Concordia has no immediate plans to address boil-water advisory in the annexes

Student Organizations feel Concordia’s struggle to permanently address water-advisories is indicative of other maintenance issues

Since water advisories were first posted on Concordia’s downtown campus, little has been done to implement a long-term solution and provide clean running water to Concordia’s annex buildings.

In a September 2021 communication by Concordia Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), it was announced that “​​preliminary findings appear to indicate the presence of lead in the water of certain annex buildings on the Sir George Williams campus.”

The response by Concordia was to provide water bottles to the annexes, until free standing water coolers were eventually installed. They also posted signage at sinks and faucets.

Further testing was completed to determine the severity of the lead content in the annexes. Following a second test, the water advisory in some buildings was removed. However, many buildings were still determined to have unsafe drinking water and were placed under water advisory. According to Internal Affairs Coordinator of the CSU, Harrison Kirshner, two of the annexes that were particularly affected were the P and K buildings, where many club offices are located.

“There is an investigation that needs to be done. It’s not a quick fix, unfortunately,” said Lina Filacchione, the manager of occupational health and hygiene for EHS. “We have to know where it’s coming from, what the actual problem is before you start to figure out what’s the solution to this.”

The origin of the lead will determine if the water issue falls under the city of Montreal or Concordia’s jurisdiction.

But, the investigation to determine the origins of the lead is delayed and permanently fixing the issue is not Concordia’s first priority at the moment.

“The main issue is really making sure that they have drinking water. That’s the base priority,” said Filacchione.

Despite Concorida’s response, student organizations are feeling uninformed about the situation. Matthew Dodds is the office manager of Concordia’s Graduate Students’ Association, which is based out of the annex. He says the last communication regarding the water advisory came out last November.

“Some updates like ‘we are still testing the water, or here are some infrastructure solutions we’re working on’ would have been nice,” said Dodds. “These are old buildings, we do deserve to know what’s going on in them, we do work in them. We provide services out of them.”

While Dodds and other student organizations affected by the advisory want to be kept in the loop, there is not much more to tell them according to the EHS. “There’s been no new updates since then. We send updates when we are doing some testing,” said Filacchione.

“It’s still ongoing. It’s still on the agenda, but as for the ‘when’ and ‘how long it will take,’ I don’t have the answer for that unfortunately.”

The most likely next step according to Filacchione would be to get consultants to come and determine the source of the lead, but even that has not yet been put into motion.

The lack of communication from Concordia’s maintenance services echoes other issues that Dodds has experienced working out of the annexes.

“It took me two weeks to get a lightbulb changed,” said Dodds. “I wonder sometimes if the maintenance team at the university is smaller than it should be.”

Kirshner has been in communication with the university regarding the water advisory and other maintenance issues. Like Dodds, he says that this response from the university is nothing new. Many organizations have struggled in the past to receive prompt maintenance support.

“It’s important for them to take action, because students deserve to have an on-campus environment no matter what building they’re in, including the P and K annexes. I think those are the annexes that most of student life takes place in, and clubs deserve to have adequate resources in their office space,” said Kirshner.

“It’s typical of this institution. So, for example, the Muslim Students Association have a library at the ground floor of the E annex and the roof is about to collapse. So they can’t use the library. I’ve been trying to follow up [with Concordia] since September on this and they say ‘we’re working on it.’ Well, okay, but what are you doing about it?”

Despite the fact that the university has followed through on their promise to supply water coolers, Kirshner wants to see greater action on maintenance issues.

Kirshner says he has a scheduled meeting with EHS regarding clubs and the annexes in general where he wants to “get the ball rolling” on these issues. But for now, there are no long-term plans to provide clean running water to the annexes other than the installation of water coolers.

Filacchione said they know these spaces are occupied and used by many departments and faculty. “We need to be cognizant of that and make sure we’re meeting their needs.”

Photos by Kaitlynn Rodney

Student Life

Ten tips to maintain your computer part III

It’s time to upgrade!

Before the Christmas break, we tackled some tips on how to maintain your computer, and we prefaced the dreaded section that deals with becoming a “computer mechanic”. So let’s stop dawdling and paddle on through!

