LinkBlog

Our internal affairs blog. Get up to speed on what we have planned next.

  • Video Breakdown Action & Your Concordia Promotional Play-by-Play

    The CSU election process is relentless. Until the 31st of March rolls around and election results are counted, contested, complained about, and conceded to, we are all going to be inundated with campaign materials.

    Posters for the two slates are up, Facebook is drowning in status updates about candidates, and perhaps the flashiest efforts of all, the campaign videos, are now in circulation. And you know what? I graduate this semester.

    I am taking six classes. I am bound up by commitments I made at an earlier point that keep me from absorbing all of this election information. I am just too fucking busy to take the time out to think through everything that Your Concordia and Action are promising.

    But those videos! I am at my computer all the time these days. If I can’t peruse every campaign website, review every platform, or speak with the candidates themselves, I can give up 10 minutes of my time to let their videos speak to me. Isn’t this why the slates made videos in the first place?

    These YouTube gems stand in for more in-depth research.

    They are the quick-fix way to communicate campaign promises, sort of like campaign cheat sheets, giving us viewers a few important bits of information so that when (if?) we choose to vote in the CSU elections, at the very least, we are capable of differentiating between the slates on our ballot.

    These videos might be the only first impression Your Concordia and Action get to make to the larger student population. So what do these videos tell us about the potential future of Concordia and its student governance? Here is what I took away:

    Action: voteforaction.ca

    Action is smart! Action is diverse! No, Action is fun (but responsible)! Action stands out! Action is hot! Action really loves Duck Sauce!

    The two minutes and thirteen seconds of the Action campaign video are all flash. These are candidates that want to make sure we know exactly how much fun they are. This is high gloss, low content. I’ve seen the outside of Loyola.

    I’ve lost myself to the throbbing bass beat of “Barbara Streisand” somewhere between The Hive and Le Gym (not actually), I’ve been a part of amped up video montages featuring boisterous laughter and uncontrollable street dancing hijinx.

    I, too, have driven down Saint Catherine late at night, intoxicated by the glow of shop lights.

    Watching the Action video, I am reminded that my time at Concordia has been one, long, indistinguishable string of black-out parties. Library building? Never heard of it.

    To be fair, I got in contact with Action to ask why the video was structured and edited to feature little more than repeated candidate cameos (laughing and hugging and just having SO MUCH FUN, of course) with the occasional nipple twist and shout-out from Mr. Boustan.

    The answer was simple: Concordia is a creative school with a huge investment in student life.

    But student life, Action, has demanded a lot more from me than an ability to sing the chorus of this year’s biggest dance music earworm. I don’t get the chance to go to all of these student (funded) parties, because I have a full course load, and I work, and I’ve been applying to graduate school, and I give my time to my own department and its students.

    Beyond that, I pay out of province tuition, from which the CSU, this year alone, got about $60 worth of funding.

    My issue, Action, is that your video makes it seems like my $60 went toward somebody else’s Jagerbomb and while I am all for students being able to party and relax and live a little outside of the library, I could have used that money for a texbook, or you know, groceries.

    If the only information I had about Action going into the CSU elections was garnered from the campaign video, I’d probably ruin my ballot by drunkenly scrawling “woowoowoowoowoowoowoowoowoowoowoo!” at the top.

    Your Concordia: yourconcordia.ca

    Two videos from Your Concordia. The first attempts to answer “What is the CSU?”, the second communicates the slate’s platform by speaking about what Your Concordia candidates want for the school.

    Here I get some answers; if I wanted content, Your Concordia is giving it to me. Aren’t sure what the CSU actually does for us as students? Aren’t sure who gets what kind of power and privilege to make decisions about where our fee levies and tuition are spent? Want to know why you should even be concerned about Concordia’s BoG? Aren’t sure what the BoG is?

    There is a lot to take in, especially if you aren’t familiar with the way student government operates at Concordia.

    But, like I said, if I am giving up significant amounts of my money to support school initiatives and student life, then I want to at least understand who I am handing it over to.

    This is a different approach, but it is a valuable tool for the election process.

