Concordia Student Union Candidates Debate Ahead Elections
Slates Proposed Plans and Ideas for the Upcoming General Election
Candidates for the upcoming Concordia Student Union general elections had their chance to go head-to-head to debate topics ranging from fee-levies to student engagement.
On Monday night at the Hall Building, the three slates and one independent candidate were asked pre-submitted and audience questions about their plans and ideas if elected into the CSU.
Chris Kalafatidis from Cut The Crap, who is running for general coordinator, said his slate wants to offer contests, such as liking their Facebook pages for prizes and perks, to get students more engaged.
“[Engineering and Computer Science Association] got thousands of likes for offering free poutine,” said Kalifatidis. “I think it’s pretty sad Spotted: Concordia has more likes than the [CSU’s] Facebook page.”
Cut The Crap wants to prioritize clean bathrooms, and to create weekly vlogs to keep students updated on their progress. They also advocate for implementing more microwaves on campus, want to rebrand the CSU website, and support funding for clubs and student spaces. You can read more about their platform here.
“Beyond poutine, I think something the team has talked about a lot of basic little things the CSU can do to be more accessible,” said Margot Berner, general coordinator candidate for the riZe slate.
She said RiZe wants to be able to start a conversation with students about ways the union can improve or be involved in student communities.
“They’ll care if they know they can make a change and that their voices actually matter,” said Berner.
Marcus Peters, general coordinator candidate from New Community, said he didn’t find it surprising Spotted: Concordia gained more traction than the CSU’s Facebook Page. “Students are more interested in memes than student politics,” he said.
Peters believes in creating projects and providing opportunities through their co-op incubator “in a positive way.”
New Community is an advocate for a solidarity economy incubator and for the creation of a greenhouse at the Loyola campus. They say want to fund student projects and “manage their own” health and dental plan to reduce costs. You can read more about their platform here.
Academic and advocacy candidates from each slate were asked by a student in the crowd if every slate will support a referendum question about online opt-out.
RiZe candidate Harvin Hilaire answered that fee-levy groups would not be able to sustain themselves if their fee-levies were cut.
“If you can understand how these student levies are affecting the association and groups that are getting this money […] you should be allowed to opt-out of fees if you want too, under an educated decision,” he said.
Members of riZe want to promote intersectional sustainability, expand mental health services, and transparency from the CSU and Concordia’s administration. They also advocate to better Concordia’s sexual violence policies and are opposed to unpaid jobs and internships. You can read more about their platform here.
Jane Lefebvre-Prevost, who is running independently, vocalized her frustration with online opt-out. “It’s frustrating that there are students who would want to destroy the pillars of foundations of Concordia’s community,” she said.
Prevost said some students complain that they opt-out since they don’t use the programs funded by the fee levies, however, it’s untrue to say students don’t get anything out of fee-levy groups.
“Do you see the People Potato’s line going around [the seventh floor] every single day?” she asked the crowd.
No More Slates advocates strongly for a subsidized tutoring program to help students who need it the most. “Concordians are promised the moon every year,” Lefebvre-Prevost said.
She hopes that student vote accurately and fairly during the election. You can read her platform here.
New Community candidate Jessica Avalos Salas had not thought about the online opt-out possibility and said it was a new topic to be looked into.
Cut The Crap candidate Patrick Quinn referred to their slate’s platform to be released. “Stay tuned,” he said.
When a question about creating more jobs for students, slates like riZe and Cut The Crap said they believe it’s possible to create relationships with other businesses in Montreal and spread resources for students to use.
Lefebvre-Prevost said the CSU doesn’t exist to create jobs for students, but rather that it has funds to fulfill their initiatives.
New Community slate were faced with a question about their potential conflicts of interest, given their promotion of SEIZE and one of their candidate’s smoothie bar. Salas, who was vocal about her smoothie bar idea, said she brought it to SEIZE and thought it was be a good way to create jobs.
“SEIZE is actually a movement open to everyone, so I got involved for a smoothie bar,” she said. “My smoothie bar isn’t my campaign message, my campaign message is SEIZE.”
Online voting will take place between April 2 and 4 and campaigning will continue until April 1.