The Update // International Women’s Day, discrimination in engineering and library pranks

The Update is a bit-sized news podcast show where you can get a full update on what is going on at Concordia, and around Montreal. Simply tune-in during your morning commute to be informed!

Welcome to The Update. A bi-weekly news podcast researched, produced and created by The Concordian team.

In this episode, our reporter Simon Fournier interviews Concordia students at the Montreal rally for International Women’s Day.

Our news editor Marieke Glorieux-Stryckman speaks to women in Concordia’s engineering program. She unveils the discrimination they live in a male dominated field of study.

Our reporter Emily Pasquarelli visits Montreal’s Holocaust Museum to speak with Marguerite Élias Qubbus. Not in person, but digitally.

Finally, our reporter Matthew Daldalian investigated the infamous Webster Library prankster, who was playing Andrew Tate videos on speakers around students.

Hosted by Lola Gomez

Produced by Cedric Gallant

Music by Saro Hartounian

Graphic by Carleen Lone


STUDY: Minority students experiencing hardships after Bill 21

A joint study from Concordia and McGill highlight that religiously expressive minority students have faced career uncertainty, discrimination, and a worsened perception of Quebec since the enactment of Bill 21

Teachers like Bouchera Chelbi, a Muslim woman who chooses to wear the hijab, has noticed changes in Quebec since the enactment of Bill 21. Grandfathered in after the legalization of the bill, Chelbi now has no chance to move up in her career as she is unable to be promoted due to Bill 21. 

Enacted in 2019, the bill prohibits the wearing of religious garments and symbols for workers in the public sector in government-run institutions like courthouses or schools.

“It changed a lot about my future plans, I can longer dream about having a higher position, I cannot change school boards. It changes a lot for me,” Chelbi explained.  

As a member of the Coalition Inclusion Quebec and someone who is heavily involved in challenging the law, Chelbi feels that it has impacted her on both a career and personal level. Though leaving has crossed her mind, the priorities of being a wife and a mother have made her stay in the province.

“It makes me feel like I don’t fit anymore in the community. Before the bill, I used to feel like I was free as any other woman in Quebec but after, it felt like suddenly I was a second-class citizen.”

A study conducted by researchers from Concordia and McGill has uncovered harsh realities for the next generation of students, particularly minorities, entering the workforce, many of whom will likely be affected by Bill 21’s legislation. Students who wore religious symbols were at a higher risk of experiencing higher discriminatory treatment as well as job prospect uncertainty, prompting many of those surveyed to admit intending to seek work out of province once their diplomas are obtained. Those surveyed felt that Bill 21 had affected their future career decision, especially due to experiencing an uptick in discrimination since the passing of the legislation.

Meir Edery, a third-year law student at Université de Montreal who wears a kippah, felt that Bill 21 has affected him, like many others who wear religious garb. “The law felt like a personal attack. Truthfully, it felt like something that the government was putting forward to show the population that these people are not wanted and valued as a part of society.”

Kimberley Manning, an associate professor in political science at Concordia and one of the authors who helped conduct the study, was interested in researching the effects of students studying in sectors affected by Bill 21. 

The majority of the 629 participants surveyed highlighted worsened perception of Quebec since the bill’s legislation, creating more divisiveness rather than its intended unification. “Our findings are suggesting a rise in discrimination. People who wear religious symbols are reporting that they’ve experienced more discrimination since the passage of the law,” said Manning. 

The law’s notion was intended to secularize the province, providing neutrality in government institutions. Manning, however, has noticed from the study’s findings that it’s also affecting minorities who do not express themselves religiously. 

“This goes way beyond the individuals wearing religious symbols. [It] is clear that people who do not wear religious symbols are experiencing discrimination in the wake of the passage of this law,” she explained. 

“There is a great deal of confusion about this law, I think that our research findings and research findings from another study that was done by a professor out of UQAM are suggesting that among the general population there is confusion about what this means.”

This confusion has created a bypass for many people to single out minorities, regardless of whether or not the Law applies to those accused. One respondent reported a teacher telling an 11-year-old that she could not wear her Hijab due to the law, something which is patently false.

The results showed 51.8 per cent of those surveyed said that they are extremely likely to look for work out of Quebec as a result of Bill 21, while 77.9 per cent of respondents were considering leaving the province for employment options elsewhere. “I’ve decided to take the Ontario bar exam because I will likely go work in Ontario, where I feel more welcomed as a religious minority,” said an unnamed female law student at McGill.

As someone who will soon enter the job market for the first time in his life, Edery has to consider his future, as the bill prevents him from taking certain opportunities. “When I was looking at my career options, I knew that I was limited and it’s the first time I’ve ever been limited because of the expression of my religion and that stung, because in the 21st century that shouldn’t be happening to anybody.”

 Chelbi referring to feeling like a second-class citizen is a shared sentiment according to Manning’s study. Though a minority of people surveyed were in favour of the bill due to having once faced religious extremism from their native country, 70 per cent of respondents have developed a worsened perception of Quebec. 

“That’s really significant, again this is a motivated group who responded to the survey but when you triangulate our results with the results from the recent polling that’s not insignificant. I think it’s really important that our policymakers pay attention to it and consider the negative impact this is having on people’s lives.”

Teachers like Chelbi will continue to challenge the government in regards to the law for future generations of students hoping that they can work in a Quebec that favours religious expression.


