Volume 96, Issue 60
Thursday, January 16, 2003

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Concordia not home to get-along gang

By Emmett Macfarlane
Gazette Staff

The political turmoil that has afflicted Concordia University this year has now become a legal controversy, after members of the Jewish group Hillel launched a lawsuit against the Concordia Students' Union for $100,000 in punitive damages.

The latest conflict at Concordia began after Hillel set up an information table during the first week of December.

"Hillel was handing out flyers that some people would call racy," said Arye Wig, a Hillel member, noting the flyers included statements reading, "We've Jihad Enough" and "Stop using the Koran to justify murder."

"That wasn't what held us responsible – that was just what inflamed them," Wig said, adding Hillel was suspended and had its funding blocked after a pamphlet was found on the table encouraging people to volunteer for the Israeli Defense Force.

"No one knows where that one came from," Wig said, adding it was likely placed on the table by a student, as it was not approved by Hillel.

CSU VP-communications Yves Engler said a suspension was imposed for four days before being lifted, but funding for the group remains frozen.

"What we're asking them [for] is to sign on to a very reasonable [agreement]," he said, adding the council originally asked for an apology, but Hillel refused. Engler said all campus clubs have been asked to sign an agreement to prevent the distribution of offensive material.

Wig said only nine out of 27 student council members were present at the meeting at which the decision to suspend Hillel was made, adding the group did not get the traditional week's notice regarding the motion to suspend.

"A lot of people expressed concern about the procedure," Engler admitted, adding this criticism played a part in the suspension being lifted.

"[The lawsuit is] just a public relations thing," Engler stated. "It's six or eight Hillel members who are basically suing [all] students [for perceived damages resulting from the suspension]."

The lawsuit follows the removal of the university's controversial moratorium on the discussion or planning of events pertaining to the Middle East. The ban was imposed by Concordia's administration after protesters rioted during a planned speech by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

University Students' Council president Chris Sinal said the USC has been working for a number of months to put together a community standards document. The document will regulate what events and tabling are held in the University Community Centre atrium and is being designed to prevent problems like the ones at Concordia, he said.

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