I’m writing in response to the piece “A personal attack from behind a screen” (Commentary, September 13, page 6) by Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson – in particular, I’d like to comment on his reference to McGill’s Policy on Harassment, Sexual Harassment, and Discrimination Prohibited by Law.
I found this reference not only ridiculous, but insulting to those who have actually faced harassment or discrimination at McGill. There is simply no comparison between a public figure that has a satirical story written about them and an employee, student, or other member of the McGill community who survives harassment, sexual harassment, or discrimination. Since Mendelson is a public figure (and he has chosen to become one), his actions and words are up for discussion and comment in ways that those of the average person at McGill are not; this discussion can involve both serious and satirical commentary.
Further, Mendelson is in a position of authority at McGill – a critique (even a somewhat absurdist one) of the way he exercises this authority or acts in his position cannot be construed as harassment. To do this would not only ignore the power relations usually involved in harassment and discrimination, but would also leave the media almost unable to perform one of its most important functions: to seriously inspect and criticize authority.
Lastly, for Mendelson to compare the Compendium! piece to harassment and discrimination seriously undermines survivors of harassment or discrimination. He belittles what survivors have gone through by comparing it to a Compendium! article and, by referring to harassment and discrimination in an almost casual way, he contributes to a culture at McGill that does not take these issues seriously or work to end them on campus.
U3 Honours Political Science
Daily Design&Production Editor 2010-2011 and Coordinating Editor 2011-2012