Syllabus or Sylla-BYE

A survey into the importance of syllabus week

You’re sitting on the couch, glass of red wine in hand, soaking up the last few days of winter break. You feel a buzz coming from somewhere under the layers of knitted blankets. You sift through them to finally find your cell phone glowing with a new email notification: “FART 201 SYLLABUS, WINTER 2022.”

You groan but swipe through to the PDF, skimming through the information. You’re desperately trying not to sob when you see the group project worth 50 per cent of your grade. Towards the end of the document, you see the classic section entitled “Plagiarism” that details the most deadly academic crime a student can commit.

But something is off…

Have you ever noticed that the paragraphs about plagiarism seem to be copy-pasted from syllabus to syllabus, often without proper citation?

You can thank me later.

That hilarious yet blatant instance of hypocrisy has caused me to think deeply about the syllabus and what it stands for. If such an important document contains such dissonance, is it really the best way to transmit all the details of a course?

A syllabus is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a summary outline of a discourse, treatise, or course of study or of examination requirements,” or some other lengthy combination of words that could be summarized easily. The syllabus is often considered a type of contract between the professor giving a course and their students. It’s the road map that provides those taking the class with an overview of what is expected of them, and what they can expect from the professor.

While syllabi have a noble and crucial goal, I was tempted to question whether they actually reach the student population.

In a recent and incredibly sound survey (a poll conducted on my private Instagram account), 82 per cent of the 234 people who answered read their course syllabi. I was definitely not expecting this overwhelming majority. Maybe I’m just a pessimist, and have unrealistically low expectations when it comes to university students reading long and repetitive packets of information… or my friends are just overachievers.

That being said, the poll was unable to measure the level of thoroughness which students go through the course outline. Last semester, a professor from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Kenyon Wilson, performed a mini social experiment on his students, during which he included instructions to find a $50 bill in his syllabus after telling his students to read it thoroughly. At the end of the semester, no one claimed the cash. There are two lessons here: we might not be as rigorous as we ought to be in our syllabus-reading and our professors should definitely incentivize students with money to do the bare minimum.

In another Instagram poll, I found that only 37 per cent of the 222 people who answered pay attention during the syllabus class, which is the first lecture of the semester during which some professors go over course content and take questions or concerns, taking it as far as reading the document word for word.

What was interesting was that a handful of the people who don’t read the syllabus do pay attention during the syllabus class, showing that though it can be redundant for those who read the course outline, others find that class necessary or a more effective way to retain the information.

Still, I’ve been pondering ways to make syllabi and the syllabus class more interactive, but all I could come up with is a shared Google Calendar or a hologram of your professor that appears on your shoulder whenever something is due.

So, it seems like syllabi are here to stay, and when used to their full potential, they’re helpful organizational tools. And who knows, maybe your professors will be inspired by Wilson’s experiment, so read carefully this syllabus season! (If they aren’t, you can always consider a strongly worded email to Concordia administration demanding cash for reading…).


Graphics by James Fay


‘They’re not listening to us’: students express concerns over Concordia’s winter plans

Concordia students express that Concordia’s plans for the winter semester prioritize those who can physically return to campus, while neglecting others

As Concordia plans for a primarily in-person winter semester, some students feel like the university is moving forward while leaving others behind.

According to a public statement released by Concordia Provost and Vice-President Anne Whitelaw, students can expect most of their courses to be in-person or a blend of in-person with online components.

With the exception of eConcordia courses — classes specifically designed for online delivery — students will need to be on campus to take their courses for the winter semester.

The administration’s decision has sparked feelings of neglect among Concordia students for whom making it to Canada in January is not yet a reliable and safe option they can count on.

“With COVID-19 and Delta variants, I don’t feel safe going to campus,” said second-year commerce student Aditi Baldowa.

As a result of health issues she did not want to disclose, Baldowa has been attending her fall courses remotely from her home in Mauritius. On Nov. 8, she was de-registered from her fall classes.

Although Baldowa said she has submitted proof of receiving her study permit, she shared that Concordia’s International Students Office (ISO) has continuously denied her the chance to continue her fall courses, on the premise that she has not physically collected her permit in Canada.

“I don’t see why I should be there,” said Baldowa.

The ISO website states, “All International Students will need upload their immigration documents (CAQ, Study Permit, Passport) through their MyConcordia as soon as they arrive to Canada or as soon as the documents are issued.”

Although her fall courses were on eConcordia did not require her to be physically on campus, she said that this was not enough to keep her enrolled.

“I have tried telling [the ISO] that I have health issues and that I’m not fit to travel for the moment,” she said. “They don’t understand that and only tell me that I need to be there or else they will deregister me.”

After losing one semester, she must retake her fall semester courses this winter. Despite the fact that most of her winter courses are set to be delivered through eConcordia, Baldowa fears the consequences she will face if she does not make her way to Montreal in January.

“I worked so hard for the whole semester, and now all my classes are cancelled,” she said. “If I don’t come, they will deregister me again from my winter term, and that will have a really bad impact on my study permit renewal. I might not get it again after it expires in 2023.”

Baldowa expressed that the university’s actions neglect students’ potential health concerns, such as her own.

“They’re not being supportive at all,” she said. “They are telling us that we can’t have online classes but aren’t considering the fact that some students can’t be there.”

As the countdown to the winter semester continues, Baldowa said she feels restrained by the potentially negative consequences of not coming to Canada in January. With growing concerns for her health, Baldowa feels excluded from the university’s vision for an in-person winter.

When asked how the university’s plans to respond to health and safety protocols concerning their winter semester plans with regard to students with health concerns, University Spokesperson Vannina Maestracci responded that it is “too early to tell” in a statement to The Concordian.

“We are constantly assessing the  evolving pandemic situation and adjusting as needed,” stated Maestracci. “Any change to measures would also be in line with guidelines provided by Public Health with whom we talk regularly. Right now, the existing measures remain in place.”

Another student who has expressed concerns is Jane, who wishes to remain anonymous. As someone with pre-existing health conditions, she feels the university is not doing enough to accommodate the concerns of students like herself, who are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of the virus.

