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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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Opinions

Balancing silence and rage in discussions

The difficulties of facing arguments with those who hold different opinions

There is no winning or losing when it comes to a discussion. At least, this is what I try to tell myself after every heated argument with a friend or relative. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to convince myself of this with much success.

It is easy to get carried away when a subject you are passionate about is brought up by somebody whose opinion conflicts with your own. While some may react rapidly with directness, others may feel the need to remain silent, fearing the aftermath of a disagreement.

Comedian Tina Fey recently wrote a segment for Saturday Night Live following the events in Charlottesville, Va., denouncing white privilege and white supremacy through satire. In the skit, she jokingly said that people should just eat cake in response to white supremacists. A lot of controversy emerged in response to the segment as many criticized Fey for encouraging people to ignore racism rather than take action against it.

Disregarding racism gives it the space to grow and the time to strengthen, eventually leading to atrocities such as the ones seen in Charlottesville on Aug. 12 which led to the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Closer to home, according to a Statistics Canada report, the number of Islamophobic hate crimes reported to police in Canada increased by 60 per cent from 2014 to 2015.

Facing racism and bigotry can be terrifying, but reminding yourself of the experiences their victims go through should be enough to motivate you to try changing someone’s mind. Regrettably, some may see it as a hassle or a useless fight to confront a narrow-minded person, and prefer to silently avoid conflict.

While I strongly encourage people to stand up for their beliefs, I have not always done so in my own life. France, my home country, only legalized same-sex marriage in 2013. In 2010, when I began to discover my sexuality, homosexuality was still rather taboo in France, especially in the countryside where I am from. I hid my very own traits from most, making sure not to show signs that would reveal who I am. Yet, it was hard to ignore the comments, the degrading names, the unfounded criticism or the blatant disgust some people around me expressed toward openly queer people. Unfortunately, directly calling them out was challenging. Avoiding confrontation can sometimes be the safest solution, and it is sometimes the only thing that can be done.

This tendency to avoid conflict has unfortunately become even easier in our social media age where you can effortlessly choose the content you want to see or ignore. Yet, interacting with people who hold differing opinions is a good way to understand why they don’t agree with you. Furthermore, focusing on one issue and ignoring other issues around social matters such as gender identification, religion, women’s rights, healthcare or historical truth is not a way to be actively open-minded.

Over the years, I’ve become more and more outspoken about some of my opinions. An example would be a three-day long argument my roommate and I had about whether taking in refugees in Europe and North America was a good thing. The opinions he had on the matter were the gasoline fueling my fire. Occasionally during the argument, we would lose track of the points we were making or try to use irrelevant information as evidence—we just wanted to be right. After three days, we both agreed on one single thing—you need a strong will to learn and have a productive, mind-changing discussion.

Simply believing that opinions will evolve and shift over time is the worst way to seek change. Protests that turn violent and arguments that focus on winning rather than proving a fact-based point aren’t good solutions either. It is important to speak with people of different backgrounds and ask them about their own experiences. And while a person’s experience may not be enough to change your view, complementing it with research from diverse sources will allow a productive exchange of ideas.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin

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