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CAUT Bulletin Archives

May 2005

Council Condemns Carleton President

Administration evicts student union, police arrest 'trespassers'

The Carleton University administration was condemned by delegates attending last month's CAUT Council meeting for its heavy-handed treatment of student organizations.

Carole Saab, president of the Carleton University Student Association, told delegates in Ottawa April 29 of the administration's attempt to evict them from student-leased space that the university wants to appropriate.

The space, for which the student organization pays $600,000 a year in rent, includes the International Student Centre, the student pub and patio, and Baker Lounge, the main student-run meeting place for the more than 150 student organizations at Carleton.

Saab described how the university moved a construction crew in at 4 am, after mediation had failed the night before, and called police to remove student leaders who were trying to prevent work being done until their objection to the eviction could be heard in court.

She told delegates of how, days later, Carleton's president intervened to stop students from presenting a compromise to the university's board of governors, and then had students on the patio of the student pub arrested for trespassing, while construction workers nailed shut exit doors so other students could not join their colleagues.

Loretta Czernis, president of CAUT, said she'd never heard of a university treating its student organizations in such a manner.

"The administration persuaded the board of governors to refuse to allow the students to make a compromise proposal to resolve the matter. It brought in construction workers in the dead of night to begin demolition. It arranged on repeated occasions to have student leaders arrested for trespassing on the space the student organization had leased ... Such actions are a disgrace," Czernis said. "If the parties could not agree, the court should have been allowed to resolve the matter."

Emergency Motion

To show their outrage over the administration's treatment of students during this dispute, Council delegates voted to "express our solidarity with and support for Carleton student associations, condemn the deplorable act of the president of the university and demand that the university cease immediately its actions against the Carleton student associations and resume discussions to resolve the matter in a fair, reasonable and equitable manner, and that no charges be pressed against the students."

In addition, delegates voted to donate $5,000 to assist Carleton student associations in their actions to protect student-leased space at the university and instructed CAUT to arrange buses so delegates could spend their lunch break the next day with the Carleton students in their partially-demolished pub. CUSA provided the delegates with lunch and showed video footage of the board meeting where students were not allowed to make a presentation and of the police arrests on campus.

In a new move in early May, the university arranged for the blocking off of the fourth floor student lounge and the arrests of still more student leaders who argued for a delay in construction until the court issued its ruling.