studio every Wednesday.

Spin Energie, a spinning studio, offers an unlimited introductory week for $45, or a two-month one class per week pass for $25. Students even get 15 per cent off prices for yoga, pilates, spinning and dance classes. Lululemon also has a varying schedule of free yoga classes at their stores. For the full monthly schedule, call your preferred location.

If you would like to avoid physical activity and/or are unable to do it, meditation is another great way to help heal your mind and spirit. can be used as a resource website to learn about meditation and find information about free meditation events held by the Sri Chinmoy Centre of Montreal, a centre dedicated to meditation teaching and practice. Free classes are offered on Monday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. from Sept. 16 to Oct. 7. As a result of limited space, the site asks people to register first, and the location will then be confirmed to you personally.

Whether you prefer to sweat or sit still, Montreal has a ton of great budget-friendly alternatives to help keep in shape and practice well-being.


Photo by Laurence B.D.


Concordia University explains 2017-18 operating budget

Chief financial officer and senior director of financial planning and budgets sit down with student newspapers

Here’s what we learned at Concordia’s “Budget Talk” meeting with chief financial officer Denis Cossette, Jean-François Hamel, the senior director of financial planning and budgets, and director of public relations, Mary-Jo Barr.

Key Facts:

  • Concordia University plans to eliminate its deficit within two years.
  • The university projects a deficit of $3,9 million for the upcoming fiscal year, running from May 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018.
  • The projected deficit is $2.4 million lower than last year’s anticipated deficit of $6.3 million.

“We get our funding from the provincial government,” Hamel said. “They control the pricing they give us for grants. Tuition fees are controlled by the provincial government. We have little control on our revenue.”

  • Projected total revenue: $473.7 million
  • Projected total expenses: $477.8 million

    Graphics by ZeZe Lin

Sixty per cent of Concordia’s revenue comes from the Quebec government through grants which are given based on the student population. According to Hamel, “if Concordia’s student body diminishes, our revenues diminish,” adding that any increase in university funding is usually lower than the increase in costs the university incurs.

Concordia receives $127 million in tuition fees, $47 million of which is clawed back by the government, leaving the university with $80.3 million. After these clawbacks are calculated, tuition fees represent approximately 18 per cent, or $85 million, of the university’s total revenue. This figure excludes student services as well as other enrolment fees.

  • Salaries and benefits make up over 70 per cent of the university’s expenses.
  • Forty-six per cent of salary distribution goes to university staff, while 54 per cent is put towards teaching and research.
  • Facility maintenance costs the university $45 million per year.

Concordia will reinvest $13.2 million from new funding towards raising faculty budgets. Five million of that will go towards scholarships, graduate student support as well as teaching and research assistant contracts.

  • Concordia University’s estimated student population: 46,339

There are 29,483 raw full-time equivalent (RFTE) students and 57,790 weighted full-time equivalent (WFTE) students at Concordia. A RFTE student is someone taking 30 credits per year. Students with varying credits, however, are combined with other students to reach 30 credits a year in the calculation of RFTE students. So, for example, if one student has 21 credits and another has nine, they amount to one RFTE student.

  • For every RFTE student, the university receives $1,659 from the provincial government.

WFTE students are calculated according to the student’s program and degree. Students in programs that require more lab time, as well as graduate and Ph.D students, weigh more than, for example, an undergraduate student at the John Molson School of Business. The higher the student’s weight, the more funding the university receives.

  • For every WFTE student, the university receives $3 500 from the provincial government.

Graphics by Zeze Lin

An earlier version of this article stated that Concordia University received $6,059 rather than the correct amount $1,659. We apologize for this error.


ASFA presents 2017-2018 budget

Council debates funding cap for independently financed MAs

The Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) introduced and debated its 2017-2018 budget at a special meeting on Thursday, June 29.

Francesco Valente, the interim vice-president of finance, projected a total income of $585,000 for the 2017-2018 academic year: $475,000 from ASFA’s fee levy, and $110,000 from other sources. After expenses, this will leave ASFA with a $395 surplus.

The most substantial difference in this year’s budget is the reduction of the Social Committee budget from $25,800 to $14,750. Last year, $8,000 was set aside for the ball ASFA hosts for graduating students. However, since the event wasn’t held in 2017, Valente chose not to dedicate funds to it.

