Concordia Hillel today announced that it would bring a lawsuit against the Concordia Student Union. Concordia Hillel will be petitioning the court to annul the CSU resolution banning Hillel from campus and to prevent the CSU from "interfering" in Hillel's activities. In addition, the Hillel is seeking restitution of Hillel's CSU funds as well as punitive damages for the anguish and hurt suffered by Hillel.
Meanwhile, CSU is digging in its heels. Members of the CSU have presented a resolution to the Concordia University Board of Governors asking it to support the ban against Hillel. The Concordia Board of Governors did not have a quorum at the time of the presentation and could not vote on the resolution.
Six members of the CSU have called for an emergency meeting of the student union tomorrow night at 8:30. They are asking for all clubs to sign a document opposing hate and war. The document would lift the ban against Hillel but it would not include an apology to Hillel.
Concordia Hillel Co-President Noah Joseph said, "We're suing the CSU because they have acted unfairly and in breach of their own policies all in an effort to shut down the only Jewish group on campus....The Jewish students at Concordia are not taking this lying down. We have received an outpouring of support from the community at large, and we will continue to fight against this one-sided campaign against us."
Concordia Hillel continues to ask supporters to write letters and call the CSU, the Dean of Students, and the Concordia Rector. Contact information is listed below.
Last Monday night, eight members of the 27 members of the Council of Representatives of the CSU moved to suspend Concordia Hillel in response to a flier that Hillel allegedly distributed at an information table providing information on a volunteer program with the Israel Defense Forces. Although the chair of the CSU ruled the motion Out of Order, the nine council members present at the meeting overturned that decision, and the motion passed 8 to 1.
The CSU banned Concordia Hillel and froze its CSU allocation until Hillel apologizes for the flier or the Concordia University administration overrules the CSU and reinstates Hillel. The Concordia administration refused to get involved, citing Quebec law that grants CSU status similar to an independent labor union.
A statement released by Concordia University said, "The CSU has asserted on many occasions that, as a result of its accreditation [as a labor union], it is illegal for the university to intervene in CSU business. Therefore, it is particularly offensive to request the university overturn CSU Council decisions on an invitation-only basis when it is to the advantage of the CSU...We cannot absolve them of their responsibility and legal duty to conduct their affairs in a fair, equitable and non-partisan manner."
A lawyer engaged by Hillel delivered a formal legal demand to the CSU outlining several procedural irregularities of the resolution last Thursday. The letter demanded that the decision be reversed by 5:00PM on Monday, December 9. Concordia Hillel is proceeding with the suit after CSU failed to respond. Individuals from the CSU have unofficially stated that they will rescind the resolution if Hillel signs a letter admitting guilt. Hillel students have refused, stating that they have done nothing wrong.
The suspension of Concordia Hillel has provoked worldwide condemnation. Hillel President and International Director Richard M. Joel issued a statement denouncing the CSU action: "Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life condemns in the strongest terms the outrageous decision of the Concordia Student Union to exclude Hillel from campus and to deny it CSU funds. Hillel urges the CSU to rescind its decision. We support Montreal Hillel's efforts to pursue legal action against the CSU. We call upon the university to denounce this action which flies in the face of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association."
Rector Frederick Lowy, 514-848-4850, Frederick.Lowy@concordia.ca
Dean of Students Dr. Donald L. Boisvert, 514-848-3520, email@example.com
CSU Office, 514-848-7474, Fax: 514-848-7450
CSU President Sabine Fresinger, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send a copy of all letters to email@example.com