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CSU in brief, Nov. 1

Council rejects ConU’s academic plan

CSU council voted not to endorse the university’s proposed academic plan for 2011-16 at their Wednesday council meeting. Presented at the meeting by Concordia’s provost and VP of academic affairs David Graham, the goal of the plan is to have Concordia recognized as one of Canada’s top five comprehensive universities by 2016. It aims to achieve this through the expansion of graduate and research studies, and the evaluation and restructuring of academic programs, among other initiatives.

Councillors were underwhelmed by the plan, and expressed concern that it was formed without much student input. It was also pointed out that Concordia’s president would have absolute veto power to make changes to the plan, something the CSU took issue with. In the motion passed at council, the CSU asked for at least one undergraduate and one graduate student to be added to the academic plan working group, and for the creation of a budget “that specifies from where funding for the plan will come.” The plan will be presented to Concordia’s Senate for adoption on Nov. 4.

CSU president defends MSA

Student union president Lex Gill addressed questions at last week’s meeting regarding Concordia’s Muslim Students Association’s involvement with a controversial Islamic conference. Gill stated that Concordia’s involvement in “hosting” the event, which was reported on by news sources across Canada, had not been accurately portrayed in the media.
The Islamic Education and Research Academy’s Canadian tour had scheduled a stop at Concordia University on Oct. 21. The news garnered media attention as several of the clerics slated to speak at the conference had allegedly made homophobic and anti-Semitic remarks in the past.

“The event itself was not organized by the MSA, the event was not sponsored by the MSA, the organizers did not have any direct interactions with the MSA,” Gill explained. “The only act performed by the Muslim Students Association at Concordia was to pre-emptively book a room in the MB building.”

According to Gill, who spoke to MSA president Musab Abu-Thuraia after receiving concerned calls from university administration regarding the conference, the MSA had yet to approve the meeting and had only booked a room. The decision was made soon after by MSA executives to not hold the event at Concordia. Gill explained that reserving rooms for events well ahead of time is common practice at the university, describing the booking policies at Hospitality Concordia as “difficult.”

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Teachers learn from teachers

How should teachers assess the way their students learn? How can they ensure that they are providing meaningful feedback?

These are only a few of the questions answered by the panel of experts featured in the Colloquium on Effective Assessment Practices, held at Concordia last Tuesday.

The event, aimed at improving the way teachers communicate with their students, featured a panel of experts in the fields of teaching and learning who addressed the crowded room of teachers, TAs, and students. They presented examples from their research and experiences, including innovative teaching practices and ideas on inceasing student engagement in the classroom.

“Often, exams don’t test knowledge, they merely test a student’s ability to handle stress,” said panelist Dr. Jennifer Clark, academic director of the faculty of arts and sciences at the University of New England. “By making the implicit explicit, teachers can reduce fear by role-playing, and thus build confidence in the student.”

Clark suggested that teachers themselves perform the tasks they ask of their students, in order to show them the correct processes. As a result, students no longer waste time on worrying about how to do the task, and can actually focus on getting their work done.

Panelist Earle Abrahamson, author, educator, and chair of a multinational teaching fellowship, developed a mentorship system between first-year and final year students. This way, “[students] know what to expect from teachers because they have access to the experiences of their mentors,” he said, “and it helps them know how to succeed.”

Dr. Diane Bateman, assessment specialist and researcher at Champlain College Saint-Lambert, has one-on-one meetings with her students before she submits their final grades.

“They need feedback before submitting their work,” she said, “so that they can build knowledge and work towards a grade.” Her suggestion was met by criticism from a JMSB management professor in the audience, who thought this form of formative assessment would shelter students from the competitiveness of the real world.

Much of the ensuing discussion was in support of Dr. Bateman’s idea that, in fact, it is “the responsibility of the teacher to develop the student, not just let them sink or swim.”

Keynote speaker Dr. Lesley-Jane Eales-Reynolds, director of learning and teaching at the University of Westminster in London, told the audience that “what is important is that we can design assessments that have real meaning and value to a student, which motivate them to succeed and to develop higher order thinking skills.”

