Editorial: The Link’s Endorsements for the Fall 2014 By-Elections

  • Graphic Madeleine Gendreau

Daycare Centre — YES

Currently, there are few daycare spaces available at Concordia. A research report produced four years ago was not acted upon by the university or the student union until now, despite the fact that the demands on student parents’ time is a major barrier to their academic success.

In September, the CSU council approved funding for a feasibility study looking into the possibility of opening a CSU-run daycare centre. The student union is now asking the student body to give it a mandate to start negotiations for a physical space with the university.

Concordia has a large portion of so-called “non-traditional” students, which include student parents, compared to other Quebec universities. We feel it’s important for Concordia to be accessible to all students and support the CSU’s prioritization of the childcare project.

Student Housing — YES

Given the high costs students currently face in regards to housing options in Montreal, we support the referendum question and encourage the CSU to continue looking into the possibility of getting involved in a co-op student housing initiative.

Hive Café Loan — NO

In late July, the CSU’s request for additional funding for the Hive Café Solidarity Cooperative, namely for expenses listed under “operational costs,” was not approved by the Fund Committee.

The CSU had requested that the additional funding come from the Student Space, Accessible Education and Legal Contingency Fund. When the CSU failed to get approval for the proposed expenses, a report by CSU President Ben Prunty outlined several possible courses of action.

Among the possibilities were “borrowing the money with a repayment plan,” which was “partially recommended” by the executive and “borrowing the money today and asking students for permission to use the funds tomorrow” in a referendum question, which was “recommended.”

However, in recommending the latter proposal, Prunty acknowledged that the CSU could ensure that if students didn’t approve the referendum question, “the loan would be repaid within a timeframe that will not hinder the operations of the union.”

Basically, the CSU would be unhurt by repaying the loan from their own operating fund.

The Link’s editorial team believes that making financial decisions and only consulting the student body in hindsight is highly irresponsible. Speeding up the opening of the downtown café isn’t reason enough to retroactively ask for student approval for a loan that isn’t a financial necessity.

Budget Cuts — YES

Given the extent of the budget cuts implemented across Quebec’s public sector and their detrimental effect on our university’s ability to function to its full potential, we will be voting “yes” to this question, giving the CSU a mandate to officially oppose austerity measures.

In October, we urged Concordia president Alan Shepard to take a stance on austerity, but we have yet to see this happen in any substantial way.

We feel strongly that austerity is not the answer to our poorly-functioning economy and would like the CSU to reflect that position officially and publicly.

IEAC Separation — YES

The International and Ethnic Associations Council (IEAC) represents some of Concordia’s many multicultural organizations. Currently, there are at least sixteen additional student groups that could fall under IEAC’s umbrella if it were able to expand its capabilities.

Our editorial staff recognizes how autonomy for the IEAC could help it better support and assist cultural groups with their operations and programming. As such, we support their bid for separation from the CSU.

IEAC Fee Levy Increase — NO

Despite our support for IEAC’s bid for separation, we do not support its request for an increase in its fee levy. IEAC’s proposed increase from six cents per credit to 12 cents per credit isn’t warranted.

A representative of IEAC told us their reasoning for the increase was that they anticipate more groups joining their organization if they break away from the CSU. However, they were unable to provide an estimate of how many more groups would become affiliated with the IEAC and their reasoning was largely hypothetical.

The lack of a tangible plan demonstrates that there is not a genuine need for this additional money.

Model UN Fee Levy — YES

The Concordia Model United Nations Education and Leadership Centre are seeking your approval for a seven-cent-per-credit fee levy. It’s currently registered as a CSU club, which means its budget is limited.

Additional funding would allow CONMUN to develop its leadership program, bring more speakers to the university and make participating in Model UN competitions more accessible.

CONMUN says it will be transparent about how it uses student funds, pledging to use 10 per cent of its budget to hire external auditors to review its finances, which shall be disclosed periodically.

We support this motion and hope that it will provide CONMUN a greater chance to compete with other Model UN teams at home and abroad.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — DIVIDED

The Link’s editorial staff is divided on this question.

Regardless of the outcome in this week’s vote, we’re encouraged by the fact that Concordia students were able to discuss such a topic while maintaining a climate of civility and mutual respect.

We would also like to stress that criticizing Israel’s domestic and foreign policy does not in and of itself constitute anti-Semitism.

We encourage Concordia undergrads to inform themselves about the BDS campaign by reading opposing views on the movement before casting their ballots.

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