Dear CSU: Fanny Packs Are Not Hip

Graphic Sam Jones

Dear CSU: Do us all a favour and stop trying to be hip. No matter how bright their shine, no matter how much they’ll up your insta-game, no matter how big the command “Take Action” is emblazoned on your faux-80s school spirit merch, the packs are #notback.

Scrolling through streams of executives getting paid close to $30K a year to rep fanny packs branded with their logo is worse than witnessing a fashion no-no: it’s nauseating.

There are a lot of things wrong with this picture, but the worst is the hypocrisy.

Under the “campaigns” section of the CSU website is a page on “Anti-Consumerism.” The page features a lot of very impressive statements, like: “Simple living is a way of life that rejects the high-consumption, materialistic lifestyles of consumer cultures.”

But isn’t it materialistic to order a large quantity of low-quality clothes intended for a period of just two weeks?

According to their website, the CSU rejects consumerism because “Western-style consumption habits are degrading the planet” and “lives of high consumption are unethical in a world of great human need.”

Unless the latter is referring to the enormous need for more garishly-coloured fanny packs on campus, it seems like this reporter’s favourite student union has lost the right to a moral high ground.

“Extravagance and acquisitiveness are…an unfortunate waste of life, certainly not deserving of the social status and admiration they seem to attract today,” the text proclaims.

Are fanny packs somehow exempt from consumption as defined by extravagance? Does it somehow not count because they’re ostensibly encouraging people to “take action” against the
same capitalist structure the slogan decries? According to former metal enthusiast and union apparatchik John Talbot, the team felt icky about buying branded clothing.

“I understand the hypocrisy of buying promo materials. That’s something we had to grapple with a lot in orientation,” he said. However, he believes that the 2,000 fanny packs for $6,900 are a good investment.

“Fanny packs are going to last a long time,” he said, adding that QPIRG and the CSU are planning on turning them into first aid kits for protests. Also, “people really like them.”

Orientation coordinator Jeremy Blinkhorn elaborated, saying that before the fanny packs had even been bought, people caught whiff of the potential purchase and started asking around the CSU office for them.

“I’m not going to say they’re hip, I’m going to say they’re practical and regaining relevance” because of their usefulness, Talbot said. “Why do things need to be hip?”

If you’re going to spend $3K on fanny packs, I’d certainly hope they’d be hip.

I felt a little better about voting for the team once I learned that the orientation t-shirts and tote bags were made by Petites-Mains, a Montreal based company who hire migrant women and provide them work in manufacturing, as well as giving them lessons in English and French.

But supporting a slightly more ethical workplace in one endeavour doesn’t excuse supporting the global textile industry, which exploits workers and harms the environment on a massive scale (and we haven’t even talked about the union’s “Climate Justice” campaign).

To the well-meaning members of Community Action: I voted for you because you’re taking concrete steps toward making Concordia a better place, not your fashion sense. So please, more updates on the on-campus daycare and less ugly fast fashion.