Frosh season never goes by without some flak, and this year was no exception. Management Undergraduate Society Frosh planned a tribal frosh that drew accusations of racism and cultural insensitivity for its overt thematization of indigineous culture: MUS president Céline Junke apologized online, and the theme was subsequently toned down to “Superheroes.”
In the meantime, Nampande Londe Arts Undergraduate Society VP Events resigned after announcing that AUS frosh was severely in the red.
Architecture Café closed
Students returned to school to find that the historic cafe in the basement of the Macdonald-Harrington building – and the most popular meeting place relatively free of the homogenizing hand of McGill Food and Dining services – was permanently shut down. Morton Mendelson told the Reporter that “there was no such thing as a free lunch,” and revealed his stance on student-run enterprise outside of Shatner to the Daily: “I assume it was being run in good faith by students who were really dedicated to the enterprise… but the café was essentially run like a lemonade stand.”
SSMU endorsed a lively boycott of McGill Food and Dining Services and students retaliated with a hundreds-strong protest outside of two Senate meetings. Later in the semester, The Daily found that the cafe was running a minor deficit after MFDS took their cut (they partly managed the operations). Emails revealing back-and-forth between the ASA, the EUS, and the administration over the cafes future were obtained from an Access to Information request.
Students complained about the lack of consultation when the administration began enforcing a campus ban on bike riding, coupled with the rhetoric of a greener, more pedestrian friendly space.
Abidor v. Napolitano
Pascal Abidor – a McGill Islamic Studies PhD student and American citizen – took on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after being detained at the U.S. border and having his laptop held for 11 days in May 2010.
He was challenging American policy that allowed for border searches without reasonable suspicion.
Streetwalkers come indoors
Ontario Superior Justice Susan Himel struck down three provisions of the Criminal Code that placed sex workers at risk in the now historic case Bedford v. Canada. The three provisions – communicating to solicit sex, running or working in a brothel, and living off income procured by sex work – were ruled to be in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms when they were challenged in court by Terri Jean Bedford, a dominatrix, and two former sex workers.
The Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) began to organize a union for course lecturers – McGill’s are among the lowest-paid in the province – but faced obstacles from the administration. After an altercation involving the removal of AGSEM posters, more than twenty faculty members signed an open letter stating their support for AGSEM’s campaign and denouncing the administration’s behaviour.
Former child soldier and Canadian citizen Omar Khadr pleads guilty to a military commission on five charges – including the murder of American medic Sargeant Christopher Sheer – on a plea bargain deal that reduces his sentence to eight years, with permission to apply for transfer to Canada after one year.
Khadr was 15 when he was captured by American troops in 2002 in Afghanistan after throwing a fatal hand grenade and has spent over eight years at the detention centre at Guantamo; Prime Minister Stephen Harper repeatedly stonewalled court decisions to repatriate Khadr.
Construction of the $1.34-billion McGill University Health Centre was halted after companies were issued a “stop-work order” for beginning construction on a temporary parking lot in the City of Westmount without a building permit.
State of emergency declared
On October 21, the remote First Nation community of Eabametoong is sent two OPP officers after Chief Lewis Nate declared a state of emergency. The declaration was made in response to a number of escalating issues the small community had recently faced, including the arson of a local school, two murders of local youth and the fire-bombing of a church minister’s house while five people were inside.
Pizza with the IDF
The Jewish Studies Student Assocation (JSSA), along with the Bronfman Israel Experience Centre – commonly known as Birthright – hosted a pizza lunch and discussion with three IDF soldiers in the Jewish Studies building on November 4. Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) organized a protest outside of the event to demonstrate against the presence of Israeli military on campus.
Bill C-300 – a private member’s bill – would have held Canadian mining companies accountable for infractions against the environment and human rights, if enacted. The bill was first brought forward by Liberal MP John McKay with assistance from the University of Ottawa, McGill, and the University of Toronto. Stephen Harper, who normally does not vote on private members’ bills, was present and had his caucus vote against the bill. Canadian mining companies have close relationships with the economy and the federal Canada Pension Plan. The bill was defeated 140 votes to 134 votes.
Arch Cafe’s docs revealed
After two of the biggest campus rallies in recent memory, getting access to the Arch Café’s financial books, and continuous sleuthing, The Daily received a document dump that finally broke the story wide open. The documents included personal emails between administrators and student politicians, internal memoranda, and reports. The documents came after filing an Access to Information request; the new information shed light on the decision-making process surrounding the closure and detailed the coordinated media strategy on the part of the administration.
Quebec City protest
On December 6 student and labour unions gathered in Quebec City to protest the second Rencontre des partenaires en éducation – a meeting of provincial government ministers and university administrators regarding austerity measures and tuition increases. Over 60, 000 students were present; most were members of the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ). The strike was province-wide. Representatives from student, professor, and labour unions walked out of the meeting due to what they saw as the government’s unwillingness to negotiate on proposed tuition hikes.
McKinsey and Co.
Management-consulting firm McKinsey and Co. offered its services pro bono to the McGill administration as a result of several alumni holding senior positions at the firm. The company helped with McGill’s Strategic Reframing Initiative, despite an attempted GA motion calling for the University to reject the offer.
Thousands of supporters of the Jasmine Revolution gathered in Montreal’s Dorchester Square after Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted on January 14.
Amid chants and songs in Arabic, English, and French, several hundred from Montreal’s Egyptian community converged in front of Montreal’s Egyptian consulate. Protesters celebrated the four consecutive days of mass protests in Egypt against the government of Hosni Mubarak.
SSMU President Zach Newburgh revealed his involvement with internet startup Jobbook in a six-hour closed session of SSMU Legislative Council. Council introduced a motion to impeach Newburgh, but amended this to a public censure. Newburgh disregarded numerous calls for his resignation, maintaining that he had not violated any SSMU regulations.
Montreal celebrated the ousting of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. The end of Mubarak’s thirty-year reign came after weeks of massive protests across Egypt, and rallies worldwide in solidarity with the Egyptian people.
Maggie Knight won the SSMU presidency by a landslide, winning 67.2 per cent of the vote, over the 25.8 per cent taken by her opponent Cathal Rooney-Céspedes. The remainder of the SSMU executive elected was VP External Joël Pednault, VP Finance Shyam Patel, VP Internal Todd Plummer, VP Clubs and Services Carol Fraser, and VP University Affairs Emily Clare.
McGill fined by province
The Quebec government imposed a $2-million fine on McGill for raising tuition in the MBA program. MBA tuition was increased by about 900 per cent, violating Quebec budgetary laws.
Protesting tuition hikes
Quebec Minister of Finance Raymond Bachand announced the 2011-2012 Quebec budget. Tuition hikes were included in the budget; tuition will increase $325 per student per year for five years, beginning in 2012. Students from l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ) demonstrated in and occupied the offices of the Ministry of Finance in Montreal; in Saguenay – Lac-St-Jean, students of the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ) occupied the premises of Serge Simard, Quebec delegate Minister for Natural Resources.
Student Haaris Khan was investigated by the McGill administration and Montreal police after he tweeted from a campus film screening, threating to shoot students in attendence. Khan later deleted the Twitter account and apologized.
Harper government in contempt
The conservative government of Stephen Harper fell when Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff introduced a motion of non-confidence. The government was also found to be in contempt of Parliament, for the first time in Canadian history.
Disaster in Japan
A 9.0 magnitude earthquake and a tsunami hit Japan on March 11, resulting in mass destruction and a death toll of over 27,000. The earthquake caused the collapse of nuclear power plants, prompting fears of radiation and nuclear leaks.