Illustration and infographics by Lily Cowper


First Peoples Studies students shocked by lecturer’s comments

Many students in a First Peoples Studies class walked out due to a speaker’s claims on residential schools.

Multiple Concordia students walked out of a class on Algonquian Peoples on Oct. 28 due to the comments of a guest lecturer, Toby Morantz, a retired McGill professor. Morantz told the class that the James Bay Cree suffered less in residential schools than other Indigenous people.

Morantz was invited to speak in class by the professor, Emanuel Lowi, on her book The White Man’s Gonna Getcha: The Colonial Challenge to the Crees in Quebec, which was assigned reading for the course.

“She basically tried to argue that the James Bay Cree suffered significantly less than other [Indigenous] nations,” said Mavis Poucachiche, who is from the Waswanipi community that is part of the James Bay Cree Nation. Poucachiche explained that Morantz was specifically talking about residential schools in Fort George, and how the children did not have to travel far from their homes to attend. It was common practice for Indigenous children to be sent to residential schools far from their community, and not allowed to return home for the summer or holidays.

Poucachiche said that another student in the class, who is also James Bay Cree, told Morantz that their grandparents, who were from Fort George, were forcibly taken away to a residential school. Morantz then apparently wagged her finger at this student, saying “No, no no, no.”

“A few students felt uncomfortable with what I had said and walked out of the classroom. That is their prerogative,” said Morantz, who explained that she miscommunicated the differences in the policies enacted in James Bay and elsewhere after WWII, and tried to correct what she said once she saw the students misunderstood her.

She also stated that she is upset by how people and the media have labeled her as racist, and that she has received many emails in support, saying that she is being misrepresented in the media.

Morantz is credited along with other historians in an open letter from August by the Dorchester Review, which disagrees with the Canadian Historical Association’s statement that the Canadian government’s treatment of Indigenous people was an act of genocide.

Shortly after Morantz wagged her finger at the student, multiple people, including Poucachiche, walked out of class.

“It was just so disrespectful,” said Poucachiche, who said that Morantz’s studies were from a colonial perspective; that in her book she only references the Hudson’s Bay Company and other non-Indigenous sources. “She just kept telling that we were wrong, like us Cree people were wrong.”

“It made us really uncomfortable and it was traumatizing for us to have to hear this,” said Catherine*, who is white-mixed and Mi’kmaq.

Catherine explained that Professor Lowi did nothing to stop Morantz for the entire class, besides stating during the class that some of Morantz’s comments were inappropriate.

Even as students walked out after Morantz said the children at the Fort George residential schools suffered less physical and sexual abuse compared to other schools, or when Morantz called Indigenous people Indians and referred to them as homeless and drunks, Lowi did nothing to intervene and stop the presentation.

“[Morantz] said that if you are a lawyer or a teacher, bush life doesn’t impact your everyday life,” said Catherine. Bush life refers to the social, cultural, and physical skills that Indigenous people practice in nature. “This was incredibly insulting, traditional life literally shapes our entire being, it’s not some distant thing.”

The class now has a new syllabus and is being taught by Manon Tremblay, the senior director of indigenous directions, and who is a nêhiyaw-iskwêw (Plains Cree) from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. On Nov. 4, Tremblay, alongside Dr. Catherine Kinewesquao Richardson, the director of First Peoples Studies at Concordia, and who is Métis with Cree, Dene, and Gwich’in ancestry, held a space for students to share their experiences and thoughts on the issue.

“It really reminded me of being back home with my family and where we would sit around the table and just laugh,” said Poucachiche, describing what having Tremblay as the new professor is like. “It was a heartwarming experience and I’m really grateful that Catherine [Richardson] and Manon are listening to us and taking this seriously.”

“I think her [Morantz] conduct in class is terrible and really disheartening,” said Richardson, who explained that she and her colleagues always work hard to implement cultural safety, and uplift Indigenous students who have already faced many obstacles to be in the classroom.

Richardson stated that for legal reasons she cannot say if there have been repercussions for Lowi, but he is currently not teaching any classes at the moment. She also explained that he was remorseful about what occurred, and there have been letters sent supporting Lowi, but it is also clear that inviting Morantz was a mistake and her lecture caused harm.

On Oct. 29, Lowi sent a Moodle message to the class, stating that Morantz’s remarks were outrageous, and that he had never met her before that class.

“Those students who walked out were totally right to do that. If I had been a student in the classroom, I would have walked out too,” said Lowi in the message.

Lowi has not responded to any requests for an interview.

*Catherine requested anonymity of her last name.


Graphic by James Fay


Anti-Asian hate crimes spike in Canada

Following a mass shooting in Atlanta that targeted Asian businesses, Canada reckons with its own anti-Asian racism problem

Spikes in anti-Asian hate crimes have been reported all around the world, including here in Canada. Anti-Asian racism has been present throughout the nation’s history, and this year, the Asian community reports racial violence is becoming increasingly aggressive, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent study outlined that over 1,150 incidents of anti-Asian racism were reported in Canada between March 2020 and February 2021. According to a report published by The Chinese Canadian National Council’s Toronto chapter (CCNCTO) and Fight COVID Racism, Vancouver has experienced up to a 700 per cent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. 

In Montreal, there were 30 hate crimes reported between March and December of 2020, up from just six reported in 2019. Last May, a man of Korean descent was stabbed in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

In September, two victims of Asian descent were killed in a double hit-and-run in Brossard. A 30-year-old man has since been arrested and charged with second degree murder.

