Quashing isolation through the third place

These spaces encourage casual social connection and are essential for community building. 

It’s crazy how easy it is to feel isolated when there are so many people all around us. University and other school settings are the environments in which we’re surrounded by the most opportunities for social connection and community-building, yet so many students still suffer from the feeling of loneliness. 

People I know have reported feeling as though they aren’t connected to their universities, that they go to school for class and then come home, living in a state of separation from the places they inhabit. “University doesn’t feel like an experience,” my friend confessed the other day. 

On this topic, I highly recommend the video essay “third places, stanley cup mania, and the epidemic of loneliness” by YouTuber Mina Le. She delves into this phenomenon, namely in the context of young people having difficulty forming strong social connections in an age where so much of our connection happens online. The cure? Third places. 

Third places are spaces whose primary function is social connection. While the first place is the home and the second place is work, the third place is somewhere that’s accessible to the public with little or no monetary restriction, and provides the opportunity to just casually hang out. In a third place, you might run into people without planning to or meet people you might not have met under normal circumstances. Think community centers, public parks, lounges, and cafés.

One reason third places are so special is that there is little effort required to have these social connections. It’s increasingly difficult these days to make plans, with conflicting schedules and the stress of university. Third places are low-pressure and low-commitment, and provide the thrill of spontaneity as well as the comfort of familiarity. 

In The Atlantic, journalist Allie Conti wrote about the “forgotten art of hanging out” and the decline of third places as leisure becomes more privatized. With rising prices and growing mistrust among individuals, third places have become less accessible. I would argue that as we grow older, third places also become more and more difficult to find. As kids, we had mandated third places in the form of recess, and it seems like most of high school was spent hanging out in random stairwells and hallways rather than learning. 

Once we graduate school entirely, third places become nearly non-existent, especially for people who work from home or simply work too much. In university, we’re at a unique point where third places are everywhere, but nobody is forcing us into them. It’s therefore up to the individual to seek them out, and I think everybody should do so. 

I’m a huge fan of third places, and have always been at my happiest when there’s been a good third place to engage in. My entire CEGEP experience was one big third place, because I lived, went to school, and worked in the same building. This sort of community enhances life so much and is essential for well-being. Third places at and around Concordia include student lounges, the library (if, like me, you spend 95 per cent of your time there mindlessly chattering), and Frigo Vert, the quintessential third place.

Of course, third places do still require effort from the individual—they aren’t an instant cure for a lack of connection. The key is that they provide practice and opportunities. It’s too easy to come into school everyday and never truly engage. But if you’ve been craving a better sense of community, go to the third places. 


Rethinking our approach to learning

Higher education should be a blessing, not a curse. 

Learning often doesn’t feel as meaningful as it should. I am often frustrated by how easily my attention slips away from my academics and how little I retain after hours of class time. The reality for many students is a daily cycle of cramming information and then regurgitating it, only to forget or never fully understand said information. 

Because of the sheer volume of material we’re given to consume, we’re often unable to give it the attention and interest it deserves. Stress levels are ridiculously high with no time to breathe and sit with what we’re being taught. So many students are constantly in a frenzy, struggling to keep up with what is required of them to achieve high results. They aren’t enjoying their education, only doing their best to survive it. 

We’re in dire need of solutions. One such solution is creative teaching methods that emphasize genuine engagement. I spoke to Professor Norman Cornett, a former McGill professor who realized that the standard approach to learning was having a destructive effect on his students. These students were suffering, and falling through the cracks of a system that only pushed them down farther. 

Upon this realization, Cornett adopted what he refers to as the “dialogic” method, a method that spotlights engaging dialogue about educational material by encouraging stream-of-consciousness thought and unfiltered opinion. He allowed students to share uninhibited responses to works and invited creators to engage with these reactions, thus forming a dialogue between student and material.

This was often achieved through creative practices (such as making students listen to a symphony in the dark, to name one example) that sought to emphasize the individual needs and interests of the students, and to present material in a way that wasn’t the typical “read and regurgitate” practice. “Imagination represents one of the foremost assets human beings innately possess,” said Cornett. “To realize its full potential, higher education must therefore harness the imagination as an essential dynamic of learning.” 

But beyond professors reconsidering their own teaching methods, what can be done by students who are at the mercy of educational structures? Change is slow, and we’re subjected to degree requirements and rigorous curriculums. A few solutions can help you maximize your experience. 

Choosing courses whose content reflects your own interests whenever possible, as well as engaging more with professors and seeking out instructors that present material in a way that works for you, are just some of these solutions.

