Nearly two months after violent protests stopped former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking at Concordia University, the administration has announced it will be charging 12 students under its Code of Rights and Responsibilities for their role in the events.
In a statement released Oct. 31, the administration announced that upon reviewing tapes of the events of Sept. 9, they will be seeking disciplinary action against 12 Concordia students, and will be taking further legal action against another seven individuals who do not attend the university.
Four of the Concordia students will face additional criminal charges.
According to Bram Freedman, the assistant secretary general and general counsel for Concordia University, the identification of individuals was done “the good old fashioned way,” by reviewing tapes of the event and identifying familiar faces in the crowd.
According to Freedman, any individual identified as being present on the Mezzanine or on the escalator leading from the lobby to the Mezzanine, will be charged under the code for “creating a hostile environment.”
Charging all identified individuals, Freedman said, is a way of “depoliticizing” the charges, so that the administration cannot be accused of persecuting certain individuals or groups more than another.
He also added that other students may be charged under university regulations or face legal action within the coming days, but noted that most of those who will be charged have been identified.
When questioned as to how exactly individuals were identified, he responded that security officials and others reviewing the tapes recognized “familiar faces,” primarily those of students who are well-known on campus.
When asked if this unfairly targets students who chose to be more involved in student politics than others, he said, “This is the same thing that happens in any similar situation. People who are well-known are the ones who are picked out.”
The Mezzanine and lobby were placed off-limits to all students on the day of Netanyahu’s speech. Most protesters gained access by forcing their way in through Java U’s terrace doors and then into the Mezzanine. They then poured down the escalator leading to the lobby where audience members were passing through security checks.
Montreal riot police blocked protesters from actually entering the lobby. Others who could not fit onto the escalator crowded the edges of the Mezzanine overlooking the area.
Individuals were also able to access the Mezzanine by taking the stairs from the second floor to the fourth floor (where security officials were directing students attending class to go), and then taking the escalator back down to the Mezzanine, ending up behind the police barricade.
Also identified was the individual who was caught on camera breaking the main window of the lobby from outside the building. He, along with three other individuals, will be banned from attending Concordia for five years. He is currently not a student here.
The five individuals already charged by police earlier this month, three of which are Concordia students, are included in the total 19.
In accordance with Concordia’s privacy policies, the individuals’ names were not released. Freedman could therefore not comment on individual cases until the individuals themselves go public with the information.
Although the charges were laid last Thursday, the individuals being charged had not been informed by deadline because of the bureaucratic channels the information must go through. Freedman expected those charged would know who they are by late yesterday or today.
CSU President Sabine Friesinger has already commented in part on the allegations, and asked administrators in an e-mail to explain how they reached the decision to bar the four non-students from attending the university for five years. Friesinger did not wish to make further comment until more was known about who is being charged.
Students being charged will face them under the Code of Rights and Responsibilities that was in effect on Sept. 9 and not the modified powers enacted Sept. 18 by the Board of Governors giving the rector greater powers of expulsion.
Freedman said he expected the tribunals, which will consist of three student judges, to convene sometime before Christmas, but did not specify how long the proceedings may take.