Posts Tagged ‘campus’
Ten years ago today, this was the scene at Concordia University:
The riot was a culmination of more than five years of tensions at Concordia between the radical left-wing CSU groups, which were dominated by members of the pro-Palestinian group SPHR, and pro-Israel groups like Hillel.
Concordia Hillel had invited Benjamin Netanyahu, who at the time was the former Israeli PM, to speak on campus. The radical anti-Israel groups saw this as a reason to mount a mass protest, which quickly turned into a full-fledged riot. Protesters smashed windows, hurled antisemitic slogans at ticket-holders, assaulted and beat up several attendees, and were eventually contained by police. Five people were arrested and faced charges in connection with the riot. The rioting also inspired two documentary films, a rash of ill-advised free speech restrictions on campus, and worldwide infamy for my school.
I’d graduated from Concordia the previous spring, after spending three years on campus dealing with the events that led to that flashpoint, and they were fresh in my mind. As it happened, September 9th 2002 was my first day of my first post-university job, and news of what was happening back at my former campus filtered to me as I was sitting in my new office immersed in training materials.
In a way, the riot was the catalyst that inspired me to start this blog a couple of months later. I focused a lot on the goings-on and events at Concordia for the first couple of years, though the posts eventually tapered off as I gained more distance from my university years. But at the time, as a recent graduate with a lot of friends still directly involved in the day-to-day events on campus, I had a lot to say, and this blog gave me a platform to share news and views about the events that followed.
Now, a decade later, Benjamin Netanyahu is once again Israeli Prime Minister, the radical Left is busy bringing down Quebec governments and staging pots and pans protests, and Concordia University is in the hands of a new generation of student leaders who, since 2003, have been mostly moderates. However, some students have noted that the situation isn’t necessarily any less hostile to Jewish students, just quieter. Concordia has hosted an “Israel Apartheid Week“, an event by the ever-present SPHR, for the past 8 years running. Despite the presence of a couple of new pro-Israel student groups at Concordia, the tensions continue. It’s not difficult to see why Jewish students continue to choose McGill over Concordia by an overwhelming margin.
Furthermore, on university campuses across North America and Europe pro-Israel students are still dealing with having their right to free speech denied, barrages of anti-Israel propaganda from campus activist groups, “boycott Israel” events and other such nonsense. A recent study by the University of California, published in July of this year, found that:
“Jewish students are confronting significant and difficult climate issues as a result of activities on campus which focus specifically on Israel, its right to exist and its treatment of Palestinians. The anti-Zionism and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movements and other manifestations of anti-Israel sentiment and activity create significant issues through themes and language which portray Israel and, many times, Jews in ways which project hostility, engender a feeling of isolation, and undermine Jewish students’ sense of belonging and engagement with outside communities.”
Another report released earlier this year found that “More than 40% of students confirm anti-Semitism on their campus; some 41% of students have encountered anti-Israel remarks made in class by professors.” From North America to Europe, the situation for Jewish students remains pretty grim.
As Quebec students continue to lobby for free or cheaper education, it’s worth asking just what sort of education they will be receiving.
The gunman who opened fire at Virginia Tech in a massacre that killed 32 people, including Montrealer Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, has been identified as 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui. Dawson College and other schools across Montreal lowered their flags to half-mast today in solidarity.
Of course, this has been the headline news of the last couple of days, so there is no shortage of reaction, finger-pointing, and laying blame.
…in my view, the problem with responding to news of tragedy with policy ideas right away is that we tend not to realize in such situations how often our “proposals” are really expressions of psychological need. It’s human nature to respond to tragedy by fitting it into our preexisting worldviews; we instinctively restore order by construing the tragic event as a confirmation of our sense of the world rather than a threat to it.