Police insisted the hit-and-runs were not hate crimes, but failed to explain why. Both victims were of East Asian descent; Huiping Ding, 45, was Chinese, and Gérard Chong Soon Yuen, 50, was Korean.

This year on March 11, a man of Korean descent was walking in the Plateau when he was attacked with pepper spray in broad daylight. Initially, police were not investigating the incident as a hate crime, although the victim considered the incident to be one. However, following media coverage, the hate crimes squad was brought in to investigate. The victim, a man identified as Nicolas, detailed that while he was carrying “the latest iPhone, the latest Apple Watch, the latest iPad and MacBook Pro,” but his attackers made no effort to rob him.

Days later on March 16, breaking news of a mass shooting in Georgia reported eight dead, six of whom were Asian women. A 21-year-old white gunman targeted three separate Asian-owned spas in Acworth and Atlanta. The shootings sparked outrage among Asian communities across the U.S., with protests held in Atlanta and New York the same weekend.

In the wake of that tragedy, Montreal community leaders organized a march against anti-Asian racism on March 21. Organizers led thousands of supporters on a three kilometre march from Cabot Square to Chinatown, stopping at Quebec Premier François Legault’s office on Sherbrooke Street. Activists demanded acknowledgement of the sharp rise in anti-Asian sentiment within Quebec. Premier Legault continues to deny the existence of systemic racism in the province.

Speeches made by leaders of Montreal’s Asian community outlined Canada and Quebec’s own colonial and historically racist treatment of Asians. Cathy Wong, councillor of the Peter-McGill district, spoke passionately of the racist history that the Asian community has endured.

“We march in remembrance of our history, as racism against Asians did not begin yesterday. It was not born from the pandemic. We march in remembrance of our history because our history is coloured by racist laws that excluded the Chinese — targeting our great grandparents, despite building railroads in exchange for dreams of a new life,” Wong said to the crowd in French.

Among the speakers was part-time Concordia professor Jinyoung Kim, who identifies as Korean-Canadian. Four of the six Asian women who were killed in Atlanta were of Korean descent.

“[It became] an immediate reality for me and for my friends, my parents, and everyone I know with Asian bodies in North America,” she said, before describing the threat of violence against Asians in the last year. “It’s been a year of fighting for justice, and it feels like nothing has gotten better.”

“I feel deeply the traumas that my BIPOC students go through,” Kim said, speaking of her Studio Arts students at Concordia. “I have heard stories from my students.”

The Atlanta shootings have sparked conversations about the fetishization of Asian women, with many activists citing the gendered violence and racism that Asian women face. In a press conference held shortly after the shootings, law enforcement officials said that the gunman confessed to the shootings, but denied racial motivations behind the attacks. Instead, the shooter saw Asian women as “temptations that he had to eliminate,” that he had a “sex addiction,” and that it was a “bad day.”

Following the Atlanta shootings, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement saying, “While we have made progress toward a more just and equal society, more still needs to be done, and the Government of Canada remains committed to this work.”

On March 22, New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh introduced the Anti-Asian Hate motion, which passed in the House of Commons. The motion called for the federal government to “properly fund” hate crime units across Canada, and make efforts to “identify best practices in countering this trend.”

But Singh echoed the sentiments of many, tweeting in response, “Justin Trudeau needs to do more than offer words, he needs to act,” in order to combat anti-Asian violence.  


Photographs by Christine Beaudoin


Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) council voted to bar Jordan Peterson from ever being featured at any of their events, indefinitely

Over 60 participants attended the council meeting that voted to bar the controversial Canadian intellectual.

Did you hear that rumour during the winter break that the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) was planning on inviting Jordan Peterson to speak at an event?

It caused quite a stir: hundreds of students spoke out in different ways for, and against, the famed and controversial Canadian clinical psychologist being featured at the university.

But the story of Peterson taking the spotlight at ASFA came to a close at the association’s Dec. 16 regular council meeting, when a majority of the council voted against platforming Peterson, in-person or in any medium, forever.

Minutes of the ASFA executive meeting on Nov. 25 reveal that the initial idea, proposed by Student Life Coordinator Natalie Jabbour, was to invite Peterson as a speaker on mental health during the winter semester.

“One of my ideas was to invite Jordan Peterson as a speaker. I know he’s a controversial speaker but I think he has brilliant ideas on psychology. I messaged his manager yesterday,” stated Jabbour at the meeting.

Curiously, Jabbour later told The Concordian she did not intend on organizing an event that featured Peterson, despite contacting his manager. Her intention was solely to discuss her event ideas during the winter semester, which also included suggesting another enterprise called “The School of Life,” an educational company that gives life advice.

Following the meeting, several executives shared news of Jabbour’s proposal through personal messages, emails to the student media, and posts on social media.  The news spread like wildfire.

Various posts, hundreds of emails and signatures on a petition were shared online to support both opinions.

However, Peterson is not available for any guest speaking engagements at the moment, according to his public speaking and engagements contact.

Since he is unavailable, Jabbour decided to change the event from being about mental health support for students featuring Peterson, to an event solely about Peterson and freedom of speech.

The new event discussed at the council was called “Diversity of Views in Academics at Concordia University.” Organized by ASFA’s Student Life Committee, the event would have been moderated by a Concordia professor, who would help guide the discussion as students watched, and then critiqued, the subject matter.

It would have showcased Peterson in some format, either through a speech, lecture, or written material.

