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Encouraging activism at the heart of the university

Students got a crash course in political activism, research and the university setting while munching on their People’s Potato lunch on Oct. 7, courtesy of this week’s Lounge Speaker Series panel.

Featuring Concordia professor Anna Kruzynski, Concordia Student Union president Lex Gill and activist Jaggi Singh, “Activism and Research in Turbulent Times” revealed the existence of conflicting ideas regarding what post-secondary education should be like and how research should be conducted.

Gill, who did not speak on behalf of the CSU but rather as a student with a longtime involvement with grassroots organization überculture, experience reporting during the G20 gathering in Toronto, and a background working with the Dominion and Media Co-op, called the relationship between the state and private sector “blatant” and “incestuous.” “[The] crown jewel of this whole project is the western university,” she said.

There is tension between the idea of the university as a laboratory for social change, she said, and that of the university as “a training ground for the new imperialist.”

“Should minds conform to the needs of the market?” she asked.

Singh made a repeat appearance at the series, organized in collaboration with the Quebec Public Interest Research Group at Concordia. This time, Singh spoke as a representative of the Community-University Research Exchange in an effort to make research itself seem less alienating and to share his vision of research as a tool for social transformation.

“Often, our day-to day-lives are at best things that are observed, and we’re just objects of those lives rather than being agents of our own change,” he said. “The university setting in particular trains all of us to see academics and intellectuals as […] the ones who have the important ideas and understandings of the world.”

Meanwhile, he said, “We’re out of the equation. We’re spectators.”

He encouraged a more process-oriented approach to research instead of always aiming for the end goal of a final product.

Kruzynski, who is also the graduate program director for the School of Community and Public Affairs, spoke about activism beyond the university level, seeking to eliminate the idea that youth aren’t interested in politics.
“Commentators will say that young folks are not interested, they’re not politicized, they don’t care about politics but I’d like to re-frame that actually as a lack of interest in official politics,” she said. “In my opinion, it’s quite rational, in fact, given the current state of affairs, to lose faith in liberal democracy and its institutions.”
She pointed out that oppositional politics exist outside of the official sphere. While in her opinion “the TV and mainstream media don’t actually depict what is going on,” oppositional politics are present in the form of street protests and are most often times depicted on TV. Kruzynski explained that those types of movements play an important role in “[breaking] the supposed consensus that liberal democracy is the best model and that somehow we don’t need debates on how a better world might look like.”
“It interferes to a certain extent with the normal course of things,” she added. In that way, Kruzynski said, participating in these types of protests can empower the participants to strive to make social change.

 

The next Lounge Speaker Series event takes place on Oct. 14. Titled “Attack on Unions: A Warning from the Postal Workers,” it features Dave Bleakney, national representative of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

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Meet your ASFA candidates

Candidates for VP external and sustainability 

Boris Degas
Program and year of study: Fourth-year biochemistry student.
Relevant previous experience: Volunteer for the Concordia Student Union orientation, with the Concordia Alumni team and at Hingston Hall to help students move in.
Why he is running for the job: “Volunteering with the CSU has been great. I feel like you can contribute directly and have impact on people,” Degas said. “I care a lot of about the environment and feel like I can really make a difference.”
Ideas he will bring to the table if elected:
– Institute a bike co-op. “As a biker, I know a lot of people commute to school with bikes, and we’re lacking somewhere where we can meet people who are interested in biking as well and where we can use tools to repair bikes ourselves without having to pay huge amounts of money to a private shop.”
– Hold “dump and run” events, where during the school year people can drop off unwanted goods and then in September, the goods would be sold with profits going to charity.
– Bring back the Green Week: bring in speakers and organize workshops while involving local farmers and cooks.
Why is he the best person for the job: “I’m a very energetic and outgoing person. I try to be charismatic to get people’s attention and network. I feel like those would be big assets to the job to be able to use my energy and my persona to get things done.”

To learn more about Boris Degas, contact him through Facebook.