“They’re not asking the students what they want,” she said. “If they’d actually take the time and listen to the students, they would provide those that can’t be here with another option.”

Jane is diabetic, asthmatic, and suffers from anxiety. She said she has not felt safe to take a bus since the start of the pandemic and is just now beginning to leave her house for walks and trips to the grocery store.

“It’s step by step,” she said. “Being among a whole lot of people raises the anxiety factor to a whole other level.”

Making her way to school where not everyone may be fully vaccinated is a daunting thought for Jane. Coupled with the fear of catching the virus, she feels that the university is treating the winter semester as a pandemic-free slate.

“It’s still the pandemic; we’re not finished,” she said. “If you have a bunch of people that aren’t vaccinated, you’re going to end up with a lot of people externally sick if it [COVID] gets passed around.”

Concordia does not presently have a vaccine policy for attending classes. However, Concordia Health Services strongly recommends getting vaccinated.

Although Jane has been able to attend her courses online this semester thanks to accommodations provided by her professors, she fears that her health issues will force her to delay the completion of her degree.

Maestracci has shared with The Concordian that such concerns should be “addressed by departments — since it is impossible to have a one size fits all approach as there will be variations across departments as well as differences depending on the course.”

The extent of how the university’s current health and safety protocols will carry out this winter is another concern for students. Some say Concordia’s COVID-19 prevention policies have not been adhered to enough this fall.

“I see how many people don’t wear masks properly or don’t wear masks at all when they’re supposed to be,” said Lauren Friesen, a first-year history student at Concordia. “If people aren’t really abiding by the rules now, then come January, it’s just going to get a lot worse.”

Friesen worries about the unexpected consequences of students returning from winter break. “I just fear that there’s going to be another breakout, especially over winter and Christmas time,” she said. “I feel like they should be prepping for the worst case rather than the absolute best case scenario.”

While Friesen does not consider herself at any particular health risk, she recognizes the frustration that students with health concerns are facing.

“I feel like moving almost everything in-person is kind of ignoring those students,” she said.

Despite some of the challenges that certain students are facing, the move to an in-person winter semester comes as a much-needed change of pace for others.

“It’s been so long,” said Anika Michalko, a first-year behavioural neuroscience student. “I’m very excited to be able to do more in-class projects and exchange ideas with people a lot more.”

While Michalko doesn’t consider themselves touched by health and travel issues, they agree on Concordia’s responsibility to help accommodate students impacted by such obstacles.

“Having recorded lectures is super essential,” said Michalko. “I think that would help out people a lot.”

The winter 2022 class schedule is expected to be finalized later in November. Once published, current and prospective students will be given the chance to enroll in their designated classes, set to begin on Jan. 6.


Photograph by Lily Cowper

A previous version of this article stated that “We are constantly evolving the pandemic and adjusting as needed,” stated Maestracci. An edit has been made to the article to reflect the original quote, which said “We are constantly assessing the evolving pandemic situation and adjusting as needed.”


Record-high gas prices strike Montreal: a new reality for drivers

Some Concordia students now consider leaving their car at home

Montreal gas prices have reached an all-time high, costing drivers up to $1.58 per litre. As the demand for driving has grown in the past few months, along with increases in crude oil prices, the gradual return to normalcy has entailed more expensive gasoline.

On Jan. 1, one barrel of Western Canadian Select (WCS) oil cost about $41.70, which then skyrocketed to nearly $76.90 by Nov. 5 — representing an 84.4 per cent increase in less than one year. However, Moshe Lander, a senior lecturer of economics at Concordia University, told The Concordian that crude oil prices are not the only factor influencing this spike.

Moshe explained that, as global transportation continues to resume, the shipping and aviation industries are competing with Canadian drivers for the same resources and thus overall demand for gasoline has increased. In Quebec, there are additional oil transportation costs because gasoline is not produced locally, on top of the price of oil refining and federal and provincial taxes.

However, Lander noted that one should look at the bigger picture, and compare the situation with pre-pandemic prices instead.

“The fact is, gas prices have barely gone up at all. Pre-pandemic, gas was around $1.40 or $1.45 in most gas stations around Montreal. So add a couple years, inflationary pressures — it’s perfectly reasonable,” said Lander. “But if you’re comparing it to lockdowns, with no one going to work […] while gas was priced at $1 or less — this looks jarring.”

Nevertheless, current gasoline prices pose financial challenges for some Concordia students, who are used to driving to the Loyola campus on a regular basis. For Ora Bar, a third-year journalism student, driving is a necessity since she commutes to and from Chateauguay four times a week.

“Last time I had to refuel, it hurt,” said Bar. “I am now considering switching to buses, though it’d take me three times as long to get to university. This would create lots of anxiety for me since I’d have to leave very early to avoid being late.”

Bar estimates that her 20-kilometre commute from the South Shore would take up to one hour and 30 minutes. The five-dollar transit ride involves several transfers which Bar is afraid to miss due to low frequency on certain routes.

“We’re still students, it is expensive! I certainly hope the government considers more practical bus schedules and reduced fares,” Bar explained, saying that she is hoping to find a more affordable alternative to driving in November.

Meanwhile, Gabriela Serrano, a third-year neuroscience student at Concordia, has already decided to leave her vehicle at home for the foreseeable future.

“Because of the price increase, I can no longer drive to Loyola every single day. I realized that taking public transit is cheaper, coming from the downtown area,” she said. “But it was more convenient to drive than to take one bus, the metro, and then another bus — my commute to NDG is a bit more complex now.”

Serrano hopes the government will take action to avoid a surge in gas prices. “The pandemic was already a heavy burden for our economic situation, and now with simple things like driving to work becoming more expensive, it’s another stress,” she explained.

Gasoline, however, is already being heavily subsidized by the Canadian government. Last year, the country’s oil and gas sector received $18 billion in government financial support. In fact, Lander suggests that rising gas prices may lead to a turning point in North American car culture.

“That is a century in the past, we’re moving forward now. We have to price gasoline properly, […] at $5 a litre. As long as you continue to subsidize gas-fuelled automobiles, it’s making things worse — and it’s the hardest part for the consumer to understand,” he added.