This means that often we won’t pay a lot of attention to the details of tragedies and what caused them. We’ll just know deep down inside what happened, and what caused it, and how to stop it next time. Take [yesterday's] tragic events at VA Tech. If you’re committed to gun control, the tragedy probably proves to you that there are too many guns; if you’re against gun control, the tragedy probably proves the exact opposite. Given that people will tend to see in events what they want to see, turning to policy right away will come off as rudely “playing politics” to those who don’t share your worldview. And obviously this doesn’t foster a helpful environment for policymaking, either.
(Via Damian P., who points out that “the responsibility rests with one man”).
It’s been nearly five years since I graduated, and since then, it appears that CSU politics at Concordia haven’t improved by much:
For the second year running, copies of Concordia University’s student newspaper, The Link, vanished overnight at the height of the campaign for a new student government. And while editor-in-chief Misha Warbanski doesn’t know who to blame, she’s sure of one thing — this is no coincidence.
Back when I was a student there, the Link was blatantly biased, being controlled by pro-Palestinian students who would get involved in the paper with an eye towards influencing campus politics through the media. I don’t know the current landscape, but if today’s campus politics are anything like what they were then, the things reported by the campus and mainstream media are only the tips of the iceberg. Corruption, dirty tricks, propaganda, “joke slates” designed to slander the opposition, and the ever-present ripping down posters are just some of the things that students seem to confuse with democracy.
I must say I’m glad to be out of there.
Of all the descriptions I’ve seen of Kimveer Gill, the asshole who shot up Dawson College yesterday, the most concise and to-the-point comes courtesy of Wikipedia. Here’s a screen shot of the page, because I suspect it won’t be like this for long:
And that pretty much says it all.
Update – 3:45pm: It’s gone now, less than an hour later, replaced with a real – albeit preliminary – Wiki-page devoted to this now-infamous jerk. That’s more attention than he deserves. But the above screenshot is what was up there as of 2:20pm when I posted it. You’ll just have to take my word for the fact that it was a real screenshot and not photoshopped in any way. Personally, I think they should’ve left it that way. But that’s just me.
By now, most people will have heard the latest developments.
The young woman who succumbed to her injuries has been identified as Anastasia DeSousa. She was only 18 years old. Six more people are still in critical condition this morning, and hospital sources say that two of them are still “fighting for their lives”. My thoughts are with all their families this morning.
Also, we have more information about the shooter. He has been identified by the press as 25-year-old Kimveer Gill of Laval, a devotee of guns, the colour black, trench coats, death metal and – as many of you will have heard – blogging. In fact, he posted an entry on his blog less than two hours before going on the shooting rampage. No, I won’t post a link; it’s already hard enough to realize that these 15 minutes of fame were exactly what he was after. But here’s what news reports are saying:
In his profile on vampirefreaks.com, a website devoted to goth culture, Gill calls himself “Trench,” saying: “You will come to know him as the Angel of Death.”
“Work sucks… School sucks… Life sucks… What else can I say,” he writes. “Metal and Goth kick ass. Life is like a video game, you gotta die sometime.”
A photo gallery that accompanies the profile includes photos that show Gill brandishing a Barretta CX4 Storm semi-automatic rifle. In the last seven photos, he is wearing a black trench coat and holding the rifle. The caption below the last photo reads: “Ready for Action.”
Now he’s ready for nothing but infamy… and autopsy. Police are expecting their investigation to determine conclusively whether the bullet that actually killed him was shot by police or was, as has been widely speculated, self-inflicted.
What else is there to say about such a senseless tragedy? For the wounded, still fighting for their lives in hospital, we can only hope and pray. For the students and people who were in the building, shaken and in shock, we can only do whatever we can to offer support and understanding.
The politicos will point fingers, as they usually do, and I’m sure we’ll hear a lot of tough talk about increasing security (hard to do in a large public campus) and cracking down on guns (bring it on, but could that really have prevented anything?). Meanwhile, the rest of us need to go on with our daily lives, because one crazed gunman has already done more than enough damage.
If you’ve arrived here via Instapundit, looking for info about the school shootings in Montreal, welcome, and scroll down to here for the live-blogging coverage from this afternoon.
