Formal charges against students still up in the air

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan.
Graphic by Jennifer Kwan.

UPDATE – 8:30 p.m. 18/09/2012
Concordia University announced it is dropping all charges against the striking students after meeting with the Concordia Student Union this afternoon. More details to come.

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Discussions concerning the formal complaints launched by the University against striking students this past June involving administration, students and student unions has reached an impasse this month.

The university filed the complaints against 23 undergraduate students and three graduate students for allegedly violating Code 29G of the Code of the Rights and Responsibilities for obstructing or blocking access to classrooms following the events on March 26, 2012.

In a formal letter to President Alan Shepard, the Graduate Students’ Association claimed Concordia acted irresponsibly when they sanctioned students under the Code of Rights and Responsibilities and students were unfairly targeted.

“This brings us to an essential point: at the GSA, we are all strikers. If the administration charged these students, why didn’t they also charge the GSA, and every student who attended our assemblies, not to mention those students who did not show up to vote and who are thus equally responsible for our strike vote? It is unfair to target individuals whose actions were based on a collective, democratic decision,” stated the letter.

The Concordia Student Union President Schubert Laforest said he believes that the current negotiations between the administration, charged students, and the CSU reached a deadlock when the University requested a formal letter of apology from those charged.

“What they seem to be looking for is a letter of apology for obstructing classes but I don’t think it’s fair to demand them to apologize,” Laforest said. “Most students aren’t interested in it and I am not either.”

“It’s something they believed in and something they fought for, ” added Laforest.

According to VP Advocacy and Academic Lucia Gallardo, the letter of apology divided talks between the university and the charged students. Gallardo also believes that the initial strategy of the CSU trying to represent students as a whole failed to work because individual students wanted different solutions.

“We are stuck,” admitted Gallardo. “The university wants some things that we can’t give them. We’re not giving up, we’re not going to stop trying, we just have to find more creative ways to find a solution,” she said.

Laforest said he plans to present a motion to council during the upcoming CSU meeting on Wednesday.

“It’s not political, it’s personal and it’s something that affects me personally,” Laforest told The Concordian. “If we can’t get the charges dropped, we’ll have to go outside the system.”

Confidentiality prohibits student associations and administration from addressing the issue in detail but the affair is ongoing according to University spokesperson Chris Mota.

“The process is proceeding,” said Mota. “Hearings will be held, though information about the hearings and their outcome will be considered confidential.”


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