Shifting such subsidies toward eco-friendly initiatives would help the city combat climate change. According to Lander, this would result in creating more pedestrian-friendly streets and cycling paths, limit Montreal’s urban sprawl, and make more funds available for efficient public transit.

The economist believes high petrol prices would push Montrealers to adopt electric vehicles at a faster rate. As fuel combustion makes the transportation industry responsible for 24 per cent of global CO2 emissions, rising gas prices could cause a shift towards a greener future, one driver at a time.


Photographs by Kaitlynn Rodney


Vote yes to sustainability in curriculum!

Concordia is four times lower than the national average in sustainability curriculum, and we must demand better

Disclaimer: Christopher Djesus Vaccarella is a CSU council member

In the upcoming CSU by-election, there is one referendum at play that will ask students to call on Concordia to make an institutional commitment: to implement the teaching of sustainability and climate change curriculum in all programs by 2030.

Let me tell you why you should vote yes to this question and how we can start a new era at our university. Concordia has a sustainability curriculum problem, and it is time to change that. According to data compiled by Waste Not Want Not from STARS, the North American gold standard for assessing sustainability in universities, only 8.5 per cent of Concordia graduates come out of their respective programs with any meaningful inclusion of sustainability curriculum. The average for Canada? 37 per cent! Both numbers are abysmal, but Concordia reaches new levels of low.

This is concerning, considering the climate crisis is only accelerating. Furthermore, there has been a push for a more expansive sustainability curriculum at Concordia, and we’re seeing a ground-up cultural shift led by the CSU, the Political Science Student Association (PSSA), Waste Not, Want Not and other groups on campus. For example the PSSA has implemented a policy which brings in sustainable practices, while also engaging in sustainability projects, which I wrote. To date, we have planted 250 trees in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and engaged in an urban agriculture project. At the CSU, we accomplished getting environmentally friendly menstrual products, and with the help of my amazing sustainability committee colleagues, have pushed to make Concordia a more sustainable campus, while entrenching these goals in our policies. Finally, according to Waste Not, Want Not,  since 2016, the Concordia community doubled its annual composting, and each Concordian reduced their annual overall waste by 16 per cent.

So, while students are making changes and are pushing for more sustainability practices and education, why has the administration been so slow in implementing new policies?

It does not take a rocket scientist to tell you we’re heading into a very dangerous situation when it comes to the climate crisis. It will take much more than divesting assets and retrofitting buildings to be more energy efficient for institutions to tackle this issue. The most important component is education, and teaching students about the plethora of current climate and sustainability issues. This education should aim to raise awareness, change behaviour, and equip students with the tools they need to contribute to the fight against the climate crisis within their professional careers. Issues with climate change and sustainability not only focus on the environment, but also on income inequality, gender inequality, systemic racism, exploitation and many more social issues. It is ill-advised to ignore growing concern and not teach students, regardless of their program, about these issues.

Recently, I have heard some people say that it does not make sense to teach these issues if you are in a business or accounting program, arguing sustainability is “not important” to the curriculum. Really? Then explain why major corporations, pension funds and promotional agencies are either transitioning to green energy, divesting or focusing on attracting green tech. Explain to me why the new International Sustainability Standards Board, which will, by the way, have one of its North American main offices set in Montreal, focuses on green financial practices and new, sustainable standards for corporations to follow.

Personally, it only makes sense that every single student, regardless of their program, must take classes that focus on sustainability issues and the climate crisis. Critics of this proposition say that “forcing” people to take these classes is not good and again, there is that element of “this is unnecessary for specific programs.” The job market in all fields is increasingly requiring more sustainability-related skills and awareness. Right now, we are ill-prepared at Concordia, and cannot compete in that job market.

Concordia must make the institutional changes and ensure that sustainability and climate change curriculum is a core part of all programs by 2030. This will mean more students will be aware of ongoing issues happening on this beautiful planet. It will also mean more people can help solve current and future climate issues, meaning more brainpower to help solve them.

This is the only habitable planet we have, and we must ensure that it is protected for generations and generations to come. Education is the most important aspect to help solve and combat issues pertaining to sustainability and climate change. With better education and tools at our disposal, we can leave a greener and more sustainable path for our kids, grandkids and our collective future.

With this, vote yes to advocating for more sustainability curriculum at the upcoming CSU by-elections. Let the administration know that we are demanding change, and that it is 110 per cent needed. Let us lead the change and inspire others to follow in our footsteps, and let us build the path to a greener, more prosperous and more equitable planet for everybody. Vote yes in the sustainability curriculum referendum question, online from Nov.16 to 18, and encourage your friends to do the same.

Christopher Vaccarella, on behalf of the Yes to Sustainability Curriculum Referendum Committee, proudly working alongside Faye Sun and Keroles Riad. You can contact Christopher Vaccarella at (, Faye Sun (, and Dr. Keroles Riad (


Feature photo by Lou Neveux-Pardijon

Student Life

White Space — why having a mental blank canvas is important

There’s a reason why our best ideas occur in the shower or during our morning run

Ever felt like there just isn’t enough time in your day? For many of us, our reality is often running or maybe even sprinting between back-to-back classes, while simultaneously working and juggling assignments, emails, exams, and a cup of coffee that got cold 20 minutes ago. After a week or two of exams, too many deadlines, and just the regular stress of life, do you feel that midterm syndrome is pushing you down?

Well, you are not alone.

Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. There isn’t a person on Earth that gets more or less than anyone else. The key differentiator becomes who can leverage their 24 hours most appropriately. I didn’t use the word “efficiently” or “effectively” because I want to avoid the notion that packing more stuff into your day is the ultimate goal. I am actually advocating the opposite.

So how can we overcome this self-imposed frantic notion of busyness, and regain our ability to be truly productive and creative? The first step is to proactively include white space into our routines.

What is white space?

White space is dedicated time that allows  you to take a mental pause from university and other commitments to let your mind travel in whatever direction it sees fit. It is perhaps one hour or two, preferably scheduled into your calendar in advance, intended to allow and sometimes force you to zoom out, reflect, relax, and refuel.

