Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 28, No. 1

September 11, 2003


CSU puts community-building first

by Jason Gondziola

Photo of CSU's Natalie Pomerleau and Tyler Wordsworth

CSU President Natalie Pomerleau with VP Finance Tyler Wordsworth.
Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

Diversity is Concordia’s watchword, but this will be the first student union executive in many years to include students from all four faculties.

CSU president Natalie Pomerleau, who is in engineering, said that the priority is to make Concordia a more student-friendly environment. “We’ll encourage people to get involved with and meet other people and feel more like they belong to Concordia and are proud of Concordia.”

This will be done by working closely with the other faculty associations. Vi Hoang, VP academic, called it “uniting the school at a higher level.”

More student space is on the agenda. The terrace behind Java U and Reggie’s will be “greened”, and plans to develop lounges are in the works. There will be more room for students to socialize and study, an alternative to the library, which becomes notoriously noisy around exam time.

The new CSU is encouraging multiculturalism on campus with events like last week’s Cultural Fair, a barbecue with kosher and halal food served by the executive and senior administrators.

“There’s 127 nations represented at Concordia, but it seems that the CSU has only focused on two of those nations,” said VP Brent Farrington. “We’re going to give the other 125 a chance to show themselves.”

The new CSU is not without its critics, who view them as being pro-administration because they don’t embrace the radical politics of their predecessors.

“We’re not trying to prove that we’re going to work with the university [administration], we’re just showing that we’re not going to work against it,” said Brent Farrington, VP student environment. “We’re not using our positions as a soapbox to voice our own political views. We’re using the CSU as a way for all students to interact [equally].”

The CSU is working to extend the reduced-rate STM passes to students over 25, which was a campaign promise made by Mayor Gérald Tremblay.

“Just because you’re over 25 doesn’t mean that you’re any better off than anyone under 25,” Hoang said. “You’re still in school full time. It doesn’t mean that you have any more money.”

Quebec’s low tuition is under threat, Pomerleau said. “They’re re-evaluating tuition freezes and whether or not to keep them in the upcoming months. We’ve been working with other organizations to fight to keep tuition frozen.”

Financially, the CSU is starting with balanced books, according to VP Finance Tyler Wordsworth. He also said this year’s orientation, which was the largest and longest-running in Canada, came at a cost of $60,000, all of which will be recovered from grants and profits from the event.

CUSACorp, the wholly owned subsidiary of the CSU, has accumulated a debt of over $1 million over the years.

“The debt itself was a leftover from the past 20 years,” said Pomerleau. “It’s not necessarily from Reggie’s, but from bad decisions.”

Sheryll Navidad, the former VP financial who was charged with defrauding the CSU to the tune of $193,000, was caught in Toronto last month. She has since plead guilty and will have her wages garnisheed until the debt is repaid, something Wordsworth sees as “a symbolic victory.”