It’s also helpful to consider alternatives or supplements to higher education entirely. A degree doesn’t need to be the emblem of success—we’ve all seen those lists of successful figures who never graduated. The knowledge that comes from non-curricular books, interpersonal learning, and life experiences like traveling can be just as (if not more) valuable. I’m not saying you should drop out when school gets tough, only consider all the possibilities in your life’s trajectory.

It has already been said by many that the education system is deeply flawed. Students need more time to breathe and more space to actually absorb what is being taught. More than that, they need to be engaged more deeply with the material. This will require imaginative solutions, and the willingness to accept that learning could be so much more. 


I’m 30 and still in school

Despite my anxiety of being an older undergraduate student, I’m grateful for my experiences.

When I finished high school at 17, I was excited to begin my CEGEP studies. I started at the same time as my fellow classmates and expected to graduate with many of them within two years. I never took a full course load, so I was already behind. I also kept changing my program every other semester, so I had more and more courses to complete before earning my degree. With all the changes, it took me six years to finish my degree.

By the time I started my bachelor’s degree at Concordia, most students from my high school class were already close to earning theirs or were already employed. I was 23 years old then, and I told myself that I wouldn’t take as long as I did in college to finish my undergraduate studies.

Seven years later, at 30 years old, I’m still an undergraduate student. Like in CEGEP, I’ve never taken a full course load. Due to ​​unexpected circumstances in my life, I dropped courses and took a few semesters off. Although I’m now close to finishing my degree, I still feel somewhat insecure that it’s taken me seven years. Seven years is the length of elementary school; it’s two years longer than high school and one year more than I spent in CEGEP. Suffice to say, I’m beyond excited to finish my degree.

When I’m in class, I can’t help but be reminded of my age. I don’t feel like my age until I see new and younger faces every semester. I can’t help but feel out of place.

Although I get insecure about my age, I try to focus on the positives: I didn’t give up on my education, no matter what obstacles were in my way. I’m fortunate to have an education. I enjoy what I’m studying. I’m proud that I’ve made it this far and that I’m close to finishing my bachelor’s degree. These reminders help ground me.

I also believe that everything happens for a reason and that we should trust the timing of our lives. Ideally, I would have liked to have finished my studies earlier, but I know that this wasn’t the path meant for me. 

As I grow up, I become more confident in the person I am and what I want to do with my life. It’s also helped me become a stronger student. I’m serious about doing well in my classes and I put in the work to succeed. If I didn’t enjoy a course during CEGEP, I would have immediately dropped it. In university, I’ve taken chances on courses and I’ve even surprised myself. I stick through the struggles because I’m reminded of my goals. I don’t know if I would have made these same decisions if I were younger.I’ve also met a few great people who I probably would not have ever known had I not followed this path. They’ve made my time in college and university worthwhile. 

So even though my age sometimes brings me discomfort, I’m not perturbed by it because I’ve had wonderful experiences that I would not have had otherwise. And I wouldn’t trade that for the world.


An open letter to Jean-François Roberge, Quebec’s minister of the French language

Tuition hikes for out-of-province students like me will not solve the decline of the French language.

My name is Lucas-Matthew Marsh.

I am the Managing Editor of the Concordian, News Director for CJLO radio, and one of the  English-speaking out-of-province students that would be affected by the Quebec government’s decision to increase tuition rates. Had this policy been implemented a semester earlier, I would not have been able to complete my undergraduate degree due to financial constraints.

When I immigrated to Quebec in the fall of 2018, I did so with the intention of staying in the province after I graduated. I remember the night of my first snowfall in Montreal. I walked down Joseph St. and looked into the warmly lit townhouses. I fantasised about buying one of those houses and the future that awaited me here.

Six years later, this announcement has only solidified my decision to leave the province after I graduate in the spring of 2024, to start fresh where life doesn’t have to be so unnecessarily difficult.

When it comes to preserving the French language, I am probably the most sympathetic anglophone there is. Time and time again, I have defended this province to my so-called Quebec-bashing friends and family. However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to do so when legislation such as this makes it explicitly clear that I am no longer welcome here.

For as long as I have lived in Montreal, it’s been a hallmark of your administration to play on longstanding language divides for political gain. The CAQ has avoided full scale sovereignist rhetoric while making life for its anglophone and non French-speaking citizens as difficult as possible. I am tired of having to work twice as hard to get my foot in the door when my limited French skills would be an incredible asset anywhere else.

During my undergraduate degree, I have worked as a meat clerk, call centre agent, jeweller’s assistant and barback. At each of these positions, within a month I learned enough French to sufficiently communicate with my clientele. I am among the thousands of other English-speaking out of province students in Montreal that are a vital fabric of this province’s economy. If you push us out, you will miss out on some of the most hardworking and determined workforce in the country. 

