Open Letter: Charges Against Students are an Embarrassment to Concordia, Must be Dropped Immediately

Dear Concordia president Alan Shepard,

I’m one of two dozen students who may face expulsion for an alleged violation of Concordia’s Code of Rights and Responsibilities—much like we’ve seen at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM).

The charge: having helped to peacefully enforce an April 1 strike mandate democratically voted upon at a general assembly of the Political Science Students’ Association, the university-recognized representative body of all students in that department.

The weird thing—aside from the complete disregard for intellectual workers’ right to strike—is that I was simply not there.

Where was I? April 1 was the final day of voting for the Graduate Students’ Association, and as chief electoral officer, I was busy overseeing one of the largest elections in that association’s history.

Political science professor Graham Dodds, who I’ve never met, has lost all credibility by accusing me of being in his class that day. But there are also plenty of other aberrations to suggest that the charges—against all of us—are spurious and must immediately be thrown out.

For instance, having previously acknowledged students’ right to strike, why has your administration chosen to formally join Dr. Dodds as co-complainant?

Why did your Security department—who I worked with closely in running the GSA election—submit a letter against me on the university’s behalf on May 19?

Why did I only receive notification of the charge on May 25—nearly two full months after the event in question?

Why did Ricochet report last week that our trials will only happen in the fall, when the Code calls for them to take place within twenty days?

Finally, why are nine well-respected student representatives accusing you of “predatory behaviour” for having lied about not proceeding with charges?

This case is apparently being instrumentalized to repress critical voices at Concordia, targeting any and all of us who are actively involved in our associations and resisting the government’s brutal budget cuts—no matter where we were on April 1st.

According to the Code, a complaint should be rejected if “it is trivial, frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith,” or if not “supported by sufficient evidence.” Is this not a textbook example?

Dr. Shepard, by having this increasingly absurd spectacle thrown out, you can save yourself from further embarrassment and prove you really have learned from the spring of 2012.

Jonathan Summers, graduate student in Educational Studies