It’s like giving yourself a mental blank canvas. The more time you give yourself to stop and take a breath instead of scheduling every minute of your day, the more focused and clear-minded you will be when you are studying, writing that paper, or working.

One analogy to illustrate this is of a slow computer. If you have too many applications and programs running on your computer at once the entire system slows down. Too many files open means less efficiency. To offset this, you need to close the apps you aren’t using. This then frees up a great deal of memory.

Often, your brain is holding on to too many things, which requires it to to stay running in order to maintain those files (i.e. thoughts and to-do lists). Basically, your brain and body are constantly giving you the spinning dial or hourglass image you get on your computer when it needs time to execute an action. Following this analogy, the goal is to close down unused files, and then collapse and condense the remaining ones we still need to use. By doing so, you free up space in your operating system which allows for more creativity, problem-solving, and overall efficiency.

It’s easier to describe white space by what it isn’t. White space is not time to create to-do lists, work on your assignment or finish that pending email.

The general idea of white space is to zone out and reconnect but it is really up to you. A few ideas to get you started: going for a walk around the block, free drawing with no specific objective, automatic writing, and meditation.

Create your own white space

The next time your mind starts buzzing and you realize that you haven’t had a second to stop and take a breath in your day, free up space in your operating system with these four easy steps:

Step 1: Do an audit of how you are currently spending your time

Step 2: Take control of your calendar and schedule your white space in advance if possible

Step 3: Find activities that work for you

Step 4: Guard and protect white space

Alright, the ball is in your court now. You’ve got the basics. What are you going to do with them?

Is this going to be another strategy you file away under “good ideas to try later,” or are you truly committed to making a difference?


Feature graphic by James Fay


The hunt for food at the Loyola campus: A choose your own adventure story

By Delphine Belzile and Kendra Sharp

We need to talk about the problem with food options at the Loyola campus, or lack thereof

It’s your first day at the Loyola campus. Maybe you’re a second-year student, and you spent your entire first year of university learning from home. Maybe you’ve only ever had classes at Concordia’s downtown campus, and this is your first foray into Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG). No longer used to getting out of the house in the morning, you rushed to get her to make it to your 9 a.m. lecture — no coffee, no morning bagel, and no lunch in your bag. Your first class ends and your stomach is growling. You checked Google maps for a place nearby, but realized there isn’t enough time for you to commute to grab lunch and make it back to your next class. Where do you go?

We’re back at the Loyola campus, but the food options nearby are few and far between.

As a part of Concordia’s return-to-school plan, the student cafeteria is limiting its capacity to students in residence. The on-campus Tim Hortons closed its doors once the pandemic hit and there are almost no restaurants nearby. You think there may be a student cafe somewhere on campus, but you have no idea where it is or if it even exists.

Whereas the downtown campus offers various on-site food services including Le Frigo Vert, People’s Potato and Reggies, students at Loyola have few options to rely on. And this isn’t exactly a new problem.

“Loyola campus never did have the same type of numbers or campus activity as downtown,” said Claudette Torbey, food services sustainability and quality administrator at Concordia. “It’s a calmer campus, even in pre-COVID years.”

But now the pandemic has created a new set of challenges at the Loyola campus when it comes to food. Sanitary measures, uncertainties with suppliers and the decrease in student traffic on campus are all challenges eateries are facing when trying to respond to the needs of the Loyola campus community.

The Buzz Dining Hall  

You’re wandering around campus looking for a place to eat. You get lost for a minute and finally end up in front of the SP building where you notice the Buzz Dining Hall, the student cafeteria. You untangle your blue mask from around your wrist and put it on as someone is kindly welcoming you inside. After putting some hand sanitizer on, you’re asked if you’re a resident student living on campus. You shrug your shoulders, say no, and are turned away. Disappointed and hungry, you make your way down the stairs and stare out into the open courtyard in front of you, not sure of what to do or where to go next.

The Concordia return-to-campus plan restricts access to spaces in respect of the Quebec government’s COVID-19 health and safety measures. As of September 1st, non-essential academic services, including eateries, are required to scan vaccine passports in an effort to control the fourth wave of COVID-19. The university’s health and safety protocols also require individuals to maintain a two-metre distance indoors in places where food and beverages are consumed.

Since the pandemic increases uncertainty when it comes to the number of students on campus, adaptations are more complex.

“It is really hard to plan operations when we don’t know what the campus is going to look like,” explained Torbey. “Hours and locations are more limited because we are unsure about traffic on campus.”

Now that the Buzz only opens its doors exclusively to students in residence that are registered to a Concordia meal plan, those from beyond this category are left with few food options on campus.

As you turn away from the Buzz, you notice a café sign over the dining hall. At second glance, you realize students are holding coffee cups as they come out of the building behind you. You figure it’s worth a shot. You return inside and go upstairs.

The Hive Cafe Solidarity Co-Op 

You march past the Buzz dining hall and set your sights on a new mission: finding the elusive student cafe. Up another flight of stairs and you’ve made it: you’re standing at the doors of the Hive.

Since its launch in 2014, the Hive Café Solidarity Co-op has been a go-to lunch spot for sustainable and affordable food for Concordia students and faculty. However, this situation is still far from ideal.

“Coming back from a pandemic has been a huge challenge,” said Calvin Clarke, general coordinator for the Hive. “And because of our location at Loyola campus, it makes it really difficult for students to know we’re here.”

Returning to campus more than a year and a half into the pandemic, Clarke says the Hive is ramping up an almost entirely new staff and re-familiarizing clientele to their cooperative model.

As a cooperative, the Hive works differently than your typical restaurant. You’ll notice there are two sets of prices for everything on their menu, non-member and member prices. You have the option to become a shareholder by paying a one-time 10 dollar fee, after which you’ll be entitled to the lower member prices and gain the ability to participate in the democratic functioning of the co-op.

“We’re a model of a food structure that can be something for students,” said Clarke. “Being a pillar of living and breathing proof of what can happen on campus.”

The Hive has been taking a slow approach to reopening in order to gauge demand, adding menu items slowly to avoid unnecessary waste. After quietly resuming operations at Loyola in the second week of September, they’re planning to be open Monday through Thursday for the rest of the fall semester.

