| The year in news

Our campus, 2011 - 2012

THE YEAR IN QUOTES

“We’re not going to discuss that. We’re just not going to discuss that. You can’t reasonably expect that we are going to discuss that. We’re in a situation that’s still developing.”  Director of Media Relations Doug Sweet on McGill’s response to the #6party occupation

“We find the actions and intimidation tactics of McGill University and its legal representatives to be suppressive of our and any organization’s rights to freedom of speech.” Daily Publications Society’s press release on McGillLeaks

“If I were to reapply this year, I would feel very differently about what it means to be a floor fellow.” Anonymous floor fellow

“I just wish [the incidents] didn’t occur, but I can’t stop them from occurring.” David Lewis on incidents of gaybashing at Macdonald campus

“On the way back from jail, I found myself walking back across campus and there were students leaving the library … kids talking about where they were gonna get drunk. It was really strange. It was really, really strange.” Ariel Prado on his arrest on November 10

“Frankly, I find [the questions] to be put in a convoluted, confusing way” Mendelson on CKUT and QPIRG fall 2011 referenda questions

“I’m done, I have so much less bargaining power” EUS President Josh Redel on the forced name change of 132 McGill clubs

“This is absolutely ridiculous and I certainly hope that this is not how the administration functions, but it would explain a great deal” MUNACA President Kevin Whittaker on the stall in the review of MUNACA’s new collective agreement 

“I am in CEGEP and I want to go to university next year. I have no idea how I will pay my tuition… If there’s no way to go, well, poverty will not be a choice” Ariane Turmel-Chénaud, a student at the CEGEP du Vieux-Montréal

“The Daily is not a vehicle for due process” Principal Heather Munroe-Blum after the Jutras report’s release

“Any university that doesn’t know the place it must make for political activism has already lost its way” Professor Darin Barney in Senate

“Students are feeling disenfranchised – this is very clear” Jim Nicell after first occupation of the Board of Governors meeting in November

“My position now goes from worrying about what a radio station should be doing…it’s just once again going to be about trying to keep the station alive and breathing” Tim Beeler, CKUT Board member on losing its referendum to become non-opt-outable

“That’s a big-ass protest coming our way and we’re kind of in the middle of it” Engineering student, on a tuition demo on campus

“Make no mistake, if they can silence MUNACA in the way that they are doing here, they will silence the rest of us when our time comes” Professor Derek Nystrom in response to McGill’s first injunction against MUNACA

“Why is it that none of us can go into our own administration building?” Professor Will Roberts on November 11

“I got really angry, and posted one of those angry Facebook events which I was expecting 10 people to join and embarrassingly have to delete six hours later…and I had 500 people on it in 30 minutes.” Alex McKenzie on creating the Facebook event ‘We Are All McGill.’ 

“I think it’s time that the government itself asks the police to just respect us, respect our protests, because the tension is going to go higher and higher.” Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, CLASSE spokesperson

“We have our heads held high, a song on our lips and joy in our heart.” Greg Adams on the eviction of Occupy Montreal

 

 

THE YEAR IN NEWS

Sept. 1 : MUNACA declares strike

Frosh/ early Sept. : AUS loses $12,000 from the office

Sept. 12 : McTavish flood

Sept. 29 : First MUNACA injunction; AGSEM course lecturers accredited

Oct. 6 : injunction 2

Oct. 15 : Occupy Montreal starts

Oct. 17 : SUS iphones

Oct. 20 : injunction 3

Nov. 3 : SSMU signs MoA (names changed)

Nov. 8 : First AUS GA (vote to strike Nov10)

Nov. 10 : riot on campus ; CKUT/QPIRG existence referenda pass

Nov. 11 : HMB launches Jutras Investigation ; Students launch Independent Student Inquiry

Nov. 14 : We Are All McGill

Nov. 24 : TAs ratify new contract

Nov. 25 : Occupy Montreal evicted

Dec. 1 : ISI releases preliminary report

Dec. 5 : MUNACA ratifies new collective agreement

Dec. 15 : Jutras Report released

Jan. 15 : J-Board Case launched against results of QPIRG’s 2011 referendum question

Jan. 19 : McGill administration invalidates CKUT and QPIRG’s 2011 existence referenda

Feb. 2 : Queer Mac campus student assaulted, exposing a larger problem of “gaybashing” on the campus

