Concordia Student Union News

New school year, new CSU: Harley Martin as General Coordinator

How a political science student is creating a fair and engaging CSU for Concordia students.

In the wake of a new school year, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) is starting fresh with new members on their team. Harley Martin may not be one of them since he knows his way around the CSU, but now he has a new opportunity in his hands.

Harley Martin is a history and political science student and the CSU’s new General Coordinator (GC). Last year, he was formerly the Student Life Coordinator of the CSU, until he was later appointed as the GC.

“I feel every day I’m learning new things that I wasn’t aware of before, but having a year of experience to kind of see how things work, know people, know where to look for the answers all that is really helpful,” said Martin.

Following a scandal last year with the former GC, Martin has his eyes on having a steady communication between the members, making sure no idea or issue is ignored.

“We cannot have any silos of information, so I just try and share everything with everyone like on the team,” he told The Concordian.

Martin sees a more engaging and interconnected CSU staff this year. As the GC, he makes sure that everyone on the team is doing their work, is comfortable in their environment, and has all of the information they need for their projects. It is one of the most important tasks of his job and it helps him create deeper relationships with the team.

“Everyone is really fun and does their work, but also it’s fun to hang out when we have free time and we’re sitting here for a minute. So, it has a nice feel to it which is good because you need your environment to be pleasant,” said Martin.

Hannah Jackson is an art education student and the CSU’s External Affairs and Mobilization Coordinator. She is responsible for Concordia’s external connections for the CSU’s campaigns throughout the year. During COVID-19, she did not have the chance to be as involved in Concordia life as she had thought. With school being in-person again, she can now flourish in her passion for activism at the CSU and share her craft fiercely with her supportive colleagues.

“I found myself very supported not just by [my team] signing off on what I do, but also wanting to talk to me about and giving me their ideas, so that’s been really positive so far,” said Jackson.

Tanou Bah is a sociology student and the CSU’s new Student Life Coordinator. She was previously the Social Media Coordinator and she worked alongside Martin last year. Bah admires Martin’s perseverance to have a reliable team in the new year and she continues to see that in his work ethic.

“You’re only here for a year and then you’re gone and so a lot of the projects that were started can sometimes fall through. That’s why it’s great to have Harley because he knew what was happening last year and we can continue to push for that,” said Bah.

Harley Martin has one year left at Concordia and wants to continue his involvement one last time with the CSU by doing it right. He is hoping for more student involvement this year through tabling at the Loyola and downtown campuses next week, as well as by creating a safe environment at the CSU.

Concordia Student Union News

Up for election! A brief profile of this year’s Concordia Student Union Executive Candidates

Concordia’s Student media comes together to profile this year’s CSU executive candidates

To cover this year’s CSU elections, The Concordian, The Link and CJLO News teamed up to interview several executive candidates. CSU elections will be held between March 15 – March 17.

Elijah Olise, general coordinator

Interview conducted by Zachary Fortier and Mohammad Khan, The Link 

Elijah Olise is an urban studies student, currently working as a community organizer. Before running for general coordinator he planned to run as the CSU’s external coordinator in an effort to combine his work regarding housing, food security and community connection to Concordia and student government.

“I was hoping to connect the campus to work that I’m doing outside [school] and break down the walls of academia. To develop a mutually beneficial relationship for students as well as community members who are particularly part of marginalized communities.”

Olise wants to focus on further connecting the Concordia community and facilitating more student involvement with the CSU.

“I think it’s important to really invest more heavily into how we can build community,” said Olise.

As general coordinator he will focus on fostering this community through development of more clubs and events and encouraging greater democratic involvement within the CSU.

An ability to lead by example coupled with his decisiveness are some of the qualities Olise believes he possesses that will make him a good fit for general coordinator.

“When it’s necessary I’m decisive and ready to move forward on certain goals, past the talking phase and I encourage and inspire others around me to do exactly the same.”

Olise said some of his key values are community, inclusion, justice and sustainability.


Sean Levis, sustainability coordinator 

Interview conducted by Cedric Gallant , CJLO News Editor

Sean Levis is a fifth year philosophy student at Concordia. In 2020 he began living at the Woodnote Solidarity Cooperative where he joined the finance committee, later becoming their treasurer. His major goals are to create greater institutional stability within the CSU and greater housing sustainability to Concordia students through supporting the Woodnote.

“The reason I chose sustainability was when I first moved into the Woodnote I realized that there was not a lot of support to ensure the sustainability of the organization itself,” said Levis.

“The reason why I’m running for the CSU sustainability coordinator is I think there are a lot of initiatives with regards to sustainability that need to be done within the Woodnote and I think there are some sustainability initiatives at the CSU that need to be undertaken as well.”

Levis wants to ensure that CSU councilors are more democratically connected to the faculties which they represent and held more accountable to accomplishing students wishes.

Encouraging more grassroots organizing by the student body, is one of Levi’s major goals. “The ability of students to organize in their member associations is somewhat limited because they don’t have the support or the resources that they could otherwise have from the CSU.”

Another of Levis’ key focuses is bringing food sustainability initiatives to the Woodnote to mitigate food insecurity. In addition to providing free hygiene products and bringing a composting program to the building.


