CSU Council Forms Working Group to Review Health and Dental Plan

By-Elections From Nov. 28 to 30, Referendum Questions Set

A new working group tasked with reviewing the CSU’s health and dental plan was formed at a regular council meeting Wednesday night. Photo Elisa Barbier

A new working group tasked with reviewing the Concordia Student Union’s health and dental plan was formed at a regular council meeting Wednesday night.

The group, which is composed of at least five CSU executives and councillors, was proposed by Finance Coordinator Soulaymane El Alouai. He explained that its purpose would be to look at the possibility of bringing some of the services provided by Alliance pour la Santé Étudiante au Québec, the insurance provider for undergraduate students, in-house.

He says doing so would enable the union to save tens of thousands of dollars and create jobs for students. The details still need to be worked out and research needs to be conducted, he said, which is why he moved to form the working group.

El Alouai explained during the meeting that the idea came from his and General Coordinator Omar Riaz’s trip to Vancouver this summer for a national student union conference. The pair said they took time to examine how the University of British Columbia’s student union manages their health and dental insurance during the trip, which was paid for in part by ASEQ.

For example, bringing customer service in-house would allow for students to speak to someone directly at Concordia about their health or dental claims, instead of being redirected to a phone number or ASEQ’s offices. Doing so would eliminate some costs and enable the CSU to hire students to do that work, El Alouai said.

Currently, the members of the group are El Alouai, Riaz, Internal Affairs Coordinator Veronika Rydzewski, and councillors Rowan Gaudet and Rory Blaisdell. Because El Alouai and Riaz are no longer able to work in direct contact with ASEQ—a punitive measure taken by council after they learned of their Vancouver trip, which was not authorized—Rydzweski will be the one communicating with the insurance provider.

All recommendations the group forms will be brought to council.

By-Elections to Be Held Next Month

CSU by-elections are set for Nov. 28 to Nov. 30, 2017. The nomination period begins Friday, while the campaigning period will begin on Nov. 14, and go until Nov. 24.

A number of referendum questions, approved at the meeting, will be on the ballots.

Photo Elisa Barbier

Unpaid Internships

Two of the questions pertain to the CSU’s 2017-2018 campaign, Wages For Interns.

One calls upon the university to remove the requirement that certain mandatory internships, such as those in the applied human sciences, education, and art education departments, are unpaid. The other asks that Concordia implements a standardized support and placement system for all student internships, as they claim that some receive more support from their departments than others.

Anti-Racism and Bill-62

In addition, the union is also moving to add an anti-racist stance to their position book. Last fall, a feminist position was added.

After passing a motion at a special council meeting on Oct. 19 denouncing the recently passed Bill-62, the union will also be asking students if they’re in favour of the university refusing to enforce the law.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée said that universities will be expected to comply with the law. Concordia’s history department issued a statement on Oct. 20 saying they, “refuse to enforce its provisions in our classrooms and offices.”

Large Purchases

During the by-election, students will also be asked whether they want to approve large student space purchases by the CSU in the future.

At the moment, the CSU’s by-laws allow council to approve any expenditures the union wishes to make, no matter how much they cost. If passed, the new by-law would mandate that council put student space purchases of over $250,000 to vote.

According to the draft of their 2016-2017 audit, also presented Wednesday, the balance of the CSU’s Student Space, Accessible Education, and Legal Contingency Fund totals at almost $9,750,000. In June, council shot down a motion to use some of that money to purchase the former Burritoville building on Bishop St.

Fee-levy Increase for Concordia Food Coalition

The Concordia Food Coalition, which currently receives eight cents per credit from undergraduate students, would like to double its fee-levy.

Sebastián Di Poi, the CFC’s internal coordinator, explained that the group aims to alleviate food insecurity on campus. The increase in the fee-levy, he said at the Wednesday night meeting, would, in part, allow them to assist Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. The program, run out of Concordia’s Multi-faith and Spirituality Centre, serves $2 (or pay what you can) vegan dinners.

At the moment, the program runs every Thursday night, but the CFC would like to see this expanded to every weeknight. In addition, he said the increase to $0.16 would allow them to “be less reliant on grant money.”

Students’ Stance on Municipal Elections

The CSU also signed onto Coalition régionale étudiante de Montréal’s eight demands for the city’s future administration Wednesday. CREM is “a punctual coalition,” as described by Matis Allali, external affairs coordinator for the Fédérations des associations étudiantes de l’Université de Montréal and works with the coalition. He said they lobbied both municipal mayoral candidates, Valérie Plante and Denis Coderre, who were allegedly open to their demands.

They include:

Prioritize the proposed extension of the metro’s blue line
Improvement for the STM’s night service
The city’s commuter train provider keep a 40 per cent student discount across all its regions
Student fare for part-time students
Student fare for Bixis
Affordable housing as a priority
Include student homelessness in the city’s next action plan on homelessness
At least one seat reserved for someone 35 or younger on all of the city’s Boards