Student Congress Says Yes to Sustainability, No to Dance Majors

Second Congressional Gathering of Student Associations Sees Intense Debates

  • Representatives from faculty and department associations gathered for the second ever student congress. Brandon Johnston

A motion to integrate a “sustainability component” into all programs passed during the second session of the Concordia Student Congress on Thursday.

Article last updated Thursday, 27 at 1:46 p.m.

This was one of seven motions that members of various faculty and department associations, along with the Concordia Student Union, debated, amended and voted on to demonstrate student solidarity.

Notably, a motion to allow free access to Le Gym for contemporary dance majors was not passed.

In each faculty at Concordia University, less than 10 per cent of courses implement sustainability into their curriculum, according to Michael Banks of the Engineering and Computer Science Association.

“There are very few opportunities for students to learn about sustainability,” Banks said. “[Sustainability] often also belongs to specializations, so very few students take these courses.”

For his own faculty of engineering, Banks added that 19 courses contain sustainability content while approximately 230 do not. In regards to specific faculties offering courses which incorporate themes of sustainability, he explained that other faculties should mimic fine arts, where students already incorporate energy efficiency and resource consumption into their design projects. Originally, Banks argued for the component to be implemented into introductory courses.

“This would provide students with more knowledge to create value in a world with limited resources and declining ecosystems,” Banks said. “With 200-level classes, we hope to give students a mindset that they can hopefully carry on in their future education.

“This motion is to tell faculty and departments that students are actually interested in learning about sustainability.”

After dissent and scrutiny of the wording of a second amendment to the original motion from a few groups, the amended motion passed with 90 per cent of those in attendance in favour—the threshold required for any motion to be passed at the Congress.

“We want Concordia graduates to be capable of building a better world,” Banks said.

A motion that garnered similar debate, yet did not pass, was one brought forward by the Dance Student Association. Maria Paula Cano, a contemporary dance major, asked for student support to allow 70 students from her program free access to Le Gym on campus. It ended with a vote of nine in favour with six against, which did not meet the 90 per cent threshold.

“We’re working academically to become critical [thinkers], but we are also training our bodies to keep up with our [demanding] classes and choreography,” Paula Cano said. “We need to train our body more specifically, and in class, we don’t have time.”

Currently, the fee to have access to Le Gym is $70 per semester for new Concordia students and $65 per semester for returning ones. Paula Cano added that classes focus on “musicality and rhythm” of dances more than on strengthening specific muscles. Technically the studios located inside Le Gym belong to the program, but contemporary dance majors often share time with all gym members.

“Students in other majors are offered free access to libraries [and] student space, while the contemporary dance major [has] nothing,” Paula Cano continued. “Having free access to the gym is an injury-prevention point.

“It’s a matter of safety for us,” she concluded.

The motion failed largely because of the accepted notion that students in most programs have to pay extra fees toward services and facilities that will advance their career.

“The body is our major,” Paula Cano said in response to comments that all students have extra fees. “It’s not an extracurricular thing that we’re doing to be healthy or have fun—it’s just for performing better. We too have other fees.”

The Student Congress passed a motion allowing engineers to take minors—which they currently aren’t allowed to. Emma Saboureau, the president of the Engineering and Computer Science Association, said there is “no reason” for forbidding students in the engineering program of 120 credits to pursue a minor if they so choose.

The other motions passed by the Congress included a plan for Concordia’s new strategic direction process, increasing the term limits of student senators and formal opposition toward unpaid internships.

Correction: The original article said that the sustainability component would be implemented into 200-level courses. The final amended motion stated that it would be incorporated into all programs, regardless of course level. In addition, the congress passed a motion acknowledging that contemporary dance majors’ collective safety is of the upmost priority and action is required. The Link regrets the error.

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