by Barbara Black
Rob Green says he'll miss University Senate, but he'll get over it. The Concordia Student Union (CSU) president was stripped of his voting privileges in a closed session of Senate on December 3, and although he could have been accorded speaking rights, he chose to resign.
Green and fellow CSU executive member Phil Ilijevski were considered to have contravened Senate's eligibility requirements because they are not fully registered students. Although Green subsequently registered for this term as an independent student, that wasn't enough to make him eligible. (He has already graduated from Concordia with a BA Hons in Religious Studies.) Ilijevski is in a similar position; he dropped his program because of financial problems.
The point, for Green, is that being a passionate, full-time student activist pretty much rules out a normal academic life. "When I look at some of the other [students active in the CSU], I'm glad I got my degree out of the way," he said in an interview. "The first term, especially, is just insane."
Green felt that Senate's eligibility requirements, while legitimate, were being applied selectively because he and Ilijevski had been unusually vocal at meetings of the university's policy-making bodies. Green has delivered lengthy speeches about the dangers to the university of forming partnerships with and accepting large donations from industry and business, and CSU activists disrupted a Board of Governors meeting last term by dressing in garbage bags and taunting volunteer Board members.
Green remains on the Board, but the CSU has named two other students to sit on Senate for this term, Alys Ford and Sabine Freisinger. Green says he has every confidence in them.
The CSU has taken an active part in organizing the Canadian Federation of Students Day of Action scheduled for February 2. Green says that a day-long strike of classes similar to that held November 5 is not planned at the moment, because the CSU executive is "in negotiations with the [Concordia] administration over the demands we made then. We have had a preliminary meeting, and I'm feeling optimistic." These demands included ending Marriott's food services contract and the administrative fees charged to students. However, a general assembly will be held the morning of February 2 at which a strike might be called.
While the November demonstration was aimed at the provincial government and the universities themselves, the one on February 2 will call attention to the projected $90-billion federal surplus and its availability for restored funding to post-secondary education, which took a steep slide in the 1990s.
Green reported that the CSU has made good on its promise last fall to save students' money by staging a reasonably modest student orientation week and give more funds to the many interest groups and associations that flourish on campus, often on the slimmest of budgets. Claude Jacob was named the first CSU "clubs commissioner," and he has been active.
CUSACorp, the financial arm of the CSU, will break even this year, Green said, and next year, the long-standing debt incurred by previous CSU administrations to renovate Reggie's Pub will be paid off.