In an interview, Eales-Reynolds spoke of the challenges teachers face in preparing their students for real-world problems.

“Getting the assessment right is absolutely key to getting students to engage and be enthusiastic about their learning,” she said. “It can also be a way to help students engage more fully with their subject and get excited about it and get passionate.”

“It’s so rewarding when you see a student’s work, and you suddenly witness “the Aha!” moment, when a student finally gets what it is you’re trying to get across to them – when they finally discover for themselves that really exciting moment,” she added. “And assessment is a really important aspect of that learning experience.”

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How do you feel about the shuttle?

Starting next month, students, faculty, and other university employees will be able to voice their concerns about Concordia’s shuttle bus service through a framework of petitions and surveys created by the Concordia Student Union and the university.

Organized by the CSU and Allégo Concordia, a Sustainable Concordia initiative which promotes sustainable transportation on campus, the survey will run from November until January and will evaluate the level of satisfaction with the shuttle bus that connects the downtown campus to Loyola.

“The shuttle service is one of the most important services in a university that has two campuses and Concordia must be able to evaluate those services in order to change what is not working,” CSU VP Loyola and services Melissa Fuller explained. “This isn’t necessarily transportation services’ fault but we need to work together to find solutions. Students really want things to change and they’re willing to help make that change.”

According to university transportation supervisor Mike Russo, an engineering study was conducted three years ago but user satisfaction with the shuttle service was not taken into consideration. Fuller decided that rather than trying to negotiate with transportation services, she would contact Allégo coordinator Terrence Graham to work on a satisfaction study as part of a larger campus transportation survey to be completed in January.

The study will gather comments and ideas by directly questioning students waiting in the shuttle bus lines.

“There hasn’t been a survey done since 2008 yet students are complaining all the time so there’s a sign that something is wrong,” said Fuller. “We’re trying to find ways to make students feel like they’re being heard. I feel that there’s no communication between transportation services and the students to a point that [transportation services] might not even really know how bad the problem is for students.”

The shuttle buses serve thousands of students and the ride between campuses takes approximately 20 minutes in regular traffic. Buses circulate every 20 to 25 minutes during peak hours but according to many, traffic and the limited space capacity of the four running buses often leave students waiting for more than 40 minutes in the rain and the cold.

“The schedule says the bus comes every 20 minutes and I’ve been standing here for an hour. In the winter it’s just going to get worse,” said mathematics student Bobbie Lee, who takes the shuttle twice every day. “If you had 40 minutes between classes, which would seem like a lot of time [except] the bus doesn’t come at the proper time like it is often the case, you could possibly miss a midterm.”

Bus driver Fernand Groulx has been driving Concordia shuttle buses since the service was created nine years ago.

“Concordia does what it can to give the best possible service,” he said. “But if we could add one or two more buses, at least during peak hours, things could be much better. But of course that depends on the university’s budget. Buses are expensive.”

“I was told a major factor is the cost but unfortunately I don’t know what the cost is because it’s confidential information,” said Fuller, who met with Russo and Desmond O’Neill, manager of distribution, transportation and mail services last spring after winning slate Your Concordia promised to address the shuttle issue, namely the extension of evening hours on Friday, in their election campaign.

CSU representative Irmak Bahar is also preparing a petition demanding immediate and long-term measures be taken to improve the shuttle service and “to help the University create solutions.” The petition will be available for students in the CSU offices and on their website in November.

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ConU welcomes 3,500 visitors at Open House

Concordia University opened its doors on Saturday to thousands of potential students looking to learn more about what the school has to offer.

This year’s open house had a budget of $80,000, with roughly half of that money paying for advertising. Similarly, the university spent $35,000 on advertising last year. University spokesperson Chris Mota said that Concordia sees money spent on Open House “as an investment rather than an expense.”

“Open House brings us potential students, many of whom apply for admission at Concordia. So it is considered money well spent,” Mota said.

Organizers estimate that approximately 3,500 people attended Open House, around the same turnout as last year.

Organizers have yet to find a way to track the number of people coming in and out of both the Sir George Williams and Loyola campuses, said Mota.

