All Posts Tagged With: "Concordia University"
Will voters remember this at the polls?
Quebec’s university administrators have long said their schools are underfunded. They blame the province’s low tuition rates, which are capped by the government at less than half what universities in Ontario and Nova Scotia are allowed to charge.
The administrators say they need more money to hire top researchers, attract international students, reduce class sizes and improve libraries.
Their demands were more or less met when the Liberal government announced it would nearly double tuition over several years.
Student groups, on the other hand, have long argued that Quebec universities don’t have a funding problem. They say it’s a spending problem.
Code of Rights explicitly outlaws obstruction
Concordia University students who blocked others from attending classes and exams during the now four-month-old “student strike” protests will face sanctions, reports the Montreal Gazette.
The university’s Office of Rights and Responsibilities has charged a number of students under the Code of Rights and Responsibilities and will try them this month. Sanctions may include payment for damaged property, community service, suspension or expulsion, a university spokesperson has said.
Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, study, student disciplinary procedures or other University activity. Notwithstanding the preceding, Members are free to engage in peaceful and orderly protest, demonstration, and picketing that do not disrupt the functions of the University. For example, peaceful picketing or other activity in any public space that does not impede access nor interfere with the activities in a class or meeting is an acceptable expression of dissent and shall not be considered an infraction of this article.
Luka Rocco Magnotta arrested in Berlin, Germany
Update (11:00 a.m. EST): Police in Berlin, Germany have arrested Magnotta.
With an international manhunt underway for Luka Rocca Magnotta, the weekend papers worked overtime to fill in details surrounding the case of the fugitive who police allege is responsible for the heinous killing and dismemberment of Lin Jun, a foreign student in Montreal.
Here is just some of what journalists have turned up:
- 1. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has talked to Chinese officials about the case. “I just spoke to China’s ambassador to Canada to convey my deep condolences on the senseless killing of Chinese student Jun Lin,” read a message sent Friday through Baird’s Twitter account.2. Lin was in Montreal to attend school, but his real goal was to find love. A three-byline story in the Globe and Mail suggests the Chinese native’s stated ambition was to marry. “He was in computers, and he was looking for love,” a former classmate told the Globe team.
3. Lin’s online presence was complicated. A second Globe story reported from Beijing reports that while the student went to see The Smurfs movie in 3D and liked to post cat photos on social media, his Internet persona also revealed a troubled side. Reports the Globe’s Mark MacKinnon from Beijing: “On Valentine’s Day last year, he posted a computer-altered photograph of himself with wild purple hair and a cracked face that turns grey around a mouth of broken and missing teeth. ‘My self-portrait,’ he wrote beneath the repulsive image.”
4. Lin loved nothing more than to go to dinner with friends. “Korean barbecue was his favourite,” reports Andrew Chung of the Toronto Star. Continue reading Body-parts murder: 10 new things we know
Luka Rocco Magnotta may be in France
Montreal Police say the victim of Luka Rocco Magnotta was a Chinese citizen who attended Concordia University in Montreal where he studied engineering. Lin Jun, 33, was last seen on May 24 and was reported missing on May 29 by family.
Magnotta is believed to have posted the killing to an internet gore site before sending parts of his victim’s body through the mail, including a foot that arrived at Conservative Party headquarters in Ottawa earlier this week.
Montreal Police believe Magnotta flew out of Montreal’s Trudeau airport on May 26 and French police are searching for him, according to CBC.
Magnotta was a pornographic film actor and once worked as an exotic dancer in Toronto. He was falsely rumored to have had an affair with serial killer Karla Homolka.
Birth names remain on transcripts
After a two-year campaign, transgender students at Concordia University who make written requests will be able to use their chosen names on student IDs, class lists, exams, and class websites, starting in September. Their birth names will remain tied only to transcripts so that no professor risks embarrassing them by calling out a name that they no longer identify with. The change was made after Ben Boudreau, a second-year science student, complained about having to use his birth name, reports the Montreal Gazette. The University of Toronto has a similar policy.