    If I only had the Your Concordia CSU video to base my voting decision on, I certainly wouldn’t know who to vote for, but at least I would have some modicum of an idea about what was at stake.

    (I actually wonder if Action thanked Your Concordia for taking the time to create and post this video? Your Concordia is telling students why the CSU elections matter in the first place, and in doing so are validating the work that Action is doing, too. Action, want to say thank you?)

    The Your Concordia campaign video gets it. Don’t want to spend hours reading through a campaign website? Take two minutes and just listen to the video, you don’t even really need to watch it to grasp the point.

    Your Concordia chose not to feature its candidates, which is an interesting move considering how important a recognizable image and name can be given student-voter apathy. But maybe this is deliberate? Maybe Your Concordia isn’t standing on the image of its candidates? Maybe (gasp!) Your Concordia is actually making its platform the most visible part of its campaign?

    What we get is a substantial montage of Concordia spaces and again, a lot of information. This video is harder to critique because it works to put the issues, and the proposed solutions, on the table.

    If I had to give up my $60 to Your Concordia, the video’s keywords suggest my money would be going to: students, student groups, student spaces, community engagement, community-based problem solving, being represented, resources. These are all great political buzzwords, especially in a student election, but at least Your Concordia is working to communicate its plans.

    If Action is going to take me out, get me drunk, and dance on some tables with me, Your Concordia is going to be there at the end of the night to hold my hair back, drive me home, and make sure I get something for my headache in the morning.

    Ultimately, we’re all students and we all have a lot to deal with, especially at the end of semester. If you can’t take the time to find out what each of these candidates, or each of these slates is really invested in doing for Concordia, then take ten minutes and watch the videos.

    Campaigns are by definition dedicated to making everyone look their best. It’s up to you to be critical and to really evaluate what the content is aiming to say about the candidates, the slates, and their intentions for Concordia. We are all giving up a lot more than $1.85 per credit in two weeks. We are handing over the keys to our school experience with CSU elections.

    Vote, but take ten minutes to figure out what you want next year. Start with these videos and remember that I warned you about Duck Sauce.

  • Posters or Posers?

    • Photo by Julia Jones

    • Photo by Julia Jones

    Oh, poster night! That magical time of year for politicos of all stripes to run amok around campus, making noise and donning war paint, all while frantically wallpapering our university’s visual landscape with smiling mugs, campaign promises and pleas for votes.

    But besides scrutinizing every campaign platform and every politico’s past performance, we at The Link also like to get into the superficial nitty-gritty, and respect our time-honoured tradition of analyzing the image content of the posters that are now saturating our hallways.

    So, in no particular order, here begins the grill:

    Action:

    I’m sorry guys, but way to play it safe and boring. It’s funny that a team that claims to have nothing to do with last year’s slate basically used the exact same poster with the exact same formula to try to convince me that they’re not the exact same party. Riiiight.

    What I see before me is that recognizable Vision/Fusion/Action tried, tested and tired “student politic” look, and it really makes me wonder if the slate simply opened last year’s .psd file and changed the colour to blue.

    Dull. Dull. Dull.

    That, and the fact that they didn’t even bother changing the gender lineup from last year (boy, girl, boy, boy, girl, boy, girl) makes me think that they were seriously out of inspiration here, and I hope that their platform isn’t as deliberate and premeditated.

    Admittedly, they’ve chosen a formula that’s proven to work. With years of successful marketing on their sides, reusing last year’s design isn’t a bad move. Plus, sticking to one colour will give them that easily recognizable look that helped the Obama campaign this year.

    But overall, there’s nothing particularly special—or exciting—about anything we see before us here. We hope that their election promises prove to be more appealing…

    Your Concordia:

    Our initial reaction is that this is the slate with the better design. It looks professionally done, sharp, colourful, and they are clearly following the design trends of the day—not simply relying on any incumbent clichéd blueprint from politico poster night days gone by.

    This glossy professional feel, however, might actually hurt the slate. If we hadn’t seen students hang these bad boys, we would have assumed they were ads. The look like ConU posters, “Learn more at yourconcordia.ca!”

