Guest Letter: Vote Yes for the Change We Need

Support Diversity and Social Solidarity Economic Development at Concordia

Over the next few days, students will be capable of voting in the Concordia Student Union (CSU) 2021 by-election. This year’s ballot is quite large with 13 referendum questions. Those referendum questions include: five fee levy referendum questions, two bylaw amendments, and six questions of importance. With a baker’s dozen worth of questions to be voted upon that stretch from student rights, to economic revolution, to issues of social justice and everything in between it may be hard to assess what’s in front of you.

In my role as general coordinator of the CSU, I have seen all these questions scrutinized and debated by the CSU Council prior to being sent to be voted on in this election. I would like to personally encourage everyone to vote yes to all the questions on the ballot but would also like to highlight certain questions which I believe will be quite impactful for students not only this academic year, but for many years into the future. Namely, the foundation referendum question and the creation of the diversity services fee levy.

The Diversity Services Office is a long overdue and sorely needed addition to the CSU. The creation of this fee levy by the CSU BIPOC Committee will support marginalized communities to proactively lead responsive and targeted initiatives. This office will advocate for a wider and more diverse community than the CSU has been previously capable of advocating for. Diversity Services will create a space in which marginalized students can embrace their identities, form solidarity, access leadership opportunities/resources, connect to diverse community organizations doing crucial work, and support ongoing student demands on how Concordia must do better. Given the many incidents of discrimination and marginalization happening across campus, students must have access to a space in which they feel safe, heard and represented. Overall the goal of the Diversity Services fee levy is to create an institutionalized branch of the CSU capable of fighting discrimination on campus and to give marginalized communities the support they currently lack. Lastly, I would like to thank my co-executives Camina Harrison-Chéry, Faye Sun and S Shivaane for the time and effort they put into spearheading this project to its current state, and to Sandra Mouafo who has recently joined the team to lead Diversity Services into the future!

The foundation referendum question asks students if they want the CSU to explore the possibility of using a portion of the interest from the investments in the CSU’s Student Space, Accessible Education, and Legal Contingency Fund (SSAELC) to support the social solidarity economic development on campus. While the words “social solidarity economic development on campus” is a mouthful, some prominent examples of these are the Hive Café and Reggies.

It is impossible to talk about the launch of these projects without talking about another referendum question on the ballot tomorrow, which is the SEIZE Concordia fee levy. If the funding for future student-led and democratically run projects comes from the passing of the foundation referendum question, the knowledge and training for students to learn how to operate them would come from SEIZE Concordia. Between both questions, a future in which students will be able to run their own campus via cooperative organizations is far closer than previously imagined.

Overall, this election sets the foundation for the CSU and students for years to come. It is inspiring to see so many great initiatives being spoken about, the energy these initiatives bring out of the student body and of course the potential they promise. And with that, I wish you all a happy election!

By: Eduardo Malorni, CSU General Coordinator. You can contact Eduardo Malorni at (


Photograph by Lou Neveux-Pardijon


Letter to the Editor

For over 3 decades, the Centre for Gender Advocacy has been fighting against gender oppression in its various forms. The staff of the Centre care deeply about ensuring that all Concordia students have equal access to education.

When students face gender oppression due to sexism, transphobia and/or homophobia (each of which are often compounded by other systems of oppression such as racism, ableism and classism), they are not able to derive as much benefit from their education as those who do not face these barriers. Students who face oppression have to work so much harder just to get through their university experience.

This is why we are encouraging all students to vote for candidates on the RiZe slate. For the position of Academic and Advocacy Coordinator, we encourage you to vote for independent candidate, Jane Lefebvre Prevost (although this should not be understood as meaning that there is a reason you should not vote for her RiZe counterpart, Harvin Hilaire who is also well-qualified for the job). The RiZe candidates and Jane are the only candidates who have addressed fighting sexual violence, the importance of intersectional feminism, the need for expanded mental health services, the importance of accessibility, the needs of international students and the necessity of paid internships from the very beginning.

With respect to every aspect of our work at the Centre for Gender Advocacy, we see a reflection of our values in the RiZe team as well as in Jane. These are candidates who care about survivors of sexual violence, who prioritize the needs of the most marginalized students and who understand that no one gets through their university education if they don’t have the support that they need and deserve.

