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Concordia Univ Stops Palestine Conference

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  • ummyakoub
    Note: Concordia University Rector Frederick Lowy can be reached at e-mail: Frederick.Lowy@concordia.ca or lowyfh@vax2.concordia.ca - Phone: 848- 2424 ext 4868
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 6, 2004
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      Concordia University Rector Frederick Lowy can be reached at e-mail:
      Frederick.Lowy@... or lowyfh@... - Phone: 848-
      2424 ext
      4868 // Fax: (514) 848-4546

      Repression of Pro-Palestinian Activism Continues: Concordia's Head of
      Security suspends SPHR events

      From: SPHR-Concordia University, Montreal: pal@...
      Date: Saturday Feb 28, 2004

      We ask you to take the time to read this email and to show your
      support by attending the event.

      Things have been rather hectic as usual with Concordia administration
      continuing their attempts to sensor Palestinian Solidarity organizers.

      Does this sound familiar? Well it was the case in previous years and
      yet again it continues. The Concordia Security department is blocking
      Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) from booking the H-110
      auditorium for the lecture by Dr. Mustafa Barghouti on March 2nd
      2004. The director of Security at Concordia, Mr. Jean Brisebois
      clearly stated that SPHR cannot hold any events until they pay their
      previous dues to the Security office.

      The money in question is the security fee charged to SPHR for the
      Norman Finkelstein lecture held on Feb. 11th 2004. The amount in
      question is $160. It was pointed out to Mr. Brisebois by SPHR
      representative Shadi Hajjara that other student clubs who have not
      paid their security dues in years have accumulated up to 4 or 5 digit
      expenses owed to the Security office. Their events have not been
      blocked, and a demand for their payment has not been made, while SPHR
      who owes only $160 is being forced to pay and is required to pay
      upfront another $160 for Barghoutis lecture (no club has been asked
      to pay upfront in the past). Mr. Brisebois claimed that he will block
      any club that has not paid their expenses from having events until
      they pay up, but that claim did not materialize.

      SPHR believes this to be a clear-cut case of discrimination.

      The problems started around the time where SPHR was getting a security
      approval for the Norman Finkelstein lecture. The security office
      needed an unusually long time, 3 weeks, to approve the event. The
      result was that two guards were assigned which SPHR had to pay for.
      Two days before the event, SPHR receives a call from the security
      office saying that the security threat against Dr. Finkelstein has
      increased and 6 more guards had to be assigned to the event, their
      payment has to take place upfront or else the event will be
      cancelled. SPHR refused to comply, and insisted that this type of
      blackmail will not go by unnoticed. The security office finally
      backed down and let the event happen without any problems and the
      bill for the extra security guards was charged to vice-rector

      After Finkelsteins lecture, things took a turn to the worse. The
      security office continuously refused to give SPHR an approval for Dr.
      Barghoutis lecture. The approval form for Dr. Barghoutis lecture was
      handed in on Jan. 21st, three weeks prior to Finkelsteins lecture,
      but even one week after the Finkelstein lectured, an approval was not

      Security personnel had a variety of answers to SPHR representatives
      on why the approval is taking time to be processed. Once it is the
      big load of approval forms that a few can only process. Another time,
      it was a new committee formed specifically to look at all Middle East
      related events, and the committee needed time to meet and review the
      events (a claim that we realized to be false later on). And most of
      the time, there was no one there to answer the questions.

      Up until Wednesday Feb. 18th, there was no clear answer to why the
      request has not been processed. On that day, when the security desk
      was asked again about the request, we were told that no decision will
      be made until SPHR pays up their bill. This was an unprecedented move
      by the Security office, not once before has a student association or
      club been held hostage to a security bill.

      We went to the Security office to meet with Mr. Brisebois hoping he
      would explain why SPHR was being treated as such. Mr. Brisebois at
      first refused to come down the stairs from his office to talk our
      representative (Shadi). Instead he started screaming at Shadi from
      the top of the stairs and speaking to him in a very unprofessional
      manner (Shadi filed a security report of the incident claiming

      We just want to remind you all that Brisebois had no reason to
      justify his ludicrous actions. The security bill for SPHRs lecture by
      Eric Ben-Artzi, Netanyahu's nephew ($320), in Fall 2003 has already
      been paid by a special project grant for the lecture from the CCSL.
      And Briseboiss presumptions that SPHR will not pay a bill of $160
      just because payment has been received in a week demonstrate his
      prejudices towards Palestinian Solidarity organizers.