    On the individual councilor posters, the text seems to dominate, leaving the actual candidates looking like stock photos instead the engaged, impassioned political candidates they claim to be.

    That said, the posters that are all text appeal to us. They’re a bit edgier, and don’t rely on the dead, eyed-hand-hip-smile archetype we see so much from people trying to promote themselves.

    Unfortunately, students may not even notice the posters for the same reason we initially liked the design. They don’t fit the typical student politico template.

  • We called it.

    Published on October 5th, 2010.

  • Too Sensational?

    This week’s cover of The Link asked the question, “The Death of ASFA?”

    With a movement within the Arts and Science Federation of Associations calling for accreditation for individual members, the cover asked if ASFA, as it currently exists, could die?

    Its a fair question to ask. Despite its name, ASFA now exists as a student association and not a federation. What this means is that ASFA’s current structure treats the member associations (groups without accreditation or any legal power outside of ASFA) as committees. The main interview subject, Bruno Joyal, said it himself. With the reform that Joyal is proposing, ASFA would be flipped on its head and would go from being a small student union-type structure into a body of deliberation and coordination across the 27 MAs.

    This would be the end of ASFA as we know it.

    Without any warning or consultation with The Link, and without any complaints or concerns voiced from anyone at ASFA, including President Aaron Green, Joyal used The Link’s website as a platform to call the article a piece of “sensationalist journalism,” he mentioned that the piece was “distorted,” and a part of the newspaper’s “radical political agenda.” Joyal also libelously stated that the article had a “quite large” number of factual errors—there was one error, where the word “accreditation” was used instead of the word “incorporation.” The error was fixed in the web edition.

    Joyal also tried to distance himself from the cover idea, in case anyone thought he had any editorial sway at the newspaper.

    I can tell you that Joyal, who approached The Link with the article in an email (attached below) and thanked The Link after the article was published (also attached below), had nothing to do with The Link’s editorial policy last week or any other week before it. In fact, the use of the word Independent on The Link’s cover means that no politician at Concordia, including a politician like Joyal, has any say whatsoever on the content of The Link.

    Joyal seems to have a very skewed view of journalism, where journalists are stenographers of his “constructive ideas” or can do no contacting of other organizations or analysis. Journalists are neither of the three: they are not stenographers, they are capable of using a method of external communication and they are capable of analysis. I would also add that the 14 members of The Link’s masthead are quite capable of making decisions for themselves, as they have for the past 18 issues of this volume, and as they will do for the last 12.

    If Joyal or Green have any comments or questions for The Link they can contact the newspaper. We also have a very forgiving letters policy. However we won’t print libel, online or off.

    —Justin Giovanneti
    Editor-in-chief

    Bruno Joyal’s comment on The Link’s website

    I’d like to point out that I, or any other executive of any other association, have absolutely nothing to do with the “death of ASFA” idea. It’s nothing but sensationalist journalism, as Aaron says.

    The interview I gave was balanced and I was only concerned with sharing constructive ideas. I am surprised that the emphasis was put on an idea (the “death” of ASFA) which nobody but the journalist had in mind and which certainly never came up in the interview I gave. I spoke about reforms and not about “death”, whatever that word could mean (dissolution? give me a break!).

    Also, the number of factual errors in the article is quite large. For example, the article begins by stating that we requested accreditation; we didn’t, since we haven’t even had a poll yet. I was clear about this.

    I am also sorry that other associations were mentioned in an article they essentially had nothing to do with. The Link has its own radical political agenda which the current situation was distorted to fit.

    However, I stand by whatever I said which is explicitly quoted in the article.

    Bruno Joyal

    Bruno Joyal’s email to The Link after publication

    from Bruno Joyal
    sender-time Sent at 3:46 PM (GMT-05:00). Current time there: 6:42 PM.
    to Justin Giovannetti
    date Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 3:46 PM
    subject Article

    Hi Justin,

    thank you very much for the article. It is appreciated!