Paul Jerajian
Program and year of study: Second-year actuarial math and finance student.
Relevant previous experience: An internship this summer at a pharmaceutical company, where he had to work with a marketing manager and deal with external associations.
Why he decided to run:
– For the VP external portfolio: “I was really hit by the tuition hikes. I was really disappointed, because there are a lot of actuaries that work for the government and if they can’t see this happening, it’s the students who are paying for this, and students shouldn’t be in a position where they should pay more.”
– For the VP sustainability portfolio: Jerajian feels that Concordia could be even more sustainable than it actually is.
Ideas he will bring to the table if elected:
– As VP sustainability, he would promote more vegan alternatives on campus and raise awareness about veganism.
– On the long term, Jerajian wants to look into putting recycling bins in every class and talk with Chartwells to extend the menu at Concordia.
Why he is the best person for the job: Through his degree and class, he has gained expertise about tuition hikes because his education focuses on insurance, foreshadowing risk, hedging, and investing money.
To learn more about Paul Jerajian, contact him through Facebook or email him at pjerajian@gmail.com.

 

Candidates for VP of communications and promotions

Katie Brioux
Program and year of study: Fourth-year communications specialization student.
Relevant previous experience: Brioux has worked for the Concordian for two years, including one year as graphics editor. “I  also have an amateur background in art and visual art [and have] made posters for überculture’s ‘Buy Nothing Day’.”
Why she decided to run: “For me it feels right as something I am passionate about, just because I really do enjoy being involved at school and I wish for everyone else to feel the same way I do about their faculty and their school as well,” she said.
Ideas she wants to bring to the table:
– Revamp the ASFA website as “an open communications platform and bring it more to a discussion level for students.”
– Create vlog news journal for ASFA to let students in on what’s going on at ASFA.
Why she is the best person for the job: “I just feel like I can do a really good job and will whole-heartedly dedicate myself to it. I’m already putting off homework and school to campaign!”

To learn more about Katie, contact her through her Facebook group at votekatie4vpcoms.tk or email her at katiebrx@gmail.com.

 

 

Alexis Suzuki
Program and year of study: Third-year English, art history and studio art student.
Related previous experience: Suzuki is currently VP external for Volunteers In Action, a Concordia charity-based group that works with different charities both locally and abroad. “One of my responsibilities on VIA is to create and distribute sponsorship packages, and that’s something that has recently been added to the ASFA VP communications portfolio, so I think that it would work nicely and it would go hand in hand.”
Why she decided to run: “I feel like partaking in school initiatives has the potential to enhance the university experience exponentially and I’d love to be the one responsible for informing students of all the amazing things that ASFA in particular makes accessible to this school.”
Ideas she will bring to the table if elected:
– Brainstorm options of response to rising tuition. “I think we also need to make other options available for students to voice their opinions and voice their discontent with rising tuition [besides protests].” Suzuki would like to get executives from different associations to brainstorm about other ways students can voice their discontent.
Why she is the best person for the job: “I’m coming from an artistic perspective, and I’d really like to try to be innovative in the position if elected […] art is about so many different things in so many different ways and I think that that enables people to communicate to different people in different ways.”
If you want more information about Alexis, visit her website at www.alexissuzuki.com or join her Facebook group, “VOTE FOR ALEXIS SUZUKI ASFA VP COMMUNICATIONS & PROMOTIONS – OCT. 12th-13th.”

Laura Robbins withdrew her candidacy for the position of VP of communications shortly after the campaign period had started. She found out that she is not eligible for election as she is on a semester-long academic leave for personal reasons. According to ASFA bylaws, executive members must be taking classes in order to be eligible. Robbins intends to run for the executive in the future once she returns to full-time studies.

Candidates for independent councillor

Sian Mill
Program and year of study: Fourth-year human environment and urban studies student.
Previous experience: VP internal of the geography undergraduate student society last year.
Why she decided to run: “I really liked my first exposure to student politics [as VP internal]. I liked working with the past executive and am looking forward to getting to know the current executive.”
Why she is the best person for the job: “I’m really dedicated to the position. I’ve learnt all the relevant bylaws and annexes and I’m learning Robert’s Rules to help council go smoothly as possible.”
What ideas she would like to bring to the table: “I realize that we have to be realistic. I know that the execs and the chair are going to be setting the agenda but in the back of my mind I will be thinking about the member associations and the events they are putting on to better enrich the student lives and help people get involved. So, when I am sitting on council that is the main point I’d like to keep in mind.”

If you’d like to learn more about Sian, you can contact her through Facebook or email at sian_mill@hotmail.com.

 

Yasmeen Zahar

Program and year of study: Second-year environmental science student.

