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October 24, 2002 Letters


We welcome your letters, opinions and comments at BC-121/1463 Bishop St., by fax (514-848-2814), or e-mail (barblak@alcor.concordia.ca) by 9 a.m. on the Friday prior to publication.

Remember the fear, says student

I am a second-year communications student. All I have seen on the news is that Concordia University is banning free speech and we students are somehow prisoners of the school’s policies.

Just a reminder to every student who was trying to be in class on Sept. 9 at 1 p.m. at the SGW campus: Do you remember how many of us couldn’t get inside the building? Remember those who got stuck inside the building and couldn’t get out? Remember the pepper gas?

Remember the students in the halls and in the stairs, completely confused? Remember being afraid because of all the yelling and noise going on outside? Remember all the classes that were cancelled? Well, let me tell you something, I do.

I remember that when things cooled down, I was at the mezzanine, and all I saw was dust, garbage everywhere, and I felt a strange breeze coming inside from the broken window. I felt I was in a war zone. But no, it was my school.

Don’t you think it is time we became responsible for our actions? The fact that this protest became violent affected many people who had nothing to do with the event that was going to take place. Because we attend Concordia does not mean we all agree on everything that goes on on campus.

There should be enough space for everyone to believe in what they wish, but we must not forget that our freedom ends where the freedom of other people begins.

Aida Séguin

Invite Netanyahu back: Student

The CSU is constantly promoting the importance of free speech on campus, yet has not condemned the SPHR leaders and members who organized the violent rally preventing the free speech of ex-Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The leaders of the SPHR have said they organized the rally to prevent Mr. Netanyahu from speaking, by whatever means necessary. Some SPHR members and leaders allegedly assaulted students, broke the Hall Bulding window, broke Canadian laws as well as Concordia laws.

If they are responsible for violence, the SPHR should be banned from our campus, for breaking all these laws and for violently preventing the free speech of a speaker. The SPHR has lost their right to be a club on campus.

The CSU should apologize to Mr. Netanyahu and invite him to come back to speak.

Michael Harris, Political Science student

CUPFA: Kate Bligh responds

At Gary Schwartz’s suggestion (CTR Nov 7) I am more than happy to provide some constructive suggestions for improving the way that we part-timers are represented by our union:

constructive, actual, two-way (rather than virtual) consultation between part-time reps and the executive

cross-departmental discussion groups for the identification of common concerns at representative level

more careful attention to points and examples provided by spokespersons for the union to the press (it was the embarrassing content of an article about CUPFA which prompted me to write in the first place)

increased receptivity to and consideration of the contrasting and sometimes opposing priorities and needs of the more recent generation of union members.

I also have some suggestions as to how part-time hiring committees might be enabled to function more broadly in the long-term pedagogic interest of all, rather than in the present, short-term interest of part-timers with high seniority ratings:

an improved, more sophisticated teaching evaluation system which calibrates excellence and inadequacy in teaching with far more accuracy than the present one

the inclusion of such a system for consideration alongside seniority credits at hiring time

a greater flexibility on the part of the union with regard to evolving or departmentally-specific pedagogic requirements.

Gary Schwartz suggested, “Perhaps Ms Bligh has had the misfortune of teaching different courses every year at Concordia or has been passed over for her preferences during the hiring period.”

Yes, I have taught different courses almost every year of the last five years; but I would not consider this to be a misfortune. It has been my choice, borne out of a deliberate intention to expand my teaching skills and practise. During this time I have occasionally been passed over for a course preference; in each case, this was because someone with higher seniority had also applied for it; a direct result of part-time hiring protocol.

Part-timers already have a good degree of job security at Concordia, and I am cognisant of the fact that this is a result of hard-won battles by senior union members. However, the sort of security which is now being demanded seems to be little short of tenure-by-the-backdoor.

When an increasing number of enlightened academic institutions across North America and Europe are in the process of abolishing this medieval practise altogether, it feels to me to be a retrograde step for part-timers at Concordia to be attempting to shore it up. Yes, I think that time-servers (as opposed to excellent, seasoned, experienced teachers) should be rooted out at all levels. I believe that bad teaching is not just unfortunate but is actively harmful both to individual students and to the future Canadian society that we all have a stake in.
As far as the suggestion that I need a ‘severe reality check’:- My reality.

-Kate Bligh, Theatre