Imposing financial constraints on hardworking students such as myself will not solve the decline of the French language in the province. The only impact that these policies will have is discouraging a large number of young people from studying in the province. It also forces those who are already here to spend their invaluable time doing low paying menial labour—time that would better be spent studying, working internships, contributing to the province’s artistic community and most importantly, learning the French language.


Student club fills the gaps of Concordia’s mental health services

Stronger than Stigma’s (STS) emphasis of peer-to-peer support intends on accommodating every student’s mental health needs

Concordia University’s limited staffing of the Counselling and Psychological Services (CPS) grants priority assistance to students in mental health crises, directing others towards outside psychological services. Consequently, students often face greater financial restraints and longer waiting periods.

As of Nov. 22, Brittany Dohmen-Clermont, a service assistant and secretary for CPS, stated that the school has a total of 11 active psychologists: eight at the Sir George Williams Campus and three at the Loyola Campus. 

Concordia has a student body of over 51,250 students. The low number of professionals able to offer psychiatric assistance has sparked growing concerns. 

The Concordian spoke with Marieke Glorieux-Stryckman, a first-year journalism major who, despite being qualified for and enrolled in CPS, still faces major accommodation issues. She and many other students are attending student-run mental health club events to fulfill their missing needs. 

Glorieux-Stryckman referred to the COVID-19 outbreak as a time of emotional distress for many.

“I was grieving the entire pandemic. I was grieving the time that I had lost, the trips I didn’t take, the friends I didn’t hang out with, the things I didn’t learn,” she expressed.  

Undergoing the hardships that derived from the pandemic while fighting the nerves of being a first-year university student, Glorieux-Stryckman stated that seeking therapy at the University’s CPS hadn’t been a question for her. Yet it wasn’t as easy as she anticipated.

On Sept. 9. at 9:15 a.m., she failed to book a triage appointment in time. After only 15 minutes of the desk opening its request for triage appointments, it was full. “That was kind of discouraging for me… that’s actually usually how it goes, it’s hard to even get a triage appointment,” said Glorieux-Stryckman.

Dohment-Clermont stated, “It can take up to two weeks for the triage appointment — the first appointment, it is first come first serve. Those who repeatedly ask, we do take note, and we do take note of those in crisis, and they do receive it.” Triage appointment requests open Fridays at 9 a.m. and are sent by email to office rooms, GM-300 or AD-121.  

The following week, Glorieux-Stryckman scrambled to ensure her alarm had been set for 9 a.m. and prepared a draft email beforehand. On Sept. 16, she secured her appointment in relief, which took place shortly after. 

“One of the things that kind of freaked me out at my triage appointment was that before we started, the therapist told me ‘Oh by the way, if we see that you don’t really qualify, we might refer you to other services outside of Concordia,’” stated Glorieux-Stryckman. This appeared to go against the financial advantages of seeking therapy on campus. 

Unlike outside services, the CPS is covered by students’ health insurance tuition, which on average costs $123.33 per semester for full-time students. The CPS’ service agreement states: “The number and frequency of these appointments will depend on the client’s tailored plan for therapy.”

Given the CPS’ priority assistance to students in crisis, Glorieux-Stryckman reluctantly stated, “I’m really happy I got it but that means I’m really unwell.”

Claire Dyment, a Concordia student and president of Stronger Than Stigma (STS), the University’s undergraduate mental health club, shares similar experiences to those of Glorieux-Strykman’s. STS caters to a larger student body through its implementation of various events and resources.

Glorieux-Stryckman was told she’d receive an appointment once every other week. Instead, she has had three appointments canceled in a row without receiving proper notice or accommodations by the CPS. 

Glorieux-Stryckman began her sessions in early October and has received only 5 therapy sessions as of December 8. Considering the severity of her needs, she states that this inconsistency is lacking effectiveness.

Claire Dyment, a fourth-year psychology major, refers to her first-year stay at the campus’ Grey Nuns Residence, after moving from her hometown in Ottawa. 

She spoke about the distress she endured in the fall of 2019, as a first-year student struggling to adapt to her new lifestyle, while undergoing the student residency’s pandemic safety measures.

“I was having a hard time adapting to resident life,” said Dyment. Unimaginably, she was now living in “a weird micro society of everyone in these little rooms.”

Dyment became significantly limited to socializing and exploring her new student-life, worsening the state of her anxiety. 

Luckily enough, the residence provided a school adjustment advisor, in support of newly-arrived students who were struggling with adaptation issues. Dyment jumped on the opportunity to book an appointment, where she unraveled her stressors.

