A group of five MUC police officers accompanied by campus security entered the Hall Building last Wednesday night to arrest CSU executive Yves Engler for defying the ban on tabling in the Mezzanine.
Shortly after packing up his table and anti-FTAA pamphlets, Engler was arrested while doing his homework in the CSU office on the sixth floor as 19 police vans, each containing two riot police, and one bus waited outside.
He was taken to a police vehicle and released without being charged. Campus security then instructed him not to return to campus for 24 hours.
“Enough is enough. The Board of Governors [BoG] has been putting off a decision on the moratorium meeting after meeting,” Engler explained as he sat at his table before the arrest.
The next day, as a crowd of about 100 students cheered outside the Hall Building, CSU VP Academic and Advocacy Ralph Lee shouted: “We just want students to know that at Concordia, if you are doing your homework, you could be arrested!”
Last Thursday, members of the press rushed to a CSU press conference held at noon to address the incident before students accompanied Engler en masse to his Politics of the Middle East exam at 1:15 p.m.
The irony of the situation, Engler said, is that “the point of the moratorium was to help students concentrate on their studies.” Concordia Public Relations Officer Chris Mota said administrators were not aware Engler had an exam until that same day, so they lifted the 24-hour suspension.
“You can’t blame the police force for showing up with riot gear [last night]. They were obviously not properly informed,” said economics major Chris Martin as he handed out flyers in support of Engler in the lobby during the press conference.
Martin argued that regardless of one’s position on the moratorium, the university overreacted to Engler’s table. After attending an impromptu meeting of the CSU that took place immediately following his arrest, Martin decided he could no longer remain inactive. “I never got involved before but they’ve forced my hand.”
Execs meet with Lowy
After the demonstration, an emergency meeting was held by Rector Lowy and the CSU executive. “The restriction on the use of the Mezzanine space for display tables and activities has placed undue limitations on some campus activities,” Lowy said, suggesting that it be reopened to student activities. He recommended however that the lobby remain off-limits and his powers to take emergency disciplinary action stand.
CSU President Sabine Friesinger, who plans to write to Quebec’s minister of education and the prime minister about the matter, said discussing the moratorium and ban on tabling with the BoG has been unfruitful. According to Engler, it is also frustrating.
Friesinger said she will ask the administration to account for their treatment of Engler, and that if the university decides not to lift the ban, “we’re going to have to intensify the pressure.”