McGill’s administration made the decision to drastically overhaul the residence system, starting in the 2014-15 school year. Right now, most residences have one part-time Hall Director for every six or seven floor fellows. The current system will be modified so that the several part-time Hall Director positions will be consolidated into fewer full-time positions. As a result, each Director’s efforts will be spread over multiple residences.
Hall Directors act as Disciplinary Officers on behalf of the administration and facilitate floor fellows’ work. Student floor fellows do not have a strict mandate but tend to serve as role models, community builders, and as resources for student residents. With a highly demanding job, the new full-time Hall Directors’ mandate to manage several buildings means they will be less available to floor fellows and students.
The McGill residence system’s emphasis on harm reduction, an approach that focuses on non-judgemental support, makes it unique in Canada, and other universities across the country are striving to emulate it. Not only are the Hall Director positions becoming more demanding, but most are being filled by outside professionals. The overhaul threatens this harm reduction system, since outside professionals from traditional residence systems are unfamiliar with McGill’s unique system. To assume that a professional will better support the needs of students, rather than Directors who have been with McGill residences for many years, shows a lack of support for those living in residences.
McGill ran a pilot project with a full-time Director who was responsible for Carrefour Sherbrooke, Royal Victoria College, and Varcity515 residences last semester. The administration ended the pilot project without seeking feedback from students involved, but responses from floor fellows have been overwhelmingly negative. The administration claims that the current system is unsustainable but they back this with no concrete evidence. What’s more, no one from the administration decided to consult the Hall Directors, floor fellows, or any students before implementing this new system.
This lack of communication is another episode in McGill’s long history of disregarding the opinions of students and employees. This top-down decision-making process threatens the existing community-driven residence system and exemplifies the administration’s drive toward bureaucratization. In light of this lack of consultation and student support, McGill should reconsider implementing this new system and reprioritize feedback from Hall Directors and floor fellows – the individuals upon whom the residence system depends.
-The McGill Daily Editorial Board