Montreal Concordia university residence Covid-19 coronavirus

Concordia students evicted from residence with four days notice

The university is facing a backlash after forcing more than 800 students to vacate residence by the end of the weekend.

Over 800 students in residence at Concordia University in Montreal received an eviction notice on Wednesday afternoon stating that the university’s four housing facilities will close on Sunday, March 22 due to the COVID-19 / Coronavirus pandemic.

Concordia spokesperson Vannina Maestracci told CTV that, “Social distancing measures that everyone right now is aiming for are hard to maintain in residences,” adding,, “We would not be able to take the recommended health measures should students fall ill in residence because of the number of students and space available.”

Inevitably there was a backlash from students on social media and Reddit. The Concordia Student Union’s academic and advocacy coordinator Patrick Quinn told CBC, “I would actually argue this creates more risk to a very vulnerable population.”

Given the travel restriction in place that might prevent students from flying and crossing borders, university president Graham Carr released a statement saying that, “Concordia will support any student who has nowhere to go to the best of our abilities by providing them with accommodation, meals and other services until conditions improve.”

International students from France and Italy told CBC that they are safer here than they would be at home, where COVID-19 has taken a greater toll than in Canada. One student commented that they initially thought the eviction was a prank.

Meanwhile, McGill has not formally evicted students, but has “strongly encouraged” students in residences to go home if possible. 

A McGill university statement noted: “For those who cannot return home at this time, measures have been put in place to facilitate that students in residences adhere to the practice of social distancing and proper hygiene in accordance with the recommendations of public health.”

With Montreal’s rental vacancy at an all-time low (and rent at an all-time high), the timing of this eviction is extremely difficult, especially given that students only had four days’ notice to leave. The university did note, however, that extensions will be given on a case by case basis.

Concordia is not alone in closing residences. A number of universities and colleges in Ontario are evicting students as well. ■

For affected Concordia University students with questions about the closure of Montreal residences due to COVID-19 / Coronavirus, find answers here.

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