Divest Concordia stopped from mobilizing

Security blocked entry of elevators where BOG meeting was held

Divest Concordia protested outside the Board of Governors (BOG) meeting on March 8 as a means to push the BOG to put Divest Concordia on their agenda. However, Divest members were met with Concordia security, who blocked access to the entrance of the fourth floor of the GM building.

“The president explained that the restricted access measures were in response to advice following last week’s events,” Concordia University Spokesperson Chris Mota told The Concordian, referencing the bomb threat at Concordia on March 1, which targeted the Muslim community. “High profile meetings can attract copycat attention and we wanted to ensure the meeting could be held without incident,” said Mota.

Divest Concordia decided to protest due to a lack of effort made by the BOG to give Divest time during the board’s meeting on March 8, said Kya Ringland, a member of Divest Concordia and an organizer of the mobilization.

Emails were sent to Concordia president Alan Shepard and the president of the BOG, among others. Divest Concordia sent them on Feb. 26, however, the administration did not respond until the day before the BOG meeting. The response, from assistant secretary-general Danielle Tessier, stated that Divest Concordia’s request to have their concerns added to the meeting’s agenda was being reviewed by the BOG.

Divest members intended to stand outside the BOG meeting to deliver informational postcards signed by more than 300 students, detailing concerns over the delay of Concordia’s divestment from the gas and fossil fuel industries, said Ringland. More importantly, Ringland added, the postcards urged the university to move forward with the sustainability policy, which is meant to facilitate sustainable initiatives at Concordia.

One of the goals of the sustainability policy is to divest from gas and fossil fuels and instead to invest in sustainable initiatives. The policy will also look into opportunities to fund socially and environmentally responsible projects, according to Concordia News.

The Joint Sustainable Investment Advisory Committee (JSIAC), composed of members of Concordia student organizations, including Divest Concordia, and the BOG, will review these initiatives.

Ringland said board members of the JSIAC asked other members to research sustainable investment opportunities Concordia could fund with the money removed from the fossil fuel and gas industries.

“Our Divest members [have been asked] to do research in alternative investments, which is great. We’re happy to partner with people to do that,” Ringland said. “Our members have done that and brought the research to the JSIAC, and it has just kind of been disregarded and not talked about anymore.”

Ringland said the same has happened for Sustainable Concordia. “They have looked at alternative investments, and no follow-up has been made on any of them,” she said. “Many other students and faculty members have put forth research and solutions––including the CSU.”

However, Ringland said she believes efforts should be made outside of student and faculty members. “We feel all members of JSIAC should be doing research into alternatives [and] bringing alternative solutions forward,” said Ringland. “Board members and admin should be a part of this process.”

Tessier said the JSIAC will be meeting shortly to make recommendations to the Concordia University Foundation and other stakeholders with regards to Concordia’s commitment to sustainable investing.

Leonard handing postcards to BOG representative. Photo by Savanna Craig

Divest member Alex Leonard said he hopes members of the BOG will see the group’s postcards. He said it is important to have the BOG “open to hearing what the student body is saying, as opposed to creating barriers where these public meetings are now high-security.”

“I think that [the BOG is] taking steps in the right direction, and I want to believe that they have the good of Concordia’s community in mind,” Ringland said. “I think that that’s going to be happening more—they’re actually holding consultations in the next two months with Concordia students, so those will be good.”

Ringland said divestment is an issue that’s becoming more severe due to climate change. “I think most of the Concordia community knows, and so we just want to make sure that [the BOG] realize how urgent it is and use that urgency to dictate their daily decisions,” Ringland said.

Before the Divest Concordia members left, a representative from the BOG came down to ask Divest members what they wanted to say to the governors. Divest Concordia members chose to let the postcards speak for them—Leonard handed the postcards to the representative.
Divest Concordia will hold their next meeting on March 17 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m in the CSU art nook, adjacent to People’s Potato on the 7th floor of the Hall building.


Highlights from board of governors meeting

On Oct. 16, Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Pierre Duchesne unveiled the Parti Québécois government’s new National Research and Innovation Policy.

“The government will invest $3.7 billion over the next five years in research and innovation across a number of sectors that Concordia would have real strengths in,” said Concordia President Alan Shepard at the Oct. 16 board of governors meeting. “We’ll be looking at those opportunities quite closely in the weeks and months to come.”

