The Hive takes action following Provigo scandal

The Hive’s most recent steps to reduce the gap between affordable food and accessibility on campus.

On Jan. 13, Provigo announced they’ll no longer be offering 50 percent off for soon-to-expire foods, but rather 30 percent, causing public outrage across the country. Then, on Friday Jan. 19, the big food chain reversed their decision. 

Following these two confusing and controversial weeks at Provigo, The Hive is offering all students access to food without any financial barriers through their bi-annual grocery program, which is an expansion of the Hive’s Free Lunch and Breakfast program.

Alanna Silver, the Hive’s Free Lunch program coordinator, is frustrated that big food chains aren’t taking concrete action to better manage their food prices. 

“[Big grocers] are making this huge amount of profit while everyone else is really struggling and it shouldn’t be like that in a country that’s as developed as we are,” Silver said.

Sliver started the Hive’s bi-annual grocery program in December 2021 for students who cannot afford groceries at other food chains. The grocery program uses donations from food banks, their community fridge and ‘Enough,’ a waste sorting education company that also tries to reduce food waste. These donations provide canned goods, gluten-free options, fresh produce, halal, kosher and vegan options. This year, Silver expanded the grocery program by providing menstrual products, toothbrushes and toothpaste. 

Any student who picks up groceries from the program does not have to pay for what they buy, which is something Silver advocated for when she started the program.

“[Students] should never have to choose between paying tuition, paying for your textbooks, and paying for your meals—that should never have to be a choice,” Silver said. 

Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax, heard rumors about the announcement in December. He contacted Loblaws two weeks ago to confirm the rumor and later published the news on social media. Loblaws’ reason to reduce their discount was to match their competitors. “It was really the earmark of a really major PR crisis for Loblaws. Because you dealt with food affordability, food waste,” Charlebois said. 

According to the 2023 Canada Food Price report, the food prices forecast predicted that costs would rise by five to seven per cent. Charlebois confirmed that the housing crisis plays a big role in affordability. He believes that the big grocer wanted to limit how they were using their discounts. 

“People are forced to spend more to make sure they keep a roof over their heads, so they have less money to spend at the grocery store,” Charlebois said. “My guess is that Loblaws saw a lot of their demand shift towards these discounted products and they wanted to stop that. They wanted to protect margins as much as possible.”

Sylvain hopes that other large food markets such as Metro, IGA and Sobeys will see Loblaw’s discount charge as an opportunity to revisit their own discount numbers for their consumers. 

Matteo Di Giovanni, a second-year film production student, not only noticed the change in prices, but also the quantity of food in the packaging. As someone who’s celiac, Di Giovanni deals with expensive prices already with gluten-free products—now he’s facing the reduction of the quantity he’s getting.

“I’m not surprised,” Di Giovanni said. “It just sucks that I’m paying the same price for less food and I’m already paying a lot for gluten-free, so it’s a bit disappointing.”

Even though his parents do most of the groceries, he still worries about food affordability in the future. 

“When I start being more financially independent, it’s going to have a bigger toll on my spending and it’s kind of sucky, everything on top of just regular inflation,” Di Giovanni said.

Di Giovanni recently changed his diet over the break; he started going to the grocery store with his parents to pick out which products will be accessible and better for his diet. As worried as he is about his future with groceries, he’s already asking himself the right questions while he’s at the store. 

While big grocery stores are causing anxiety amongst students and other consumers, The Hive is one of the many organizations at Concordia that are providing relief in the university community.

The Hive believes in providing nutritional, healthy, and diverse meals for everyone to perform better in their studies and not worry about their next grocery bill. “Feeding people is our love language,” Silver said. 

Silver plans to continue the bi-annual grocery program for many years to come and encourage food education towards students.

Briefs News

Violent protests erupt in Concordia’s Hall Building

Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protests broke out, requiring police intervention.

