Concordia’s library and support staff join the ongoing boycott of the SMSV

The ongoing boycott against the SMSV exposes Concordia’s years of mishandling sexual violence cases, underscoring the pressing need for policy reform.

On March 8, International Women’s Day, Concordia University’s Support Staff Union (CUSSU) and Library Support Staff (CULEU) joined the Concordia Student Union (CSU), the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) and Concordia Research and Education Workers (CREW) in their ongoing boycott of the university’s Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence Committee (SMSV).

The boycott is an initiative against Concordia’s years of mismanagement and inadequacy in handling sexual assault and violence cases of students, teaching assistants (TAs), research assistants (RAs), and staff. 

The SMSV was created in 2018 as a measure to comply with Bill 151 which was passed in 2017 following university students urging the Quebec government for action in the wake of numerous claims and scandals of sexual misconduct surrounding Quebec universities. 

The boycott was first initiated in 2022 by the Concordia Student Union (CSU), the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) and the Concordia Research and Education Workers Union (CREW), who refused to participate in the committee and withdrew from the SMSV. The unions now demand new policies that are survivor-centric with an emphasis on respecting survivors’ wishes. 

Concordia University’s current policy on handling sexual assault and violence as directed by the Office of Rights and Responsibility (ORR), decides whether to escalate, investigate or legally pursue a case without the survivor’s consent.

Hannah Jackson, the external affairs and mobilization coordinator of the CSU, shared her experience working with survivors of sexual assault and discovering the importance of survivor autonomy and agency. 

“Sexual violence is a kind of trauma that robs people of their sense of agency and makes you feel like your body doesn’t belong to you and you don’t control what happens with it,” Jackson said. 

In 2021, the Quebec Government introduced Bill 64, an act that modernizes legislative provisions regarding the protection of personal information. Furthermore, it amends Bill 151, the act to prevent and fight sexual violence in higher education institutions by specifying that educational institutions are required by law to communicate to the complainant the details of whether a penalty has been imposed (Bill 64, para. 99)

In the joint statement letter sent to Concordia administration, the unions call for the University to apply Bill 64 retroactively, which would allow previous complainants to access the details and outcome of their sexual violence case. In their joint statement letter, the unions claim Concordia continues to refuse to disclose the outcome of previous cases before the passing of Bill 64 upon the request of complainants. 

“It’s basically saying you’re just a nameless statistic tracking the sexual violence complaints,”  Jackson said, adding that survivors can’t appeal or take further action if they are not aware of how the case was processed. 

Additionally, in the joint statement letter, the unions expressed concern about the university’s “It Takes All of Us” training program for sexual violence being sold to other educational institutions despite persistent critiques from students and survivors regarding its ineffectiveness and re-traumatization. 

Concordia has been accused of withholding information and prohibiting access to information of previous complainants of sexual assault survivors.

“The SMSV committee is convened and controlled by upper administration, without meaningful input from students and staff or any binding powers over the policy itself. Our ‘seats at the table’ served only to legitimize an undemocratic consultation process to meet the minimum standard required by law,” the unions specified in a joint statement letter sent to the administration.

The statement letter adds that the procedure to address sexual violence complaints against instructors and supervisors is often delayed for years. Concordia’s lengthy complaint process risks leaving contracted and student workers without safe employment, often resolving issues after the duration of their contract or academic pursuit.

“The SMSV continues to ignore the problem at the core which is that we don’t have a voice on the SMSV, we haven’t been listened to and we have no binding power over the policy in that committee,” said Becca Wilgosh, the mobilization officer for CREW. 

CREW reported that most complaints from its members concern harassment. Wilgosh explained that Concordia’s staff, particularly those in support roles, are more vulnerable to abuse or harassment from supervisors highlighting the importance of their involvement in shaping the university’s sexual violence policies.

“We want to see them enact some [of our demands] as a show of good faith […] we are not going back to a table where we’re not listened to,” she added. Since the boycott, the unions have been invited by the SMSV to individual closed-door meetings where they’re encouraged to rejoin the committee without enacting the union’s list of demands. 

Wilgosh emphasized the ongoing effort to expand their coalition by engaging with more unions to join the boycott. Their goal is to create a committee that operates independently of the university led by students and unions, ensuring their voices are heard. 

