Message from the President: recent events on campus
To members of the Concordia community,
Over the last few days, as is true of other university campuses across Canada, we at Concordia have witnessed a concerning rise in acts of intimidation and intolerant behaviour. Both Jewish and Muslim members of our community have reported provocative comments, insensitive or hostile social media posts, and expressed fears for their security on campus. The Montreal police have also reported a marked increase in hate-related incidents motivated by antisemitism and Islamophobia.
Today, there were three separate incidents on campus in which violence or incitement to violence took place. These incidents violate our values, our Code of Rights and Responsibilities and, in certain cases, are unlawful. Specifically, a student group issued a social media post that could reasonably be construed as inciting violence. Second, a violent altercation involving some students and some individuals external to our community occurred on the mezzanine of the Hall building. Police were called after two members of our Campus Safety and Prevention Services team who had tried to intervene were physically attacked and an ambulance had to be called. A student was also injured. Third, swastikas were discovered in one of our buildings. The university unreservedly condemns these deplorable acts and will make every effort to identify and bring those responsible to account for their behaviour.
I believe that the overwhelming majority of our community shares my complete abhorrence of these incidents and is appalled by them. A university, including ours, is a place where academic freedom, and the respectful, civil exchange of thoughts and ideas is valued above all else. One source of pride for Concordia’s community is our cultural diversity and our desire and willingness to learn from others whose experiences and knowledge differ from our own. But under no circumstances can we, as a community, tolerate the reprehensible acts of hate and violence that occurred today.
All of us have to be accountable for our actions and our words whether in the classroom, in meetings, or in other university spaces. The minimum that all of us deserve is to be shown respect and empathy for who we are as human beings. Concordia is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion; we believe those values make us stronger and allow us to strengthen our contribution to the society of which we are part.
I am deeply saddened and disgusted that the actions of a few individuals have now brought us to the point that we arrived at today. The vast majority of Concordians, irrespective of their political and ideological views, have worked diligently to maintain calm and to uphold the integrity of university life even at a moment when events elsewhere are creating extreme levels of anxiety and tension.
Clearly, the events of today must force each and every one of us to reflect on what we need to do—individually and collectively--to ensure that Concordia remains an extraordinary, vibrant place of teaching, learning and research. Unfortunately, some members both inside and outside our community are deliberately abusing the privileged place that universities afford society as stewards of tolerance, open and respectful exchange. We will continue to meet with student groups and university community leaders to reinforce the importance of upholding our shared responsibilities.
Two last points. We are aware that a demonstration is being planned for Thursday afternoon in the vicinity of the Guy-Concordia Metro. This is not a Concordia event and it is in no way sanctioned by the university. It is the responsibility of civic authorities to monitor what transpires.
We are nevertheless concerned because the event is in the proximity of our downtown campus. Naturally, we are determined to maintain the safety of our premises and our community so that the activities of teaching, learning and research to which Concordia is devoted can proceed as they should. Therefore, activities that may interfere with university operations or threaten the safety of our community members will not be tolerated.
Finally, I extend my heartfelt support to all members of our community who are experiencing anguish and pain as a result of the terrible things transpiring around us. Again, I want to remind all members of the community that we are there to provide support.
I am proud of Concordia and of our work to make the society around us a better place. This is an immensely stressful and disturbing moment, but it is precisely in these times that we must all be determined to do our part to be caring, to show compassion and to find the best in who we are.
President and vice-chancellor