Urban Planning Students Renew Strike

UPA To Strike For Days Leading Up to March 15

Photo David Murphy

The Urban Planning Association is keeping up with most of its strike tactics until the student-wide strike on March 15 after renewing its mandate in a second General Assembly yesterday.

Since this GA and others in the Geography, Planning and Environment department, chair David Greene has now backed down from previous threats to expel students caught blocking professors, calling the pickets a violation of human rights.

The UPA GA yesterday saw 43 people vote for the strike, 15 against and seven abstaining in the show-of-hands vote on the seventh floor of the Hall Building.

A new amendment, however, allows UPA students to hand in assignments without breaking the strike mandate. The Geography Undergraduate Student Society voted down a similar mandate at its GA Monday, however.

Another amendment was passed saying picketers are now allowed to block entry to labs, a change from a motion from the previous UPA GA, which allowed students to access labs. Labs are still accessible outside scheduled class times, however.

The tone of the second GA was much more civilized than the previous meeting, which was described as “messy” by UPA president Sam Carter-Shamai. Concordia Student Union President Lex Gill chaired the meeting using Robert’s Rules of Order in place.

“It was democratic, but I still think I should be allowed to go to class,” said 21-year-old UPA member Arianna Matteo.

Greene also agreed with the democratic process, something he said was lacking last week at the GUSS GA.

He has now eased off on his threat to expel students caught picketing classrooms because of the GAs being held in the department. His previous claims were that to students picketing classes were violating Concordia’s Code of Rights and Responsibilities—and human rights.

“I cannot know how harsh a penalty a cited student would receive for repeatedly violating the code,” said Greene. “It would be unacceptable to me if a member of our community, whose political action was sanctioned by a truly democratic assembly, were to seriously suffer for that action.”

“The round of voting by the three groups this week shows that support for the tactic remains very strong. In short, the students of GPE have a democratic legitimacy for their actions that was lacking before.”

Although Greene now says he thinks the process is democratic, Jean-Francois Baillargeon, a specialization planning student, thinks the process could have been handled differently.

“I think it should be a closed ballot. There should be some voting stations, and you can go present your identification and vote,” said Baillargeon. “Okay yes, we got the quorum, but if we’re only like 60 people, how can we represent the whole [department]?”

Urban planning student Kelly Pennington was happy with the result, and stated that if people were unhappy with the voting process, they always had the option to add an amendment to make the vote a secret ballot.

“For the most part, people respect other people’s political opinions,” said Pennington.

“I was skeptical that [the strike would continue],” said Kelly. “Looking around the room and seeing those who I know, I just didn’t have a great feeling about it.”

Carter-Shamai, however, likes the voting process right now and wouldn’t change it.

“I like the community that’s created by people putting their hands up in the air,” said Carter-Shamai. “That sounds like the most democratic process. People can voice their opinions and argue with one another, and then you come to a conclusion, a resolution.”