Relevant previous experience: While new to student politics, as an environmental science major she is passionate about sustainability.
Why she decided to run: “I attended a ton of ASFA events last year so I got really familiar about how it works and was interested in getting more involved with it. I thought independent councillor is a good place to start. I’m interested in being on council and voicing people’s concerns.”
Why she is the best person for the job: She says she is passionate about the job and very personable. As such, she would voice students’ concerns at council and hold the executive accountable to make sure they are doing the best they can for students.
Ideas she would like to bring to the table: Zahar would be interested in working on the sustainability committee to hold events and increase awareness about sustainability. “As an international student, I was [also] hoping to address concerns that international students have – could be on tuition, could be on anything else that they would want voiced there.” Zahar would also like to get more international students involved around school to make them feel more comfortable.
If you want more information about Yasmeen, contact her through Facebook (as Yazzy Zahar), or email her at y_zahar@hotmail.com.

Voting takes place Oct. 12 and 13.

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$50,000 honeypot needed to fix the Hive

Work on the Hive Café, which was slated to open in September, has been put on hold due to electricity problems in the SC building at Loyola. Remedying the situation may cost upwards of $50,000.
“An ongoing problem with the SC building is limited power,” said Melissa Fuller, Concordia Student Union VP Loyola and services. “Because Chartwells, located on the first floor, requires a large amount of the available electricity to operate and has been allocated that power from the start. No construction has been completed because we could not move forward without knowing how the electrical problem would be fixed.”
The lack of electricity is an ongoing dilemma which the CSU has already dealt with in the past. “[There have been times] where generators have 
The Hive has served in a variety of purposes in the past, including as the location of various student union events, but even then electricity generated wasn't always sufficient.

had to be used for CSU events because of it,” said Fuller.
Nonetheless, the CSU was given confirmation that electrical problems would not be an issue before DART, a Collaborative Design Research class, went to work on the café designs. Therefore, it came as a surprise for Fuller and the other student union executives that electricity was the main factor preventing the café’s opening.
“Facilities management has been working alongside the CSU to find solutions, temporary and permanent,” explained Fuller. “A short term fix of adding electrical panels is moving forward,” she continued. “We are waiting on signed approval from a firm, and a meeting is set for next week to move forward on building everything.”
While a final budget to fix the issue has yet to be confirmed, such an option may cost upwards of $50,000. One of the long term solutions considered is to place solar panels on the roof of the SC building.
A meeting with facilities management and dean of students Andrew Woodall was held on Aug. 24 after receiving a report on the load capacity of the SC roof. A followup meeting is scheduled to take place within the next week to discuss the costs associated with long term versus short term solutions.
This semester, an engineering class will be working on a green roof for the SC building as a class project. The CSU will take a look at options the class creates before moving forward on actually building a green roof.
“Some ideas may include a rooftop garden, greenhouse, or a combination with solar panels,” suggested Fuller.
Planning for the café began nearly a year ago, when the CSU, which manages the space, wanted to endorse a sustainable method of design. With the floor plans drawn up, construction is slated to begin once the electrical problems are resolved.

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Student union in review

It has been a tumultuous year for the Concordia Student Union.

The CSU found itself in the spotlight on a weekly basis this year, but frequently for all the wrong reasons. Executive resignations, accusations of mismanagement and criticisms about a lack of action on student interests plagued the CSU this year and meetings became battlegrounds for a very polarized group of councillors. But president Heather Lucas isn’t apologizing; rather, the head of the union maintains that this year has been a successful one, one that saw more accomplishments than failures.

“Given the special circumstances that this year has brought, […] whether it was resignations at the university level, or at our level in the CSU, I think we’ve done an amazing job,” Lucas said. “I’m incredibly proud of this executive. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished this year given the bumps in the road.”

Of the eight campaign promises that Lucas’ Fusion slate was elected on in the spring of 2010, she and her remaining executive feel as though six were fulfilled, at least to the extent that was possible.

The promise to offer free coffee and snacks during exams and the monthly town hall meetings were completed in full, though the latter was characterized by poor student attendance and marketing.

While the CFS has still refused to recognize CSU referendum results in which students voted to leave the organization, the executive maintains that they’ve done everything in their power to keep their pledge of leaving the CFS.

This year the CSU began taking legal action in order to leave the organization. Vice-president external and projects Adrien Severyns said they did not want to resort to this recourse, but that the CFS left them no choice.

“This is quite an unfortunate turn of events but this is something that we were led to do and we think it will turn out well,” he said.

Other promises that the executive feel they have fulfilled include the expansion of the Loyola luncheon as well as a bottled water free campus.

