Last Wednesday, CSU President Khaleed Juma received a phone call from Arielle Reid, an office co-ordinator with the Dawson Student Union (DSU) and presidential candidate in last year’s CSU elections. Reid told Juma that he had better be prepared because she was sending students from Dawson to Con U in light of the day’s events. Juma and the whole CSU responded immediately, giving the shaken Dawson students a safe place to rest, check on their friends and regain their composure. As a former Dawson student now attending Concordia, I had never been more proud of my past and present elected unions.
The next day, the DSU and CSU called for a press conference. According to their press release, the media briefing was designed as a “support conference for students from Dawson College.” In reality, the conference was a cleverly disguised attack on the Dawson administration, using the previous day’s horror as emotional backing.
According to Reid, she and the DSU “could not reach anyone from (Dawson’s) administration until late (Wednesday) night.” Frustrated, she told reporters that it was the DSU that had put plans in motion to give the college’s students a place to stay. At the Thursday conference, Juma supported Reid’s comments while sitting directly next to DSU President Melanie Hotchkiss.
Now, it’s understandable that this was an emotional day for all students in the greater Montreal region. With images and videos being played on all major television stations, including CNN and the BBC, it was frightening to see that this type of attack was happening in our city again. With this, isn’t it also understandable to note that staff and faculty at Dawson College were too shaken and misplaced to quickly respond? Let’s not forget that it wasn’t only students who were crowding the college’s grounds after being evacuated, administrative staff also had to stand and wait.
Dawson’s Director-General, Richard Filion, made no excuses when asked about the administration’s slow response time, stating that they had “never planned for something like this.” Still, Filion said that they had done their “best to evacuate the building,” but they too “were in a state of shock” and “scattered everywhere around the city.”
All of this begs the question why the DSU was so quick to criticize their administration. It’s no secret that the current DSU executive does not get along with Dawson’s front office. Last year, the college’s administration failed to recognize the elected executive because, according to Filion, they were “badly organized.” Later, the DSU threatened to bring its administration to court over allegedly withholding the union’s funds, but the case was settled before its hearing.
Today, a week after the Dawson shooting gained international coverage, it seems as though the DSU tried to push forth an agenda by pointing out the shortcomings of their administration. As for the CSU, it was disapointing to see that instead of questioning the DSU’s motives, Khaleed Juma and Co. simply trailed alongside and made a stand for all the wrong reasons.
As proud as I was Wednesday, I couldn’t help but feel a little let down the day after.