The money will be spread among different sectors of research in Quebec, of which Concordia’s share represents about 11 per cent, explained Shepard. Besides universities, colleges and businesses, the government will invest $25 million in public school laboratories in disadvantaged areas.

The government will also invest in sectors including aerospace, public health, biotechnology, energy, creative industries, communications and sustainability.

“Probably for the first time, a research and innovation policy has also created space for researchers in the humanities, social sciences and the fine arts.This plan has cast a wide net and really captured the whole research community,” said Concordia Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies Graham Carr.

The government will issue calls for proposals in intervals over the next five years and Concordia will compete among other universities for funding. Shepard explained that judges won’t know which universities have submitted what inorder to maintain impartiality.

Though the research areas for the competition have been revealed, Carr stated Concordia is still a long way from knowing exactly how they will compete.

“We are very well informed of opportunities and very ready to participate,” said Shelley Sitahal, associate director of Research Partnerships and Innovation.

Minister Duchesne spoke at a conference on health innovation hosted by Concordia on Oct. 21. The conference helped to kick off  MEDTEQ, the Quebec Consortium for Industrial Research and Innovation in Medical Technology’s project.

In light of the funds the government will invest in research and innovation, the question of whether Concordia should review their Policy on Intellectual Property with respect to students was raised at the board of governor’s meeting.

Concordia’s current IP Policy, which was established in 2011, has come under discussion this past spring as more undergraduate students engage in research, largely due to the emergence of District 3, an innovation centre at the university. Students also engage in research for Capstone projects which must be completed by undergraduates in engineering programs to earn their degree.

Shepard explained the issue of who can claim ownership and owns the intellectual property  — whether it is the student who’s come up with a new idea or the university which provided the necessary resources — has arisen at many universities.

“It’s important that we have an IP policy that helps us be innovative,” said Dr. William E. Lynch, professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the meeting. “I don’t think the IP Policy as it stands promotes innovation in my faculty.”

Bram Freedman, secretary-general of the Board of Governors, explained at the meeting that he and Shepard have discussed doing an overall examination of the current policy in how it affects students and mapping out IP policies in other Canadian universities.

“The existing policy is working extremely effectively,” said Freedman. He explained the issue in respect to undergraduate student projects has been resolved with the faculty of engineering and computer science to everyone’s mutual satisfaction by making exemptions for these students so that Concordia will not claim IP ownership.

Speaking with the Concordian, Carr and Sitahal confirmed that Concordia has not, in fact, changed the IP policy for undergraduate student projects. He stated there’s the perception that the policy is inflexible, when this is not the case.

“It’s a framework document,” said Sitahal, explaining why the policy allowed Concordia to deal fairly with students working at District 3 or on Capstone projects. “It anticipates there will be special circumstances so the policy allows us to deal with those initiatives in a special way.”

Sitahal explained the IP policy mirrors the collective agreement between the university and Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association. She clarified that according to the policy, a faculty member has full control over what happens to their intellectual property.

“[This] was a negotiated position between the faculty association and the university, so we presume that everybody’s happy with it,” said Sitahal.

Carr explained the purpose of establishing an IP policy is to ensure research activities entail legal structural agreements in the ownership of ideas

“Our IP policy has worked very successfully in terms of our establishing partnerships with external organizations and at the same time, protecting the rights of researchers at Concordia,” said Carr.

Since IP policy can be complicated to grasp, Carr said students need to make informed choices when deciding to claim ownership rights or when signing any agreements.

“We have been approached by certain professors to come and do presentations in their classes,” said Sitahal regarding upcoming workshops on IP policy.

Concordia already offers workshops for graduate students and the university will begin providing more workshops for undergraduates.


University waives public presentations

Concordia University’s Board of Governors voted in favour of temporarily waiving a policy that compels candidates for senior administration positions to conduct public presentations during a special meeting last Wednesday morning.

President Alan Shepard initially introduced the idea during a regular BoG meeting in January, stating that he was uncomfortable with applicants’ names being publicized during the provost search.

In accordance with university policy, the shortlist of candidates for provost and other senior administrative roles must be made public.

“After informing the candidates, the shortlist of candidates shall be made public within the university community no less than fifteen and no more than thirty days before the search committee is scheduled to make its recommendation to the board,” section B.10, article 34 reads.

The motion temporarily waived articles 34 to 39 of section B.10 of the rules and procedures for senior administration appointments at Concordia. With 20 governors present, the motion passed with 19 in favour and one opposed.

