Here in Montreal, former Concordia student Ashraf Azar is suing Concordia for the ludicrously high sum of
$16 million $13.5 million after he admitted to “tampering with other students’ exams and assignments” and got expelled in 2004.
Azar, a recently engaged (congrats) biochemistry student who ran for student council twice and lost both times, wrote the lawsuit himself without legal aid, which probably accounts for the huge figure.
His argument is that he was pressured into admitting guilt by his
CSU university-appointed (see below) advocate, who suggested that doing so would result in a lesser punishment. The fact he got expelled, which is the most serious punishment, suggests that didn’t happen.
Though the lawsuit is ridiculous and will probably be laughed out of court, there is a grain of real concern here. The obvious conflict of interest in a university both appointing advocates for students while simultaneously seeking to punish them is what led to the creation of the Concordia Student Union’s Advocacy Centre. The centre quickly got a lot of traffic, especially from international students who are highly pressured to succeed, have English as a second or third language, and are brought up on different rules when it comes to things like citing academic content.
Much like defence lawyers, CSU student advocates admit they’ve gotten guilty people off on technicalities, or at least had their punishments reduced. So I suppose that despite being guilty, Azar might have a point if he argued that having a student advocate from the student union would have resulted in a lesser punishment.
But he still admitted guilt, and he was punished for it. He doesn’t deserve to have a degree handed to him, nor does he deserve any money for his mistake, to say nothing of millions of dollars.
UPDATE (Sept. 19): The Link has an interview with more details on the story. Apparently
the advocate was appointed by the CSU advocacy centre (which if true, means they have a lot of ‘splainin to do), and (see comment below) lawyers wouldn’t take his case because it’s “unwinnable”. Oh yeah, he also says he didn’t do it, and he’s being discriminated against.