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(Original letter below...)

Dear Ms. President,

With all due respect to yourself, your office, and your colleagues, and having witnessed the day's events on the news, I'd humbly suggest that perhaps it is undignified to claim publicly to have been frightened by a group of noisy teenagers and young adults. This was not, after all, a protest upon the streets of Cairo. To claim that such a non-event was a source of intimidation makes light of meaningful politics, and only serves to dampen public spiritedness. It is not proper to claim that such basic political practice is somehow the source of deep existential terror to mature adults, and thereby imply the fundamental immorality of political activity which is not strictly controlled and sanitized.

If, for some reason, your colleagues and yourself truly did feel terrorized by such a thing, I would simply feel compelled to suggest that a much thicker skin is required by the office. If, however, this rather inappropriately worded letter is composed in the spirit of pure polemic and rhetoric, I find it quite objectionable. I do not find it the least bit ethical to wield the prerogatives of the office for the sake of chilling the practice of political argument and deliberation. Such attempts to clear-out the public sphere and dampen the expression of unmoderated opinions fly in the face of a healthy liberal democracy. To do so in the midst of a federal election campaign is a galling irony.

Colin Cordner

----- Original Message ----
From: "no-reply@carleton.ca" <no-reply@carleton.ca>
Sent: Mon, April 4, 2011 3:46:09 PM
Subject: Notice regarding meetings of Carleton's governing bodies

At Carleton University we support freedom of speech. We also support respect for others and the maintenance of a peaceful environment conducive to study and work.

On March 29, 2011, a group of some 200 individuals prevented access and egress to Robertson Hall. Their comportment was frightening to students, faculty, staff and members of the Board of Governors. Members of the Board felt harassed and threatened. The blocking of the building created a situation which was potentially dangerous.

This must not occur again. Those who have said they will interrupt meetings until they have their way are participating in inappropriate bullying tactics. In the future, those persons preventing access and egress or refusing to follow guidelines set by security will, at a minimum, be charged under the student code for a non-academic offence. Penalties may include suspension of privileges, including access to the campus, a monetary fine or loss of academic status.

We have a fair system of governance. Students are represented on the Board of Governors, the Faculty Senate and the councils of the various faculties. It is not the privilege of any group to threaten to stop the work of the university. If any individual or group does not like the result of the serious deliberations of these bodies, there remains the right to make this point of view known in a respectful and peaceful fashion. This is absolutely essential. Our community is diverse in culture and thought. We must all respect each other and permit each other to work and study on the campus in safety.

Sincerely yours,

Roseann O?Reilly Runte
President and Vice-Chancellor

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