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February, 2001 Letters




Falun Gong includes intellectuals:
An open letter to Concordia representatives going to China with Team Canada

In July 1999, the Chinese government, under the supervision of President Jiang Zemin, started what has become one of the most significant persecutions in modern times.

Falun Gong (Falun Dafa), a peaceful spiritual practice of exercise and meditation, was banned due to its growing popularity. Its 70 million Chinese practitioners were made to choose between their belief in “Truth, Compassion, Forbearance” and torture.

Thousands have been imprisoned and sent to mental institutions. To date, over 135 have been tortured to death; this includes many unversity students and professors.

These measures of repression violate the Chinese constitution as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, both of which have been signed by the People’s Republic of China.

The Team Canada trade mission is an ideal opportunity for Canada to prove its commitment to promote fundamental human rights for all.

Is not the promise of a wonderful future in which Canada rejoices with the respect and recognition of the Chinese people at least as important as negotiating a few contracts with those who hold power in China? Is not preserving the tradition of helping the oppressed people of the world even more important to the Canadian people?

We ask you to remember the fundamental values, which have given Canada its world-wide reputation. Help earn our country the continued respect and admiration of the people all over the world. Help stop the persecution of Falun Dafa!

Jennifer Nadeau, Daniel Sky and the other Falun Dafa practitioners at Concordia and universities across Canada

Library noise distracts grad student

I would like to complain concerning the level of noise I encounter each time I use the Webster Library, i.e. many times a week.

The situation, which was serious enough for me to speak with an administrator in October 1999, has only gotten worse. It is evident that the withdrawal of the security guards has led to a dramatic rise in the level of noise throughout the library.

I was told that the complaints from students had increased to a tremendous amount but the decision to lay off the guards had not been re-evaluated.

It is no longer possible to find a quiet spot in the library; even looking for a book can be an annoying experience. It is no use asking students to keep the noise down, since others around them talk just as loud.

Cell phones have become a particular invasion: students get calls and embark on loud inane conversations throughout the library. Only a minority have the decency to at least move to a stairway.

The security guards once told me that they call the study room on the first floor “the beach club.” Students feel free to interact loudly because no surveillance is ever made there. The guards also told me that since the only permanent guard has been removed, theft and complaints about noise has increased from around once a week to once a day.

Through my program, I also meet a lot of out-of-province students who have simply abandoned the idea of using the library as a study space. They also say the Webster Library scenario is the worst they have encountered in a university library.

Can better surveillance be re-established, since the new provincial budget is allocating more money to universities?

Sylvie Labrosse
Graduate student


William Curran, Director of University Libraries, replies:

There is indeed a problem with noise in the Webster Library, as there is in any overcrowded space, and it becomes acute at the busiest times of the year.

Another contributing factor is that the construction materials used in the McConnell Building, i.e., mainly glass, iron and steel, do not absorb sound. Noise in the atrium automatically rises upward to the upper floors.

We recognize that security guards are needed in the Library. During the 24-hour access periods, we have two guards in the library evenings and weekends. The security guard was removed from the entrance on the second floor because the Circulation Desk was relocated within sight of the exit. In any case, he had had little impact on noise levels on the third and fourth floors.

Cell phones are annoying everywhere — in restaurants, movies, museums, theatre, shopping malls. It’s no surprise that they’re an annoyance in libraries, too. We have signs everywhere asking people not to use them.

All students have a right to use their library, whatever their needs. Some need a quiet place, while others must work in groups. (In Webster, we do lack small seminar rooms for groups, such as case studies.) Also, staff must interact with users.

Until the fifth floor of the McConnell Building becomes available — a very high priority for us — the present overcrowded conditions will persist. What can be fixed, we will try to fix. For example, additional carpeting will be installed in some areas to muffle sound.

Academic libraries must be welcoming, and we want the Concordia community to make good use of its library. That’s why we’re here 18 hours a day, seven days a week (and at times, 24 hours a day). That’s why we build library collections and devise policies for accessing the world’s information.

Suggestions are always welcome, and can be forwarded electronically via the Search CLUES Page by clicking on “Suggestions for the Library.”