At around 12 p.m. on Wednesday, pro-Palestine and pro-Israel gatherings were held in the Hall building. The Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) were holding a keffiyeh sale to raise money for the humanitarian crisis in Palestine Jewish students from Hillel and Start-up Nation arrived soon after to their Shabbat dinner event “to honor and bring awareness to over 240 innocent civilians help captive by Hamas in Gaza.”

Both groups were unaware that they would simultaneously be tabling at the exact same time, as they planned their respective events. For context, SPHR had announced the keffiyeh sale on their Instagram account on Nov. 5. According to an Instagram post by Concordia’s Israeli club, the StartUp Nation, the table for the vigil for Israelis kidnapped by Hamas was booked on Nov. 3. The gatherings at Hall Building soon escalated into protests as members that were not a part of the Concordia community arrived on scene to support their respective groups.

Campus security took action and created a barrier between the two groups, only for about 20 SPVM officers to arrive and diffuse the situation. 

One witness, a Concordia student who wished to remain anonymous, said they saw the police officers create a barrier behind a pro-Israeli activist after they saw this person hit a pro-Palestinian activist with a sign.

The same witness also added that “when the police arrived on scene, they were pretty violent with the pro-Palestinian activists, one officer shoved many protestors and brandished a baton.”

“In my view,” the witness said, “the protest centred on calls for ceasefire and an end to apartheid—there was a statement from an [palestinian] organizer that denounced antisemitism and stated that the fight is with the state of Israel and not Jews.” 

Protesters were seen ripping flags, and throwing water bottles and punches. Two pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested and several other protesters from both sides were injured.

“I’d like it to be known that the protest was not one of hatred towards Jews, but a denouncement of the crimes of the Israeli state,” the witness said about the pro-Palestinian protest. “I believe that is an incredibly important distinction to make.”

Following the events, SPHR released a statement yesterday morning saying “they would like to remind everyone that we, the students, will NOT allow this to deter us from our continued advocacy for the freedom of the Palestinian people.” 

More to come on this developing story.

News Videos

WATCH: The Most Important Meal is Now Free at The Hive

Breakfast is open from 8:30 to 9:00 and again from 10:00 to 10:30.


Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) council voted to bar Jordan Peterson from ever being featured at any of their events, indefinitely

Over 60 participants attended the council meeting that voted to bar the controversial Canadian intellectual.

Did you hear that rumour during the winter break that the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) was planning on inviting Jordan Peterson to speak at an event?

It caused quite a stir: hundreds of students spoke out in different ways for, and against, the famed and controversial Canadian clinical psychologist being featured at the university.

But the story of Peterson taking the spotlight at ASFA came to a close at the association’s Dec. 16 regular council meeting, when a majority of the council voted against platforming Peterson, in-person or in any medium, forever.

Minutes of the ASFA executive meeting on Nov. 25 reveal that the initial idea, proposed by Student Life Coordinator Natalie Jabbour, was to invite Peterson as a speaker on mental health during the winter semester.

“One of my ideas was to invite Jordan Peterson as a speaker. I know he’s a controversial speaker but I think he has brilliant ideas on psychology. I messaged his manager yesterday,” stated Jabbour at the meeting.

Curiously, Jabbour later told The Concordian she did not intend on organizing an event that featured Peterson, despite contacting his manager. Her intention was solely to discuss her event ideas during the winter semester, which also included suggesting another enterprise called “The School of Life,” an educational company that gives life advice.

Following the meeting, several executives shared news of Jabbour’s proposal through personal messages, emails to the student media, and posts on social media.  The news spread like wildfire.

Various posts, hundreds of emails and signatures on a petition were shared online to support both opinions.

However, Peterson is not available for any guest speaking engagements at the moment, according to his public speaking and engagements contact.

Since he is unavailable, Jabbour decided to change the event from being about mental health support for students featuring Peterson, to an event solely about Peterson and freedom of speech.

The new event discussed at the council was called “Diversity of Views in Academics at Concordia University.” Organized by ASFA’s Student Life Committee, the event would have been moderated by a Concordia professor, who would help guide the discussion as students watched, and then critiqued, the subject matter.

