Sustainable Slates

Action and Your Concordia Run on Platforms of Sustainability

Photo Christopher Curtis

“Sustainability” is a word people love to throw around at Concordia, so it’s no surprise that many initiatives relating to this issue have found their way into the campaign trail.

Both slates are running on a platform that promises to ban the sale of bottled water on campus alongside other similar sustainable initiatives. Looking beyond the talking points, Your Concordia and Action bring a different sustainable skill set to the table.

On the outset, Your Concordia has a roster of heavy hitters in terms of sustainable practices on campus. The slate features former Concordia Student Union VP Sustainability & Promotions Morgan Pudwell alongside Arts and Science Federation of Association VP Sustainability Chad Walcott.

But, perhaps most notably, Your Concordia Board of Governors candidate Laura Beach has been a tireless water activist on campus since 2007 after founding TAPthirst—a coalition against the privatization of water.

Campaigning against the sale of bottled water on campus for the last three years, Beach organized Concordia’s first Bottled Water Free Day and is credited for circulating a petition that garnered signatures from every faculty and association on campus to support of banning bottled water sales and bettering water infrastructure services.

Last semester, Beach also handed outgoing-administrator of VP Services Michael Di Grappa a Mise en Demeure—or formal notice of legal challenge—for allegedly acting in bad faith after it was revealed that the university had quietly renewed an exclusive vending machine contract with PepsiCo.

Since that time, Beach has worked with Sustainable Concordia and the CSU to find ways to integrate students into university contract negotiations—which has become a platform point on Your Concordia’s mandate.

Contacting The Link about both slates’ commitment to sustainable initiatives, specifically Action’s comments and commitment to the bottled water free campus, Beach said, “there is a fine line between supporting an initiative and co-opting it. [Action] should let students know who the real people are behind the platform points on their website.”

Under their “our actions” tab on Action’s website is an outline for the slate’s pledge on bottled water. It states: “We are going to ban all plastic bottles on campus and instead promote the use of reusable mugs. Just another step towards sustainability.”

“We don’t want to take credit for [other student groups’ initiatives], it’s about being there to provide support. We’re not going to pretend to be experts on sustainability,” said Action presidential candidate Khalil Haddad when asked to respond to the allegations that the incumbent party has co-opted existing sustainable initiatives.

“Myself, working in this environment [as a Chief Electoral Office on the Sustainability Action Fund] and seeing what [student groups] do, I really feel like next year we can do something really good because I understand how they work, how they function in their working groups, and I’ve taken the time to speak to each and every one of them throughout the year.”

In terms of how he plans to implement the sustainable initiatives if made president of the CSU, Haddad explained that “it’s about helping [the different groups] with resources and outreach with students, and it’s working with Sustainable Concordia. It’s not about us taking the initiatives; it’s not the case at all.”

The extent of Action’s green history includes both Haddad’s experience, as well as VP Services and Sustainability-hopeful Rasim Hafiz’s position as a Board Member of the Sustainable Action Fund.

“Team Action wants to provide, in terms of sustainability, the resources needed across campus,” said Hafiz. “I don’t have a lot of experience, but where I’m coming from, personally, is that I want to keep learning and keep giving. Where the experience should be coming from is from those who are already involved in our community.”

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 28, published March 29, 2011.