#CSU2014: A Breakdown of Who’s Promising What
The Concordia Student Union holds its annual general elections this week. Tuesday to Thursday, voters will choose their next council and union executive.
This year’s election race sees three full executive teams and two independent candidates running, offering plenty of directions for the union to take in the coming year.
To help you decide what direction you want your union to take, The Link broke down the platforms of the three executive teams and the independent candidates, Chuck Wilson for president, and Michael Abbott for VP Sustainability.
As you might remember from your childhood—knowledge is power, but that’s doubly true in the hands of a voter.
Student space: CSUnited want to initiate a signing-out system of unused space for studying or hosting of events, according to the team’s website. The team also wants to revamp the business model of Reggie’s bar to have it available free of charge for student groups to rent out, once it is reopened.
Student representation: CSUnited is well aware its team is not made up of what presidential candidate Jon Kim refers to as the “political elite” at Concordia. CSUnited has pledged to engage clubs and community groups—where their candidates were fielded from—in CSU politics so student interests are not lost in the bureaucracy.
Per-faculty fee-levy voting: CSUnited have come out against the referendum question seeking per-faculty opt-outs of fee-levy groups. However, “A single opt-out form will be made available at the CSU main offices,” according to the CSUnited website, to “make the process easier from a bureaucratic perspective, making it beneficial to levy groups, the union, and the general student population alike.”
Sustainability: CSUnited plan to start a competition where “people will present their own original sustainable ideas, be it a business plan, a new technological innovation, or a new approach to sustainability,” according to their website.
Student-run food options: CSUnited members have expressed their support for the student co-operative cafés in the works at the JavaU space and the Hive at Loyola, but have added that, as members of the inter-fraternity system on campus, they want the Hive project to be distinct from the Greek community-owned G-Lounge.
Notable platform points: CSUnited wants to start a “CSU club card program” to get students more acquainted with the clubs and organizations at Concordia. Students would collect points from participating clubs to collect prizes at the end of the year.
Student space: The team is in favour of spending part of the CSU’s $13 million student space fund on a new student centre, but would like to see part of that fund also go towards food-system projects.
Student representation: Community Matters’ members have been strongly involved in student politics during their time at the school. For example, VP Academic and Advocacy candidate Terry Wilkings co-organized the Concordia Student Congress, VP Finance candidate Heather Nagy was a financial coordinator for the People’s Potato and in total, members of Community Matters are involved in five different fee-levy groups.
Per-faculty fee-levy voting: Community Matters is against the fee-levy question as it fully support department associations and clubs. The team would like to refine the fee-levy system to help department groups thrive with more poster space and wider mailing list access to communicate with the students that support them.
Sustainability: Sustainability is one of Community Matters’ main focal points, with its presidential candidate, Benjamin Prunty, also the CSU’s current VP Sustainability. Two of its members are also recipients of the Sustainability Champion Award. Community Matters’ policy focuses on the egalitarian and transparent functioning of student organizations and long-term projects.
Student-run food options: Community Matters would like to make use of the space that Java U and the Hive now occupy for co-operative student-run cafés.
Notable platform points: One of Community Matters’ big projects is to build a greenhouse above the Hive that could provide produce for student-run food co-operatives.
Student space: According to the website of Experience CSU, the team wants to “ensure that students always have enough comfortable, quiet space to study.” In the candidate debate last week, presidential hopeful Melissa Payette said the team would advocate for more student space as well as discover space already available.
Student representation: Experience CSU says its platform is “designed to benefit students from every faculty,” according to its website. The team says it also wants “to retain and promote healthy representation on the university’s various boards, committees, and councils to help make Concordia a leader in student participation.”
Per-faculty fee-levy voting: Experience CSU “does not have an official stance on the fee-levy question, and chooses to remain neutral,” according to a press release. The team’s argument is “as executive candidates […] it is inappropriate for us to collectively endorse a political position that will alienate a large number of students.”
Sustainability: Experience CSU members say that sustainability is an ideology and way of thinking, and that it must be a part of all of the CSU’s functioning. Team members have also expressed the desire to have students receive course credit for sustainable initiatives.
Student-run food options: Scott Carr, seeking reelection as VP Finance, said that since the CSU was mandated to make the space a student-run café, he was committed to making the project happen.
Notable platform points: Experience CSU has posted a preliminary budget for the CSU for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, with a projected $60,599 surplus.
Chuck Wilson, Independent Presidential Candidate
Student space: Wilson has proposed to bring Orange Zones out of the libraries and into unused classrooms and other space around Concordia, giving students more quiet study space. He also wants to turn the “leaky concrete tunnel” linking Concordia’s downtown buildings to the metro line “into a beautiful student art mural.”
Student representation: Not wanting the union to be devoted solely to social advocacy, Wilson has expressed a desire to refocus the union around academic advocacy. As an accredited body, he says the union can advocate for students similarly to a labour union, with the same legal authority.
Per-faculty fee-levy voting: Wilson says he does not want the current referendum question to be approved by students because there was not enough time to reach out to fee-levy groups beforehand to try and initiate dialogue. He says he does not think per-faculty fee-levies are the answer to students “feeling alienated” from groups around Concordia.
Student-run co-ops: Wilson says his long-term student space plan includes student-run co-operatives as service providers at the Hive and JavaU spaces on Loyola and the downtown campuses, respectively.
Notable platform point: Wilson says he wants to get the CSU to make decisions that are more data- and information-driven. He says this is crucial before “long-term ambitious projects that are sometimes undertaken by the CSU—the many Hive projects being a prime example—require a significant amount of research to survive beyond the one-year mandate of executives.”
Michael Abbott, Independent VP Sustainability Candidate
Running for VP Sustainability as an independent candidate, Abbott is an ecology student who says he has “a ground-up view of sustainability.” Last semester, Abbott says he mobilized students “through helping them repair their bicycles.”