by Colin Bateman
The big news in the Concordia Student Union election in late March was
that a moderate slate took home the most votes in a record 47-per-cent
turnout at the polls. Slipping under the radar was the fact that the universitys
first and only French newspaper, Concordia Français, did
not get a fee levy of six cents per credit, and now faces extinction.
Everyone here was stunned, said new editor Marc-André
Boisvert, a second-year political science student. We have a positive
group of people, though, and I dont think this is the end of our
newspaper. Well find a solution.
Founded in January 2002, the monthly newspaper has prided itself on being
different. Made up almost entirely of opinion pieces that can reach as
many as 2,000 unedited words, the newspaper seeks to avoid repeating news
provided by The Link and The Concordian, the universitys
two main student newspapers. They instead aim to provide an open forum
for debate, not standard objective journalism, and the vote of 1,911 for
the levy and 2,330 against left them searching for answers.
It definitely was not anti-French sentiment that led to the result,
said Geneviève Shetagne, the newspapers director of information.
Our question was the last of four [on the ballot] about money. I
guess students didnt want to pay for a newspaper they wouldnt
end up reading anyway. Unfortunately, thats not looking at the big
Indeed, the last three questions had students approving levies for WalkSafe,
the Student Centre and Art Matters, not to mention the approval of a levy
last October for The Concordian, but reasons may run deeper than
the newspapers spot on the ballot. Some students may remember the
controversy of a year before, when comic strips were published that allegedly
condoned date rape. This immediately tarnished the young papers
Père Fondateur Garbriel Anctil, a recently graduated
communications student, said in a written statement that the levy should
have been approved because Concordia is lacking a French voice on a campus
with roughly 5,000 francophone students. In support of his argument, Anctil
acknowledged that McGill University has a francophone newspaper, Le
Délit Français, that has been in publication for over
With much of the discussion revolving around Concordias need for
more French expression, often overlooked is the possibility that the vote
was a result of the papers unorthodox format.
Isabelle Hartman, a journalism student from France who considered writing
for it, said, It is too political, and its difficult to get
on the writers wavelength most of the time. People like to skim
articles and I dont think they have the patience for long opinion
pieces, especially if its not in their language.
Fine arts student Christina Phelps believed the levy should have been
passed by virtue of Concordia Français status as the
universitys only French newspaper. Regardless of what type
of paper it is, there should be a French newspaper on campus, period.
Right now we only have one and we should be supporting it any way we can.
The newspapers team, composed mostly of full-time students, are
already working without an office, and have only one computer.
They are trying to stay true to their philosophy against advertising,
having relied primarily on the Concordia Student Union and the Concordia
Council on Student Life for financing until now. Despite their loss at
the polls, Concordia Français is likely to be back next