One of the competing teams, Cut the Crap, has run a campaign branded with Trumpian references and promises to implement a system of online opt-outs that would defund our centre and many other groups that students depend on. If you care about the work that we do, if you or a loved one has ever benefited from our services, please vote for RiZe and Jane Lefebvre Prevost. Our continued operation depends on your support!




Dayna Danger, Programming and Campaigns Coordinator

Hikaru Ikeda, Administrative Coordinator

Jada Joseph, Peer Support Coordinator

Dalia Tourki, Trans Advocate and Public Educator

Shayna Hadley, Mapping Project Coordinator

Julie Michaud, Outreach Coordinator


Letter to the editor

On March 23, Concordia celebrated the completion of the final phase of the Webster Library Transformation project with great fanfare. Quebec’s Minister for Higher Education and Concordia administrators spoke of the significant government funding for the project and of the university’s commitment to the fundamental role of the library in support of world-class teaching and research. After enduring three years of renovations, students, staff and faculty can now enjoy amazing new study spaces and cutting-edge technology.

Not mentioned at the event, however, was that during this same period library staff have been forced to take a major pay cut, the direct result of the same Liberal government’s new pension bill and Concordia’s management priorities.

The library’s transformation can never be complete without real investment in staff. Our union’s collective agreement expired many months ago. It is time for the university to make a commitment to collective bargaining and to finally acknowledge the contributions of support staff to Concordia’s next-generation library.

Kent Cluff

President, Concordia University Library Employees Union (CULEU)



Letter to the editor

I aspire to join one of the most gratifying professions there is, a job where I take care of people in every aspect of their lives and where I make sure they can live in the best way possible. I’ve chosen a trade, not a calling—I saw it as a job, rather than a choice that requires me to give away all parts of my life. I’ve chosen to help others, but not at my expense.

I study nursing, and I work to afford school since I do not qualify for loans or bursaries and my parents cannot contribute financially to my studies. Not only do I work to study, but I take on debt to study. Finding a work-study balance is hard when my school and internship hours keep me from working as much as I should.

I never stop. The concept of a weekend no longer exists for me. On weekdays, I go to school, I have my internships. In the evenings, I study, I do my homework, I prepare for my courses and internships. On weekends, I work night shifts, day shifts, evening shits, on rotation and always according to the hospital’s needs. After my work shift, I study more, I prepare for my courses more and I start over, endlessly.

In this never-ending hustle, I have to find time for daily tasks like anybody else would, such as cleaning, doing laundry, running errands, making lunches, washing dishes, dealing with my landlord, calling my bank and my insurance company—all of that on a budget calculated down to the penny. Things add up during these endless weeks: sleep deprivation, malnutrition and stress. Stress, because my budget is already tight enough when my tuition fees come up, along with my winter electricity bill, the pile of books that will cost me three months worth of rent and my bus fare for the semester. Stress, because I need to decide what I won’t be capable of paying this month: internet, my credit card bill, my driver’s license?

My internships represent over 1,000 hours of unpaid work and are required for my training by my program. More than 1,000 hours where I do not study, but work. Yet I am not paid. I can say that I work because I accomplish the same tasks as the nursing staff. Even though I’m not paid, I’m legally responsible for my patients and for the care that I give, just the same as any other nurse, because I am a professional. I am there for over eight hours a day, and I must remain smiling, comprehensive, efficient, precise, impeccable. I am required to be just as good as the regular staff. And yet, I am not a nurse. I am a student. I am not protected by labour standards.

There is no consideration for the fact that I work to afford school, that I live under the poverty line and that I am accumulating a financial and sleep debt that are both growing day by day. I am told I need to deal with it, that my internship will prepare me, that my working conditions won’t be much different than my current conditions as an intern. I am told that lack of sleep on top of psychological and work overloads await me when I become a full-time nurse.

During our internships, just like at work, nursing students must arrive 30 minutes before and leave 30 minutes after our eight-hour shift so that continuity of care is assured for our patients. An extra hour every day. Everyone is under pressure. If an error occurs, I am just as responsible as the nurses. I may be expunged, even if I am just a student. I may be sued, even though I am in training. I am treated like a nurse from a legal standpoint, and I am asked to be a nurse from a professional point of view. I am told to be irreproachable, even though I am learning.