Sabrina Morena, Loyola coordinator 

Interview conducted by Evan Lindsay, Co-News Editor of The Concordian

Sabrina Morena is a third year human relations student at the Loyola campus. Some of Morena’s major goals as Loyola coordinator are to create more food options at the Loyola campus and creating a greater presence at the CSU there.

“I’ve been at Loyola the whole time throughout my undergraduate degree. […] There was a lack of presence of the CSU as well as lack of student life and sometype of engagement,” said Morena. “There should be some type of presence and some type of student life to make it more engaging and make those students who attend Loyola all the time feel like they matter as well.”

Morena said she wants to create more food options for students at Loyola or even create a discount card for restaurants around the campus. She also wants to bring more events like job fairs, orientation fairs and markets to the campus.

As Loyola coordinator Morena would try to highlight some of Loyola’s existing features like the Hive Café, a solidarity co-op program of which she is a board member.

“Many people I speak to in my classes don’t even know that the Hive exists or they might know but, they don’t know where it’s located,” said Morena.

“I want to bring more attention to [the Hive] because there could be some really cool initiatives that could be implemented at this location as well.


Meryem Benallal, finance coordinator 

Interview Conducted by Zachary Fortier, The Link 

Meryem Benallal is a second year student in political science. She has managed multiple companies, including her own, which lead to her running for the finance position.

“I opened my painting company with my husband. We had to do all the budgeting and the nitty gritty of a business. I learned a lot from that,” said Benallal. In addition to this, Benallal worked with two daycares managing their salaries, number of kids, different classes, and other regulations.

Benallal is a full time student and also a parent, which influences some of her biggest goals as finance coordinator. “My number one priority this semester is to hopefully fund or ease the struggles of student parents that I strongly empathize with.”

One of the important roles of the finance coordinator is to provide transparency to students on where their money goes – something Benallal thinks is very important

“Transparency is related to the students’ vision of where and how much they want to fund. I think we should first listen to what students want and their needs.”

Some of the areas that Benallal thinks require more funding are bursaries and CSU daycares. She also wants to provide greater transparency to students on where their tuition money goes and what students get out of that funding.


Fawaz Halloum, internal affairs coordinator 

Interview conducted by Cedric Gallant, CJLO News Director

As the executive primarily responsible for clubs and spaces, Fawaz Halloum will work to guide student clubs, as well as organize communications within the CSU itself, including some financial matters. Halloum will also work to organize anti-oppression training within the CSU and the larger student body.

In his final year at Concordia. Halloum will draw on his experience as a founder of the Concordia Mycological Society.

“I truly hope to see more engagement from student clubs in experiential learning opportunities,” said Halloum.

“I do have a plan of creating a specialized fund for internships for mature enough clubs […] where they could conduct an internship if it’s appropriate to their mandate.”

One of his other goals is to create a special fund for journals for undergraduate scientific or arts programs.


Asli Isaaq, academic and advocacy coordinator 

Interview Conducted by Zachary Fortier, The Link 

Asli Isaaq is a second year sociology student. In the past she has been involved in the ASFA, particularly working in the Anti-Racism and Anti-Sexual Violence Taskforce. She was also president of her CEGEPs student association.

“Student advocacy comes with student mobilization,” said Isaaq.

“It’s very difficult for us to advocate for students if students aren’t involved first. Before we get to the step of advocating for students we first have to rally students behind us,” said Isaaq.

In addition to this, Isaaq said she wants to “set a new tone” with Concordia’s administration.

“I don’t doubt the incredible work that the past student execs have done. But clearly there is a point where something isn’t clicking,” said Isaaq.

“There has to be a point where we strategize and figure out how we can get what students want and also get this university on our side.”

Following the pandemic, Isaaq thinks students are missing support from the administration. She wants to ensure that students are not being penalized by the administration for how they are proceeding with education throughout the pandemic and beyond.

You can listen to the full interviews with each of these candidates on the CJLO News Podcast.

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The CSU is set to create their own mental health services program

Students will be able to vote on the creation of a new fee levy to fund the program in the upcoming by-elections.

The Concordia Student Union (CSU) is attempting to create a new fee levy to fund a CSU mental health service program. The program would feature dedicated long-term staff with experience in mental health services. The $0.45 per credit fee levy will be posed as a referendum question in the upcoming CSU by-elections.

The fee levy follows the result of a previous student referendum question where 96.8 per cent of participants voted in favor of establishing CSU-backed mental health services.

The idea to create more of these services came amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has added extra stress to students’ mental health. However, this is not the key motivating factor for the CSU. They cited a growth in diversity within the Concordia student body as a reason to create more diverse and culturally appropriate mental health services – something that Faye Sun, sustainability coordinator for the CSU, thought was important to highlight.

“The way that mental health services operated in the past catered more to a very specific demographic of people.” said Sun. “Students who could afford to go to university.”

“Now we have more diversity in not just income, but race, culture, religion, and I think the services that are offered by a university and by a Student Union should be able to adapt to those changing circumstances as well.”

According to CSU Internal Affairs Coordinator Harrison Kirshner, the goal of the CSU’s mental health service isn’t to replace those already offered by the university but simply to create more complimentary services.

“We hope that the university service enhances. And that they’re able to offer more resources to students in the long run. But, our goal is to complement those services because in our opinion, mental health will always be an issue on campus. And we need to be able to provide resources to our students, and there’s never enough resources that we can provide,” said Kirshner.

