Starting Over

  • Graphic Paku Daoust-Cloutier

This has not been a great year for Concordia.

Our school spent huge bags of money firing administrators—so much money that even the notoriously corrupt Quebec government accused Concordia of financial mismanagement and slapped the school with a $2 million fine.

And in at least one case, ConU forgot why the people they fired were let go in the first place and rehired them to teach French.

Top that off with some very unhappy unions and some just as unhappy striking students and you get a pretty good picture of the public relations nightmare we’ve been stuck in.

But when you hit rock bottom, you can only go up, right?

Next term marks a year of new beginnings for ConU. We’ll have a new president, new student union and our Board of Governors will finally remember that the Shapiro report, which outlined suggestions for improving the university’s governance, called for more than just slashing student representation.

As Board of Governors Chair Peter Kruyt and his many minions finally release their sinewy grip on our hearts and wallets, Concordia can work to undo some very bad press that has made us the laughingstock of Canadian universities.

But like any good spring cleaning, it’s only effective if after the purge we don’t fill the attic with more junk again.

So when replacing this crop of governors, let’s try to avoid a few mistakes of the past. No more governors who prioritize corporate interests over the interests of the university. No governors who treat students like petulant children. (It’s tougher to squander our money when you respect us.) And please, for the love of God, make sure each and every member understands the phrase “term limit.”

While our BoG members have a huge impact the image of our esteemed university, we need to watch the throne. The president sells Concordia abroad, extracts money from wealthy benefactors and generally sets the tone of the administration.

Our presidents of late have not exactly been the winners we deserve. Instead, we’ve got a position that has a faster turn-around rate than a Defense Against the Dark Arts job and a payout that leaves a bad taste in the mouth of any student being told to pay their “fair share.”

Aside from monetary gain, it would be great to have a president who cares about the school rather than personal benefits.

Still, if we’re going to assess the administration, we need to be fair. Things are not entirely rotten in
the state of Denmark.

The culture of contempt that rains down on the student body hasn’t spread to all administrators. Current Dean of Students Andrew Woodall’s commitment to students and genuine compassion is exactly what this university—or any university—needs.

While many higher-ups have treated students, specifically our union, with terrific disregard, Woodall consistently addresses students with respect: you won’t find many other admins referring to CSU President Lex Gill as “one of the most intelligent people [he has] ever met.”

With a president like Woodall, who clearly cares about each and every student at this school, Concordia might actually foster the respectful, open dialogue that has so far been so elusive.

As well, while we often disagree with Provost David Graham—particularly regarding his handling of the strike mandates—we appreciate that he always makes time to chat and places value on transparency, un-like the Board.

While we’ll most likely have to wait until August to hear who the university picks for the top job, we do already know who our next student union will be.

To President-Elect Schubert Laforest and the rest of A Better Concordia: you’ve got some big shoes to fill.

Though not perfect by any stretch, the current CSU exec and council accomplished a lot. They shot down a shady student centre deal, threw one of the cheapest and most sustainable orientations Concordia has seen and overhauled their bylaws in a major way. Plus, there’s the small matter of the historic strike.

Now Laforest’s team is looking at a year rife with contract negotiations and legal battles. Not as
sexy as a strike, but vital nonetheless.

As they fight to increase student representation and detangle our school from the Canadian Federation of Students, we ask that they sustain a powerful relationship with the faculty and support staff.

These unions stood with students when we filled the streets. For all of next year, they will be the ones fighting for a fair deal from an institution that’s being, well, as stubborn as an ass in its refusal to

Students must demand that our professors, teaching assistants, librarians, steelworkers and every other essential member of this university are compensated properly. Goodness knows our ad-
ministration is.

Now is the time when Concordia brass has a chance to put the people who will make a difference into power. It’s time for this university to rise from the ashes of crippling mismanagement and start anew.

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