According to Valente, “If the VP social wants to plan a grad ball this year, the funding will come from social initiatives, leftover from other social events or special project funding/external funding.”

The council also moved to redistribute $1,000 from the Social Committee pub nights budget, and another $1,500 from the External Committee budget, to the Advocacy Committee, bringing Advocacy’s total budget to $4,700. The Advocacy Committee is mainly responsible for organizing and financing conferences related to social justice issues, including issues of gender and race.

Chris Czich, the interim vice-president of social affairs, argued that a reduced budget would severely affect the success of ASFA’s pub nights. However, ASFA President Julia Sutera Sardo said the redistribution was justified since the Advocacy Committee received a smaller budget than last year — $2,200 compared to last year’s $4,200.

A further motion to free up $2,000 from the Social Initiatives budget to use for other initiatives failed.

Liberal arts councillor asks for more transparency

The council also debated a motion, introduced by Liberal Arts Councillor Robert Young, requiring all member associations (MA) with an independent fee levy to disclose all their financial statements dating back at least three years in order to gain funding from ASFA.

Under this motion, ASFA would distribute funding to its MAs based on their independent funding. The maximum funding a MA would be granted is enough to bring its total income to $20,000. Any MA receiving an independent income of more than $20,000 would not be eligible for ASFA funding.

According to Young, the purpose of the funding cap proposal is to free up money for smaller MAs that don’t have external sources of income by redirecting funds from wealthier MAs. He gave the example of the Political Science Students’ Association (PSSA), which introduced its own independent fee levy in the fall of 2016. According to PSSA President Farrah-Lilia Kerkadi, this fee levy alone brings in between $30,000 and $50,000 per semester.

The motion is also intended to encourage financial transparency from independently financed MAs. “The fact that we haven’t had terms of disclosure on finances since day one is 12 kinds of dodgy,” Young said.

An amendment was introduced by Sutera Sardo, which Young then moved to split into two parts:

  • Sponsorship money and revenue from events would not be considered income when evaluating how much funding a MA would receive from ASFA
  • To lower the funding cap from $20,000 to $18,000.

The first motion passed; the second was tabled until a later date, effectively tabling Young’s original motion.

Even if the motion passes, MAs would still be allowed to request special project funding, according to Sutera Sardo. In addition, MAs would still receive a budget for certain purposes, including elections and office phone bills, regardless of their independent income.

The first ASFA meeting of the upcoming academic year will take place on Sept. 21.

Archive graphic by Florence Y.

Concordia Student Union News

A first look at the CSU’s 2017-18 budget

CSU Finance Coordinator Soulaymane El Alaoui explains the decisions

Two weeks ago, the Concordia Student Union’s new finance coordinator, Soulaymane El Alaoui, presented the finalized version of the 2017-2018 budget to the CSU council. It was approved in its entirety, save for three amendments.

El Alaoui was the VP of events for the Commerce and Administration Students’ Association (CASA) last year, in addition to being part of CASA’s finance committee, where he worked with the committee to look over and approve the CASA clubs’ budget.

The CSU’s 2017-18 budget is noteworthy because of its budgeted deficit of just over $46,200. “I budgeted for a deficit specifically so we can spend the previous year’s money and do more things,” El Alaoui explained.

However, the budgeted $46,219.16 does not take into account depreciation and amortization costs—the expenses for assets over time. According to El Alaoui, when those cost come into effect, the CSU will have a deficit. The accurate number for these costs have yet to be determined.

At the June 14 council meeting, the finance coordinator said he considered the student union to be in a “good financial position” if the deficit was over $45,000.

The three amendments made to El Alaoui’s initial budget proposal are as followed:

  • The first one concerned the collaboration—what the finance coordinator described as a “pilot project”—between the CSU and the associations of the university’s four faculties: the Faculty of Arts and Science, the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, the Faculty of Fine Arts and the John Molson School of Business. El Alaoui’s initial proposal was a $4,000-budget ($1,000 per faculty). It was amended to $10,000, meaning $2,500 per faculty association.
  • A motion proposed by ASFA President Julia Sutera Sardo during the council meeting added $2,000 to the sustainability budget for the CSU to purchase menstrual products. On Jan. 30, 2017, Sutera Sardo and ASFA committed to offering free menstrual products to all Concordia students and community members.
  • Finally, the budget for conferences increased from $1,000 to $6,000 in the final version of the document.

