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September 26, 2002 Board seeks to defuse tensions — cooling-off period on MidEast issues



by Barbara Black

The Board of Governors of the university deliberated in closed session for two and a half hours on Sept. 18, and emerged with more details of the measures being taken to deal with the fallout from the recent disturbance on the downtown campus.

On Sept. 9, a protest against scheduled speaker Benjamin Netanyahu turned violent, resulting in a confrontation in the mezzanine and lobby of the Hall Building, broken windows and furniture, pepper spray (but not tear gas, as previously reported) and five arrests so far. It also resulted in national publicity, much of it negative.

The Board adopted three resolutions, which you can read in full on the university’s Web site, www.concordia.ca. For a period of at least three months, public meetings or speeches dealing with Israeli-Palestinian issues are disallowed, as are exhibits or installations, posters and information tables with pamphlets or other material on the subject.

This does not stop people from discussing the Middle East or any other topic among themselves. Nor does it stop discussion in class when such discussion bears upon the subject matter of the course.

Information tables and display booths of any kind are disallowed in the lobby and mezzanine of the Hall Building, and the university will ind other appropriate space.

The rules are being enforced by the Dean of Students Office, in co-operation with University Security. Sanctions will depend on the severity of the offense and the status of the rule-breaker. The police have offered their full co-operation, and infractions of the criminal code will be pursued.

The Board has also granted Rector Frederick Lowy the power of immediate action to deal with a student who breaks university rules. This may take the form of a written reprimand, imposed conditions, payment for loss of property, a fine of up to $500, suspension from the university, and expulsion. The student has the right to request a review of the ruling by a panel of the Board of Governors.

One Board resolution describes unacceptable behaviour as discrimination, harassment, threats or violence, offenses against property, and other acts contrary to a safe and civil environment at the university.

Non-students who breach university rules will be excluded from university property and may face other penalties, and organizations which do so will indefinitely lose the right to reserve university facilities.

In a message to the university community, the Rector explains the need for this cooling-off period, and specifically encourages activities likely to bring the two opposing sides together, or at least shed light on the subject rather than heat.

These could include constructive, low-key meetings of both sides, articles and letters to the student newspapers and the Thursday Report, and classroom discussions conducted under the supervision of an instructor. For more on this issue, see Senate Notes, Opinion, and CSU.