But I must say I’m a little uncomfortable with the trauma-induced traffic spike thing. I know it’s a fact of life on the blogosphere, but I sort of feel funny about the idea of profiting from such a terrible tragedy. Luckily I don’t make any money from this blog, so I guess I can’t feel too guilty.
Anyway, here’s a roundup of the facts as they currently stand (as of 9:45pm):
Who? One shooter, it seems. There was strong, widespread speculation of a second shooter, but police at first refused to confirm this and now seem to be denying it outright. Reports of three or even four shooters seem to have been false. We know there’s an ongoing investigation.
The shooter’s identity is not yet known, but he has been described by many of the witnesses fairly consistently: white male, early 20s, long black hair, black trench coat, shaved head and mohawk, lots of piercings, possibly wearing black army fatigues.
There appear to have been approximately 20 people wounded, one of which has now been confirmed dead – a woman in her early 20s. Others are in critical condition at various hospitals and are being operated on.
What? The shooter seems to have opened fire first outside Dawson’s main building, wounding several students. He then headed inside to the atrium and opened fire again.
There were conflicting reports of how the shooter died, but it now appears to be confirmed that he was shot and killed by police officers on the scene.
Where? Dawson College is located in the western part of downtown Montreal, across from Alexis-Nihon plaza and connected to Atwater metro station. It’s also across from where the old Forum used to be, for those of you who are familiar with pre-90s Montreal tourist landmarks.
When? The whole thing seems to have started around 12:45pm and it took nearly 2 hours for the building to be evacuated of students. The investigation is still ongoing and details are still emerging.
Why? That’s the biggie, and the one we haven’t even begun to answer yet. By all accounts, it was the work of one lone, disturbed gunman. Please see below before speculating or putting together conspiracy theories.
I’ll try to keep everyone posted as more details emerge.
I’ve been surfing some of the other blogs to see what’s up there about today’s shootings at Dawson, and the comments sections are making my head spin. I realize some of you may be first-time visitors, and I’m sorry for doing this, but I need to rant:
To everyone out there trying to use today’s shooting at Dawson to further their own political agenda, whether it concerns gun registries or separatism or mideast politics or Michael Moore or law enforcement funding or student psychological services or the price of tea in India…
Please, please, can you give it a rest?
We don’t know the motive of the shooter or shooters. We don’t know the condition of the victims. We don’t know what it all means. In all likelihood, this was a senseless tragedy, with no-one to blame but the shooters and no agenda to push besides trying to help everyone cope as best as we can.
When we know more, then you can spin the facts all you like. I might even read it.
But in the meantime, please, everyone, take a breath. Thank you.
Nearly a decade ago, when I was in my final year of high school, the big question was “where are you going to cegep?” For students of my English-language, Jewish school, there were essentially four choices: Marianopolis, Dawson, Vanier or John Abbott.
The relative popularities and reputations of the schools tend to go in cycles, and in my year, Dawson was “in” and Vanier was “out”. Dawson, with its fancy new sports complex, coveted “Reflections” program with couches and coffee, and cool downtown location, was where it was all happening. Marianopolis was the other choice, for the “brains” or the “nerds”, but Vanier was having an “out” year for people bored with Ville St-Laurent and unimpressed with its aging building (since renovated). Abbott was too far out and, for most of us west-islanders, located in the wrong direction from the action.
I was undecided. Dawson or Marianopolis? Marianopolis or Dawson? I toured both schools (and toured Vanier as well, but if I recall correctly, that was just to get out of doing an oral presentation in Hebrew class that I’d forgotten to prepare for). March rolled around and I still couldn’t choose, so I flipped a coin. Literally. Marianopolis it was.
No regrets, either. I still consider cegep to be the best two years of my life. Many of my current friends today are people I met in cegep or people I met through them. The classes didn’t suck, the teachers actually seemed like they wanted to be there, and so did a lot of the students. And, unlike the students stuck in science, us commerce students put the school’s brainiac reputation to shame; we spent more time on the windowsills or in the coffee shop than in class, easily. Mostly, I had fun there.