Issues with the 2016-17 budget

El Alaoui said he saw numerous discrepancies when he looked at the final numbers for 2016-17 and compared them to the year’s corresponding budget. Even before he became finance coordinator, El Alaoui had looked over the numbers. “I got their budget from last year. I was just curious,” he said.

“We were way over budget on some lines, way under budget on others,” he explained. For example, during the 2016-17 year, the CSU only spent $10,000 of the $23,000 set aside for sustainability issues on campus.

Such issues include providing menstrual products to students. Sutera Sardo, who made the amendment to add $2,000 to the sustainability budget, told The Concordian in January 2017 that she wanted to provide more DivaCups for students because they are more sustainable.

When you make a budget, you talk to people to establish, ‘How much do we need to spend this?’ or ‘How much do we foresee spending on this?’ And then you have to actually, during the year, run after those people to hold them accountable.

However, for matters such as handbook printing, the CSU overspent by $2,000 ($62,000 instead of the allocated $60,000), not to mention adding an additional line to the budget labeled “handbook” which accounted for another $6,000 in spending, for a total of $8,000 not budgeted for.

“[It’s] not necessarily a sign of mismanagement, but it’s just bad budgeting I guess,” El Alaoui said.

“When you make a budget, you talk to people to establish, ‘How much do we need to spend this?’ or ‘How much do we foresee spending on this?’ And then you have to actually, during the year, run after those people to hold them accountable.”

“The hardest part of making a budget like this,” El Alaoui said, “is that I don’t know why things were budgeted the way they were last year.”

Over the last 15 months, the CSU has had four different finance coordinators. In March 2016, Anas Bouslikhane resigned from the position before finishing his mandate. His replacement, Adrian Longinotti, was asked to resign by the CSU after the executive body deemed him unfit to act as a representative of the student union.

In November 2016, Longinotti was replaced by Thomas David-Bashore, who was the finance coordinator from December 2016 until the following CSU elections in March 2017 when El Alaoui was elected.

According to El Alaoui, it would be preferable if there were two coordinators. The second person would be an assistant for their first year, and would become the finance coordinator in their second year.

“In an ideal world, I think for all student clubs or student associations, it should be a two-year position, because otherwise there’s no institutional knowledge,” El Alaoui said. The finance coordinator, he added, does he what he thinks is best without training. A two-year mandate would be better because, “that way, you have a full year of training.”

CSU General Coordinator Omar Riaz said the idea of a two-year mandate hasn’t been discussed by the student union. The question of extending the student mandate would also have to go through a student referendum to be implemented.

Financial problems with the CSU Advocacy Centre

The CSU Advocacy Centre is budgeted to have a $53,000 loss in the upcoming year. This means it will break even, since it had a $53,000 surplus last year. El Alaoui said he wants the advocacy centre to spend that surplus.

The centre received $90,000 in additional funding from the Graduate Students Association (GSA) last year. According to El Alaoui, the GSA wanted to be affiliated with the CSU Advocacy Centre.

The $90,000 contribution was paid in full in 2016-17, but intended to be divided over two years. This accounts for most of the surplus in the centre’s budget by the end of last year.

However, El Alaoui said the $53,000 deficit could have been much higher, specifically $69,560, if it wasn’t for $16,060 in emergency funds given to the centre by the CSU as a support line to help finance student services.

Despite a reallocation of CSU funds to increase the centre’s fee-levy earlier this year, El Alaoui said he believes the fee-levy still needs to increase.

The $16,060, El Alaoui says, was a short-term solution, “kind of a Band-Aid solution.” He said he would like to see the CSU hold a referendum “to increase the student fee-levy because [the advocacy centre] is not getting enough to be able to do everything that they can.” He said he wants the centre to be financially sustainable in the long term.

A decrease in the advocacy centre’s funds, El Alaoui said, “would also mean reducing their potential for advocacy engagement for the students and their potential for projects.”

El Alaoui said the centre’s situation will be reassessed in the fall, once the centre has obtained its first fee-levy. “They’ll see how much it would need to be increased by at this time. The CSU is also looking at other solutions,” he said.

