The Students’ Union is concerned that actions taken against a student in Lister Hall will have a chilling effect on dissenting opinions.
"It’s completely inappropriate for Residence Services to be using University of Alberta Protective Services when a student simply expresses disagreement with Administration decisions," said Vice President (Student Life) Saadiq Sumar.
“We have confirmed that at least one student was summoned to answer UAPS investigators for sending an email that simply expressed disagreement with a Residence Service's decision. This is an institution of higher learning — students should never fear being investigated or charged under the Code of Student Behavior for expressing concern with a decision made by Administration.”
Students have been speaking out against actions that the Administration has taken in Lister. Before the winter break, a student was evicted from Lister in a case that many students saw as being part of a larger administration crack down on the residence, as the student was the Vice President of Lister’s Schaffer Hall. One Lister resident, Luke Kissick, responded to the eviction by writing an email to a residence administrator expressing frustration and asking for the evicted student to at least be allowed a fair appeal. Within the email was a quote from Reg Lister — who Lister Hall is named for — on dealing with student residents. Kissick contrasted Reg Lister's advice with how Residences Services was treating students.
“You are doing the wrong thing. Do not evict Kody. This will negatively affect Schaffer residents,” read his email. “You have worn him out. You have bullied him to defeat. You look like a villain in the eyes of students.”
“Please reconsider your decision, and at least let Kody have a fair appeal process.”
Rather than give Kody a fair appeal, Residence Services responded by lodging a complaint with UAPS. UAPS summoned Kissick to a meeting, informing him that failure to meet and discuss the email would “result in a Code of Student Behavior investigation proceeding without [Kissick's] input.”
Kissick, then on a co-op term, felt pressured to miss work in order to meet with UAPS, who gave him a “warning” regarding the email. The Students' Union is worried that these actions will scare other students from speaking out against actions taken by University Administration in the future.
“We need the Administration to state unequivocally that students won’t be penalized or harassed for simply disagreeing with the actions of Residence Services,” said Sumar. “It speaks volumes if students are no longer allowed to honestly inform residence administrators how their actions are negatively affecting residence life.”
For more information, please contact:
External Communications & Media Advisor
University of Alberta Students’ Union