160 arrested in Gatineau
In Quebec, where many students have boycotted classes for months, attempts by universities to hold classes and exams are being severely tested.
More than 160 protesters were arrested on Wednesday at the Université du Québec en Outaouais’s Gatineau campus, after an injunction ordered protesters off campus for two weeks starting Monday. The adults among them were charged hundreds of dollars each for blocking the highway to campus, reports the Montreal Gazette.
Also on Wednesday, the province’s biggest school, the Université de Montréal, called off classes in departments whose student associations have held successful strike votes, despite having earlier encouraged willing students to return to classes this week. The capitulation followed incidents where protesters blocked students from entering and leaving buildings and set off fire alarms during exams, reports the Gazette.
Student groups reject gov’t offers as deadline approaches
The student strike in Quebec, ignited by a $1,625 tuition increase over the next five years, is now the longest in provincial history—and participants may soon pass a point of no return.
Professors’ contracts require the semester to end by June 15 and some universities are hinting that the entire semester will be in jeopardy for students who don’t go back in time to meet that deadline.
The Université de Montréal, Quebec’s largest, announced Wednesday that it will extend the term into May for students who have already returned to class.
At the same time, it said it can no longer guarantee students who haven’t returned that they will be able to finish their semesters. Groups representing around 25 per cent of U de M are still on strike.
Concordia will shut on Thursday
As students prepare for a national day of action on Thursday to protest a $1625 tuition fee hike, today’s provincial budget will serve as a reminder of Quebec’s wobbly financial picture.
In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, Finance Minister Raymond Bachand said he will not raise income taxes, which are already the highest in Canada at 16 to 24 per cent. By comparison, Ontario’s max out at 11.16 per cent.
But even with high taxes, Quebec’s debt has grown from $133 billion (53.5 per cent of GDP) in 2003 to $184 billion (55.5 per cent of GDP) in 2012. That means credit ratings agencies will be looking to Bachand for fiscal restraint.
The $1625 rise in tuition fees is just one way that Bachand plans to wrestle down the debt. He notes that while income taxes won’t go up, payroll deductions for pensions and parental leave will rise, the new $200 health charge will be fully implemented this year, the sales tax was already increased to 9.5 per cent in January, an extra gasoline tax has been added and hydro rates will increase.
But many student associations believe that taxpayers can and should continue subsidizing tuition to the point that Quebec’s students pay less than half what the average Canadian student pays.
Protesters blocked access to Montreal’s Champlain Bridge Tuesday morning. It was a prelude to the demonstrations expected to cripple the city on Thursday when as many as 100,000 may march.
Meanwhile, Concordia says it will shut down campus on Thursday “in light of security concerns” as it expects 15,000 students will gather there before marching to the bigger rally at Canada Place.
Arts and business students will attend classes
Two of Quebec’s largest English-language student associations have decided against joining the widespread student strikes in Quebec.
Many associations have held votes to decide whether members should jointly skip classes to protest a tuition hike of $1,625 over five years.
After a bit of a delay, members of The Arts Undergraduate Society of McGill University voted against striking on Tuesday: 609 were opposed, 495 were in favour and 16 abstained.
The vote was delayed, according to the Montreal Gazette, because more people than expected showed up—about 1,100 of the 7,100-strong faculty. As a result, some voting took place via Skype connections.
$2 million fine is misdirected
Late last week, Quebec’s education minister Line Beauchamp announced that she will fine Concordia University $2 million for giving former administrators “excessive” severance packages.
More than $4 million in severance was paid by the university to seven former administrators, a move that was criticized by faculty. The criticism has prompted an external audit of human resources.
The two biggest payments went to former presidents Judith Woodsworth ($703,500) and Claude Lajeunesse ($1 million), who both departed mid-way through their terms after disagreements with the 42-member Board of Governors, which has been called “a clique of self-appointed outsiders.”
Also on the list are two former auditors who were dismissed by the university and who then sued for wrongful dismissal. The auditors settled with the university for more than $600,000 each.
Students join tuition protest, skip classes
In the public relations war between Quebec universities that plan to raise tuition over the next five years and the students who oppose paying more, students appear to have won today’s battle.
