Five Arab and Muslim student groups on campus voted to form an alliance that they say will enable them to increase their presence on campus at a general assembly held Oct. 24.
Director of the Montreal division of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) Shadi Marouf felt the assembly was important so members could express their views and agree on a common plan of action. “We feel that this is the right time for our membership to prepare a plan of action,” said Marouf. Tensions at Concordia have been reduced,” he added, also referring to the six weeks since the protest as a “cooling off” period.
The assembly, which was closed to most media, was called to gather constituent groups of the coalition in hopes of arriving at a common stance on a variety of issues, and to give a unified voice to the more than 3,000 Arab and Muslim students at Concordia.
The coalition, which includes SPHR and the Muslim, Arab, Lebanese and Syrian Student Associations, has been conducting negotiations with the administration on behalf of nine students who face expulsion for their participation in the Sept. 9 riots.
They have been looking into the legal situation of the students and into the legality of the administration’s decision to grant emergency powers to the rector. A motion was passed that they continue to do so.
They have also denounced the moratorium on student activities related to the Middle East conflict that was imposed in the wake of the demonstrations, and the ban on tabling in the Mezzanine and lobby of the Hall Building.
The assembly took place shortly after the Board of Governors (BoG) meeting that lifted the ban on tabling on the Mezzanine, but not the one in the Hall Building lobby. The BoG also did not lift the moratorium on public events concerning Middle East issues, or overturn the Sept. 18 decision to grant Rector Lowy the power to unilaterally expel students.
According to Marouf, who feels that any negotiations with the administration on the issues is pointless, the moratorium is illegal. Coalition members-many in favour of breaking the tabling ban, with some proposing a large media campaign-agreed with him and passed a motion to investigate the feasibility of legal action, though nothing specific was agreed on.
Sources outside the assembly considered the possibility of continuously breaking the tabling ban and the moratorium to attempt to force the BoG into reversing its decision.
Marouf was clear that any “radical” approach would be unacceptable and would more than likely lead to further “unfavourable” decisions from the BoG. “It is the voice of our membership that will lead the way,” he said.