Before the deciding vote to bar Peterson, the council debated for over three hours whether the association should even consider hosting Peterson. ASFA executives and councillors, several students and alumni, participated in the over-attended meeting to speak on the rumoured event.

Opinions were divided between people who thought Peterson’s rhetoric should be protected by freedom of speech ideals and the need to hear different opinions on campus, versus those that thought the responsible course of action is to ban the speaker, citing his rhetoric as harmful and discriminatory.

This reflected the same debate — and backlash — which the University of Toronto professor became internationally known for in the first place. Back in 2016, he refused to use non-gendered pronouns and spoke out against Canada’s Bill C-16, which was only at it’s proposal stage at the time, to add gender identity and expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

He feared that refusing to use someone else’s preferred pronouns would be classified as hate speech under the new amendment, and this would infringe on the freedom of Canadians.

Those who spoke in favour of Peterson at the meeting did not address his controversial statements. Instead, they pointed to the importance of having a civil discussion.

According to an ASFA executive who requested to remain anonymous, while these events would feature Peterson, they weren’t about him, they were about freedom of expression on campus.

They told The Concordian they have noticed an increasingly hostile environment at Concordia, particularly in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, with certain groups of students feeling “disenfranchised.” This individual is “concerned over legitimately not being able to say what’s on their mind.”

According to the source, this has become a widespread issue at the university, manifesting as “hostility towards certain ideas … that’s aimed at censoring and blocking people.”

When asked to provide an example of this hostility, or an even example of the types of ideas being ostracized, the source refused.

The purpose of the events, according to the source, would be to encourage ideas, not censoring or suppressing information over people’s feelings – no “cancelling,” with the hope of improving critical thinking and discourse on campus.

The idea of freedom of speech on campus and fighting against the cancelling of other opinions is not new, and Peterson is largely to thank for that.

A large part of Peterson’s platform was about freedom of speech, the end of political correctness, and the attempt to end or discourage Marxist/radical left ideology on campus.

Several gendered-non-conforming people who spoke at the council meeting said their identity was not up for debate.

Many described the harassment they’ve received over their choice of pronouns and lifestyle, and pointed out that rhetoric like Peterson’s had only helped to inflame the discrimination they’ve faced.

In a statement to the The Concordian, ASFA Communications Coordinator Carmen Levy-Milne said showcasing Peterson’s views would contradict the organization’s anti-discrimination regulations.

“It is morally inappropriate to suggest that a speaker who is openly sexist, islamophobic, homophobic, anti-Semitic, racist, and transphobic speak at our university … The suggestion to openly platform a speaker contradicts our Policy against Harassment, Discrimination, and Violence,” said Levy-Milne.

The motion to bar Peterson from being featured at the association followed this reasoning.

Proposed by Payton Mitchell, ASFA’s Mobilization Coordinator, the motion outlines that “Allowing Jordan Peterson to have this space would mean ASFA is directly facilitating an environment in which stochastic terrorism may be fostered here at Concordia.”

Peterson may no longer be platformed at ASFA or any of its member associations.

Peterson’s media representative at Penguin Random House Canada told The Concordian they had no comment.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam



Untold Concordia features anonymous stories of discrimination

Anonymous co-creator speaks about how the page can validate student experiences

Untold Concordia is an Instagram page that features anonymous submissions detailing stories of oppression, such as racial, gender, and sexual discrimination by Concordia faculty members and student organizations.

One of the two creators behind the page agreed to speak with The Concordian under the condition of anonymity. They told us they started the page after seeing how popular the Untold McGill page became in early July.

“The [McGill] page was getting so much traction and so many people seemed to have a desire to have a space to share stories like this, [we thought] that was probably shared at Concordia, and we were right,” they said.

As the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum in the early summer following the death of George Floyd, conversations revolving around discrimination came to the forefront. The goal stated on both Instagram pages is to highlight experiences of oppression and discrimination at the respective universities.

“Your experience is valid,” reads the first post. “Submit your stories and help create a platform for others to be heard.”

All posts are referred to as submissions rather than complaints. The co-creator told The Concordian the page is not affiliated with Concordia University and the submissions “aren’t complaints in any official capacity.”

One of the posts describes witnessing how a professor teaching a sexuality class did not use the right pronouns for one of their students; another describes being severely let down by the Concordia administrations’ handling of their sexual assault complaint.

Anyone can anonymously fill in a submission form by clicking the link in Untold Concordia’s bio. They can also choose if they prefer to keep the comments on or off on their post.

“We never ask them to reveal their names and we encourage them not to reveal the names of anyone involved … for their safety and our own,” said the co-creator.

“Some of these accusations can be relatively serious, and we want it to be truly up to the submitter if they do want to file formal complaints. They have the lee-way to do that without any of these submissions coming to hurt them in that process,” they said.

One of the issues with anonymity is determining the validity of the complaints. From the beginning, both creators discussed this issue and what to do if someone were to try trolling them.

So far, the posts have all been believable. Both creators are members of minority groups who have experienced “varying levels …  of oppression and systemic oppression within the University and outside, and coming from that place, you can kind of tell.”

Because the account isn’t an official complaint forum, anonymous users can feel free to describe the experience according to their understanding.

“They’re not meant to be perfect, factual re-accounts of events that happened. They are people’s perspectives; they are all true in their own way.”

“I’ve never seen one that I’ve been like — I don’t believe that — every single one of them to me is truly believable,” they said.

The posts speak to the larger issues of discrimination.