“They’ve tried various methods, like [keeping track of] how many programs come back, but not everyone takes a program,” Mota explained. “They’ve tried counting how many giveaway bags come back but, there too, not everyone takes one.“

Both campuses featured presentations and workshops aimed at getting potential students interested in the school. Four 75 minute lectures showcasing each faculty were held throughout the day in the J.W. McConnell Building, while the faculty of arts and sciences held 13 mini lectures giving visitors a taste of what classes will be like. Fine arts held its annual portfolio day for students looking for creative feedback, as well as musical performances and a contemporary dance workshop, while the John Molson School of Business ran info sessions for undergrads and graduates the entire day.

Sophia Wright, a third year contemporary dance student, saw a “steady flow” of people pass through the main floor of the EV building. She also said the contemporary dance workshop drew a large crowd to the seventh floor of the Molson building.

JMSB saw a lot of traffic as well according to Anna Pakkala, one of several students in charge of setting business school hopefuls up on tours of the MB building. “We’ve been booking tours one hour in advance,” she said.

Over at Loyola, which could be reached via a free ride on the shuttle bus, departments set up interactive booths inside the science complex. Communications studies had a massive camera dolly looming over their booth and the department of chemistry and biochemistry offered guests free cups of ice cream made on the spot with liquid nitrogen.

McGill University held their open house on Sunday. UQAM and Université de Montréal will be opening their doors in November.

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QPIRG ended last fiscal year with a net loss

For the second fiscal year in a row, Quebec Public Interest Research Group Concordia is projecting a net loss, according to statements presented at their annual general meeting on Oct. 13.

In their unaudited draft financial documents for the last fiscal year, which spans from Oct. 2010 to Aug. 2011, QPIRG Concordia predict they will be in the red to the tune of almost $11,000. Last year’s 2009-2010 annual report listed a net loss of $8,784.

“A number of the expenses for our core projects, including for our two main publications (School Schmool and Convergence), was spent in the summer while much of our fundraising revenue for these projects is only received in the fall,” said Ashley Fortier, QPIRG’s administrative co-ordinator. Fortier explained the loss “will be accounted for in the coming year’s budget.”

QPIRG Concordia also elected their new board of directors at last week’s meeting, attended by around 70 people, including roughly 30 Concordia students. Members voted in six students and six external community members to serve on the board for 2011-12.

This year’s board is made up of eight new and four re-elected directors. QPIRG staff member Jaggi Singh praised the mix of old and new faces because it “ensures continuity in the organization” and also allows for new ideas and perspectives.

Singh described this year’s election as “competitive” with seven students vying for the six available positions on the board, a trend that he’s noted over the last three years.

The next month will be spent training QPIRG’s new board, teaching them how to run a non-profit organization and learn about QPIRG Concordia’s long history as a centre for research and grassroots activism dating back to the 1980s.

“Working at QPIRG is challenging, and a lot of hard work, but it’s also many times a pleasure,” wrote QPIRG Concordia staff members Noah Eidelman, Ashley Fortier and Jaggi Singh in the organization’s report. “We look forward to building on a successful 2010-11 in the coming 2011-12 year.”

QPIRG members also voted to pass five amendments to their constitution, including one which will allow the fee levy group more control over referendum procedures. The changes are available to read online at qpirgconcordia.org.

QPIRG’S 2010-2011 annual report is expected to be posted online in its entirety sometime this week.

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BoG cancellation reason ‘vague’: student reps

The cancellation of this Wednesday’s Board of Governors meeting has student representatives searching for a concrete reason, while the administration has remained vague about the decision.

An Oct. 7 email sent to all governors by Danielle Tessier, director of board and senate administration, indicated that the Oct. 20 meeting had been cancelled “due to potential quorum issues.”

The news of the cancellation was only officially communicated to the wider campus community in an Oct. 12 email from Tessier’s assistant Evelyne Loo, who never specified the reason. When asked in a follow-up email from the Concordian, Loo responded that she didn’t know why the meeting had been cancelled, but confirmed that the next regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 17 would still be taking place.

