complaints at Webster Library sparks talks about security issues

Complaints were made about a disruptive prankster who has recently been contacted by security

Students have taken to a Concordia Reddit page warning others about a potential security risk in the last week of February.

Two separate posts were made complaining about a young man filming himself intentionally playing audio at high volumes. The man in question is a YouTuber labelling his escapades as “pranks.”

The stunt itself included the prankster moving to different locations across the library, intentionally watching videos with unplugged headphones while pretending to be oblivious. This would eventually cause distraction and confusion among surrounding students, prompting many to confront him — which is exactly what the YouTuber wanted.

“It’s not hard to notice when someone is being obnoxious, to send a librarian or even security over,” said Araya Robichaud, a second-year political science student at Concordia. Robichaud was one of the original users to post about the incidents on the subreddit.

Robichaud’s post was prompted by a friend who had encountered the YouTuber at the library. Robichaud decided to air his concerns online after watching the video and seeing the rhetoric expressed by the creator.

The post generated a lot of attention, both from students and strangers alike. Many people sent official complaints to the University’s security to prevent similar instances.

Despite these recent events, Robichaud says he hasn’t encountered any disturbances at the library. However, Robichaud expressed his frustration with chatter at the library.

“I do think I recognize some groups of students that, when I see them, I’ll grab my stuff and move. I know they’re just there to talk,” he said.

To prevent future disturbances and complaints, Robichaud said he wishes for designated library staff to ensure general safety.

“I get frequent actual complaints about students asking me to tell other students that are being rowdy or noisy to keep it down,” said Noemi Marcaida-Golebiowski, a front desk worker at the library. “Everyday, like literally everyday.”

Marcaida-Golebiowski said she deals with patrons every day, both students and professors, loaning books, DVDs and miscellaneous documents. She learned about the recent disturbances through word of mouth and from the posts on Concordia’s Reddit page. When she reached out to the library’s administrator, she was happy to hear that security was already dealing with the issue.

Although Marcaida-Golebiowski sympathized with the library attendees’ complaints, she said that the library staff did not have the authority to remove people from the library. 

Director of Campus Safety and Prevention Services Darren Dumoulin said the department itself hadn’t received many complaints regarding the recent incident due to students contacting other departments.

Dumoulin said students who encounter these situations should contact security immediately by calling campus security.

“It’s so we can respond to it at that time and not be receiving an email several days after the fact,” Dumoulin said.

Dumoulin added that security agents would not immediately expel any disrupting person from the library and would intervene otherwise, as per protocol. However, repeated behavior might initiate what he called “an escalation process” which could prompt agents to ask the person to leave.

“We don’t profile people before they go into the library,” he said. “We really react to behaviour issues.”

According to Dumoulin, the security department has been in contact with the YouTuber. However, no official library staff member has yet to meet him. 

Although Dumoulin understands the frustration behind these recurring issues, he said the library’s openness to the public and downtown environment creates a challenge for security staff. 

“Posting stuff on social media will not initiate a response,” Dumoulin said. “You can’t study if you’re afraid and if you don’t feel safe, call us.”


Allegations of harassment on campus

Concordia increases security after student files complaint

Concordia has increased security on campus after a student spoke publicly about two times she was harassed at school by strangers in the last month.

Concordia student Lisa Komlos was approached on campus by two different men on two separate occasions, who complimented her with a sense of urgency. The compliments were followed by a line of questioning about her personal information. According to Komlos, the men also tried to isolate her from the crowd in both instances.

In a statement released on Saturday, the university said they increased security on the Sir George Williams campus and they are “committed to fostering a safe and respectful environment.”

Concordia is in contact with the police. “We are in touch with our colleagues at McGill and UQAM to ensure a coordinated response,” said Fiona Downey, university spokesperson.

Komlos was walking to her class through the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (EV) when the incidents occurred.

Komlos posted a video describing the incidents to her Instagram story on Friday afternoon.

In the video posted to her Instagram, Komlos describes the men as “aggressive” and “angry” when she told them to leave her alone. “I was feeling unheard, frustrated, and frankly, I was annoyed,” said Komlos about the first incident, which happened on March 11. “I finally got away from him and went about my day thinking that this was just another daily occurrence of harassment.”

Komlos realized that the encounters were scripted and rehearsed during the second incident on March 26. “It is because of situations like these that I purposely never take the same route to my class,” she said. “Having a routine makes you predictable, and being predictable can make you vulnerable. It is exhausting having to always be on alert.”

The public service announcement Komlos made now has over 152,000 views. “I felt that it was my duty as a woman to come forward with this story,” she said. “I wanted to share these encounters so that I could warn others to keep their eyes open.”