While water bottles can still be found at Concordia, during last week’s elections a majority of students voted to ban bottled water on campus, something Lucas said is indicative of the success of the CSU and other student groups like TAPthirst in educating students and getting the word out this year.

“Hopefully with the PepsiCo contract we can get bottled water out of vending machines,” Lucas said, noting that she will be presenting the referendum results to the Board of Governors at the next meeting this month. “It’s a step forward and it’s definitely a tangible change that hopefully we’ll get to see before our mandate is officially up.”

A final promise the CSU executive feels they upheld is that of fighting tuition increases. “The CSU did fight it,” Severyns said of tuition increases. “We’ve highly contributed, and we’ve built closer and closer relationships with student organizations across Quebec.”

The Quebec government announced their proposed tuition increases last month despite multiple vocal student protests in the last few months. Ultimately, while Severyns said positive steps had been taken to mobilize students, he said that this fight is an ongoing one that will have to be taken up by the next executive.

While many students on campus might debate the successes of those campaign promises, two failed promises that the CSU will not even debate are those of the greening of Mackay and the student centre.

The student centre campaign was a glaring failure for the CSU this year, bringing them heavy criticism and accusations of ignoring students’ interests. Despite the loftiness of this promise, Severyns maintains that the CSU really felt they could have brought the centre to fruition this year.

“What we expected from [the student centre was] to bring a home to the student body,” he said. “This is something that this executive actually believed in, and we still do believe in this sort of vision.”

While this process appeared rushed, Severyns justified it, saying that, “The issue of student space is something that is reoccurring and is not getting any better. And next year will not be any better. So unless you address this issue with quick and pragmatic means, just like providing a student centre in the shortest amount of time, that is something that we believed in and that is something that we strived to achieve.”

While this year’s CSU was facing with a difficult climate within the university, president-elect Lex Gill said that some of the goals set by the Fusion slate were unrealistic from the beginning, the greening of Mackay in particular. This is why she said her newly-elected Your Concordia team took a different approach.

“We made realistic promises that we believe we can keep. They’re difficult things to do but they’re not big legacy projects,” Gill said. “We tried to make promises that would have long term benefits for students but aren’t glamorous.”

On the student centre for example, she said that Your Concordia is confident they will able to renegotiate the highly criticized student centre contract, but that they wouldn’t promise to bring students their centre next year. Instead, they will be dealing with issues of student space step by step, in the short run with measures like cleaning up CSU storage space to potentially use as club offices.

As for continuing the tuition fight, Gill said that this issue will remain at the forefront of her plans.

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897 students make WHALE motions binding

Photo by Sarah Deshaies

Defying expectations and ignoring rainy weather, 897 students packed into the Reggie’s terrace yesterday morning for a special general meeting, surpassing the 2.5 per cent of undergraduate students required for quorum, and making the two motions they passed legally binding.

An overwhelming majority of students raised their blue slips voting in favour of both motions, the first calling for a Day of Action to denounce the Ministry of Education’s proposed tuition fee hikes and the second reducing quorum for future special general meetings to 1.5 per cent of undergrads.

“I just want to say that today has been a very historical moment for Concordia,” CSU president Heather Lucas told the crowd after the vote. “You all have taken part in an amazing democratic process. Having you all here, I don’t have words. The sight of having everyone’s placards lifted up, that was fucking amazing.”

There were doubts leading into the event that quorum would be reached, but students erupted in cheers at the news that the 850th student had signed into the event, far surpassing the 795 needed according to CSU councillor Lex Gill.

Matthew Brett, communications coordinator for the WHALE event, called the attendance “remarkable, given the rain and given that the odds were stacked against us from the beginning.”

Brett thought that the success of the event sent a clear message to both the University’s Board of Governors and the provincial government. “The Board in particular, I think they’re really going to start to shake in their dress pants,” he said. “Let’s just say that this event at least will keep them alert that if they continue to neglect the student voice we will continue to come to your doorstep.”

Photo by David Vilder

The Day of Action immediately followed the special general meeting so after some closing words and thanks from organizers and Lucas, a large group of attendees left the terrace to march through the downtown campus area.

The Graduate Students’ Association also managed to reach a substantially smaller quorum at their own meeting held inside shortly before the undergraduates’ meeting. All motions at that meeting were passed by attendees as well.

Much of the talk following the meeting was of Concordia students proving the allegations of apathy false.

“I think that Concordia students shook off the apathy label today,” said GSA councillor Roddy Doucet.