According to university spokesperson Chris Mota, quorum for BoG meetings is 21, and the board is required to hold a minimum of five meetings during the academic year. She said that it was not unusual for at least one meeting a year to be cancelled.

Unsatisfied with the administration’s official answer, graduate student governor Erik Chevrier inquired further, and on Monday was told by Tessier that it looked like a number of governors couldn’t attend, though she never specified that number. She also reminded Chevrier that there are currently four vacancies on the BoG.

“I found out that the recommendation was made by her to the chair and the Executive committee to cancel the meeting,” said Chevrier. “I also asked her if it was mostly members of certain constituencies that couldn’t make it, but she said that was not relevant to the question of quorum.”

Concordia Student Union president and undergraduate governor Lex Gill, who sits on the Executive committee, wrote in an email that she was not consulted on the decision to cancel the meeting, but indicated that she had been unable to attend the committee’s most recent meeting.

Chevrier is awaiting his chance to present a motion to the BoG to increase transparency at the university’s highest governing body. The motion calls for, among other things, a question and answer period at the end of each BoG meeting, increased seating in the actual BoG meeting room, and permission for media such as CUTV to broadcast meetings live.

There was no time to discuss the motion at the September board meeting, and now due to the Oct. 20 meeting being cancelled, Chevrier’s motion has been pushed even further down the calendar to November.

Chevrier sent a tweaked version of the motion on Monday to the BoG’s Executive committee in the hopes of having discussion on the updated version added to the November meeting’s agenda. The modified motion was unanimously adopted at the Graduate Students’ Association Oct. 14 council meeting.

The new motion quotes several key passages from the external governance review committee’s report, a document that the Board of Governors has said it is committed to respecting. New items in the motion include calling on the board to follow the EGRC’s recommendation to place closed sessions at the end of the meeting. The closed session was held at the beginning of the Sept. 28 meeting, lasting for about 20 minutes.

The now cancelled Oct. 20 meeting was set to be the first BoG meeting to take place since undergraduate student representation on the board was voted to be decreased from four to one. That particular vote sparked outrage among students during the heated Sept. 28 meeting, where 27 governors voted through a secret ballot in support of diminishing the number of student governors.

Undergraduate governor AJ West wrote in an email on Monday that despite requests made by all four undergraduate representatives, none have yet to receive a clear answer as to why it was seen as reasonable for successive governance committees to recommend shrinking student representation on the BoG.

“Moving forward, we plan to formally request an explanation as to why some factions on the Board were weighed more when choosing the numbers,” he wrote. “We don’t need another lecture about how everyone is losing representation — they’re ignoring the question, which continues to be, ‘Why are we losing proportional representation?’”
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Student union supports creation of sexual assault centre

The Concordia Student Union council threw their support behind the creation of a sexual assault centre on campus at a meeting last Wednesday in the hopes of remedying what they see as a gap in the resources offered to sexual assault survivors at Concordia University.
Council unanimously approved a motion presented by councillor Irmak Bahar, endorsing the creation of a sexual assault centre on campus to be funded by Concordia, a cause championed by the 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy in their sexual assault centre campaign.
As a result, the CSU executive will be writing a letter of support requesting that the university create a permanent space on campus for a sexual assault centre with constant and sustainable funding. The motion also requested mandatory sensitivity training programs for security, counseling and development staff, and other faculty or staff who would wish to participate.
“The administration hasn’t received any communication regarding the discussion and endorsement at the CSU Council meeting, but the issue will be looked into,” university spokesperson Chris Mota wrote in an email.
“It was clear to us that the student union understood that it’s a responsibility of the university to ensure a safer campus for everybody, for all students. It was important to get that passed and to have that clearly stated and we were very happy at the unanimity of the vote as well. That was fantastic,” said Bianca Mugyenyi, the 2110 Centre’s programming and campaigns coordinator.
The centre kicked off their campaign in the spring of this year, the bulk of their efforts directed to furthering public education and awareness with the ultimate goal of “increasing the pressure on the university to fund and give space to a sustainable sexual assault centre, as well as to address the lack of clear and accessible policies relating specifically to cases of sexual assault,” Mugyenyi explained.
Twelve cases of sexual harassment were brought to Concordia’s Office of Rights and Responsibilities in 2009-2010, one of which resulted in a formal complaint, according to their annual report. Mugyenyi called that figure low, saying it alluded more to the fact that students are not reporting cases of harassment or assault (the two are conflated in the annual report and Concordia policy).
Mugyenyi compared the number of cases at Concordia to those at the University of Alberta, which has a student population of 29,100, an established sexual assault centre and, according to Mugyenyi, around 200 cases of reported sexual assault every year. A 2001 survey of University of Alberta students stated that 21 per cent of respondents reported at least one unwanted sexual experience in their lives.
A 2004 Statistics Canada survey found approximately 512,200 Canadians aged 15 and older had been the victims of a sexual assault in the 12 months preceding the survey. That is equivalent to 1,977 incidents of sexual assault per 100,000 people aged 15 and older.
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The web can’t bring people together to fight HIV/AIDS: documentarist