By waiving those articles, provost candidates will not have to attend public forums with the university or attend a joint open meeting between BoG and Senate. Furthermore, members of the university community can no longer submit written comments on the shortlist of candidates since it will remain private.

Shepard feared that individuals vying for the position of provost would withdraw their candidacy because it may compromise their current employment.

“To do this will jeopardize the candidates,” said Shepard. “I don’t want to jeopardize the search with a public presentation.”

In January, Shepard stated that he almost decided to rescind his application for presidency due to the public presentation when he was still employed by Ryerson University.

During the meeting Wednesday, Shepard said that he felt the motion helped modernize Concordia — a recommendation that stemmed from two external reviews made over the last three years. As a method of comparison, Shepard emphasized during both BoG and Senate meetings that McGill University also does not reveal its applicants for senior administrative positions.


Board of Governors in brief

Public forums and provosts

In the process of searching for a new provost at Concordia University, President Alan Shepard is hoping to waive a policy in order to garner more applications.

Shepard suggested temporarily suspending the rules during a Board of Governors meeting last Wednesday afternoon, citing that he did not want to “parade” potential candidates in the public eye for employment purposes.

The university is conducting an ongoing search into hiring a new provost for the upcoming academic year that starts this May, an issue that was addressed earlier in the meeting during the president’s remarks. The search committee is close to reaching a shortlist of candidates.

In accordance with the university’s policy, candidates on the shortlist for senior administrative roles must be made public — something that Shepard feels could be detrimental for individuals who do not make the cut.

“After informing the candidates, the shortlist of candidates shall be made public within the University community no less than fifteen and no more than thirty days before the Search Committee is scheduled to make its recommendation to the Board,” Section B.10, article 34 reads.

“If we parade three people in public and pick one, then two suffer a very serious public blow,” said Shepard. “For president and provost, this is a mistake.”

Shepard stated that publicizing the names of the contenders could compromise their current employment and that this was a notice of a proposed motion to be put forth in the next month.

While he was still at Ryerson University, Shepard says the notion of announcing his candidacy in such a public forum almost forced him to reconsider his application to Concordia last year. His fear is that it will severely limit the applicant pool for the position of provost if the university fails to suspend the current rules.

The notice of motion proposes that the articles 34 to 39 of section B.10 of the rules and procedures for senior administration appointments be waived. This includes a stipulation where members of the Concordia community are able to submit signed, written comments regarding applicants on the shortlist.

The motion can only pass if there is a two-thirds majority vote from the BoG in an open session meeting.

A new deal

It was announced during the BoG meeting by Vice-President Institutional Relations Bram Freedman that COPIBEC, a non-for-profit collective representing publishers and authors, came to new deal with Quebec universities.

“The final offer was accepted,” said Freedman.

The 17-month agreement allows for an increase in copyright content per course pack, a reduction in costs covered by students and for online and print content. For full-time university students, the cost will be decreased from $25.50 to $21.

Salaries, increases and retentions

A few governors were displeased with the answers compiled in response to a question that arose from the last meeting in November where two members raised concerns over the increases in salaries of non-academic administrators.

Chairperson Norman Hébert submitted an answer that detailed the legal framework of increases under Bill 100. In the same report it was noted that the annual salary increase of all senior administrators was 2.75 per cent.

Governor Lawrence Kryzanowski said that the claim that administrative raises are comparable to faculty wasn’t true and that the response was “creative” with the numbers.

The answer also emphasized that the university made three retention adjustments in the 2011-12 year for two senior non-academic administrators and one senior administrator. In order to keep administrators from accepting external job offers, universities and places of employment will adjust a salary when they are in danger of losing an employee.


Board of Governors in brief

→ Interest-free loans

A concern brought to the Board of Governors meeting held Friday morning was the financing of KnowledgeOne, the company that runs eConcordia. Governor Lawrence Kryzanowski from the John Molson School of Business said he was “uncomfortable” with the lack of information surrounding an interest-free loan given to the company by Concordia. Considering that KnowledgeOne, which operates eConcordia, is losing money Kryzanowski asked for more transparency on the issue.

It also appears that Concordia’s $1.4 million interest-free loan issued to former Concordia President Frederick Lowy has not yet been repaid. It was addressed at the meeting and confirmed by university spokesperson Chris Mota that Lowy will reimburse the loan as soon as he is able to sell his condominium. The asking price for the Doctor Penfield Avenue penthouse is $1,399,000.

