Student Union Council Candidates Want Change
With no budgets or glossy posters and without the support of the dozens of candidates that make up one of the two political machines running in the year’s Concordia Student Union election, three independent candidates are nonetheless throwing their hats in the ring.
Competing with two slates containing most of Concordia’s political heavyweights, relative newcomers Alex Matak, Kelly Pennington and Justin Famili are tapping into the frustration students feel over partisan politics.
During her time as a volunteer with the People’s Potato and with the People’s Campus Coalition, Matak said she noticed a disconnect between students and their elected representatives.
“When you talk to some of the 90 per cent of students that don’t vote in CSU elections, you usually get the same kind of response,” said Matak. “They don’t really know what the CSU is and they say they don’t care but if you listen to them for long enough it’s that they don’t feel represented.”
Concordia’s political scene has long been dominated by moderate voices, said Matak, she blames this phenomenon on the nature of party politics.
“You contain yourself if you know that your words could impact the people you’re running with,” she said. “And I don’t think that with the university’s crisis in governance, with tuition fees rising, now is the time to be moderate.”
While running unaffiliated, Matak has collaborated heavily with Pennington. With the help of friends, they made posters that challenge the conventional glossy look that dominates the university’s hallways.
“The idea is to show students things can be different,” said Pennington. “Council was so dominated by one party this year and even if it’s split along party lines, a lot of voices get left out.”
Pennington and Matak said their desire to run for office was, in part, sparked with their involvement in organizing the WHALE—an assembly that had 1,200 Concordia students uniting against tuition increases in the midst of cold temperatures and heavy snowfalls.
“The idea is to show students things can be different,”
When former CSU VP and current Your Concordia hopeful Morgan Pudwell, one of the architects of the WHALE, came under fire during a March 9 Council meeting, Matak said it provided her with the final push to want to run in the elections.
“It was telling of the kind of people they were to see how they treated [Pudwell] after she organized such a successful event,” said Matak.
Famili was a deputy electoral officer during the Arts and Science Federation of Associations elections. After assisting in the regulation of the election, Famili decided to run for office to represent the voice of “average Concordia students.”
“I was disappointed with the CSU this year,” he said. “They pushed for a student centre project that no one wanted. If I’m elected I want to look into the student centre contract the CSU has with the administration and see how we can modify it or where we can divert the money already collected from students.”
Although the three candidates are unaffiliated, they are all clamoring for change after a year marked with strained relations between the CSU and certain factions within the university’s student body.