During the winter semester, universities in Montreal spent thousands in additional funds on extra security measures during the student strike and multiple protests that followed.
Le Journal de Montréal reported on July 4 that Concordia University spent a total of $226,755.39 on security for the entire semester.
Concordia University spokesperson Cléa Desjardins confirmed that the amount dished out by Concordia was over budget and “related solely to student protests.”
“The security presence was meant to ensure the well-being and safety of students, staff and faculty,” Desjardins said, “as well as the security of the university’s physical infrastructure.”
Concordia Student Union VP External Simon-Pierre Lauzon expressed his disappointment but emphasized that he was not surprised.
“We’re getting used to the administration making these kinds of decisions,” Lauzon said. “If management misuses money, nothing happens.”
Increased visibility of security was a point of contention between administration and students at Concordia during the winter semester. While administration deemed it necessary, many students disagreed with the additional security measures taken by Concordia.
The Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec’s Vice-President Yanick Grégoire emphasized that this move was in direct violation of the student strike mandate and the measures were imposed as a method of intimidation, not protection.
“Violence and intimidation doesn’t work,” Grégoire stressed. “Discussion and speaking with one another is key.”
Grégoire criticized Quebec universities for their management of university funds, stating that the money could have gone towards students and research.
“Universities chose confrontation instead of discussion,” Grégoire told The Concordian.
In comparison, McGill University devoted $275,233.39 of its budget for additional security. The Université du Québec à Montréal spent $841 414.95 while the Université de Montréal spent the least at $151,043.19 for the winter semester.
In light of recent media coverage and scrutiny from student organizations, McGill University released a public statement on Monday, July 9. Vice-Principal of communications and human relations Olivier Marcil defended the university’s additional funding due to the student movement.
“We have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our students and staff and to avoid damage to buildings on our campus, many of them heritage buildings. We take that responsibility seriously,” Marcil said.
Marcil also emphasized that 80 per cent of the additional costs were a result of the five-day occupation in the James Administration building in February.