→ Financial questions

Governor Norman Ingram, the chair of the history department, suggested that Concordia’s senior administrators have benefited from an increase of approximately 10 per cent in salaries. Ingram emphasized that this raise in income favoured non-academic positions and that the BoG “should be concerned” about the increase in some areas more than others. Governor Lex Gill agreed, asking for a document outlining provincial regulations regarding salaries and bonuses for senior administration. Chair Norman Hébert said that the BoG will present a report to “shed light” on the questions.

→ A motion for bicameralism

The BoG passed a motion to approve changes to the university’s bylaws in an effort to make Concordia’s governance more bicameral. In lieu of opening the charter, articles 36 and 62 were amended and earned the approval of Senate. The amendments ensure that BoG cannot invalidate a motion passed by Senate without the approval from a joint meeting between Senate’s steering committee and BoG’s executive committee. Furthermore, Senate will no longer derive its authority from the BoG and is the final authority when it comes to academic matters. This motion stemmed from a recommendation from the Shapiro Report issued in 2011 that suggested the BoG held too much power much over Senate.


Taking a deeper look

Photo by Madelayne Hajek

Concordia University’s Board of Governors unanimously adopted all recommendations of an external governance review addressing the departure of personnel at the senior administrative level and strengthening transparency.

The External Process Review of Settlements with Senior Management Personnel report by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP reviewed the departure of former President and Vice-Chancellor Judith Woodsworth and five top administrators from September 2009 to December 2010. The university doled out a total of $3.1 million during these months, in the form of severance packages to the six employees.

The review was ordered in March, prior to then-Education Minister Line Beauchamp’s letter to the BoG criticizing Concordia’s excessive spending. The Charest government also fined Concordia $2 million for a lack of responsibility with public funds.

The 23-page external review proposed 17 recommendations for Concordia to implement. A total of seven recommendations focus on the process for reaching a decision on the departure of top personnel, six on the procedure for negotiating a settlement and four on the control of information, confidentiality and communication.

The review emphasizes the lack of policy and formal process for removal of high-ranking administrators and officers, as well a perceived lack of transparency by Board of Governors members that contributed to a “climate of distrust.”

A main recommendation is for the creation of a formal, confidential annual evaluation process for the president of the university.

The report revealed that a formal process for reaching a decision for the removal of a senior officer was not followed in two of three cases involving either former Chief Financial Officer Larry English, former Vice-President of Advancement and Alumni Affairs Kathy Assayag, or Woodsworth.

The review advised that the decision for the removal of a president should follow a formal process set out in the by-laws including a closed session discussion at the BoG level, followed by a vote. The current by-laws are unclear on the process of negotiation with the BoG regarding the option to remove a president.

Furthermore, it was suggested that the dismissal of senior administrators that report to the president such as vice-president and deans should rest on the president. The president must consult with the HR committee before reaching a decision. The report recommended that vice-presidents should form a decision regarding the removal of other top employees such as associate vice-presidents and senior directors.

The report also recommended that teaching rights should also be postponed until a severance is fully paid or for a specific period of time following the settlement. The recommendation is likely a reference to Woodsworth returning to the classroom in January after her ambiguous resignation urged by the BoG in December 2010. Concordia released a statement explaining that this suggestion has been in place for all new contracts since winter 2012.

In addition, the external review called for comprehensive public communication since the compensation for senior employees is of a public nature. The recommendations instructed that the university should report the factual reasons for removal or dismissal to the public.

The review also reported a breach of confidentiality within the BoG, on page seven, claiming there was a leak of information. It was suggested that BoG members adhere to good practices in confidentiality in the future.

“The report does state that there were concerns over the breach of confidentiality of information at the BoG level and stated that leaks were reported,” said Christine Mota, spokesperson for the university. “The report however doesn’t give any specifics about the alleged breaches or leaks.”

According to BoG Chair Norman Hébert, the board has already implemented some of the suggestions made by the report. Hébert told The Concordian the measures will be fulfilled in the following months. The BoG adopted the recommendations Friday, months after PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP was supposed to deliver the report.  The delay was due to a lack of information “regarding the benchmarking of other universities” and holiday schedules.

Hébert believes the proposal will help Concordia fill in the gaps.

“We talked about transparency and engagement and we’re all volunteers, and we’re doing this because we love Concordia,” said Hébert. “Transparency and engagement at the board is leading by example and that’s what we’re going to do.”

