Volume 96, Issue 14
Friday, September 20, 2002

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EDITORIAL

Violated rights

In 1970, during the FLQ crisis in Montreal, former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act, giving him free reign to haul away any unsuspecting person in the middle of the night. Twenty-two years later, Montreal is again the site of an attack on democracy.

Concordia University in Montreal has banned anything related to Palestinian and Israeli relations from their campus for an extremely vague "cooling off period." This includes getting rid of all information booths, exhibitions, meetings, posters and the introduction of a Rector to take immediate action against anyone caught committing violations. All this comes on the heels of a Palestinian protest on Sept. 9 that turned violent and subsequently forced the cancellation of a speech by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The extent of the injustice runs deep. How can Concordia rationally think that putting a clamp on all relations is going to cause the problem to go away? Moreover, what gives them the authority to do this in the first place?

Last time we checked, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was still a living, breathing document that applied to every place in this country, including universities. This policy is not some insignificant administrative trifle; it represents a fundamental violation of Canadians' rights and freedoms.

The censorship doesn't stop there.

No student group with the purpose of distributing information is allowed to assemble in the Concordia equivalent of Western's University Community Centre atrium. It doesn't matter if you are promoting snow boarding or study clubs – you can't do it at Concordia.

Anybody who, in the eyes of the university, is guilty of breaking the new zero tolerance policy faces immediate suspension with the possibility of being fined or expelled.

If you're a Concordia student, how do you voice your discontent with this decision without opening yourself up to punishment from the university's administration?

The truly disturbing part of this mess is that Concordia's administration seems to view revoking rights as a genuine solution to their recent history of campus strife. At what point in history has stifling freedoms ever resulted in the resolution of problems? The oppression of rights is only likely to lead to a severe backlash and more campus tension.

Maybe the constant media attention the Netanyahu incident initiated caused the brass at Concordia to believe they had to make it look like they were taking a stand. However, the university's current ban and regressive policies have simply dumped gallons of fuel on a simmering fire.

With a removal of basic rights already occurring at Concordia, it's difficult to imagine things getting any worse – then again, who would have ever thought things would get this bad?

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2002 THE GAZETTE