The university and different student organizations give their take on how the situation was handled Wednesday morning
Less than a week after there was a bomb threat which targeted Concordia’s Muslim community, some organizations at Concordia community are looking back at how the university handled the situation.
“I feel like the administration has not taken the right initiatives,” said Eamon Toohey, a member of Solidarity Concordia, a group working to make the university a more sustainable and equitable socio-economic system. Toohey believes the university’s administration could have made better decisions concerning students’ safety, like what the Concordia Student Union (CSU) proposed, which was to create an amnesty for students to miss classes for the rest of the week.
Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota believes the university was responsive to the threat on Wednesday morning. “We did everything according to the book. We brought together our emergency team, we contacted the police who were on site very quickly and we did an assessment on the level of danger,” she said. “We made the decision to evacuate two of the downtown buildings because of their mention in the letter.”
Mota told The Concordian that, if any other threats are made, the university will respond accordingly, as they did last week. “We are very fortunate that it was a hoax, but we do absolutely take a threat seriously, and we have a solid, committed security team working hard in the university to deal with it.”
The Hall building (H), the Engineering, Computer Science, Visual Arts (EV) and the Guy-de Maisonneuve (GM) building were evacuated rapidly on Wednesday morning, at approximately 11:30 a.m.
“The JSMB building wasn’t closed because it was not targeted in the letter,” Mota said. “Our experts, who evaluated the risk on campus, said that there was [no threat] for this particular [building].” Mota said the university will discuss ways to ensure security of the Muslim community Tuesday morning.
As a response to last week’s threats and other recent attacks against the Muslim communities throughout Montreal and Quebec, such as the shooting at the Quebec City mosque on Jan. 29, the CSU announced on Monday via Facebook they would collect donations at each workshop during their Anti-Consumerism Week. “All of the money collected will go towards the National Council of Canadian Muslims, an organization that advises and advocates on behalf of Canadian Muslims and others who have experienced violations of their human rights and civil liberties,” it was mentioned on the post.
“[The] CSU has been encouraging people to use resources available to them off-and-on campus through a living Google document which has been disseminated through our networks,” general coordinator of the CSU, Lucinda Marshall-Kiparissis told The Concordian. The union encouraged their staff to not come to the office on Thursday and Friday “if they did not feel safe on campus while still compensating them for scheduled hours, if they did opt to not come in,” she said.
The CSU’s current goal is to get the university to offer universal academic amnesty for students who missed class, assignments, exams or other academic activity from Wednesday to Friday. “The university decided to only encourage professors to offer academic amnesty to their students, but only for Wednesday from the evacuation time onwards and only for classes held in the evacuated buildings,” said Marshall-Kiparissis.
According to Marshall-Kiparissis, many of the CSU members still feel unsafe on campus and feel like the way the university handled the situation was incomplete. “My colleagues and I, at this point, will be trying to make this a Senate issue at their meeting next week.”
The CSU is still working with the Concordia community, including the university, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and other groups to plan different courses of action and support in relation to what happened last week.
Additionally, the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) will present a motion related to the bomb threat at their upcoming council meeting this Thursday. ASFA published a statement last Wednesday morning in support with the Muslim community. “We respect and recognize the diversified experiences of and barriers faced by all students at Concordia and, as per our anti-racism position, condemn all acts of discrimination and terrorism,” it said in the letter.
Julia Sutera Sardo, VP of Internal Affairs and Administration told The Concordian ASFA’s Advocacy Committee and the Women’s Studies Student Association reached out to MSA planning future events with them to help Muslim students. “They responded that they were overwhelmed with support and they will let us know shortly,” said Sutera Sardo.
The Concordian contacted the MSA about any plans going forward, but they did not respond before publication time.
Bail hearing postponed
The bail hearing for Hisham Saadi, the 47-year-old man who is charged with carrying out the bomb threat letter, has been postponed to Wednesday, March 8, according to CBC News. The hearing was originally scheduled for last Friday but was pushed to Monday. The newly postponed date was requested after Saadi’s lawyer asked for time to review new evidence from the Crown in relation to the bomb threat against Muslims that closed three Concordia university buildings, according to the same source.
Saadi was arrested at his Cote-des-Neiges apartment early Thursday morning. The apartment building was evacuated while police searched for explosives on Thursday, but none were found. Saadi is reportedly a PhD student in economics, according to CBC News.