The Concordia Student Union has stepped up its pressure campaign on the university administration to lift what it is calling “draconian” regulations passed by the Board of Governors on Sept. 18.
Although they had been handing out pamphlets alerting students to the new rules, the CSU decided to openly break the ban on tabling in the lobby and Mezzanine of the Hall Building, as well as the moratorium on public activities concerning Middle East politics on campus. They will also openly challenge the Rector’s right to expel students without adhering to the university’s code of rights and responsibilities should the need arise.
The CSU made the announcement at a press conference held at Reggie’s Monday afternoon. After addressing reporters, CSU president Sabine Friesinger hung a large banner from the ledge of the Mezzanine with the words ‘Israel’ and ‘Palestine’ scrawled across it. Smaller posters urging students to discuss openly about the Middle East and informing them of the tabling ban have also been placed all over both campuses. Shortly after being posted, administration officials moved to remove the banner, as well as the posters in the lobby and the Mezzanine, although those in other parts of the campus were left up.
Friesinger herself replaced the banner and posters the following afternoon. She is also planning to begin a tabling campaign today, where she hopes to force the administration’s hand and make them take some form of action.
“Sabine will table tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that until the university tries to expel her,” said CSU VP Internal Kaelia Curtis Monday night.
According to Public Relations Officer Chris Mota, though, there are no plans to take any action against Friesinger, saying that taking down the posters was enough. “Putting up posters and breaking windows are two different things. Let’s be realistic. Cooler heads should prevail,” she said.
The general feeling on campus is that although many students feel that the moratorium on Middle East politics may help to ‘cool things off,’ most don’t agree with the banning of all tables.
Friesinger believes both issues are inter-related. “I think this is all one battle. When are we as students going to be respected at this university?”
She also questions the motives for the ban on tabling, saying that the timing seemed a little opportunistic.
“It’s hard to see how the ban [on tabling] relates to the events of Sept. 9,” when protests stopped former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking on campus, she said.
“Tabling in the Mezzanine and the lobby, this was an issue even before Sept. 9. Students want the Mezzanine to remain an open space for all student events. The administration recognizes the potential in that space of setting up a food court in there,” she added.
The CSU had openly lobbied and circulated a petition earlier in the semester to prevent the new university food service provider, Chartwells, from establishing a food court in the Mezzanine.
The CSU is hoping for widespread support from individual students and student groups in its campaign against the administration. In pamphlets being handed out this week, the CSU has been asking for widespread participation in a demonstration in front of Bishop’s Court on the corner of Bishop and de Maisonneuve where the upper-administration’s offices are located.
Friesinger would like the administration to realize that all students shouldn’t be punished for the events of Sept. 9. CSU VP Academic and Advocacy Ralph Lee agreed, saying he thinks all student groups should get involved even if they don’t have an interest in Middle East politics.
“These decisions will have a direct negative impact on all student groups in the sense that the lobby and Mezzanine are the only places where there is major student traffic. The university has shamefully exploited the events of Sept. 9 by denying all students the right to be tabling to promote their clubs,” said Lee on Tuesday.
Student groups are also being asked to join in with Friesinger in breaking the ban. As of deadline several student groups, including Hillel, had pledged to back the CSU in its campaign.
The moratorium on activities concerning Israel and Palestine will be reviewed on Dec. 15, but there is no review date for the student tabling issue. The CSU plans to continue fighting the regulations until the administration takes notice and rescinds them.
“If this university is deciding to block extracurricular and student activities, it is reprehensible and we should fight it to the end,” said Lee.