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Concordia Student Union News

Student speaks on Experience with University Insurance as opt-out Period begins

Students must soon disclose if they choose to keep their University insurance.

On Sept. 25, Concordia students will have their final chance to declare if they choose to stay with their student health and dental plan for the fall semester.

Offered through the Concordia Students Union (CSU), the insurance plan is included in each semester’s tuition, a fact Dom Doesburg, a third-year student in computer science, wished he knew earlier.

“Having it cover my therapy, quite literally, saved my life,” said Doesburg. “I wouldn’t have been able to stay in school, or get the support that I needed.”

For almost two years, Doesburg has been taking advantage of the CSU’s health and dental plan. Seeking mental health support, Doesburg initially paid for therapy out of pocket, something he said quickly became unsustainable as a full-time student living on his own.


The health plan covers a wide array of services, with varying amounts  upwards of $10,000 in total. For Doesburg, this primarily meant psychiatry, which the Studentcare plan covered 80 per cent of each session. 

Doesburg added that he didn’t want to miss any opportunity, as he’d later use his coverage for vaccinations and dental services. 

Despite the help he receives regularly, Doesburg explained that his journey to finding resources through the CSU was not simple.

“I did it all by myself, which was not fun,” Doesburg said. “I’ve talked to other people and they are really confused, so I’ve been helping. I think on the Concordia website, it needs to be way clearer somehow.”

Doesburg added that initial research into student health care yielded poor results, with only brief explanations on Concordia’s website. Eventually, he accessed the Studentcare website, the insurance broker associated with the CSU, where he found the information to get him started.

Brooks Reid-Constantin, a linguistics student and Concordia Student’s Nightline’s president, agreed that accessibility to professional mental health may not be within reach for every student.

“I think that it’s crazy how difficult it is to get in touch with a psychiatrist,” Reid-Constantin said. 

She explained that the student health services aided her life as a student, despite any limitations to the health plan.

Nightline operates during evening hours between Wednesday and Saturday, providing active listening to callers. According to Reid-Constantin, this allows callers, often anxious students, to feel heard and relieve them of certain stressors.

Working with Nightline, Reid-Constantin said she gained a perspective into matters of mental health, despite not being a professional. She believed that students should have more options than Nightline, and should seek professional help if accessible and medication if needed.

It’s only ever one leg of the chair. You have to do a bunch of the work yourself,” Reid-Constantin added. “Giving anybody a head start and trying to take some of that financial burden off can be really helpful.”

The CSU operates mostly as a mediator between student and insurance broker. Often, a student is navigating the ins-and-outs of insurance for the first time, so they can definitely use the help. According to Hannah Jackson, the CSU’s external and mobilization coordinator, this is for the best.

“Concordia is a business. It is a for-profit corporation. We’re a union. We aren’t trying to make a profit every year and we aren’t trying to cut costs,” Jackson said. “We have a greater incentive to make it comprehensive and affordable, as opposed to the university administration.”

Jackson explained that the insurance coverage offered by the CSU is considered additional to that of the Régie de l’Assurance Maladie (RAMQ) including eye care and physiotherapy.

International and part-time students are exceptions, as they are not directly covered by the Studentcare. 

For the former, they must go through the university’s administration, to both Jackson and the CSU’s dismay. However, Jackson added that international students are eligible for dental care through which they may also receive the CSU’s newly established gender-affirming healthcare. 

Part-time students, although covered by the same insurance, must declare if they opt-in for coverage. As such, they must pay the yearly amount of $185 separate from their tuition.

“[Studentcare] can be bureaucratic. They can be very arbitrary in their rules,” Jackson said. “But I encourage people to explore what’s covered under their plan and to really claim it, because that money is there.”

A previous version of this article identified Brooks Reid-Constantin as external vice-president of the Nightline. Reid-Constantin is president of the Nightline.

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Student Life

In the dark about Concordia’s student services?

Here’s a roundup of many services and resources Concordia has to offer that can help make your life both inside and outside of the classroom go more smoothly and be more manageable.

 

Student Success Centre

The Student Success Centre is a catalyst for resources available to students aiming to improve their academic career or life afterwards, with the help of their Learning Support resources or the Career and Planning Services (CAPS).

