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Concordia Student Union News

BREAKING: Graduate Students Association proposes referendum against Legal Information Clinic

As graduate students prepare to vote in upcoming elections, questions remain about the LIC’s accessibility.

The Concordia Student Union’s (CSU) Legal Information Clinic (LIC) was informed today of the Graduate Students Association’s (GSA) proposed referendum to eliminate the clinic’s fee levy of $2.75. 

The LIC said in an email that the announcement comes at a frustrating time, especially when the CSU recently stated that they’re reviewing their initial decision to remove the clinic. Now, the CSU is reviewing the LIC’s services “in accordance with the resolution adopted, which was to keep the LIC open, by the CSU Student Council on Feb. 14,” as said in an email. The CSU’s final decision is still pending.

The LIC was not made aware of the GSA’s proposal prior to the announcement. If the referendum passes, the current graduate students who use the LIC services for their needs will no longer be able to, affecting the future of the clinic and the graduate students who need it. 

Fo Niemi, executive director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), is currently working with two graduate students who need representation for their respective cases. He told The Concordian that preventing graduate students’ access to legal services will affect student protection and guidance during their legal issues and processes.

“If the GSA cuts off funding to the Legal Information Clinic, that means that the clinic cannot fund for the legal representation. If they go on their own to defend against these charges, it could be a very difficult experience for them,” Niemi said.

Niemi believes that fee levies are a “major source of financial support for graduate students who need legal representation.” Since many graduate students are international, they need the LIC’s help with immigration, cases involving racism or sexual assault, and employment, among others. 

Even language barriers can cause difficulties to some graduate students as they undergo the judicial process during their case. Niemi feels that by keeping the LIC open, these graduate students will be able to access services that respect their language barriers, something that other legal services on university campuses may not provide.

“Once the graduate students access Quebec common agencies in charge of human rights—especially if your French is not good and you go there as an English speaker—you may need more than just lawyers and may need a lot of other support that the Legal Information Clinic can provide,” Niemi said. “That’s a very valuable and important support for these students.”

The LIC is urging graduate students to vote on the matter during the GSA elections on April 15 and 16.

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Concordia Student Union News

Concordia students’ access to legal services on campus threatened

Without notice, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) executive team motioned to terminate Concordia University’s Legal Information Clinic (LIC) and replace it with a private plan provided by the Alliance pour la Santé Étudiante au Québec (AESQ) insurance association on Jan. 26. This decision will drastically affect students’ access to legal information and support, creating significant barriers for women, English-speakers, immigrants, racialized individuals, and people living with disabilities.

“I think this is one of the worst ideas I’ve seen coming out of the CSU. Students will be losers if this proposal goes forward,” said John Hutton, the former CSU Finance Coordinator of 2018-2019.

The weeks following the CSU’s decision were met with intense backlash from supporters of the clinic from organizations such as the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) and Concordia University’s International Student’s Office (ISO), along with lawyers, volunteers, and students. 

The LIC put forth their counter-motion on Feb. 14 to be voted on and a settlement was not met. A resolution putting the clinic in a state of limbo was put into place and the CSU has yet to publicly release its response, leaving the clinic’s fate up in the air.

According to Ken Downe, who represents the Concordia Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) on the CSU’s council of representatives, the CSU executives were asked on Feb. 14 why they decided to opt for a privatized plan and quickly brushed concerns and questions aside.

“They didn’t ever answer what their intention was, originally. They hadn’t prepared anything official,” they said. “The CSU isn’t acting in good faith, there’s no transparency and we don’t know what their exact proposal was going to be. We don’t know their reasoning for that.”

Many holistic services provided by the current LIC won’t be included in the new ASEQ insurance. This will make it more difficult for students to navigate their legal issues, especially for non-French speakers. CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi says that people who file claims to immigration or the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) without the LIC’s help could be rejected due to poorly drafted complaints.

“A lot of students don’t understand the language, structure, law, system, and worse than that, there’s a lot of pressure to get a quick settlement,” Niemi said. “Under this new plan, students won’t be properly advised. They won’t get much out of these processes.” 

The LIC has helped and referred students to CRARR several times over the past 15 years, such as in the race and gender-based discrimination, and sexual harassment case of Mei Ling, a former ASFA vice-president. In the ASEQ plan, sexual harassment cases aren’t covered. This furthers CRARR’s concern about society’s trend of the increased industry takeover of privatizing public services.

