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October 24, 2002 Board rejects inquiry into Sept. 9




by Laurie Zack

By a close vote, Concordia’s board of governors rejected a call for an independent inquiry into the university’s handling of the Sept. 9 violence over the visit of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Concordia Student Union president Sabine Friesinger proposed the motion at the board’s 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 university’s emergency measures team.

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 CSU matter.

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 Lightstone’s term ends May 31, 2004.