“The university is a structure like every other built on centuries of oppression that is rooted in Canadian history and much of the world’s.”

They feel some of these posts don’t refer to instances of “active hate and active oppression, but they are people not realizing how harmful what they say is and how harmful what they’re doing is just because it feels normal to them.”

“A few of our posts have been around the subject of various professors using slurs in quotations or in discussions, and saying ‘since I’m referencing, quoting a text is allowed.’ Students who are directly affected by the slurs feel very uncomfortable.”

Just this week, University of Ottawa part-time professor Verushka Lieutenant-Duval was suspended and later apologized for using the N-word during an online lecture after a student made a formal complaint. Several professors and government officials are weighing in on this issue, with Legault denouncing backlash against the professor.

They said many submitters have thanked them for the page, especially as many submitters have tried to file formal complaints and it is difficult to get through.

Concordia Student Union (CSU) General Coordinator Isaiah Joyner said that the process of submitting a complaint against someone with the University can be challenging for students.

“The whole overall process [for complaints] is not student friendly, it’s more bureaucratic…it’s very rare that you see the effects yielding the result in the favour of what the students want.”

The co-creator of the account said they would like Concordia to realize students are turning to anonymous means to voice their concerns.

“Eventually, maybe, Concordia will kind of realize that there are so many students that feel uncomfortable reporting these instances and that these instances are more harmful than they think they are, [and] maybe take action for that.”

“For these young people who are for the first time stepping into their own, there needs to be ways for them to express how they feel and how they’ve been harmed that is more streamlined and … accessible,” they said.

Concordia Spokesperson Vannina Maestracci released a statement to The Concordian on Untold Concordia: “Although we understand that some prefer to use social media anonymously to be heard, we’d also encourage all members of our community, if they want, to take advantage of our internal accountability mechanisms so that we can properly address these issues.”

“Complaints brought through our mechanisms are treated confidentially and independently and can be addressed in a variety of ways, including with support services, depending on what a student wants.”


Graphic by Taylor Reddam

The Age of Slacktivism: BLM Advocacy Beyond Keyboard Crusading

Don’t deny it: whenever an atrocity like George Floyd’s death occurs, many of us flee to our social media.

We’ve been taught and told by others that change can be incited from our fingertips. We see the abundance of Black Lives Matter posts being shared and if we don’t follow the herd by doing the same, it gives off the impression that we aren’t true activists. There is a false sense of commitment to the cause, an instant gratification that comes with sharing a Martin Luther-King Jr. quote or changing our twitter handle to #BLM.

Slacktivism is the notion that people can advocate for a certain issue with minimal effort and involvement, while still believing they are making a difference. We might be locked to our couches right now, but that doesn’t mean we have to succumb to a slacktivist approach.

Sharing endless quotes, tweets and Facebook posts is like pouring a glass of water on a ravaging house fire and hoping it does something significant. It’s the bare minimum and yet, there is a certain pat-on-the-back feeling we get from doing it. Long before Floyd’s death many have abused this approach, including myself. This approach allows us to be involved in the conversation from a safe distance. Many of us want to do more, but just don’t know where to begin.

As a white anthropology student, I have been introduced to a multitude of advocacy approaches that I had never considered in the past. My own positionality has led me to seek out these approaches, knowing that while I cannot experience the pain of racism firsthand, I can use my voice to prevent these injustices from being silenced.

Last year, one of my professors launched into a 40-minute improvised lecture about how useless slacktivism is, a term many of us surprisingly hadn’t heard before. The faces around the room ranged from anger to disappointment to outright shame. “Do you really think these short-lived sentiments are going to start a revolution?” my professor asked. Sure, the act of sharing posts and signing petitions has good intentions, but it only goes so far.

In an article titled “How to take activism beyond your keyboard,” author Maggie Zhou writes, “Don’t fall into complacency and give yourself smug pats on the back … acts of allyship aren’t meant to tickle white egos.” Zhou’s article also links numerous reading materials, social media accounts worth following, and practical steps to be a proper advocate.

Awareness is unquestionably necessary, but if you’re relying on the passive act of sharing a post to absolve yourself from your white privilege and to reconcile your past faults, you’re not advocating for the right reasons. Reach out to your black friends and family, read works written by black writers, support black businesses, listen to podcasts, donate to an array of funds, educate yourself and, if you’re not sure about something, ask!

With all this in mind, I’m not saying you need to abandon your social platforms. Instead, I ask you to think beyond the means of advocacy you’ve been taught and become comfortable with. Decolonize your media, as Zhou puts it. If you can afford a music subscription or a new pair of shoes, what’s a small donation to a worthwhile cause? If you really are strapped for cash, prioritize educating yourself and others—it’s free. If you can educate even one person and enable them to re-evaluate their thoughts and reactions to the current movement, you’ve just become a catalyst for change.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth










Concordia statement on Black Lives and demandsfor an anti-racist pedagogy



Silence in the face of bigotry

Less than 100 years ago, my great-grandmother Sylvia arrived in the United States.

Like thousands of Jewish immigrants, she worked alongside her uncle in New York as a tailor. Free from the pogroms of Europe, the two hoped to use their meagre earnings to reunite their family in America as the flames of antisemitism surged through Europe. However, the dream proved futile. Unlike Sylvia, her family never crossed the Atlantic. Instead, they perished in a blaze of gunfire when the Germans marched inside the synagogue and massacred all those left behind.