It would have showcased Peterson in some format, either through a speech, lecture, or written material.

Before the deciding vote to bar Peterson, the council debated for over three hours whether the association should even consider hosting Peterson. ASFA executives and councillors, several students and alumni, participated in the over-attended meeting to speak on the rumoured event.

Opinions were divided between people who thought Peterson’s rhetoric should be protected by freedom of speech ideals and the need to hear different opinions on campus, versus those that thought the responsible course of action is to ban the speaker, citing his rhetoric as harmful and discriminatory.

This reflected the same debate — and backlash — which the University of Toronto professor became internationally known for in the first place. Back in 2016, he refused to use non-gendered pronouns and spoke out against Canada’s Bill C-16, which was only at it’s proposal stage at the time, to add gender identity and expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

He feared that refusing to use someone else’s preferred pronouns would be classified as hate speech under the new amendment, and this would infringe on the freedom of Canadians.

Those who spoke in favour of Peterson at the meeting did not address his controversial statements. Instead, they pointed to the importance of having a civil discussion.

According to an ASFA executive who requested to remain anonymous, while these events would feature Peterson, they weren’t about him, they were about freedom of expression on campus.

They told The Concordian they have noticed an increasingly hostile environment at Concordia, particularly in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, with certain groups of students feeling “disenfranchised.” This individual is “concerned over legitimately not being able to say what’s on their mind.”

According to the source, this has become a widespread issue at the university, manifesting as “hostility towards certain ideas … that’s aimed at censoring and blocking people.”

When asked to provide an example of this hostility, or an even example of the types of ideas being ostracized, the source refused.

The purpose of the events, according to the source, would be to encourage ideas, not censoring or suppressing information over people’s feelings – no “cancelling,” with the hope of improving critical thinking and discourse on campus.

The idea of freedom of speech on campus and fighting against the cancelling of other opinions is not new, and Peterson is largely to thank for that.

A large part of Peterson’s platform was about freedom of speech, the end of political correctness, and the attempt to end or discourage Marxist/radical left ideology on campus.

Several gendered-non-conforming people who spoke at the council meeting said their identity was not up for debate.

Many described the harassment they’ve received over their choice of pronouns and lifestyle, and pointed out that rhetoric like Peterson’s had only helped to inflame the discrimination they’ve faced.

In a statement to the The Concordian, ASFA Communications Coordinator Carmen Levy-Milne said showcasing Peterson’s views would contradict the organization’s anti-discrimination regulations.

“It is morally inappropriate to suggest that a speaker who is openly sexist, islamophobic, homophobic, anti-Semitic, racist, and transphobic speak at our university … The suggestion to openly platform a speaker contradicts our Policy against Harassment, Discrimination, and Violence,” said Levy-Milne.

The motion to bar Peterson from being featured at the association followed this reasoning.

Proposed by Payton Mitchell, ASFA’s Mobilization Coordinator, the motion outlines that “Allowing Jordan Peterson to have this space would mean ASFA is directly facilitating an environment in which stochastic terrorism may be fostered here at Concordia.”

Peterson may no longer be platformed at ASFA or any of its member associations.

Peterson’s media representative at Penguin Random House Canada told The Concordian they had no comment.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam



Concordia’s first pop-up building now open

If you walk along de Maisonneuve Blvd. W. near Concordia’s downtown campus, you will notice a cube-like building with a large inconspicuous LS plastered at the front entrance.

At door number 1535, Concordia’s first pop-up building opened its doors to students on Jan. 6.

The Learning Square is a temporary, two-storey, modular building that has eight classrooms that can accommodate about 80 students per class. The cost of building the structure was estimated at $6.5 million, and Concordia expects to use the building for five years.

The inside of the building is elegant; it is a reflection of what the Webster library looks like, post recent construction. Colourful walls adorn the interior, turquoise, yellow and lime green, juxtaposed against the white.

