ConU withdraws charges against striking students

Concordia University officially dropped the formal complaints launched against striking students under the Code of Rights and Responsibilities following a meeting between President Alan Shepard and members of the Concordia Student Union last Tuesday.

President Shepard addressed the issue in an open letter, emphasizing it was time for a clean slate and that the student protests were an unprecedented situation for the university. Shepard explained that he felt the administration acted appropriately but that charges are officially withdrawn.

“As president of the university, I also believe it is time for our community to turn the page and focus on the future together. I acknowledge that some members of the community will not agree with this approach, and I respect their point of view on the matter,” the letter read.

Kris Szabo, an undergraduate student who faced seven formal complaints from Concordia, is glad to know it’s over.

“I’m incredibly relieved, I thought this may happen,” Szabo told The Concordian. “This would have been a disaster for administration.”

Szabo spoke to Shepard personally and said the president understood his concerns. Since June, Szabo attended several meetings with other charged students to strategize and organize a plan to have the charges dropped.

“The Advocacy Centre and the Concordia Student Union gave us a lot of peace of mind,” Szabo said. “They really helped us.”

“I think this happened because we were resilient,” he added.

CSU President Schubert Laforest met multiple times with administration on behalf of some of the students charged.

“It’s good to see how all of our collaborative work is becoming fruitful,” Laforest said.

“I was surprised, I had a little ray of sunshine when Shepard said he would think about it. I had never heard that before.”

“I have to tip my hat to Dr. Shepard for taking this decision,” added Laforest. “I felt that dropping the charges is the act of goodwill to prove that Concordia is changing direction for a brighter future.”

Several students received formal charges from Concordia for allegedly violating Code 29G for obstructing or blocking classrooms during March 26, 2012. Under the Code of Rights and Responsibilities, 29G states the following:

“Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, study, student disciplinary procedures or other University activity. For example, peaceful picketing or other activity in any public space that does not impede access nor interfere with the activities in a class or meeting is an acceptable expression of dissent and shall not be considered an infraction of this article.”

The striking students, 23 undergraduate students and three graduate students, opposed the provincial government’s tuition fee increase. Concordia administration filed the formal complaints June 1 following approximately 40 inquires that were made during the winter semester.

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