“We’re really targeting and showing that there’s a necessity, especially on a campus like Loyola that’s so isolated, that there needs to be better food options on campus for students,” said Clarke.

The Hive Free Lunch Program  

As you arrive at the Hive, you notice the counter, a display case with burritos and, yes, the coffee machine. Finally, you’re at the right place. But wait, are students getting chili from another counter on the other side of the space? A little confused, you come closer. You have found the Hive’s free lunch.

All students have access to this food option at Loyola, developed to provide free and healthy lunches in an area where food options are minimal.

“No one should go hungry or stressed about where they are getting their next meal while they are trying to educate themselves,” said Alanna Silver, the Hive’s administrative coordinator.

The program is supported by various Concordia-affiliated associations including the Concordia Student Union (CSU) and the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA). The food bank Moisson Montréal also collaborates in providing the Hive Free Lunch with fruits and vegetables. The program provides students with free vegan meals every weekday.

During the first week of the semester, Silver confirmed they served about 40 meals a day, and that number has been growing week to week.

“We are hoping, as the semester goes along, we’ll be serving 200 servings a day,” said Silver. “We really don’t want to leave any students hungry. We are trying to increase our production as much as possible.”

Hive free lunches run from Monday to Friday and are available from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. As the program can no longer serve meals on plates with utensils due to sanitary measures, you are encouraged to bring your own tupperware to minimize “to-go” garbage.

Next time you find yourself with time to kill between classes and study sessions, don’t hesitate to stop by the Hive for a free lunch and some house-baked goodies (the cookies are something else).

Le Marché Express

You’ve hit the midday point of your school day. You’re just looking for a coffee, so you cross over to the SP building. Chatter and cash register sounds lead you down a flight of stairs where you arrive in front of Le Marché Express.

The university-contracted Marché Express has coffee, snacks and even some quick meals to grab on the go. As with the rest of the food service industry this year, supply has been harder to organize as restaurants adapt to re-opening.

“This year is really tough,” said Torbey. “Even now, we’ll order one product and we’re not able to get it. The supply chain still is experiencing a lot of difficulties.”

As a result of pandemic-related uncertainties, Le Marché Express is open for limited hours — but it can still get you your caffeine fix most of the time.

Off-Campus Restaurants

You’re feeling like you’ve walked the entire campus in search of a place to grab some food. The Hive is already filling up with students by the time you arrive and the Buzz is asking for residence proof, which you don’t have. Getting off-campus seems like it could be a better option for you, so you walk out the gates and march along Sherbrooke street, in a desperate search for some lunch.

Time flies and you realize that you have to be in class in a few minutes. You spot a Second Cup and a Subway in the distance, and in the opposite direction, too far for the eyes to see, lies Souvlaki George.

You realize that there are almost no options for restaurants near the Loyola campus, which brings you back to your two options; the Hive or the Marché Express. Hopefully, the line won’t be too long, giving you a chance to rest from your food hunting before attending your last lecture of the day.

Problem solved?

This may have been a fictional account of one student’s journey across the Loyola campus, but the issue with food is a real one. Lack of food services on this part of the university’s grounds is an issue that has been previously acknowledged by Concordia University, and moves have been made in an effort to address concerns.

The Loyola Campus Working Group established a plan in 2020 concerning food services development on campus. The Working Group has the general mandate to consult with the Loyola community to get a greater sense of its needs.

In recommendations provided to the university, members prioritized diverse food projects to remedy the situation; the principal ones include the creation of a new eating space, a designated place for a pub, and the promotion of free food options on campus.

“We’re working closely with the administration right now in opening up a second location on Loyola campus,” said Clarke. “Hopefully that will become more accessible for students on campus.”

Finally, your food hunting has come to an end. You’ve gone through all the [minimal] options around Loyola!

You might have been tempted by the Hive’s brownies or got lucky getting a free lunch. Maybe you decided to grab a sandwich from the Marché Express with a cup of coffee. Perhaps you have returned to Sherbrooke street to grab something from the Second Cup. You’ve filled your stomach, and made it back to class.

Next time, you will probably come to campus with  some snacks in your bag. On top of that, this experience has you strongly considering becoming a ‘meal prepping’ person. Most importantly, you will definitely wake up earlier to get coffee from home.


Photographs by Catherine Reynolds and Autumn Darey

Student Life

University Finance 101: budgeting tips that don’t involve slandering avocado toast

Financial Advice to help make the jump from Living At Home To University Life a little easier.

With the start of the fall semester and in-person lectures returning to Concordia, this week not only marks the first time that many freshmen and sophomore students will be on a university campus, but also the far more important experience of leaving home for the first time. When the initial excitement of beginning university wears off, being faced with the challenge of having to be financially independent can be quite intimidating for many students.

As a fourth-year student, I remember how difficult the change was from living at home to suddenly having to “fend for myself.” I, like many of my peers, found myself in a sink or swim situation.

Something I wish I’d done sooner was applying for as many bursaries, scholarships, and grants as I could, as early as I could. This is something I wish I did sooner. Scholarships and grants are fantastic ways to mitigate the financial burden of tuition and can also help build up an emergency fund.

As well, it may be worth your time to do some research into specific scholarships and grants that may apply to you. POC and members of the LGBTQ+ community experience financial instability at a higher rate than the national average. Many Non-Government Organizations and bursary funds provide specific scholarships to students that are a part of marginalized communities, such as the Black Canadian Scholarship Fund, the Jeremy Dias Scholarship, and the RBC Royal Bank Scholarship for Aboriginals.

Students who are registered with the Access Centre for Students with Disabilities are also eligible to receive numerous grants and scholarships from both government and private institutions, such as the RBC Capital Markets Canada Pathways Diversity Scholarship Program and the Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities.

First-year students should also be mindful of the transaction limit on their debit card. To stay within your transaction limit, use cash for day-to-day purchases and your credit card to finance larger expenses. While credit cards have no transaction limits, they do have a spending limit. Stay well below your maximum allowed and by paying your monthly balance on time no additional interest will accumulate on your credit. As well, the physiological impact of paying with cash causes a significant decrease in spending than paying with a card.

