Students denounce double standard in Concordia’s Israel-Palestine statements

Separate emails leave students feeling “appalled” and “unsafe” by administration

Graphic Adam Gibbard

On Oct. 11, the Concordia Communications team and President Graham Carr sent out a statement to the university’s entire student body regarding the “events in the Middle East.” 

The correspondence described how “profoundly troubling the deadly attacks and kidnappings by Hamas in Israel” are, and expressed concern that “the violence and the reporting on it will inevitably intensify emotions in ways that risk becoming even more polarizing than they already are.”

The email asked the Concordia community to “conduct [it]self respectfully” in the event demonstrations occur on campus, mentioning past demonstrations “not authorized by or associated with Concordia” that have taken place.

The administration then detailed having “reached out to some students and student groups whose members are most affected by this war” in support.

SPHR member Laith Barghouthi explained that the “safety” and “zero-tolerance policy for hate and violence” message Concordia reiterated in its mass email resulted in more uneasiness for the Palestinian student community.

“Scratch SPHR—as a Palestinian student, we’re not feeling safe,” he said. “They think they have a superiority complex on us and it’s something we don’t approve of.”

The day prior, the student group Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) Concordia received an email from Dean of Students Andrew Woodall. After he expressed wishes of safety for any family members possibly located in the region, Woodall wrote: “I also want to remind you that we do expect everyone at Concordia to be respectful of each other even in difficult times so if any of your members are feeling otherwise, please let us know. We are proud of our safe campus notwithstanding many different opinions.”

On Oct. 8, multiple Israeli international students received a separate email from the International Students Office in which on and off-campus mental health resources were explicitly laid out. The message mentions “Concordia’s wishes to express deep concern for all members of the community impacted by the violence in the Middle East.” While 30 students registered as Palestinian with the ISO received these resources, members of the Palestinian diaspora within the Concordia community were not accommodated. These emails were also never sent to members of SPHR. 

One Israeli student, granted anonymity for their safety, was a recipient of this correspondence. They expressed their “complete appallment and disappointment [towards] the actions committed by the Concordia administration” to The Link.

“Sending out an email of support and sympathy to only Israeli students and disregarding that all the other students are going through a difficult time is an absolutely disgraceful thing to do,” they said.

They added that “the Concordia administration should be ashamed of this act and should rectify it as soon as possible.”

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. 

With files from Maria Cholakova.

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