Komlos is in contact with the university’s security department to identify one of the men who approached her. The man was caught on video surveillance footage.

Over a dozen women from Concordia reached out to Komlos with similar stories on campus after seeing the video. “There was also a flood of responses from other women sharing their personal experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault,” she added.

People who feel unsafe or are harassed on campus can call Concordia security at (514) 848-3737 option 1. A Safe Walk program is also available on campus. Find more information on the security department’s website.

Photo by Mia Anhoury


Calling for transparency from the administration during a cyber crisis

The university has yet to give a follow-up on the security breach that happened in March

Technology can often be a double-edged sword. It can give us to have access to vast amounts of information at our the edge of our fingertips, but also, at times, it can leave us vulnerable to cyber crimes.

The Concordian is not immune to this—our Twitter account got hacked two weeks ago, sending our masthead into a frenzied state of panic. We survived the virtual ambush like true journalistic warriors, and our account was eventually restored. But it made us think twice about our own cyber security.

Then, this past weekend, both La Presse and the Montreal Gazette released articles detailing how the police are looking for two suspects (pictured) who stole sensitive data from thousands of Concordia students in March 2016.

The two suspects—men aged 20 to 35—reportedly put physical devices known as keyloggers into computers in both the Webster and Vanier libraries, and gained access to an “information technology centre,” according to the Montreal Gazette. The same article details how these two individuals accessed thousands of personal student profiles, with eight victims having already filed reports with the Montreal Police.

When these keyloggers were found back in March, the university sent out a mass email advising students and staff to change their passwords and to be vigilant—especially if they used one of the express stations.

“The danger here is that, if somebody here was to access personal information, accessing their Concordia personal files or their bank account, that the information could be captured on a keylogger,” said university spokesperson Chris Mota, in an article we published back in the spring.

While we applaud the administration’s transparency back in the spring, we can’t help but feel a bit bitter right about now. Why did we have to read about these new developments in the local media regarding the same cyber breach that happened months ago—why didn’t the university send out a memo immediately? This type of information is of concern to the entire student body.

There have been no follow-up emails from the university since March 29, nor any details on how the university plans to protect our information in the future.

Instead of sending us redundant emails about “informal get-togethers” with the President of Concordia, why not tell us about the possible dangers going on in our very own school, especially since we—the students—are most likely to be the ones in a compromising position.

It’s embarrassing to see our campus affairs aired out in the media, and to learn about them through news outlets rather than from the university itself.


Video: Glenn Greenwald speaks at Concordia (Oct. 24th)

Did you miss out on Glenn Greenwald’s talk at Concordia last month? No worries ! We’ve got you covered.


Glenn Greenwald on security in the internet age

Hundreds of students and community members attend Concordia Student Union-hosted talk Oct. 24

Canada was still mourning. Only two days earlier Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot Canadian reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo while he stood on honour guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa. Struck by grief, a dark nimbus enveloped Canadian skies. The shock of that day hung over us, we were all symbolically targeted and could each empathize with the fallen soldier. But that was not the theme for Greenwald’s talk at Concordia on October 24. Possibly all too experienced with grieving nations, Greenwald came to Concordia with a narrative that countered the excess of pained panegyrics.

“Obviously the events of this week have been pretty tragic and horrible to watch. But at the same time they actually provide what I could almost describe as the perfect framework for talking about the … way in which Western governments have been able to shape and manipulate their citizenries in the name of terrorism in order to dismantle the civil liberties and other legal protections that have long come to define how we think about ourselves in Western democracies,” Greenwald said as he began to address an auditorium humming with anticipation.

Hours before that first shot, the action that deluged our nation with outrage, Greenwald published a controversial article. He offered a reminder to those confused why Canada would be targeted by an ideologue, by a “radicalized muslim.”

Photo by Keith Race.

“Canada has spent the last 13 years proclaiming itself a nation at war. It actively participated in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and was an enthusiastic partner in some of the most extremist War on Terror abuses perpetrated by the U.S. … Regardless of one’s views on the justifiability of Canada’s lengthy military actions, it’s not the slightest bit surprising or difficult to understand why people who identify with those on the other end of Canadian bombs and bullets would decide to attack the military responsible for that violence,” Greenwald wrote.