One of the available resources are Learning and Study Skill Specialists that can help with preparing for assignments (note-taking, oral presentations, exams), doing assignments (reading, writing, math), as well as other areas relating to school, such as anxiety, help with learning in a second language, and time management. Peer tutors are also an available resource that can be accessed through the university.

If you are unable or unwilling to meet with someone in person, there are handouts for various topics that you can download and print from the comfort of your own home. Additionally, handouts are also available for problem-solving (math), different methods to improve or adjust your learning habits (strategies to improve concentration, to improve your memory, etc.), tips for being successful in online classes, and even handouts that are specific to those applying to or already are in graduate school.

If you function and learn better in a group setting, there are organized study groups for certain courses already in place such as for ECON 201, 203 and 221. There are also countless workshops offered for a variety of topics throughout the course of the semester: learning strategies, exam strategies, business, engineering and computer science study skills, and writing and research tips.

If you feel like your studies and learning are on a good path and you want to start thinking about life after school, CAPS can help you to figure out which career can work with your degree or help find an internship within your field. They can offer help with your job search, give career counseling, and host career events, workshops and job fairs. CAPS also has an entire guide dedicated to cultivating and improving your interview skills, various guides as well as drop-in times/appointments to help with resumés and cover letters, and multiple sources to inform you about salaries, benefits and employers within the field you want.

 

Financial Wellness

Are you concerned about money? Concordia also has resources available, either through helping you achieve financial wellness or with bursaries, scholarships and loans. If you’re stressed about how you’ll be able to pay for your life while in school, Concordia’s website is full of hidden treasures to help you out. From giving tips on how to make and manage a budget, to how to responsibly use a credit card and how to understand banking and financial institutions. If it all becomes a giant blur, you can visit the Financial Aid & Awards Office for more advice on how to attain financial wellness.

 

Campus Wellness & Support Services 

Concordia’s health services include a vast array of resources. Medical services include being able to book an appointment or receive urgent care from either a doctor or nurse, depending on what you need. You are also able to receive vaccinations, pass a variety of tests such as pregnancy, urine, pap, blood, STI, etc., or obtain a medical note for school or work if you meet specific criteria. You can find a verified source list for various aches, pains, infections, general non-serious ailments, etc. as well as information on how to improve and maintain your overall health, such as eating healthy, being physically active, managing your stress and mental health, sleeping, and practicing safe sex.

While physical health is important, it’s not the only kind – it includes spiritual and mental health as well. Concordia’s health and wellness resources include counselling and psychological services where you can meet individually with counsellors or attend groups and workshops. Online, there is also a PDF available with crises/after hours resources and a web page available with even more resources for mental health services.

 

Access Centre for Students with Disabilities

Concordia has an Access Centre for Students with Disabilities. Online, you can find information on who can apply and how; examples include: “vision, mobility, hearing, chronic medical conditions, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, mental health conditions, Autism Spectrum Disorder and other Neurodevelopmental Disorders.” You can get advising, attend workshops, participate in the peer note-taking program, have access to government funding, have your textbooks and course packs converted to accessible formats, benefit from transportation accessibility, and more.

 

Birks Student Service Centre

If you’re looking to obtain documents or information about them, the Birks Student Service Centre can help. Located in the J.W. McConnell Building (LB 185), you can request and obtain documents such as official forms and letters, transcripts, get a student ID or OPUS card, pay tuition and fees or request refunds, obtain information about studying in Quebec as a non-resident, and so much more.

If this resource roundup still leaves you questioning what you should do or what help you need, Concordia’s Navigator program allows you to connect to a staff member or experienced student who can help connect you to the right resources.

 

Graphics by Alexa Hawksworth and ZeZe Lin

Categories
Student Life

My personal experience with anorexia

One Concordia student talks about her struggles with body dysmorphia and self-esteem

At 14, I was diagnosed with anorexia.

It all started during the summer of 2008. My family and I often visited the Old Port and went to see movies together. During these family outings, whenever I wore a tight-fitting T-shirt, my sisters and brother would comment on my belly fat. I started to feel extremely self-conscious. “You need to stop eating junk food because you are getting fat,” they would tell me.