I do the same tasks as the hospital staff: the vital signs, the hygienic care, the medication, the checkups, educating beneficiaries and much more. I have access to the same insufficient resources, the same dysfunctional spaces—where one-patient rooms are transformed into two-patient rooms, where each act of care requires moving an entire set of equipment. It’s an environment where everyone is caught up in the gymnastics of doing more with less. I am subjected to the same conditions, the same cuts that I am told are just the tip of the iceberg.

Teachers and society are trying to force students into a defective mould instead of changing it. The solution does not reside in more budget cuts to a system that is already choking from having to tighten its belt. I work and I study in public fields that are crying out for help, accustomed to seeing their budgets amputated year after year. In these fields, many take it upon themselves to deal with these burdens. We tell ourselves that beneficiaries should not be the ones having to pay and suffer for these budget cuts, so we suffer blow after blow. As a woman, a student, a worker, a recipient and giver of care, as a citizen, I speak out in opposition of this oppression.

I am opposed to this endless austerity. I advocate for the women in every field, for the student-parents, for those who take on debt, for those who go back to school for a better future, for those who work two jobs during their studies just to get by.

I am often asked why I carry on, why I’m an activist, why I chose the nursing trade. I have chosen to discuss the issues, the problems, the solutions, to get involved and to go on strike. I have chosen to refuse to work for free and without better rights and working conditions. I am doing it to make a difference, be it for the beneficiaries, the students, the workers or the parents. I believe that by choosing to give wages to interns, we can all make a difference for interns and, as a result, the patients they care for.

By Kaëlla Stapels, Collège de Maisonneuve

Letter to the editor

I’m writing in response to an article by The Concordian titled ”CSU housing co-operative may fail” which was published on Jan. 30. The article suggested the Concordia Student Union (CSU) might have to cancel Concordia’s co-operative student housing complex project due to a $200,000 cost overrun which will be incurred because of a recent demand for a brick facade made by the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough.

I was a CSU councillor and voted in favour of this project’s budget when it was presented in Fall 2016. We took money from the Student Spaces funds which, at the time, had millions of dollars in its account to pay for this project. And this is exactly where my question and confusion arises: why not take another $200,000 from the same fund and transfer it to the student housing project?

This project is worth further investment. I understand if the CSU is hesitant to invest further and is, perhaps, trying to call on its partners for a solution before making another investment, but whether or not there’s enough money in the Spaces fund for an additional $200,000 investment needs clarification: can we not afford another $200,000 investment for student housing? If the answer to this question is no, in the context of our surplus net worth as an organization, I wonder where exactly our priorities as a student union lie.


Armani Martel


Letter to the editor

I write to voice my support for the Oct. 3 editorial, “Curriculums and Classes: Where Diversity Falls Short at Concordia.” I think it is crucial that students forthrightly address the insufficient diversity of faculty and curricula, challenging faculty and administration to address this problem as directly as possible.

In the Department of English, where I teach, there are presently 28 tenured or tenure-track faculty. Only two of these are people of colour—a figure wildly disproportionate to the diversity of Concordia students. Last year our department hired an Indigenous scholar in the field of Indigenous literature, and this is an important step forward. Yet in the department’s two previous job searches, none of the finalists were people of colour. Since one of those searches was in the field of Global Anglophone Literature (i.e. postcolonial literature), this is particularly troubling.

Unfortunately, efforts to advocate for diversification of faculty and curricula are too often met with anxiety and defensiveness. Last year an English department graduate student proposal for a research assistant position to help diversify syllabi was rejected by faculty. When a hiring committee made diversification of the department a key consideration in a search last year, they were rebuked by a higher committee for prioritizing diversity too much—hardly plausible given the composition of our faculty mentioned above. The English department’s proposal for a cluster hire in Black Studies to support the development of an interdisciplinary minor in that field was not selected among cluster hiring initiatives. It is always possible to gesture toward one recent hire or another in order to indicate progress on these issues, but it is also necessary to point out instances in which such progress has been impeded—especially given the structural reality of neglect on this front over recent decades. Sometimes the same diversity initiatives that are met with initial suspicion and resistance, then blocked at the level of implementation, are lauded as signs of progress because they have been proposed. That isn’t good enough.

The Collective Agreement of the Concordia University Faculty Association states that “The Parties agree that Concordia University would better advance the essential functions of the University, namely the pursuit, creation and dissemination of knowledge through teaching and research, if the diverse composition of Canadian society were better reflected in the bargaining unit. Therefore the Parties agree to encourage an increase in the proportion of members of under-represented designated groups as defined in the relevant legislation.” My view is that faculty and administration at Concordia need to do a better job of prioritizing this stipulation. It is heartening to see students insist on this point.