“It has an impact on who gets access to justice,” Niemi said.

The LIC is a free service that gives students access to legal information, referrals, and accompaniment in both French and English. Their team strives to provide students with the best possible resources and options that will aid individuals in making the most suitable decision regarding legal issues. The LIC’s goal is to inform students on how to get the fairest treatment available under the law.

“The LIC doesn’t offer representation, that’s not our mandate. It’s to offer information and support to empower students as legal actors. When we are being asked to compare ourselves to a private insurance plan, it’s false equivalency and it’s not fair to what we do,” said Hannah Deegan, a lawyer who supervises the law student volunteers on a part-time basis at the clinic.

“The clinic is about helping students in the moment and taking the time to help them develop better reflexes about how the legal system works because nobody teaches you how to do that,” Deegan said.

Esther Chu was one of the many students that the LIC empowered. Last September, the LIC reached out to inform her that she wouldn’t be eligible to apply for a permanent residency anymore via the Programme de l’expérience québécoise (PEQ) due to the National Assembly of Quebec’s drastic language requirement changes to the program.

The LIC took swift action, gathered students to contest the Quebec government’s decision and invited Chu to testify. Because of this, students like Chu who were part of the PEQ program and didn’t meet the new language requirements, remained eligible until November 2024. 

“I was very touched by the LIC’s proactive solution-oriented support to the international student community in Concordia. If the LIC closes, it will be a devastating loss,” Chu said.

Downe says that due to the ambiguous nature of CSU’s policies, the CSU executives thought it was in their power to make this kind of decision. However, to remove the fee levy that funds the LIC, there would have to be a referendum to remove the clinic. 

“Within the CSU policy it’s unclear whether the executives can change the services without removing the fee levy and holding a referendum, and there are gaps in the policy that allow things like this to happen,” Downe said. “The bureaucracy of the CSU is its downfall. It’s not well connected to students and direct democracy isn’t there.”

The current fee levy for the LIC is $0.28 per credit or about $8.40 per academic year per undergrad student. The ASEQ Studentcare Legal Care Program’s first proposal to Concordia, which was rejected in March 2021, had a price of $25.00 per academic year per student. Former CSU Executive John Hutton believes that if the ASEQ plan is adopted, the LIC won’t be the only non-profit service to go. 

“Students will be paying more, get less and be very poorly served because community non-profit legal clinics have fundamentally different approaches than for-profit insurance companies. I see this threatening all the service centers,” Hutton said. “The ASEQ’s proposal mentions things like supporting students who face tenant issues. That’s the HOJO’s [Housing and Job Resource Centre] territory. Why wouldn’t ASEQ be like ‘Hey, we can do the work of HOJO too’?”

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Concordia Student Union News

A night of glitz and glamour

Concordia’s inaugural drag night brings sparkles, queens and excitement to Reggie’s Bar.

Colourful lighting, cheers of anticipation, and not a single empty seat created the atmosphere of the first-ever Drag Night at Concordia. 

On Friday, Jan. 26, queens and queers took over Concordia’s on-campus bar, Reggie’s, for Queer Concordia’s first event of 2024. The night was a collaboration between the LGBTQ+ student group and the Concordia Student Union (CSU). 

Tickets could be purchased online for $20-25, depending on the tier. All tickets included a free food or drink item.

The show featured five queens who demonstrated the diversity and excitement of drag performance. The numbers were packed with costume changes, stunts and crowd interaction. Each queen brought something different to the stage, and they all received outstanding praise from the audience. 

Concordia alum, Kiara, both hosted and performed at the show. Kiara was featured on the first season of Canada’s Drag Race in 2020. Now, she has returned to campus as a performer rather than a fine arts student.

“I’m finally coming back to Concordia for the good reasons,” read Kiara’s text message to Christian Taboada, Internal Affairs Coordinator for the CSU. Taboada assisted Queer Concordia’s event coordinator, Joyce Osagie, with organizing the event and booking the queens. 

Kiara hosts the event and chats with the crowd. Photo by Hannah Bell / The Concordian

Alongside Kiara were artists Lulu Shade and Giselle Crown. Lulu—a staple of Montreal’s Village, previously known as the Gay Village—combined humour, beauty, and outrageousness in her performance. Reigning from Sherbrooke, Giselle Crown brought looks and stunts galore to the stage.

