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October 11, 2001 A banner effort for peace and tolerance on campus



Concordia students "Peace it Together"

“Peace it Together at Concordia University and in the World” is the message on this large banner in the lobby of the Hall Building. Seen at the launch of the TAG tolerance project are (standing, left to right), Magali Merkx-Jacques and Yasmin Gardaat, both from the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA); Michael Nimchuk, Engineering and Computer Science Students Association (ECA), Billy Mandelos, Commerce and Administration Students Association (CASA); Rector Frederick Lowy; Ricardo Filippone, ASFA. In front are Sabrina Stea, president of the Concordia Student Union (CSU), Nisha Sajnani, Graduate Students Association (GSA), and Jonathan Carruthers. About 60 people attended a symposium held on the subject on Tuesday afternoon, and events continue today. The meeting Tuesday was dominated by CSU activists, who repeated their now-familiar charges against the university administration.

Photo by Christian Fleury

by Lisa Harding

Former CSU president Jonathan Carruthers is inviting students to sign a “peace banner” to promote tolerance on campus. The project was launched on Sept. 27 in the lobby of the Hall Building.

Carruthers, who was student president in 1995-96, felt compelled to do something in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. For him, it was imperative to act quickly. “I was so disturbed by the potential for discrimination. I wanted to take the opportunity before there was too much alienation.”

He set out independently, but quickly found there was already an initiative underway in the Graduate Students Association, called TAG, for Tolerance, Acceptance and Growth, and coordinated it through that project. (See CTR, Sept. 27.)

Students are encouraged to sign the banner to send a message about what Carruthers calls “core values” to the university community. Four or five banners are expected to be complete by Oct. 11, the one-month anniversary of the terrorism attacks.

The completion of the sign-the-banner project will coincide with two days of panel discussions on Oct. 9 and 11 about tolerance within the learning environment. Student leaders, including Nisha Sajnani, one of two originators of the TAG concept, and members of the university will speak.

Carruthers said that the banner effort has received significant funding from the Dean of Students and the Office of the Rector. The Concordia Art Store and the Co-op des Arts St-Laurent donated art supplies. He admits that global peace is a “pie-in-the-sky goal,” but believes you have to “start at home [with] a tangible goal.”

Carruthers, 34, says many people are curious about what he’s been up to since he left Concordia. He initially ran for student president as part of an art performance project, but turned out to be a moderate, conscientious leader.

After he graduated with a BFA, he spent a year in law school at McGill before leaving to become a massage therapist. “I wanted to go from being the worst part of someone’s day to the best,” he said with a laugh.

Now he’s back at Concordia taking an undergraduate course in music theory to pursue another dream, to become a singer.