Nathan Brown
Associate Professor of English
Canada Research Chair in Poetics
Concordia University

Letter to the editor

Among a variety of recent diversity initiatives, the Department of English successfully advertised for a tenure-stream appointment in Indigenous Literature and Culture; presented to the Faculty of Arts and Science a detailed proposal for a cluster hire in Black Studies; and submitted a second proposal for a tenure-stream appointment in the 19th Century Black Atlantic. Though neither of the latter bids was approved, we are confident that the University will respond again to our promotion of such priorities. We have submitted to the Faculty a Letter of Intent detailing a proposal for an Interdisciplinary Minor in Black Studies, supported by the Departments of Geography and History, and are now preparing the formal proposal.

The Department consults with its student associations on matters of curricular development, but note that, by citing only those courses that explicitly and exclusively treat issues of race, gender, and sexuality, your 3 October editorial elides their pervasiveness in the English curriculum.  It is not only our courses on e.g. African Literature, Caribbean Literature, Gender and Sexuality, etc. that historicize and theorize these issues, so too do those on traditional subjects, such as Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton.  This is no less true of our courses on the graphic novel, electronic media, and literary theory.  Our required Introduction to Literary Studies outlines theories of race, sexuality, and gender.  Any synoptic, national or historical subject we teach is the occasion for sustained treatment of these issues.  The editorial did not mention, for instance, our courses on Modernism and American Postmodernism; yet, though the editorial may neglect the fundamental contributions of African-American writers to modernist and postmodernist literature, these courses most certainly do not.

Whether or not it should be axiomatic, as the editorial proposes, that courses on subjects directly concerning BIPOC students “should be taught by those who identify as such” or “should be led by black professors,” such insistence would prevent us from offering those courses until the University endorses our requests for further hires in these areas.  Furthermore, all of us want to avoid a patronizing racial calculus whereby those members of visible minorities on our faculty would be typecast to teach according to pigment.

Students continue to play a signal role in fostering a responsible, effective, and compelling policy of inclusive excellence in our department, for which your impetus is appreciated.


Andre Furlani, Chair

Department of English

Rebuttal to article “A better life for animals can be found outside of zoos”

In reference to the article “A Better Life for Animals Can be Found Outside of Zoos,” we would argue where outside?  The writer mentions sanctuaries and conservation centers as better options. The truth is, accredited zoos and aquariums are both sanctuaries and conservation centers.

Webster defines a sanctuary as a place where someone or something is protected and given shelter.  All accredited zoos and aquariums have rigorous welfare and regulatory standards and can point to an excellent record of having healthy, long-lived animals in their care.  We are in the midst of what has been identified as the 6th extinction. The rate of extinction has increased a hundred-fold in the last century with over 18,000+ species facing oblivion. As we work together to mitigate threats, zoos provide a safe haven for species under threat.

Conservation can be defined as the protection and preservation of natural ecosystems and wildlife.  Accredited zoos and aquariums conduct and contribute to active programs that aid species survival, research and conservation, both at home and in the wild.  Zoos collectively are spending $350 million annually to ensure the future of highly endangered species in the wild.  This contribution rivals partner conservation organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund and the Nature Conservancy.  Our zoo has been instrumental in the developmental of wildlife reserves in Armenia, Peru, Kenya and Niger. Locally we have restored approximately 170 acres of native pollinator habitat.  We have worked with international and regional agencies to reintroduce Partula snails to Tahiti, scimitar-horned oryx to Chad, and American burying beetles and hellbenders to our state–Missouri.

The writer also challenges the important role zoos play in educating the public.  Today, well over 50 percent of our populations live in cities. We are rapidly becoming divorced from the realities of the natural world.  Every year, over 700 million visits are made to zoos and aquariums that are members of national or regional associations around the world.  Our zoo alone is annually visited by over 3 million people. In 2016, we conducted over 4,830 education programs, activities and offered educational services to 816,000 people. The types of sanctuaries references by the writer are not open to the public and have little capacity to educate.

Finally, the writer suggests that the goal of zoos is to make money.  Many accredited zoos are non-profits as is my own Zoo. In fact, we assume the high costs of exceptional animal care with no return on that investment other than the satisfaction of knowing animals we care for inspire the people who see them and may encourage those visitors to work to conserve species for future generations.

