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

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.

Neutrality is spurious: student

Concerning your refusal to use the word “occupied” in reference to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in your effort to be seen as “neutral” you have, in fact, shown yourself to be anything but. The word “occupied” is the only honest and accurate description of the situation.

With the exception of the Israelis (and occasionally the Americans), virtually the entire world — including the UN — recognize that Israel is occupying the West Bank and Gaza. Furthermore, it is a flagrantly illegal occupation which, like all military occupations, is enforced by violence and intimidation.

Quite frankly, as a journalism student at Concordia, I’m more than a little disgusted by your attitude on this matter. In refusing to use the word “occupation” you are essentially adopting the line of the Israeli government and negating the harsh reality of life for millions of Palestinians who live under occupation.

While “presence” may be a technically accurate descriptive term, it is intellectually dishonest and seriously distorts and misrepresents the reality. The concept of neutrality itself is rather spurious, especially in a case such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When you try to be neutral in a conflict where one side is overwhelmingly stronger than the other, whether you like it or not, you are implicitly siding with the stronger party.

I’m particularly shocked to see this kind of nonsense being propagated by Thursday Report, it seems much more suited to the odious pages of an Asper publication.

Christopher Hazou, Journalism

Editor’s note: We understand that the term “presence” may have offended some readers. This was not our intent.

Fight for all: student

I didn’t move 4,773 kilometers away from my friends and family to learn specifically about Palestine or Israel.

The kind of activism I envisioned was not about endless discussions on whether this word/action is really anti-Semitic or this word/action anti-Arab, but about unifying, mobilizing, and consolidating energy and talent to stand up for human beings every where in the world who are suffering.

I’d like to be proud that Concordia is notorious for fighting for human rights instead of for just fighting.

Ezra Winton, Political Science/Communications

Hearings raise questions: alumnus

The following is an open letter to Concordia senior administrators and the Board of Governors.
It is disappointing to me, a Concordia alumnus, to see you acting hypocritically with regards to the charges placed on your own students from the incidents of September 9, 2002.

I gather that one of the charges being placed on Yves Engler is of “creating an intimidating or hostile environment on campus.” How do you think Palestinian Concordia students felt when the right to create a Palestinian Human Rights student club was denied them three years ago? Was that not an extremely “unwelcoming” act on your part? Why weren’t those responsible for this decision fired from their posts if you are threatening to expel Mr. Engler from school?

Furthermore, if the evidence being used against these students in the interest of expelling them is so great, then why can’t they see all of it? And why hold the hearings behind closed doors?
But speaking of false accusations and conspiracies, if the issue at hand for the Sept. 9 events is truly one of freedom of speech, then how can you justify having Jaggi Singh arrested and expelled from campus for five years on January 20 for something he allegedly did on September 9, more than four months earlier?

The timing is odd enough to begin with. However, the fact that he was arrested during an interview with the press and directly preceding a talk he was scheduled to give about global migration at McGill University and only hours after he spoke at a rally regarding the first disciplinary hearing makes it even more suspect.

Simone Arsenault-May, BA, MES, alumnus, ApSS & SCPA, 1999

CTR solicited the following response:

Unfortunately, your letter raises several misconceptions that we have seen in the media during the last few days.

Firstly, with respect to claims of unfairness to student clubs, you should address yourself to the CSU, since they are responsible for the funding and recognition of student groups.

With respect to those accused under our Code of Rights and Responsibilities for involvement in the disturbance that resulted in the cancellation of the planned speech by Benjamin Netanyahu, the hearings are closed to protect the confidentiality of those accused and the integrity of the hearings.

The Code provides for extensive procedural due process for accused students. Students receive copies of any and all information that will be used against them in advance of the hearing as well as a list of the witnesses that will appear at the hearing and have the opportunity to question the witnesses, raise whatever defenses they wish and present whatever arguments they wish.

The members of the hearing panel are drawn from a pool of students nominated by the Concordia Student Union (CSU) and the Graduate Student Association (GSA). A non-voting volunteer lawyer, external to the University, who is there to ensure that the hearing proceeds fairly, chairs the hearing panel. In fact, Concordia’s Code is a model for other Canadian universities in terms of due process and safeguarding the rights of the accused.

In reference to Mr. Singh, following the SPHR demonstration last Monday, two SPVM officers arrived on campus and asked our Security to escort them to the CSU offices to determine whether Jaggi Singh was there. The university was not responsible for calling the police. Mr. Singh was located in one of the offices at which time the officers placed him under arrest for assault. We later learned that the assault charge stems from the Sept. 9 incident.

In terms of the University’s decision to ban Mr. Singh from campus, the University has from the outset maintained that any and all individuals involved in the September 9, 2002, disturbances who could be identified would be charged under our disciplinary Code if they were students or be banned from campus for five years if they were not students. As a result, Mr. Singh is being treated in exactly the same manner as all others in his position.

Bram Freedman, Assistant Secretary-General and General Counsel