Increased transparency

The new finance coordinator said he wants more transparency within the CSU. Despite being labelled “budgets” on the CSU website, the only documents that can be found are audited financial statements. The latest is from 2015-16. However, none of these represent the actual budget, and no financial documents are available for 2016-2017.

At the June 14 council meeting, El Alaoui told members the CSU website will be “revamped” and, for that reason, the budget for website external labour is “going way up.” For 2017-18, the CSU doubled the previous budget for external labour, from $10,000 to $20,000. El Alaoui said the CSU wants to make the website more user-friendly and accessible.

He said he also plans to write up a document explaining every aspect of the budget, and make it available to the student body. He would like the CSU to publish a budget similar to the one put out by the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), the McGill student association. The SSMU budget is 18 pages and offers clarifications for all the elements mentioned in the document.


This article has been updated for accuracy and clarity with regards to the fact that amortization and depreciation costs are not taken into account in the budget presented to the CSU council. The Concordian regrets the error.


Reduced deficit the highlight of 2017-2018 operating budget

Concordia has lowered its deficit by 58 per cent in the last two years.

Concordia University intends to reduce its deficit for a second straight year. In its 2017-18 operating budget, released on June 12, the institution anticipates a $3.9 million deficit, down from a $6.3 million projection in 2016-17, and $8.2 million in 2015-16.

At a Board of Governors meeting on March 8, the university’s finance committee highlighted the need for the school to reduce its deficit in the next budget in order to obtain a larger borrowing capacity from the provincial government. The deficit has been reduced by 58 per cent in the last two years.

The university projects a total revenue of $473.7 million and its total expenses to be $477.8 million during the upcoming fiscal year, from May 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018. According to a letter signed by president Alan Shepard and published on the university’s website, Concordia “anticipates that [it] will be in a position to present a balanced budget within the next two years.”

The school last projected a balanced budget in 2011-12. The university was successful in doing so in 2012, but then faced major budget cuts starting the following year when the government made cuts to operating grants.

To limit the impact of these cuts, the institution launched—amongst other measures—a Voluntary Departure Program in 2014 and a Voluntary Retirement Program in 2016. The first gave administrative staff the option to leave Concordia before the expiration of their contract in exchange for a severance package. The expectation was at the time was to save as much as $5 million. Ninety staffers ended up leaving.

The 2016 Voluntary Retirement Program was open to both staff and faculty and was intended for people nearing retirement.

Concordia will also benefit from a three-per-cent increase in higher education funding from the Quebec government, as it will receive $3.2 million in new funding from the province in the upcoming year. Since 2010-2011, the university’s revenues have decreased by $90 million. However, Concordia’s student population has increased by 6.5 per cent during those years.

Archive graphic by Florence Y.

Student Life

Tips on taking the dive into the dumpster

A discussion about the food industry through the dos and the don’ts of dumpster diving

When faced with the idea of diving into a dumpster to collect dinner, some may think ew. In our society, garbage is thought of as filthy. So, naturally, a stigma surrounds the dumpster diving practice. But think again.

On March 10, Concordia students Isabella Donati-Simmons and Aven Fisher organized a workshop to talk about the art of ‘diving.’

The workshop, coordinated by Les Échelles, a collective with a focus on a sharing lifestyle, explored the dos and don’ts of the practice, as well as the larger problem of food waste in Canada. The event gathered about 30 people, half of them already experienced divers.

“We are not experts. We are just avid dumpster divers,” Fisher said to start off the workshop.

The participants and organizers discussed major problems surrounding food waste in Canada and around the world. From consumer standards of food aesthetics to transportation and transnational agreements, to the lack of personal connection with food, participants discussed some of the reasons they felt food waste is such a big problem. “The food system is an extremely complex web. It is not just a straight line,” Fisher said.

In Canada, $31 billion worth of food is wasted each year, according to a 2014 report from Value Chain Management International, a global company aiming to improve the efficiency of food chains. This marks a 15 per cent increase from 2010. The same study shows that 47 per cent of this waste comes from individuals in their homes. “It makes you wonder why some are still starving or food insecure, especially the First Nations peoples,” Donati-Simmons said.

Fisher and Donati-Simmons went through “the dumpster rules.” According to the organizers, divers shouldn’t necessarily look at the best-before dates on unopened products and packages. They say it is more important to rely on smell and look instead.