The show also featured more alternative performances (if you consider a Crazy Frog lip-sync in a spandex frog suit alternative). Queef Latina is a non-binary Chilean performer who moved to Montreal a few years ago and brought their unique drag style with them. 

Lastly, there was Miss Dupré Latour—trans queen, CEO of DupréLatour Cosmetics and podcast host. She graced the stage with a presence and smile that could illuminate the entire room, no spotlights required. 

After the show, the CSU’s Taboada spoke with the performers, who told him they had “a blast performing because the people were very engaging and respectful.” 

Around 150 tickets were sold, according to Queer Concordia’s marketing coordinator Alicia Kla. She also gave a shout out to Reggie’s staff for being extremely kind and helpful throughout the night.

“We try to diversify our events so that every type of student or person can come,” Kla explained. She highlighted that many attendees at Queer Concordia events are international students who might not have a queer community like this in their home country.  

Queer Concordia is a student group that provides resources and hosts events for Concordia’s student body. Taboada explained that Queer Concordia is funded through student fees. They receive two cents per credit per student per semester. He pointed out that the group’s levy fees are not tied to inflation, so as costs continue to rise, it could become difficult for Queer Concordia to keep up financially.

Taboada said he wanted to collaborate with Queer Concordia and lend a hand because “they are an important community that is very often under-represented.”

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Concordia Student Union News

A week long celebration of gender health

The CSU introduced their new Gender Health Hub with a week of workshops and events.

Last week, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) kicked off their new Gender Health Hub initiative with a Health Hub fair.

The Gender Health Hub is a network of Concordia groups and services that “connects students to holistic, feminist and trans-inclusive health and wellness services.”  It provides all students with free and easy-to-access gender related healthcare. 

The fair last week was a way for students to discover the services offered by the Hub. The week- long festivities took a community focus with workshops that were discussion and storytelling based. 

Some of the services offered include free menstrual and sexual health products, trans-patient support and advocacy, an abortion support hotline, as well as workshops and clinics on a variety of topics planned throughout the year.

The first workshop, conducted on Oct. 23, was on hormone literacy and discussed the role of hormones in menstruation, menopause, as well as hormonal replacement therapy. The CSU also provided goodie bags with menstrual products for those who stopped by. 

The second workshop on the following day focused on surviving the healthcare system as a transgender patient. Jacob Williams, a member of the Trans Patient Union at McGill, discussed his experiences in the system while opening the floor up to others to share as well.

Anthony, a student at Concordia, was happy to learn from these workshops and collect resources.

“I came here to help understand how to support my friend during his transition,” he said, “and after sitting through [the workshop] and hearing everyone’s experiences and how they had to do their own research and, in some cases, educate the doctors and fight for their health that intensely—it’s mind-blowing.” 

The Hub also showcased some of the other services the students have access to. They offered two more workshops that focused on mental health: an art therapy session that included coping techniques such as a body scan, and a mentoring workshop to create a safe space where students could share their experiences. 

For students who missed the workshops, the Hub presented its network at a health services table fair. Some of the groups participating in the event included the Centre for Gender Advocacy, Sex and Self Concordia, Woman on Web and a few others. 

To wrap up the week, students were invited to a party at Studio 414 on Saturday night, in celebration of this new project 

Hannah Jackson, external affairs and mobilization coordinator at the CSU, explained that this is just the beginning for the Gender Health Hub. More events will be held throughout the semester—like workshops on massages for scarwork, and other programs to help trans-patients navigate the bureaucracy of the healthcare system.

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Concordia Student Union News

CSU holds its fall by-elections debate

The CSU’s fall by-elections debate focused on tuition hikes and student engagement.

On Wednesday, Nov. 1, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) held its fall by-elections debate on the seventh floor of the Hall building, where referendum committees and CSU council seat candidates were given the chance to present their platforms to students.

Students will be able to vote for campaigns such as Dave Plant’s advocacy of not renewing Concordia’s 2026 contract with Aramark, Kendra Downe’s promotion of anti-colonial solidarity with Palestine, and the Kahnistensera Mohawk Mothers, Giancarlo Laurieri’s pledge of enhancing student accessibility to CSU services, and Ryan Assaker’s intention of establishing a solid push back against tuition hikes.

These four council seat candidates were in attendance along with one referendum committee member. The candidates discussed issues such as the Coalition Avenir Québec’s (CAQ) tuition hike for out-of-province students and the disconnect between the CSU and Concordia’s student body during the debate.

