Our University campus is one where free speech, student space and freedom of association is protected and promoted. Ahem. Well, huh, not really.
After allegedly painting a political message (these walls belong to students) on the student art walls beside the Morrisett Library (now covered up by the university’s selected Gee Gee’s images) graduate student Joseph Hickey was charged under the Criminal Code of Canada, barred from campus by being served a blanket trespass notice even though he is a full time student with teaching assistant responsibilities and arrested on campus for trying to book an appointment with President Allan Rock and for brining a cake to his department’s Christmas party.
The Student Appeal Centre shares these letters sent to President Allan Rock asking to ensure that the criminal charges are dropped and to the Chair of the Board of Governors Marc Jolicoeur who refused to receive Joseph Hickey’s complaint for this serious case of targeted political discrimination.
From: Mireille Gervais
Date: Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 10:09 AM
Subject: SAC Appeal to Allan Rock Concerning Joseph Hickey
To: Allan Rock
Cc: Diane Davidson, Alain Roussy, email@example.com, Joseph Hickey, Sean Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Karine Hébert, Zachary Fouchard
Dear President Rock,
You have, on numerous occasions, proclaimed your role as a Defender of Human Rights and as a man of action in the “service of the world”.Such a noble stance is indeed indispensable at the University of Ottawa, for which you act as President, and which has a societal mission to educate students and to foster and maintain an environment where freedom of expression and critical thought are welcomed and protected.How disturbing it is, then, that you have repeatedly taken action to deny University of Ottawa students their natural rights, including the right to be innocent until proven guilty, the right to freedom of expression, and the right to freedom of education.
Your administration has put University of Ottawa graduate student Joseph Hickey in the absurd situation of facing a criminal charge for mischief, being trespassed from all campus property, being threatened with denial of work, intimidated, and harassed, all because of allegations of painting a political message on a cement poster backing wall on campus (that has since been covered by a university propaganda poster).
Mr. Hickey’s No Trespassing Notice was revoked without apology, only after weeks of letter writing including firm protests from the Graduate Student Association (GSAÉD) and from the Union of Teacher Assistants (CUPE-2626).Many of the abuses of power that occurred while Mr. Hickey was trespassed, such as his arrest at your office while attempting to make an appointment, his removal from the Physics Department Christmas Party by Protection Services, and threats by the Department of Physics to remove his Teacher Assistant work, have given rise to a CUPE grievance and a Policy 110 complaint addressed directly to the Chairman of the Board of Governors, Marc Jolicoeur.
The criminal charge laid on Joseph Hickey is ludicrous and is an example of misplaced police resources to attack politically active students.The SAC denounces the despicable behaviour of Protection Services personnel who chose to covertly gather “evidence” rather than actually “protect” the property that they allege to be concerned with by engaging directly with students. Colourful and politically messaged cement backing walls hidden behind corporate propaganda posters cannot legitimately be considered “damage to property” on a university campus and certainly such messaging should never lead to a criminal charge against a student.
The University is claiming $1038.19 in damage costs from Mr. Hickey, for the removal of the paint, which read “These Walls Belong to Students”.This absurd cost is a disgusting attempt to use student tuition money to exert punitive measures against a University of Ottawa student.There was absolutely no necessity to remove anything from the poster backing walls.The University’s recent (February 4, 2010) installation of propaganda posters over top of student-made chalk messages on the same walls attests to this fact.
Mr. Rock, we ask you to recall the Student Appeals Centre’s October, 2009 appeal to you concerning the political discrimination inflicted by you and your administration against undergraduate student Marc Kelly.Mr. Kelly had been charged with multiple illegitimate criminal offences stemming from his political activity on the University of Ottawa campus.Directly following our letter of protest to you, the Crown Prosecutor decided that Mr. Kelly’s case was “not in the public interest” to pursue, and all charges were dropped.This decision came after one year of sustained intimidation, harassment, interference, and discrimination of Mr. Kelly by your administration.
We repeat: the University has a societal mission to educate students and to foster and maintain an environment where freedom of expression and critical thought are welcomed and protected. Whereas the University should never have called Ottawa Police onto campus in the first place, and should be lobbying the Courts to rescind Mr. Hickey’s charges, it is now pursuing the maximum punishment possible against Mr. Hickey, including criminal charges and extreme and unnecessary damage costs.
Mr. Rock, the SAC now urges you to once again take action and back down from exerting illegitimate criminal punishment against a University of Ottawa student.The SAC asks you to petition the Crown Prosecutor to drop the charges against Joseph Hickey, and to remove the fabricated damage costs that you are forcing him to pay.
Zachary Fouchard, Student Appeal Officer
Mireille Gervais, Student Appeal Officer
Karine Hébert, Student Appeal Officer
From: Mireille Gervais
Date: Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 10:31 AM
Subject: Joseph Hickey’s Policy 110 complaint addressed to Marc Jolicoeur
Cc: Allan Rock, Diane Davidson, Joseph Hickey, Karine Hébert, Zachary Fouchard
Joseph Hickey has shared with the Student Appeal Centre your March 8, 2010 response to his Policy 110 complaint addressed to you.
We, Student Appeal Officers of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, were surprised to see that you state that Policy 110 is ”meant to address matters arising from the relationship between a graduate student and his or her supervisor and the graduate student’s relationship with the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. It has no application to the substance of your complaint concerning the issuance of a notice of trespass by the University’s Protection Services and the subsequent letter revoking the notice.”
Your interpretation is not in accordance with the policy itself which states ”The University recognizes the many contributions of graduate students to this institution and is committed to offering them protection from abuse in all aspects of their relationship with the University.” (Preamble 1)
Furthermore, the policy clearly states that no member of the academic community shall be subject to discrimination by reason of political belief. The facts show that Mr. Hickey’s ill-treatment by the University is based on his political beliefs. If the targeting of Mr. Hickey were not political then it would be arbitrary or unjustified and disproportionate discrimination; it would constitute harassment by those involved in the decisions. More documents pertaining to the nature of Mr Hickey’s mistreatment by the University can be provided if need be.
It is our positions that to paint Mr. Hickey’s complaint as one that is outside the jurisdiction of Policy 110 is wrong and in contradiction with the Policy itself. To refuse to receive the policy 110 complaint based on a contrived and incorrect reason would only amplify the University’s mistreatment of Mr. Hickey.
We trust you will review Policy 110 and receive Mr. Hickey’s complaint without further delay.