Concordia President convenes town hall
Concordia President Frederick Lowy convened a meeting with 200 students Tuesday, April 10 to allow them the opportunity to express their opinions about the Quebec government’s planned tuition fee increase. Lowy decided to convene the town hall following an impromptu discussion with students April 3.
In his brief introductory remarks, Lowy said the purpose of the town hall was to listen to students, and that it was not a decision-making meeting.
Numerous students and faculty approached the microphones set up in the auditorium of the Henry F. Hall Building to express their opinions or ask questions of university administrators. Joining Lowy were Vice-President, Institutional Relations and Secretary-General, Bram Freedman and Vice-President, Services, Roger Côté.
During the 70-minute meeting, students voiced concerns on the commercialization and privatization of education, the rise in debt load for students, and difficulties faced by some professors as a result of the student protest action. Coté said faculty members are the only ones who can determine the evaluation of a course, and that those who are faced with a difficult situation should raise it with either the chair of their department or the dean of their Faculty.
Students also asked Concordia’s administration to waive the $20 fee for students who were applying for an “Incomplete” notation on their student record. Lowy said the notion of waiving the fee was currently under consideration.
Several students addressed their concerns about the rhetoric surrounding the tuition increase, which argues that students have to shoulder their fair share of the cost of providing high-quality, post-secondary education in Quebec.
In response, Côté said that questions of who pays for education, and whether students should be expected to shoulder a debt load, is a big part of the job of figuring out how to fund a university and make post-secondary education accessible. “Certainly money is a very key component of that, but it’s not the only one. There are a lot of other dimensions as well,” he said, before mentioning Quebec’s extensive loans and bursaries program as one existing method of addressing student debt.
Near the end of the town hall meeting, Evans Adrian from the Fine Arts Students Alliance presented President Lowy with an oversized envelope representing a formal request for academic amnesty for all fine arts students involved in the student protest.
• “Information for Students Regarding Protest Action” – NOW. March 9, 2012
• “Notice: Obstruction of Campus Facilities and Classrooms” – NOW, March 23, 2012
• Frequently Asked Questions – Obstruction of Campus Facilities and Classrooms
• Frequently Asked Questions for Students Regarding Protests Against the Increase in Tuition Fees