The letter below was sent to Dr. David Greene by former student of the GPE department. Yuseph Adam Katiya holds a Specialization in Urban Planning and Minor in History (2008) and M. Sc. Geography, Urban Studies and Environmental Studies (2012). He is currently pursuing his academic career in Curitiba, Brazil at present.
Dear Dr. David Greene,
As a graduate of both undergraduate and graduate programs, I am extremely concerned about the recent memo sent out to students through the office of the Chair of Department of Geography, Planning and Environment (GPE). The tone and language used in the communication is not only incendiary and disrespectful but feeds the hard line tactics used against students activists in Montreal. I am presently writing you this letter because the issue is relevant for GPE students, the Concordia community and the wider student movement.
I am alarmed with the argument that student protesters are perpetrating “human rights violations”. No content is provided to substantiate the claim that “human rights” have been violated. Human rights are incontrovertible and the term should not be loosely employed in any convenient circumstance.
Also, let us remember that as with the Sir George William Computer riot civil disobedience in violation of university regulation has helped make Concordia a more accountable and accessible institution. Likening their actions to human rights violations is an irresponsible and baseless accusation. Dialogue between the administration and students should be respectful and constructive, not patronizing and intimidating.
This communication removes the focus from the real problems of accessibility to quality education. The Concordia community, and even Quebec civil society, has lost the confidence of the Board of Governors and administration. Even the Ministry of Education, in the midst of promoting its pro-tuition agenda, has reprimanded Concordia for mismanagement. The memo creates a chilling effect. It is disappointing, given the backdrop of conflict of interest and corruption at Concordia, the GPE Chair his first communication of 2012 to criticize his own students, instead of highlighting the institutional problems at Concordia. It is also problematic considering the real “human rights violations” committed by the police, including the aggravate assault on CEGEP student Francis Grenier.
To remedy this communication, I request the following measures to be implemented immediately:
1- An apology for the memo including a statement that a student strikes do not violate human rights;
2- A GPE policy restricting the use of escalation language in official communications;
3- A policy where, where contentious issues are discussed over the GPE official listserv, opposing views are given equal space.
4- A commitment to support and respect democratic decisions made by the student body and engage in constructive dialogue as an exemplar for other departments, faculties and universities.
Until these measures are met, I pledge not to donate any money to Alumni and Development, and I promise to encourage my fellow graduates to do the same. This letter is being forwarded to several organizations in the Concordia Community. I ask all recipients to carefully review the memo, consider my complaint and respond accordingly.
Yuseph Adam Katiya
Specialization in Urban Planning and Minor in History (2008)
M. Sc. Geography, Urban Studies and Environmental Studies (2012)
Former Teaching and Research Assistant (2008-2011)
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