Concordia’s Counselling and Psychological Services have recently seen a large increase in demand, which led to long waitlists and students being denied care.

“The current services that are being offered are inadequate and are overwhelmed. Students wait months and months for appointments,” Kirshner said.

Another goal of the CSU’s planned mental health services is to provide more preventative care for students.

​​”We have noticed that a lot of students tend to seek help whenever they’re in a crisis, but a lot of these issues are precipitated by a lot of various things that are going on in their lives that are not being addressed,” said Sun.

Sun said that housing insecurity, financial insecurity, unemployment, and other factors play a large role in students’ mental health. But, often they are not given enough consideration by existing mental health services.

“We would like to come up with initiatives and projects that can directly address those issues and [that’s] why we’re not just providing therapy itself. But, projects that hopefully can address these other issues that are contributing to students’ poor mental health.”

If the CSU’s mental health fee levy question passes in the next round of elections, these services could be introduced as soon as the 2022-23 academic year. Students will be given the opportunity to vote on the question from March 15-17 during the CSU by-elections.

Photo by Catherine Reynolds


CSU calls on university for greater transparency in new open letter

The letter claims previous demands posed by the CSU were rejected

The Concordia Student Union’s (CSU) updated open letter condemns the university for dismissing demands previously put forward regarding the return to campus.

On Jan. 13, the CSU sent an open letter to the university demanding an organized plan for a return to in-person learning. As of Feb. 1, the letter has acquired over 3000 signatures, according to the CSU, who said they received mixed reactions in response to the university’s decision.

“As such, and given that our mission at the CSU is to represent the student body, we are in this response shifting focus on how to safely return to campus on a hybrid model basis, provide more and better accessibility and ensure proper mental health support systems,” wrote the CSU.

The letter explains that the Concordia Board of Governors — the highest decision-making body of the university — discussed the previously written open letter on Jan. 27. However, wrote the CSU, “this discussion took place in closed session as some governors expressed not wanting any discussion in open session to damage the university’s reputation.”

The CSU quoted Helen Antoniou, chair of the Board of Governors, in the open letter “Because there is an open letter, we will comment on that in the closed session because […] I don’t think it’s the habit of the university to speak.”

The CSU criticized the response of board members, arguing that “the fact that their focus remained on maintaining appearances is not only a dismissal of the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff but also shows disregard for any attempt at transparent communication.”

Concordia confirmed the return to in-person classes on Feb. 3 in an email to students at the end of January.

The university’s announcement noted health and safety measures put into place, highlighting the mandatory use of masks in shared indoor spaces and academic accommodations.

In their letter, the CSU argued that gaps remained in the university’s information regarding safety measures, drawing particular attention to challenges in accessing COVID-19 self-isolation forms for students who contract the virus.

“As a result of the university’s lack of care and transparency for its community, all of our demands made in the Open Letter sent on Jan. 13 were rejected,” wrote the CSU.

“As many students are currently in precarious situations; financially, mentally, physically; the lack of action taken by the university in supporting its students is deplorable”.

The CSU, in partnership with other faculty and student associations within Concordia, shared they have taken matters into their own hands “until the administration is willing to step up to the plate and take the wellness of its community as well as accessibility issues seriously.”

Among their initiatives, the CSU said they are creating a peer-support network, aimed at providing note taking services and potential recordings and live streams of classes. The union added that they plan to initiate ways for students to take part in contact tracing in classes.

Additionally, they aim to provide a limited number of K95/KN95 masks, reserved for higher risk community members.

In a previous email to The Concordian, Concordia University Spokesperson Vannina Maestracci shared that the university “already face[s] obstacles in providing N95s for the groups who do require them.”

The CSU’s updated letter contains a list of 20 demands, pleading for the university to acknowledge actions deemed necessary to ensure a safe return to campus.

Among the list is a request for “retroactive tuition reduction” or the waving of late fees, penalties and interest on tuition payments.

Additionally, the letter demands better communication with students and heightened transparency on behalf of the university regarding any future decisions made surrounding the return campus.

The CSU’s letter presses Concordia to introduce a fully hybrid winter semester, “not forcing anyone onto campus who cannot safely do so while simultaneously ensuring that students do not have to choose between dropping out of all their courses and risking their lives.”

The plea for hybrid learning is followed by a request to make all in-person course material available to students attending class online. The CSU also asks that exams and assignments are offered online for students unable to make it in person.

Escalating their concerns to protests and strikes if Concordia fails to respond to these demands is not off the table, warned the CSU in their letter.

“Should Concordia wish to reinstate any faith or respect from its community, the Concordia administration must simply do more.”


Concordia Student Union News

Results of the referendum questions in the 2021 CSU general election

Students can expect a new off-campus building and a few fee-levy increases

While the general election saw one of the worst voter turn-outs in recent pollings, students still supported the majority of the seven CSU referendum questions, with only one failing. Read more to find out what changes are in store from the CSU.

Positions Book Reform 

A majority 62.3 per cent of students voted to have positions in the CSU Positions Book no longer expire every four years, revoking the controversial expiry position that was passed in the last CSU general election of February 2020.