Some products contaminated by mold are still edible. The U.S Department of Agriculture established a list of food which can still be eaten if moldy. This includes hard cheese, firm vegetables, and salami. Donati-Simmons recommends cutting about an inch around and under the mold.

Dumpster divers should equip themselves with a light, preferably a head lamp, gloves and reusable bags. The best places to dive are around small grocery stores or bakeries. The organizers also recommended paying attention to garbage day schedules and store owners’ garbage habits. Fisher also pointed out that it is important not to take more than you need, with respect to other divers.

While the practice is not illegal, it is illegal to trespass. “Most tenants are okay with it and will indicate where to look or even give you wastes, but don’t leave it messy,” Fisher said.

“The best thing is to be respectful [as divers],” Donati-Simmons added.

To clean food collected on a diving trip, a bath of water and vinegar or dish soap does the trick. It must be naturally air-dried before refrigeration to avoid spores during storage. The food can then be prepared or frozen after being dried. The most common uses of recollected food are in soups, jams, smoothies, kimchi or as dried fruit.

The workshop was followed by a diving initiation in the Plateau and a meal at Donati-Simmons’ and Fisher’s house with the recollected food.

“Dumpster diving is sharing, finding new uses, changing the waste culture and realising what our society does,” Donati-Simmons said.

Graphic by Thom Bell

Ar(t)chives Student Life

Selling textbooks without the hassle of the haggle

Three McGill graduates soon to launch a textbook-selling app for Concordia and McGill

As the new semester rolls in, so does a new textbook-exchanging app. Venndor, founded by recent McGill graduates Anthony Heinrich, Julien Marlatt and Tynan Davis, is a classifieds app with the goal of helping students buy and sell textbooks without the need for haggling or negotiating prices.

The beta app, also known as the first version of the app, has been live for two months at McGill.  This period permitted the founders to see how people were using the app and make any necessary changes before officially launching it at both McGill and Concordia. In the time of the beta launch, the app helped students sell textbooks, but also household items such as lamps and furniture. The app will officially launch for McGill and Concordia in mid-January.

The idea started over a year ago when co-founders Heinrich and Marlatt were frustrated because they were having trouble getting a good price for textbooks they wanted to sell. “People would just negotiate with you and haggle with you back and forth on Facebook postings. It was frustrating because it would lead to a lot of wasted of time and it wasn’t enjoyable,” said Heinrich. The app started as a business class subject. The teammates thought about a concept where the buyer offers a price without being given a starting price by the seller. They liked the idea of the final selling price being the middle ground between what the buyer offered and the price the seller initially had in mind. Heinrich gave the example of wanting to sell a phone for a minimum of $20. If the buyer offers $40 upfront, then the final selling price would be $30 if they were using the Venndor app.

This idea inspired the app’s name. Venndor comes from the term Venn diagram—a diagram of two circles overlapping to create a smaller ovalish shape in the middle of the two. The selling price of the textbook is therefore the middle ground, or the middle area of the Venn diagram.

Graphic by Florence Yee

The app includes a bookmark page that acts as a kind of ‘buy later’ section for undecided students. There is also an instant messaging page for buyers and sellers to correspond and arrange a meeting time and place. Instant messaging ensures that students don’t necessarily have to give any of their personal information to purchase textbooks.

In the fall of 2015, after Heinrich and his teammates got good feedback from their professor for their app idea in a class project, the students decided to enter the McGill Dobson Cup, McGill’s annual startup competition.

“We made it to the semi-finals. The judges weren’t really into it but we decided to go after the idea anyway,” said Heinrich. Then, the students got accepted into the 2016 McGill Summer X-1 Accelerator program, an intensive 10-week summer program that helps students create their startup ideas through training programs and seminars. “The entire thing was a huge learning experience,” said Heinrich.

Heinrich said this year’s focus will be observing how students use the app, in order to start planning any changes to the version of the app launching soon.

Student Life

Concordians jet-off over the winter break

Concordians share their holiday travel experiences and tips

by Léandre Larouche

This Christmas, I wanted to celebrate the holiday differently—and different it was.  A friend I met in Montreal last summer invited me to spend some time with her and her family in Mexico, so I decided to go.

Guanajuato city. Photo by Léandre Larouche.