As a child, I remember my grandmother’s tales of her eagerly awaiting letters from relatives in Europe. Later, these conversations made me wonder what Sylvia thought when the letters stopped coming. How long did she sit in anguish before she learned that no family remained as the world heard of the horrors inflicted on her family and the Jewish people?

The manifestation of antisemitism murdered whatever extended family my mother could dream of—there are no great-uncles or aunts, no cherished tales of the French countryside or the British isles—no history, no records, only death.

I am not Sylvia nor my grandfather Moshe; I am not my mother—however, through such lineage, I am the product of incredible tragedy as well as triumph. My grandparents overcame what their parents endured; they found refuge and built a life in the United States. Antisemitism persisted, but they could finally pursue their dreams––my grandfather realized his own when he became a curator at the American Museum of Natural History.

I mention such accomplishments to paint the picture that although I may appear only as an American, a history of persecution lives in me. The savage effects of antisemitism that plagued my ancestors remain in my DNA; but so does their courage.

Unfortunately, the ideologies that inspired the ultimate extermination of my ancestors crept into the Concordia Global Affairs Association. Under their banner, the Concordia MUN team––called the Concordia External Delegation (CED)––evolved into a hostile environment for Jewish delegates. In my few years as a delegate, I’ve listened to the leadership’s emphasis on comradery and excellence. Nonetheless, this semester, those words rang hollow.

Last month, a new delegate, filled with hatred for Jews, ranted at a Jewish delegate using vile slurs—clearly in violation of CED’s values. Despite the leadership being aware of the confrontation, they remained silent. A week later, I asked why the delegate remained on the team. Unsatisfied with the leadership’s response of “we can’t get mad about everything,” I presented an ultimatum: I would not compete at the upcoming conference alongside an antisemite who tarnished my friend with antisemitic slurs.

To a point, I concur with the leadership’s assertion. People are capable of change and outrage is not a productive solution. Perhaps through education, the delegate’s ignorant worldview is capable of change. But, as long as sentiments of hate remain, bigotry requires consequences.

Witnessing and experiencing antisemitism is insufferable not only because of the words of the bigot, but the silence of the onlookers. The sensation is a reminder that some will always consider a Jewish person––someone like me––different, not belonging, and tainted. However, the fear caused by the bigot pales in comparison to the inaction of his audience. My heart raced, stomach churned and jaw-clenched as it dawned on me that hatred towards people like me did not bother those I considered teammates, friends and leaders. If comparing Jews to Vernon elicited no response, then what would?

The coup de grace of my MUN career came a few hours before the conference. I looked out at the darkening sky contemplating the social and professional consequences of following through on my pledge to quit the team. Then it dawned on me, the inaction of the leadership and silence of the majority required a resignation––there was no choice.

Thus, I sent a letter one week ago resigning from the team. A few moments later,  the leadership announced the expulsion of the antisemite from the delegation. I support the decision and hope it serves as a lesson to change the now-former delegate’s heart. However, the unsettling reality remains; the antisemite may be out but so is a Jew.

Following the resignation, the silence of my teammates discouraged me. I questioned if quitting the team achieved anything or simply delayed the normalization of antisemitism. However, I found hope in another delegate’s unexpected resignation. Upon learning the circumstances of mine, she told me that she would not compete in a culture tolerating antisemitism. Neither Jewish nor obligated, her action separated the sea of doubts plaguing my mind. Her departure reminded me of our collective obligation to work alongside each other, even when not personally affected, to fight the day when our differences are not only tolerated but embraced.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Speaking out against Bill 21

In a night filled with heartfelt words and personal reflection, World Sikh Organization hosted an open mic in hopes of providing a safe space for those affected by bill 21 to share their experience.

In collaboration with Democratic Engagement Exchange and Punjabi Resilience and Empowerment in Mental Health (PREM), the event, which took place on Oct. 13 evening at Club Insiders anticafé, addressed the importance of social engagement through self-expression, solidarity and political engagement as elections approach.

“I hope the event was able to display the immense impact bill 21 has had on the mental health of religious minorities living in Quebec,” said Steeven Toor, founder and director of PREM.

The event was organized by Toor, who spoke about the importance of community in the face of Bill 21. He emphasized the isolation that the bill has imposed on many members of religious communities in Quebec.

Speakers shared creative projects such as photo essays and songs with the attendees. Political Science student at Concordia University, Mandeep Kaur, spoke about her frustrations. Her choice of wearing a traditional sikh turban empowers her identity but Bill 21 could hinder her pursuit of a career in law. She spoke about the injustice and isolation she feels by simply expressing her beliefs in physical form. “We have to stay together in solidarity. The bill is dividing us.” Kaur said.

A presentation was given by Bao-Vy Nguyen, a field organizer from Democratic Engagement Exchange (DEE), a non-partisan group that provides support and strategy to organizations promoting voter engagement. Nguyen spoke about the importance of voter engagement and gave the audience a few pointers to understanding party policies and tips for voting.

“Mobilization is also about being in touch with communities that are often left out of the conversations. It also starts by bringing awareness and sharing information,” Nguyeen said.

She also stressed the importance of having representation and voting to effect change. “I’m happy that many took away the Punjabi Misinformation guide, it goes to show that people are actually interested, we just need to find more ways to reach out to people and make these resources accessible and inclusive.” The Punjabi Misinformation guides are pamphlets provided by the DEE to show facts and information about the elections and candidates that affect their community.

“I was very happy to see so many folks come and support the event,” Toor said. “I was also glad to see all walks of life in the room and to be able to share space with people from different communities,” Toor said.