The campaign to add the expiry position aimed to “democratize” the Positions Book, by way of claiming that students would continuously have a say on the different political, social, and ideological stances taken by the CSU.

Once the expiry date was implemented, several positions disappeared, including those that supported anti-racism, climate justice, and high-quality education for students.

Several CSU executives and councillors criticized the expiry motion, saying they received complaints from students and organizations that re-voting to support stances such as Indigenous rights and anti-racism implied the CSU wasn’t serious about defending these issues permanently.

Additionally, the referendum question criticised that the expiry also “leads to lengthy ballots because previously voted-on positions must be re-voted on.” During the last CSU by-election in the fall, almost 10 questions were dedicated to the Positions Book, including supporting LGBTQIA2+ rights, student parents, and denouncing antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

Breakdown of the results:

YES:                    657 (62.3%)
NO:                      398 (37.7%)
ABSTAINED:        481 (31.3%)
TOTAL VOTES:   1,536

Student Building Referendum Question 

The CSU will independently build and operate a new student centre/building, which would give students a new “space for events, social gatherings, and new services.” A majority 84.9 per cent of students voted in support of the CSU negotiating with Concordia University to realize this project.

According to the referendum question, the CSU is currently negotiating with Concordia University to build the centre in the Sir George Williams (SGW) campus area; the land in question is confidential, and has not been purchased yet.

The additional 40,000 square feet of space would be funded by a fee-levy established in the 1990s purposely for this project. The centre would provide “new quality spaces for clubs and associations, an auditorium and additional state of the art study spaces.”

Breakdown of the results:

YES:                       936 (84.9%)
NO:                         167 (15.1%)
ABSTAINED:          433 (28.2%)
TOTAL VOTES:    1,536

Modification to CSU’s Bylaws 

Students voted 80.6 per cent in favour to add an amendment to CSU bylaws to make the Sexual Violence and Safer Spaces Policy and the Code of Conduct more enforceable.

This means if a councillor commits misconduct against the Code of Conduct or the above policy — for example harassment or violence — other CSU councillors can “impose sanctions and/or recommend removal from office of CSU Representative.”

In a closed session meeting before either the Judicial Board or another CSU committee, the councillors would present their recommendations and the accused councillor would present a counter argument. The outcome would be determined by two-thirds majority vote.

Breakdown of the results:

YES:                       658 (80.6%)
NO:                         158 (19.4%)
ABSTAINED:          720 (46.9%)
TOTAL VOTES:    1,536

Concordia Student Union Off-Campus Housing and Job Resource Centre  

A majority vote of 51.3 per cent approved a fee-levy increase of $0.06 per credit to the CSU’s off-campus Housing and Job Resource Centre (HOJO) to be implemented during the fall 2021 term, bringing the fee-levy total per credit to $0.26. This charge will also “be subsequently indexed annually to inflation in accordance with the Consumer Price Index.”

This increase directly resulted in an additional student fee charge of $0.18 per 3-credit course, up to $0.78, which students cannot currently opt-out of.

HOJO provides “reliable housing and employment information, resources and referrals” for Concordia students, with said students increasingly procuring their services during the pandemic, according to the CSU.

Breakdown of the results:

YES:                       600 (51.3%)
NO:                         569 (48.7%)
ABSTAINED:          367 (23.9%)
TOTAL VOTES:    1,536

Students voted 53.5 per cent for a fee-levy increase of $0.10 per credit, up to $0.27, for the CSU Legal Information Clinic. The charge would “be subsequently indexed annually to inflation in accordance with the Consumer Price Index.”

This includes an increase to the student fee charge of $0.30 per 3-credit course, up to $0.81, which cannot be opted out of.

The CSU Legal Information Clinic has not had a fee-levy increase in five years, and says they would use the additional funds to “increase personnel and hours of its staff to better respond to growing students’ demands and needs for increased legal information services and support.”

Breakdown of the results:

YES:                       638 (53.5%)
NO:                         554 (46.5%)
ABSTAINED:          344 (22.4%)
TOTAL VOTES:    1,536

CEED Referendum Question

Students voted to allow the CEED (Community Empowerment Education Development) organization to change the mission statement to be “expanding Concordia’s campus in Uganda, East Africa, allowing students from all four faculties to participate in volunteer activities at these new campuses be used in the future for the purposes of: expanding Concordia’s footprint in developing countries, allowing students from all four faculties to participate in experimental [sic] learning activities at these new campuses.”

Currently, the non-profit student-led organization collects a $0.35 per credit fee levy.

Breakdown of the results:

YES:                       634 (64.8%)
NO:                         344 (35.2%)
ABSTAINED:          558 (36.3%)
TOTAL VOTES:    1,536

Concordia Student Union Student Advocacy Centre 

Students did not approve a fee-levy increase for the CSU Student Advocacy Centre of $0.10 per credit, which would have brought it to $0.40 per credit, effective for the fall 2021 term, which would have included a non-opt-out student fee increase of $0.30 per 3 credit course, up to $1.20.

The CSU Advocacy Centre provides students with “independent student representation in Disciplinary Proceedings, Investigations and Tribunal Hearings.”