In our tech-driven world, the key to HIV/AIDS activism still lies in the human body, according to film director and activist Dr. Alexandra Juhasz, who came to Concordia last Thursday as part of the university’s ongoing community lecture series on HIV/AIDS.
“Something happens that’s absolutely imperative for activism in real rooms where people feel things together,” she said, inviting the audience to let their thoughts wander during her lecture “Remembering AIDS Online: Networking, Viruses, Virality, and Arteries,” which analysed the advantages and the shortcomings of the web as a medium for AIDS documentaries and activism.
Juhasz, who has a doctorate in cinema studies from NYU and teaches media studies at Pitzer College in Los Angeles, performed rather than presented her hour-long slideshow of documentary clips and text, occasionally reading aloud quotations from other activists in between gaps of dramatic silence.
However, it was in the Q&A session that Juhasz expressed her real frustrations with using the Internet as a medium for activism, calling it “an unimaginably vast and incredibly powerful resource to bring things together — but not people.”
“I showed you clips of things that are not made to be shown as clips,” said Juhasz, agreeing with one audience member’s complaints that HIV/AIDS documentaries lose effect when viewed in parts, criticizing her own digitally-based presentation for not accurately expressing the complex emotions that these videos should provoke in viewers.
According to Juhasz, the problem is that online information is typically consumed by individuals sitting alone in front of a computer, clicking too rapidly to allow for the deeper thought or emotion to occur. In order to achieve this, she said that people need to interact body-to-body in marches and protests, rather than in sterile environments like online discussion boards or YouTube comments.
She did praise the Internet for helping filmmakers expose their works to a much larger global audience.
“Digital documentaries allow links and movement across boundaries of time and space and material,” said Juhasz.
Because HIV/AIDS documentaries often double as memorials for those featured in them who later die of the virus, uploading these videos to the Internet also serves to archive the memory of those who have been lost.
Juhasz’s lecture was sponsored in part by the Fine Arts Student Alliance and is the first of four upcoming lectures in the 19th annual community lecture series presented by HIV/AIDS Concordia, which also offers a six-credit course on HIV/AIDS for students.
Lecture series coordinator Elvira Parent explained that the guest speakers take the topic of HIV/AIDS “out of the classroom.”
“It allows us to meet with people who are in the field every day, either living with HIV/AIDS or working with people who have it,” said Parent. “In our academic lives, that’s not something we get to do every day.”

The next lecture, “La Republique du traitement: triage et souverainete au temps du sida en Afrique de l’Ouest,” will take place on Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. and will be given by Dr. Vinh Kim Nguyen.

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ASFA judicial committee will deliberate alleged electoral violations this week

The judicial committee of the Arts and Science Federation of Associations will deliberate this Wednesday evening and next Monday on alleged violations committed by the chief electoral officer in last week’s ASFA byelection.

On Saturday, the Concordian broke a story revealing that at least one polling clerk in the byelection, Nicole Devlin, last year’s ASFA VP internal, was ineligible to perform her duties. According to ASFA’s Annex A, all current and former ASFA executives are barred from acting as electoral officers.