The temporary structure was built to make up for the loss of classroom space due to renovations in the Hall building. According to Concordia spokesperson Vannina Maestracci, with this new building, the university will be able to complete the renovations faster and on a larger scale, with fewer disruptions to students and faculty.

“Space wise, in the classroom, it’s big, and the teachers are able to actually get their messages across, sound wise,” said sociology student Erin Bleau.

Maestracci said the expected gain of time for the renovations of the Hall building is about 18 months.

“I think that it’s really great that they’ve given us this space, because from what I understand, what’s going on in the Hall building involves even things like asbestos, and so on, so I’d much rather be over here,” said Professor Maggie McDonnell, lecturer and program coordinator of composition and professional writing.

According to Maestracci, Concordia looked at different options for creating more space for classrooms, but found that modular units are more beneficial and cost less than renting space. The building could also be moved and reused in another location.

“Given that it’s temporary, it’s actually pretty good,” said McDonnell. “You don’t feel like you’re in a trailer.”

Gender neutral washrooms

The Learning Square is the first Concordia building to have only gender neutral washrooms. The stalls also offer more privacy, as the doors start from the floor and reach up to the ceiling.

“It kind of adds an aspect of (privacy),” said communications student Steph Medalsy. “It could make a person who is maybe not okay with the idea a bit more comfortable, and maybe it will change some people’s opinions that it doesn’t really make a difference who’s using the washroom, considering the stalls are so secluded.”


Photos by Britanny Clarke


Advanced voting available on campus from Oct. 5-9

“Every voice matters and every vote counts in an election,” said Concordia President Graham Carr in an emailed statement sent to the Concordian. “Concordia is happy to host, like several post-secondary campuses, polling stations for our community and our neighbours.”

From Oct. 5 to 9, those who are eligible can cast their votes ahead of the official Oct. 21 date. Advanced voting is available at several other universities and CEGEPs across the country for this year’s federal election.

According to Pierre Pilon, Regional Media Advisor for Elections Canada, the initiative to make voting more accessible to students began in 2015. The last federal election launched a pilot project involving 40 post-secondary institutions to offer advanced voting to students and staff. Concordia partnered up with the project for a second term this year, along with over 100 other institutions.

Pilon said this partnership is voluntary.

Offered on both the Loyola and downtown campuses, eligible Canadians can vote at the following times: Oct. 5, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Oct. 6, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.; Oct. 7, 8 and 9 from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

“I encourage everyone, and especially our students, to make their voice heard by taking advantage of the on-campus polling stations at Concordia and the possibility to vote early on certain days even if this is not your assigned polling station,” said Carr.

Concordia student James William Altimas, 22, said he plans to vote. The joint specialization anthropology and sociology student said the climate march on Sept. 27 solidified his decision. Seeing such a large number of people manifesting for change inspired him and made him think that his vote, along with all the others, could change something.

“The big reason why I’m voting is because of climate change,” said Altimas. “Maybe we can make a difference.”

“I voted before but never really thought it was going to make a difference,” he continued. “But this time around, there’s a lot of people realizing that we’re fucked if we don’t do anything.”

How to register to vote

Those who are over 18, have proof of Canadian citizenship, and have an address, can vote.

You must register before voting, otherwise you are ineligible. You can use the Online Voter Registration Service before Tue Oct. 15 by 6 p.m.

You can also register to vote in person at any Elections Canada office across Canada. If you register before the 15th, you will get a voter information card in the mail that tells you where and when you can vote.

Alternatively, you can register to vote on Oct. 21, the official date of the elections. Don’t forget to bring proof of address with you. Before voting, you should know the names of the MPs running in your electoral district.

At Loyola campus, the polling station is located at the Jesuit Hall Conference Centre, RF Atrium. For the downtown campus, it’s located at the J.W. McConnell Building, in the LB Atrium.