    We are not as radical as the cover makes it seem, and we haven’t filed for accreditation yet (only for incorporation). However, I think the article is good and it will force students to think.

    thanks a million, I will keep you informed.

    all the best,


    Bruno Joyal
    Undergraduate Student Representative (Pure & Applied Mathematics)
    Concordia University

    Bruno Joyal’s pitch email to The Link

    from Bruno Joyal
    sender-time Sent at 8:15 PM (GMT-05:00). Current time there: 6:40 PM.
    to letters@thelink.concordia.ca
    date Wed, Nov 24, 2010 at 8:15 PM
    subject Regarding departmental student associations

    Hi!

    First, I would like to thank you and to congratulate you for the recent series of articles concerning the “student centre” project. I believe your paper did an excellent job at exposing the numerous issues behind the fee levy increase. It’s my opinion that, ultimately, the articles will have played a decisive role – many students mentioned them to me, which is quite unusual.

    I would like to invite you to turn your attention to the current situation of the departmental student associations at Concordia. (What I have to say is mostly about the student associations of the Faculty of Arts & Science, i.e. those which fall under ASFA, but from what I know, it applies to other faculties as well to various extents.) For the moment, most, if not all, of the student associations have no legal status whatsoever. They are merely “member associations” of their respective umbrella association, as described in the umbrella’s By-Laws.

    In many universities in Quebec, such as UQAM and Université de Montréal, each student association is a non-profit organization, run like a company whose students are the shareholders. This has the effect of rendering the association essentially independent from its umbrella association, and much more liable towards its members, the students. A student association which is a non-profit organization can also seek the government’s accreditation. Accreditation is a process by which the Government, following a successful polling of the student body, recognizes the legitimacy of the association. This has the effect of allowing the student association to establish an assessment (i.e. a fee levy), which is to be paid by the students to their organization.

    At Concordia, however, only the larger associations, like ASFA, are accredited. This means that, for the moment, only these large associations can be directly funded by the students. Smaller associations, such as department-specific associations, are encouraged to seek membership into the larger ones, so as to obtain funding. The resulting situation is that all of the fees paid by students to their associations are received at the top of the chain, by CSU and by the Faculty associations. These “federations” (which are not federations in the sense of the Act respecting the accreditation and financing of students’ associations), are then, in theory, supposed to take these funds and split them up, somewhat arbitrarily, between their “member associations” (of course not before taking a large share, such as 50%).

    The result is that small associations, which are the closest to the student body and which are, in effect, the only associations responsible for maintaining student life (inasmuch as frosh is not part of student life), become completely dependent financially upon the larger associations to function properly. The large associations are very much aware of this situation, but they profit from it financially, so they do not loosen their grip easily. For example, one of ASFA’s By-Laws states that its member associations may not levy their own fee! This is completely against the purpose of the Accreditation Act, if not outright illegal. This means that departmental associations, which are run for free by elected volunteers, often end up wasting their energy by fighting for funds rather than using it constructively to enrich student life.
    For the moment, it is the Financial Comittee of ASFA, composed of six people, which decides, at its descretion (this is written, word for word, in the By-Laws), of the allocation of 18 000 students’ money.

    My association (MASSA, the Math & Stat student association) has decided that this situation is outright ridiculous, and that it should change quickly. We informed ourselves about the accreditation process, and we have decided to go through with it – to our knowledge, this is an unprecedented event at Concordia. This week, our intentions spread by word of mouth, and now many other associations have decided to seek accreditation (I can’t say how many yet, but there has been one more every day for the past few days). We believe that a true revolution has begun, and that the way student associations are run and funded at Concordia is about to change dramatically.

    I would be glad to know what you guys think about this, and perhaps provide you with some further information should you like to write about it. Perhaps Mr. Ethan Cox, who is probably aware of the situation already to some extent, might be particularly interested.

    Thank you for your great work, keep it up!


    Bruno Joyal
    Undergraduate Student Representative (Pure & Applied Mathematics)
    Concordia University

  • Imitation

    The sincerest form of flattery.

    The Link’s cover was published on August 24th. The Montreal Mirror’s was published on October 28th.