“The CSU is looked upon as this demagogical society that exists above the student body when, in reality, the CSU is the representation of the students’ thoughts as a unified thought,” said Laurieri.

Laurieri proposed that the council get more involved in student media so that students could be more informed about what the CSU is doing. He also suggested that the union establish public Q&A events to give students more opportunities to bring up their concerns to the council. 

“A lot of people don’t know that the CSU is reaching out to fight against the tuition hikes, or that this source is available for students to use,” he said.

Concordia President Graham Carr stated on Tuesday that the university could lose up to 90 per cent of its out-of-province enrollment due to the tuition hikes. As the policy threatens implementation, the CAQ maintains that it’s aimed at protecting the French language by limiting the number of anglophone students in Quebec.

Students, however, feel differently. “It’s not a question about protecting the language, it’s a question about abusing the students. There are better ways of protecting the French language” said Assaker.

At the debate, referendum committee member The Link’s editor-in-chief Zachary Fortier, presented The Link’s fee levy increase campaign to increase funding to the student newspaper. The campaign asks to raise the current fee of 19 cents per credit to 40 cents, in order to meet inflation.

“Investing in The Link is investing into student life, and making sure there’s a dynamic and prospering community that gets amplified to the -nth degree,” said Fortier. “We’re a necessary presence on campus. I have a deep fear that we’ll cease to exist if we cannot make enough money to pay people a livable wage.”

Fortier highlighted the importance of the student newspaper’s coverage history, like giving Palestinian students a voice during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2002 visit to Montreal. “The Link has always been a place of advocacy for underrepresented students to have a voice,” he said. 

The CSU by-elections campaigning phase will end on Nov. 6, and students can cast their ballot from Nov. 7 to Nov. 9.

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Briefs Concordia Student Union News

CSU hopeful for a successful by-election

The Concordia Student Union starts its campaigning phase aiming for a significant turnout at the polls.

On Oct. 30, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) started its campaign period for its fall by-elections. The by-elections serve to vote on referendum questions and fill empty seats on the CSU’s council of representatives. This year, the CSU has 22 seats available on the council. The campaigning period will last until Nov. 6.

According to Simply Voting, the online platform that hosts the CSU elections, the turnout in 2022 was only 5.7 per cent. CSU Loyola coordinator Talya Diner blames COVID-19 for last year’s low participation. She is hopeful that more people will be interested in casting their ballot this year. 

There are two referendum questions being presented to the committees in the fall by-elections. They are about whether or not to increase the student services fee by $0.85 per credit, and to propose the introduction of an anti-islamophobia policy to CSU’s Section 5 by-law entitled Anti-Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion. 

“The by-elections are super significant. This is the best time to get involved in the CSU,” said CSU student life coordinator Tanou Bah.

A public debate is scheduled for Nov. 1. This event will allow candidates and referendum committees the chance to introduce themselves to students and present their ideas concerning Concordia University and the CSU. The public debate will take place at 6 p.m. on the 7th floor of the Hall building.

“Being on the council is a way for students to get directly involved in the democratic process that governs how the CSU spends the money that students give to the union. It’s really important that students get involved so that the CSU can represent students honourably,” said Diner.

The polling phase will start on Nov. 7 and end on Nov. 9. Students will receive an email from the CSU encouraging them to vote. The CSU will also have polling stations at the Loyola campus on Nov. 7 in the SP building, and at the SGW campus on Nov. 7 through Nov. 9 at the Hall building mezzanine to help guide students through the online voting process.

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Concordia Student Union News

CSU’s Transitional Housing Project’s second phase unanimously passed

Concordia Student Union continues its program to help students and community members transition out of homelessness.

In their last meeting, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) successfully greenlit the continuing development of the CSU’s Transitional Housing Program. This project was intended to last only until Nov. 2. However, due to its success, it has been prolonged into a phase two until Aug. 2024. The second phase is the continuation of the first phase but with a bigger budget to assist more people.

The Transitional Housing Program gives struggling unhoused students and community members the opportunity to have temporary housing for up to three months while looking for a permanent place to live. 

CSU sustainability coordinator Maria Chitoroaga, who ran for her position because of this project, proposed this program’s second phase in the council meeting. The motion was passed unanimously. 

“This project is very close to my heart. It’s one of those projects that directly impact students’ lives,” Chitoroaga said.