Feb. 3 : Roshi Chadha, member-at-large on McGill’s Board of Governors (BoG), took a leave of absence last Thursday as media scrutiny mounts over her and McGill’s role in the Quebec asbestos industry

Feb. 7 : 20 students occupy Deputy Provost’s office on the 6th floor of James Admin for 5 days, about 60 students and staff occupy lobby for 24 hours

Feb. 9 : the existence part of CKUT’s fall 2011 referendum question recognized by the admin

Feb. 10 : Mod Squad (of ModPAC) forms

Feb. 12 : The McGill administration issued a provisional protocol on Sunday strictly outlining students’ rights to demonstrate on campus

Feb. 14 : The SSMU Judicial Board (J-Board) invalidates QPIRG’s fall 2011 referendum question on the grounds that the question “deals with two issues, instead of one as required by the [SSMU] Constitution”

Feb 16 : McGill announces a preliminary review of the research of John Corbett McDonald, an emeritus professor in the department regarding past and present connections with the Quebec asbestos industry

Feb. 17 : The review of MUNACA’s collective agreement stalls

End of Feb. : Deputy Provost calls Queer McGill and SSMU for a confidential meeting regarding a demonstration of vaginal fisting

Mar. 1 :  Independent Student Inquiry presents final report

Mar. 2 : SUS holds first GA

Mar. 3 : McGillLeaks launches

Mar. 8 : MCSS votes to strike for the first time in its history on March 22

Mar. 9 : 250 MUNACA members demonstrate on campus regarding stalled review of collective agreement

Mar. 12 : DPS states it will not write about the contents of McGillLeaks

Mar. 13 : SWSA McGill student association to join the unlimited student strike ever; AUS General Assembly vote to strike fails: 55 per cent vote against the strike

Mar. 14 : CKUT’s winter referendum question for its fees to  become non-optoutable is voted down with 42 per cent of the vote

Mar. 15 : AMUSE members vote to ratify its first collective agreement with agreement

Mar. 22 : 12,912 McGill students on strike for provincial day of action against tuition hikes

OUR GOVERNING BODIES

SSMU

McGill Name : SSMU President Maggie Knight and VP University Affairs Emily Clare were saddled with perhaps the toughest issue of the year, inheriting three years of SSMU negotiations with the administration over the use of the McGill name. Nevertheless, we view the SSMU executives’ surrender of 132 student clubs’ right to use the McGill name as one of their most notable failures. Although inheriting the years-long issue was far from ideal, the executive had a five month window to promote the issue and mobilize students, and when negotiations reached the eleventh hour they once again underestimated the leverage they possessed in negotiations with a frustratingly intransigent administration.

Student-run cafe : We are (almost) as happy as VP Finance and Operations Shyam Patel at seeing this post-Arch Café closure afterthought become a reality. Patel did particularly well in maximizing student interest in the issue, especially given the fact that his portfolio rarely has such a direct and emotional impact on student life. Since financial viability was cited by the administration to be the problem that sunk the Arch Café, we hope next year’s VP FOPS will implement a reliable business model and see Patel’s vision through.

Events : VP Internal Todd Plummer saw a successful run of the Shatner-centric SSMU events like 4Floors, Gerts Week 101, and Faculty Olympics, as well as the charming addition of stress-relief puppies, however he failed to diversify the portfolio. A creative attempt to connect with Mac Campus, the “Mac Campus Hoedown” in October, ended in criticism of the poster’s appropriateness (it featured a pair of jean shorts-clad, presumably female legs upside down and associated with the word “hoedown”), and a disappointing lack of coordination with buses. Similarly, a Coyote Ugly event at Gerts was subject to equity complaints and altered at the last minute. A series of summits on student life issues were created as an admirable attempt on SSMU’s part to engage student voices, even if turnout was low. However, both of SSMU’s GAs lost quorum before the end of their agendas, which continues to raise questions about the promotion and communication efforts of this event – and SSMU in general.

Accessibility : Overall, this year’s executive team was as accessible and available as a campus journalist could ask for. What we can’t speak to is their availability to the general student body. But one thing the elections season in particular brought to our attention was how the current executive seems to have neglected the common SSMU practice of grooming one or several possible successors. In past years, SSMU exec candidates have usually included students who have worked extensively with the portfolio or spent months shadowing a current executive. Exec turnover is a perennial challenge for SSMU within McGill governance, and we’re disappointed the current executive seems to have made limiting this unique handicap less of a priority.