Another simple trick I recommend is uninstalling food delivery and ride apps from your phone. The added step of needing to reinstall these apps helped me to cut back on my spending and reduce my monthly credit card bill by almost 50 percent. Your billing information is saved to your account, so reinstalling these apps before a night out with friends or a date with your significant other is quick and easy.

Concordia itself has a number of great organizations dedicated to helping support students with their day-to-day financial expenses. Organizations like The People’s Potato vegan soup kitchen provide free lunches to all Concordia students every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between 12:30 and 2 p.m at the Henry Hall building in room H-700.00.

Whenever you can, buy your textbooks from the Concordia Co-op Bookstore instead of the Concordia Book Stop. The Co-op Bookstore also provides members with a discount on every subsequent purchase for a single upfront charge of ten dollars. For students studying in the humanities or in the fine arts, this upfront charge can typically be earned back in the money saved on required readings for just a single semester.

While money doesn’t buy happiness, financial stability provides freedom and opportunity that will have a profound impact on your wellbeing. It defines the difference between choosing to work versus having to work a part-time job during the school year. It provides the ability to leave a toxic and/or abusive living environment without having to worry about debt.

Financial means can grant access to resources like therapy and medication which, sadly in our capitalist society, become far harder to access without. It’s the ability to have your avocado toast worry-free and eat it too.

Disclaimer: This is not professional financial advice. Please consult your financial advisor to associate the risks involved.

Feature photo by Catherine Reynolds

Student Life Uncategorized

Concordia needs to pay attention to graduate students with families

Graduate students with families struggle with finding suitable, affordable housing in Montreal

The lack of affordable housing near Concordia University’s two campuses disproportionally affects graduate students who have families. Rents increase exponentially each year, particularly as developers renovate and convert apartment complexes into high-end luxury condos and apartments.

An article in CBC News shows that, despite the increase in availability of rental apartments in the central part of Montreal in 2020, the average rent went up to $891, 4.2 per cent higher than in 2019. Graduate student families are affected because they cannot share residences, which help other students cut down on rent and other costs. The rising cost of rent in and near downtown has made it very difficult for student families to live there. They end up having to move farther away, thus adding commute time and other considerations.

In addition, most graduate student families, particularly those that are international students, are single-income households or living on financial aid and scholarships. Most international students’ spouses accompany them on a visitor permit or have to wait for work authorizations. Finding jobs is also a difficult task due to the language barrier and lack of access to employment networks and support that are provided to citizens and permanent residents.

Concordia needs to seriously consider providing options for students with families, particularly graduate students, as they are often here for the long-term. While undergraduate housing is available through Grey Nuns and other on-campus residences, there are no such options for graduate students.

Graduate family housing at universities such as the University of Toronto has been very advantageous. These provide opportunities for socialization; particularly important when arriving from a foreign country, for both students and their families. It helps build a social network wherein these families, who understand each other’s challenges, can share helpful advice to navigate everything from university life to healthcare and education for children.

Many newly-arrived graduate student families also lack the required credit checks to get many apartments and thus find themselves in apartments that may not be suitable. International students with families also often end up spending a large amount of money to rent short-term or live in Airbnbs before finding a suitable apartment, as it’s nearly impossible to rent an apartment before being physically present in the city.

Michelle LaSalle, a Concordia Fine Arts Masters student, struggled finding an apartment with a young child, when her son was just three months old. Most families, like LaSalle’s, have a hard time finding landlords who are willing to rent apartments to families with small children, due to noise and other issues, which is also not legally allowed under Quebec’s housing laws. The process of finding an apartment with children is extremely stressful, a point to which this author can also attest to. The process is not only competitive but also involves so much emotional labor with having to convince potential landlords to rent to a family.

I, myself, was declined from even viewing several potential apartments when I mentioned I had children.

Family housing also helps spouses and children who may be isolated to connect with similar families, and can also help facilitate child-care when needed. As both the Concordia subsidized daycares and the Concordia Student Union daycare are located within the university campuses, it helps parents to be located near the daycares. In addition, schools and daycares have very fixed pick-up schedules and require parents to be able to drop anything they are doing to pick up their child in case of an emergency, which necessitates a short commute.

Lindsay Pereira, a senior undergraduate student at Concordia, set to start her Masters in English this fall, has three children and lives in a rented 5 1/2 in LaSalle. She spoke about how the increasing rents are difficult to manage on a single income, especially after she made the decision to return to school after twenty years to complete her undergraduate studies and pursue a Masters.

Pereira says that even though she lives close to downtown, commuting on public transit used to take up so much of her time. With the pandemic and shift to online learning, it has also been more difficult to find a quiet space to study and take classes from home. She would welcome subsidized housing options, particularly near the Loyola campus, with its green, open spaces that are ideal for a family and  the shuttle service that provides an easy and fast commute to the downtown campus.

Pereira ended by saying, “I am grateful that I have a suitable place, but the truth is my reality as a student with children is very different from those who do not, and it is high-time Concordia starts thinking about students with families and their needs, particularly with the financial and other effects of the pandemic.”


Feature photo by Kit Mergaert

Student Life

Canada’s costly new mandatory quarantine unfairly punishes international students

Canada’s latest travel restrictions will incur exorbitant costs for those with student visas

Following a slew of winter vacationers to the Caribbean and Mexico, new regulations for passengers entering Canada have been enforced in an effort to discourage non-essential travel.

In effect since Jan. 30, the new restrictions include a suspension of flights to some sunny destinations enforced through April 30, as well mandatory COVID PCR testing at airports for returning travellers. But most notably, mandatory three-day quarantines at government-approved hotels, with packages that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says could cost upwards of $2,000 per returning passenger, have been the subject of complaint.

Among the chatter from Canadian vacationers who have expressed disdain for the new regulations, international students have begun to voice concerns about the financial and logistical impacts these travel restrictions will bear on their plans to return to Canada.

In multiple public posts to Concordia University’s subreddit, international students wonder whether those with student visas may be exempt. One user commented, “[$2,000] equals the tuition of a whole semester for a Quebec resident at Concordia. If they would [implement] this, why [issue] new study permits to international students?”