Zoos and aquariums and zoo-based conservationists, like me, provide a vital connection to the world of wildlife and our environment.  Together we help foster an understanding and a perception of nature and why saving wild things and wild places matters.

Michael Macek, BS, MBA

Chief Operating Officer

Saint Louis Zoo

Let’s #CUcompost

Only 50 years ago, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich wrote “the battle to feed all of humanity is over,” in a book titled The Population Bomb. He predicted that millions would starve within a decade despite any emergency program. The Green Revolution proved him wrong with cross-breeding to develop high-yield and disease-resistant wheat—the world population doubled within 40 to 50 years and production per acre quadrupled.

Now, another food security crisis looms. According to the UN, we waste one third of the food we produce, while 0.8 billion people are undernourished. The UN states it would cost $30 billion to address the world’s food crisis, while food waste losses in industrialized countries alone cost $680 billion. Food waste in industrialized countries occurs mainly at the consumer level. This one is in our hands!

Photo by Kim Gagnon

Beyond reducing food waste, diversion is also critical. Landfills are a leading methane emitter. Simply put, reducing and diverting waste would reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically—composting transforms organics into soil.

At Concordia, 43 per cent of waste (255 tonnes) is compostable. Yet, we compost 67 tonnes, and send 188 tonnes to landfills, according to the 2013-2014 Concordia waste audit. We should do better.

The challenge is multi-faceted. Compost bins are rare at Concordia, compostable waste is sent to an out-of-province composting facility, and, ultimately, this social issue requires a culture change.

While Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) at Concordia insists that using closer facilities may not significantly reduce emissions, they also recognize the need for on-site composting. We should strive for a closed, self-sufficient food cycle where we use our own compost to grow our food.

Any on-campus awareness campaign should include two goals: firstly, ensure that compostable waste goes to compost bins, and secondly, minimize the contamination of compost bins with non-compostables. Contamination produces poor quality soil, which is an ongoing problem for Concordia’s City Farm School and Greenhouse, who use compost to grow food on campus.

Last year, Concordia Council on Student Life (CCSL) funded a collaboration called Waste Not, Want Not with a $35,000, two-year grant. The collaboration includes students (Graduate Individualized Student Association), faculty (Loyola Sustainability Research Center) and administration (EH&S). It has three synergistic pillars: more widespread compost bins, a better composting model and an educational campaign.

CCSL funding is to pay only for education, while Concordia’s vice president of services, Roger Coté, stressed his commitment to infrastructure investments. The Sustainable Action Fund (SAF) supported the Waste Not, Want Not campaign with another $1,000.

So far, so good—the number of public compost bins on campus have doubled. Almost all student and university orientation events include compost, and an intensive social media campaign has been launched. 1,500 people engaged per day in a five-day food festival, catered by our very own Hive Café Co-op, to learn how to compost on campus.

More than 62 students, 47 staff and 20 professors signed up to volunteer. Student volunteers, who will be recognized by Concordia’s Co-Curricular Record (CCR), informed the university community about the new compost bins. Staff volunteers, including security, have compost desk signs. Professor volunteers gave class presentations. Concordia’s Creative Reuse Center provided our artistic volunteers with art supplies diverted from landfills to make signs. Concordia’s community is engaged, committed and invested. Like a campfire, though, this spark of community engagement must be maintained with concrete actions.

Concordia is a 50,000-member community, the size of a small town. Much of what we do can be like adding a drop to a bucket of water. To change the culture, that drop must be like ink, changing the colour of the water. Compost must be made present in our minds consistently and persistently.

This year, the Graduate Student Association (GSA) adopted a sustainability policy aiming to reduce and compost food waste. The graduate community must remain vigilant to implement that policy. Concordia Student Union (CSU) already has a sustainability policy, and a campus-wide policy is in the works. Other associations should follow.

All events taking place in the university where food is served should automatically be provided with compost bins as part of the space booking process. Events organized by student associations, faculties, gradpro skills, institutes, research centres and Alumni Relations should be zero waste. While the establishment of policy remains necessary, staff champions who organize those events can make a real and positive difference.