But in Parliament, in newspapers and across live broadcasts the ISIS was on display. It biased our thoughts and new tools to address the issue were propounded—increased surveillance and preventive detention are the anodyne prescribed by Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Greenwald’s article hit a raw nerve. There was the expected twitter backlash and his inbox was filled with furious emails. It was no real surprise that Greenwald’s causal link between engaging in war and terrorist attacks was poorly received. Some critics called the move “too soon,” that it was inappropriate to comment on the tragedy while it was still fresh in our psyche. It was published the day of a shooting on parliament hill and though it wasn’t directly written about Wednesday’s events, the crux of the article may as well have been.

Canada had built a strong reputation as a participant in international diplomacy. We weren’t seen as an army of occupiers, we had a reputation as a friendly peacekeeping nation. Many Canadians still see ourselves through these rose-tinted glasses, but our nation has changed whether we realize it or not, and Greenwald argues there can be no “too soon” when talking about the ways we exert our wealth and power around the world. A crisis is a pivotal point for any nation’s long-term direction. In the hours and days after a critical event, when an entire nation’s attention has been joined and focused, very important decisions are made.

Before Greenwald spoke in Auditorium H-110, I asked him about Prime Minister Harper’s address on Wednesday night where he called on Canada to “redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats and keep Canada safe here at home,” and to “strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores.”

Greenwald told me that, “it’s what Western governments have been doing for the last 12 years, which is immediately seizing on all of the emotions generated by these kinds of attacks, the surge of anger and fear and patriotism in order to justify whole new powers for themselves, and it’s just a pattern that goes without end. Here we are, 13 years after the 9/11 attack where governments around the West have continuously increased their own powers. And every time there’s one of these attacks, no matter how limited they are—and these are extremely limited in nature, the two that took place here—they immediately seize on it to try and justify powers that they wanted previously and whole new ones that they wanted.”

Just as Greenwald described it, that week in Parliament Justice Minister MacKay brought up the government’s intent to table new legislation that would enable preventative detention, or as he put it “pre-emptive measures,” to stop would-be terrorists. Preventative detention counters our entire judicial system. The belief of innocence-until-proven-guilty will never apply in this new world envisioned by our government. As Greenwald put it, “vesting the power with the government to imprison people without charges, which is what preventative detention is. Or to imprison people based not on crimes they’ve actually committed but acts the government anticipates or predicts they might engage in in the future is a complete dismantling of the core precepts of Western justice that have existed since thirteenth-century British subjects rebelled against the king and demanded the most basic protections of due process.”

Perhaps the most powerful moment of Greenwald’s speech came near its beginning. He spoke about the intense and detailed coverage of the two Canadian victims of last week. How the media delved into their histories and ambitions. We listened to their grieving relatives and were allowed to emotionally connect to these two men. Because of that, their loss affected us in a visceral way. But Greenwald made a bet with us. Despite Canada’s involvement in multiple wars across seven predominantly muslim nations, Greenwald “bet [us] that almost nobody in the auditorium can know the name of a single one of any of those many thousands of women and children and innocent men that our own governments have killed.”

He went on to say how, “they’re simply rendered invisible. We don’t hear their names, we don’t know about the lives that have been extinguished, we don’t hear from their grieving relatives. So what this does, is this creates a very imbalanced perception on the part of those of us who live in the countries where this kind of coverage takes place, which is that we are continuously the victims of violence that is horrific and that kills innocent people. And we forget, by design, that we perpetuate a huge amount of that violence as well.”

Greenwald encouraged the audience to take a piece of that emotion tied to the recent acts of violence in Canada and extend it to those who are made invisible. Mohammed Daoud Sharabuddin was also shot and he also died. Jeremy Scahill —a cofounder with Greenwald of their new media platform, The Intercept— chronicled the killing in his book, Dirty Wars.

Daoud died in his home in the village of Khataba, Afghanistan. His family had two dozen guests over to celebrate the naming of Daoud’s newborn son. It was a night raid that tragically mis-targeted a family of allies instead of Taliban insurgents. They weren’t shooting Daoud, they were shooting the enemy before they could shoot first. But it was Daoud, the police commander, who fell. Him and his fifteen-year-old son were shot by NATO snipers as they exited their home. The victims of that night totalled seven people, two of which were pregnant women. These people were allies. Daoud’s home was decorated with photos of him and american soldiers. He had gone through dozens of American training programs and was helping to combat the Taliban insurgency in the area. What happened after the soldiers discovered their night raid had unwittingly murdered their own allies is especially unsettling. On realizing the mistake they began to cut out their bullets from the women’s bodies in order to cover up their mistake. When the soldiers left, they took several of the still living guests with them for interrogation and held them for days. The story itself deserves much more detail than I can go into here; Daoud and his family members were subjected to inhuman terrors that night. Without Scahill’s detailed reporting of the incident it’s likely that the government narrative, the cover up, would have never been exposed. No one except those villagers still alive in Kataba would have known the real war in Afghanistan.

