Commentary | Letters

Whether you agree with the protestors or not is irrelevant. The crux of the matter is this; riot police used pepper spray and batons against peaceful members of our community, many of whom were not involved in the protest whatsoever. I am shocked and incredibly angered by the events of November 10, as they serve to underline a larger problem at McGill. During Principal Heather Monroe-Blum’s tenure, the relationship between the administration and the rest of the University community has become untenable and adversarial. Students, faculty, and staff are not being heard. The administration has lost its way. HMB is ultimately responsible for the actions of McGill Security staff that led to the escalation of violence. If half of the occupiers’ accounts of the role of McGill Security are true, someone needs to get fired and it needs to be Heather Monroe-Blum.

Mo Sougal
Case Manager, Campbell Cohen Law Firm
McGill Alum 2010
Political Science

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Dear Xavier Van Chan,

You write to us as President of the McGill University Montreal Young Alumni Branch, soliciting funds. This is our response to your request.

My sister and I are quite proud of our academic achievements at McGill. We’re also proud of our father who has spent 33 years at McGill as a lab technician. He always put 110 per cent into his work. He never complained if he had to start early or stay late to finish a project. He did what he had to do.

Since September 1, 1,700 McGill University support workers (MUNACA) have been on strike. This strike is not only affecting the McGill community, but also the family members of these workers. We have visited our father on the picket line and watched him put in 110 per cent rallying up the picketers. We’ve noticed McGill security on “High Alert“ videotaping the strikers. 80 per cent of the MUNACA members are women; many mothers and some grandmothers. We wonder why McGill has decided to use such a heavy-handed approach when all these workers are fighting for is parity with the other Quebec universities, which we believe they deserve.

This is not the McGill we remember. We will not donate to any institution that squashes free speech with the use of injunctions and intimidation. Our donation to the Alma Mater Fund is ZERO and we encourage other alumni to withhold their donations or find more worthy causes.

Sincerely,

Christine Caporuscio B.Sc 2006 (McGill)
Jessica Caporuscio B.Sc
2009 (McGill)

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When students occupied administrators’ space, students felt threatened, and riot police were called. Less than 24 hours later, all of our space was equally occupied by a full brigade of firing cannons. This ceremony says something rather striking about the types of violence that we are supposed to find acceptable.

If a student walking into the administration building to open dialogue is unacceptable, then the presence of huge war machinery should be unfathomable. The firing of cannons glorifies war in a way that should not be imposed upon everyone in a public space. If glorification is not the intent, perhaps they are meant to startle us into remembering and imagining past wars. Or maybe they’re just part of an important tradition. Recreating and performing “traditional” acts of violence seems counterproductive if we are trying to work towards a future in which this violence does not exist. We are inevitably going to have to break from past traditions if we hope to find novel and more peaceful ways of resolving conflict.

The firing of cannons sends the message that violence is acceptable as long as it is organized by the right institutions. But this is not news. The administration has been sending us this message all semester.  Though not always physical in nature, members of our community have at least been subject to various forms of structural and oppressive violence limiting their right free expression and their right to be in public spaces. None of these forms of violence have a place on our campus. If our community is invested in restoring feelings of safety and trust, then a careful consideration of violence, both explicit and symbolic, is necessary. Our administration has a particular responsibility in safeguarding the campus from all forms of violence, and acknowledging their role in perpetuating as well as preventing it.

Nicole Buchanan
U3 Anthropology
Sophia Kehler
U4 Environment and African Studies

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In his account of the events of November 10 at the Senate meeting on November 16, Provost Masi focused on the women who were working on the fifth floor of James Administration during the occupation, noting that “the women who were in the offices at the time, and there were only several women…were pushed and shoved…they were frightened and they were crying.”

I was not on the fifth floor of James, and cannot speak to the truth of this statement, though the occupiers have contested its veracity. That being said, I find it troubling that Masi is exploiting gendered language to strengthen his rhetoric and promote a specific account of what took place. The women inside the building shouldn’t be used as tools to vilify the students, nor should “women crying” be used to strengthen the idea that an occupation is, by nature, violent or wrong. Should the occupiers have turned around when they realized that the staff inside were primarily female?

I don’t want to marginalize anyone’s experience or police emotions, nor am I saying that I don’t empathize. I was scared; apparently they were too. It’s an awful thing for anyone to feel this way in a space they consider safe – be it their office or campus. But that’s not the point. What I want to make clear is that it’s unacceptable for Masi to manipulate these experiences by way of language that emphasizes stereotypes of women as weak, in need of protection and sympathy. This rhetoric erases the women’s agency by employing them as nameless pawns, and disregards the fact that crying, fear, and trauma are not gender specific. Given that the women published a letter which describes their experiences without employing these same stereotypes, I would ask that Masi watch his tone when speaking on behalf of others, and stop using paternalistic language that places him in a questionable position of authority and care.

Flora Dunster
U3 Art History Honours
Former Daily copy editor

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During the McGill Senate meeting on November 16, Deputy Provost Anthony Masi made comments about the experiences of the employees working on the fifth floor of the James Administration building in the course of the November 10 student occupation.  Masi stressed that those working on the fifth floor were women, emphasizing their fear and the fact that they were crying. This portrayal reinforces the victimizing narratives that restrict women to a submissive gender role. We, the Gender, Sexual Diversity, and Feminist Studies Student Association roundly condemn Masi’s use of misogynist gender stereotypes to strengthen his rhetoric.

By construing the female employees as incapable of handling the occupiers, he relied on the “damsel in distress” stereotype to elicit an emotional response. It was unnecessary and offensive. While we understand that it was a stressful situation for everyone involved, Masi’s use of sexist language is unacceptable. His description also ignores the fact that some of the occupiers were themselves women. Masi’s sexist comments are especially disturbing given that he has the authority to veto any disciplinary measures resulting from sexual harassment complaints at McGill.
We demand that the Deputy Provost immediately issue a public apology for his comments.

The GSDFSSA


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