Graphic by Victoria Blair



Allegations of harassment on campus

Concordia increases security after student files complaint

Concordia has increased security on campus after a student spoke publicly about two times she was harassed at school by strangers in the last month.

Concordia student Lisa Komlos was approached on campus by two different men on two separate occasions, who complimented her with a sense of urgency. The compliments were followed by a line of questioning about her personal information. According to Komlos, the men also tried to isolate her from the crowd in both instances.

In a statement released on Saturday, the university said they increased security on the Sir George Williams campus and they are “committed to fostering a safe and respectful environment.”

Concordia is in contact with the police. “We are in touch with our colleagues at McGill and UQAM to ensure a coordinated response,” said Fiona Downey, university spokesperson.

Komlos was walking to her class through the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (EV) when the incidents occurred.

Komlos posted a video describing the incidents to her Instagram story on Friday afternoon.

In the video posted to her Instagram, Komlos describes the men as “aggressive” and “angry” when she told them to leave her alone. “I was feeling unheard, frustrated, and frankly, I was annoyed,” said Komlos about the first incident, which happened on March 11. “I finally got away from him and went about my day thinking that this was just another daily occurrence of harassment.”

Komlos realized that the encounters were scripted and rehearsed during the second incident on March 26. “It is because of situations like these that I purposely never take the same route to my class,” she said. “Having a routine makes you predictable, and being predictable can make you vulnerable. It is exhausting having to always be on alert.”

The public service announcement Komlos made now has over 152,000 views. “I felt that it was my duty as a woman to come forward with this story,” she said. “I wanted to share these encounters so that I could warn others to keep their eyes open.”

Komlos is in contact with the university’s security department to identify one of the men who approached her. The man was caught on video surveillance footage.

Over a dozen women from Concordia reached out to Komlos with similar stories on campus after seeing the video. “There was also a flood of responses from other women sharing their personal experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault,” she added.

People who feel unsafe or are harassed on campus can call Concordia security at (514) 848-3737 option 1. A Safe Walk program is also available on campus. Find more information on the security department’s website.

Photo by Mia Anhoury


From the inside: An ex-student executive’s perspective

One student’s take on joining politics at Concordia, and why it might not be worth it

Ah yes, it is that time of the year again—student elections. Can’t you see the hype and the booming level of interest? The crowds surrounding candidates vying to sit as executives on bodies that are supposed to be your representative voices at this school?

If you can’t, then that’s perfectly fine. In fact, you are probably part of what Concordia’s student population has become—apathetic, indifferent and honestly annoyed at the thought of seeing campaign posters shared on Facebook or plastered on the walls of the campuses.

As someone who was once involved in the student politics game, I got to know the good, the bad and the ugly. I got to know the pros and cons, the triumphs and the hardships. I have experienced the toll that it takes on your academics, your sleep cycle, your mental and physical health and close relationships. I would like to use this opportunity to reach out to my fellow students, notably, first years at Concordia.

There has been a great absence in what you really want out of a university experience. Your voices have not been heard nor included in the everyday decision-making process. When I was a first-year student, I never got the chance to get to know my student leaders nor my department and faculty associations. Mind you, my ignorance may have been due to the fact that I didn’t attend Frosh activities, which could’ve been a stepping stone to do that. As a student executive, Frosh and orientation activities were often held as the sole standard in introducing students to university life. However, as time progressed, there was less of an initiative to involve those students—a lost chance to get them interested in student politics.

As I got more involved throughout my studies, I noticed an emerging concentration of power—the same students running for higher positions, including yours truly. At the time, I thought student politics would help boost my skills and talents, and it does. There is no fault in that claim. Student politics teaches resourcefulness, networking and time management while balancing a school schedule and having a job—because student politics doesn’t pay unless you are one of the fortunate few to get elected to a full-time CSU executive position. Being involved also highlights your organizational skills.