Brett agreed. “I think the students have never been apathetic at Concordia,” he said. “We always need to keep at this. I think the student voice is now out, loud and clear and it’s going to get louder in the coming weeks.”

Brett was referring to a city-wide student protest set to take place on Mar. 12 following the tabling of the provincial budget, the bigger step student organizations have been planning to fight tuition hikes.

“We’re definitely going to keep mobilizing toward March 12 to send a strong message to Charest that we stand with the health sector, labour sector, anti-poverty organizations, indigenous people against service fee hikes and basically charges that are targeted at middle-class working people,” Doucet said.

For her part, Lucas said “This is just a taste of what’s to come on Mar. 12 when we go to protest.”

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WHALE brings out students, brings down apathy

Photo by David Vilder

“I don’t want to have to strip my way through school,” said anthropology and environmental geography student Adrianna Deciccio.

Although some might consider these words a bit extreme, Deccicio clearly expressed the frustration that the other 896 students felt when they congregated on the Reggie’s terrace under rain and snow yesterday afternoon for the CSU’s special general meeting. Apart from voting on motions and denouncing Concordia’s Board of Governors for lack of transparency, the students were marking a special day of action against the Quebec government’s imminent tuition hikes. The event was titled WHALE: Wintry Hot Accessible Love-in for Education.

“The day was phenomenal, more students showed up than any of us had expected,” said graduate student Matthew Brett, and the event’s communications coordinator. “We were facing bad weather, major underfunding, a short time-frame to draw in students; basically, everything was working against us, but we still managed to pull it off.”

Close to 900 students gathered on Reggie’s terrace for the CSU’s SGM and to denounce tuition hikes. Photo by David Vilder

Under the watchful eye of Montreal police and campus security, close to 400 students participated in a march through the street surrounding the SGW campus, chanting “Hell no, we won’t pay, for someone else’s severance pay.” They then proceeded into the EV building and marched through the campus’ underground tunnels, making their way up to the Hall building’s seventh floor.

Once back on the terrace, students could sign a Valentine’s Day card to the BoG, as well as a petition asking all members of the Board to resign. About 50 people from various student groups and programs facilitated the day’s activities.

For biology student Irmak Bahar, who had originally proposed the SGM idea at the CSU’s informational general meeting on Jan. 27, the day of action was nothing short of a success.

“I think that when you tell students about the issues and when you let them know there is hope, the possibilities are endless, and we’ve seen that today,” she said. “A special general meeting is the most democratic process we have at Concordia. You’re speaking for yourself and get to vote.”

It is a possibility that more SGMs will be held in the future, now that the quorum required for such an event has been lowered from 2.5 per cent of the CSU’s membership to 1.5 per cent.

“I think the greatest things about lowering quorum are that it is not such a daunting task to facilitate an SGM anymore, we can now work towards a more direct-democracy scenario at the CSU, and of course, we could actually host a meeting inside on campus now,” said the CSU’s VP sustainability and promotions Morgan Pudwell, another of the event’s key organizers.

This is good news for People’s Campus Coalition member Alex Matak, who felt that student apathy at Concordia had been dealt a serious blow yesterday by WHALE.

Photo by David Vilder

“Today restored my faith in students to stand up for their rights,” she said. “To be honest, I thought we would get 500 peole, but we had people who waited in the rain and who lined up in the Hall building and on the street. If that doesn’t say students are not apathetic, I don’t know what will.”

Students plan to hold a second day of action this Thursday during the Board of Governors’ monthly meeting.

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Chocolate wrestling denounced as sexist

The Arts and Science Federation of Associations may be hailing their Ultimate chocolate wrestling Valentine’s party held last Friday as a success, but both administration officials and students believe the event should never have happened in the first place.

On Feb. 11, ASFA VP communications Natasha Launi received an email from Dean of Students Elizabeth Morey indicating that both she and Dean of Arts and Science Brian Lewis strongly disapproved of the chocolate wrestling event to be held that night at PJ O’Hara’s bar.

The event featured four guys and four girls wrestling in a pool of chocolate in order to win prizes. It was created by Launi and Kyle Smith of the Stingers football team, with the help of ASFA’s VP social Allie McDonald. Proceeds from the night went to Concordia’s delegation at the Communication Games and the Concordia Volunteer Abroad Program.

Morey stated in her email that, after receiving complaints from students regarding the party’s promotional material, she decided to take a look at the event’s banner on ASFA’s website, which featured two girls in sportswear wrestling in chocolate.

