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Concordia staff take matters into their own hands and request a balanced work life

Union members against returning in-person four days per week decision attend Shuffle 34.

The “True and Fair Hybrid Works” team walked with a purpose at Concordia’s annual Shuffle 34 on Sept. 22, following a rocky battle with the university to find a consensus on hybrid work. 

Concordia Shuffle is an annual walk-a-thon where the university community raises money for scholarships, bursaries and services across campus. Shufflers walk from the Sir George Williams campus to the Loyola campus for a cause important to them, and that may help flourish the Concordia community.

Following the decision announced by the faculties to have staff return to work in-person four days a week back in June, members of the Concordia University Professional Employee Union (CUPEU), created the fundraiser: “True and Fair Hybrid Works” in August. This fundraiser was created to raise awareness on flexible work schedules for staff members at the university. The fundraiser currently has 70 members, composed of union members, students, teachers, and other faculty members who support the movement.

Before the fundraiser, Beata Tararuj, graduate program coordinator for the electrical and computer engineering department, started a petition to oppose the dean’s decision after she had discovered the news through a colleague. The petition was later sent to all of Concordia staff, and now has 700 signatures. “We want to have a voice in decisions that are being made. We don’t want to be just told you have to follow A, B, C, D, E,” she said.

Union members rally together to promote their “True and Fair Hybrid Works” fundraiser for flexible work schedules. Photo by Emma Megelas / The Concordian

Tararuj dedicates her life to helping students. She always makes herself available to anyone who needs guidance, whether it is about their classes or anything else. The “True and Fair Hybrid Works”  fundraiser is her way of giving back to those who inspired her to initially start this movement.

“They’re [international students] close to my heart. They don’t get any awards, they don’t get any scholarships, they don’t get any bursaries and I’m not happy about it.” Tararuj said. “I want to raise awareness that these students absolutely get nothing, and this is why I would like to donate some of this money to them.”

Michael Schmidt is the vice president of communications for CUPEU.

He experienced extraordinary changes in his work ethic during the extraordinary time of the pandemic, and therefore suggests that this transformative method continues into the future. Concordia members—  both outside the movement and implicated in it, expressed the same.

“Being a university, obviously we’re at the forefront of education, the forefront of modernization in the world. It would be amazing if moving forward we can come to an agreement with our employers to find the best possible situation for staff, for students, and the organization as a whole,” Schmidt said.

Valentin Eidelman, programmer and analyst for the Concordia Centre for Digital Arts, explained that they are collectively fighting for flexibility in the workplace, which ensures a balanced work life for everyone.

“I think Concordia thinks that what we expect them to do is let everybody work remotely, and we don’t expect it. We want it to actually be flexible and for managers to be able to decide,” Eidelman said.

Tararuj had hoped the team would win this year’s Shuffle, but they ended in second place with a raised fund total of $12,956.62. The winner was “The Pace Makers” fundraiser, which supports the Concordia University Pensioners’ Association and l’Association des Retraitées et Retraités de l’Université Concordia (CUPA/ARUC), with $14,803.00 collected.

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A Shuffle to remember

Concordia’s annual fundraiser takes on a new virtual reality with stride

Rather than the usual collective walk from Sir George Williams campus to Loyola that has been custom for 30 years at the Shuffle, participants are now being asked to enjoy this tradition by walking in their own neighborhoods.

Alexandra Louridas, the development officer for community programs, explained to The Concordian that instead of taking place on the last day of September in accordance with previous years, “this year the Shuffle is actually lasting an entire week, with an outline of activities planned on our Facebook page. It’s amazing to see how all the Shufflers and the organizing team have adapted to the virtual reality of the event.”

The Shuffle, a Concordia tradition since 1990, brings in money for bursaries and scholarships. Louridas said, “in the past couple of years, we have Shuffle teams who are created and raised funds to create new awards, but also to support various student services at the University.”

In this less structured fundraiser, organizers have had to find ways to track people’s progress and donations.

Thanks to the online tool “Strava,” “[participants] can login into Strava accounts using their Shuffle page, and they can log their kilometres travelled on their personal fundraising page. So it’s really a great way to add that exercise and difficult activity element to the fundraising element,” said Louridas.

The Garnet Key Society, a group of highly academic students that are endorsed by the university’s president. Being a part of this society is described on their webpage as, “the highest honour which may be bestowed upon an undergraduate.” As such, they are enthusiastic participants in the Shuffle.

Gabriele Zambito, a student at Concordia and a proud member of The Garnet Key Society, is very excited to participate in this year’s Shuffle.

“It’s something we always do because we’re raising money for [any] undergraduate student who is remarkable, doing really well in school. Someone who kind of embodies what it means to be a Garnet Key,” he said.

With community engagement as a priority for the student society, Garnet Key has pledged to raise $500.

“We really wanna push community involvement because it’s something that we care about … so we set a goal of $500 for ourselves this year, and already we’ve surpassed it. We’re nearly at $1000,” said Zambito.

Although students won’t all be walking together, this fundraiser is about community and supporting one another. Louridas made sure Shufflers have a way of doing just that, saying, “Students and all Shufflers are invited to post pictures of their Shuffle and their walk to our Facebook Shuffle page. All you really have to do is use the #CUshuffle, and tag us @ConcordiaShuffle. So this is a great way to interact virtually with every participant in this year’s event.”

Pledging to supply us with daily stories, The Garnet Key Society is keen to share ‘walking stories’ with the various hashtags.

“We’re gonna be wearing our masks, not just because it’s mandatory, but also to set out a good image, and encourage people to wear their masks,” said Zambito.

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Shuffling from SGW to Loyola

Concordia students and staff raise money for student bursaries and scholarships

Students and staff of Concordia University participated in Concordia’s 27th annual Concordia Shuffle— a 6.5 km walk from the Sir George Williams campus to the Loyola campus aimed at raising money for student bursaries and scholarships.

Shufflers gathered at Loyola to be welcomed to the President’s Picnic. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

University spokesperson Chris Mota said over $78,000 and counting has been raised in pledges from this year’s shuffle. She added that it was “the best year for the shuffle.”

Concordia University News reported Concordians raised $65,000 during the shuffle for student bursaries and scholarships last year.

Shufflers arriving at Loyola campus. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Participants can also bicycle, run or rollerblade during the shuffle, said Faye Corbin, a Shuffle volunteer and a member Concordia’s library staff. “This year we have a group of people who are using the Bixi [bikes], and [their group] actually donated bixis for the event,” she said.

Students must raise a minimum of $25 to participate, and for faculty and staff it’s $40, said Corbin. She added that people can gain sponsorships from family, friends, professors or even by sponsoring themselves.

Shufflers pose at the President’s Picnic. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

“With the minimum sponsorship, they get the shuffle kit, which [includes] a T-shirt. This year, it also [comes with] sunglasses with a few passes to restaurants, yoga and Le Gym,” said Corbin.

At the end of the walk, participants were welcomed with the “President’s Picnic” at the Loyola campus, where they were greeted with food and prizes.

Shufflers refuel after their 6.5 km from SGW campus to Loyola campus. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

“We always try to do the best we can and surpass the previous years,” said Valerie Roseman, organizer of the 27th shuffle and development officer of community programs. She said there was no set goal for how much money the Shuffle aimed to raise this year.

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