Student Activism: This year has been unprecedented in terms of student activism, both on and off campus (but especially on). Mob Squad, a group fostered by former VP External Myriam Zaidi, began its year by holding protests for MUNACA and steadily promoted tuition rallies and protests throughout the second semester. VP External Joël Pedneault coordinated with the group capably, resulting in some of the largest McGill contingents ever to attend protests beyond the Roddick Gates. Pedneault’s connections with other Quebec students were obvious, and helpful to many of his portfolio’s objectives, working to improve McGill’s reputation within the provincial student movement. Pedneault’s job is to work towards SSMU’s mandates – including fighting for accessible tuition – and the inherent political nature of his position created some controversy among students. The mobilization of students prompted both admiration and criticism, resulting in the creation of the Moderate Political Action Committee and its anti-strike mobilization. Through it all – did we mention two occupations of the James Administration building and riot police on campus? – SSMU Council and its executive has maintained a fine line of neutrality, releasing statements that are careful to neither condemn nor congratulate student action, and often getting caught up in a rhetoric of what constitutes constituent representationality. The divisive environment was not ameliorated by attempts to unite the student body during post-occupation forums designed to facilitate discussion, and SSMU’s failure to call out the administration’s selective enforcement of disciplinary action against more vocal students showed that not taking an explicitly political position on an issue is a political position in itself.

PGSS 

President : PGSS President Roland Nassim has been a strong leader for the PGSS this year, guiding a productive executive that worked well together. Although he may have rarely gone above and beyond his job description, he has done his duties well, and remained a fairly neutral presence on the PGSS. He has often taken careful steps to keep good relations with the McGill administration – for example, when he adamantly distanced the PGSS from the James Administration occupations, something that has seemed to distance the PGSS from the student movement on campus. However, he has also been vocal in holding the administration accountable this year, including questioning them in Senate when they forewent issuing a public statement regarding McGillLeaks, advocating student involvement for McGill’s expansion into Griffintown, and arguing for livestreamed Senate meetings. Generally, Nassim has been generous with his time in regards to student media, and has been available and informative throughout the year.

VP External : Mariève Isabel has done some incredible work for the PGSS this year. On top of her regular duties (attending meetings, working with governmental representation, communicating with the media, sitting on various committees) she has taken on several other projects. She made it one of her top priorities to commit to the fight against tuition increases, authoring a motion that passed at the PGSS Annual General Meeting earlier this month committing the Society to a three day strike last week – the longest strike in PGSS history. She has also been actively involved in new research projects on corporate partnerships and ancillary fees, both of which are ongoing and will continue beyond the end of her term. She was also involved in the restructuring of PGSS staff, organizing Financial Awareness Week, and increasing sustainable initiatives within PGSS – including helping with the recent hiring of a Sustainability Coordinator. Isabel has dedicated long hours and hard work to the various projects she has committed to. She has made it a point this year to remain in frequent contact with student media, and has been one of the more accessible student executives.

VP Finance : Adrian Kaats has been meticulous in fulfilling the mandate of his portfolio along with several other intiatives; he worked with Simeone on an upcoming IT project that will feature electronic document management. He has worked extensively on establishing new funds and creating a Society budget that is very accessible to any member. He undertook his own initiatives to correct the nature of finances, eliminating a formerly discretionary fund. Throughout his efforts at Council it is apparent that Kaats has taken concrete efforts to improve the transparency of the Society, and taking initiative to be proactive. However Kaats is apt to losing his cool in debates at Council, and, though he has taken responsible recourse for his actions (notably apologizing before Council at the beginning of a meeting for an exchange he participated in previously), these outbursts are detrimental to the work of the executive and the PGSS as a whole.

VP Internal : Simeone is not a novice to PGSS – he acted as President for the Society two years prior to his 2011-12 term as VP Internal. Part of his job involves event planning, which involves a few mainstays such as the Society’s Halloween party. However,  Simeone’s most successful event, according to him, was the screening of PhD Comics,  a film released only to the graduate student associations. A large portion of Simeone’s year was spent implementing the Post-Graduate Life Fund, a $10 per student fund, that is paid by McGill to departmental associations within PGSS. In order for the fund to be implemented, Simeone worked in tandem with VP Finance Kaats to assist in building structures with McGill’s graduate departmental associations to ensure the responsible dispensation of the fund. According to Simeone, this meant revitalizing some department associations that had been inactive for a long time. Undertaking the policy, human relations, and communications pertaining to implementing the fund, Simeone was not often a vocal presence on Council (though present physically), however he has been accessible to the media in special circumstances, such as following November 10. He also has an upcoming IT project that he has worked on with Kaats. Simeone has taken many steps in providing resources to students – at a grassroots level of departmental associations – and has put in place structures that, if they stand the test of time, will be an invaluable contribution to the Society’s institutional memory.