JC member Justin Famili confirmed in an email Monday evening that “two requests for a formal opinion” regarding the Oct. 12 and 13 byelection had been received and that after preliminary inquiries, the three-member judicial committee would meet to deliberate the first contestation on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

That first request was filed by newly-hired CEO Marvin Cidamon and current ASFA VP internal Schubert Laforest, who indicated on Saturday that he made sure the issue of Devlin’s hiring was referred to the judicial committee as soon as it was brought to his attention post-byelection.

“I don’t know what happened exactly. It was a huge oversight by everyone,” said Laforest. “We’re going to send this on to JC and see what they say. The Annex doesn’t actually say what happens when these kinds of violations take place.”

The second contestation of complaint was filed by last year’s ASFA CEO Nicolas Cuillerier, and will be heard by the JC next Monday, Oct. 24. Cuillerier said he had filed the contestation “out of concern over the numerous violations that took place and the questionable oversight of Annex A.”

In his contestation, Cuillerier is seeking the JC’s ruling on four items: whether the byelection is still valid given the electoral violations, whether to consider punitive measures for the CEO, the deputy chief electoral officer and any other eligible electoral officer, whether the appointment of the CEO was a valid appointment, and whether the CEO should continue in his duties for the rest of the year.

“I filed this contestation with great concern regarding ASFA’s electoral system, a system I helped improve last year as CEO by making many recommendations to Annex A,” said Cuillerier on Monday night.

Another violation committed early in the polling period was the failure to ensure that executive summaries were present at all polling stations. These short paragraphs describing the candidates were ordered to be visible at all stations by the previous ASFA council last April. Cidamon immediately rectified the case of the missing executive summaries upon notification from Laforest on Oct. 12.

As for Devlin’s hiring, Cidamon maintained on Saturday evening that it was his “prerogative” to hire who he wanted to work at the polls, and that he would take full responsibility for violating ASFA’s Annex A, a 10-page document that details how ASFA elections are to be carried out.

“I feel it would be almost crazy if I didn’t hire her. If anyone knows how to run an election, it’s her,” he said, claiming that members of the judicial committee were well aware of Devlin’s hiring, but said nothing at the time.

The judicial committee declined the Concordian’s request for comment.

Given that the JC already allegedly knew of Devlin’s hiring but remained silent on the issue, Cidamon said he only sent the request for investigation to the JC because “somebody complained” to ASFA’s executive.

Not yet appointed by council

According to Annex A, the CEO must be appointed by ASFA council, though this has yet to actually happen. At its September meeting, council mandated the internal and administration committee to appoint an interim CEO until this selection could be ratified at the Oct. 13 council meeting.

The committee originally selected Paul Goubko, who is also ineligible to act as CEO because he is a former member association executive and ASFA councillor. Upon realizing this, the committee soon replaced Goubko with Cidamon, a former member association CEO. But the decision was never ratified at last Thursday’s council meeting as originally planned, with Laforest explaining that the vote was postponed because the meeting was taking place at Loyola while Cidamon was still at the downtown campus counting ballots.

“We felt he had to be at the meeting,” said Laforest. “But technically he is still a legitimate CEO. The idea is that between council meetings, oversight committees have the power of council. Our decision just has to be re-approved by council.”

In an email sent shortly after midnight on Tuesday, ASFA’s chair informed councillors that the ratification of the CEO’s appointment would take place at a special council meeting scheduled for this Thursday.

Asked whether his committee was now reconsidering its choice of Cidamon given the alleged violations, Laforest said the decision to take Cidamon on as a permanent CEO now lies with council.

The version of Annex A currently posted on ASFA’s website is outdated, stemming from council’s December meeting. When asked if Cidamon had consulted this document rather than the updated version, which was approved in April, Laforest confirmed that he had indeed gone over the most recent version of the Annex with Cidamon during CEO training in late September.

Waiting for the results

There were also some other stipulations in Annex A that may or may not have been respected, depending on the interpretation. For instance, the document indicates that the polling period must run over three consecutive days. The recent byelection only ran for two days.