Photo by Mishkat Hafiz


Religion and sexuality in the workplace

Ideally, a person’s qualification for any job would be limited to their aptitude and general attitude towards the workload. In a perfect world, the only thing an employer should consider before hiring you is your ability to do the job.

Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world and we are not perfect people. Against our better judgment, we rely on appearances, religious beliefs, sexuality, and overall social norms to determine a person’s character. As we progress, however, the best of us choose to educate ourselves and overcome social biases. The best of us grow out of superficial moulds and strive to judge by a person’s actions if they should be trusted or not. But that is not the case for most of us.

A few months ago, some would say discriminatory actions were taken in Quebec when the government passed Bill 21; a law reprimanding people for their religious garments in the workplace, under the pretext that it is respecting the province’s laicity.

As if to join hands with their Canadian neighbours, a HuffPost article reports that the Trump Administration is imploring the Supreme Court to legalize firing someone based on their sexual orientation.

“In an amicus brief filed Friday, the US Justice Department argued that a trio of cases set to appear before the Supreme Court this fall should be used to limit Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination because of sex,” the article read.

The Justice Department’s reading of Title VII recalls that “sex,” as written in the Civil Rights Act, is not intended to allude to one’s sexual orientation which, in their book, means that the law shouldn’t be used to protect LGBTQ+ workers.

“The original bill didn’t define “sex” as a term, and the Trump administration is now using that ambiguity to argue that lawmakers’ original intent focused solely on protecting women’s rights,” wrote the HuffPost.

In Quebec, the Montreal Gazette reported that teachers are struggling the most with Bill 21 and are having a hard time transitioning from a tolerant environment to a limited one. It is stated that no articles of faith – kippahs, turbans, or hijabs – are allowed during the hiring process, and those already hired are allegedly not granted higher positions.

Nadia Naqvi, a science teacher at St. Thomas High School in the West Island, recounted to the Gazette how her five-year plan to move into administration now seems like a distant dream.

“I know I have a lot of leadership qualities,” said Naqvi.“I know I have a lot to offer my school board… but I’m stuck. If that’s not the definition of a second-class citizen, I don’t know what is.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember anybody’s sexuality, let alone religion get in the way of anyone’s job. In my personal experience, I have seen practicing Muslims during Ramadan work twice as hard as usual; and one could barely feel when they would take a small break for their daily prayers. And since when does being part of the LGBTQ+ community inhibit one from doing their job correctly?

But I can see how loving the same sex, or choosing your own gender could deter you from your workload. Can you imagine how much time, effort, and patience it would take to justify your sexual preferences to other people? And let us not even get into the time-consuming act of debating Islam with people who have taken one sentence from the Quran out of context and made it their weapon of choice when arguing.

But I can totally see how loving the same sex or choosing your own gender deters you from your workload. I mean, can you imagine how much time and effort it would take to justify it to other people, because it’s their business, too? And let us not even get into the time-consuming debate on Islam, at the workplace, with people who have taken one sentence out of the Quran, out of context, and made it their choice of weapon when arguing. Yes, these are most definitely valid reasons.

The way I see it, the only time religion or sexuality disrupts working environments is when other people aren’t minding their own business.


Graphic by Victoria Blair


GSA members not surveyed about harassment, discrimination

Dean of graduate studies says university receives few complaints from graduate students

After finding that many of the consultations and complaints filed with Laval University’s student help centre, the university’s centre for the prevention and intervention of harassment, as well as the university ombudsman came from graduate students, the school’s graduate student association (AELIES) surveyed its members and released its findings in November 2017.

The results: 58 per cent of the graduate students surveyed said they had uncomfortable interactions with their master’s or doctorate supervisor “on a few occasions,” and 16 per cent of students surveyed said those situations happened “regularly.” In November, AELIES president Pierre Parent Sirois told Le Devoir he found the statistics “worrying.”

Concordia undergraduate students were recently asked questions regarding on-campus harassment and discrimination as part of the 2017 Concordia Student Union General Undergraduate Student Survey, which was presented to the CSU council on Oct. 11. However, a similar survey of its members has not been conducted by the Graduate Student Association, according to the association’s president, Srinivas Bathini. The GSA’s vice-president of academic and advocacy, Thufile Ariful Mohamed Sirajudeen, said the association would consider surveying its members.

According to the Le Devoir article, students and their supervisors at Laval University sign mentoring agreements (“ententes d’encadrement”) to prevent conflict or discomfort. AELIES’s survey revealed that, in 70 per cent of cases, the agreements had a positive impact on the relationship between the student and the supervisor, and on the progress of the work.
In an email to The Concordian, Paula Wood-Adams, Concordia’s dean of graduate studies, wrote that the university does not have the same type of contract, “as is the case with a good number of universities.” She added that Concordia has “clear guidelines explaining the responsibilities of the students, supervisors and their respective programs.” The guidelines, she said, were revised last year and are “clearly posted” on the university website.

The master’s and PhD supervision guidelines each state that, “while it is important to acknowledge that students are partners in the university enterprise, it is equally important to recognize their differential power status, especially as it relates to their supervisors.”

According to Wood-Adams, the School of Graduate Studies communicates the guidelines to new graduate students twice a year, in January and September.

The guidelines indicate that, if an issue arises between a student and supervisor and an informal resolution is “unsuccessful or inappropriate,” and the graduate program director determines that the student-supervisor relationship is “beyond repair,” the director “must make a recommendation to the dean of graduate studies to terminate the relationship.”