Our first stop was my friend’s place in Xochimilco, one of Mexico City’s 16 boroughs. I arrived on Dec. 22 and so many family reunions were on the agenda.

In Mexico City, my favourite attraction was the sightseeing from the mirador in the Torre Latinoamericana. This monument used to be Mexico’s largest skyscraper at the time of its completion in 1956. The Plaza de la Constitución and the Monumento de la Revolución are also worth a visit.  I walked 20 de Noviembre Street, a street which commemorates the beginning of the Mexican Revolution.

Although I also visited the del Sol y de la Luna pyramids in the State of Mexico, the highlight of my trip was definitely visiting the city of Guanajuato. About four hours away from the country’s federal capital, this European-like city is charming at first sight. On top of having an astonishing landscape, there is an abundance of cafés, restaurants and bars along the charming, narrow streets. At night, the city livens up even more, with traditional music sung all around the city. My personal must-sees are the Café Tal, Santo Café and the Monumento al Pípila, which honours the eponymous insurgent of the Mexican Revolution.

The State of Veracruz was also worth the detour. Jalapa and Coatepec are fun for a day or two. I visited the beach one in Chachalacas, which is a more underrated beach, in Veracruz. It could still be worth a visit if you prefer a less touristic experience.

My advice for traveling to Mexico is to learn a bit of Spanish before jetting off, and to get to know the locals while you’re there. The country is so much more than its all-inclusive resorts. People are truly welcoming people and, unless you get labelled a gringo for not speaking a word of Spanish, they’re likely to become your friends and show you around.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands
by Elisa Barbier

Flowers and bike by a house entrance along one of the city’s main canal: the Keizersgracht. Photo by Elisa Barbier

Amsterdam lives up to its reputation of offering tourists with different budgets, incredible scenery and experiences.

The city centre is laid out as an amphitheatre looking onto what used to be Amsterdam’s port.  This part of the city can be visited thoroughly in three days. You should factor in a little more time if you intend on visiting museums such as the Van Gogh Museum, which possesses an incredible collection, and the Rijksmuseum embodies Dutch art at its finest. The Anne Frank House is also a great stop, but be sure to reserve tickets online to avoid long lineups for this one.

There is no need for a transit pass in Amsterdam. Sightseeing can be done by walking in between the canals and small streets that are proper to old European cities.

Students can find many affordable hostels in the centre of the city surrounded by pubs and cheap restaurants. One of Amsterdam’s fun experiences is Febo—a fast-food restaurant that serves traditional Dutch snacks to clients via automats. Another surprising singularity, my personal favourite, are the many snack bars that serve tasty waffles topped with fruits or sweets.

The city is also known for its many cafés and the red-light district. Among the 200 cafés in Amsterdam, the Greenhouse Centrum is a must.

If I have the chance to go back, I will spend more time cycling around. It was a great experience but be aware that biking on European roads is quite the adventure. Moreover, the windmills and tulips fields in the countryside would be on my to-do list.

Paris, France
by Elisa Barbier

Photo by Elisa Barbier

The city of lights is a giant maze filled with endless entertainment for tourists and inhabitants alike.

Paris’ most notable spots are spread out between the first and ninth boroughs. Considering a week is needed to properly visit the city, a weekly transit pass is the best option for moving through the city with ease.

When it comes to museums, the Louvre is a must. However, it takes a full day to visit.  It is best to arrive early in the morning. The Orsay Museum, Branly and Beaubourg also have interesting collections, from classic French paintings to modern art.

It goes without saying the Eiffel Tower, the Arc-de-Triomphe, the Sacré-Coeur, the Garnier Opera, the Bastille or the Notre-Dame Cathedral are must-sees. However, the Great Mosque of Paris, whose tea is a treasure, city hall and the Luxembourg Gardens are also great places to explore, and they can sometimes be forgotten.

Paris’ oldest bridge, Pont Neuf with the Eiffel Tower and the dome of the French Institute in the background. Photo by Elisa Barbier

The city of love is one of the most expensive cities in Europe. Therefore, small restaurants outside of touristic sites  will be cheaper and are worth the commute. The price of coffee will also change depending on the location. Brasseries are a good way to experience cheap French cuisine for lunch.

For a true Parisian experience, eat at Mexi&Co at 7:30 p.m., then buy some cheap wine or beer from a grocery store and enjoy it in the Vert-Galant Square while watching boats go by. Bar hopping in the Marais or 11th borough are also good options.