Breakdown of the results:

NO:                        616 (50.9%)
YES:                       595 (49.1%)
ABSTAINED:          325 (21.2%)
TOTAL VOTES:    1,536


Logo courtesy of the Concordia Student Union (CSU)

Concordia Student Union News

Voter turnout in the CSU general election plummets to the lowest percentage in recent years

This year’s CSU elections seem to have taken students by surprise

Students had the opportunity to vote last week in the CSU general elections, but it seems like many students may have missed their chance.

This year’s elections had the lowest voter turnout the CSU has seen in recent years, with 1,536 votes cast; 4.8 per cent of the 32,199 students registered to vote.

This was a 0.8 per cent decrease from last year’s general election, in February 2020, which had the advantage of being held in-person and online, with a total of 1,731 votes.

The results of this election were also a massive decrease from the by-elections in fall 2020 a greater success with a 17.8 per cent voter turnout.

The elections are an opportunity for students to select who will represent them in the coming year. This year, due to the pandemic, they were held entirely online which may have made it difficult for students to get involved.

Some were completely unaware elections were happening in the first place. 

“I didn’t know that it was happening this year, until I got the email pop up,” said Noah Cohen-Wanis, a second-year Mechanical Engineering student. “I had more important school things to worry about, like my grades.”

The pandemic and online classes have made it more difficult for students to keep up with school news unrelated to their own classes. In a time where students are notified of nearly everything by email, it can be easy to miss things.

Some students feel that just receiving an email from the school isn’t enough to get them interested in the election in the first place. Cohen-Wanis suggested a more personal approach, with candidates trying to make appearances briefly in Zoom lectures as they often did when classes were in-person.

“That way we can hear them talk and understand what their purpose is and what change they’re trying to make. It would definitely get me interested instead of just getting some email from the school,” said Cohen-Wanis.

Other students suggested taking advantage of other essential Concordia platforms like Moodle and MyConcordia; things that students interact with every day.

“Honestly if one of my friends hadn’t told me the CSU election was this week I’m not sure I would have seen the email until the weekend [after the elections],” said Patrick Baylis, a third-year Engineering student.

Not knowing who they were voting for was a common issue among students who did take part in the election.

“I feel like the most I learned about the candidates was when I was actually looking at the ballot — previously I didn’t know who was running,” said Baylis.

Information about candidates can be found on the CSU’s website. While many candidates have detailed bios and campaign information, many have less than a paragraph, or even nothing at all written. Some candidates simply stated the position they were running for.

Some students did try to vote in the elections, but got frustrated by the online process.

“I got an error saying I wasn’t registered for any ballot,” said Baylis. After contacting an elections representative from the CSU, Baylis was sent a second email that would detail how he was going to vote again. Many students received multiple emails with different voting information.

The emails contained unique voter login and password information for use on the official CSU online voting website. But after voting, some students were sent another email with new login credentials, after receiving an error message when trying to vote the first time.

Baylis explained that the follow-up email did not contain any information detailing if his original vote was invalid, or whether he would have to vote again. It was only after contacting a CSU elections official, that he was told he would have to vote again.

“It was just from my conversation with the election person at the CSU, I knew I would need to go and vote through that link as opposed to the previous link,” he said.

Baylis says many of his peers were sent second emails with voting links as well, and many were unsure if their original vote was actually cast. 


Logo courtesy of the Concordia Student Union (CSU)


BREAKING NEWS: Concordia approves fall reading week

The week-long break will be implemented in fall term of 2023

The newly-approved fall reading week break is scheduled to happen each year in the second week of October, during the same week as the Thanksgiving holiday, according to Isaiah Joyner, student senator and general coordinator of the Concordia Student Union (CSU).

The two-year delay to implement the break is due to the adjustments that will need to be made to the fall academic semester schedule. As a result of the break, the fall term will be shortened to a 12-week academic term, instead of the current 13-week academic term.

This change will mean the winter and fall semesters will both have a week-long break, and an equal amount of academic weeks.

Passed with overwhelming support by senate members on March 19, Joyner explained the initiative took three years of student-led work, calling it a ‘generational’ project.

Former Advocacy and Academic Coordinator Sarah Mazhero presented the motion to implement fall reading week during her mandate as senator in 2018-2019. In 2019, a majority 86.6 per cent of students voted in favour of the CSU referendum question, which proposed enacting the week-long break.

Joyner said the success of the initiative was not possible without the support from students, stating, “Students voted overwhelmingly in support, which is what supplied pressure to make this happen.”

Following the voting results and Mazhero’s initiative in the senate, an ad hoc committee was created to carry out the proposition. Joyner, who was a member in the committee, said they “continued to work with the administration to make this a reality.”

Initially, second-year Journalism student Maria Bouabdo did not support the fall break in the referendum, because it was unclear about what the new semester with the break would look like. “The [referendum] question didn’t say whether the semester would go longer or shorter because of the break,” said Bouabdo.

Now that it has been approved, Bouabdo says she supports the initiative, explaining “We need a break during the middle of the semester when everything’s intense during midterms and [with] assignments.”

Her only concern was what having a shorter academic semester would mean for students — whether the material would be condensed and students would have more work, or whether the extra weeks’ worth of course plans would be cancelled altogether.

These are questions that will be presented and worked on in the upcoming months. Going forward, Joyner explained that “Administration would work with staff and faculty to begin seeing how to make the shift, but students will remain involved in the process in some way.”