“Although the event also includes men, so it cannot be ‘technically’ called sexist, the image of your website will be perceived that way,’’ said Morey. “Should this receive widespread publicity, you should expect some very negative reactions from students.’’

Morey stated that the chocolate wrestling competition and the advertisement “cheapens and diminishes the good work” ASFA has done in the past year. However, Lewis never brought up the subject when he attended ASFA’s council meeting for the first time last Thursday, one day prior to the event.

“It is quite possible he had no idea of the event then, he might have only found out about it when the Dean of Students spoke to him about it on Friday,” said Concordia’s media relations director Chris Mota. “There was no question of the deans intervening or imposing sanctions. They were just generally disappointed.”

After reading Morey’s email, Launi took down the banner on the website. She had already put up new posters days earlier featuring a pool instead of the two girls due to complaints from students. She said she simply forgot to change the banner at the same time.

“I was so busy with redesigning the poster and going around putting up the poster after a group of girls had taken the old ones down that the banner on the website was overlooked,” she said. “It was not done on purpose and at the moment the poster was an absolute priority for me.”

Launi admitted that her event was indeed a bit out of the norm, but defended it by pointing out that over 700 people from across the province were in attendance and many offered her positive comments.

“The event was the most attended of the year,’’ she said. “Students thanked us for creating the event and promised to come back to the next one.’’

She pointed out that all participants signed waiver forms. Furthermore, Launi received no negative feedback when she presented the idea at ASFA’s January council meeting. She confirmed that the event has still not received any backlash from councillors.

The student complaint that ultimately led to Launi changing the event’s posters earlier in the month came from Jessica Young, VP internal for the Concordia Association for Students in English. In her Feb. 6 email to Launi, Young stated that “I believe that the event as a whole is symptomatic of the deep and institutionally reinforced weaknesses that contradict ASFA’s policies.’’

Launi maintained that she never meant to hurt anyone, but indicated she herself felt hurt when she once witnessed girls ripping down the party’s poster, and hearing them say that that was the event “Jess’’ had talked about. But Young claimed that no orders came from her.

“I did not tell anyone to take down posters,’’ she told the Concordian. “But think that if students feel strongly enough to take down posters, it strongly suggests that ASFA needs to rethink its promotion strategies.’’

Young emphasized that she was not angry about the event, but rather “the way in which ASFA failed to think about what kind of culture events like this promote.’’

A further complaint came from recent McGill graduate Liam Olson-Mayes, who emailed Launi on Feb. 2 to express outrage at ASFA’s “deeply sexist event.’’ Olson-Mayes, who completed a degree in women’s studies and contemporary sexism, stated that the event’s sexist connotation was not diminished by the inclusion of man-on-man wrestling because “a man’s body can be on display without being reduced to a purely sexual object.’’

In a later email, he said ASFA’s event was “making life harder for those of us who are trying to both fight sexism and support people who have experienced sexual assault. Please stop.’’

Launi defended herself by saying that as a girl, she would never wish to create a sexist event. She continues to maintain that the event was simply organized to have fun. The party succeeded in raising $4,000 for the student projects it supported, and Launi indicated that events a bit out of the ordinary are good for Concordia.

“This is how you create a community at Concordia and get people excited to be part of the university,’’ she said. “If students from across the province came to this party and thanked us for having a great time this must mean we’re doing something right.’’

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CSU passes all six IGM student motions

The Concordia Student Union council respected the will of approximately 150 students who attended an Informational General Meeting last month and passed five motions approved by those students on issues ranging from fighting tuition increase to regulating credit cards on campus. A sixth motion regarding the creation of an ad-hoc student centre and student space committee introduced by councillor Lex Gill, at the behest of the IGM attendees, was also passed.

While each motion was successfully passed with few dissenting, the discussion of the motions was one which highlighted tensions between councillors.

After all of the motions were introduced, independent councillor Ethan Cox moved that all six be passed omnibus but councillors voted this down.

“Last month was bad enough, guys. You clearly went against the will of the students. Everybody knows that, it was demonstrated quite clearly at the IGM and quite frankly by the number of people sitting in this room right now,” Cox replied, referring to how the CSU council responded to the firing of Judith Woodsworth. “If you don’t approve every motion that was passed by our students who elected us at an IGM I will resign in protest from council on the spot […] There’s no question that we have an absolute obligation to pass what was put to us by our students. The insanity of the people’s conception of democracy in this room is beyond belief.”