But there was always an ongoing rivalry between Marianopolis, the “up the hill”, snobby, preppy private school, and Dawson, the “down the hill”, big, cosmopolitan public school. Really, they were only a few minutes’ walk apart, and we used to regularly go back and forth to visit our friends, or head down to Atwater to shop or use the metro. Dawson was very much a part of our lives.
So were jokes about Dawson. Ever ask a Marianopolis student how many first-year Dawson social science students it takes to change a lightbulb? The answer: that’s a second-year course at Dawson. And they had plenty of jokes about us, too. That we were run by nuns. That we hadn’t heard of lightbulbs cause we were too busy studying. The t-shirts at Dawson’s store read “Friends don’t let friends go to Marianopolis”. (The t-shirts at Marianopolis didn’t read anything at all, cause we didn’t actually have a store). Three years later, my sister chose Dawson and had a good time, and liked to tease me about having gone to Marianopolis and missing out on the unique opportunities offered by having a school located in a mall. Yep, the friendly rivalry between the two schools was as much a fact of life as assignments and exams.
Ultimately, though, the differences between our schools were superficial. Most of us enjoyed our cegep experience, we were all friends with each other, and many of us met up again in the same classes and programs at Concordia or McGill.
So to Dawson students and grads, I just want to say, as a Marianopolis alum, we’re really nothing but two sides of the same coin. And that today’s events could have happened to any of us.
I was driving home from a trip to the Fine Arts Museum and saw massive commotion downtown near Alexis-Nihon Plaza and Dawson College. Dozens of police cars, thousands of people on the streets, sirens everywhere. I couldn’t for the life of me imagine what happened, so I turned on the radio.
Apparently, there’s been a shooting at Dawson College. Nobody quite knows what happened yet. Apparently, a gunman entered the cafeteria and opened fire. The online reports are saying at least two people were shot, the radio reports are saying at least four.
More details to follow as they become available.
Update: It’s been about an hour since the whole thing started, and according to radio reports, many students are still inside the building. One caller said he spoke to his daughter on her cell phone, and she said they’re hiding behind lockers. There still appears to be massive confusion.
Update #2: They’re now reporting that the shooter was a 22-year-old student and he was wearing – you guessed it – a long black trench coat.
Update #3: Latest police updates are saying that the shooter is still inside the building, barricaded. Police are apparently still trying to get as many students out as possible, but a hostage situation is looking more likely.
Update #4: Students are calling into the radio from their cell phones now, saying that students still in the building are hiding out and waiting for the police to secure the building to get them out. Witnesses are saying that the gunman started shooting outside the building first, and then went inside and opened fire again.
Update #5: There’s now speculation that there was more than one gunman. Some reports are saying there were two or even three different gunmen. These reports are unconfirmed at this time. Another report speculates that one of the gunmen may have shot himself. Again, unconfirmed.
Also, students who have gotten out of Dawson’s building are being advised to walk down to Concordia’s Hall Building, as the student union is setting up assistance for anyone who needs it. Concordia as a safe haven… go figure.
Update #6: Just got in touch with Marieke, who is thankfully out of the building and safe. I only spoke with her for two seconds because everyone she knows is calling her, but she said she had just left the cafeteria before it happened.
Update – 2:30pm: CBC’s television report is saying that RDI is reporting that two gunmen are now dead – one shot by police, one having committed suicide.
Also, CTV is reporting that one of the gunmen seemed to be chasing someone in particular. Though CBC is still saying eyewitnesses are reporting that it appeared to be random.
Now, they’re reporting that pretty much everyone is out of the building.
Update – 2:35pm: Police hotlines have been set up for parents and friends looking for information at 514-280-2880 or 514-280-2806.
Update – 2:40pm: RDI is now reporting that 4 people have been killed and 16 injured. Wire reports are saying that there may be a third suspect. Also, metro service on the green line has been suspended.
