Democracy isn’t about the choices we get to make as individuals; Democracy is about the choices we take together, as a community.
The Hive board — with elected representation from our workers (4), users (4), and campus support organizations (3) — unanimously encourages the student community to vote no to these two CSU referendum questions:
- the online opt-out system
- the recreation and athletics tuition increase
Both of these questions undermine our collectivity by reducing people to consumers rather than humans, or fellow community members. The first question undermines our local democratic power as students, and the second undermines the university as a publicly-funded public good by increasing the cost to individuals.
Concordia’s fee-levy system is an almost unique gift of democracy and community empowerment in Québec, and one that allows students to help shape the university according to our values and aspirations. With this gift, Concordians have created amazing institutions that, among other things feed hundreds of students a day and provide vital hands-on learning opportunities to students through participation on boards of directors and other volunteer or paid positions they wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise. It also provides resources to a variety of minorities on campus, who wouldn’t otherwise have access to vital services.
This system has also enabled Concordians to be major leaders in the fight against climate change, as they have organised to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce waste and bring awareness to the threat of climate catastrophe.
This is our community legacy. This is the Concordia we have built as a collective project over generations. While this is not a perfect system, and specific reforms could help in strengthening its effectiveness, the online opt-out system will only serve to undermine the integrity and utility of this rare gift.
While the Hive Co-op is not a direct beneficiary of the fee-levy system, we recognize the fundamental importance of this system for the community we serve.
Although we reject a tuition increase through the proposed higher Recreation & Athletics fee, we still support more affordable wellness services. We find this question to be disingenuously presented by the university, to the point of being dishonest. We instead encourage students to question how much of the already existing recreation and athletics fee goes to paying for collective services, like Le Gym, rather than administrative pet projects that serve a tiny number of people, like the stingers (no offense, we don’t want students to pay mandatory fees for varsity sports, and think the university should pay for it with public money if they think it’s a priority).
Finally, regardless of the results of these votes, the Hive also believes its results invalid until a broader discussion can take place on campus about the values behind these sorts of changes. First of all, the CSU General Coordinator has made shameful and even abusive use of a power meant for regular members intending to hold the union accountable (the petition system). The General Coordinator is expected to lead their team and council, not circumvent that team by perverting democratic safeguards and abusing the fact that students pay him a full-time salary. Secondly, we find unacceptable the failure to make space and time for a public discussion on these topics, which will have wide-ranging and long-lasting effects on generations of students to come.
For these reasons, let this be a wake up call to anyone in our university that considers themselves to be progressive. This is an affront to our community – from now on, let’s work to be more organized, and more united.
The fight has only just begun.
The Hive Cafe Solidarity Co-operative board of directors