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Concordia sanctions will restore trust

11 students face disciplinary action. Failure to act would have let down the city, the alumni and the vast majority of students

DENNIS MURPHY
The Montreal Gazette novembre 2002

The rector of Concordia University, Frederick Lowy, and the board of governors have maintained all along that Concordia would try to identify those individuals responsible for the violence and intimidation that took place in the Hall Building on Sept. 9. After exhaustive research, 19 individuals have been identified.

Of these 19 people, 11 are students and one is a former student at the university. The 11 current students are charged under the University's Code of Rights and Responsibilities.

The code has two specific articles that directly address this situation. Article 16 has to do with harassment and Article 18 has to do with ''threatening or violent conduct.''

The 11 students have been informed of the specific charges they are facing under the code. These include assault, destruction of university property, illegal assembly and creating a hostile environment.

Integral to a university is the principle of academic freedom that values tolerance and respect for differing views. The events of Sept. 9 clearly contravene that principle.

When the hearing panel for the code convenes to evaluate the charges against the 11 students, it will have a series of sanctions at its disposal ranging from letters of reprimand to suspensions for a defined period of time to expulsion.

There are also individuals, some of whom are current students, who might face criminal charges. These charges are being investigated by the appropriate authorities.

These are facts.

Concordia University is taking this action because it must. We would be abdicating our primary responsibility and mission as an institution of higher education if we do not.

The vast majority of our students would be let down if we do not. The responses of the vast majority of our alumni would be ignored if we do not. The citizens of Montreal would be ill served if we do not.

The faith and trust placed in us by the government and people of Quebec when Concordia University was established would be in jeopardy if we do not.

What Concordia has been facing over the past two months is not unique. University campuses around the world have experienced demonstrations having to do with the complex Middle East situation.

What is unique to our situation is what happened on Sept. 9. The violence, intimidation and harassment manifestly evident on that day cannot be tolerated. The measures we took last week are the first step in making clear to the individuals involved that we will not tolerate such actions.

The public at large, and The Gazette's readership in particular, also deserve to be made aware of these measures in some detail. To relegate the announcement of those individuals facing sanctions to the News in Brief column in The Gazette of Nov. 2, is not consistent with the paper's handling of previous articles regarding the events of Sept. 9 and what came after.

Identifying the 19 people and making the subsequent charges under the University Code of Rights and Responsibilities are further steps under the Rector's commitment to maintaining an atmosphere of civility, tolerance and mutual respect.

In addition to taking disciplinary action, the administration of Concordia University is taking steps to bring the various factions together. We are planning events to take place once the cooling-off period is lifted.

One of Concordia's strengths is our cultural diversity across faculties and in the student body. We are proud of this diversity. It can only serve to benefit our students. It might well serve as a model for other institutions of higher education across North America.

Dennis Murphy is the executive director of communications at Concordia University.