This is now the war that is unfolding in Iraq. There is no mythic battle between good and evil. When we arm our young men and women, fly them across the ocean into the unknown and put them into impossible situations, we are setting them and ourselves up for tragedy, for terror. The last decade has been one war waged across interchangeable battle fields.

As Canada prepares to send approximately 600 Canadian Armed Forces personnel to Iraq, Greenwald offers only so much comfort in the face of an uncertain future.

Student Life

Your password isn’t as safe as you think

Take heed and keep your online life secure with good password habits

No matter where you tread online, you’ll always hear the same pieces of advice: “don’t give out your password to anyone” and “change your password frequently.” Obviously, something’s not right since passwords get broken into by the millions, and users find all manner of accounts hijacked by unsavory folks on an almost daily basis. So where exactly is the problem?

Your password probably isn’t as safe as you think it is. A lot of account services now require users to use more than generic letters to protect their various accounts, but adding a number at the end of your password isn’t going to make it all that much safer. Individuals and groups who specialize in compromising accounts often have computers at their disposal with the sole purpose of breaking into accounts, requiring a minimal amount of actual work before they can access your data using automated scripts that run through names, dates and common words.

So how do you make your passwords a little bit more secure? Making them longer helps, sure. Adding some numbers in there doesn’t hurt either. If you’re looking for some peace of mind though, don’t forget to throw in a couple of symbols as well: adding “!” or “$” or even “#” to a password greatly decreases your chances of losing your data during a random sweep of whatever services you are using.

The reality of the situation is that memorable passwords are often easier to hack but memorizing an almost random string of numbers, letters and symbols is grossly inconvenient, especially if you’re not looking to — and quite honestly you shouldn’t — use the same password for every account you own. Think of it this way: figuring out the password to one account would then open a whole new doorway to all of your online life. And truth be told, it isn’t that difficult to figure out where you’ve been using your email to create accounts.

Keep your life secure; use different and complex passwords for all of your things, throw in some symbols and make it nonsensical to anyone but yourself. If you’re forgetful and have a hard time with it, there exist plenty of utilities that can help you keep your passwords secure in an encrypted vault, too. Services like LastPass have been touted by tech blogs across the web as being a reliable and secure option to keep and generate passwords safely.

For an added bit of fun, check out and see how long it would take a traditional computer to figure out your password using standard scripts (and don’t you readers worry, the data isn’t saved on the website).


ConU spent thousands on extra security during protests

During the winter semester, universities in Montreal spent thousands in additional funds on extra security measures during the student strike and multiple protests that followed.

Le Journal de Montréal reported on July 4 that Concordia University spent a total of $226,755.39 on security for the entire semester.

Concordia University spokesperson Cléa Desjardins confirmed that the amount dished out by Concordia was over budget and “related solely to student protests.”

“The security presence was meant to ensure the well-being and safety of students, staff and faculty,” Desjardins said, “as well as the security of the university’s physical infrastructure.”

Concordia Student Union VP External Simon-Pierre Lauzon expressed his disappointment but emphasized that he was not surprised.

“We’re getting used to the administration making these kinds of decisions,” Lauzon said. “If management misuses money, nothing happens.”

Increased visibility of security was a point of contention between administration and students at Concordia during the winter semester. While administration deemed it necessary, many students disagreed with the additional security measures taken by Concordia.

The Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec’s Vice-President Yanick Grégoire emphasized that this move was in direct violation of the student strike mandate and the measures were imposed as a method of intimidation, not protection.

“Violence and intimidation doesn’t work,” Grégoire stressed. “Discussion and speaking with one another is key.”

Grégoire criticized Quebec universities for their management of university funds, stating that the money could have gone towards students and research.

“Universities chose confrontation instead of discussion,” Grégoire told The Concordian.

In comparison, McGill University devoted $275,233.39 of its budget for additional security. The Université du Québec à Montréal spent $841 414.95 while the Université de Montréal spent the least at $151,043.19 for the winter semester.

In light of recent media coverage and scrutiny from student organizations, McGill University released a public statement on Monday, July 9. Vice-Principal of communications and human relations Olivier Marcil defended the university’s additional funding due to the student movement.

“We have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our students and staff and to avoid damage to buildings on our campus, many of them heritage buildings. We take that responsibility seriously,” Marcil said.

Marcil also emphasized that 80 per cent of the additional costs were a result of the five-day occupation in the James Administration building in February.

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