Standing Up for Students

ConU Admin Says No to Two-Track Tuition

Concordia University President Alan Shepard Photo Corey Pool

Over the years, Concordia University has developed a knack for finding its name in headlines and articles loaded with words like “corruption,” “mismanagement” and “controversy.”

As a student journalist working to hold this university’s administration accountable, I can’t say that its reputation for shady dealings and shifty business is all that undeserved. If you are looking for scandals, Concordia has proven itself to, unfortunately, be the gift that keeps on giving.

Historically, the school’s administrators have had little choice but to go into media interviews with their heads bowed low. They have often been the ones in the wrong, and have found themselves having to answer to criticism that is frankly, both deserved and valid. But not this time.

In a The Gazette opinions piece published on Jan. 12, Concordia administrators stood up for this university, its research and its students.

And they made some valid points.

The piece—written by Concordia President Alan Shepard, Concordia University Faculty Association President Lucie Lequin and Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association President Maria E. Peluso—came as a response to an article published a few days earlier by columnist Henry Aubin.

In his article, Aubin proposes the implementation of a two-tiered education system as a means to solve Quebec’s complex and highly contentious tuition-fee debate.

Aubin addresses the stalemate between students—who want low, or no, tuition fees—and universities, which require large amounts of funding to obtain prestige and success.

Aubin creates a dichotomy between Montreal’s four major universities.

He pairs Concordia with the Université du Québec à Montréal as the duo that “would not aim for stardom” and would “perform relatively little research,” whereas McGill and the Université de Montréal “would be more research-orientated and actively pursue excellence.”

To that, Concordia’s administration called bullshit. And as a student here, I appreciated it.

The response piece calls out Aubin for basing his theory on two false premises.

The ConU administrators criticize Aubin for falsely assuming that learning and research are two entities independent of one another, and for taking the Maclean’s magazine rankings as a relevant source of evidence.

While it’s crucial to recognize and report on this institution for its faults and failures—it also deserves notice for the things it does right.

Research at this school is damn impressive.

A flight simulator exists in the depths of the Hall Building. A team of engineers recently brought home the winning prize at the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge.

Hexagram, Concordia’s Centre for Research-Creation in Media Arts and Technologies, has worked alongside the likes of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And the Research Centre for Structural and Functional Genomics is currently housed in a $30-million Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified building.

This school has grounds to hold the importance of research and its funding close—it matters. It’s important for them, in fighting for us.

As they said, “Our students demand and deserve a first-rate education, with access to the creative ideas and leading-edge tools that will allow all of them to pursue excellence and succeed not just locally but globally.”

Thanks, you guys.