by Laurie Zack
By a close vote, Concordias board of governors rejected a call for
an independent inquiry into the universitys handling of the Sept.
9 violence over the visit of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Concordia Student Union president Sabine Friesinger proposed the motion
at the boards regular meeting March 19 calling for an independent
inquiry. She claimed that the university was not taking responsibility
for its errors and that incompetent... administrators should
be held responsible.
Vice-Rector Michael Di Grappa retorted that it was the demonstrators who
were responsible for the violence; there had been discussions with the
organizers of the demonstration, the police and the CSU who all assured
the university that violence was unlikely. Reasonable measures were taken,
he said, and the weaknesses that were identified in the report are part
of an action plan under development by the universitys emergency
CSU representative Youri Cormier called the Sept. 9 report a PR
move and chastised the administration for not involving the CSU
in the inquiry.
Faculty board member June Chaikelson responded that the university had
looked hard at itself and its handling of the situation. She was still
waiting for the CSU to do likewise, especially the involvement of some
members of the CSU executive in the violence.
Some board members said the inquiry was needed to clear the air. Others
felt that the report effectively identified the problems and it was time
to put the events of Sept. 9 behind us.
Student representative Chae Dickie-Clark criticized the administration
for not permitting a pro-Palestinian rally on university property in September
2001 while taking special measures to accommodate Netanyahu.
Rector Lowy responded that in the case of the 2001 rally, the organizers
had estimated that there would be more than 15,000 participants on the
John Molson School lot, a number far surpassing the capacity of the lot
and the ability of the university to handle the event safely.
The university accepted the Hillel event after studying several security
recommendations, discussing the matter with security and the police, and
being assured that classes could continue in the Hall Building. The report
analyzes the consequences of this decision and makes recommendations.
The rector also reported back to the board concerning its decision to
not turn over CSU funds until budget information was verified. He said
that the figures were submitted to outside auditors.
In the meantime, he recommended that $400,000 for insurance purposes
be released immediately and that the remaining $100,000 (with interest)
be handed over as soon as the outside audit confirms that there are no
problems. The rector expressed concern that the CSU provides only 8.8
per cent of its funds to campus clubs, but admitted that it was an internal
On a point of privilege, student board member Sobia Virk asked to address
the board claiming she had been slandered. Chair Lillian Vineberg denied
the request, saying that she had asked Virk to submit her complaint in
writing. She assured Virk that it would be circulated to all board members.
In closed session, the term of Fine Arts Dean Christopher Jackson was
extended a year until May 31, 2005, at the request of several department
chairs to assure co-ordination of the CFI issues and the Hexagram project
with the incoming provost.
A motion was passed establishing the advisory search committee for a
provost. Jack Lightstones term ends May 31, 2004.