Logo courtesy of the Concordia Student Union (CSU)

Concordia Student Union News

Our next Concordia Student Union executive team

A look into the CSU’s plans for the future

The Concordia Student Union (CSU) elections are underway, and for the second consecutive general election year, the executive team is running unopposed. Eight members comprise the guaranteed winning team, led by candidate for general coordinator, Eduardo Malorni.

Their platform, Brick by Brick, focuses on COVID-19 measures and safety, community building, advocacy and accountability. The Concordian, The Link, and CJLO hosted a group interview for the candidates, to hear more about their platform and plans for the future.

General Coordinator Eduardo Malorni

Candidate for general Coordinator Eduardo Malorni aims to better help students with the difficulties they face while pursuing their degree this upcoming year.

He plans on addressing a variety of complaints students have had about online learning, including mental health concerns, higher workloads, and issues with proctoring services.

Malorni also wants to work with other student unions to demand a change in tuition fees, considering how many students “are not feeling like the quality [of education while remote] is the same as it was in the past.”

Part of their platform will also be supporting students that would not feel comfortable returning to campus in the fall, and to help with the return to in-person activities on campus, when that time comes.

Malorni, who’s been a part of the CSU for over two years, said one of the greatest things he and other members of the CSU helped to achieve was the pass/fail option for students last year. The same year, however, several councillors resigned, citing a toxic environment.

“Those were some of my friends who resigned,” said Malorni. “I think it’s very important to fix that.”

He said he will continue to push for an affirmative action program in the CSU, and have more discussions with racialized minorities for their input on what else the union could change and provide.

This year, he wants to increase student involvement in the CSU.

“By far the biggest struggle we’re going to have is trying to improve upon our recruitment,” said Malorni.

One of the ways he wants to tackle the issue of increasing student involvement is by improving the branding of CSU services on campus. Malorni said he has seen many students wrongly attribute CSU services to the university, or just outright not know that the CSU is behind several initiatives on campus.

He said he feels confident that his team can tackle these issues going forward this year.

Sustainability Coordinator Faye Sun

Faye Sun is running to be the next sustainability coordinator at the CSU, with the objective of connecting students to sustainability initiatives and resources at the university.

One of such initiatives at Concordia would be transforming on-campus lawns into food gardens. For Sun, restoring habitats for pollinators is one of the top priorities.

She added that urban agriculture and gardening will also benefit Concordia students in the long run.

“If we don’t invest in urban food security [right now], we might not have any food in 80 or so years,” the CSU candidate added.

Being an Environmental Science major, Sun also aims to focus on environmental justice and sustainability issues that specifically affect Indigenous and African American communities.

“Eighty per cent of all of the environment that’s ecologically protected is on Indigenous land, and that’s definitely not a coincidence,” she said. “That’s why I believe in Indigenous sovereignty and stewardship.”

By striving for eco-friendly policies in an urbanized metropolis, Sun hopes to put Concordia on a green path towards sustainability.

Academic and Advocacy Coordinator Hannah Jamet-Lange

Hannah Jamet-Lange aims to advocate for accessibility, anti-discrimination, sexual violence measures, better mental health services, international students, and climate justice. One of her main goals is to strengthen the code of conduct and the sexual violence policy, with the end goal of making the CSU “a more welcoming, supportive and safe environment for everyone.”

Jamet-Lange is in her third year in Communications, Sexuality Studies, and History. They got involved with the CSU in her first year at Concordia, with the Campaign Against Sexual Violence.

Currently there is a question going to referendum to change CSU bylaws, making the code of conduct and sexual violence policy easier to enforce. Jamet-Lange said that is already a great step forward, and as academic and advocacy coordinator they wants to ensure it is enforced if it passes.

Jamet-Lange stated that she also wants to create better definitions around the different forms of harassment and discrimination.

It’s crucial to have clear definitions when complaints go to the Judicial Board, so the board “doesn’t have to refer back to a dictionary or interpret what is seen as racism, what is seen as sexism,” said Jamet-Lange.

They said that the new executive team wants to work together to create a better culture around harm prevention.

External Affairs and Mobilization Coordinator Camina Harrison-Chéry

Camina Harrison-Chéry’s main goals are creating spaces for students to feel safe, specifically creating and supporting spaces for BIPOC students, tackling the lack of diversity at Concordia, and working on better mental health services.

“I think that since I’ve come to Concordia, I felt like my mission has been just to create spaces on campus and off campus where students feel safe, that they know they can contribute and that their opinions are important,” said Harrison-Chéry.

Harrison-Chéry is a Communications student and an entrepreneur of Haitian descent. She is the founder of BUYPOC, pop-ups that support BIPOC youth run businesses, and the owner of a headwrap brand called Urban Wrapper. At Concordia, she works to advance the Black perspective in the community, and is a member of Concordia’s task force on anti-Black racism.

To her, it’s clear that students see a lack of diversity in professors and the curriculum. Thus, Harrison-Chéry wants to work towards more diversity at Concordia, such as training staff to be aware of their biases.

“We [the CSU] are definitely responsible in terms of applying pressure and keeping that momentum,” said Harrison-Chéry, who explained that recently, with the Black Studies Department and the Black Perspective Office, there has been a lot of momentum in creating more Black spaces at Concordia.