  1. Upgrade your RAM
    Random access memory isn’t just name of that hip new Daft Punk album, it’s also essentially the heart of the computer. More RAM means more things can get done simultaneously and, to a certain extent, at a faster speed. In standard desktop PCs RAM is fairly easy to replace, and there are hundreds of image guides and YouTube videos floating around to show you just how to do it. The truth is, it boils down to just putting a long green chip in a slot and clamping it down. There is hardly any way to get it wrong. Laptops and Macs are a bit more complex. Laptop RAM is generally smaller, a bit more expensive, and requires that you replace a couple of tiny screwdrivers. Under your laptop you’ll usually find a few spots that are screwed shut (in some cases, just one). Macs tend to be a bit harder to service, usually requiring a few tools to crack open, and have a fairly limited supply of hardware to replace their usual lineups. But it CAN be done!

  2. Change your motherboard and processor (PC desktops only)
    So things aren’t running so hot: your computer is older than your nearly completed Bachelor’s degree (or worse, older than your nearly completed Master’s), and you think it might be time to give the old computer a good makeover. Motherboards and processors are essentially the brain of the computer, and this pair usually make up the bulk of the price of a new computer. If you’re not looking to go top of the line, though, models from a season or so ago can be fairly inexpensive. Shopping around for deals on Amazon, Newegg Canada or NCIX is a great way to keep an eye out and give your computer a makeover for a few hundred dollars. The process itself does require a bit of finesse and skill, but if you follow the instructions patiently, you’ll have a new brain for your evil Windows robot.

  3. Start over from scratch
    When push comes to shove, sometimes it’s okay to just let go, bury the hatchet and give your computer a proper burial. Laptops are expensive to service in-depth, and sometimes it just isn’t worth footing the bill to keep your desktop PC on life-support. But if you’re already this far down the line, you may want to consider starting from scratch. If you’re broke, and just trying to get something that can throw some text down, keep an eye out for clearances at local electronic shops, or on the sites listed in tip number two. Clearance items will drop as low as 50 per cent of their original cost, and nothing says “hell yeah!” like paying $300 for what is basically a new laptop. Desktop PC users, rejoice too: PC Part Picker will help you build the best computer you can with the budget you’ve got, if you’re willing to get your toolbox out and spend a few hours plugging things into one another. Mac users, you haven’t been forgotten (much): Apple is ALWAYS giving discounts to students, often up to 20 per cent off of their laptops and desktop computers. Take advantage of this, seriously!

  4. Be patient
    There’s no other way to put it. Taking good care of a computer does require a little bit of TLC. Computers are tools (for now anyways), and problems are usually solved by being patient and methodical. If you keep your cool when servicing your or your friends’ computers, you can get through things faster and often learn a thing or two about how to do it better next time.

Computers are hard work sometimes, but ultimately, taking good care of it while it’s still healthy will keep it alive a lot longer than just pushing the poor thing for years on end without any regard for its well-being. Until the machine overlords rise up and take over the earth, we’re lucky that we can get away with it.


Student Life

Tips to maintain your computer: Part 2

The nitty-gritty of getting a computer back to its optimal state

So last week we talked a lot about little software tips to make your life easier, and keeping your computer running like the day you bought it. Sometimes, those simple tricks aren’t enough and you really need to get your hands dirty (in some cases literally) to get your computer’s life back on track.

  1. It’s time to clean up.
    Computers have a lot of fans inside them: fans that suck in air, and fans that blow it out. The reality of all things air-related is that dust gets around, and computers are notorious for spawning entire families of small dust bunnies. Now you may think to yourself “How is this relevant, Jocelyn?” Well, in truth, dust isn’t conductive, but it’s surprisingly good at retaining heat. Computers have measures in place to slow down when a certain core temperature is reached in order to avoid damaging their components. While boxed computers have it a bit easier, Macs and laptops are particularly vulnerable to accumulating dust considering their very compressed nature. With a few screwdrivers and a bit of compressed air, you can clean up your computer’s innards and keep its temperature running as smooth as always. Not sure what things are looking like in your computer? Go pick up Speccy, a useful little tool that will give you statistics about your computer’s temperature readouts and let you know if you’re running high or critical. This process is a bit more complicated on Macs and you might need to hit your local Apple store or Apple certified professional to open up the computer and do the maintenance. Unfortunately, because of the design choice on Macs, it’s (almost) impossible to get easy access to your computer’s innards when using an Apple computer.