Thinking back, yes, I had gained a bit of weight in my stomach area, but I wasn’t overweight. Yet back then, I was disgusted with myself. I would stand in front of the mirror and push my belly in, hoping it would just disappear.

People sometimes don’t realize how the things they say can hurt someone. I felt as if there was something wrong with me because of my obsessive thoughts about my body, my weight and my physical features.

I just wanted to feel “normal,” and feel good about myself. When I started grade eight that September, I slowly stopped eating—I used to skip breakfast and lunch. At night, I would only eat a small snack, like an apple or yogurt, just so that my stomach would not growl all night.

I used to admire the models in magazines, and I wanted more than anything to look like them. I wanted to be skinny—I equated that to being pretty.

I also equated skinniness to being healthy. But at 15, my family doctor told me my skinniness was far from healthy. At 5’2, I weighed only 90 pounds. “You need to start eating or else you’ll die,” he told me. That was my wake-up call. He made me keep a food journal to keep track of my eating habits, and to make sure I was eating.

He also advised my mom to watch me, to make sure I was eating three meals a day. At that time, I was getting bullied at school. People would say I was too skinny and ugly. Those were the darkest days of my life. I felt frustrated when my mom started supervising me. However, even though she had never given me emotional support, I knew this was her way of showing she cared about me. My brother used to call me names because I was skinny. My second sister was actively supporting my recovery, though.

The second wake-up call was when my eldest sister cried. “You are malnourished, I can tell just by looking at you,” she said. At that point, somewhere deep down, I knew I wanted to get better. I wanted to be in good health.

At 16, after over a year of following a strict food regimen, I attained a healthy body weight. I was eating healthy and exercising, so not only was I in my healthy weight range, but I was also getting fit. During my recovery, I started swimming. It was very therapeutic for me, a kind of escape.

I was proud of myself: I was eating well, exercising and overcoming the things that had been tearing me down. At first, it was hard to not hate my own body. After every meal, I felt fat. But when I started gaining a healthier weight, I looked at myself in the mirror, in a swimsuit, and I felt beautiful.

If there is one thing I’ve learned about my experience, it would be that life is short—it’s better to live a long healthy life than die young because of anorexia. You should never feel ashamed of your body. You are beautiful. Health is beautiful. Happiness is beautiful. Always remember that you are not alone and that you are worthy.

If you are feeling down about your self-image, or experiencing obsessive thoughts about your weight, body or food, please speak up or call for help.

Graphic by Thom Bell

Categories
Student Life

The steps to standing up to sexual violence

Concordia’s Sexual Assault Resource Centre hosted a workshop on bystander intervention

Concordia’s Sexual Assault Resource Centre hosted a bystander intervention workshop for students as part of Concordia’s CSU Wellness Day on Sept. 15. The purpose of the workshop was to increase safety on campus and provide support for survivors of sexual assault.

Jennifer Drummond, coordinator of the Sexual Assault Resource Center, led the workshop. She explained that sexual violence is an umbrella term that includes sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual harassment. She defined sexual assault as involving non-consensual sexual contact such as kissing or penetration, while sexual harassment constitutes unwanted looks, comments or jokes of a sexual nature.

Drummond said “bystander intervention” is when a person sees a potentially dangerous-looking situation and speaks up about someone else’s language or behaviour, whether it is inappropriate, hurtful, abusive or dangerous.  “It’s about preventing situations from escalating to sexual violence. We teach people how to intervene and to become active bystanders. It helps to shift the culture to one of consent and respect,” she said.

Drummond said it is important to have these kinds of workshops because sexual violence is all too common. According to Statistics Canada, one in four women will experience some form of sexual violence during their lifetime—the most vulnerable period being between the ages of 18 and 24. In addition, one in six men will face sexual violence, but it is usually more common during childhood.

Drummond said that there are many reasons why a bystander would not want to intervene, including due to the “bystander effect.”

“[The bystander effect] is a phenomenon [where] the more bystanders are witnessing a violent situation, the less likely … anyone will do anything because everyone thinks that someone else will intervene and no one does,” Drummond explained.

