Petition against student tribunals calls on Concordia president Alan Shepard
A change.org petition published online by Solidarity UQAM-Concordia is asking president and vice-chancellor of Concordia University Alan Shepard to drop the charges made against several student protesters who faced formal complaints following the 2015 spring protests against austerity.
The complaints, launched by Concordia professors, were co-signed by the university. The online petition started by two groups—No Tribunals For Students and Solidarity Concordia—claims 29 students are accused of being in violation of article 29G of the Code of Rights and Responsibilities, specifically, obstruction or disruption of university activities.
“Concordia’s decision to partake in political discrimination as co-complainants, targeting students for carrying out a democratically voted mandate, and for being critically-minded and caring for the betterment of the society, undermines the students’ democratic process,” states the letter, signed by No Tribunals for Students and Solidarity Concordia.
The petition says the students who participated in the protests did so after the strike was democratically voted for. The letter also states the actions of the university are “a means to legitimize the repression of the voices against austerity measures proposed by the Liberal government,” and implore the faculty members who are filing the complaints to “stand with students as we fight for sustainable education.”
Concordia University Spokesperson Chris Mota said in an email that “the university made some accommodation in the spring by creating days of reflection in academic departments where students had voted to strike. Classes were not held on those days. This was done in order to allow students to protest without losing out academically.” However, she went on to say that “there were no guarantees that no code complaints were going to be filed with the Office of Rights and Responsibilities” and that “anyone who engages in behaviour that contravenes any aspect of the Code of Rights and Responsibilities should know that they can face complaints from any member of the university community.”
The petition states that No Tribunals For Students and Solidarity Concordia “consider the administration’s lack of support and failure to recognize the strike inappropriate and unacceptable,” and by co-signing the complaints, the university’s actions contradict Concordia’s position to promote “a campus community that thrives on ‘intertwining education with social responsibility’ and ‘encouraging students to become active, critical and global citizens,’” as written on Concordia’s website.
When asked if the university would give more warning on any consequences future student protesters may face, Mota said that “the disruption of educational activities contravenes our Code of Rights and Responsibilities” and reiterated that anyone who is in violation of these codes “can face complaints from any member of the university community.”
On Sept.16 at 12:30 p.m. the UQAM-Concordia Solidarity Demo Against Tribunals will hold a demonstration at Place Pasteur on the UQAM campus. The groups note in the letter that similar action was taken against nine UQAM students and that one student has been suspended for a year.