Being an insider in this concentration of power would irritate and bother me. I had always wanted an out. As some kept climbing this food chain of power, the negativity and polarization increased. I would stay late working on projects, and ask myself the following questions: “Is this worth it? Should I resign right now and not look back? How much would this matter on a CV?” Doubt and regret started to settle in. I would always finish my mandates, only to start a new one weeks later. I never gave myself a break and to this day, it pains and saddens me.

Imagine if I never got involved in the first place. I would have had better grades, I would have made more friends on the outside than the inside. However, it doesn’t matter anymore. I have no more regrets.

Getting involved in student politics can be a joyous opportunity, especially if you want to make the most out of a university experience. But be extremely forewarned at the immense cost and sacrifice that it entails. One must never give up their own mental peace for the sake of others.

For the election candidates: stand up for yourself, cry if you must and never look back at the hard decisions in life. Your heart will thank you later.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin


Fighting for student newspapers on campus

We all know the importance of newspapers in a democratic society—but we should also acknowledge the importance of student newspapers on campuses. Not only are they an outlet for student creativity, they are a way to convey stories that are important to those who attend these institutions. It seems like this integral part of universities is being challenged in Ontario.

In January 2019, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced changes to post-secondary funding and costs. The Ontario government wants to lower student tuition by 10 per cent, which, at first glance, seems great. According to a News Release by the government, the tuition rate reduction is a step to “keep more money in the pockets of Ontario students and families.” But one of the changes brought forth in this plan is the Student Choice Initiative. Through this initiative, the government wants to give every student the choice of which student fees will be paid and how that money will be allocated, according to the same source.

Some campus-wide services such as athletics and walksafe programs will remain mandatory. These ancillary fees range from $500 to $2,000 annually, according to The Globe and Mail, and contribute to services like campus newspapers, LGBTQ+ centres, and student government. The Student Choice Initiative gives students the choice to opt-out of paying for fees that are deemed non-essential. While it may seem great, in theory, to give students a choice like this, it isn’t beneficial for important services on campuses that rely heavily on these fees to exist and function.

According to a recent survey by OneClass, a Toronto-based education technology company, 57.4 per cent of students would opt out of fees used to fund student newspapers, if given the choice. The survey, taken by almost 600 Ontario college students, highlighted how damaging this initiative will be for campus newspapers in Ontario, and elsewhere too.

We at The Concordian are not the only ones concerned about the proposed changes. Many student groups have protested this change, stressing how this initiative can hurt student unions that fund services important to many students, according to The Globe and Mail. We are worried that by deeming student newspapers “unessential,” the Ford government is encouraging the narrative that media and journalism are not a key component of our democratic society.

Student newspapers give students a chance to make their stories heard. Not only do they promote the idea of free speech, they give us an opportunity to put it into practice. Student newspapers improve communication between different groups and highlight distinct voices. They hold universities accountable and call problematic figures into question—like how The Concordian has been following the sexual misconduct allegations at Concordia since they arose. More than a year later, we still use the space in our newspaper to shed light on the allegations, their aftermath, the authority figures involved, and how all of this affects students. Students dedicate their time and effort to investigating these important stories, and break news that affects us all in one way or another. These bundles of papers also provide a space for those who want to participate in reasonable debates.

They’re not non-essential. Frankly, they matter a lot. They’re an integral part of what makes university life so unique. Student newspapers, student groups, centres for minorities—all of these services combined allow different people to come together and function in a space where they can learn and flourish together. They all advocate for students’ interests—isn’t that enough of a reason to consider them important?

If it weren’t for student newspapers, you wouldn’t be able to read this editorial. You wouldn’t be able to read the various stories and events covered by students at our university. You wouldn’t have the opportunity to have your own voice heard. You wouldn’t have the space to call authority figures into question—be it in our own school or in the country. Student newspapers matter. We at The Concordian believe that by giving students the illusion of choice, the Ford government is actually forcing campus newspapers to give up and vanish. Where’s the choice in that?

