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Senate wants Charest to talk to students

by Marilla Steuter-Martin April 20, 2012
Senate wants Charest to talk to students

Concordia’s Senate unanimously passed a motion to send an open letter to Quebec Premier Jean Charest, urging the government to facilitate dialogue between all parties involved in the student strike.

The Senate, the university’s highest academic body, discussed the academic implications of the strike at their meeting on April 20.

CSU President and Senator Lex Gill opened the dialogue by making reference to the recent fuss over Education Minister Line Beauchamp’s refusal to meet with the Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale etudiante.

Last week Beauchamp extended an invitation to the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec to discuss university management, excluding the CLASSE from any negotiations unless they openly condemned protest violence.

“The only resolution to this conflict is for the education minister to sit down with the three student associations,” said Gill, a sentiment that the CSU voted unanimously to adopt at a special meeting held on Tuesday.

Concordia University Part-time Faculty Association President Maria Peluso said that the student strike movement should be commended for its organization and impact.

“Do you understand for a moment, what our students have accomplished?” asked Peluso. “That is an achievement we should be celebrating.”

Peluso stated that the administration should receive a “D minus” grade for dismissing the importance of student democracy.

“You make a serious error in assuming that only those voting in favor of the strike were supporting the strike,” she said.

Senator and part-time professor Dave Douglas put forward a motion at the end of the 45-minute discussion period asking that Concordia’s interim president Frederick Lowy write an open letter to Beauchamp.

Dean of Arts and Science Brian Lewis called it a “dangerous motion,” arguing that the university does not want to “bite the hand that feeds us.”

Senator June Chaikelson of the Arts and Science faculty suggested that the letter be written by Senate itself and served to Quebec Premier Jean Charest directly.

This change was widely supported by the group, including Lowy. “If there is a way of fostering [communication,] I am all for it,” said Lowy.

The motion was unanimously adopted. Gill said that she was pleased that Concordia’s governing academic body was able to do “something that is political while doing something that is right.”

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