Despite exchanging a heartfelt encounter with the advisor, she felt taken aback by one of their statements.

“From our 30-minute conversation, I can tell you are not in maximum crisis and because of that, I’m not even going to direct you to mental health services because you won’t get in. You should go private.”

“From the get-go, I was so grateful that the residence had this service and then it was a halt,  like [they] will give you a bite, but you can’t have the whole sandwich,” said Dyment.

Dyment was directed to PsyMontréal, a psychological therapy service offered to CU student members of StudentCare, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) health care insurance plan. Under this plan, students pay $185, which allows them to claim up to $750 per policy year for psychiatric services, paying between $120 to $130 a therapy session. On average, students are only covered up to six sessions a year and often still sit on a lengthy waitlist. 

Shortly after Dyment sought help at the residence’s advisor, Quebec’s COVID-19 cases had exponentially risen. The residence responded to the situation by giving the students “four days’ notice to vacate residence. It was really badly managed,” said Dyment. 

This initiated an instant worry for Dyment. She, along with the other student-residents, felt pressured to not only respect the limited time frame to vacate, but to find their means of transport to do so. “Luckily, my parents were able to come pick me up in their car. But, it was definitely stressful,” stated Dyment. 

After the pandemic Dyment’s battles with anxiety haven’t stopped her from pursuing her passion for studying psychology and achieving the presidential role at STS this year. STS members consist of nine anti-stigma mental health advocate students while additionally having volunteer staff ready to help. Their open-membership platform offers students a safe place to share without fear of judgment.

Dyment is one of many students who have obtained greater benefit from peer-to-peer mental health support than those from school’s services. “This is something that makes me feel good, it makes me feel motivated, it makes me feel connected to my peers,” said Dyment. 

STS’ events strive to release students’ mental health stressors by offering a safe space on campus. The club recently hosted their annual Wine and Paint Night on Nov. 2, at Concordia’s Reggie’s Bar. The event charged a $15 entrance fee, which covered all painting supplies, food, and beverages. 

Glorieux-Stryckman was one of 72 students to attend the event. At this time, she had missed out on three CPS therapy sessions, and this gathering alleviated a period of discouragement for her. 

“She was really making a place for me,” said Glorieux-Stryckman, referring to Dyment’s welcoming demeanor. “It was so nice to know that these people were willing to support students when they needed it.”

“I felt like I could give my energy to hopefully try and make an impact for others,” said Dyment. The STS president hopes to provide this feeling of reassurance to other students in situations similar to Glorieux-Stryckman’s.

Claire Dyment, along with her fellow STS members, head back to sharing their monthly celebratory cheers after completing yet another successful mental health event. 


Concordia’s stance on the new proposed bill about academic freedom

Newly proposed Bill 32 will protect academic freedom in classrooms, according to Quebec’s higher education minister

Quebec recently proposed a new bill that will allow any form of speech to be used in an academic context. 

Many university students voiced their concerns and anger following the recent events of professors saying the N-word in classrooms for educational purposes. 

The first incident occurred at the University of Ottawa in 2020 when professor Verushka Lieutenant-Duval was suspended after using the N-word in class. A similar incident happened at Concordia in February 2021, when a Concordia faculty member also used the slur during a lecture. 

During the press conference, Danielle McCann, Quebec’s higher education minister, said these events highlight the importance of protecting academic freedom in classrooms. 

“Censorship has no place in our classrooms. It will never happen, and we must protect faculty from censorship,” said McCann. “Classes are not safe spaces, but spaces for debate,” she added.

Amaria Phillips, a co-founder and president of the Black Student Union, disagrees with Bill 32, and fears future tension in classrooms. 

“We want our classroom to be a safe space. We don’t want to have to worry about whether or not a professor is going to say the N-word and feel triggered by that,” said Phillips. 

McCann clarified that universities will not be required to warn students before any offensive content is being addressed. However, McCann reassures that professors will be able to use all words within an educational context while respecting future guidelines. 

“It is also essential to provide quality training to members of the student community in an environment conducive to learning, discussion and debate,” said McCann. 

Once adopted, this law will clearly define academic freedom in universities and its guidelines, as mentioned in the bill. 

The bill aims to promote and protect the right to university academic freedom and the right of every person to engage without any prejudices or ideological notions. 

The bill requires every educational institution to appoint a person responsible for academic freedom to collaborate and communicate through written reports with McCann. 

In a written statement sent to The Concordian, Concordia states that academic freedom is essential to a functioning university ecosystem, siding on managing academic freedom themselves rather than having any government involvement.