      Having stated that, it doesnt mean that SPHR is willing to continue
      paying those security bills. But SPHR was working on a motion in CSU
      council to put the responsibility of paying those bills on other
      bodies. The motion was successfully passed on Wednesday Feb. 18th,
      but still, the end result hoped for from the motion needs a while to
      materialize since the newly assigned committee would need time to
      draw strategies and call for meetings with the administration.

      Back to the story... On Feb. 18th, SPHR tried once more to reason
      with Mr. Brisebois, but to no use. This time Mr. Brisebois chose to
      come down the stairs to talk to the SPHR representatives! But his
      unprofessionalism took over the conversation. Among the things Mr.
      Brisebois stated during this conversation (remember that he was
      acting as an official representing Concordia):

      -- "In my opinion, there should not be any political activism on
      campus, the university is a place to study and I dont like people who
      come to university to do politics."
      -- He took the opportunity to bash Samer Elatrash, this time he
      claimed that Samer instigated the demonstration held by Hillel
      members outside the Norman Finkelsteins lecture. He said, "if Samer
      wasnt outside, there would not have been a demonstration." We found
      this absurd, especially since the demonstrators were protesting
      against Finkelstein and they came with their placards and slogans
      ready. What does Samer have to do with this?!
      -- When asked to give us a copy of the official regulations with
      regards to billing, he said that we "do not have a right for a copy
      because [we] didnt pay yet.. pay first then get a copy!" Later that
      day, we asked the CSU to ask him for a copy of the regulations, his
      answer to them was "no such thing exists."

      Of course, Brisebois was reminded again and again of the student clubs
      that have not paid up their bills.. but he was not concerned with the
      $20,000 that Hillel owed for Netanyahu, or the MSA's accumulation of
      bills, it was the one week old $160 bill for SPHR that hes after.
      Brisebois was concerned because he felt that the security offices
      budget cannot handle all the growing bills that students clubs
      acquire, so he wanted to act upon it, but he had to show his true
      colors in the process, his cowardice since he would only dare pick on
      SPHR but not MSA or Hillel and his prejudice towards SPHR have become
      very clear.

      SPHR contacted the Vice-rector, Mr. Michel Di Grappa, the following
      day, but his position was the same as that of Brisebois, "pay first,
      then we'll talk."

      So SPHR decided to pay the bill for the time being since the event is
      lurking round the corner, and a lot of resources have been put into
      getting that event to happen. The payment was made on Monday Feb.
      23rd. An approval was received only on Tuesday Feb. 24th, almost 5
      weeks after putting in the form. Again remember, when handing in that
      form to the security desk, the person behind the desk says, "this
      will take up to 5 working days to be processed."

      With the approval came a condition. Specifically, the condition stated
      that conference services cannot book SPHR the space unless payment is
      received upfront for the two security guards for Barghouti's lecture.
      Mr. Brisebois knows that the CSU was off for the whole week because
      its reading week, and he knows that SPHR cannot get a signing officer
      from the CSU to sign on the bill (all club transactions need CSU
      approval) since the CSU is closed during reading week, but he still
      insisted that SPHR pays first. Brisebois promised to get in contact
      with the CSU executives in order to facilitate that transaction, but
      SPHR has not heard from him or the CSU executive since. And as we
      write this email today, Saturday Feb. 28th, 3 days prior to the
      event, we have yet to receive a booking confirmation for lecture hall

      Again we stress that no club, before this incident, has got their
      events suspended by the security office because they have not paid
      their outstanding balances. And no club has ever been asked to pay a
      bill in advance. SPHR, out of all the clubs, is asked to do so even
      though SPHR is the only student association that paid ALL their
      security bills this academic year.

      We kindly ask you to spread the word and forward this. Your
      attendance Dr. Barghoutis lecture would be appreciated and it would
      put much needed pressure on the Security office.

      The event is Tuesday March 2nd at 7pm
      Concordia University, Hall Building H-110
      1455 De Maisonneuve W. Montreal Quebec

      Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights
      (Concordia University)
      WEB: http://www.sphr.org
      E-mail: concordia@...

      Address:- 2020 Mackay, suite #307
      Phone :- (514) 848-7418



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