CTR Home Internal  Relations and Communications Home About CTR Publication Schedule CTR Archives

September 13, 2001 Senate Notes





A regular meeting of the Concordia University Senate, held on September 14, 2001.

Commemoration: At the suggestion of student senator Sami Nazzal, there was a moment of silence in memory of those killed in the terrorist attack on New York on Sept. 11.
Rector Frederick Lowy gave the address he had delivered at a memorial service earlier in the day, and emphasized the need for mutual tolerance at the university.

Growth: The rector reported a rise in enrolment “almost to the bursting point,” and an influx of almost 70 new professors; 150 in the past two years. Construction of the new buildings is on schedule, and he paid tribute to the Departments of Communications Studies and Journalism for their relocation efforts over the summer. Downtown construction awaits financing.

IT upgrade: Provost/Vice-Rector Research Jack Lightstone reported that the effort to equip owned classrooms of 50-plus capacity by January has gone so well that it is ahead of schedule, and smaller and suitable rented classrooms will be included. He asked for patience from those clamoring to use them right away.

Student union: The rector reported that a meeting between legal representatives of the Concordia Student Union and the university earlier in the day, at which the administration offered to set up a three-person fact-finding group, did not result in a settlement. Senator and CSU president Sabrina Stea said this was because the CSU wants the two banned activists to be allowed to register as students for this term. (CTR, Sept. 13, page 10.)

Student senator Mistie Mullarkey objected to a phrase in the report by the Advisor on Rights and Responsibilities (see CTR Sept. 13) in which the Advisor refers to a student hearing board tribunal last term at which the respondents “mounted a purely political defense.” The rector replied that he couldn’t speak for Sally Spilhaus, who wrote the report, but she was probably referring to their disruption of proceedings, and that if the tribunal had been a court of law, the respondents’ supporters would have been thrown out.

The rector also reported that career fairs organized by the Commerce Placement Centre and the Engineering and Computer Science Students Association had been marred by withdrawals on the part of companies due to insults in CSU publications. Business Dean Jerry Tomberlin added that in the wake of the U.S. disaster, they also had fears for their safety.

Student senator Patrice Blais asked for a definition of a student; the rector said there are five definitions at the moment, depending on the context, and the only written one is in the academic code of conduct. A student senator took the rector to task for telling a reporter that students should not bring international quarrels to the university, to which Lowy replied that there is a difference between what is said and what is reported, and in any case, the university must preserve an atmosphere conducive to learning.

Nazzal said that students who choose political involvement are getting “a different way of education” that is as valid as conventional classes. He added that since the attack on the U.S., some Arab and Muslim students have been singled out for hostility: “Some professors have made unbelievable comments.”

Academic policies: The APC (academic programs committee) presented a set of recommended changes to the establishment of tribunal hearing pools, revisions to the academic code of conduct, and academic re-evaluation procedures.

In each case, amendments were proposed by Blais that were aimed at increasing student participation in the process, although, as the APC chair (Lightstone) noted, similar amendments had already been discussed and defeated in committee. There was much discussion of these amendments, but ultimately, all were defeated.

Two examples:
One amendment would have called for the inclusion on tribunals of independent students, who have been exempted from normal admission procedures and take only two or at most three courses; this was rejected on the grounds that they are not sufficiently committed and integrated into student life to decide on serious cases of cheating. Another would have given students parity with faculty on an academic hearing panel; this was rejected on the grounds that the chair would have to cast the deciding vote in a tie, and this would change how he or she approached the task.

Reflecting on the amendments and the way the voting split, senator Arshad Ahmad (Business) reflected that there seemed to be an us-and-them mentality. “You should trust people to do an [academic] evaluation properly. We should be building bridges here.” All three documents were passed as presented by the APC.

Lightstone issued his annual challenge to donate $1 for every faculty member who made a pledge, over and above his own pledge to the Sept. 21 walkathon for scholarships.

Next meeting: October 5