CSU coordinator says incidents like these are problematic
A journalist with The Concordian was voted out of a public meeting held by Concordia Against Tribunals (CATs) last week.
Assistant news editor Savanna Craig was attending the General Assembly of CATs in the Hall building on Jan. 12 on assignment. CATs is a group dedicated to getting Concordia University to drop charges against students facing tribunals for their actions during anti-austerity strikes last spring.
Early in the meeting—which was open to the public—attendees asked journalists in the room to identify themselves. Craig obliged, and that’s when she said the group began discussing whether or not she should be allowed to stay.
“At first it seemed alright that I was there,” said Craig. “Then someone brought up the issue that media … has been known to sort of twist words.”
Several attendees expressed fear that having a journalist in the meeting could cause problems for students who were facing tribunals, including accusations that those who spoke would be misquoted or targeted.
“Everyone seemed very polite at first,” said Craig. “Then, after the media twisting comment, it just seemed like the whole room was staring at me … like I was someone who was just there to paint a bad view of CATs.”
A student journalist from The Link also identified himself. The reporter told the room he was not there to cover the event, but that he “couldn’t promise he wouldn’t report anything,” Craig said.
Concordia Student Union External Affairs and Mobilization Coordinator Gabriel Velasco called the trend of kicking journalists out of public meetings “problematic.”
“We need to figure out a solution,” he said.
Velasco said the choice to vote out the media stemmed from fear that even a simple comment could be taken out of context and used against an individual later.
“There were students there who were going through tribunal cases,” he said. “People felt that having their comments reported could be used to jeopardize their cases.”
Concordia’s official policy on the temporary use of space on campus states that spaces on campus can’t “create a climate of intimidation toward an individual or identifiable group.”
Around a dozen members of CATs crashed a back-to-school meet and greet with Concordia president Alan Shepard on Jan. 14, carrying signs and wearing patches with the group’s symbol.
The meet and greet was taking place in the Richard J. Renaud Science Complex on the Loyola Campus. The group, which had previously tried to meet with Shepard, wanted to formally present the president with their demands. The whole encounter lasted a matter minutes.