Concordia Partially Responds to CSU Request for Academic Amnesty

Open Letter Requests That Student Attendance and Marks Not Be Counted for 3 Days

A letter threatening to set off bombs in two buildings at Concordia was sent to the school and various media outlets yesterday. The university issued an evacuation notice to students in the Hall and EV buildings, respectively on Maisonneuve Blvd. and Ste. Catherine St. Photo Alex Bailey
The evacuation began around 11:30 a.m. About an hour later, it was announced that the GM building was being evacuated as well. Police eventually said they found no explosive devices or suspicious items. Photo Alex Bailey

The Concordia Student Union is requesting academic amnesty for students who feel unsafe coming to the university because of the bomb threats made yesterday that targeted Muslim students.

In an open letter sent and signed by the CSU executive team last night to the university administration, it requested that student attendance not be counted from March 1 to 3, and that all exams and assignments scheduled during that period should also be cancelled.

“These events were traumatizing to some, triggering to others, and made many feel unsafe,” the CSU wrote in the letter.

The university has since granted partial amnesty for students affected yesterday on March 1—but not from March 2 to 3.

“In light of the disruptions to academic activities caused by the events of March 1, I ask that all faculty members make appropriate accommodations for students whose classes were disrupted,” wrote Concordia Provost Graham Carr in a statement released today on the university website.

The letter by the CSU further stated their disapproval towards the university for reopening the Hall and EV buildings—the locations targeted in the letter—at 6 p.m. last night.

“While we trust that the physical safety of our community was no longer at immediate risk,” the letter continued, “we believe that the decision to resume classes in the affected buildings after evacuation, and to not cancel classes altogether, disregarded the emotional and mental health of many at Concordia.”

Carr, in his statement, said that although they reopened the buildings last night, public reports yesterday may have legitimately confused students as to whether their classes were still on or not. His statement ended with a list of contact information for Concordia Counselling and Psychology Services.

The CSU letter came out a few hours before Montreal police arrested a 47-year-old Côte-des-Neiges resident in connection with the bomb threats, according to local media reports this morning.

Sophia Sahrane, the CSU Academic and Advocacy Coordinator, wrote in a statement to The Link that the decision of the administration to reopen the university last night was unacceptable.

“The administration declaring my presence as mandatory in a space that just a few hours ago was unsafe for anyone to be in, but especially Muslim students, is unacceptable,” Sahrane said. “The administration claiming support of the Muslim community but then not even letting us process the violence we were threatened with is unacceptable.”

“The administration declaring my presence as mandatory in a space that just a few hours ago was unsafe for anyone to be in, but especially Muslim students, is unacceptable.” —Sophia Sahrane, CSU Academic and Advocacy Coordinator

As a student and Muslim individual, she first applauded Concordia President Alan Shepard for stating early on yesterday that the safety of students was his priority. But the decision to reopen all university activities revealed that these statements were nothing more than “camouflaged allyship.”

“This experience was traumatizing to me and many others, and must have been triggering to many, not just people from the Muslim community,” Sahrane said.

The Muslim Student Association at Concordia continued with the events they planned for their Islamic Awareness Week today in the lobby of the EV building. It will go on until 6 p.m.

On Facebook, the MSA asked that all Concordians come out in solidarity and support. Free samosas, cotton candy and Krispy Kreme donuts will be served all day, according to the post.

A screenshot of an email from a Concordia address.

CCSL Meeting Moved to Loyola

At least one meeting involving a Concordia administrator has been moved to the Loyola campus because of concerns about safety on the downtown campus.

The Concordia Council on Student Life has had a meeting moved to Loyola tomorrow on March 3 in order to ensure full participation, according to an email from a Concordia address.

Mota, the university spokesperson, said in an interview last night that Andrew Woodall—the Dean of Students who oversees the CCSL—wanted to give students who sit on the council and are feeling uncomfortable right now, a “peace of mind.”

“It was a caring gesture,” she said.

She clarified that while Woodall is an administrator from the university, the CCSL comprises of students, staff, and faculty. When the screenshot emerged, there was confusion as to whether other administrators would move their operations to Loyola as well.

“I have not heard of a single other one that has been moved,” Mota said.