Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 28, No.4

October 23, 2003


Student association political infrastructure explained

by Colin Bateman

With more than 25,000 undergraduate students, Concordia has a political infrastructure that could intimidate the Canadian government. At the top sits the Concordia Student Union (CSU), with the apolitical “Evolution, Not Revolution” party in office this year. Directly beneath it are four Faculty associations, CASA (business students), ASFA (Arts and Science students), FASA (Fine Arts students), and the ECA (Engineering and Computer Science students), each of which represents thousands of students and dozens of associations.

“This year the CSU and the Faculty associations are working very well together,” says CSU president Nathalie Pomerleau. “We are aiming at having a good working relationship and keeping abreast of each other’s activities.”

As a means of achieving this end, the Senate of Faculty of Associations has been resurrected after being dormant for several years. It meets once a month with three members from each association. The four associations have the responsibility of providing information and resources to their many associations, as well as to the students that comprise them.

The Commerce & Administration Students’ Association (CASA) is Concordia’s oldest, having existed since the merger of the two campuses in 1974. It consists of six sister associations and five committees that reach out to the 4,500 students studying at the John Molson School of Business.

“We’re only doing our job properly if our associations are happy,” explains CASA VP of marketing Mohammed Younis. “If they do well, we do well, because essentially, the students are our number one priority.”

A common link between all the Faculty associations is the desire to help students thrive at the university level. Each one has special events and uses various methods of communication to keep their students involved. CASA has a quarterly magazine called the Commerce Exchange, which keeps students informed about what the associations and committees beneath it are doing. One of the big annual events is the fashion show, thrown every March.

The Arts & Science Federation of Associations (ASFA), representing more than 12,000 students and 30 associations, is entering its fourth year of operation, and has some new activities planned.

“We had our first ever frosh, orientation and student handbook,” said an optimistic VP Farouk Mohammed, one of the six vice-presidents in the only Faculty association without a president in its infrastructure. “Our first grad ball is set for the end of the year and we have eight new student bursaries as well.”

The Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA) is also trying to lay down the foundation for a successful future. Also in its fourth year of existence, the association, representing roughly 2,200 students, is the smallest of the Faculty associations, but it represents 14 departmental clubs and four associations.

The performing arts students reside on the Loyola campus, while the visual arts students study at the Sir George Williams campus, creating a challenge for FASA in terms of promoting unity. That is why parties such as the one thrown this past Friday by FASA and its biggest inter-departmental association, Art Matters, are important. Indeed, all of the Faculty associations recognize the benefits of partying as a means of creating a sense of cohesiveness within their Faculty.

“Every Friday night at Reggie’s, a different organization sets up activities and deals on drinks,” said Engineering and Computer Science Association (ECA) president Shahnaj A. Shimmy. “Our students deserve it for all the hard work they do, after all.”

With more than 20 associations and 4,000 students under its umbrella, a weekly party is not a stretch by any means. To keep in touch, they have a weekly newsletter called ECA This Week and an intricate website that only an engineering student could maneuvre through. The association is a well-oiled machine that has been in operation for more than 18 years at the university.