Graphic by @spooky_soda


Freedom of expression on campus

Why the JCCF’s findings on Concordia’s free speech policies are not credible

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) has published their 2017 Campus Freedom Index. The index grades universities and student unions on their defence of free speech on campus—on paper and in practice. According to the index, Concordia’s policies regarding free speech receive a B, while its practices earn a C for 2017. The Concordia Student Union (CSU) was given an F for its policies and a C for its practices.

These findings seem quite concerning. As I’m sure most people would agree, universities are meant to be bastions of free speech. Various media outlets seem to share this concern. Articles by Maclean’s and the CBC have outlined the supposed demise of free speech on Canadian university campuses, citing the Campus Freedom Index as evidence.

As with so many discussions in the media about the free speech debate, these articles fail to critically engage with the ideology behind the Campus Freedom Index and other free speech crusades. In particular, considering the known ideological leanings of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, it’s imperative that we frame any of their findings appropriately.

So, in the interest of free speech, here is the other side of the argument. The JCCF is an organization that spends much of its time defending campus anti-abortion groups. We must remember that abortion rights in Canada are not a given. Many groups are still actively working to undermine and reverse current protections. Last month, the membership of the second-largest federal political party in Canada nearly voted to revoke restrictions on anti-abortion legislation being introduced in Parliament.

When abortion rights are limited or revoked, mothers die. It’s as simple as that. Moreover, the tactics used by anti-abortion groups frequently cross the line into direct harassment. Even so, the JCCF is actively defending a group that set up a prominent anti-abortion display in the middle of the University of Alberta campus. Vulnerable members of our communities are targeted by such displays. And so, by giving a platform to these sorts of ideas, we risk further marginalizing people and silencing their voices and ideas.

Universities and student organizations have a duty to protect their students. They are responsible for creating a space where everybody can engage in academic debate and discussion. If universities allow harassing, violent speech on campus—if they help foster unsafe spaces—they are limiting the number of voices that will be heard in any given debate.

Paradoxical as it may seem, reasonable limits on speech are necessary for free speech to thrive. Limits on paper are necessary to eliminate greater restrictions in practice by those with more structural power. I am proud to be a member of a student union whose policies actively bolster the voices of the marginalized. I am proud to study at a school that understands that totally unfettered speech on campus is not a standard to which we should aspire.

The debate over free speech on campus likely won’t end anytime soon. In a political and philosophical minefield, there aren’t any easy solutions. What I do hope for, at least, is that we can lift the veneer of neutrality in calls for “free speech on campus.”

In particular, when the free speech debate enters the world of actual policy—such as Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s threat to withhold funding from universities that do not comply with his government’s narrow definition of free speech—we need to engage with the deeply ideological frameworks that calls for free speech rest upon. Free speech, as championed by the JCCF and the Ford government, among others, limits the speech of the marginalized. Media that report on these groups must grapple with that reality, lest they be complicit in that same marginalization.

Archive graphic by Zeze Le Lin



Stepping in and speaking out against racism

A student’s experience witnessing a racist altercation on Concordia’s shuttle bus

I am a third-year student at Concordia. In all my time at this institution, I had never witnessed a racist altercation. That changed on Oct. 23.

I was on the Concordia shuttle bus heading to the downtown campus when I overheard a conversation between a white male student and a black male student. The white student told his peer that he wouldn’t excel at teaching a certain subject because he is black. The white student went on to state that certain things should preferably be taught by white people instead of black people.

I was completely shocked by the comment. The black student, a Concordia Stingers player based on his attire, tried to calmly explain to his fellow teammate that the comment was offensive, racist and untrue. Not only did the white student deny that his comment was racist, he also became verbally aggressive, calling his teammate various vulgar names.

As a witness, I was extremely taken aback by this situation. Not only was I shocked that something like this would happen in an arguably progressive society, but that it happened on the school bus. Shouldn’t the school bus be a safe and comfortable space for all students? We all come to school for the same reasons—to get an education. In this day and age, especially at a school as culturally diverse as Concordia, I would assume students would be safe from this type of behaviour.