Update – 2:45pm: More details are emerging. The shooters are being described as having long black hair, piercings and long black trench coats. There may be a third shooter still at large.
For anyone reading this from outside Quebec who is wondering about the cegep system, cegep is basically an intermediary step between high school and university. Most of the students are about 16-19 years old, since the pre-university programs are usually 2-year programs that are roughly the equivalent of grades 12 and 13. There are also a large number of 3-year technical programs in fields such as nursing, photography, design and such, so there are many older students too. Dawson is one of the three major public English-language cegeps in Montreal, and about 10,000 students attend classes there. It’s located in the middle of the western part of downtown Montreal, attached to Atwater metro station and Alexis-Nihon plaza and across the street from where the old Forum was. Pretty much everyone knows someone who either goes to Dawson or went to Dawson, and understandably everyone is utterly shocked.
Update – 3:05pm: CTV now has it online that police are confirming that two shooters are dead – one by suicide, one shot by police. CBC’s television report just said that police had been crouched in the bushes outside Dawson, next to a nearby daycare center, chasing what may have been a third gunman.
The whole area is cordoned off to traffic and people are telling me that traffic elsewhere is crazy, so if you don’t have to drive near the western part of downtown right now, don’t.
Update – 3:30pm: Conflicting reports on the number of dead and injured. CJAD radio is reporting no deaths and 16 injuries. Global TV is saying at least two deaths. RDI is still saying four. CBC Newsworld just reported that 15 people have been admitted to the Montreal General Hospital, and of those, 6 are critically injured, 2 are seriously injured and the remaining 7 are stable.
Update – 3:45pm: Amazing to see Concordia Student Union students on television for something non-controversial for a change. One of the CSU VPs is on television and he is urging all Dawson students in the area to walk down the street to Concordia’s Hall Building for food and drink, counseling, support and a central location to organize people and find out about their friends.
Update – 3:55pm: The latest police statement says that a suspect has been “neutralized”, that they’re still worried there might be another suspect in the area, and that everyone is out of the building, there are no hostages. Still no more information about the suspect or suspects.
By the way, if you’re looking for info on Dawson’s website, don’t bother; it’s very slow (because so many people are logging on) but there isn’t anything updated on there at the moment. You’re probably better off checking with the media, the police hotlines, or calling people directly.
Update – 4:00pm: CBC is reporting that police are confirming that, contrary to previous reports, there was only one gunman. Still waiting on confirmation of that.
Update – 4:05pm: A statement on the Montreal police website now says a third hotline number has been set up, at 514-280-2805. The Montreal General Hospital also has a hotline in place for anyone concerned about injured relatives at 514-843-2839.
Also, metro service is reportedly restored on the green line, but trains are not stopping at Atwater; they’re merely bypassing the station.
Update – 4:20pm: CBC has photos from the scene.
Update – 4:35pm: The General is hosting a press conference live right now, and it’s being carried by all the media outlets. (The local CTV affiliate has even pre-empted Oprah to cover the story!) Anyway, the hospital spokesperson is saying that they have 11 patients that have been brought to the emergency room, and of those, 8 are in critical condition, 3 are currently in the operating room and 3 more will be operated on.
All of the injured are described as having suffered gunshot wounds to various locations – some to the abdomen, some to the chest, some to the limbs and one head wound. Presumably, the one patient with the head wound is among those in critical condition.
They’ve said that 3 more patients were sent to Jean-Talon hospital, and 1 or 2 more to the Jewish General Hospital.
Update – 4:38pm: A police news conference is also going on right now. For now, they’re only confirming news about one suspect, who died “following intervention of police officers”. They haven’t confirmed or denied the existence of other suspect(s), and they aren’t saying anything about what the suspect’s motive or motives may have been.