The review did not examine Woodsworth’s predecessor Claude Lajeunesse, who left in 2007 two years into his five-year contract. The external review examined the turnover and severance packages of the following Concordia administrators, in order of departure:

– Ted Nowak, former internal audit director (Sept. 2009)
– Saad Zubair, former assistant internal audit director (Sept. 2009)
– Larry English, former chief financial officer (Dec. 2009)
– Jean Brisebois, former security director (Dec. 2009)
– Kathy Assayag, former vice-president of advancement and alumni affairs (Sept. 2010)
– Judith Woodsworth, former president and vice-Chancellor (Dec. 2010)

Click here to learn more about these six former administrators


Board of Governors addresses key issues

The first Board of Governors meeting of the academic year addressed tuition, Concordia University recruitment agencies and the external review of the university’s senior management.

This year, the refashioned and significantly smaller BoG consists of 25 members. Before the restructuring, BoG consisted of 42 members and a large portion were community at large members. Friday also marked the first meeting for President Alan Shepard and for Norman Hébert as chair.

Closed session lasted for nearly two hours, where the external report reviewing the departure of senior officials from September 2009 to December 2010 was discussed. Members voted to adopt all 17 recommendations made by the external review and released the report to the public later that afternoon.

The BoG also discussed the repeal of the tuition fee increase by Premier Pauline Marois of the newly elected Parti Québécois government. Shepard announced the university was still waiting on official instructions from the government with regards to the tuition fee increase since a majority of Concordia students already paid their tuition in full including the increase. Shepard went on to commend the formation of a Higher Education Ministry by the PQ government, saying it was a good thing for Quebec.

It was clarified that students who chose to pay their tuition without the increase would not be subjected to a $75 penalty.

The board went on to address an article published in last week’s issue of The Link that exposed the questionable living conditions of a Chinese student at Concordia University who has dealings with Peter Low, a recruitment agent associated with Concordia.

Student governor Lex Gill questioned if Concordia used similar agencies to enroll other international students, while other members expressed concern that they were unaware of the situation and why Low is associated so closely with Concordia.

“The Concordia logo is all over this and I think we need to fess up to that,” said Gill. “These students were taken advantage of.”

Shepard said the university was investigating the claim, and had a “moral obligation” to see if any more international students had experienced the same problem.


Putting a face to the name: Know your administrators

Alan Shepard
University President and Vice-Chancellor

The university president is responsible for the day to day administration of the institution. The president makes recommendations to the Board of Governors for their consideration and works with his vice-presidents, staff and faculty to raise the profile of the university through publicity, promotions and elevated enrollment.

Shepard was appointed by the Board of Governors late last year to replace interim President Frederick Lowy. He grew up in the United States but immigrated to Canada in 2002 and is a citizen. He comes to us fresh out of Ryerson University, where he occupied the position of Provost and Vice-President academic since 2007. Shepard has an undergraduate degree from St. Olaf College and a PhD in English from the University of Virginia.

Bram Freedman
VP, Institutional Relations and Secretary-General

The Vice-President, Institutional Relations and Secretary–General is responsible for managing government and external relations, university governance, human resources and legal affairs. Among other things, his portfolio also encompasses “the promotion of the values of civility, equity and respect within the University” as well as “transparent and accountable university governance.”

Freedman is an attorney who was appointed in Feb. 2008. His title was modified from the original VP External Relations and Secretary–General in May 2011 because of the addition of the Human Resources to his description. In Oct. 2010, Freedman was appointed President of the Concordia University Foundation, an organization which manages funds donated to the university.

Lisa Ostiguy
Interim Provost

While the search for a new Provost is set to begin shortly in the new academic year, an interim replacement has been chosen. Lisa Ostiguy, who served as interim Vice-Provost Teaching and Learning starting in Jan. 2012, is an associate professor and the chair of the department of applied human sciences. She has been a full-time faculty member since 1992.

Before coming to Concordia, she earned her PhD in Higher Education Planning, Policy and Leadership, at the University of Iowa. She has also taught at the University of Iowa and University of Regina.

Patrick Kelley
Chief Financial Officer

The Chief Financial Officer is responsible for all things money related at Concordia. He oversees the allocation of funds, plans payment strategies, projects revenues and expenses for the university and is responsible for managing the institution’s budget.

