Concordia Student Union News

Referendum questions ready for the ballot

CSU passes the questions that will appear on the referendum

Correction: A previous version of the article incorrectly stated that an additional student fee charge for Sustainability Concordia, The Link, and SEIZE could not be opted out of. They can be opted out — all fees collected for fee-levies organizations at Concordia can be opt-ed out of.

At the Concordia Student Union (CSU) meeting on Oct. 27, multiple questions were passed to be put on the referendum, including whether there should be a mandatory course on sustainability, and a charter of students’ rights. Here are some of the questions students will vote for in this upcoming election.

Position against transphobia

The CSU wants to add a position in support of trans, non-binary, and gender-non-conforming people to its positions book in lieu of the Quebec government’s proposed Bill 2.

Bill 2 will make it so that someone cannot change their sex on their government documentation without having gender-affirming surgery.

“It’s basically asking trans people to out themselves,” said Hannah Jamet-Lange, the CSU’s academic & advocacy coordinator.

Jamet-Lange explained that the CSU has a general position in their position book in solidarity with LGBTQIA2+ people, but Jamet-Lange wanted something that was specifically in support of trans, non-binary and gender-non-conforming people.

The position book is the CSU’s stance on political, social, and student-life issues. For any position to be added to the book, it must be first voted on by students in a referendum.


The CSU wants to know if students want Concordia University to implement a pass/fail grading option until the pandemic is over. For the 2020-2021 academic year, students were allowed to receive a pass/fail notation in one class per semester. It was implemented as a way to reduce stress and burnout in students.

“We’re still in the pandemic, and people are still struggling,” said Jamet-Lange, who explained that student stress has not lessened during the return to in-person classes due to the continuation of the pandemic.

Charter of Students’ Rights

This question is asking the Concordia community if the CSU should create a charter of students’ rights and responsibilities. Many universities have a charter of rights, including McGill and UQAM, but Concordia does not have one.

Jamet-Lange explained that the CSU wants to see if students are in support of the charter before the CSU puts in the time and effort of creating the document.

Sustainability Curriculum

According to the question, Concordia is four times lower than the Canadian national average on sustainability learning outcomes in the curriculum. The question asks if students want Concordia University to commit to ensuring that all students learn about sustainability and the climate crisis in the curriculum by 2030.

Fee levies

Fee levy groups are organizations elected by students in referendums who receive their funding from student fees. They provide different services for students, such as free meals from The People’s Potato.

Multiple fee levy groups are asking to increase the amount of money they collect from undergraduate students, such as the CSU Advocacy Centre, which provides students with independent representation in disciplinary proceedings. They are asking for an extra $0.14 per credit, resulting in a total increase to $0.45 of the fee-levy amount, as the negative impact of COVID-19 has caused an increase in students reaching out for help. This means the centre has had to increase its staff and hours in order to support the influx of students.

Should this pass, an additional student fee charge will also increase by $0.42, to a total of $1.35 per 3-credit course, which cannot be opted out from.

Sustainable Concordia, an initiative that aims to reform systems that contribute to the climate crisis, is asking for an increase as their organization is growing and wants to give more support to their staff. The fee-levy increase will be to $0.07 per credit, resulting in a total increase to $0.22, and will be annually adjusted to the Consumer Price Index of Canada.

This fee-levy increase will result in a change of $0.21 to an additional student fee charge, to a total of $0.66 per 3-credit course, which can be opted-out from.

The Link, another independent student media publication at Concordia University, is asking for an increase of $0.10, resulting in a total fee-levy increase to $0.29. The organization has not requested a change to their amount since 2001 according to The Link, and seeks to increase funds to support their reporting, improve multimedia opportunities for students, enhance diversity and equitability, and account for inflation.

Should this pass, an additional increase of $0.30 for every 3-credit course will be added to the student fee charge, resulting in a $0.87 fee which can be opted out from.

A new fee levy group, SEIZE, is asking to be established. It will become, “a solidarity economy incubator,” which will, “engage students through the support, development, study and promotion of democratic enterprises.” SEIZE’s fee would be $0.29 per credit.

Should this pass, an additional student fee charge of $0.87 per 3-credit course will be added, a fee which can be opted out from.

Recorded Lectures

The CSU is asking if students want them to advocate to the Concordia administration for the implementation of either live-streaming or recorded lectures. The CSU states that at the beginning of the pandemic, the university allowed for classes to be recorded. Now as classes return to in-person, recorded classes have been reduced, yet many students, such as international students, are still unable to attend them.


Photograph by Lou Neveux-Pardijon


The return of Pass/Fail

The pass/fail option is back with some changes

As the winter semester begins and Concordia students return to classes, the pandemic’s second wave remains in full force. To help students cope through the stress of the pandemic, Concordia University has reintroduced a pass/fail option, which will be available for the fall 2020 and winter 2021 semester.

The option gives students the ability to change one of their grades in an eligible class from a standard letter grade, to a PASS grade. Choosing a pass will allow students to take a grade which does not affect their GPA.

In a statement made to The Concordian the university said, “Concordia has developed a set of compassionate measures to support students … including a pass/fail option for one eligible course for both the fall 2020 and winter 2021, the automatic conversions of eligible F grades to a DISC notation and simplified and flexible final exam deferral requests.”

The University introduced a similar option during the winter 2020 semester with one large difference: students could take advantage of the pass/fail option with as many eligible classes as they liked. But it was only intended as a measure to ease students through the sudden change to virtual classes.

“The unforeseen disruption brought on by the start of the pandemic in March 2020 led to exceptional measures following the unanticipated change from in-person to remote learning and exams in the middle of the winter 2020 term,” said Concordia’s statement.

Students are glad to see pass/fail return, but wish they knew about it at the beginning of the fall term.

“I’m glad that they gave the option but I wish there was more of a comprehensive plan before the end of term,” said Claire Dyment, a second year psychology student.

“I wish they had announced it and seen this was going to happen at the beginning of the term. A lot of people thought they were gonna do bad in certain classes so they dropped them, but they could have just passed.”

The initial removal of the pass/fail option was disappointing to many students, considering classes were still being held online. When a number of referendum questions were posed to students in a Concordia Student Union by-election last November, students were asked if they would like to see the pass/fail option return while classes remained online. With a 17.8 per cent turnout of Concordia’s student population voting to bring back pass/fail, 91.5 per cent of students taking part voted yes.

The change to only allowing one pass per term seems to be a decision that some students think is fair.

“I think one class is pretty good, if we had too much wiggle room kids will start taking advantage of it,” said Dyment.

Some were also worried about how being able to pass/fail all of their classes would affect their future.

“I personally think it’s difficult to say if it’s a good thing or not … we haven’t had the conversation about how pass/fail will impact students in the long term, if having a bachelor’s degree that has a lot of pass/fail courses in it will hinder your chances at employment … or graduate school in the future.” Said Aya Chkirate, a first year finance student at Concordia.

“But at the same time I think it’s a good thing for students. In the short term it lets students focus on courses that might be more difficult.” Chkirate continued.

Students will be able to exercise the pass/fail option for the fall 2020 term as of Jan. 18 on their MyConcordia page. The deadline to request a pass is Jan. 22, 2021 at 5 p.m EST.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam

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