Photo by Kim Gagnon

There are still less than 30 public compost bins. Expansions in public areas and staff kitchenettes are planned but have yet to materialize. Implementing on-site composting remains uncertain, as the Loyola composter remains inoperable. Further infrastructure investments with clear timelines are necessary.

Such infrastructure investments are not unheard of fairy tales for universities. The University of Sherbrooke diverts about 80 per cent of its waste away from landfills, ensures that all common areas, kitchens and lounges are equipped with compost bins, and operates its own composter with a 70 tonnes annual capacity, according to their website. Concordia diverts about 60 per cent of its waste. A total of 363 tonnes of waste from Concordia go to landfills, 188 tonnes of which is compostable—more than 50 per cent—according to Concordia’s 2013-2014 waste audit. Compost should be priority one!

While Concordia’s new strategic directions do not explicitly include sustainability, a separate “outline” integrating it within the new directions was composed by the sustainability governance framework—university committees on sustainability. We must act with a sense of urgency to live up to the sustainability expectations of both Concordia and international communities.

In the meantime, buy only what you need, finish your meals and throw your leftover food and contaminated paper in the compost bins with orange lids! A community consultation hosted by Concordia’s Facilities Management is scheduled for Dec. 2 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in GM 1060-01 to discuss future Concordia investments in on-site composting.

For more information, visit Whether you are a student, faculty or staff member, join us and share pictures of your sustainable events on our Facebook and Twitter (@CUcompost).

– PhD student Keroles Riad and Professor Peter Stoett

Tuition Hike

In response to Concordia University’s statements to the Concordian regarding the administration’s proposal to increase tuition for incoming international students in deregulated programs through cohort pricing (“Concordia responds to possible tuition hikes,” Tuesday November 18), as an elected representative of the Concordia Student Union I feel obligated to present clarifications of our own.

University spokesperson Chris Mota’s assertion that there would be student input regarding the proposal is very questionable. Yes, “all members of the board, student governors included, will vote on the proposal;” but of 25 members of the board, only two students are eligible to vote, and only one is an undergraduate. A single representative vote at the point of adoption is not the opportunity for proper undergraduate input.

The CSU, like the Concordian, has been told that the cohort pricing proposal is justified by feedback from surveys with prospective international students. We are still waiting, however, on any basic details regarding these surveys, including when and where they were conducted and what exactly were the questions asked. In any case, market surveys are not a substitute for consultation which those who represent the memberships that will be affected.

We are confused by President Alan Shepard’s statement that “historically, [Concordia has] been setting the tuition to be exactly identical to the tuition rise prescribed by the Quebec government for Quebec residents and the rest of canadian [sic] students, which is still regulated by the government,”

We do not know if he referring to one of two different rates of annual tuition increase: for example, in 2015 the increase was 1.5 per cent for Quebec residents, and 3.8 percent for Canadian students out-of-province.

Regardless, we read this statement as false, since Concordia has been setting the tuition increase rate for international students in deregulated programs the same as the rate for regulated programs, with the exception of major tuition hikes for some deregulated programs implemented in the 2008/09 and 2009/10 academic years. This is why international undergraduate students in JMSB currently pay an extra $186.26 per credit ($717.69 instead of $531.43), and undergraduate international ENCS students pay an extra $62.62 per credit ($656.21 instead of $593.59), compared to the regulated programs (refer to

We agree with Dr. Shepard in that we “regret [this] being played out […] like we’re debating international tuition in the press,” since we at the CSU would prefer that conversations regarding decisions that impact members of our community be open, transparent, and bring representatives of affected stakeholders to the table. We invite direct conversation with the University administration in place of conversation through the proxy of the student press. However, it is better that these ‘debates’ happen at all than have no conversation prior to the Board of Governors’ adoption and its presentation as a fait accompli.

This past Wednesday we heard international students at our public Town Hall talk about their own experiences with financial precarity and disenfranchisement within the institution, and we suggest that Concordia listen to its students as well.

– Lucinda Marshall-Kiparissis, General Coordinator of the CSU

An Open Letter to America

Since when did America, a country founded by immigrants, by freedom fighters, by naysayers oftyranny and monarchy, decide that fear would instill hatred, instead of courage and the offering of help?

Building walls, real or symbolic, has the same effect; distrust. Distrust in country-men who are supposed to stand up in arms for each other, speak up for each other, watch after each other.

This is not the world I want to live in.

More importantly, it is not the world I want my children to live in.

