The students occupying the sixth floor of the James Administration building, known as #6party, initially demanded the resignation of Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson. However, in a communique released on Friday night, the students announced that they have “reformulated” their demands.
The occupiers are now calling for Mendelson to work out of Service Point for the remainder of his term, devote at least 15 per cent of his workday to holding office hours open to students, and to reconfigure his former office into a student space. The group’s second demand, pertaining to the recognition of the fall referenda, remains the same.
U4 Arts student Ethan Feldman explained that the decision had been made on Thursday night.
“We had a clear and level-headed discussion with ourselves about what was going on, and we recognize that those who only receive our public messages do not know our private internal lives, and do not see all the conversation that goes on behind the scenes,” he said.
“Our demands [aim] to be received by the administration. It is clear that they haven’t. Where they have been received is in the public sphere, and in that sense it is important that we provide a message to our audience because those who have the ability to deal with our demands have not budged,” Feldman continued.
Another round of negotiations between #6party and Associate Vice-Principal (University Services) Jim Nicell took place Thursday evening. Feldman stated, however, that Nicell is in contact with #6party outside of negotiations.
Feldman spoke to the students’ relationship with Nicell.
“[Nicell] is honest in that he always tells us the limits of his abilities. He makes it clear that he has no power and he is just a pawn, wasting our time when he comes to negotiate and when he calls us, and he is deadly honest about it,” he said. “He’s been deadly honest about how powerless he is. We trust him in a sense.”
Nicell called the students Thursday evening as reports of increasing security were disseminated.
Pierre-Paul Tellier, director of Student Health Services, also called students on Thursday, to follow up from his Wednesday visit to the sixth floor.
Nicell called again on Friday morning shortly before the students were informed that they would no longer have access to washrooms.
“We shut [down] the washroom being used by the protestors on the sixth floor, as another measure to get them to leave of their own accord. We are maintaining access to drinking water,” wrote Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) Michael Di Grappa in an email to all students and staff at around 12:30 p.m. on Friday.
“We are working very actively to end the situation, but are also taking steps to ensure that acts of civil disobedience on campus are conducted in a way that does not cause undue disruptions to university activities,” Di Grappa continued.
A student on the sixth floor who wished to remain anonymous told The Daily on Friday afternoon that the group has created an “improvised bathroom” in one corner.
“We’re using bags, and hopefully soon air freshener, to go to the bathroom. We’re considering a variety of tactics for disposing of shit,” he said.
The student said #6party does not intend to end the occupation.
“It changes the day-to-day experience in a minor way, but we all came prepared for not having access to a proper bathroom, and we all came prepared to accept contingency measures,” he said.
The occupier told The Daily that the students have a “good food supply,” and “a sustainable re-supply system” in the form of a pulley that was first used on Thursday night to get food and supplies up to the sixth floor.
Feldman told The Daily that Nicell called the students on Friday night wishing them a “very nice, peaceful night.” Moments later, he reported that security agents covered the window to the hallway with paper blocking out all light. Students have LED flashlights and headlamps. One hour later, #6party tweeted that the paper had been removed.