CSU General Elections Referendum questions

Here’s a breakdown of the seven questions Concordia students will be voting on

Concordia students will be voting on seven questions. Photo Courtesy Brian Lapuz

The Concordia Student Union’s General Elections are coming up. Between March 15 and 17, the student body will be asked to vote on CSU executive positions, council positions, and referendum questions. Here’s a deep dive into the seven questions students will be asked to vote on.

Question 1: Diversify Faculty Now!

The question asks to endorse efforts to hire more Black and Indigenous faculty and staff. While the CSU hasn’t performed any research on how these efforts could be implemented by Concordia, General Coordinator Eduardo Malorni stated that External Coordinator Camina Harrison-Chéry has worked in close collaboration with the Black Perspectives Office to hear their needs. 

The BPO has done research of their own on this issue. “This is more of a statement question as opposed to concrete actions on how to implement [the question],” said Malorni. The goal is to let Concordia administration know what this matters to the student body.

Question 2: Concordia Against Apartheid

The goal of this question is for the CSU to adopt a position against apartheid, “as defined by leading human rights organization such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.” 

The motion calls for the CSU to “divest from any investements and withdraw any financial or vocal support form states or businesses that are involved in apartheid.” Malorni explained that if this motion were to pass, there would be no immediate action done on any investments, businesses or clubs. “Adopting this question on itself doesn’t actually change anything. This has to be followed up with a policy to explain how we would identify apartheid supporting entities and how we would react to them,” said Malorni. 

“[The CSU] already doesn’t [invest] in any apartheid supporting countries,” he said. He also stated he would be surprised if any clubs or businesses the CSU works with have any involvement with apartheid regimes.

Read more: https://thelinknewspaper.ca/article/csu-votes-to-pass-the-motion-against-apartheid 

Question 3: CSU Operational Fee

This question asks students if they agree to increase the CSU’s General Operations Fee Levy from $2.38 per credit to $2.55 per credit. Malorni explained this increase is not only due to inflation, but also to adapt to the growth the CSU has seen in the last couple of years.

 “When I started three years ago, we were 50 employees,” he said. “Now we’re 70 employees, roughly.” Additionally, the CSU has implemented many services throughout the pandemic. In order not to cut any of them, they need this increase.

Because of this growth, increasing the CSU’s fee levy would assure a prosperous future for the student union and all the services it offers to Concordians. “We take raising our fee quite seriously, [...] but after discussion, it was the only option if we wanted to continue at the current pace we are going,” said Malorni. However, the budget’s allocation for next year will not be decided until the month of May, when the budget is reallocated by the future executive team.

Question 4: Le Frigo Vert

Le Frigo Vert is a community centre available to all Concordia students whose primary focus is to provide accessible and affordable food. They offer, among many things, pay-what-you-can food baskets. They are seeking to increase their fee levy from $0.13 per credit to $0.46 per credit. According to their website, their rent takes up 30.9 per cent of their annual budget, and they have had to cut certain aspects of their programming and have been working understaffed. They are asking foran increase in their fee levy to “run in more effective ways.”

Question 5: Mental Health Services Office

The Mental Health Services Office is a new CSU initiative set to launch this upcoming September in reaction to Concordia’s disappointing mental health services during the COVID-19 crisis. “What the university is providing is not cutting it,” said Malorni. 

This year, the CSU came up with a peer support group for students struggling with addiction. “We have a group of people who are consistently showing up, and they’ve all said it is beneficial to them,” said Malorni. 

The Mental Health Services Office would provide services including, but not limited to therapy, domestic violence support, and peer support groups. However, Malorni said the discussions surrounding them are on-going.

Question 6: Student Centre Referendum

The CSU wants to purchase 2045 Bishop St. with the intent of creating a Student Centre. The property’s cost is $5.5 million dollars. This decision has come after last year’s referendum question where students were asked if they were interested in the CSU finding a space for a Student Centre.  The goal is for the centre to offer club spaces as well as spaces to host social events.

See also: https://thelinknewspaper.ca/article/csu-resumes-work-on-long-sought-after-student-centre 

The CSU wants to own the building so they can function independently from the university. “Student groups have to pay a lot to hold events on campus,” said Malorni. The CSU would be able to provide that space for free without abiding to strict university regulations. 

If the motion passes, the CSU is still discussing whether to take out a mortgage or to buy the building in one sum. “The decision will be made publicly at a council meeting,” he said. A crucial concern is that the city would have to approve the change of zoning for the building from a commercial and residential unit to a community centre. 

While the building is mostly vacant, there are tenants. Malorni said no tenants will be forced to move if they don’t want to, but that the CSU isn’t expecting any trouble vacating the building. Additionally, some areas of the building need to be renovated, but the majority of it is vacant, so it would be usable from the first day. Malorni says the CSU could start by using it for storage space until it is ready for club use.

Question 7: Student Housing Project

The CSU wishes to reallocate $600,000 from the Student Space Accessible Education Legal Contingency Fund to start a second affordable housing initiative. Malorni stated that the process is familiar to the CSU since they’ve already worked on the Woodnote project..

In order for the project to take shape, the CSU needs grants to finance it. “Woodnote cost around $17 million. We are only giving approximately $1 million,” said Malorni. Accounting for inflation, Malorni estimates that the project would need at least $20 million in grants. 

Read more: https://thelinknewspaper.ca/article/woodnote-student-housing-co-op-accepting-new-tenants 

Here’s a link to read the questions on the CSU’s site: https://elections.csu.qc.ca/referendum-committees/ 

Students will be able to vote online between March 15 and March 17.