Patrick Kelley has been Concordia’s Chief Financial Officer since July 2010 when he was officially appointed after a period of time spent as interim CFO. He has a degree in Mathematics from St. Bonaventure and continues to teach at the John Molson School of Business. He also served as ConU’s Executive Director, Strategic Plans, and as Special Advisor to the VP Services on IT.

Roger Côté
VP Services

The Vice-President of Services is responsible for overseeing admission services, student services, health services, residence life, counselling and development, dean of students office, advocacy and support services as well as recreation and athletics. Côté was appointed VP Services June 9, 2011 after he became the associate vice-president in 2006.

Côté has a bachelor’s degree from the Universite de Montreal and an MEd from McGill University. He has filled several positions at Concordia since arriving in 1981, first of all as director of the Loyola Campus Centre, then as Acting Dean of Students, director of Financial Aid and Awards Office from 1984 to 2004, and finally as Executive Director of Enrolment and Student Services.

David Graham
Senior advisor to the president

Graham has been at Concordia for a number of years and has filled several positions during that time. He came to ConU in 2005 when he was hired as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science and was promoted in 2008 to become the Provost and VP academic affairs. This summer, it was announced that Graham would not be seeking another mandate as Provost and has been appointed Senior Advisor to the President on internal strategy. He is set to take on his new position Sept. 1 of this year.

Graham is a specialist in early modern French literature with a PhD from University of Western Ontario. Before arriving at Concordia, he taught at schools across the country including Memorial University, the Royal Military College of Canada and Mount Allison University.

Andrew Woodall
Dean of Students

The dean of students is responsible for directing and planning activities through his office, co-ordinating outreach programs, and overseeing the Loyola Multi-Faith Chapel. He is there to encourage and support students at Concordia and is readily available to address concerns in his offices on both SGW and Loyola campuses. He also advises student leaders and administrators alike on issues pertaining to student life.

Woodall was appointed June 20, 2011 after his time spent as the director for the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation. He has a master’s degree in management, specifically in Voluntary Sector Leadership, from McGill University.

Normand Hébert Jr.
Chair of Concordia’s Board of Governors

The role of the Board of Governors chair is to conduct the meetings and ensure that the items on the agenda are addressed. In addition, the chair must provide leadership for the other board members and keep discussion orderly and polite.

After serving as the vice-chair of Concordia’s Board of Governors, Hébert has stepped up to replace former chair Peter Kruyt as of July 1, 2012.  Hebert has a degree in commerce from Concordia and a law degree from the University of Ottawa. He has been president and chief executive officer of an automobile dealership for most of his career and sits as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Société des Alcools du Québec.


Editorial: The age of follow-through

There has been a lot of talk recently about fresh starts in the coming academic year. Now that Concordia has an actual new beginning on its hands, we have to wonder if this time it will be for real.

With the start of a brand new school year, it’s the perfect time for this university to shake the dust from its heels, wipe away the grime of the old scandals and move on. Timing couldn’t be better with a new president coming in, fresh-faced and ready to take on the responsibilities that come alongside the glad-handing and posing for pictures. More than ever, students want someone who is willing to listen to what they have to say, and we can only hope that Alan Shepard is up to the challenge.

At the same time, a new Concordia Student Union comes into power, one who ran on a campaign overflowing with promises to make the academic and social lives of students better. A Better Concordia, remember? This executive who promised us more events, more sustainable projects, more love for Loyola, more transparency, more honesty; now is the time for them to put their words into action.

So what happens next? Is Concordia doomed to repeat history over and over? We hope not. It may sound like a fool’s hope, but this could be as Shepard puts it, “Concordia’s time.” This is a school that has a lot going for it and though some things never change, the gross mismanagement of funds, resources and people’s patience can.

CSU President Schubert Laforest may not have a lot of experience sitting at the big kids table, but maybe that is a good thing. Maybe students are tired of the ‘behind closed doors’ attitude and want someone to shake things up. Perhaps this is overly optimistic, but perhaps that may be exactly what this school needs. If we took a moment now and then to stop criticizing her and help her instead, Concordia could actually have a reputation we could be proud of.

There are people at this school — teachers, staff, administrators, and student leaders — who genuinely care about the Concordia experience and want to make it all that it can be. There are also people who don’t seem to care about students at all, and they are allowed to let their desire to turn public education into a corporation run rampant. To them, who make the rest of the people who give a damn look like helpless bystanders or worse, greedy accomplices, we say this: step aside.

