Recently, Concordia University’s administration has charged 11 student protesters, who they say were involved in the Sept. 9 protest that turned violent, under the university’s Code of Rights and Responsibilities. Some of the 11 have also been charged under the criminal code, and whether the entire group will be charged remains to be seen, as the police investigation is not yet complete.
Students, faculty and alumni ought to welcome these charges. Those responsible for damage to university property, assault and harassment have no place at Concordia and must be punished for their actions.
According to the Code of Rights and Responsibilities all members of the Concordia community have a right, “…[and] may reasonably expect to pursue their work and studies in a safe and civil environment. Concordia University therefore does not condone discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, threatening or violent conduct or offenses against property.”
By punishing these students the university is taking back some of its credibility as an institution that it lost after Sept. 9. It shows that Concordia is taking charge of the situation and is being tough with those that were violent on Sept. 9.
The university is taking a step in the right direction, but it must be careful not to get carried away. This is especially in the case of the CSU’s VP Communications Yves Engler. One of the charges against him is vandalism for putting up stickers and it is recommended that he be suspended for a semester for this offence. This seems a little harsh considering that the usual punishment for such an offence is a $20 fine.
Another charge against Engler is having an information table on the Mezzanine about the student strike against the FTAA, when information tables on the Mezzanine were banned. In this instance he is charged with trespassing. The university wants to have Engler suspended for a year, if he is found guilty on this charge. Both of these charges seem somewhat superficial, especially since police are charging him with both vandalism and trespassing.
Engler was also charged with two complaints of disturbance both inside and outside the Hall Building on Sept. 9, under articles 16 and 18 of the Code of Rights and Responsibilities, which is harassment and threatening or violent conduct respectively. Should he be found guilty on both counts by the hearing panel; then he should be punished. If he is found not guilty then he should be apologized to.
The administration is taking the right stand by charging students for violent behaviour, since a university must have an environment that is tolerant and respectful. But in doing so, the university must also ensure that all the charges and punishments are fair in respect to the actions taken.