VP University and Academic Affairs : Han describes the amount of time that she has put into her position at PGSS as “ridiculous.” As VP UA, one of Han’s major tasks was representing the Society on the University’s governing bodies – notably coordinating PGSS senator caucus. As caucus coordinator, Han has several times been given a mandate from the Society to bring a “critical discussion” to Senate – notably after the January PGSS meeting regarding the Jutras report. Han has proven her leadership abilities with the PGSS caucus, and her own oratory skills, in her addresses to Senate. She has managed to take potentially nebulous, yet charged, topics to the body and speak to the issues raised by her constituents. Notably her involvement with McGill Association of University Teachers (MAUT) demonstrates a broad understanding of University processes and a shrewd recognition of important, yet-little-spoken-about issues facing academic staff – particularly relevant to grad students who may be looking to become professors. Han has been realistic in her initiatives for the year, and upfront about when she has fallen short of her goals. She also demonstrated a significant knack for keeping up with the demands of students, notably moving to focus on Supervisor-Student Relations, in the generally time lag that comes part-in-parcel with McGill governance.


 

 THE YEAR IN DEMONSTRATIONS AND PROTESTS

Sept. 1 : MUNACA goes on strike

Sept. 8 : Mendelson states to The Daily that teaching off-campus will be tolerated. He retracts the statement later that month as Dean of Arts Christopher Manfredi announces teachers could face financial consequences for teaching off campus

Sept. 26 : Protestors barred from Senate

Sept. 29 : Provost Anthony Masi faces off with students outside James Administration. Vice Principal (Administration & Finance) Michael Di Grappa tells students they’re not allowed to protest on campus

Oct. 6 : First tuition march on campus

Oct. 14 :  SSMU VP External Joël Pedneault and Arts student Micha Stettin are brought up on disciplinary charges stemming from a pro-MUNACA campus demonstration. Pedneault was not present at the demonstration.

Oct. 17 : MUNACA member Joan O’Malley arrested

Oct. 20 : 300 MUNACA workers set up picket line around the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Glen Campus construction site, resulting in a cancelled workday

Nov. 10 : march and occupation of Principal’s office

November 11 : Sit-in outside James in response to events of November 10

Nov. 14 : Nearly 1,000 students fill James Square for “We Are All McGill” rally

Nov. 25 : Eight MUNACA members interrupt Principal Heather Munroe-Blum’s speech at the Quebec Board of Trade

November 30 : Thirty students occupy Board of Governors meeting

Dec. 7 : Students stage die-in during a seminar on cement production by McGill’s Cosmo lab and the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM)

January 31 : Board of Governors meeting cancelled after about thirty students dressed as pirates disrupt the meeting by singing

Feb. 7 : Demonstration in support of recognizing CKUT and QPIRG 2011 referenda results

Starting Feb 7: Five-day occupation of the sixth floor of James Administration; known as #6party (24 hour occupation of the lobby)

Feb 13 : Students march across campus in protest of provisional protocol

Feb 14 : 300 students march onto McGill campus to mark the first wave of the Quebec student movement’s general unlimited strike

Feb 18 : Raging Grannies protest McGill’s ties to the asbestos industry at Roddick Gates

Feb 24 : CLASSE-organized day of action in downtown Montreal with 47 student associations, representing about 68,400 students, on strike for the day

Last week of February: Disciplinary action for students involved with the January 31 BoG occupation begin

February 29 : Floor fellows Danji Buck-Moore and Drew Childerhose dismissed for #6party involvement

March 6 : CEGEP student injured (loses eye) in protest outside Strathcona music on Sherbrooke

March 7 : CSU Votes to strike; first anglophone university in Quebec to join the unlimited general strike

March 13 : McGill launches Demo blog, Sherbrooke and McTavish intersection blocked

March 15 : The annual anti-police brutality march: 2,000 demonstrators, 226 arrests

March 21 : About 50 students occupy lobby of Concordia’s administration building

March 22 : 200,000 students demonstrate against tuition hikes, making it the largest student demonstration in North America. About 12,912 McGill students are on strike for the day

 


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