Two undergraduate students who had allegedly violated the Code of Student Conduct during a demonstration in support of MUNACA have been cleared of all charges.
The students, Arts Representative to SSMU Micha Stettin and SSMU VP External Joël Pedneault, met with Associate Dean of Arts André Costopoulos last Friday to review evidence presented by McGill Security regarding a demonstration held at the Y-intersection on October 11.
The students were accused of violating sections 5a and 6 of the code, which state that, “No student shall, by action, threat, or otherwise, knowingly obstruct University activities,” and, “No student shall, contrary to express instructions or with intent to damage, destroy or steal University property or without just cause knowingly enter or remain in any University building, facility, room, or office.”
“We went through the evidence,” explained Stettin. “There was a charge of major disruption of traffic. It was very clear that there was a discrepancy…on some of their accounts of what happened.”
“They said that cars were refused access, when it was really a slowing down of traffic, and that didn’t constitute a disturbance in [Costopoulos’] eyes,” he continued.
Pedneault claims that he was at a meeting of the SSMU Executive Committee at the time of the October 11 demonstration – which was held in support of striking MUNACA workers – and said that his exoneration was contingent upon an alibi from other SSMU executives. He added that he doesn’t think the matter is resolved.
“I don’t think that this puts an end to this particular story. I think it’s unacceptable that McGill Security decided to go arbitrarily after two students who just so happened to be very vocal in dissenting on campus,” he said.
According to Pedneault, Costopoulos said during the meeting that he didn’t think the allegations were politically motivated. Pedneault disagreed.
“We’re in a very interesting situation right now where McGill Security has taken some liberties and acted in a really incompetent manner,” said Pedneault.
“Allegations of disrupting things on campus and being somewhere unlawfully are pretty serious, and that’s exactly what they brought against us, with no evidence to back them up. So I really hope that there will be some sort of investigation, at least internally at McGill, just so that this kind of thing doesn’t happen in the future,” he continued.
According to Stettin, in last Friday’s interview, Costopoulos said that he would inquire as to why Security erroneously put Pedneault’s name in their report.
In an interview with The Daily, Costopoulos said he could not comment on the specifics of the case, but that Dean of Students Jane Everett is already leading a group to revise the Code, part of which involves modifying disciplinary procedures.
“In general, it’s important to make sure that we have accurate information, especially when the information comes from, say, Security, in order to be fair to the students, and so that the discipline process will actually work smoothly and accomplish its goals,” said Costopoulos.
“If there was a systematic source of confusion, for example, in the process of reporting information about discipline cases, that would be bad for everybody. So that would need to be addressed,” he continued.
Stettin said that a petition regarding the issue is now circulating. The petition asks that the administration formally apologize for the intimidation of students and suppression of dissent on campus, and is addressed to the McGill administration and McGill Security.
According to Pedneault, the allegations came directly from McGill Security, specifically Operations Administrator for McGill Security Services Kevin Byers, who could not be reached for comment late Friday afternoon.
Pedneault said that he was considering filing a complaint against McGill Security, as he felt “their actions constitute a form of harassment.”
“[The report] never really details how myself and [Stettin] might have been involved in [the demonstration]. It just kind of says that we are involved in Mob Squad, which is true,” he said.
“So it seems as if we were kind of guilty by association, and that’s even something that André Costopoulos said when presented with the evidence,” Pedneault added.