Currently, Concordia’s website lists international student tuition fees as ranging between $21,720 to $28,995 for one academic year. Given that Canadian citizens were responsible for the majority of non-essential travel that inspired these restrictions, legitimate concerns are being raised over the inequities in its effects on international students.

Conversely, since Canadian universities such as Concordia stand to profit broadly from international tuition fees (specifically nearly $6 billion in annual revenue for Canadian universities and nearly $22 billion in expanded economic contributions), candid discussions around the equitable handling of returning international students must be had.

In another Reddit post, one anonymous student remarked, “Concordia has definitely failed us, especially international students as they said last year that we could all go home and that they would adjust consequently…” Concordia and universities across Canada did, in fact, reassure international students flexibility as they collectively navigated distance learning in the pandemic.

However, the latest Canadian travel measures do not exempt international students from the $2,000 mandatory quarantine, which is evidence of universities’ negligence in advocating for their international students.

It is important to note that international students are not asking to break public health guidelines. Rather, given that international students are ineligible for emergency financial support like the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) or the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the costly mandatory quarantines exacerbate the already exorbitant costs they face. One anonymous student remarked, “That’s crazy. That’s the equivalent of four months of my rent.” Currently, robust measures to provide equitable travel guidelines for international students are still needed.

Concordia’s international students information page touts Montreal as the “best student city in North America.” With Canada’s failure to consider the unfair impacts on returning international students, Concordia’s claim that Montreal is an “affordable, student-friendly city” appears to leave out international students amidst a global pandemic.


Feature graphic by @the.beta.lab

Student Life

It’s a sign of the times: how Canadian universities struggle to adapt to changing times

Universities aren’t keeping up with evolving technologies and calls for diversity

Following my graduation from high school, I was very vocal about how the education I received was too workplace-driven, with a small proportion of material geared towards self-improvement and general culture. I felt that the growing societal awareness of our lack of diversity had fallen on my school administration’s deaf ears.

But in the few months preceding my graduation from Concordia, I’m noticing quite the opposite effect. I find that a divide has been growing between the university’s disconnected attempts at promoting diversity and better inclusion, and its ability to properly prepare us for post-graduation life in a rapidly evolving world.

A friend of mine who studies Design at Concordia recently told me about her frustration with the disconnect between the program’s advocacy for a more diverse design industry and its lack of professors of colour. In many of her classes, she also felt the expectations for her work weren’t on par with the demands of the design market, and that it would be difficult to compete in the arts scene with the portfolio she was building through class assignments.

It seems to be a pattern, from hearing other people’s experiences in the arts programs at this school, that the training it provides focuses on a dissociated idea of the knowledge we will need once we enter the job market.

In my three years studying Journalism, some of the most important topics — how to find work as a freelancer, or writing an invoice, for example — have been presented to us under the form of optional extracurricular talks to leave space for mandatory courses about the basics of photography and writing local crime stories. Furthermore, despite being promised a course on Indigenous reporting since our first semester in Journalism, it still hasn’t been offered three years later.

Throughout the past year, many of my peers have anecdotally told me about their struggles with keeping up with the department’s expectations because we’ve never learned to produce quality content without using expensive softwares and equipment or $2,000 iMacs. In fact, using an iPhone camera was grounds for docking marks in pretty much every photography class we had to take; our professors preferring we borrowed the 2008 DSLRs provided by the school.

Don’t get me wrong, I cherish a lot of the information I took away from my time in both programs I’m enrolled in. But the truth is, Concordia, just like many other Canadian universities, falls short when it comes to adapting fast enough to rapidly changing times.

In 2015, McGill’s School of Medicine was put on probation for, in part, failing to provide their students with proper instruction on women’s health and domestic violence issues. This was despite the fact that there were calls to bring the curriculum up to date with the status of social issues in Canada for years prior to the decision. Yet, even after the faculty went off probation in 2017, many reported an ongoing lack of diversity within the program.

Last semester, Concordia Film Production students wrote a statement demanding their department to address the lack of diversity, and to be held accountable for their responsibility to raise the voices of underrepresented groups.

And just this week, the students at Ryerson University’s School of Journalism issued a public letter calling out its failure to “represent and support its students who identify as Black, Indigenous, people of colour (BIPOC) and LGBTQ2IA+,” a letter which led to the resignations of the chair and associate chair of the program, Janice Neil and Lisa Taylor.

It’s not a coincidence, it’s a pattern. Canadian universities aren’t equipped to adapt their teaching to the needs of the modern world, just like they aren’t prepared to make the structural changes required by society’s increased sensibility to diversity and social issues.

It’s unbecoming of our schools, which we so often brag about being among the best in the country, to forget about currency and adaptability as part of their commitment to high quality education. Being unable to compete in a technology-reliant, socially aware society isn’t what we thought we were paying tuition for.


Graphic by @the.beta.lab

Student Life

Concordia is not doing enough: the case for tuition reduction

The University has not been lenient towards students amid a global pandemic

Last May, Concordia’s proposed budget was decided by the Board of Governors and was “long-term oriented to address post COVID-19 structural issues.” The 2020-2021 budget assumes the impacts of COVID-19 will go on for three years into the future. However, recent developments in clinical testing by Pfizer and Moderna have led the government to stockpile available doses. This means a return towards pre-COVID life might come sooner than expected. As such, a crucial reduction in tuition is justified despite the university potentially operating under a larger deficit for the current fiscal year.

Thousands of students have petitioned since the beginning of the fall semester to reduce tuition. Nearly 97 per cent of students who participated in the recent Concordia Student Union (CSU) by-elections of 2020 voted in favour of tuition reduction.

In a town hall meeting  hosted by the CSU on Nov. 19, students considered mass organization and protests against tuition hikes, similar to the 2012 student strike. They stated that, “In the context of the pandemic, we need to do that now as well — enough is enough.”

Many feel as though the school is indifferent towards the plight of its students.

“I’m convinced that the university doesn’t really care. They’d let half of us die if it means that the other half will be filled with students, because what they’re really interested in is keeping us enrolled and keeping us paying,”  said a student who was interviewed by The Link.

