Talkin’ ‘Bout Our Reputation

BoG Concerned With Concordia’s Brand After Homestay Allegations

An article published in The Link on Sept. 25 concerning Peter Low, Concordia’s recruitment agent for Chinese students, and the sub-standard living conditions faced by Concordia students living in homestays raised many questions at last Friday’s Board of Governors meeting.

“Why the hell didn’t I know about this?” asked Governor Tim Brodhead, referring to the fact that the first he’d heard of any issue involving Chinese students and homestays was brought to his attention by last Tuesday’s edition of this newspaper.

This sentiment was echoed by several other governors, who seemed disgruntled by the fact that they had to receive news of this nature via the media.

BoG members were very concerned with the effect the article would have on Concordia’s reputation.

The fact that Peter Low uses a Concordia University email address and that the recruitment agency features Concordia’s logo prominently were two concerns voiced by governors.

The wellbeing of this school’s reputation and the use of its name is not a topic of discussion that’s unfamiliar to the BoG.

Just prior to discussing the article, the Board approved the use of Concordia’s name for a cycling team that wished to use be known as Team Concordia U in a charity bike race. Additionally, this past March, BoG discussed granting use of the Concordia name to the Students for Israel club.

When a governor asked whether the BoG approved the use of the school’s name in the case of Low’s email address and the recruitment agency, VP Services Roger Côté explained that both had been in place for a long time.

“Why the hell didn’t I know about this?”
—Governor Tim Brodhead

Governor and former CSU president Lex Gill was less concerned about the school, and more about the students.

“Of course there is an institutional concern about the financial aspect, the legal aspect and about the reputational aspect,” explained Gill.

“But what is shocking to me is that there are actual students who have had this experience and that we don’t know the extent of how many have gone through this process.”

Gill urged the university to deal with the situation actively and step up their communication with students, making sure they are aware of their resources.

President Alan Shepard responded, assuring the BoG that he has a moral obligation to students and their safety, and that there is an investigation ongoing and housing arrangements are being looked into.

“I really do think the Board understands the gravity of the situation,” said Gill.

In other news, Graduate Students’ Association representative Erik Chevrier asked for a clarification of the university’s implementation of the Quebec government’s retraction of imposed tuition hike of $8.74 per credit.

Shepard says the school is waiting for instructions from the ministry, but expects to hear from them by Wednesday.

Gill also clarified that the typical $75 late fee will not be charged to students who had paid their tuition—minus the increase—by the deadline. The full amount must be paid for all other fees, however.