“We struggled with that one a lot. The three consecutive days applies to general elections, but it doesn’t explicitly say byelections,” said Laforest, indicating that this is something he is hoping to clear up this year.

“I will be meeting with the administration and internal committee as well as policy review to go over and revise the electoral proceedings of ASFA, from hiring electoral officers to the actual administering of the election,” said Laforest.

“ASFA is getting bigger and becoming more complex, so we need to stop relying on convention and have tighter, more explicit, legislation.”

Another stipulation in the Annex says that the CEO must announce the results of the election within 24 hours after the counting of the ballots, although it doesn’t specifically say how the results must be announced.

In Cidamon’s case, Laforest said he “understood” that the CEO had emailed the candidates and student media with the results, but was unsure if the results had actually been posted by the CEO to a platform accessible to the general public.

“We kind of let him do his own thing. We wanted to respect his chronology and let him count all the ballots,” said Laforest.

Cidamon explained that he texted the candidates with the results, and later emailed them. He also emailed the results to members of the student press, but only after this information had been requested.

“To be honest, I wouldn’t have even given you guys the results if you hadn’t asked,” said Cidamon.

Contacted on Friday, ASFA president Alex Gordon said he “had taken a step back from the elections,” allowing Cidamon and the polling officers to run the byelection.

“As far as the validity of the process, we try to follow by the book as much as possible. If there were any violations or problems, we would have to look at them as an executive. The proper venue might be the JC,” said Gordon. “But I don’t think these violations are on the same level of seriousness as a candidate’s violations.”

As it stands, the winners of the byelection are Alexis Suzuki for VP communications and promotions, Paul Jerajian for VP external and sustainability, and Yasmeen Zahar for independent councillor.

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Next phase of Quartier Concordia renovations in progress

Students miffed about the extra walk to Mackay St. to catch the Concordia shuttle bus at its new stop might be heartened to hear that the construction that forced the move will include new lamp posts, paving, and a permanent bike path.

Phase one of the City of Montreal’s ongoing Quartier Concordia project is currently in progress, according to Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota. “They’re putting in new electrical wiring underground because new lamp posts [will be] put along that stretch,” she explained. “The next phase is going to be new paving – the only thing that isn’t clear is whether that is still going to be done this fall or only in the spring.”

The third phase is projected to be completed in the spring of 2012. It will make permanent the portion of the bike path that currently runs along de Maisonneuve Blvd. “There’s going to be a concrete divider that is going to be wide enough to have vegetation in it so it’s going to be green. There will actually be flowers or shrubs or what have you in that divider,” Mota said.

The city announced in 2008 they would invest $3 million to revitalize Norman Bethune Square, which is delimited by de Maisonneuve Blvd. and Guy St. as part of the Quartier Concordia project designed by architecture firm Groupe Cardinal Hardy. Because “it’s smack in the heart of the Quartier Concordia,” the university participated in discussions with the city regarding aspects of the project such as the extension of the lounge area in front of the GM Building, according to Mota.

The university plans to continue collaborating with the City of Montreal for the three upcoming phases of renovations.

The city first made mention of their plans to invest in the reinvigoration of the area, which is delineated by Sherbrooke St., Guy St., René-Lévesque Blvd., and Bishop St., in its 2007 budget.

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Concordia hopes PERFORM Centre will put university on the health and fitness map

Students can access equipment at Le Centre with a $45/semester gym membership. Photo by Navneet Pall

Ambitious plans regarding the PERFORM Centre were the topics at hand at a presentation held Oct. 5 in an attempt to raise university awareness on the newly-built facility.

Nearly 40 people attended the most recent “Open to Question” session on the Loyola campus, most of them PERFORM staff and members of the departments of athletics and exercise science. Dr. Kevin Little, the chief administrative officer of PERFORM (which stands for Prevention, Evaluation, Rehabilitation and FORMation), spoke in detail about the centre and took questions from the audience.

“The vast majority of our health care costs as a society go to things that we know are preventable,” said Little, who has a PhD from McGill in experimental medicine. He explained that their vision is to see the centre become a world leader in research education and community engagement for improved health, foreseeing potential collaboration with groups all over the globe.