“We prefer not to see a law on academic freedom. We believe that the autonomy of universities is the best guarantee that academic freedom continues to thrive and that the imposition of a law by the government goes against that freedom,” read the statement.

Angélique Willkie, associate professor of Contemporary Dance and co-chair of the Concordia University Task Force on Anti-Black Racism, agrees with McCann and recognizes a university is a place for debate. 

“[The university] It is a place where in order to facilitate knowledge and nurture knowledge and nurture critical thinking, difficult conversations of all kinds need to take place,” said Willkie. 

“It’s not a ticket to just say whatever you like. I think what we are responsible as faculty members, and as an institution, is to provide a learning environment for all students,” Willkie added. 

 Lisa White, the executive director of the Equity Office at Concordia, says conversations about academic freedom and inclusivity are an ongoing dialogue in accordance with the university’s values found in the Code of Rights and Responsibilities

“There are no conflicts between ensuring that academic freedom is respected and valued and part and parcel of the university experience for all for all people,” said White. 

Photo courtesy of Hannah Tiongson

Concordia Student Union News

CSU Confirms Plans for Second Affordable Student Housing Unit

After the completion of the Woodnote in 2020, the Concordia Student Union is going ahead with plans for a second building

The Concordia Student Union (CSU) is moving forward with plans for a second affordable student housing unit, confirmed Laurent Levesque, CEO of UTILE, the housing non-profit that built the Woodnote. This new building will likely be finished by the end of 2025.

UTILE has said that this new unit could house roughly 144 students, or the same amount as the Woodnote. “We’re in the phase of the project where we collect objectives. The CSU is telling us the project parameters they want us to meet, and that will eventually be turned into a contract. This then becomes UTILE’s mandate for the building,” he said.

The Woodnote’s total cost was $18 million. Of that total, the CSU funded $1.8 million while $1.6 million came from the city of Montreal, and $3 million from the federal government, according to Levesque. For this second building, Levesque’s hope is to stay around the same budget. “We’re always trying to house as many students as possible without getting to a size that makes a feeling of community impossible to achieve. The realistic target is about the size of the Woodnote, and that goes for the budget too.” Levesque wishes that more funding from municipal, provincial, and federal governments would be allocated to fund this expansion.

The project is in its initial phase, so there are lots of details to work out. “We don’t have a name for it yet,” said Levesque. “The Woodnote’s name was chosen by students in part because of its design and location near Parc Lafontaine. We’ll get there [with this second building] once the land is found and the design starts to take shape. We’ll only do that once the CSU confirms that this project is something they want to do. We expect to be able to deliver the project in three to four years, which is faster than the Woodnote.”

Eduardo Malorni, the Concordia Student Union’s general coordinator, gave an update on the project. “The CSU is currently in discussions with UTILE regarding the possible creation of a second housing cooperative project following the successful completion of the Woodnote. This would manifest itself as an investment into the PUSH (Popular University Student Housing) Fund. Currently we are in discussions regarding the scope of the project and if all goes well, we will be sending a referendum question to be voted on by the student body regarding their support for the project in the March 2022 CSU General Elections.”

In a report compiled in 2020, around 50 per cent of the Woodnote’s residents were Quebecers. The other half was split between Canadian and international tenants. Levesque said that there was a turnover rate of around 30 per cent within the building, which he saw as beneficial. “It shows that students are happy to live there and happy to move out when their studies are done.” UTILE hopes to replicate the conditions of their first building with this new Concordia project., as their goal is to ensure affordable housing for students.

“We are essentially the only non-profit group to be doing this work on student housing. Our research has shown that there are over 250,000 student tenants in Quebec alone. That’s a lot of people that are suffering in the housing crisis,” Levesque said. 

UTILE sees Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante’s reelection as a green light, as she has committed to creating 2000 units of affordable student housing in her second term. On municipal contributions, Levesque said that “It’s very reasonable for the CSU to expect for the city to pitch in again. We don’t want to place the burden on student unions to fund these initiatives, so it’s good that the city is here to help. There is a lot of political momentum for this project.”

As plans get drawn up and contracts get written, the student housing crisis continues to worsen. The CSU has told The Concordian that it intends on moving forward with the construction of this second building which will help dozens of students find affordable housing in Montreal.


Photo By Catherine Reynolds


A delayed return to in-person learning was Concordia’s only realistic option, according to some students

The university recently announced that in-person classes would resume on Feb. 3

Concordia University’s decision to delay the return to in-person learning beyond Quebec’s recently announced date of Jan. 17, 2022, was the move that many students saw coming. Concordia shared in a statement that the university plans to welcome students, faculty, and staff back to classrooms on Feb. 3. 

