A Mariachi band had just started playing at Wednesday’s orientation BBQ when CSU president Khaleed Juma’s cell phone rang. It was Arielle Reid, ofice coordinator for the Dawson Student Union (DSU). She and Khaleed had been in friendly competition just last spring when they both ran for President in the CSU elections.
Reid didn’t take the time to greet Juma, however, all he heard her say was, “We’re hearing gun shots. There’s something going down at Dawson.” Shocked, Juma told her to send the students from the school to Concordia.
Juma and two CSU executives, Justin Levy and Noah C. Noakes, immediately ran down De Maisonneuve Blvd. with megaphones, redirecting students to the SGW campus. Luckily, the ongoing BBQ provided the arriving students with some food and drinks, and a complete volunteer staff was at hand to help.
As the word about the shooting spread, help came from all corners of the city.
“Within minutes, volunteers started to come in ten at a time,” said Juma. “Concordia students, as well as students from Vanier and McGill showed up and were directed to how they could help.”
Volunteer students held signs at the corner of Guy and De Maisonneuve, directing students to the Hall building terrace. Some started logging students’ names as they walked in, providing a detailed list of those who were safe. Others ran a cell phone service for information purposes. Some students helped the administrators ensure shuttle buses were sent to Dawson to pick up more students.
What seemed incredible to Juma at the time was that in spite of all the chaos, the team of executives seemed to know exactly what to do.
“Before I even knew it, Justin had gone back with Taylor, with megaphones [to] move students here. Before I knew it, Anika [Henry] had already got in touch with Counseling and Development [and] Justin was offering free phones. Everyone did what they thought was best for the situation,” said Juma.
Most Dawson students only had one thing in mind – to call someone to tell them they were OK. That’s when the box of free phones the CSU had been given for orientation staff came in handy. According to Juma, an estimate of 250 to 300 people sought refuge at the campus.
“The Concordia University community has been incredible throughout the whole thing. They really stepped up and offered everything they possibly could,” said Juma.
“My hat goes off to all the Concordians who not only helped but showed their compassion…[like the] students in line waiting in the pouring rain for an hour for the shuttle bus to Loyola. They didn’t complain once, they didn’t get upset.”
Bookstore Director Lina Lipscombe was contacted by the Administration and donated 125 adult bus tickets and taxi coupons to stranded students. She handed out 4 dozen sweatshirts to those who had left their jackets behind. Seven boxes of snacks were given out.
“It was a small token from our part for what those students had to put up with,” said Lipscombe.
Media Relations Christine Mota spoke on behalf of the university.
“I think that it was a necessary response,” said Mota. “Many of those students will end up at Concordia so they’re pretty much part of the family already.”