Students without Class

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support today for as little as $1 per month!

Concordia University's expulsion of two student union leaders is radicalizing Zionist and anti-Zionist Montrealers.

Concordia expelled and banned Laith Marouf and Tom Keefer after a supposed scuffle with security guards July 20. The incident occurred after Marouf allegedly spray-painted pro-Palestinian graffiti on the side of a now-demolished building on Concordia property.

The university says its decision "comes as a result of an assault on Concordia University security guards and the uttering of a death threat by one of the individuals," according to a letter on their Website. But according to a statement put out by the Concordia Student Union (CSU), the university rector, Frederick Lowy, made his decision "solely on the basis of statements made by Concordia security guards."

The CSU says the students have been presumed guilty without a fair trial. "We're operating under a system here of guilty until proven innocent," says CSU researcher David Bernans. "Concordia would have had to have proved that Tom and Laith did what they said they did, and it's difficult to do that when you have twelve witnesses saying they were not violent and the security was violent."

Bernans says he doubts the university will make good on its threats to press criminal charges. "The cops did not press charges because they knew it was ridiculous," says Bernans.

"Twelve witnesses say guards are the ones who were being violent. They know there's no chance of going through and convicting Tom and Laith for anything."

It is not clear whether charges could be pressed against Marouf; he says his father is a diplomat, so he has diplomatic immunity.

A joint statement put out by the expelled students accuses the university rector of not following university protocol. "Dr. Lowy, has appointed himself as judge, jury and executioner in this matter," reads the statement. "He has made no attempt to ascertain the facts of what really happened on July 20th, and he is behaving in an unethical, bullying, and illegal fashion.

"As much as we would like to engage in a detailed rebutting of the specific allegations that Mr. Lowy has made against us concerning the events of July 20th, we believe that the most appropriate place for doing so would be at the University's Rights and Responsibilities hearing board or in a court of law, where at least a semblance of fairness and due process are available."

The university claims the two were not students when it banned them from university property, since neither was enrolled in courses. But the CSU argues they were students according to the university's code of conduct, which lists three definitions of students. The third definition says students are "persons registered during a preceding academic term." The pair was enrolled last year.

Bernans says the expulsions are just the latest in a series of attempts to repress campus activism at Concordia. He says the Concordia administration denied the student group Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) the right to use university space for its events, implemented a new policy limiting postering for all Concordia student groups and refused to allow student groups to book a large hall for events.

Both sides have received their respective support. Concordia has received a letter from the executive of the Concordia University Faculty Association and a favourable editorial in the Montreal Gazette. The SPHR, the Canadian Federation of Students - Quebec, Professor Lillian Robinson, chair of Concordia's Simone de Beauvoir Institute, and Noam Chomsky back the two students.

Laith Marouf and Tom Keefer are contesting the expulsion. Supporters are planning more actions to reinstate the students. However, the SPHR postponed a large march titled "End Israeli Colonialism - Unite for Justice" - which was scheduled for September 15 - in light of Tuesday's attacks on the U.S.

Further Reading

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.