Update – 4:50pm: Just to give you an idea of how uncommon it is to hear gunshots in Montreal, CBC is interviewing one student who said she was in the other cafeteria at the time when they first heard the shots, and that for about 10 minutes afterwards, people just continued doing whatever they were doing before, because nobody actually realized they were gunshots until someone ran into the room screaming at them to get out. She said everyone assumed it was a joke, or fireworks, or just a random loud noise.
Update – 5:00pm: All the conflicting reports are finally starting to be constructed into a vague timeline. It seems a gunman first approached a group of students outside Dawson, on the street, who were hanging out or having a smoke, and opened fire, shooting at least 4 people. He then went into the building, proceeded to the Atrium and the Cafeteria, told everyone to get down, and randomnly opened fire. At least 20 people were injured, and the gunman is now dead, either having been shot by police or having shot himself.
Students rushed to exit the building, and some barricaded themselves in classrooms or hid wherever they could. It took well over an hour for everyone to be evacuated.
The shooter has been described as a 19-year-old white male, with long slicked-back black hair, a black trench coat and/or dark army fatigues, with tattoos and piercings, and using what has been alternately described as a sniper’s rifle, a semi-automatic weapon, or an automatic weapon.
Police were searching for other suspects, but though a second and perhaps even third shooter has been widely reported, they have only confirmed the existence of one shooter.
Update – 5:10pm – Of course, references all over the media to the Columbine school massacre, as well as, closer to home, to Marc Lepine and to Valery Fabrikant. It seems from the initial reports that the today’s episode bears more resemblance to the Columbine shootings and to the subsequent and oft-forgotten shooting at a high school in Taber, Alberta than to the previous Montreal shootings, but that probably won’t stop anyone from drawing parallels and from suggesting that school shootings are something of an epidemic here in Montreal, despite the rarity of these episodes.
Update – 5:30pm: A student eyewitness who was inside the atrium’s cafeteria at the time of the shooting just reported that the gunman had started shooting first with a handgun, and then he pulled out a semi-automatic rifle from his trench coat and loaded it and started shooting it. The witness sounded pretty confident about the type of guns used, though as I mentioned before, guns are pretty rare around here. A lot of people (myself included) probably don’t know much about guns besides what they see in the movies, so we may have to wait for more concrete confirmation about that.
Update – 5:56pm: The euphamisms are over; the police spokesperson confirmed in plain English that the gunman was shot and killed by police.
Update – 6:15pm: A college spokesperson just announced that Dawson will be closed until Monday, with all classes suspended.
Update – 6:19pm: CBC is reporting that one of the injured victims just died of her injuries. She was 20 years old. Hospital spokespeople are not confirming this just yet.
Update – 6:50pm: One student inside Dawson took a video with his cellphone of the police and the shooter. The quality is very poor and so far I’ve only seen it on CTV, but I’m sure the footage will show up online shortly. If so, I’ll post a link. (Update – 10:50pm – CNN has the video available here).
And the Gazette is now confirming the death of one of the victims, as reported above by CBC. Still no official confirmation, with all questions about the victims or the shooters being referred to the SQ. There are rumours that there will be another press conference later this evening.
Update – 8:25pm: Just spoke to Andrea, who’s a med student doing a surgery elective at the MGH right now. She wasn’t directly involved, but was nearby, assisting in an unrelated surgery, and said one of the doctors who was supposed to scrub in came into the room to say “sorry, can’t, all hell has broken loose”. Andrea spoke highly of the efficiency of the hospital staff in preparing to receive the shooting victims. “They had the OR’s cleared in literally 5 minutes,” she told me. Amazing.
According to the news, many of the patients are still in surgery or in treatment, and there won’t be any official updates until tomorrow morning on their condition.
Update – 8:45pm: Just got off the phone with my mom. She was also trying to reach people all afternoon, and assured me that my cousin managed to get out of the building and is safe and sound. Also, her boss’s son escaped but apparently one of his close friends was shot in the arm. Insane.
Update – 9:30pm: There’s little new news to report at the moment. I’m going to close off the live-blogging thread at this point. I’ll post future updates on a new thread as more news arrives.