The influence of an individual with so much power is not just strong, but inevitable. He will shape the minds of thousands just by existing and by being given a platform to do so, so publicly. Lest not forget that already half the population thinks the way he does, voting for homophobia and misogyny and racism every time they cheer his name at a rally. And with every mind he influences and heart he hardens, hate propagates, and hate wins. If the consequences of one person pushing such cruelties is catastrophic, imagine the effect thousands will have. It will be devastating. It will be nuclear, like the codes he will hold.

Every act of hatred is a step backwards. This is not the future in which I want to raise my children.

The truth is, I am not sure he is as hateful as he claims to be. He is racist of course, gross in the way he treats women, and disloyal to the bone, but he lacks the conviction of a true hate monger. He is weak, and he is selfish, and combined this might be the most dangerous threat we have yet to face. One who will sell himself, those he loves, and definitely those he is indifferent to, for power. The most consequential job in the world, given to the most inconsequentially oriented man, is a recipe for disaster.

Our country is safe, but still we lead precautious lives. I am afraid to walk alone in the dark, and in the light, because my monsters look just like me. They are colleagues and neighbors, coworkers and fellow students. They have been fueled by an anger they recognize in themselves, and feel entitled to act as they may, following the largest and loudest example.

I am afraid for all those who do not look, worship, or talk like President Trump. I am afraid for the children born in America who will be sent away, expected to reappropriate themselves with a culture that is unfamiliar, and not truly their own. Worse, I am afraid for the children whose parents will have to leave, and who’s American dream will be cut short.

I am afraid for women, and our suffrage. It feels halted, all of a sudden. In my lifetime, I might never see a woman in the White House. It seems inconceivable that we will be respected, considered equal, by an individual who believes women exist for his taking and pleasure. Who can be grabbed, touched, shaped, lengthened, thinned, and rated as he wishes. How will we recover?

I am afraid for love. Legality can and should span the threshold for action and conspiracy, but not for that of emotion. Laws that govern emotions should be illegal, but alas, it is the emotions that will be regulated. I am very afraid for love.

And lastly, I am afraid for America. Your legacy has been one of strength, tolerance, hope, and dreams, please hold on to this. Thomas Jefferson said, “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.” I believe this applies to the governing authority, and I believe your trust in authority is at its most tested and precarious. Do not underestimate the deep rootedness of hate in your country, for it is real, and evidently prominent. Stay strong, acknowledge and celebrate acts of kindness, large or small. Keep fighting for goodness. This is how you will win the election, after the fact.

Good luck.

– Maya Botti, mechanical engineering student at Concordia


Support Social Justice, Resist Racism and Sexism, Vote Yes to QPIRG Concordia

For the past two weeks, I’ve had the honor to be the Chairperson of the “Vote Yes to QPIRG Concordia” referendum committee, and it’s been a privilege to meet with so many Concordia students during the campaign, and to realize how many people on campus care so deeply about a better world and building a more caring community.

I would like to take this opportunity, before campaigning ends and voting begins, to share some key messages of our campaign, and to urge students to turn out in large numbers and Vote Yes next week.

QPIRG Concordia, has been an important progressive presence on campus for four decades. QPIRG’s core mission is anti-oppression, and actively organizing to support mobilizing and popular education efforts. In an era with a troubling rise in racism, sexism and homophobia, enabled by far-right politicians like Donald Trump, unapologetic social justice organizations like QPIRG are needed more than ever.

Importantly, QPIRG Concordia provides a welcome and nurturing place for students, and community members, to get acquainted with issues, in a non-judgmental setting. It’s a place for growth, mentorship, and support. QPIRG Concordia has an amazing array of projects, initiatives and publications — School Schmool alternative agenda, Convergence undergraduate research journal, Study In Action undergraduate research conference, the Alternative Library, DisOrientation, more than 30 Working Groups — that in diverse ways support and sustain students who want to be engaged members of their community. All of these benefits are available for students for free, as a result of a fee levy.

It’s been almost a decade since QPIRG has had a fee levy increase, a reasonable time to again ask students for a modest 8 cents per credit increase to allow QPIRG Concordia to be an effective part of the progressive social and environmental justice community at Concordia and Montreal.

Next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, November 15-17, have your student card on hand, visit one of the polling booths on either campus, and be sure to VOTE YES to QPIRG Concordia, your campus-community link for progressive social change.

-Sima Youssef

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