As a resident, nothing makes me enjoy the city more than taking a walk along the Seine at dusk. Bubble teas to accompany a shopping day at the Defense or Les Halles is also a good way to enjoy a rainy day.

Concordia Student Union News

CSU announces town hall meeting

Councillors meet to discuss the international student hike campaign and look back on Orientation

During the Concordia Student Union (CSU) meeting on Wednesday, it was announced a town hall meeting will be taking place on Nov. 16 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Mezzanine of the Hall building, where students can learn about their new International Tuition Hike campaign.

The newly-created campaign was announced when the CSU posted an open letter on their website,  saying that the university was planning a tuition hike affecting students in deregulated programs.

“We want to reach out to everyone—this is a reason why the CSU exists,” said CSU vice president of external affairs and mobilization coordinator, Aloyse Muller. He said he was surprised with the Commerce and Administration Students Association (CASA), as they have not shown any interest in the campaign yet. “CASA has the biggest number of international students in the university,” he said.

Muller said the CSU has hired two international students, ​Ali Sherra from the faculty of Arts and Science and Aida Sidibé, who studies at JMSB, to help with the campaign. Muller said they will help inform and mobilize students, through general outreach towards student groups, flyering, postering, developing materials and event organizing, to name a few.

“The CSU is and will be campaigning against this hikeit’s our mission,” said Muller. “But the opposition needs to come and be led by the students themselves.” He strongly suggested students follow the example of Samuel Miriello and Sepideh Zangeneh, two students who helped organize the campaign independently a few weeks ago, through creating a Facebook group called “Concordia University Against international Tuition Hike.”

Following the tuition hikes discussion, student life coordinator Rachel Gauthier presented a document which detailed how the orientation events at the beginning of the Fall 2016 semester went. Gauthier said she is grateful for the hard work the CSU coordinators contributed to Orientation.

According to the Orientation budget Gauthier presented, the CSU only spent $117,388.45 of the original $160,000 budget, leaving them with a surplus of $42,611.55.

Gauthier said, overall, most of the Orientation events were a success. The one exception was the OUMF comedy show, which didn’t have a lot of  attendees. She said she believes the event was not well advertised, and the fact that the show was on the second day of school didn’t leave the CSU enough time to promote the event. She ended her speech by saying she recommends the next team to take on orientation week only schedule a week of events, as the second week saw a dip in event attendance, since students began to focus on school more during the second week.


Concordia institutes Voluntary Departure plan to cope with budget cuts

$29 million in total cuts by the end of this fiscal year forces Concordia to snip where it can.

Concordia University announced on Sept. 24 that it will be instituting a Voluntary Departure Plan for staff in continuing efforts to adjust to government instructions mandating $13 million in budget compressions for the current fiscal year.

The program, unveiled after  internal consultation on ways to meet a shrinking budget, will see mostly administrative staff given the option of leaving before contract expiry in exchange for severance packages, said to total about a year’s worth of pay for staff who have been working at the school over 10 years. Faculty members such as professors or other positions like librarians won’t be included in the plan.

The expected cost of the severance packages will help deal with the deficit to be overcome by saving the university up to $5 million this year, and may save up to $12 million on a permanent basis from the 2015-2016 fiscal year onwards. Concordia says it expects anywhere from 150 to 180 individuals to take the offer in a lengthy ‘rebalancing’ that would last several months to sort out.

Ultimately the amount of staff that will leave are unknown and it may very well be less than predicted, though Concordia President Alan Shepard said previous schools who’ve instituted the initiative have equally met greater-than-expected demand. Either way, he stressed the completely voluntary nature of the plan and how it was made with care in mind for the loyalty of university staff.

Other measures will be taken in addition to the Voluntary Departure Program in response to the government’s compression of the budget. For one, there would be delays in upgrading equipment like computers, but Shepard said there would be no cuts in student bursaries, scholarships, or research.

Shepard also admitted several important positions might go empty under such circumstances, but that the university would do its best to adapt.

“It’s hard to change the tire of the car when the car is running,” he said of the difficulties in changing a large entity like a university.

“We’re trying in a most respectful way to respond to the restraints given,” said Shepard on the difficult financial climate Concordia and other education institutions are facing.


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