Editorial: Concordia Needs to Work with Students to Grow

  • Graphic Graeme Shorten Adams

In an interview with The Link, Concordia President Alan Shepard told us he wants to “intensify” our university.

“I don’t want to make it bigger. I want to make it stronger, better, more engaged in the community, more engaged with students,” he said.

We’ve seen some good moves towards those goals this year. Last fall saw the opening of the Sexual Assault Resource Centre, something students had spent two years campaigning for. The Webster Library is expanding and taking student input into account, which means more and better use of student space.

It was also just recently announced that the Teaching and Research Assistants at Concordia union and the university have reached a tentative agreement, hopefully paving the way for better relationships between Concordia and its labour unions.

Concordia has created a number of new programs. Last year, a bachelor’s of engineering in aerospace engineering was introduced. This year we saw the creation of a major in interdisciplinary studies in sexuality, a master’s in supply chain management and a graduate diploma program in visual journalism.

While new programs seemingly contradict Dr. Shepard’s statement that he doesn’t want to make Concordia bigger, he explained that it’s easier to create new programs than to redesign old ones.

These new programs are exciting—Concordia is adapting to the needs of students and to the changing role of post-secondary education. The visual journalism program in particular understands the demands placed on new journalists, and new workers in general, to be multi-skilled.

These accomplishments have helped Concordia establish itself as a modern university.

However there are still problems at the university. Exam invigilators feel their concerns on treatment and policy are not being acknowledged and are considering unionization, while the Sexual Assault Resource Centre is currently only a one-year project.

Seeing cooperation between the university and the invigilators would go a long way towards convincing us that Concordia is willing to work with its employees—and its students. We also want to stress how important it is that Concordia continues to support sexual safety on campus by continuing support for the SARC in the future, something that hasn’t been guaranteed.

Concordia bought Grey Nuns six years ago, and is now thoroughly into the process of converting it for use by the university. It has been promised that some of the space will be set aside for student use, which needs to happen while the library is being renovated.

Student space is an ongoing issue at Concordia—there is simply not enough study space for the growing number of Concordia students.

Many of Concordia’s major accomplishments this year were the result of direct collaboration with students or were meant to meet specific student needs. We need better avenues for communicating with the administration and the university needs to take our concerns seriously to form a stronger relationship with students.

Students are at the core of any educational institution, and if Concordia is going to “intensify,” it needs to continue to work closely with them.

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