Editorial: Andrew Woodall needs to resign

Graphic Carl Bindman

On Thursday, Oct. 12, The Link received footage, along with two eyewitness testimonies, of Concordia Dean of Students Andrew Woodall apologizing to Palestinian students after allegedly giving them the middle finger on Mackay Street. 

Bara Abuhamed, the student Woodall directly apologized to, was waving the Palestinian flag through the sunroof of his friend's car. 

Concordia denies the dean made the gesture, rather, Woodall gave a “look” to the student due to the “high charged moments” of the ongoing Israel-Gaza war.  

This “look” must have been an immoral one if Woodall had to apologize to Abuhamed for his misconduct. Either that or Concordia is essentially claiming the Palestinian student is a liar, and cannot tell the difference between a discernable “look” and a hand gesture. 

The Link believes Woodall’s behaviour is unacceptable and deeply unprofessional for a representative of Concordia’s administration. 

The dean of students giving the middle finger–commonly associated with the intention of telling someone to fuck off–to a Palestinian student would be a blatant act of racism and xenophobia as well as an infringement of student rights. 

All students at Concordia, including Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs, have the freedom under Concordia’s Code of Rights and Responsibilities to voice their thoughts, beliefs and opinions—including freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association and the freedom of conscience and religion.

Abuhamed was simply holding a Palestinian flag from the passenger seat. 

The Link believes this “look,” or alleged hand gesture, qualifies as a targeted act of harassment. It’s also a breach of trust and transparency by the dean of students, who acts as a liaison between students and the school administration. Would Woodall have even apologized for this “look” if Abuhamed was not a student?

Woodall’s actions are a prime example of Concordia's double-standard between Israeli and Palestinian students. 

On Oct. 8, 35 international  Israeli students were sent an email by the International Student Office (ISO) expressing their concerns for Isrealis affected by the violence, providing them with a list of mental health ressources. While 30 students registered as Palestinian with the ISO received these ressources, members of the Palestinian diaspora within the Concordia community were not accommodated.

Palestinian students feel unwelcome on campus as a result of Woodalls behaviour and Concordia has othered them as aggressors. The admin is alienating grieving Palestinians who are emotionally devastated by the onslaught of attacks being committed in their homeland. 

It’s hypocritical of the dean, a person in a position of power, and for the university to call on Palestinian students to be respectful of others when Woodall was the one showing aggression towards Abuhamed expressing his solidarity with Palestinians living under brutal occupation

The Link is calling for Woodall to make a public apology for hurting members of the Palestinian community. 

We call on Woodall to resign from his position based on the eyewitness testimony of his completely inappropriate and racist interaction with Palestinian students. This allegation is evident of explicit discrimination towards students expressing their personal rights and views peacefully. Racism should have no place at Concordia, especially within its administration.

A previous version of this article stated that Palestinian students were never contacted. The International Student Office (ISO) sent resources to 30 Palestinian students. The Link regrets this error. 

This article originally appeared in Volume 44, Issue 4, published October 17, 2023.