Several Concordia Unions update demands following return to campus
“We are prepared to escalate to protests and strikes if the university remains unresponsive”
In a statement released by the Concordia Student Union on Feb. 3, new demands were made to the university after the first 13 student demands for the return to campus were rejected. Ignored and frustrated, unions and associations are willing to escalate action if the new demands are not addressed by the university.
The CSU, Teaching and Research Assistants at Concordia, Arts and Science Federation of Associations, Fine Arts Student Alliance and the Graduate Students' Association signed the new letter on Feb. 3 following the university’s dismissal of the first open letter, which has amassed 3000 signatures since its release on Jan. 13. The new demands include tuition reduction, direct communication with associations regarding safety measures, mobile vaccination clinics on campus, online exams and assignments, as well as providing free access to fitness facilities for students.
Along with these demands, the letter is calling for the take over initiatives started by the CSU, ASFA and TRAC, calling for the university to take responsibility for N95/KN95 mask provisions, the contact tracing system as well as the peer-lead note-taking program system. It also calls for stronger funding of Concordia’s Wellness services and the improvement of current health services at the university.
“We strongly believe that dismissing the vast numbers of students—as well as faculty and staff—who do not feel completely safe with Concordia’s reopening plan is contradictory to the University’s proclaimed dedication to health and safety and irresponsible,” the letter stated.
The letter further cites concerns for the immunocompromised, disabled, and students at risk in regards to insufficient safety measures on campus. These measures include no social distancing in classrooms and the lack of safer N95/KN95 masks.
Unions called for “direct communication with departmental associations in all decisions regarding on-campus COVID-19 safety measures,” denoting a lack of clarity, leadership and negligence in the current return.
“It’s not a question of them not knowing what students need, they are very well aware of what students need and the fact that they have chosen not to go in that direction but to instead go in a different direction is super frustrating not only for me but for a lot of the student body at this point.” — Eduardo Malorni
“Most of the [negotiations with the university] didn’t last very long because the alternatives they were suggesting weren’t really going to solve student concerns,” said Eduardo Malorni, General Coordinator of the CSU. Malorni said the university rejected many of the demands with little discussion.
In a meeting between CSU executives, President Graham Carr and Vice-President Academic Anne Whitelaw, the letter claimed members of the administration “refuted even the necessity of the measures proposed by the CSU [in the original demands].”
The original demands that were kept in the updated one include a fully hybrid semester, the elimination of participation grading, online accessibility to exams, assignments, course material and course recordings. It also called for increasing resources for teaching support, further accommodations for sick students beyond the short-term absence form, the return of Pass/Fail, and COVID-19 testing on campus.
Malorni expressed his frustrations regarding the university’s continued negligence of these student concerns and demands.
“It’s not a question of them not knowing what students need, they are very well aware of what students need and the fact that they have chosen not to go in that direction but to instead go in a different direction is super frustrating not only for me but for a lot of the student body at this point,” Malorni added.
Should the university reject the demands once again, Malorni has stated the next step would be decided by the student body. Students would decide whether larger scale mobilization is necessary.
“We've already escalated to this point so now we’d just have to escalate further if this is something the student body is comfortable with,” Malorni stated.
TRAC, ASFA, FASA and the GSA also expressed their readiness to take further action.
“We are prepared to escalate to protests and strikes if the University remains unresponsive to these demands at this time,” they stated in the letter. “Should Concordia wish to reinstate any faith or respect from its community, the Concordia administration must simply do more.”