Concordia deserves a fresh start and a clean slate after a long road of missteps. But that’s not going to happen if we let the bullies rule the playground for another year and only talk of change, instead of enacting it.


In Case You Missed It

Oct. 15, 2011 – Occupy Montreal movement begins

In coordination with the Occupy Canada movement and in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street in New York City, approximately 1,000 people showed up to Victoria Square for the first day of Occupy Montreal. Participants in the ‘general assembly’ then decided to rename Victoria Square as “Place du peuple.” Occupy Montreal lasted about a month before police forcibly vacated the square.

Nov. 10, 2011 – Massive downtown protest against tuition hikes

An estimated 30,000 students protested against the provincial government’s plan to raise tuition in the streets of downtown Montreal. Despite the downpour, a Concordia contingent left from Reggie’s terrace around 1 p.m. to meet up with other students at Parc Emilie-Gamelin. After marching through the downtown core, the movement gathered outside Premier Jean Charest’s office on McGill College. By the end of the protest, some students flocked to the James Administration building to take part in a growing confrontation. Police used tear gas and pepper spray to force protesters off McGill property. According to Montreal Police, four arrests were made that day.

February 7 – 12, 2012 – McGill students occupy James Administration building

A group of students occupied the office of Deputy Provost for Student Life and Learning, Morton Mendelson, in protest of the administration’s decision not to uphold a referendum that would continue funding the campus radio station and a social justice organization. Students requested that CKUT and QPIRG continue to receive funding and that Mendelson step down. Administration cut off access to power and plumbing, which eventually forced students out days later.

February 10, 2012 – Student representatives walk out on Board of Governors

Student governors Cameron Monagle, AJ West and Erik Chevrier quickly put an end to a meeting that had not even entered open session. The three students walked out in protest because they opposed a motion made in closed session that addressed whether or not cameras and recording equipment would be allowied during meetings. When they left, the meeting lost quorum and was therefore cancelled.

March 5, 2012 – Concordia University votes to go on strike

Concordia University became the first English post-secondary institution to join the student strike against the tuition increase. In a historic moment, undergraduate students voted in favour of a week-long general strike from March 15-22.

March 5, 2012 – Concordia Student Union execs disqualified

Then-executive candidates Schubert Laforest and Lucia Gallardo were disqualified from running for the Concordia Student Union by Chief Electoral Officer Ismail Holoubi. Holoubi claimed that Gallardo and Laforest were not registered students and thus not eligible to run.

March 9, 2012 – Concordia University is fined $2-million

Education Minister Line Beauchamp slapped Concordia University with a $2-million fine for handing out excessive severance packages and mismanaging funds. In a letter addressed to the administration, Beauchamp expressed her concern about senior administrators’ salaries and the turnover rate for those positions.

March 16, 2012 – Gallardo and Laforest reinstated

The judicial board of the CSU ruled that Gallardo and Laforest should be able to participate in the general election campaign.  Their affiliation presented evidence that they experienced trouble with their VISAs and were left temporarily unregistered.  Both candidates were reinstated.

March 22, 2012 – A sea of red to denounce the tuition fee increase

A massive demonstration of more than 200,000 students and their supporters took to the streets of downtown Montreal to protest against the tuition fee increase.  Concordia University cancelled class on both campuses that day for security reasons. It marked one of the largest protests in Canadian history and no arrests were made.

April 2, 2012 – Sit-in outside of Lowy’s office

When a Fine Arts Student Alliance general assembly failed to meet quorum, more than 70 students held a sit-in outside of President Frederick Lowy’s office on the 15th floor of the MB building. Students proceeded to demand another meeting so they could discuss concerns about the ongoing student strike. After an hour, Lowy emerged from his office to take part in the impromptu meeting which would be continued at a later date.

May 14, 2012 – Education Minister Line Beauchamp resigns

Following months of student unrest and protests against the tuition hike, Education Minister Line Beauchamp stepped down from her position and from politics entirely. Beauchamp’s resignation came after negotiations between the provincial government and student groups failed.  An hour later, Michelle Courchesne was appointed as the new education minister.

May 18, 2012 – Provincial government passes Bill 78

In an effort to put an end to the tuition crisis after 14 weeks of student unrest, the provincial government passed the controversial and historic Bill 78. The bill cracks down on the size and governance of demonstrations, imposes strict fines for individuals blocking access to classes in post-secondary institutions and ended the winter semester at CEGEPs and universities affected by the strike.

