The Concordia Student Union executive has called on Rector Frederick Lowy, Dean of Students Donald Boisvert and head of security Jacques Brisebois to resign.
In a press conference held the morning after a violent protest led to the cancellation of a speech by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sabine Friesinger, president of the CSU, held the administration and university security directly responsible for the chaos of Sept. 9.
“If the Rector and the current university administration can’t guarantee [the] fundamental rights for all students, regardless of their backgrounds, then we call [for their] resignation.”
In an interview, Dr. Dennis Murphy, Communications Director for Concordia, stated neither the rector, nor the others, are intending to resign.
“The administration sees this as one among many calls in the past for the rector’s resignation […] This was said because that’s what they [the CSU] have to say.”
The CSU has also come out strongly against the administration’s proposed moratorium of any activities dealing with Middle East issues, saying the proposed cooling off period will only help to elevate tensions.
According to Murphy, though, students have said they endorse the moratorium because it would relieve some of the tension on campus.
The CSU has faced criticism it did not do enough to ensure free speech all around, focusing only on ensuring the rights of anti-Netanyahu protesters. In response, VP Academic Ralph Lee pointed out VP Campaigns Aaron Mate was doing just that before he was arrested. Mate, said Lee, was on the escalator leading down to the lobby of the Hall building, trying to manage the situation and helping an injured protester, when police grabbed him.
The executive also refused to denounce or support the protesters and the cancellation of the talk, saying that it was beyond their control and all they wanted to ensure was that free speech was upheld.
The CSU rejected claims from the media that they should have done more to ensure Netanyahu could speak, placing the blame for the events on the inadequate security measures enforced by university security and Montreal police.
Friesinger and Lee both said afterwards that the presence of riot police helped to escalate tensions at what could have otherwise been a peaceful demonstration.
Riot police were not only necessary, said Murphy, but showed incredible restraint. According to Murphy, who was involved with protests at the university in the 1960s, things could have been much worse.
The administration and the CSU have both said they will be meeting over the next two days to discuss Monday’s events and the appropriate steps that must be taken, from both an administrative and a student perspective.