Concordia University’s first Senate meeting of the academic year addressed various issues and initiatives affecting the university and its governing bodies, including the $2-million fine handed out by the provincial government during March 2012.
President Alan Shepard confirmed that Concordia paid the $2-million sanction that then-Education Minister Line Beauchamp fined Concordia for excessive spending on severance packages and fiscal mismanagement.
The Liberal government slapped Concordia with the penalty during the student strike, stating in a letter to former Board of Governors chair Peter Kruyt that senior administration acted irresponsibly and not in the public’s interest.
“We have received the fine and we are paying it,” said Shepard.
Concordia’s Chief Financial Officer, Patrick Kelley, emphasized that the funding used to settle the fine did not impact other university initiatives, faculties or programs.
“We paid it through a reserve account that we maintained,” explained Kelley. “We wanted to make sure no other operations were affected.”
The first meeting also addressed the formal complaints launched against students during the student strike and questions surrounding a potential repeal of the tuition fee increase.
The students in question, 23 undergraduate students and three graduate students, face formal complaints under the Code of Rights and Responsibilities from administration for blocking access to classrooms last semester. The student tribunals, as well as negotiations between the charged and the university, remain confidential.
Shepard maintained that there are two sides to every story, and that students were charged for infringing upon the code and not for political reasons.
“People were charged for specific actions against the code,” said Shepard. “Not for having ideas contrary to others’.”
Student Senator Chad Walcott, the former VP external of the Concordia Student Union, asked what kind of impact the tuition fee repeal promised by the incoming Parti Québécois government will have on Concordia University’s Academic Plan.
“It depends on how the government will handle it,” said Kelley.
Kelley stressed that if the provincial government does not offset the costs, the funding will have to come from outside the Academic Plan. The funding allotted to graduate studies cannot decrease, nor can the institution cut funding from other academic projects or student funding. Kelley told Senate the most important issue is the quality of education and teaching values.
The first meeting of the year severely lacked student representatives. Only five undergraduate students currently sit on Senate of the available 12 spots. Of those undergraduate students, only one is an executive of the CSU. VP External Simon-Pierre Lauzon is the only executive currently holding a seat on Senate. During the upcoming CSU meeting this Wednesday Council will fill remaining spots.
When The Concordian asked CSU President Schubert Laforest why he is not on Senate, he gave few details and maintained that he will address the question this Wednesday.
“It’s something I want to speak with my executives about first,” said Laforest. “Everything will come to light Wednesday.”