As external affairs and mobilization coordinator, Harrison-Chéry plans to advance equity for BIPOC students through a number of initiatives, such as supporting the Black Studies and Black Perspectives Office, and investing in events that advance the Black perspective and centre around Black experiences.

Loyola Coordinator S Shivaane

S Shivaane is running for Loyola Coordinator at the CSU, and aims to improve learning conditions for Concordia students at the Loyola campus.

Shivaane’s top priorities include upgrading the shuttle bus service to and from the Sir George Williams campus, as well as providing healthy and affordable food options for Loyola students.

She noted that, in general, Loyola “has a lack of services and … amenities that pull students to stay there.”

Shivaane plans on laying foundations for “food co-ops,” which she expects will create more student jobs.

As for the shuttle service, she believes that the bus fleet needs to be expanded. According to Shivaane, the lack of accessibility is what makes Loyola seem like a distant campus, despite everything it has to offer.

“There are some students who are graduating, who have been here for four or five years, and they said that they’d never been to Loyola — which is so unfortunate, because it’s a beautiful campus,” Shivaane explained.

By pushing for a reliable shuttle connection, more study spaces and healthier food options, Shivaane is convinced that more Concordia students will be able to appreciate Loyola’s greenery and European-style architecture, and have a pleasant academic experience overall.

Finance Coordinator Aria Khaksar

Running for Financial Coordinator is not a small feat in a year where there have been class action lawsuits against universities for tuition rates. Aria Khaksar intends on addressing the issue head on.

He said, “I think after the year we’ve had with COVID, and of course the education level that has decreased … we need to talk to the school and to the board to lower tuition for students.”

Many students will be happy to hear this is an issue the CSU’s next financial coordinator is taking seriously.

“Tuition is something that has not decreased in forever and it keeps going up,” said Khaksar.

This is not a change that will happen on its own, since only the students are aware of the realities of online learning.

“It’s something that is very difficult for the school to understand, because for them the education that we’re getting online right now is the same that we would have in person,” said Khaksar.

Student Life Coordinator Malcolm Asselin

Student Life Coordinator is a challenging position in the midst of an academic year like none other. But challenges are what make life interesting, and Malcolm Asselin is excited to revive the student body.

He is prepared for the realities of next year, saying, “I want to be ready for both an online and in-person environment, just because I think it’s good to be prepared.” But this will not stop his goal of reaching students.

“I think a big challenge is, obviously, getting our information [on student events] to be interpreted and centralized, [because it] is key to reaching as many students as possible,” said Asselin.

Once students are informed, they can start participating in student-led events, such as Concordia’s Got Talent, an interdisciplinary event that is hosted by faculty associations collaboratively.

“It was the first time that all faculty associations collaborated together for an event, and we had an amazing engagement, students were involved. There was like some type of community being built here,” said Asselin.

For the coming year, one of his goals will be to bring together all associations at Concordia to work together in gathering the student body. He said, “I want more work like that, getting faculty associations to collaborate together for events.”

Internal Affairs Coordinator Harrison Kirshner

Harrison Kirshner is running to be the next internal affairs coordinator at the CSU, and hopes to concentrate on elevating clubs under the student association’s mandate.

Kirshner wants to help develop clubs by increasing their recruitment and getting the CSU more directly involved, “mak[ing] it easier for clubs to recruit, because that is really something that’s difficult during the online environment.”

Some of the clubs under the CSU’s mandate are Concordia Tennis Team, the Muslim Student Association (MSA), the Concordia Debate Society (CDS) and dozens more.

He is also looking into making a Facebook page for CSU clubs to post material they would like the CSU to advertise. The CSU would then be able to advertise their clubs on the newsletter, on their page, on their social media and more.

This could help get the university back on its feet when we come back to in-person learning. He said, “I believe that incorporating club recruitment into those mechanisms is something that we should do.”


Logo courtesy of the Concordia Student Union (CSU)


Referendum question on change to CSU bylaws

CSU wants to change bylaws to allow easier removal of councilors who committed misconduct

The Concordia Student Union (CSU) is sending a question for referendum to change bylaws regarding the CSU Code of Conduct and Sexual Violence and Safer Spaces Policy, ensuring that these regulations are cohesive with the CSU bylaws.

According to Isaiah Joyner, the general coordinator of the CSU, the Sexual Violence and Safer Spaces Policy and the Code of Conduct don’t properly reflect the bylaws. This means that if there is a dispute, or a councillor violates the regulations, the process is tedious to remove them from the CSU.

The questions going to referendum will ask students if they support two changes to the bylaws, allowing for easier enforcement of the Sexual Violence and Safer Spaces Policy and the Code of Conduct.

Joyner explained that the proposed changes will allow for a more streamlined way to remove councillors, where the issue will be brought to the Judicial Board or another CSU committee “empowered by such policy and Code of Conduct.”

As an independent and impartial branch of the CSU, the Judicial board has the mandate to pass judgement on cases brought before them. They interpret the bylaws and standing regulations, and judge over a myriad of issues.

The motion to put this change to referendum was made on Feb. 17 during a special council meeting, which, according to Joyner, is the only time council can change to the bylaws.

Bylaws are the governing rules of an organization. Meaning that no matter the policy or regulation, if there is a dispute, council must defer to the bylaws. However, these bylaws currently disagree with the Code of Conduct and Sexual Violence and Safer Spaces Policy.

