Working Towards Student Engagement

Why You Should Vote for Community Matters

Ben Prunty, pictured here at the CSU debates, is running for CSU president under the Community Matters banner. Photo Shaun Michaud

I would like to begin by introducing myself through my involvement at Concordia.

My name is Benjamin Prunty, and I am running to be the president of the Concordia Student Union, alongside my team of highly qualified and deeply engaged Concordia undergraduate students.

Previously a councillor for both the CSU and the Arts and Science Federation of Associations, I am currently the VP Sustainability for the CSU. I’ve been on the Board of Directors for the Sustainability Action Fund for two consecutive terms, where I sit as chair of the governance committee. Myself, and two of my teammates, are co-founders of the not-for-profit fee-levy organization the Concordia Food Coalition.

I am taking a double major in the School of Community and Public Affairs and the Liberal Arts College. The combination of an intense focus on communication, critical thought and civic engagement inherent to these two majors has taught me the value and importance of community organizations like the CSU.

For years I have realized how empowered we are as students because of the opportunities made available to us in university. As students, we have an immense gift. Through travelling I have come to realize that the privileges afforded to us in Quebec, through our student organizations, are to be cherished, held onto and defended—they are not a given.

The CSU, and student organizations like it, embody the empowerment of the youth and our ability to change our immediate environment according to our needs, aspirations and desires as we see them. In order to really use this amazing opportunity at our disposal, we need an executive team that understands both the social aspect of university life, but also the more serious side—the side that needs to represent student interests on a multiplicity of issues.

We need a CSU with consistent leadership, a CSU that understands that students need to be consulted before acting, but that uses their privileged access to information to build a more informed student body. The combination of these two factors will elevate our collective understanding of our surroundings and the institutions that affect us while raising the standards of representation to higher levels. This point is important because an uninformed public is almost guaranteed to make bad decisions, but an informed public can represent itself.

Students can represent themselves, and the CSU needs to build bridges for this to happen.

The Community Matters team understands this, which is why we’ve made the use of the Hall mezzanine café space and made issues about our largest bank accounts the subjects of widespread public conversation.

This is why we have articles on our website demystifying the CSU’s countless millions of dollars for student space; why as individuals we’ve run conferences specifically about public/popular education and leadership building on sustainability issues; why our team members have, in the past, run referendum questions asking students for their permission for us to move forward on projects before doing so.

We want an engaged and informed student body. We want a student union with direction and with purpose. We want to make student life more accessible on all fronts, and create a community that celebrates diversity in the most important places—everywhere.

The CSU is too large to be disconnected from its roots, from students.

We want a CSU that encourages and builds up new autonomous and self-sustaining campus organizations like the food co-operatives our team has been pushing for, and like the fee-levy groups we have helped build and defend.

We want a CSU that allows communities to speak for themselves, and that works with these communities when they need our support. This is why we oppose the Quebec Charter of Values so openly—we know that our community members are affected by this.

We understand the importance of allowing communities to speak for themselves, and the need for organizations like the CSU to work in partnership with these communities, alongside them as equals.

The Community Matters team knows the potential of the CSU, and we know the potential of Concordia students. We want to work alongside an engaged student body so that we can all teach each other exactly what we are capable of when we work together.

Please, when it comes to voting on March 25, 26 and 27, vote for the team with projects, tested experience and vision. As the president of the team, I personally endorse them, both as individual members and a single cohesive unit. In an election that is effectively split between three different teams, I strongly encourage voting for one single unit.

Vote for community development at Concordia.

Vote for an engaged student population.

Vote for Community Matters.