The Transitional Housing Program’s first phase had a high success rate. Half of the people who have been housed have already found a permanent place to live and have graduated from the program. Several people did not need the full allotted three months to find permanent housing. The remaining individuals who need help just recently started the program.

“Our projection was that people would stay for three months, but one person stayed for just under three months, and another only stayed for half a month,” said Chitoroaga.

These people exceeded the CSU’s expectations and became independent faster than expected. However, the CSU’s Housing and Job Resource Centre (HOJO), anticipates an increased demand in the upcoming months because of the housing crisis.

“I would like to keep seeing ways in how we can enshrine this project so that it is permanent,” said CSU External Affairs and Mobilization Coordinator Hannah Jackson.

The CSU owns three furnished apartment units located close to Concordia’s Sir George Williams campus. Since the start of the program seven people have benefitted from the project’s help. These people either lacked stable social networks and were faced with dangerous sleeping spaces or relied on friends, where they could only stay for a few weeks.

“What has been done with the Transitional Housing Project is pretty exciting and unique in terms of what student unions are doing to substantially make a difference with students in precarious housing, which we know is getting worse,” Jackson said.

Students who wish to apply for this program can book an appointment at the HOJO to explain their situation. HOJO’s housing search director then interviews candidates on their situation. Those who do not qualify for temporary housing can still request additional help.

Phase two’s approved budget is $30,000. This will be funded through the Student Space, Accessible Education and Legal Contingency Fund. The proceeds go to funding the housing search director’s salary, furnishing, operating and groceries for the apartment units.

Towards the end of the meeting, the council touched upon a student-led class lawsuit against Concordia University. This issue is regarding the transfer of information for the purpose of administering Concordia University’s student health and dental insurance plan. This case is still ongoing and has yet to be resolved. 

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Sports

Shaughnessy Cup: Frank Shaughnessy’s legacy lives on after over 50 years

Stingers to face McGill Redbirds at the 54th annual Shaughnessy Cup on Oct. 20 at Percival Molson Stadium. 

The Shaughnessy Cup will see Concordia and McGill face off on Oct. 20, but the man behind the cup is as interesting as the game itself.

Frank Shaughnessy: a Canadian sports pioneer

Frank Shaughnessy was the McGill University football head coach for 17 seasons, starting in 1912. During his time there, he helped transform Canadian football.

His most significant contribution to the game came in 1921. At the time, Canadian football looked like a hybrid between rugby and modern football, with players only able to pass the ball backwards. As mentioned by the McGill University Athletics Hall of Fame, Shaughnessy introduced the forward pass to the game in 1921. He also lobbied for its implementation into the rulebook until it was allowed in 1931.

After leaving McGill, he started coaching the Loyola College football team, where he helped them become the 1928 Canadian intermediate champions. For all of these contributions, he was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1963, the Concordia University Sports Hall of Fame in 1967 and the McGill University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1997.

Shaughnessy was also a great baseball player and manager. Moreover, from 1936 to 1960, he was president of the International League, a baseball league composed of teams affiliated with the MLB. Under his presidency, the colour barrier was broken in baseball. Indeed, in October 1945, the Montreal Royals signed Jackie Robinson.

Robinson became the first Black player in an MLB-affiliated league the following year. Shaughnessy was a positive ally in Jackie Robinson’s integration into the Montreal Royals according to the Society for American Baseball Research. Shaughnessy was also inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983 for his contributions to the development of baseball in Canada. Today, he is still the only person to be a member of both the Canadian Football and Baseball Halls of Fame.

The Shaughnessy Cup: a university football tradition

The Shaughnessy Cup was first played between McGill University and Loyola College in 1969, following Frank Shaughnessy’s passing. Since Sir George Williams University and Loyola College merged in 1975, McGill and Concordia have contested the cup yearly at the Percival Molson Stadium. Historically, the Stingers have had the upper hand over the Redbirds in the Shaughnessy Cup. Concordia leads the cup’s head-to-head win tally 29-18 and 29-23-1 when including the results of Loyola College’s games.

What to expect this year

The Stingers won the last two Shaughnessy Cup games in overtime and also beat McGill the last five games they faced them, since September 2021. 