On Monday, 6,500 Concordia University students joined the province-wide boycott of classes, which is a protest over a planned increase in tuition from $2,200 today to just under $4,000 by 2017. Students say they can’t afford to pay more. Universities say the rise is necessary to balance the books.
Montreal only Canadian city in Top 10 Best Student Cities
Montreal is the only Canadian city to crack the Top 10 list in a new ranking of the best cities above 250,000 for students—a list that will be considered by jet-setting scholars everywhere.
Montreal’s tenth place in the QS World Best Student Cities rankings was earned through high scores in all five of the criteria areas considered.
First, its institutions are high quality: U de Montreal and McGill U are in the Top 200 worldwide; Concordia U is in the Top 600.
Next, Montreal’s quality of living is high when measured by the Mercer Quality of Living Index.
It’s reasonably affordable too, when measured by international student tuition ($13,400), the Mercer Cost of Living Index and The Economist magazine’s Big Mac Index.
Its “mix of students” is also high—Montreal has a high proportion of students, both domestic and international. Foreign students make up 21 per cent of the mix, compared to 10 per cent in Toronto.
And finally, both domestic and international employers rate Montreal’s university graduates highly.
Why some students stick around school
Exams are wrapping up, and university campuses across Canada are emptying out for the winter break. But as The Canadian Press reminds us, not everyone goes home for the holiday season: family drama, lack of downtime, distance and and high airline costs (though, at least in the future they’ll be less deceptive high airline costs) are just some of the reasons students stay at school.
But it isn’t all bad: many students travel, spend time with friends, explore new traditions and bake. And, as the article notes, some universities host events for stranded students yearning for a home-cooked meal:
For the past 12 years, Concordia University in Montreal has hosted a dinner soiree. The school invites all of its 4,700 foreign students, and the first 300 to respond are treated to a three-course meal.
If you go to Queen’s University, the International Centre is hosting a holiday networking tea on Dec. 20.
Are you staying at school for the holidays? Share your on-campus plans.
Where does your business school stand?
The Economist has released its annual ranking of full-time M.B.A. programs. Below, we show you all the Canadian schools on the list, with their 2010 ranks in parentheses. The thing that jumps out here is how much Montreal’s two primarily English-language programs have climbed. After winning a long fight with the Quebec government to charge tuition in line with what other schools charge, McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management leaped onto the list at 64th. It’s unclear whether those two facts are related, though the upped tuition did begin in 2009-10. Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business also made a significant gain. Congratulations to all.
But is it a good use of tuition money?
Concordia University’s library will lend out iPads to students starting this month. OpenFile Montreal reports that the library has acquired 25 of the tablet computers and they’re almost ready to go.
Concordia, like many schools, lends out laptops. That’s undoubtedly a useful service for students who want to do research in the library instead of carting home a pile of books. And not everyone can afford a laptop, so this improves access.
But while a number of American university libraries lend out iPads to students, Concordia is the first university in Quebec to do so. Some universities, including nearby McGill, offer e-readers, but iPad lending appears to be rare in Canada. The only other example I can find, using an (albeit non-exhaustive) Google search, is at York University’s Steacie Science and Engineering Library. They have a single solitary iPad to lend.
Student council makes a reasonable decision to overturn disqualification of opposition slate
The post election kerfuffle at the Concordia Student Union, which saw almost everyone who ran be disqualified, appears to be over.
On Wednesday, in one of their last actions, outgoing student council members voted to allow everyone who was elected take office and to reimburse candidates for election expenses.
The situation began around two weeks after the vote, held in late March, when elections chief, Oliver Cohen, disqualified both of the teams that contested the election.
A couple of weeks later, that decision was modified by the judicial board, who overturned Cohen’s decision to disqualify “Your Concordia,” the team that won the student union executive, a majority on council and most of the student seats on the university’s senate and board of governors.
However, the board upheld Cohen’s decision to deny both teams reimbursement for election expenses and to disqualify the other slate, “Action,” which won several council seats and a spot on the university senate.