Councillor Menachem Freedman replied to his comments by asking the chairperson to request all councillors avoid “pejorative comments and rhetoric.” Freedman also explained why he voted against the omnibus motion, saying “We’ve never seen these motions before. I think it’s our responsibility to the students to hear each one of them individually so we actually understand what we’re voting on and passing.” This statement was echoed by multiple other councillors.

Tension among councillors peaked when representative Stephen Brown said “I believe that by looking around, people are growing tired of your belligerence, Ethan. We all respect the will of the students. Personally I’m not going to sit here all night […] while you berate us and pretend that somehow you’re more democratic than we are.” Cox responded with a point of personal privilege stating “I would like the chair to restrain members from personally attacking me please.”

A technical malfunction caused a break in discussion and actually served to calm council, with all motions passing relatively quickly afterwards, with a few minor amendments to the wording.

Notably, council passed a motion which mandates the CSU to call for the resignation of all external Board of Governors members. This stricter stance was rejected by a majority of councillors at the council meeting in January, where they instead called on only those board members who had exceeded their terms to resign.

Cox also followed this discussion with a motion of his own. He moved that any representative who does not comply with part of a motion which called on student representatives on the board of governors and senate, whom they listed by name, “to represent forcefully and persistently to the bodies they sit on,” be asked to resign by the CSU. Some councillors and VP Loyola and advocacy Hassan Abdullahi vehemently opposed the motion, calling it redundant and unenforceable. Pointing out that those in question could not be forced to resign, Cox and supporting councillors responded that the CSU calling on them to do so would act as a symbolic fail-safe, pushing them to follow through on actions they have been mandated to complete.

After a lengthy discussion, Cox’s motion failed in a close vote, 10 to eight.

The meeting was well-attended by students at large, many of whom were at the IGM, as well as organizers of the WHALE day of action who spoke out in favour of the motions. These students also spoke on behalf of WHALE and asked everyone at the CSU to increase their participation in the event and use all the resources available to them to increase awareness about it. With the strong support of certain councillors like Lex Gill, council approved a motion mandating the CSU to contribute $1,900 to the WHALE event, matching the Graduate Students’ Association’s contribution.

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“Let us snowboard”: students’ petition to university

C.W. Weinfield (centre) and friends helped build this snow hill. Photo by Sarah Deshaies

First-year students C. W. Weinfield and Dave Sidio said that the idea behind building a mini ski hill next to their residences was for a fun activity to keep them and their friends occupied and get some “mad cardio” during the winter months. But where students see a fun activity, the university sees a dangerous mound of snow.

Concordia forbade students from using the hill for skiing and snowboarding, prompting the students to circulate a petition asking the university to reconsider.

The hill was built in about six hours by a few first-year students living in residence on Saturday, Feb. 5. It measures about 15 feet high and is situated between Hingston Hall residence and the back parking lot at the Loyola campus.

The students say that Loyola residence life manager Rich SwamiNathan did not give them the permission to build the hill, but said “‘Just don’t kill yourselves.’” But on Thursday morning, they were told to stop.

SwamiNathan said he was not available to comment on the situation, but university spokesperson Chris Mota said the decision was made because of liability issues and a concern for safety. Not only were they concerned about students, but also the safety of neighbourhood children who come to play on the campus. The fear is that there might be dangerous objects packed under the snow which could harm children. “We’re not in the business of running a ski hill,” she added.

Weinfeld said that students were willing to sign a waiver liability form in order to free the university of responsability. As for the safety of local kids, he reported seeing a parent and two children playing on the mountain one morning.

While the students acknowledge that liability is an issue, they can list a number of reasons why they should have a ski hill. For one, they consider the space their own backyard. They also malign the lack of campus life in the residential neighbourhood during winter beyond monthly cultural nights at the Hive.

Sidio and Paul Amiel said that campuses in British Columbia set up rails for students to snowboard on campus; they feel that something similar should occur every year at Concordia.

Mota added that the university believes the mountain was partly built from a pile created when snow was cleared from the parking lot. To deter future ski hills, facilities management will now move the snow out of the way and then spread it out.

Weinfield and his friends have stopped using the hill, but are continuing to circulate the petition. At the moment, a little over a dozen students have signed their names, but Weinfield remains upbeat. “They’ve all been positive about it,” said the film studies student. “We haven’t had a single person say no yet.”

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