 “I’d love to [return to in-person learning], but I want it to be safe and have everyone feel comfortable, because school is supposed to be a place where you feel safe,” said Selma Ferdjioui, a first-year journalism student at Concordia. 

“I don’t want to go back and worry about us all getting sick.” 

 Concordia University initially planned on extending online instruction until Jan. 19, following the province’s guidelines for educational institutions. However, according to some students the previous date to return was unrealistic. 

“COVID cases are still going up so it wouldn’t make sense to make it in-person now, when COVID cases are getting worse,” said Julia Lecompte-Robbins, a first-year early childhood and elementary education student at Concordia. “Everyone’s health is more important than getting back to in-person classes right now.”  

 University students across Quebec attended a mixture of their classes online and in-person during the fall semester of 2021. In the wake of surging Omicron variant cases and hospitalizations in Quebec, many students said that returning toa primarily  online learning platform feels like the obvious and necessary move.    

 “Even though my life is very limited to being at home and not doing much, I would rather do that than go out, get sick, or give COVID to other people,” shared Ferdjioui.

 “I think [delaying the return to in-person classes] is a smart move on Concordia’s part,” said Karim Ghrayeb, a first-year economics student at Concordia. “It only takes one student who has COVID to spread it, so opening all the schools is a risk.”  

 In response to the rapidly evolving public health circumstances in the province, Concordia notified students that “should there be any change to [the return to in-person classes on Feb. 3], we will give faculty, staff, and students a week’s notice.” 

 The lingering uncertainty of whether Concordia will resume in-person classes has led some students to delay the process of completing their studies. 

 Dina Bastounis, a first-year journalism student at Concordia, said that the initial return to online classes in the winter semester was a significant contributing factor in her decision to delay registering for her core courses. 

“I need to be in the mix of it, where the environment is conducive to my learning,” she said. Living with a full house composed of others trying to make do with remote work and school made this a challenging task for Bastounis. 

 “For me to continue in the journalism program, I knew what would work for me and what wouldn’t,” said Bastounis. “I told myself that this was probably going to remain online for more than two weeks and decided to put it off and do it properly next year.” 

 For third-year biochemistry student Cindy Huang, the mere possibility of moving classes to in-person was a risk she couldn’t afford to take. 

 “I didn’t register for courses this semester because I didn’t feel safe going to school in person,” said Huang. “I don’t see any point in going back right now.” 

 The nature of her work often brings Huang into close contact with those who have tested positive for COVID-19, she explained. The unpredictability of Quebec’s evolving public health situation, coupled with Concordia’s lack of hybrid options for the winter semester, is what she said forced her to put a pause on her degree. 

 “A school is supposed to teach people that your life is more important than anything else,” said Huang. I think it’s ridiculous that you have to choose between going to school in-person or online at a time like this.”

While the return to in-person learning may be scheduled for Feb. 3, students wish to see more decisive actions taken on Concordia’s behalf.  

“There’s so much back and forth,” said Bastounis. “Regardless of what the situation is, people want a definitive date that is somehow realistic instead of it being week-by-week. The university would be better off serving us by just simply deciding.”

 Although not his first choice, Jay Tee, a first-year economics student, believes that sticking to an online semester would avoid further complications for students. “They should be more decisive,” he said. “Instead of extending our return to classes, they should just say that it will be from home and that’s that.” 

 With a tentative return date ahead, students hope that any future decisions made by Concordia in the coming weeks will be reflective of the province’s COVID numbers.

  On Monday, Quebec reported 5,400 new cases of COVID-19 and 54 deaths. Accompanying this number, the province reported a new record of 3,381 hospitalizations, an increase of 81 from Sunday, including 286 in intensive care. 

“If we still have the same amount of COVID cases as we did when they decided to put school online and add the curfew and close things, obviously returning to in-person classes might not be the greatest idea,” shared Ferdjioui. “If cases get lower and lower, then why not return? At the same time, I don’t want to go to school and be scared of getting COVID either.”

 Returning slightly later than expected is a “better option” than returning on Jan. 19, said Lecompte-Robbins. However, she believes the consequences are likely to remain the same. 

 “It’s taking away two weeks where people can be exposed to COVID by being at school,” said Lecompte-Robbins. “At the same time, we’re going back anyway and [COVID] is still going to circulate around campus either way.”

 “It’s not going to fix the problem permanently, but it helps,” said Ghrayeb. “I just hope that [returning on Feb. 3] is not a rash decision just to get people back into studying in classrooms, at the risk of increasing cases.” 


Photos by Caroline Fabre


Concordia Task Force on Anti-Black Racism releases first report

The President’s Task Force has published its preliminary recommendations for ending anti-Black racism within the university.