While students continue to voice their concerns, Concordia’s current budget leaves little to no room for financial leniency towards them.

According to Fiona Harrison-Roberts, the outgoing finance coordinator of the Journalism Student Association (JSA), “Concordia will be increasing the price of tuition this year as opposed to reducing tuition.”

“COVID-19[‘s] recurrent and structural impact will need to be integrated into the budget model for fiscal years 2021-2022 and thereafter,” as mentioned in the budget’s PDF document.

With a bulk of students shifting from full-time to part-time as well as a decline in first-year students, Concordia experienced an expected loss of revenue as a result of COVID-19.

“The drop is attributable to lost income from on-campus activities such as residence room rentals, parking and conferences, and diminished tuition revenue because of a decline in international student registrations, particularly at the graduate level,” said Concordia’s President and Vice-Chancellor Graham Carr in a public statement .

Currently, Concordia is operating under a deficit of five to eight per cent for the fiscal year.

“It is a large amount; however, the figures are similar to what the Government of Quebec has invested in proportion to its own budget to address the COVID crisis,” Carr added.

While Concordia is using the government’s actions to justify their current expenditures, the question to be asked is whether comparing themselves to a provincial government that has not done enough in the face of COVID-19 is a smart thing to do.

Regardless, as the student body grows more restless and with vaccines available this upcoming year, a “three-year financial plan” to combat the effects of COVID-19 becomes less pertinent. Students continue their uphill battle this year in paying rent and tuition, working, and studying through “Zoom University,” with little to no financial relief from their institution.

Concordia boasts of a “solid financial track record” in reference to their “balanced budget for 2019-20” after public funding cuts forced deficits for many years.

“In 2019-2020, before COVID, we had a balanced budget for the first time in six years,” stated Carr.

While it may be a commendable feat for some, Concordia’s members should ask themselves: at whose cost was this achievement realized, if not the students’?

Operating under a larger deficit to ensure the financial safety and security of nearly 50,000 students during a global pandemic is not an unreasonable demand. Especially when such an operation runs at the detriment of both the financial and mental health of its students.


Feature graphic by @the.beta.lab

Student Life

The teacher’s pet trope, explained

Students prove professors’ unfair biases

The Urban Dictionary defines the teacher’s pet as “An annoying student who kisses up to the teacher and does a bunch of favours for said teacher in hopes of getting a good grade.”

Being the teacher’s pet and befriending them can be beneficial at times. Evidently, good grades aren’t solely based on whether or not a teacher likes a student, but the way that students present themselves can influence a teacher’s perception of them, which can lead to unfair bias.

Research conducted by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov demonstrates that it only takes one-tenth of a second for us to judge someone and make a first impression.

Teachers are humans, and just like everyone, they hold preconceived opinions about students that are unrelated to their work. These opinions can be either conscious or subconscious. Teachers may try to be completely objective when grading, but at times fail to do so.

Among the different areas where teachers can be biased, one is grading. Depending on the subject of the course, professors teaching English, humanities, sociology, creative writing or any classes where there are written pieces, are susceptible to bias when grading. Of course, professors teaching math and science can’t be biased as there are only right and wrong answers.

A study done in 2014 demonstrates the prevalence of a halo bias in Australian university professors.

“A linear-contrast analysis showed that, as hypothesized, the graders assigned significantly higher scores to written work following the better presentation than following the poor oral presentation.” The results suggest that keeping the students anonymous helps prevent bias in grading.

Nadine Lardjane, a Social Science student at John Abbott College, confirmed that some of her teachers show unwarranted biases.

“Last semester I had an English teacher who admitted that she would hide the student’s name when correcting papers because she knew that it will influence her grading,” said Lardjane. “If she was correcting an assignment of a student who never participates in class, she would probably be more strict than when correcting a student who always participates in her class.”

“That’s why it’s super important to be the teacher’s pet and kiss their ass once in a while,” added Lardjane.

From my own experience, I’ve noticed that my professors have shown bias to my own advantage. Perhaps because I constantly spam their emails and chat with them; a true teacher’s pet. In one of my assignments, my professor clearly stated that she would give me the full marks for my assignment and then added “but be careful for next time.” I think this clearly shows somewhat of a bias. When I looked closely at the rubric, I saw that I didn’t deserve those points.

Amanda Lepage also expressed her encounter with an unreasonable, biased teacher who taught creative writing at John Abbott College.

“My teacher was extremely biased when grading. She often had an idea of what she wanted a written assignment to look like, but would not give pointers or explanation,” said Lepage.

Looking back, Lepage described her situation as unprofessional. The class killed her creativity as she was constantly graded based on whether or not her teacher agreed on the content and subject of her prose.

Lepage further stated that when she presented her pieces to other teachers, they said it was good.

Another college student, who asked to remain anonymous, mentioned that her teachers show disfavour towards immigrant students and easily get frustrated with them. For instance, if she makes a mistake, as a white student, her teacher will likely be more patient and lenient. However, if an immigrant makes the same mistake, the teacher will degrade them and criticize them by saying things such as “Why don’t you understand, is it because English isn’t your first language?”

Implicit biases are unconscious attitudes and stereotypes that influence a person’s judgment and actions. It is crucial for educators to understand the different biases they possess to ensure that every student is treated equally and fairly. These biases have a powerful impact on the students’ academic achievement. For example, implicit biases may lead to unintentional discrimination like gender or racial biases that will affect the academic performance of students.

The Rosenthal and Jacobsen study done in 1968 suggests that teacher expectations are likely to influence the student’s performance. This phenomenon is known as the Pygmalion Effect: when positive expectations influence performance positively, and negative expectations influence performance negatively.

There are many strategies to address implicit biases in academic institutions. First, to prevent any bias affecting educators’ work ethics, professors are encouraged to recognize their biases by partaking in the Implicit Association Test which will help assess the different biases they may hold. Along with that, grading systems should be reformulated to avoid such encounters. Perhaps professors could begin by hiding students’ names when grading papers. Another solution is for professors to follow a strict rubric to avoid their subjective influence and determine a neutral grade.


Feature graphic by @the.beta.lab

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