UQÀM Concordia Demo Against Student Tribunals Enters University Buildings

A protest denouncing “political repression” by Concordia University and UQÀM administration of students entered and marched through Concordia buildings on Wednesday afternoon.

Beginning in Place Pasteur near the UQÀM campus downtown, the demonstration ended with speeches and chants inside Concordia’s GM-Building, where President Alan Shepard’s office is located.

The demonstration was organized in solidarity with activists from both schools to bring attention to students facing formal consequences for their respective involvement in strikes and mobilization against austerity last semester.

Nine students from UQÀM faced expulsion—only one individual has been expelled—and over 25 students at Concordia will face tribunals against the university admin who has become a co-complainant alongside the professors that filed the charges.

In a petition written by Solidarity Concordia, it states that the students facing tribunals were charged with obstruction and disruption of university activities under the school’s Code of Rights and Responsibilities.

Solidarity Concordia created a tribunal support committee which wrote the petition and helped organize the demo, according to its spokesperson Myriam Tardiff. She says the students at Concordia facing tribunals were arbitrarily selected.

“They wanted to diminish a political movement that was democratically voted at general assemblies,” she said. The university administration’s decision to become co-complainants was “weird” after they chose to use the term “strike” last semester, Tardiff continued.

Samuel Cossette, who was one of the nine students facing expulsion at UQÀM, says that administration targeted them randomly. He adds that they could’ve chosen anyone from thousands of students who partook in the strikes and demonstrations.

“They were targeting student activists, but it was more of a demonstration of force,” he said. “They had a strategy to break the strike movement.”

Justine Boulanger is the student who was expelled for one year. Cossette calls the process surrounding the tribunals and her expulsion “sketchy.” She sat on the Conseil d’Administration—UQÀM’s board of governors—along with René Delvaux, another one of the nine charged.

L’Association Facultaire Étudiante des Science Humaines (AFESH) voted to have a strike mandate for the Wednesday demonstration.

The demonstration moved from de Maisonneuve Blvd. to Ste. Catherine St. as police officers on bikes and motorcycles filtered traffic. There were no officers in riot gear, which was a common sight during protests last semester.

New protest response tactics may be expected from a new police chief, Philippe Pichet, who was appointed by Mayor Denis Coderre in July and took office recently.

Video shot and edited by Evgenia Choros