First commissioned in 2020, the President’s Task Force on Anti-Black Racism has published its first report of preliminary recommendations. It includes a panoply of findings surrounding anti-Blackness at Concordia, as well as a dozen recommendations for the institution itself and for stakeholders, specifically Black students and faculty.

The report’s findings

The first section of the report is dedicated to the specific findings unearthed by the Task Force in the past year. Initially, it was challenging to determine the total number of Black students and faculty at Concordia. There has been a lack of infrastructure to uncover statistics and data on this issue. Looking into hiring discrepancies, the report revealed that there were very few Black faculty members, and that there was an issue in the turnover rate, however no numbers were shared in the report. The report also found gaps in curriculum and anti-racism training, and  that there is a lack of funding towards projects by and for Black Concordians. Several other pertinent findings were identified as well.

Institution-based recommendations

In the second section of the report, the commission broke down its six primary recommendations on the institutional level: this means anti-racist policies that would be integrated directly into the university. The first of these recommendations is to involve the Office of the Vice-Provost,  Faculty Development and Inclusion, the Equity Office, and the Office of Institutional Planning and Analysis, among others, in the process of accurate data collection. The second is to hire more Black faculty members so that Concordia’s population would be better represented in its faculty — this would also mean finding ways to diminish turnover. The third recommendation concerns the creation of anti-Black racism training and workshops for both students and staff, which would become mandatory. The next recommendation is the creation of certificates and minors in Black history, Black Canadian studies, and African diaspora studies. The last two institution-based recommendations are about making resources on Black perspectives permanent at the university and widening library resources by Black authors and scholars. By ingraining pro-Black policies into the system at Concordia, the commission believes the university could see more racial equality.

Stakeholder-based recommendations

The third section of the report contains six more recommendations to fight anti-Blackness. Where these differ from the last six is that they are directly and explicitly focused on the primary stakeholders in this issue: Black students and faculty members. The first recommendation is to implement changes within campus security, which would prioritize de-escalation. The second is the development of mental health services specifically tailored for Black students. The third and fourth recommendations are the creation of a permanent centre for Black Concordians and the implementation of culturally specific mentorship programs respectively. The fifth is the development of a concrete plan for increasing financial support for Black students, both local and international, as well as for the development of Black studies courses and programs. The final recommendation made by the committee is to “provide public recognition of the presence and contributions of Black Concordians over the course of Concordia’s history.” This would be done via the implementation of permanent monuments to the university’s long-standing Black history.

The Task Force has spent the past year developing solutions by speaking with Black student groups and faculty members. The full report will be made available by the summer of 2022. Near the end of the report, Task Force members explained why the implementation of these recommendations is so crucial.

“Ongoing exchanges with all university stakeholders must continue to facilitate implementation, provide a structure for long-term ally support and offer a clear framework for Black excellence among faculty, staff and students, allowing them to be fully invested in their futures at Concordia.”


Photograph by Catherine Reynolds 


Pop-up vaccine clinic at Concordia

The CIUSSS West-Central Montreal is having two pop-up vaccinations clinics on campus

Despite Montreal’s 80 per cent vaccination rate of those who have received one dose, the vaccination effort is still going strong in the city. As part of the efforts, Concordia has partnered with the Centres intégrés universitaires de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) West-Central Montreal to host two pop-up vaccination clinics.

The first pop-up clinic was held on Sept. 14 in the EV building. According to Barry Morgan, a media relations specialist for the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, over 67 people got either their first or second vaccine shot.

“We decided to establish pop-up clinics in various areas of our territory for the purpose of convenience, making it easier for people to get their vaccines,” said Morgan, explaining that they extended the hours of the majority of pop-up clinics outside of regular business hours, to be more accessible for people. “We go to them instead of them having to come to us.”

According to Morgan, the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal has set up pop-up vaccination clinics at schools, daycares and religious institutions in their area, with more than 10,000 vaccines administered to date.

“Over the past months, we have been actively promoting vaccines to our community,” said Vannina Maestracci, a Concordia University spokesperson. She stated that Concordia is keen to join the CIUSSS West-Central in promoting vaccinations on campus.

According to Santé Montréal, approximately 80 per cent of Montrealers have their first vaccine shot, and 74 per cent are adequately vaccinated. Over 3,194,727 vaccinations have been administered in the city.

In Montreal, 91 per cent of people who are 18-29 years old have their first vaccination, and 79 per cent have both vaccinations. 

In the whole of Quebec, 77 per cent of people have their first dose, with 72 per cent being fully vaccinated — compared to Ontario, where 74 per cent of the population has their first dose, and only 69 per cent are considered fully vaccinated.

