‘Drastic Assault on Student Representation’

The CSU Weighs in on Board Breakdown

Graphic Nick Waters

As it stands, undergraduate students control 10 per cent of 40 seats on the Board of Governors—the highest governing body at Concordia—and certain parties are interested in seeing this wholly inadequate number decrease even further.

Under both the External Governance Review Committee and the Board of Governors’ proposed structural changes, undergraduate representation will drop down to one seat out
of 25.

In other words, while students bankroll nearly 40 per cent of the University’s operating costs, there are people on top perfectly content to see us control just four per cent of the votes on the Board of Governors.

Admittedly, the Board has tossed undergraduates a scrap in the form of what they’ve called an ‘alternate governor.’ This one additional person sits on the board with the power to speak, attend closed session meetings and sit on committees.

Yet the ‘alternate’ lacks the ability to vote, essentially enabling them to only offer consultation—and if this struggle has been anything for us, it’s been a clear reminder that the Board doesn’t care about student consultation.

Maybe the problem is that the majority of the Board is made up of rich, mostly white, mostly male CEOs, lawyers and financiers who have no idea what it means to be a student at Concordia University.

The vast majority—especially those ‘external’ or ‘community-at-large’ members—have never had to worry about bills, tuition or textbooks. They don’t share our interests or experiences.

They’ve never had to choose, like some of us have, between going to class and standing in line at the People’s Potato, because otherwise we’re not sure where our next meal is coming from.

They act like owners, but some of them haven’t seen the inside of a classroom for more than a decade. Worse still, the small but aggressive minority of full-time faculty who agree with them would rather push for more control than step aside and let the largest constituency on this campus have a voice.

So now the Board would like to see what little representation we have shrink even more, fortifying the gap that exists between students and those who can influence the way fees, tuition, research, and countless other elements of University Governance are conducted.

“The question remains, in many minds, why a body who claims to represent the “Concordia community” would engage in such a drastic assault on student representation.”

This would effectively ensure an institutionalized gag order on any discourse that could lead to alleviating the many struggles that the average student faces. The question remains, in many minds, why a body who claims to represent the “Concordia community” would engage in such a drastic assault on student representation.

So, when they close us out of the boardrooms and start closing us out of classrooms with fee increases no ordinary student can possibly afford, we’re left with just one choice: we’ll meet them on the streets.

On Nov. 10, when Quebec students will stand together in protest against tuition hikes, the issue for Concordia students is actually much bigger than broader accessible education—it’s about representation and a serious voice for students.

We’ll see you there.

Lex Gill is the president of the Concordia Student Union and Kyle McLoughlin is a councillor and a university senator. Follow the BoG news on Facebook by searching “Concordia University Board of Governors—Student Representation.”