Only looking at these results, one may think Concordia will easily defeat McGill. However, nothing is that simple in sports, and especially not in the Stingers-Redbirds rivalry. For example, in last year’s Shaughnessy Cup, the Stingers came back from behind three times to force overtime. The two teams also faced each other last month—it was a more straightforward affair for Concordia, winning the Shrine Bowl 42-24 without McGill ever taking the lead. 

The Stingers hope for a similar game on Oct. 20. Following their dominant victory 39-7 against the Sherbrooke Vert & Or on Oct. 14, a Shaughnessy Cup victory would also guarantee a third place in the standings for the Stingers, which would be a successful season for the football program.

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Concordia Student Union News

Student speaks on Experience with University Insurance as opt-out Period begins

Students must soon disclose if they choose to keep their University insurance.

On Sept. 25, Concordia students will have their final chance to declare if they choose to stay with their student health and dental plan for the fall semester.

Offered through the Concordia Students Union (CSU), the insurance plan is included in each semester’s tuition, a fact Dom Doesburg, a third-year student in computer science, wished he knew earlier.

“Having it cover my therapy, quite literally, saved my life,” said Doesburg. “I wouldn’t have been able to stay in school, or get the support that I needed.”

For almost two years, Doesburg has been taking advantage of the CSU’s health and dental plan. Seeking mental health support, Doesburg initially paid for therapy out of pocket, something he said quickly became unsustainable as a full-time student living on his own.


The health plan covers a wide array of services, with varying amounts  upwards of $10,000 in total. For Doesburg, this primarily meant psychiatry, which the Studentcare plan covered 80 per cent of each session. 

Doesburg added that he didn’t want to miss any opportunity, as he’d later use his coverage for vaccinations and dental services. 

Despite the help he receives regularly, Doesburg explained that his journey to finding resources through the CSU was not simple.

“I did it all by myself, which was not fun,” Doesburg said. “I’ve talked to other people and they are really confused, so I’ve been helping. I think on the Concordia website, it needs to be way clearer somehow.”

Doesburg added that initial research into student health care yielded poor results, with only brief explanations on Concordia’s website. Eventually, he accessed the Studentcare website, the insurance broker associated with the CSU, where he found the information to get him started.

Brooks Reid-Constantin, a linguistics student and Concordia Student’s Nightline’s president, agreed that accessibility to professional mental health may not be within reach for every student.

“I think that it’s crazy how difficult it is to get in touch with a psychiatrist,” Reid-Constantin said. 

She explained that the student health services aided her life as a student, despite any limitations to the health plan.

Nightline operates during evening hours between Wednesday and Saturday, providing active listening to callers. According to Reid-Constantin, this allows callers, often anxious students, to feel heard and relieve them of certain stressors.

Working with Nightline, Reid-Constantin said she gained a perspective into matters of mental health, despite not being a professional. She believed that students should have more options than Nightline, and should seek professional help if accessible and medication if needed.

It’s only ever one leg of the chair. You have to do a bunch of the work yourself,” Reid-Constantin added. “Giving anybody a head start and trying to take some of that financial burden off can be really helpful.”

The CSU operates mostly as a mediator between student and insurance broker. Often, a student is navigating the ins-and-outs of insurance for the first time, so they can definitely use the help. According to Hannah Jackson, the CSU’s external and mobilization coordinator, this is for the best.

“Concordia is a business. It is a for-profit corporation. We’re a union. We aren’t trying to make a profit every year and we aren’t trying to cut costs,” Jackson said. “We have a greater incentive to make it comprehensive and affordable, as opposed to the university administration.”

Jackson explained that the insurance coverage offered by the CSU is considered additional to that of the Régie de l’Assurance Maladie (RAMQ) including eye care and physiotherapy.

International and part-time students are exceptions, as they are not directly covered by the Studentcare. 

For the former, they must go through the university’s administration, to both Jackson and the CSU’s dismay. However, Jackson added that international students are eligible for dental care through which they may also receive the CSU’s newly established gender-affirming healthcare. 

Part-time students, although covered by the same insurance, must declare if they opt-in for coverage. As such, they must pay the yearly amount of $185 separate from their tuition.

“[Studentcare] can be bureaucratic. They can be very arbitrary in their rules,” Jackson said. “But I encourage people to explore what’s covered under their plan and to really claim it, because that money is there.”

A previous version of this article identified Brooks Reid-Constantin as external vice-president of the Nightline. Reid-Constantin is president of the Nightline.

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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.

