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Letters to the Editor

by The Concordian February 14, 2012
Letters to the Editor

RE: ‘Canadian Federation of Students demanding $1.8 million,’ volume 29, issue 20

I read with disbelief the article about the CFS in the last issue of The Concordian. The CFS is now demanding an additional $800,000 from Concordia students?
This blatant extortion needs to stop! How have we accumulated an extra $800,000 if we already passed a referendum to defederate from the CFS?
Is the CFS arguing that while we are in a legal battle with them and obviously not enjoying the alleged “services” they offer, the meter has still been running?
I don’t understand how a national group that is supposed to protect and serve students can argue that stealing $1.8 million of students’ money is in line with those goals.
What I think is extremely important is that the students who we elect to run our faculty associations and our union show a strong stance against the CFS.
It would be a disaster if our student body unknowingly elected representatives who have ties to the CFS. Such representatives could work to affiliate our school with the CFS once again, an act that would cost us a substantial amount of money and autonomy.
Get informed over who you vote for, and demand that your representatives keep up the good fight.

Camilo Diaz
Independent student

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RE: ‘Concordia sexual assault centre project stalling,’ volume 29, issue 20

The sexual assault centre issue strikes a chord. I’m not a Concordia student, or even a Canadian one, but we have more or less the same issue here in France. Our universities offer medical support and sometimes mental health help (mainly for people dealing with depression), but no mention of sexual assault anywhere. I guess one of the reasons why our universities don’t welcome such centres is simply because this issue is tricky, and most people don’t know how to handle such situations when a victim seeks help or assistance (hence why few people report those crimes). A few organizations in France (such as S.O.S. Femmes) try to raise the issue in public spheres like high schools and universities, but the results are not really encouraging. These services are essential, vital even, to help victims recover from the traumatic experience of an assault. Talking about rape is essential for a survivor. Universities should take this issue seriously and take a firm position against sexual assault. It’s the only way to help people report and heal, and to prevent such crimes.

Vanessa Deroo
British and U.S. literature and civilization
Université Paris 7, Paris Diderot

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There are a number of points made in Alyssa Tremblay’s article which are either incorrect or the result of conjecture which need to be corrected. The resulting editorial, “Sexual assault centre at ConU was needed yesterday,” picks up on many of these points asking: “Is there not already enough glaring proof to demonstrate the necessity of having this service available to all Concordia students?,” yet provides no proof to substantiate its claim.
The university has and will continue to offer several services that support student victims of sexual assault.
Ms. Tremblay’s article says the university’s policies regarding sexual assault are inadequate and that this issue is being “neglected”. The university’s Code of rights and responsibilities is quite clear when it comes to what is deemed unacceptable behaviour and what the consequences of such behaviour will be. The Office of rights and responsibilities has a specific mandate that offers choices to complainants for internal redress. The Office should not be confused or compared to a crisis centre in terms of the types of services offered or numbers reporting. Complainants have a variety of options and recourse, though the Office is only one such option.
The article goes on to claim that our policies “[repeat] victim-blaming rhetoric and [appear] to discourage students from reporting/filing formal complaints.” In reviewing the policy, I see nothing to substantiate this claim. In fact, the Code allows for various options and preserves one’s choice as to how he/she proceeds following an incident.
Of particular concern is the quote from the programming and campaigns coordinator of the 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy, Bianca Mugyenyi, regarding sexual assault on campus: “It’s under-reported here which means that people aren’t getting the help that they need.”
The university has a number of services which are administered and provided by professionals with the victim’s best interests being paramount. Education and prevention are emphasized and resources are there to assist students in the unfortunate case of sexual assault or any other threatening or violent incident. Health services, counselling and development and campus security are there to assist and support.
This support however is not offered in isolation, but often in concert with resources external to the university. Montreal has several resources within the community for victims of sexual assault (both during and after business hours). These resources and services remain available to Concordia students and we should be cautious to not duplicate services that already exist based on incomplete information and without an appropriate needs assessment.

As for the notion that sexual assault is under-reported at Concordia, our doctors, nurses and counsellors are governed by rules established by their professional orders, and confidentiality is a primary rule. Although the health professionals will encourage the victim to file a police report, they will not forward information related to the case to police.

That being said, the university is always respectful of students’ concerns and is open to discussing possible initiatives. A working group was convened last year. It included two members from the 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy, and representatives from security, health services, counselling and development and the Offices of dean of students and of rights and responsibilities.

Two meetings have been held to date to discuss what resources are available to Concordia students on campus and the university looks forward to a continued and constructive exchange.
Roger Côté
Vice-president, services
Concordia University

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RE: ‘First gay fraternity in Canada a model to follow,’ volume 29, issue 20

I am not opposed to the idea of a homosexual fraternity, but I believe one to be unnecessary. Homosexuals are constantly fighting to have equal rights and to be treated equally. I agree they should; however, if they persist in their differentiation from the general populace, why expect themselves to be regarded as the general populace? The idea should not be to create separate, exclusive establishments for themselves, but to include themselves into existing ones because if they want homosexuality to be accepted as “normal” behaviour, then they must be the first to treat it as such. I, for one, think there is nothing abnormal about it and that “homosexual” is as fundamental as “blonde” or “brunette.” Additionally, homosexuals must refer to themselves as just that: homosexuals. This is the proper term, regardless of how crude it may seem. Terms like “gays” or “queers” are not helping their position. Women did not gain power by calling themselves derogatory terms such as “bitches” or “hoes” because that just gives others the right to refer to them as such. There are existing fraternities that accept members regardless of sexual orientation and those that do not should not even be considered by homosexuals. In order to be accepted, one must first accept him or herself as they are. As Mahatma Ghandi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Mike Martella
Specialization in biology

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