President Lucas Takes Office

New Concordia Student Union President Doesn’t Believe In ‘Half-assing It’

  • CSU President Heather Lucas believes Quebec University students could strike during the 2011-2012 school year. Photo Gaul Porat

Heather Lucas has already made her mark on the Concordia Student Union’s presidential office.

After taking over as CSU president when Prince Ralph Osei’s resignation took effect on Aug. 25, Lucas gradually plastered her new office in Post-It notes. Dozens of the fluorescent, color-coded squares now cling to picture frames, cork boards, a computer screen and an assortment of other office supplies.

“I definitely have a different leadership style [than Osei],” said Lucas. “I’m a little more organized, a little more structured—and I’m not saying [Osei] wasn’t—there is just a higher level of work ethic I expect from the other executives because I don’t believe in half-assing things.”

Lucas is still learning the ropes at her new job, but the former VP Services is also carrying out her old duties while a replacement is being trained. In addition to having the tall order of campaign promises to fulfill, including the fight against impending tuition increases, this year’s CSU executive has gone through an elaborate shuffle.

In April, newly elected VP Finance Nikki Tsoflikis left her post. Zhuo Ling, who was elected to serve as a John Molson School of Business Senator, was then appointed to replace Tsoflikis.

Lucas vacated her post on Aug. 25 when she took Osei’s place, leaving a vacancy at VP Services. The Link has since learned that Arts and Science Senator Georges Alexandar will likely be filling that vacancy. As a result of these changes, nearly half of the CSU executives were not elected to their current positions.

“It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s the situation at hand. These appointments all happened within our bylaws. I don’t think it hurts [the CSU’s] credibility,” said Lucas.

The left leaning Republican

Lucas arrived at Concordia University three years ago after transferring from the University of California’s Riverside campus. She was born in Texas but Lucas spent most of her life travelling the globe with her father, who works as an engineer for Boeing.

“I grew up in Asia,” said Lucas. “I lived in Japan, Singapore and in the Philippines. I also lived in San Francisco and Los Angeles. I have a diverse background and I’m basically able to get along with anyone.”

After her first year at Concordia, Lucas was elected VP Internal for the Arts and Science Federation of Associations. During her term as VP Internal, ASFA passed a series of accounting reforms designed to correct sloppy accounting practices that resulted in about $15,000 of misplaced funds during the 2008-2009 term.

The new CSU President, a self described Republican, has had to divorce her personal politics from her slate’s left leaning platform.

“My personal beliefs will not have an effect on what the students want,” said Lucas. “Who cares what party I’m a part of? I’m here to do what the students want me to do, whether it’s marching down the streets or doing something crazy that I ideologically disagree with.”

Forecasting a student strike

On Aug. 30, Lucas met with Concordia University President Judith Woodsworth to discuss Woodsworth’s proposed tuition increases.

“I made it clear that we will fight against her and the administration as long as they support tuition increases,” said Lucas. “Quebec’s tuition is affordable because of [the province’s] student movement. And we intend to keep it that way. We’ll go to every protest we can and get as many students behind us as possible.”

When asked about the possibility of a student strike, Lucas said it was “unlikely” for the coming school year.

“There’s a very high possibility of a student strike in 2011,” continued Lucas. “There’s not much else we can do within the confines of government. If we all chose to strike at the same time there won’t be any students to pay tuition. That will force a compromise.”

Perhaps Lucas’ biggest challenge will be mobilizing the student body, as less than 10 per cent of Concordia students turned out to vote in March’s CSU general elections.

“We need to give students something they can connect to,” said Lucas. “Concordia is an ethnically diverse school and we’ve addressed that with an ethnically diverse executive. Our referendum to build a student center didn’t pass, but we want to keep pressing for one. Students need a place of their own on campus.”

With her plate already full, Lucas will also face obstacles within her own student government. After former CSU President Osei’s presidential decree authorizing a loan of $45,000 to the Concordia Volunteer Abroad Program was only openly opposed by one CSU Councilor, a number of councilors allegedly voiced silent opposition to the decree after it was endorsed at an Aug. 23 meeting.

“I think they’re new and unfamiliar with Robert’s Rules of Order. They could also be shy and we’ll work on that,” said Lucas as she scribbled a note onto a Post-It and stuck it to her desk.

This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 03, published August 31, 2010.

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