The issue of gender-neutral bathrooms

The union’s joint statement letter sent to the Concordia administration also highlights the university’s discriminatory policies against queer and transgender students and employees. 

Concordia is “committed to increasing the number of inclusive bathrooms,” yet continues to install security cameras in these spaces while gendered bathrooms remain unmonitored. 

Concordia’s Center for Gender Advocacy (CGA) asserts the university’s discriminatory action against the members of the LGBTQ+ community violates privacy and reinforces negative stereotypes against trans people, potentially leading to more violence against them. 

“The installment of security cameras in the gender-inclusive washrooms just demonstrates the huge double standard on Concordia’s part where they’re trying to make spaces safer and more inclusive,” said Adam Jivraj, the community engagement coordinator for the CGA.

“But, choosing to engage in the surveillance of trans and non-binary students,” he added. 

Additionally, the CGA emphasizes that the university’s requirement for employees to disclose their sex assigned at birth compromises transgender workers’ privacy and exposes them to potential harassment. 
Becca Wilgosh emphasized the crucial role of the Concordia Trans Student Collective in drafting the demands for better LGBTQ+ protections section “Take better steps to protect students’ and staff rights” deserving special recognition.


Your undergrad is a marathon, not a sprint

Learning how to find your own pace in completing your degree and enjoying the ride

Every semester, around the time of fall and spring graduation, I get uncontrollably excited. It brings me back to June 2017 when I crossed the Concordia convocation stage for the first time. It was definitely a bittersweet moment. Bitter, because, as you near the end of your degree, you still may be unsure about what to do next. Having already graduated once and looking forward to my next graduation in June, I can assure you that the feeling is normal.

But that’s a topic for a different article. I am here to talk to you about the sweet feeling of achievement. Of accomplishment. The satisfying feeling of completing something you’ve given so much of your time to, that has taken the last four years of your life.

What makes it so sweet though? In the memories you’ll look back on from those four years, what will come to mind? Will you think of the tears you shed and the all-nighters you pulled? Maybe. Will you think of how much of a coffee addict you’ve become? Definitely. But then comes everything else. Trust me when I say all those non-academic memories will put the biggest smile on your face.

Keep in mind that everything outside the classroom is just as important as what goes on inside. But while you’re an undergrad, it’s easy to get lost in your books, and the pressure to finish your degree as quickly as possible can be strong. It’s important to recognize that sometimes life gets in the way, and that’s OK. I’d like to share with you some insight as to why it’s absolutely crucial to take your time and finish your degree at your own pace.

Remember, university is not a race. There seems to be this preconceived notion that if you don’t finish your degree in the minimum allotted time, you won’t succeed as a student or in life. Wrong. There is no time limit. Although you may feel pressure to graduate as soon as possible, remember the only person working for your degree is you. Find a pace that suits you.

Remember, you’re here to learn. You’re attending university because you want to be here, so there shouldn’t be a timer. Rushing through your degree too quickly will leave you more confused than when you started. Take the time you need to retain all you’re learning and ensure your experience is not one big blur.

Remember, the path isn’t linear. Part of the pressure to watch the clock while completing your degree comes from the outside. External expectations to pick a field early on and jump into the workforce immediately are bogus. Now is the time to explore different subjects and find your passion. Just because you chose one field doesn’t mean you’re not meant to do another, and it surely doesn’t mean you can’t do another. If you don’t like your program, change it. If you’re adventurous, take a page from my book: do a double major and master two fields you’re interested in at once. The options are endless, and they’re all yours for the taking.

Remember to find your balance. Make sure to take advantage of the undergraduate experience. When life gets in the way of your studies, take it as a blessing. Find the silver lining. These four years are an opportunity for you to grow both intellectually and socially. You will learn so much about yourself as a student and from other students, so enjoy everything

Concordia has to offer. Get involved, join a sports team or student association, meet other interesting people. Step outside of your discipline and your comfort zone. Now, as you approach the milestone achievement of graduation, and when you walk across that convocation stage, I hope you look back on some of the memories that put a smile on your face. When you do look back on your three or four years as an undergrad student, your experience will leave the biggest impression. So take all the time you need. Don’t rush the journey, and enjoy the ride.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin


Keeping up with the chaos of being a student

Why the daunting task of saving up is almost impossible when you’re in school

Does anyone else feel as though the world is rigged against students? I’m referring to the financial pressures to keep up with the trends and behaviours which have been glorified by society. For example, as a student, you have to pay for your tuition, books, public transit, etc. This is just a small list of the necessities. You also have to consider the coffee it takes to survive these long days, the phone plans we all have to pay to stay in touch, and our basic needs such as clothing and so on. Honestly, the daunting list never ends.