For the CSU to implement certain rules, such as changes to the bylaws, the change must be put on referendum, where students will vote on whether they support the modification. The upcoming referendum, which will include several questions for students to vote on, will be held during the CSU’s general election period in November.

“There is no such thing as a perfect policy,” said Joyner. “But this is the first step towards a better and more accountable CSU for serious issues.”

The new proposed system will have the Judicial Board make a decision on the issue and then send a recommended action to the CSU.

“If the Judicial Board or other committee so empowered by such policy or Code of Conduct determines that a Representative or an Executive committed a misconduct under such policy or under the Code of Conduct, and determines that the appropriate sanction for such misconduct is removal from office, then, the Committee [Judicial Board] shall prepare and present to the Council of Representatives [CSU] a report of its findings and recommended sanctions,” states one of the proposed amendments to the bylaws.

When asked if the common claims of the CSU being a toxic environment had a role in creating this new system to remove councillors who committed misconduct, Joyner said it was not.

“This is something that should have taken place a long time ago,” he said. “This has been a long standing issue, so now it is finally being put to rest and resolved”

Joyner stated that one of the goals of this new proposed system will be for the CSU to be a safer and better environment for people that want to participate in the union.


Graphic courtesy of the Concordia Student Union (CSU)


The CSU’s Annual Interfaith Commemoration for the fourth anniversary of the Quebec Mosque shooting

The ceremony honoured the victims, and called for peace

In a solemn ceremony, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) held their Annual Interfaith Commemoration of the Quebec mosque shooting attack through a virtual livestream on Jan. 29, to mark the fourth anniversary of the massacre.

“Insecurity, illness, isolation, intolerance, these are the four ‘i’’s that have plagued us during this past year, hopefully today … we can bring you a fifth ‘i,’ which is that of inspiration,” began the host, Walter Chi-yan Tom, manager of the Legal Information Clinic, who noted the different faith backgrounds of the keynote speakers.

The tragic event at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec mosque in Québec City took six lives and injured another 19 people, in an Islamophobic attack that rocked the country and made international headlines in 2017. Since then, community members have organized more initiatives to fight against ignorance and discrimination with understanding and education campaigns.

While mourning the loss and continued pain from community members still suffering from the attack, keynote members highlighted their collaborative and peacemaking efforts. Prevalent among all the members’ speeches was a call to action: for each of us to work towards fostering a better community to fight hatred in all its forms. 

Before the speeches, Victoria Pesce, CSU external affairs & mobilization coordinator, presented a land acknowledgement, followed by a welcoming message and healing poem by Vicky Boldo, Cree/Métis cultural support worker at Concordia’s the Otsenhákta Student Centre (formally known at the Aboriginal Student Resources Centre).

On Jan. 28, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault announced the federal government’s decision to make Jan. 29 The National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec Mosque Attack and a day of action against Islamophobia.

“This is extremely important… we have been asking for that for the last four years,” said Ehab Lotayef, co-founder of Muslim Awareness Week (MAW), in response to the announcement.

Different events aim at featuring muslims as exactly who they are — a neighbour, a helper, or friend in the community — Lotayef argued that how “we could make this a better world”  is to give everybody a chance to get to know each other.

“Know them as people who contribute to your life, who have their inspirations, have their concerns, and would love to know about you, and would love you to know about them,” said Lotayef.

With poems, songs, and symbolic acts, other members spoke of their joint effort and support with the Muslim community, for healing and peace, and the fight against discrimination. 

Rabbi Ellen Greenspan, from the Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom, said she held hands with many people from the Jewish community around mosques on Fridays after the attack, to protect Muslim worshippers inside.

During her speech, Cree/Métis cultural support worker Boldo said those different community members who attend these vigils and mass gatherings “stand there in solidarity with us are our brothers and sisters.”

Gospel singer Amanda Benn sang an acapella of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Afterwards she wrote in the chat she was “fighting back tears” and thanked the speakers for their “presence and energy.”

In speaking on the challenges of today, Fo Niemi, executive director at the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), pointed to the ongoing court battle of the Quebec mosque shooting murderer, Alexandre Bissonnette, who successfully challenged his parole sentence from 40 years to 25 years in the Quebec court of Appeal in 2020, on the basis that his former sentence “cruel and unusual” punishment.

This decision has been appealed to the Supreme Court, who will hear the case next year. Niemi said on this appeal before the Supreme Court, “We have to ensure that the rights of the victims of crime should come first.”

For the candle lighting ceremony,  Rev. Ellie Hummel, chaplain & coordinator at Concordia’s Multi-faith and Spirituality Centre, lit the first candle to honour those who still suffer today from the attack, and the six murdered victims: Ibrahima Barry (39), Mamadou Tanou Barry (42), Khaled Belkacemi (60), Aboubaker Thabti (44), Abdelkrim Hassane (41) and Azzeddine Soufiane (57).

Hummel lit a second candle “for all victims of violence based on religion, racialization or identity,” followed by a third and last candle “of hope and commitment.”

“As we grieve, as we lament, let us also remember our vision of a world of understanding, respect, community and justice… let us walk on the paths that bring healing and hope.”


Feature image is a screenshot of the virtual event

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