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News

Free Breakfast program to launch at Concordia

The Hive Café’s new initiative will offer a daily free vegan breakfast starting this fall to fight food insecurity.

In ASFA’s March 2023 elections, students voted in favour of a fee levy increase to the Hive Café Loyola Free Lunch program. These funds will be used to implement a new breakfast program starting this fall, providing free breakfast at the Loyola campus five days a week. 

“The team here, myself included, are really passionate about feeding students,” said Alanna Silver, the Free Lunch program coordinator. She also noted that few free breakfast options are available in NDG compared to the downtown campus. 

The Hive Café Co-op aims to serve breakfast to at least 100 people a day, as they already serve 250 through their free lunch program.

“We’re really passionate about creating a sense of community. It’s not just serving a meal,”

Silver Said.

One in 10 people cannot afford fresh food in Montreal, according to Centraide du Grand Montréal, and in 2022 Les Banques Alimentaires du Québec reported that 671,000 people in Quebec receive food assistance every month.

Silver explained how studies demonstrate that students retain their learning better when they’ve eaten their first meal of the day. 

The Hive’s vegan options have allowed a greater proportion of students to benefit from their menu, regardless of religion or dietary restrictions. The team hopes to serve vegan meals as well, although Silver concedes that most breakfasts contain animal products.

“[Our] choices are limited to smoothies, oatmeal and bread. So there was definitely some big debate on whether we should do vegetarian or vegan breakfast,” she said. 

The Hive will continue to produce vegan meals in-house. The increased fee levy will cover the added food, labour and equipment costs.

The project began development in mid-February, and the Hive team believes it will be fully implemented by the end of the year. The ASFA election results in March helped increase their funding by $0.25 per credit to support the project.

The team launched a promotional campaign around the university through social media posts, graphics and posters to get the word out. 

With the new project’s financial needs covered, the Hive’s next challenge will be managing their space. 

“We’re trying to currently figure out how we’re going to share a kitchen because obviously we’ll be doubling the staff, doubling the production, doubling the amount of equipment we need,” Silver said.

Correction:

In a previous version of this article, the Hive Free Breakfast program was referred to as the first free breakfast program in Canada. Both MacEwan University and Mount Royal University have free breakfast programs that predate the Hive Free Breakfast.

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Students moving nightmares

Concordia students talk about the challenges they face finding housing

In 1973, the Liberal Party of Quebec declared July 1 as the province’s unofficial moving date. Since that decision nearly half a century ago, March 31 has become the deadline for tenants to notify their landlords if they intend to terminate their lease.

The period between the beginning of April and the end of July can be particularly challenging for university students, especially those from outside of Montreal. 

Sierra McDonald is a first-year political science student at Concordia University. She said she had difficulties trying to find an apartment before starting school. 

“I’m from the Northwest Territories, and that’s pretty far away from Montreal,” said McDonald. “I found it really difficult having to find apartments online that fit my budget.”

According to Adia Giddings, an assistant for Concordia’s Housing and Job Resource Centre (HOJO)  out-of-province students like McDonald are in a vulnerable position when searching for housing because they often cannot visit apartments in person.

“Specifically international students who are trying to sign a lease from another country and can’t visit the apartment, they enter into the lease and then they look at the apartment, and it is not what it looks like in the pictures,” she said.

 A common issue thatGiddings deals with relate to students struggling to find leases outside of the standard lease duration of one year. 

Dana Hachwa, a second-year journalism student at Concordia, said she has noticed that  the vast amount of short-term accommodations on advertised Facebook Marketplace are for “apartment swaps.” 

Hachwa believes the practice is exploitative in nature and blocks students like her from entering the housing market.

“You see a nice apartment in a great area. It’s big, it’s affordable. The person’s looking to transfer their lease, but it’s only a swap. So if you’re not giving them something in return, you can’t have the apartment,”

said Hachwa.

Another scam that students should be on the lookout for, Giddings warned, is promotional deals or limited time offers that include discounts on rent. 

“Big landlords will advertise a month free of rent or a little bit off every month that you live in the apartment for your first year,” said Giddings. “Those fields are especially worrisome because a lot of them have clauses that are considered punitive by the tribunal.” 

Giddings explained that many of these deals include provisions that allow landlords to negate on these terms if the tenant attempts to conduct a lease transfer or pay rent late.
Students looking for more information about their renting rights can go to HOJO’s website or visit their offices at the Henry F. Hall building, room number 224.

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