Many bystanders tend to feel awkward about intervening or think that it’s none of their business, but it is better to be safe than sorry, Drummond said. Another barrier for intervention is safety. Drummond said she does not encourage people to intervene if it would put their own safety at risk. In such cases, Drummond suggested getting support from friends, other bystanders or even the police.

Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Drummond also explained the four “D”s of intervention strategies, which are crucial actions for every bystander think about before taking action. The fours “D”s are distract, direct, delegate and delay. The first “D” is about distracting the victim or the attacker with an irrelevant question. This takes the victim of the harassment away from the situation, allowing them to find an escape route. “Direct” intervention is about directly addressing the situation and calling out the attacker’s inappropriate behaviour. The “delegate” method involves getting immediate help from other people such as friends, other bystanders or an authoritative figure to intervene in the situation. “Delaying” works as a last resort. If for some reason or other, a friend insists she or he doesn’t need help, or is comfortable with the person or people accompanying them, then you can delay your intervention to the next day. You basically don’t want to force your help on, but you want to check in with the victim as soon as possible.

The Sexual Assault Resource Centre also offers other workshops, trainings and presentations about consent and bystander intervention.

If you are a victim of sexual violence, please contact the toll-free helpline for victims: 1-888-933-9007, or visit Concordia University’s Sexual Assault Resource Centre located at the Sir George Williams Campus in room GM-300.27.

For immediate danger on campus, you can reach security at 514-848-3717.

Categories
Music

CJLO’s first ever funding drive a success

Photo by Allie Mason

The little radio station that could, CJLO 1690AM, has made strides since hitting the AM airwaves a mere three years ago—but they’re not finished dreaming yet. They hit the ground running with their first annual fundraising drive from March 5 to March 11, with the goal of raising $5,000.
“Essentially, [the money from the drive] is going to help sustain the station while we apply to broadcast on a low-power FM frequency,” explained station manager Stephanie Saretsky, adding that while students might remember a fee levy being approved in the fall to help with the station’s goal of going live on FM, the process is a little more complicated and takes a little more time and money than they originally anticipated.
Because of this, the money received from the fundraiser will not only help with the station’s day-to-day operating costs, but it will also go towards replacing copper that was stolen from the station’s downtown transmitter, paying an AM consultant to survey downtown to find out how far their frequency will travel and its effects on other frequencies including the Dorval airport radio communication. The fundraiser will also pay for their FM application to the CRTC and develop other programs to reach as many students as possible.
Once their application is approved by the CRTC—which Saretsky said is very likely since it will be a low-power signal—the station will need to pay to assess where the best location for an antenna should be, as well as other set-up costs.
“The cost could go up depending on the survey,” Saretsky admitted, which is why it’s important for CJLO to get financial support from the community.
The station doesn’t only serve as a voice for Concordia news, but it also provides services for students and the community.
“The station is open to anyone and provides a great experience,” said Tariq Sattaur of Rex’s Barn Sessions, which airs every Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. “They’ll teach you how to use the equipment and they give free air time to broadcast student meetings, concerts or shows. A lot of students could really benefit from the station if they knew it was here for them.”
And that’s the problem—with CJLO’s current antenna, the downtown campus’ reception is shoddy at best.
“The signal fades in and out downtown now because of the buildings absorbing the signal,” Saretsky said. “We stream online and have an app for the iPhone. We want to develop one for the Android, but we want to make [CJLO] as listenable as possible. We want to reach as many people as possible.”
CJLO held four fundraising events last week, including a Mix Swap Club and concert at Divan Orange, a live broadcast at Café X, and Caribbean-style party with hosts from Beat The World and Caribbean Callaloo broadcasting live from the Caribbean Curry House.
So far they’ve received over $3,000 in pledges and will continue to accept pledges until March 28. Depending on the size of your donation you can get some pretty sweet swag, including being entered in their grand prize draw on March 30.
Donations can be made via snail mail (7141 Sherbrooke Street West, Suite CC-430, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4B 1R6), in person at the station (Loyola campus, room CC-430), or online at www.cjlo.com/fundingdrive.

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