  2. The dreaded factory reset
    Operating systems aren’t perfect, and in fact they’re generally not so great at longevity. If all the above steps still aren’t helping you out, then maybe it’s time to do the dreaded factory restore. Macs and newer versions of Windows usually have an easy way to restore everything to fresh in no time flat. Obviously, if you’re going to undertake this step it can’t be stressed enough that you need to back up your important data because you are going to lose everything. So make use of that Google drive, OneDrive, iCloud and other cloud storage accounts to keep your stuff from getting wiped out. If that isn’t enough space, consider getting a little backup drive. These are usually set up to automatically back up your data at set intervals and keep your data from getting killed from hardware failure, or a stint of forgetfulness when doing a factory restore.

  3. Check your hardware (PC Only)
    Maintenance isn’t just about prevention; some of it also boils down to detecting issues that might be occurring in your hardware. It’s common for certain parts of a computer to eventually go bad. Often the fixes required are cheap and don’t require much work, much less in fact than the go-to choice of just buying a new computer altogether. There are LOADS of available tools for running hardware diagnostics. Apple users have a convenient tool called the Apple Hardware Test Tool, which will run you through things fairly painlessly. PC users might have a bit of harder time, but with a little bit of reading and a USB stick that’s at least 2GB, you can use a handy tool called UBCD (Ultimate Boot CD), which will allow you to run a plethora of hardware tests on every piece of hardware you own, and let you know if things are going wrong. This requires a bit of know-how, but it’s nothing a bit of Google-fu won’t fix.

Next week, check online where we’ll cover ever nittier and grittier ways to tune up your computer. Stay tuned!

Student Life

Some tips to maintain your computer – Part 1

Things getting a bit slow? Maybe it’s time to do some maintenance

Computers are fantastic tools that have become a part of our day-to-day life. Like all tools, though, they can get a little worn down over time and many things can contribute to your computer working less efficiently. If that sounds all too familiar to you, then perhaps it’s about time to give your computer a little bit of tender loving care. Lucky for you, most of these steps are fairly easy and will significantly improve your computer’s performance!

  1. Defrag your disk
    Windows users will definitely hear this come up as part of the routine necessary to keep up maintenance on their drives. Because of how downloading, deleting, installing and removing files from your disk work under Windows, hard disks will become “fragmented.” What this means, in short, is that data is written on your disk in little bits, and file fragments will take up blocks on your drive that are located in different sectors. This isn’t noticeable visually, but because the operating system will need to read files spread across different sectors, things may take a little longer to start up. Defragmenting your drive will re-organize these fragments neatly. Mac users: count your lucky stars! OS X is fairly awesome at keeping things neat in the first place, which is why some operations can take a little longer from the get-go.

  2. Keep some available space
    Computers run on memory to give you the ability to multitask. When you hear the term RAM (Random Access Memory), it refers to the amount of available memory your computer has to run multiple programs, tabs in your browser and anything else you might be doing at the time. What isn’t mentioned, though, is that computers will also use a portion of hard drive space as cached memory to help speed things along. Having almost no disk space left (usually under five per cent of your total disk space) can have a significant impact on the speed at which things get done. If you’re finding yourself running low on space, why not save some of your files on the Cloud? Services like dropbox,, Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive give you a ton of storage space to keep your things, give you the ability to use them as a networked drive on your computer so you can access them any time you’re online, and sync them from your smartphone, your tablet, or any other computer via the web.

  3. Clean up your registry (Windows users)
    Windows runs a lot of its smart tasks using a registry system called “regedit” (registry editor). This is where a lot of settings, and other things that Windows will remember for you, are saved up. Unfortunately, Windows isn’t very good at keeping it optimized, and those who aren’t power-users might find themselves overwhelmed by what to do in the registry. Tools like CCleaner can help clean things up for you efficiently and freely, and running it every once in a while is a great idea for keeping your tasks running as smoothly as possible.

That’s all for this week folks, but check back next week for another few tips on keeping things running as well as they can.

Exit mobile version