Editorial: A Year in Review for the CSU

  • Graphic: Morag Rahn-Campbell

It’s been a tumultuous year at our university, particularly in the realm of student politics. The Concordia Student Union has pushed some important initiatives for which they should be commended—but this academic year wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns—or rather, it wasn’t all daycares and housing projects.

The long-awaited reopening of Reggie’s finally came last semester; only last month did the student bar in the Hall building reap its alleged first ever profit. Yet, the CSU seems to be cutting ties with its infamous spot, as Reggie’s will turn into an independent solidarity cooperative structure by the end of the semester.

The move is not surprising given that both the CSU and the Arts and Science Federation of Associations passed council motions to cancel any event at Reggie’s until a safer space policy is implemented. The bar is possibly a liability, and the CSU seems to be ridding itself of ultimate responsibility.

After passing a referendum question in its favour, the executive team largely failed to formally implement boycotts, divestments, and sanctions of any kind against Israel this year. A BDS awareness week was held late last semester, but one would have expected the CSU to act on what its student body
voted for.

Another issue to address moving forward is the culture of unapproved spending the CSU sometimes perpetuates. This by no means applies to all union-run projects—the daycare, which cost around $365,000, was approved by students in a 2014 referendum.

However, it seems like certain lower-cost initiatives secure CSU funding without explicit approval by students. For example, Frigo Vert received $100,000 from the union without having to be approved via referendum. They also approved the same amount to help the Concordia Food Coalition purchase Burritoville in 2015.

“For $100,000, we thought it was okay to make a decision,” former CSU president Benjamin Prunty said at the time.

The Link acknowledges that supporting these types of initiatives is within the CSU’s mandate, however, spending $100,000 of student money should merit a more stringent approval process. Next year’s executive team should be more conscious of the weight of student allocation moving forward.

Similarly, the dissemination of information from the union needs to be approved. In this week’s issue, Gabrielle Caron, an outgoing CSU executive, wrote an opinions piece about how the structural setup of the union prevents transparency between the executives and council. She wrote how sometimes full documentation is not disclosed to councillors but rather presented in a more simplistic, accessible way. This is disconcerting because if councillors aren’t seeing the whole picture, that could mean the student body, including journalists, aren’t as well.

These issues aside, we would like to commend our student union for projects like the daycare, and the student housing project.

Despite being quite costly—the student housing project clocks in at about $1.85 million from the CSU—these projects went through the proper approval process and will benefit students greatly.

Admittedly, the daycare will impact less students than the housing project, however it renders Concordia more accessible for student-parents. It is a noble and necessary project, and is worth every penny.

The Link would like to see a continuation of such projects moving forward, and would recommend the incoming executive to implement a stricter spending-approval process.

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