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If Angelica Novoa has her way, the 2007-2008 Concordia Student Union executive committee will leave a lasting mark on the university. The CSU president and final year biology student hopes that concrete plans for the long awaited Concordia student centre will be finalized before she leaves office “We’re in talks with the university, and have a site in mind,” she said, “but it will take consensus to move the project forward.”
The proposed building is intended to consolidate all services offered to students, from jobs and housing to health care, and will be a joint venture between the CSU and the university.
“We see it as a hub of student life,” she explained.
The centre will also include student activity space to replace the area that was lost last year when the Mezzanine was repurposed. While clubs can now book some exhibition space in the Mezz lounge, Novoa said, “We’re still looking for a viable alternative as a hub for student life. There is still no replacement and we’re waiting to see that.”
While space issues are high on the priority list, the current CSU executive has other ambitious plans for the coming year.
Over the summer they developed a communications strategy for reaching out to the student body and the community at large.
“There are people at Concordia who have no idea that the CSU exists,” said Novoa. “We want to get word out about our services and get more students involved.”
To this end, they have completely overhauled the CSU web site (www.csu.qc.ca) and plan to use student media resources more effectively.
One of the first big pushes was advertising this year’s Orientation festivities which conclude Sept. 13. Orientation culminated with a three-day street festival on Mackay featuring concerts and a multicultural food festival.
Towards the end of September, CSU will be inaugurating its new legal information clinic. Law students, supervised by a practicing lawyer, will provide undergraduates with advice on topics such as housing, employment and consumer protection.
Novoa pointed out that “the clinic is meant to complement the university’s legal services by addressing topics it doesn’t cover, like immigration.” For the pilot year, the clinic will open three days a week, four hours at a time.
While services will be exclusive to students for the time being, Novoa said demand and usage will be carefully tracked over the clinic’s first year, “We are expecting high usage, and there is the potential to expand hours and open it up to the larger Concordia community in subsequent years.”
Two other pilot projects the CSU is nurturing this year are a subsidized tutoring service and recreational learning courses. Both will feature students helping students.
And, if all that wasn’t enough, Novoa underlined the CSU’s commitment to advocate for students’ rights. “We, along with other student unions in the province, will be addressing the end of the tuition freeze in Quebec by lobbying the provincial government to reinvest in education. We really believe that accessible education is every person’s right.”