Even a student who receives help from their parents will see the bills add up, and fast. Is it just me or is all of this one giant trap set up by the society we live in? How are we supposed to pay for all those basic necessities, while keeping up with the latest travel or fashion trends, let alone save anything? There is so much pressure to be living our lives to the fullest, yet if we do so, we end up broke with an uncertain future.

Another aspect that needs to be mentioned is that we are expected to achieve high levels of education with acceptable grades, but we’re also supposed to work and be productive members of society. On the surface, this is a good thing, since working allows us to gain experience, meet people, become responsible, etc. But the harsh truth is that not all university students have the time to work. Different programs have different schedules that aren’t flexible and make it difficult for some students to work consistently throughout the semester. Yet, the expectations and expenses are the same for all of us. How does that make sense?

The solution could be to make sure students are educated on when and how to spend money, and how to budget. However, if our parents don’t teach us how to save, the difference between bank accounts, and how to set them up, we’re already five steps behind. The banking system is overwhelming and intimidating to say the least, and anyone who isn’t taught how to move within it may be too scared to ask the questions needed to achieve success. Essentially, students who aren’t good with saving money might find themselves torn between wanting to pursue a desirable, luxurious lifestyle that’s promoted in society, versus aiming for a financially stable but ‘boring,’ life.

Where do we go from here? Do we live in the moment, travel and gain memories that last a lifetime? Or do we focus on our future and save for our first car and down payment? The truth is, it’s up to you, and there’s nothing wrong with trying to achieve a little bit of both. It seems the best solution is patience. Hold off for one more summer before going on that trip; skip those unbeatable sales for a few months and accept that this is the choice we all have to make at some point.

The pictures we see on social media of our acquaintances’ amazing travels don’t show how hard they worked or the debt they acquired from that trip. The amazing fashion influencers we try to keep up with don’t advertise the best places to get similar, cheaper alternatives, nor do they acknowledge the fleeting moment of a trend and how quickly it will be replaced.

While a certain lifestyle might seem easily accessible, there is often a lot more hard work involved than advertised. Attention must be given to the negative impacts of these trends.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin



The pressure of finding love

Dating does not define me

When you are in your 20s, you are young, filled with energy and invincible. Yet, the daunting pressure to get into relationships is all around young adults who often see many of their friends and peers in committed relationships.

There are no boundaries or limits on our ability to experiment as young people. Still, finding love is not as easy as logging onto Facebook nowadays. Unfortunately, snapping your fingers won’t immediately get you into a relationship. I believe falling in love in your 20s is hard. There is a definite pressure to have the perfect love life, which society has been advertising to us in commercials and romantic movies.

Dating apps seem to be the future of finding love. Apps like Tinder, Bumble and OkCupid are no longer sites for casual dating or hookups. According to Global News, people are using these apps to find lasting relationships and love.

Having experienced my fair share of dating apps, the pressure to find love exists. Having access to such apps seems to make the dating game easier. It implies that single people have no excuse to not have a partner. At the tip of your finger, you can swipe to your next Prince Charming without meeting them in the real world.

So when you fail to connect with someone, the disappointment is difficult to overcome. As a result, you ask yourself: “What is wrong with me?” or “Why can’t I find love when there are so many opportunities?” But you must remember: the problem is not you! The problem is society’s brainwashing. Being alone does not necessarily mean you are lonely—there is a difference. How can you love someone else before knowing yourself?

I’m trying to love myself first—before finding love—because dating does not define who I am. My life will not be dictated by apps like Tinder. The pressure of finding love definitely exists. Still, if you have a good support system, I believe love will eventually cross your path.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

Exit mobile version