According to a press release by the Canadian government in July, Canada is one of the world leaders in vaccinations, with over 80 per cent of the population having received their first vaccination.

The next clinic will be held at Concordia on Sept. 21 at the Loyola Campus in the FC building. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. an appointment is needed, but from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. no appointment is necessary. Concordia students will need their Quebec health card, or photo identification if not from Quebec. 

If students get their first vaccine, an appointment will be automatically made for their second vaccination.


Photo by Catherine Reynolds

Pick your fighter — your University persona

A satirical take on our coping mechanisms


Welcome back to your favorite simulation game: University! This fall, as per usual, you can pick and choose which Vice you’d like to play as! There are many options, ranging from extremely serious to relatively innocent coping habits. Remember, each vice comes with some advantages, but mainly downfalls! Take the time to evaluate your life choices this semester – and read these descriptions thoroughly!


The Smoker 

This is a timeless vice! Perfect for the fall aesthetic, feed your inner loathing with small “cancer sticks,” as your friends will call them. Of course, smoking cigarettes is bad for you, but it DOES look cool… right? At least, that’s what you thought back when you were 13 picturing what your life would look like now!

Cigarettes are perfect for the procrastinator. These small and inexpensive stinky paper cones will allow you to take excessive breaks all throughout the day, chat with random strangers, and bond over your love of the “forbidden fruit.” According to StatCan, just over 1.5 million Canadians between the ages of 18 and 34 smoke daily or occasionally. When the studying gets going, you’re outside freezing your fingertips off (and trust me, I’m there with you).


The Online Shopper 

This one is relatively new! In recent years, going into physical stores has been difficult, not to mention how much work it was to shop in person anyway. Take on a vice that allows you to shop not-so-guilt-free from your couch, bed, or even the bathtub! 94 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 25 to 44 shop online, with average spendings of over $2,000 a year. As students, we already spend so much time online… may as well spend most of your money there. Or, better yet, spend your rent on your fifth matching sweatsuit ‘cause they are just SO comfy.


The one with a JUUL tied to their hand

Yes, this is a different category. This vice, while sharing some of the same components as the cigarette vice (nicotine, the one true addicting queen), is completely different in its application. See, while cigarettes force you to take a break from your hardships, you can vape pretty much anytime, anywhere. This is why it is the perfect vice for those who are just too stressed to take any time off. Let the sweet juice enter your lungs, and set up camp ‘cause the taste of Mango Ice is never leaving the back of your throat.


The Foodie

This vice may seem innocent, but it can wreak havoc on the inside of your bank account. When a university student uses food as a coping mechanism, it will consist mainly of takeout — whether it’s sushi, pizza, tacos, Indian food, or anything else your mouth desires, anything goes! The big problem here is that you lack motivation to cook the giant meal of your dreams, not to mention the work piling up around your takeout containers.


The Drinker

Ah, a classic… Drinking to make it through the school year is the most popular vice. Not only does it help numb you through the endless readings, papers, tests, and lectures, it is also the perfect vice to help you let loose and forget your troubles. This drinking potion is very popular in Canada — a 2016 survey done by the National College Health Assessment survey showed that 35 per cent of students reported having five or more drinks of alcohol per sitting over the last two weeks.

That much alcohol goes against what the Canadian government recommends as a healthy amount, but when have vices been about being healthy? With alcohol, you’ll never be cold, but you might be lonely, since your self-destructive behaviour will push people away faster than you can say “my drink is empty.”


The Stoner

This one is my personal favorite, and one I’ve adopted in everyday life. Weed is one of the most stereotypical “college” things you see — your favourite media tropes of lazy hippie stoners whose eyes won’t open, and are too slow to understand even the simplest joke. This is not my experience, rather that the devil’s lettuce helps to numb me from the realities of my day-to-day life, while still being able to sober up and work (at least a little bit). In terms of how popular weed is, it has seen a rise in recent years with so-called legalization. Back in 2019, just over 50 per cent of Concordia students smoked weed, with 4.2 per cent smoking on a daily basis.

Let’s give an example, shall we? As I write this, I struggle to find the words to describe this lifestyle. I ask myself: ugh why is this so hard to do, as I take my third bowl of the day, and it’s not even 4:20 yet. No wonder I’m having trouble writing.


The resources 

On a more realistic note, the point is to highlight the behaviours we tend to adopt during the year, and how these are NOT healthy coping mechanisms. Also, I am guilty of every vice, so this also applies to your humble writer, me. Here are some resources at Concordia University for anyone struggling with mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction, or anything else. Concordia has a wide variety of mental health support services for you.


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt

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

Exit mobile version