Construction started on the PERFORM Centre in the fall of 2009 and officially finished as of last Friday. The federal and provincial governments contributed $35 million to the project via the Knowledge Infrastructure Program to build and furnish the facility with what Little describes as “a tremendous battery of equipment.”
Located just next to the football field at Loyola, the PERFORM Centre is part gym, part research facility and is open to the public.

“The focus [is] really not so much on diagnosis and treatment but really on this ability to functionally assess,” said Little, emphasizing that the centre does not have doctors on staff.

Instead, Little said that PERFORM will aim to “better inform people of ways they can take charge of their own health” by assessing an individual’s health, implementing a recovery program and then re-evaluating the person afterwards to see the results.

Despite being open to all, the audience at the session had a marked lack of students. “The Open to Question sessions have not attracted students despite our promotional efforts to reach out to students,” said Karen McCarthy, Concordia’s director of internal communications.

Little said that it will take a few months to establish all the standard operational procedures, protocols and regulations required before any research can actually take place.

“Watch this space because I think in a few months you will see a lot of things come into focus at PERFORM,” he said.

Christian Durand, communications advisor for the PERFORM Centre, confirmed that a ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for Nov. 4 and will include tours of the facilities.

A second Open to Question session about the centre takes place Wednesday, Oct. 12 from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in room H-763.

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Tentative FASA budget approved at council

The Fine Arts Student Alliance approved their tentative budget for the year at its first council meeting on Oct. 4 after debriefing members on what happened over the summer and outlining their plans for the months ahead.
Many aspects of the budget, such as the total revenue and the budget for operations, were speculative because FASA is still waiting to receive their fee levy funds to take those numbers into account before making the budget public.
FASA budgeted for an increase in the yearly honorariums given to executive members from $1,500 for each VP and $3,000 for the president to $3,000 per person for the 12-month full-year term.
Sim explained that the objective behind increasing honorariums is to compensate executives for the amount of work they put in and to entice skilled people to apply for positions within FASA.
According to FASA’s VP finance Evans Adrian, the Arts and Science Federation of Associations’ executives receive a total honorarium of $1,500 for the year, with the potential for bonuses based on their performance voted in by council. The Commerce and Administration Student Association reports that honorariums are $2,000 per year for the president and $1,000 for vice-presidents.
FASA intially projected a $700 deficit, but has since adjusted their budget to take those numbers into account. The now inconsequential deficit had originally been attributed to additional moving expenses. FASA spent much of the summer moving their offices from the fifth floor of the EV building. “We’re now in the basement of the VA [building],” said FASA president Paisley Sim. “Our space is great.”
FASA plans to get creative in terms of funding this year by seeking sponsorships to pay for their events, as well as applying for grants. “There are all these funding bodies that we’ve never really tapped into,” said Sim, citing the Department of Fine Arts and the Concordia Student Union as potential sources of money. This year’s Fine Arts orientation was partly paid through a COI grant from Concordia Counselling and Development.
Also at the council meeting, two councillors were voted into FASA’s special project grants jury, which is the body in charge of choosing which student proposals receive funding.
Two motions regarding the formation of a judicial committee in charge of dealing with any conflicts within council, and a committee to address changes to FASA’s policy documents, were stalled due to a lack of students at large (i.e. Fine Arts students who are neither FASA councillors nor executives) required in order for the committees to function. FASA plans to advertise these open positions to the student body.
Chuck Wilson was chosen to serve as FASA’s chair and presided over the rest of the meeting. Wilson was also recently appointed to Concordia’s Senate as one of twelve undergraduate student representatives.
Dean of Students Andrew Woodall and his assistant Jasmine Stuart were also scheduled to speak, but ended up cancelling at the last minute.
The council meeting was attended by representatives from some of FASA’s 20 different clubs as well as four affiliates: Art Matters Festival, Cafe X/Gallery X, Fine Arts Reading Room and the VAV Gallery.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the yearly honorariums for FASA executive members are $6,000 per person, when they are actually $3,000. The Concordian regrets this error and apologizes for any inconvenience it may have caused.
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