The judicial board’s written report, released on Monday, alleges that both slates violated election rules by campaigning after polls had opened and that the winning slate engaged in negative campaigning. Shocking, I know.
According to the Concordian, councillors who supported reinstating the candidates said they were afraid that students in Concordia’s business school would be disenfranchised, as all their representatives remained disqualified.
It’s an interesting argument, but I think the real problem with the decisions to disqualify these candidates is that neither Cohen nor the judicial board attempted to prove that the alleged violations actually affected the results of the election. Disenfranchising every student is a serious action and should only be done in the gravest circumstances.
In “real” elections, it has to be proven that the results were actually affected for the vote to be annulled. As Ontario Superior Court Justice, Alexandra Hoy wrote in a 2011 decision about a Toronto election, “people have exercised their right to vote, and their votes should not be discounted without good reason.”
And the reasons presented here, especially considering the sorts of shenanigans that have taken place in previous Concordia elections, just aren’t good enough to throw out an entire election.
Sure, candidates shouldn’t break the rules, but should wearing a blue shirt after polling starts really be grounds for disqualification?
Some of the rules in this case seem downright ridiculous. According to judicial board member Tuan Dinh, “any rhetoric that refers to an oppositional party, even if through contrast” is grounds for disqualifying an entire team. Goodness. If Dinh was working for Elections Canada, we’d never stop having federal elections.
The “offending” item in question is a “rap” video where “Your Concordia” candidates spit cutting lines like, “nothing rhymes with Concordia except for ‘Action’ we’re sincerely getting bored of ya’.”
Cunning word-play it is not, but this was an election, not an MC battle and this video certainly wasn’t defamatory, slanderous or libellous as was claimed by Cohen and Dinh.
The other big problem with these disqualifications was that they penalized entire political parties for the actions of one or two individual candidates. Imagine if Elections Canada disqualified every Conservative who ran in the last election because one of them showed up at a polling station wearing a party t-shirt. Sounds pretty unreasonable, does it not?
Second-place team remains disqualified, neither slate will have expenses reimbursed
The team that won March’s Concordia Student Union election will take office after all.
Two weeks ago, the chief electoral officer disqualified all the candidates from the two main slates, accusing them of multiple election rule violations. On Wednesday, the student union’s judicial board overturned his decision to disqualify the members of Your Concordia, which won the executive along with a majority on council, according to board chair Bella Ratner.
The Your Concordia slate had received harsh criticism from elections chief Oliver Cohen, who banned members of the group from running in CSU elections for two years.
However, the board did uphold Cohen’s decision to disqualify the Action slate, which won nine of 29 council seats and one of four student seats on the university’s senate.
The board also upheld Cohen’s decision not to reimburse the slates for election expenses, over allegations of over-spending.
A full judicial board report will be issued next week.
A small number of independent candidates also stood in the election, however all of the positions were won by members of the two slates.
Third Quebec student union to file suit against national lobby group
The Concordia Graduate Students’ Association has filed a lawsuit seeking to have the results of a referendum to leave the Canadian Federation of Students recognized.
The referendum, held last spring, saw students vote 456 to 148 in favour of leaving the organization but the vote, which was conducted without CFS support, has not been recognized by the Federation.
The two Concordia suits share several similarities, in both cases the CFS refused to allow referendums , in part, on the grounds that the student unions had years worth of unpaid membership fees. According to the GSA’s motion to institute proceedings, the CFS claimed they were owed $200,000. According to the motion, a lawyers letter sent to the GSA six weeks prior made no mention of an outstanding debt, as well, they argue that if the GSA had a debt dating back to 1994, it would have been claimed before March 2010 and would have been mentioned at a CFS general meeting.
Like the Concordia Student Union’s suit, the GSA attempts to establish a pattern of bad faith by the CFS when it comes to referendums. They also claim that students’ Quebec charter rights were violated and are seeking $100,000 in damages.
The CFS is now facing five lawsuits in Quebec. In addition to the three suits filed by student unions the lobby group is also being sued by its former Quebec branch and that organization’s former landlord.
