Let Me Introduce Someone Rather Important
By: Rebecca Firlotte
I had a chance to sit down with Andrew Koning, our Concordia Student Association (CSA) President. I asked him about his role within the CSA, his life outside of Concordia, as well as his hopes and plans for his term in office.
R: So, what is your role in the CSA?
A: “There are a few things that I am in charge of as President … one is the food bank. So, I work in conjunction with the university on making sure that it’s full of food, that it’s looked after, open, and accessible to students … not just students, anybody really can use it. I assist the Vice Presidents. So, if they need anything I help them out. I kind of set the tone for the CSA, setting the direction, a lot of the big picture stuff. Things that don’t fall under any of their roles specifically. I also … run interference, so if VPs are running into problems, if they are getting stonewalled from the institution for things [like their events] I go and talk to the institution and try to mediate … try to find common ground. [Although this] rarely happens.”
R: What brought you to Concordia?
A: “Kind of a long story. My brother went here. I went to St. Francis University in Nova Scotia when I first graduated high school. I didn’t do very well because of some of the choices that I made while I was there and I take ownership and responsibility of that, but Concordia was one of the only places that accepted me [after that]. I’m really grateful [to] them for taking the chance on me—for giving me a second chance. I am trying to do my best to live up to their [Concordia’s] expectations of me.”
R: How do you deal with being a mature student? You have a wife and a two and half year old daughter. How do you handle all of your responsibilities?
A: “I don’t know, it’s just about balance. So, it’s about priorities … and sometimes I can’t go to some of the [after-school events] that I’d like to go to. I rarely can attend those because my family deserves to have time with me. I’m not perfect, so ask my wife, probably she would say that she [and my daughter] would like to see me more and I understand that. It’s all about balance.”
R: What have you done as president? Since you were also president last year, what have you accomplished?
A: “A lot of the stuff that I did last year was behind the scenes. The CSA was a little bit chaotic … the way that we operated and responded to students needs was very unorganized, and so I spent a lot of time last year just trying to get the back end organized and we were able to do that. Even at the end of last year we started some more visible changes. Putting the ping pong tables out is something that I’m really proud of and something I’m very glad that we did. This year, looking forward, there will be a lot more of that kind of stuff because the back end is a lot more organized.”
R: What are your goals for the year? What would you like to see implemented within the university by April? At least as far as you’ve planned.
A: “I want to see benches in Hole Academic like there is in the second floor hallway. I want there to be that on every floor. Obviously maybe not the main floor of Hole; wherever there are classrooms in Hole I’d like to see benches. I don’t think that the students deserve to sit on the floor. They pay money to come here and I think that they should be able to be comfortable. I would like to see more people wearing Thunderwear and Concordia Gear. We’re working really hard with the institution on getting that out to students. Whether it’s the CSA buying stuff and giving it away or possibly subsidizing for a period of time. So, there’s a sale on T-shirts or something, we [the CSA] would subsidize that so that it’s cheaper for students. To generate more school pride. I’d like to see Thunderwear/CUCA Gear Fridays expanded. To have a student of the week where you can nominate somebody that you feel has embodied the Concordia spirit and they would get their name drawn for something. The main goal is also to get a pub on campus.”
R: How is that idea coming along? How does the institution feel about that?
A: “It’s been good. It’s a really slow process. The institution is open to the idea. They want to make sure that we do it right. We fully support them in that. We don’t want to open it up and it just be a gong show; so, we have to make sure all of our ducks are in a row, and that we make sure it is safe for the students because that is our number one concern. We want to make sure that the students are safe and that they enjoy their time on campus. We want them to not only look forward to coming into school everyday but to also try and extend their stay on campus so that way as soon as their classes are over they don’t leave right away. Maybe come and watch some athletics. I don’t see any reason why it [the pub] can’t be a reality within the next two to three years, but it is a slow process. We’ve waited a long time and I want to make sure that we’re doing it right.”
From Athletics to Thunderwear, our President is involved with our students. He has a passion for Concordia, which is evident to anyone who speaks with him, and it became very apparent to me even in just this short conversation. Andrew’s door is always open to students. Feel free to drop in and say hi or suggest something that you would like to see implemented in the university. He is OUR President. Make him work for US!
Drop in to see him in his office in the CSA offices across from the Food Bank in Alumni Hall. E-mail Andrew with any questions or comments about the CSA, Concordia Student Life, or even if you just want to pick his brain about something! His email is email@example.com