As the winter semester comes to a close, so do the disciplinary proceedings resulting from the Sept. 9 protests that prevented former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking atConcordia.
Of the eight students charged with offences directly related to the protests, three have received suspensions, two were sentenced to community service, and three others had the charges against them dismissed
Only Samer Elatrash, who was handed a three year suspension, has yet to receive a final decision on whether his appeal will be accepted. That decision is expected to be handed down within the next week.
So far, all appeals have been denied. Many of the defendants and their student advocates have argued from the outset that the university administration has attempted to unduly influence the proceedings in order to clamp down on student political activists, Elatrash in particular.
“There have been some real problems. The university has completely fixed the appeals,” said Ralph Lee, one of the student advocates involved in the hearings. Lee claims the appeals process has been compromised, in part because transcripts of the hearings omitted important information.
In late January, two student judges went public with allegations that Peter Cote, Advisor Rights and Responsibilities, attempted to influence their decisions in the case of Yves Engler.
Defendants have also complained that the administration has been withholding evidence such as surveillance camera videotapes, and of being denied permission to present other evidence of their own.
There have also been allegations that attempts were made to manipulate which student judges would sit on which case.
Additionally, several judges have said that their training was inadequate. Rector Frederick Lowy has complained publicly that “there have been repercussions” on university fundraising caused by the mini-riot that took place on Sept. 9, and by Concordia’s reputation for being a hotbed of student activism.
The rector and the administration, however, have repeatedly denied any responsibility for the events of Sept. 9, even though they permitted Netanyahu’s appearance to go ahead despite warnings that it would pose a security problem.
Administration officials have also denied interfering in the disciplinary hearings.