Following the incident, I continued to feel unsettled and angry that this happened, and was frustrated with myself for not stepping in when I had the chance. I noticed a few other students around me looked uncomfortable, but not enough for them to react apparently. Everyone simply sat quietly in their seat.

Personally, the fact that the white student had become loud and aggressive stopped me from speaking up. I was afraid of angering him and making the situation worse, as well as putting myself in a compromising position.
The situation made me wonder: Why did the white student feel he had the right to talk down to his peer and question his abilities? The fact that the white student would not acknowledge that his comment was racist is an even bigger issue. The presence of this closed mindset in our generation has deeply affected me. Needless to say, the colour of a person’s skin or where they come from should not make them inferior nor superior to anyone else.

Truthfully, while the white student’s comment was appalling, the reality is that there were many people at fault in this situation. Every Concordia student on that bus played a very important role, myself included. The fact that none of us stood up for the young man or spoke up against the blatant racism is completely wrong. I thought our generation was better than that.

By pretending we did not hear the racist comment, by downplaying what the white student said, by telling ourselves that the situation didn’t concern us, each one of us on that bus reinforced the notion that this type of behaviour is normal. This lack of response desensitizes us to this kind of behaviour, and that is unacceptable. Our apathy must end. The only way we can end racism is by educating each other through intervention and by sharing our stories.
We have to start with ourselves and make our school the best place it can be for every student and faculty member. If every student on the bus that day had spoken up, perhaps the white student would have changed his mindset and taken the situation seriously.

Concordia prides itself on being open and safe, and it should be. Everyone should feel comfortable and safe at school. I hope that, by sharing my story, I have helped raise awareness about racism on campus and the importance of intervening when something like this occurs. Witnessing this event truly opened my eyes to the problem of racism. From now on, I plan to intervene and stand up against this intolerable behaviour.

It only takes one person to start a chain reaction of positive change. If this piece helped open the eyes of just one student to this issue, then it’s a step in the right direction.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin


Reggies aims for inclusivity

Employees and members gather for an annual general meeting to talk about improvements made in the last year

Concordia’s official solidarity bar, Reggies, held its first annual general meeting on Nov. 16, at Reggies, which is located on the second floor of the Hall building. The meeting went over the changes the bar has undergone over the last year and the positives impacts they have had. Approximately 30 staff and co-op members attended the meeting.  

Reggies officially became a co-op after CUSACorp, the for-profit sector of the Concordia Student Union (CSU) that was previously in charge of the bar, dissolved in May 2016. Being a co-op has allowed students to give their input and be more involved in the future of the bar.

Melanie Desrosiers, Reggies’ general manager, said the transition has been very positive. “Working with students is really exciting. It’s a student bar and they should make the decisions,” she said.

Desrosiers also discussed the work she’s been doing with Gabrielle Bouchard from the Centre for Gender Advocacy to make the bar more welcoming for all students. “I believe Reggies is one of the only bars that has a safe space policy being as thoroughly followed,” she said.

As part of this safe space policy, Reggies employees went through four types trainings, including  consent training, bystander intervention, completing a server intervention program, and a “Trans 101” tutorial given by Bouchard. The tutorial educated staff on the importance of a safe space and how to promote an inclusive environment. Reggies bathrooms are gender-neutral. “Everybody is welcome here,” said Desrosiers.

Reggies’ president, Adrian Longinotti, who is also the finance coordinator for the CSU, discussed the financial status of the bar. “The 2015-16 fiscal year was the first time that Reggies finished with a surplus in the last 15 years,” he read from the annual report. During the meeting, he discussed how the CSU helped Reggies with funding for renovations, which helped the bar to reboot in a positive position. He also told The Concordian the meeting exceeded his expectations, both in terms of the number of people who attended and the fact there was stimulating conversation where everyone exchanged ideas about what they hope to see in Reggies’ future.

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