Welcome Mr. President

Group of Students Silence Presidential Introduction

  • A group of protesters cut short Concordia’s special joint meeting April 24. Photo Corey Pool

The introduction of the potential incoming Concordia president Dr. Alan Shepard was cut short with the wailing of a bullhorn and chanting students in the packed D.B. Clarke Theatre on April 24.

A group of roughly 20 students angered by the silence of the university administration on the issue of the student strike disrupted the meeting, causing it to be canceled. The group did not appear to have any specific affiliation, but were clearly not represented by the Concordia Student Union.

“I’m sick of the University giving us these token moments, like a one hour town hall meeting that is made for 40,000 students to air their concerns,” said Alex Matak, Geography student and the voice behind the bullhorn. “If they are not going to listen to us then their ‘business as usual’ is not going to continue.”

Matak read a document over the bullhorn, directing concerns to specific members of administration who were present for the meeting. Any attempts to speak by Board of Governors chair Peter Kruyt were drowned out by the siren of the bullhorn.

CSU President Lex Gill attempted to converse with Matak and the group over the microphone, asking for dialogue, but was mostly ignored.

“We had an opportunity here to meet and engage with the future president of our university, but now that decision is pretty much left in the hands of the board,” said Gill. “As a person who is part of an organization that values broad public consultation, I think that’s a shame.”

After nearly 30 minutes most of the administration and Shepard left the auditorium, followed by the majority of those in the audience.

“I think it’s clear that what’s happened here today is part of a broader picture, but the reality is that it would have been a great opportunity to get to grill the new president,” said Gill. “There are about 16 students who had the opportunity to speak to him, and before he is the president that is unfortunately all that will get the chance to.”

Concordia Spokesperson Chris Mota expressed that the incident was a missed opportunity, and that any potential comments that could have been delivered to the advisory committee which will make the final decision on whether or not Shepard will become president will be lost.

“He will not be addressing Concordia,” said Mota. “There is until May 1 for individuals to send in their comments to the secretary of the Board and Senate and after that a recommendation will be made to the Board of Governors.”

In an email sent from Concordia on April 26, students were informed the university would host a conference call at 12:00 p.m. April 27 at Shepard’s request, where he will give his presentation and answer questions from the Board of Governors and Senate.

Audio from the call will be streamed on Concordia’s website. Members of the Concordia community are invited to submit their written questions to Vice-Chancellor Danielle Tessier by 9:00 a.m. Friday.

With Files from Hilary Sinclair
Updated April 26

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