July 26, 2012 – Jun Lin’s funeral

A Concordia University student Jun Lin was remembered in a public funeral nearly two months after his brutal murder. Family and friends gathered at Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery at 9 a.m. to mourn the loss of 33-year-old Lin. His ashes were buried in Montreal, where he had started to make a life for himself. The suspect was apprehended and his trial is ongoing.

August 1, 2012 – Alan Shepard takes office

Concordia University’s incumbent President Alan Shepard took office on Aug. 1 to commence his five-year mandate. Shepard was hired to replace Frederick Lowy who was appointed as interim President following the resignation of Judith Woodsworth in Dec. 2010.


BoG in brief

Lights, Cameras, Action?
The issue of broadcasting and recording the Board of Governors’ meetings was brought up once again during its March 12 conference call. A motion was made to ban all recording and technological equipment including smartphones and cell phones from meetings. CSU President Lex Gill motioned to table the discussion until a later meeting when the results of Senate’s steering committee are released. The steering committee is in the process of examining a similar policy for Senate meetings. Graduate student governor Erik Chevrier agreed, stating he hoped the board would be able to look into the issue in more detail later. Other concerns were brought up about the BoG’s ability to enforce these rules.

What’s one more committee?
A motion was introduced for the creation of an ad hoc committee to review strategic performance indicators. The university tracks a number of indicators which are used, among other things, to annually benchmark various aspects of the university’s performance overall. The committee will recommend which performance indicators are most important for the BoG to analyze and will be chaired by external member Norman Hébert, Jr. It was also decided that the university president would sit on the committee along with several other appointed governors, including undergraduate representative Laura Beach.

Promoting the Concordia brand
Discussion turned to the Concordia brand name as it relates to student clubs and associations. Governors raised concerns about the use of the university name and what type of safeguards could be put in place to ensure that all associations bearing the name reflect the university appropriately. There is a policy which exists where the Concordia name cannot be used by a group that is purely commercial, political or illegal, but it was suggested that senior administrators plan a more streamlined approach in the future. The Board of Governors does reserve the right to ask questions and choose which groups are allowed to use the brand.


BoG meeting ends abruptly

February’s Board of Governors meeting abruptly ended on Feb. 10 even before its open session began.

The meeting came to a halt toward the end of its hour-long closed session, when three student governors, undergrads AJ West and Cameron Monagle and grad student Erik Chevrier, walked out in protest over a motion to discuss allowing cameras in the meeting. All student representatives, including CSU President Lex Gill who remained in the boardroom, felt that this transparency-related motion should have been discussed during the meeting’s open session, when members of the audience would be able to observe.

With the absence of West, Monagle and Chevrier, quorum, which is 21 governors, was no longer met, effectively prohibiting the rest of the BoG members from voting on motions, and ultimately cancelling the meeting.

The majority of governors already voted down a motion in January put forward by Chevrier that mandated the board to offer live broadcasts of its meetings. The motion presented on Feb. 10 in closed session, according to West, dealt with transparency at the BoG level, including the potential use of cameras by individuals in the boardroom.

“This is still something that has yet to be clarified, and I imagine this is something that will be brought up again,” said West, who had implored students at a Concordia Student Union council meeting in January to bring their cameras to the BoG meeting. There were as many as fifteen to twenty students waiting outside the boardroom on Friday, some of them indeed carrying cameras.

“This was a discussion [during closed session] that the student representatives thought should have happened in open session, so we refused to take part,” added West.

Speaking to reporters outside the boardroom, Gill, who indicated that she could not touch on specific discussions held during closed session, spoke more broadly about the need for cameras during the BoG’s open session.

“The rationale for why people should be able to film and broadcast the open session is that first of all, we’ve always done it anyway,” she said, mentioning the fact that journalists, for example, are allowed in the boardroom with tape recorders. “I think everyone should have the right to film these meetings and have the right to see what’s going on. This university is publicly-funded, financed by your tuition fees and tax dollars. […] The reality, I think, of this situation is that [the BoG]  has to be accountable to someone. Right now they operate in a way that they’re accountable to no one.”

Gill spoke vaguely about the possibility of bringing forward a proposal regarding the use of cameras at the BoG’s next meeting on April 19. All other items that were on the agenda for the Feb. 10 meeting will, in all likelihood, also be discussed during that meeting.

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