The only CFS member in Quebec not currently suing the organization is student union at Dawson College, a CEGEP, a referendum was supposed to take place there but it still hasn’t happened.
The GSA and CFS will be in court on May 20.
Both slates disqualified, over alleged election rule violations, current executive and council to stay in power until November
Two weeks after ballot counting ended, the results of the Concordia Student Union election have been annulled.
Cohen also banned all members of one slate, Your Concordia, from running in any CSU election for two years, accusing the team of filing a false expense report. Your Concordia had won the executive and a council majority in the election.
The outgoing CSU executive has condemned the decision, issuing a statement calling it “shocking and unfortunate.”
“Please don’t believe for a second that any of us will have a hand in any of the rulings,” outgoing president Heather Lucas told the Concordian.
At a council meeting on Wednesday night the disqualifications were barely mentioned and Cohen was a no-show, according to the Concordian’s Sarah Deshaies.
Unsurprisingly, both slates intend to challenge the disqualifications at the union’s judicial board, which can over-rule Cohen. If the disqualifications are upheld, the current CSU executive and council will stay in office until a by-election is held in November.
The disqualifications came a week after the heads of the two slates pledged to work together on election reform. They have called for ending the practice of council affiliating with executive slates
While the results of CSU elections are inevitably subject to challenges, the last time something this big happened was in 2002. That time, the union’s judicial board nullified the results of a November by-election after the CEO disqualified and reinstated an executive slate on the first morning of voting. The nullification caused the university’s administration to sever ties with the student union until a new executive was elected in April.
Proposed law would require 60 per cent of a university’s board members to come from outside the school
The Quebec government appears to be moving ahead with legislation that will change the way every university in the province is run.
Bill 38, currently before the National Assembly would standardize university governance and make universities boards of directors more accountable to the provincial government. It would also require that 60 per cent of a university’s board members be from outside the school and that all boards include an equal number of men and women.
While legislation was first introduced in June 2009, it lingered in committee before dying on the order paper when premier Jean Charest prorogued the National Assembly for one day in February. The day after the Assembly reconvened, Bill 38 was reintroduced.
Now, the law appears to be moving forward once again, albeit slowly. The bill appeared on the agenda of Friday’s legislative session for a second reading. While the session ended before that item was reached, it does seem likely that it will be approved in principle within the next couple days.
Currently, each of Quebec’s universities has a different board structure. For example, Concordia has 40 members on its board, while UQAM’s has 16 members. Each board also has different representation: UQAM’s board includes a representative for local CEGEPs; Concordia and McGill both have representatives of their non-teaching staff on their boards, while UQAM and the Université de Montréal don’t. On the other hand, both UQAM and the U de M have some of their board members appointed by the government, the English-language schools don’t. I could keep going, but you get the idea. The universities like this, they say that they’re each different institutions with different missions, so they should have different governance structures. The province doesn’t agree.
For faculty and students, the most concerning part of the proposed law has been the requirement that 60 per cent of board members come from outside the university. Of Quebec’s six largest universities, Concordia and U de M already have this ratio. UQAM, Université de Sherbrooke, Université Laval and McGill don’t. At Concordia, there have also been concerns that a smaller board would diminish student and faculty representation.
There’s another issue at Concordia, the school is currently in the midst of a review of its governance structure. That process could be rendered completely irrelevant by this law, at a cost of $60,000.
The other big concern, at least at McGill and Concordia, is that under the bill, the province would appoint one member to each university’s board. For schools in the University of Quebec system the province would appoint three board members. For most French-language universities this would actually mean fewer government appointees on their boards.
The propose og law does have some positives though, it includes reasonably strict conflict of interest rules and, perhaps, most interestingly board members would be prohibited from serving more than two terms. There is one caveat to that rule, terms as chair of the board would be counted separately from regular terms; so a board member could serve for six years as a regular board member and another six years as chair. If the bill becomes law, it would see at least eon of the most controversial figures on Concordia’s board forced out quite soon.
There is also an interesting disclosure requirement in the bill, universities would be required to post board members’ meeting and committee attendance records online.