Wood-Adams added that the School of Graduate Studies only receives a few complaints every year through the office of the ombudsman or the School of Graduate Studies itself—two avenues students can use to come forward.

“Most issues are resolved following a meeting with the student where we provide advice on how they might clarify or resolve the situation,” Wood-Adams said. Students can also bring along an advocate from the GSA or student advocacy office, she explained.

Wood-Adams said consultations with the School of Graduate Studies remain confidential, “except in cases where they are alleging conduct that might be illegal.” The final option available to both students and supervisors is to terminate the supervision.

“I should emphasize these are very rare situations,” Wood-Adams wrote.

Photo by Alex Hutchins


GSA tensions turn into a complaint

Former GSA president files case against GSA for discrimination and harassment from former directors

A former president of Concordia’s Graduate Student’s Association (GSA) is filing a civil rights complaint against the organization and some of its directors for harassment and discrimination.

During his year-long term as the organization’s president, Alex Ocheoha said he was subjected to hostile treatment from GSA directors starting from the organization’s first council meeting in June 2015.

“They were addressing me in a disrespectful manner, they were shouting at me, they were… trying to cause trouble at the meetings,” he said.

The GSA is made up of a five-person executive team and 20 directors who vote in the organization’s council.

After the first council meeting, Ocheoha said he thought the hostility might have stemmed from a small misunderstanding of how the GSA is supposed to function. “I thought it was something we could talk over and clear it up,” he said. “We tried to have a meeting, but [the directors] didn’t agree to come… They were not interested in coming.”

Ocheoha said the directors continually found ways to prevent him from fulfilling his mandate as GSA president and that their email communications felt like racial and cyber harassment.

“It was a terrible period for me,” he said. “I had never experienced anything like that before in my life.”

In emails obtained by The Concordian, GSA directors responded to Ocheoha’s complaints of harassment in emails shared with everyone in the organization. On Oct 29, Ocheoha received a response to an email from then-GSA director Rahul Kumar—the whole GSA organization was cc’d on said email. It read, “What do you want to prove from this, Alex? That you are full of shit?”

When Ocheoha pointed out that this was an example of ongoing harassment, another former director, Mathilde Ngo Mbom, responded: “Aaaaw the grown-up man feels harassed! Take your balls out of the pockets, put them where (i.e: between your legs) they should be and stop being a crying baby.”

“The next time you show some sense of mental disorder, I’ll send these emails to the police and they will request that you meet a psychiatrist (by force) because you need one,” she wrote.  

In an interview with The Concordian on Nov. 27, Ngo Mbom expressed regret for the tone of the email. “We were passionate,” she said. “We wanted what’s best for students. I was too forceful, but I’m glad I fought for the students, not for the executives.”

“I’m not saying we had the right to say what we did,” she added.

Ngo Mbom said the tone in those emails resulted from workplace tension caused by Ocheoha. She said even before the Oct. 29 exchange, Ocheoha would take any criticisms of his role as harassment and threaten to sue the GSA directors.

Those threats, Ngo Mbom said, caused fear in many of the GSA’s directors. Many of them were international students and she said international students actively avoid getting into legal trouble which could affect their study visa. This inhibited directors from working with him, she said.

“At a certain point, you don’t want to push because of the complaint of harassment,” said Ngo Mbom. “If [Ocheoha] says no, you back off.”

Kumar said the tension had been building up, “and I snapped. It wasn’t mature and I regret that.”

Both Kumar and Ngo Mbom said they apologized to Ocheoha for the comments they made, but that he didn’t seem willing to work with them afterwards. Instead, they said it felt like Ocheoha spent the rest of the year trying to build a legal case against them.

However, Ocheoha said there were never formal apologies for the emails sent on Oct. 29.

Ocheoha said the harassment also manifested itself through the organization’s newly-created oversight committee. The committee’s role was to review work reports from executives and recommend to the GSA council whether or not executives were fulfilling their work responsibilities and deserved their full bursary. Both Kumar and Ngo Mbom were members of that committee.

Both former directors said Ocheoha inadequately answered questions they had about his reports.

“He took asking him why he couldn’t do a task as harassment,” said Kumar.

Rupinder Kaur, who served as the GSA’s vice president of academic and advocacy until December 2015, said several directors would fight Ocheoha at every turn. “Whatever he said, they had to disagree,” she said. “He wasn’t getting any kind of cooperation.”

Kaur found the whole environment too stressful for her, which is why she left before the end of her term. “The environment was very unhealthy,” she said.

Ocheoha sought help from the university’s Office of Rights and Responsibilities as well as Concordia’s dean of students. While Ocheoha said the ORR wouldn’t help because the GSA is it’s own independent organization, he said the dean of students helped arrange a reconciliatory meeting— which saw little turnout.

The GSA itself has no internal body or organization to handle complaints like this, said Ngo Mbom.

“There’s no system,” she said, adding that, in 2014, the GSA directors made a list of recommendations to deal with this type of tension. “Even if there was, I’m not sure it would have been enforced.”

“There were internal difficulties, internal infighting even before Alex was elected,” said Fo Niemi, the director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, which is representing Ocheoha in the complaint. “When Alex was president of the GSA, he experienced harassment by some directors of the GSA. Even if there was an advocacy person there, conflict of interests could’ve arisen because it’s so internal. It’s an internal mess.”

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