The McGill Daily Lost in the woods since 1911 Tue, 01 Sep 2015 12:21:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Who to see at OAP Tue, 01 Sep 2015 12:21:35 +0000 Week one's must-see acts

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Open Air Pub (or OAP) is McGill’s semi-annual back-to-school cookout in Three Bares park, also known as that ditch next to the Arts Building with a fountain in it. It would officially bill itself as ‘The Happiest Place on Earth,’ which it arguably is for its two short weeks, if not for the copyright issue with Disneyland. As OAP has grown in popularity over the years, the entertainment lineup has gotten better and better. Here’s a list of acts you’ll regret not seeing.

Tuesday, September 1

OAP kicks off on Tuesday with Beaux Dégâts, one of the coolest events Montreal has to offer. Beaux Dégâts challenges teams of street and graffiti artists to timed competitions revolving around a common theme. Spectators vote with their beer cans for their favourite piece. This unique event is not to be missed.

Wednesday, September 2

Self-identifying as cream pop, Cult Classic is the perfect band to listen to on a warm summer night while sipping a Sleeman surrounded by fairy lights. Be sure to come out and support your local student musicians on Wednesday. Full disclosure: one of the creators of Cult Classic’s blissful sound, Rosie Long Decter, also moonlights as Community Editor at The Daily.

Thursday, September 3

Bringing some musical diversity to OAP’s indie rock-heavy lineup on Thursday, Clay and Friends’ genre-blending mix of hip-hop, funk, jazz, soul, and reggae promises to be a good time. Come prepared to enjoy a spontaneous jam session under the stars.

Friday, September 4

Boasting an impressive resume of big name performances, Montreal rapper Taigenz (who opened for Wiz Khalifa, Big K.R.I.T, and Denzel Curry, to name a few) is not to be missed. Solid production, witty MC’ing, and party anthems await Friday’s OAP audience.

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Lover, fighter, and artist on the rise Tue, 01 Sep 2015 12:12:20 +0000 McGill artist Jonathan Emile on his new LP

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Singer, poet, cancer survivor, and McGill undergraduate Jonathan Emile last appeared in The Daily’s pages in a self-penned exposè about his experience with Kendrick Lamar’s legal team after his song ‘Heaven Help Dem,’ a song about institutionalized racism which features a verse from Lamar, was pulled from the internet. Now the Montreal artist is back, this time discussing his upcoming LP,  The Lover/Fighter Document. A labour of love, the project has taken six years of work and preparation leading up to its October 4 release.

The McGill Daily (MD): You’ve recently been throwing a lot of shade at the Montreal rap community in your song “The City That Always Sleeps.”

Jonathan Emile (JE): What Montreal rap community?

MD: Right.

JE: It certainly instills resilience, being in a city where nobody cares that you’re making hip-hop. It’s cool. There’s so much diversity in Montreal that hip-hop isn’t the thing, the urban culture that’s the most prevalent, which is understandable.

MD: What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered working in that environment?

JE: Just on a marketing standpoint, Montreal isn’t one city; it’s two cities side by side, two different languages. When you’re making music in Montreal, you’re not really competing with Montreal artists. You’re competing with 500 plus artists that come visit the city every year. It’s a very arts-culture city, and there’s lots of competition.

There [are] some amazing people who do some great hip-hop in Montreal. [But] with the exception of Under Pressure Festival, there’s nothing really going on in terms of building a community, or a network, or having an open dialogue. It’s very much individualistic artistic projects, which is fine, but it’s maybe one of the most difficult cities to emerge in North America, even though it’s a city of four million plus people.

MD: You mentioned languages. Do you also do French work?

JE: Definitely. I intend to put out a French project before 2020, but one thing at a time. My mom’s anglophone and my dad’s francophone. […But] you can’t do everything at once. My first project is going to be in English and Jamaican Patois. That’s diverse enough. And the next one, we’ll see what happens.

MD: How do you feel about Kendrick Lamar having a song like “Alright,” that’s chanted by protesters critiquing institutional racism, but at the same time, working with him and collaborating with him is almost blocked because of the corporate mechanism. Do you think that detracts from what he’s trying to do at all?

JE: I think yes. It certainly opened my eyes to the way mechanisms really worked in the industry. It makes sense. This is what I signed up for in a capitalist industry. I sort of expected it, but at the same time, it makes it hard for me to see [Lamar] as wholly authentic. He definitely has to do what he has to do to be where he has to be, and I can’t knock that, but if his real priority is to make statements and make change, there’s no reason for him to back out of [our song, “Heaven Help Dem”].

Since then, there’s been a lot of back-and-forth between my team and my lawyers asking what we should do about this, but this doesn’t discount his work at all. I think he’s a brilliant artist and he has his own lane and everything, but it definitely makes it harder for me to respect him on that level.

MD: Would you work with him again?

JE: Not unless we have a real conversation. At this point I’ve been in contact with his management, and […] it’s been like pulling teeth. When somebody sees you as a small fry and that’s how they treat you, it’s like okay, I understand, but there’s been no chill on the part of his management, no chill, […] but life goes on and that’s not the focal point of my album. It’s about the content, and unfortunately [Lamar] wasn’t ready to address that content, or he had stuff coming out that was too similar to what I had coming out, so his management said, no, he can’t do this.

MD: Within the dichotomy of the Lover/Fighter LP, are you going to undertake a critique of race relations similar to that of “Heaven Help Dem”?

JE: Definitely. I address it in multiple songs on the album. Race relations is just a part of what we live as Black people. All the artists I’m influenced by address it, among other things. Anyone from Marvin Gaye to Bob Marley. If you’re making an album and you want to talk about the world and you gloss over that, [then] that’s not the type of music I want to make. I want to address things in an uplifting way. A lot of my music is reggae-influenced. A lot of my music is hip-hop-influenced. I try to pull out the parts of it that are the most uplifting, the most inspiring, and dwell on that stuff. You’ll see the dichotomy. The lover/fighter dichotomy is infused in every single song and I try to get it into every single verse and every single lyric. When you listen to it, you’ll be able to live the experience of what it’s like to have these two sides of you constantly at war, pulling against each other, and figure out which one to use when, so you don’t self destruct.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The Lover/Fighter LP goes on pre-sale September 4 on iTunes. Its release date is October 4.

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On the (inevitable) death of queercore as punk Tue, 01 Sep 2015 12:05:57 +0000 Lamenting the co-option of punk’s black sheep

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Queercore, perhaps one of the last surviving offshoots of punk rock that has remained true to its anti-capitalist, anarchist, DIY roots, recently hosted its largest gathering ever, an event that brought together hundreds of queercore bands, speakers, artists, and thinkers in Chicago.  But as the more radical members of the queercore community transition into mainstream LGBTQ (and simply mainstream) communities through events of this size, queercore may face the same fate as punk. One day, will it too be co-opted by mainstream society enamoured with its aesthetics?

1970s and 1980s punk rock is generally associated with tight jeans, leather jackets, and the inconsolable anger of The Clash. Queercore, which was primarily rooted in Toronto in the late 1970s, railed against the Man but focused more on the gross marginalization of queer people throughout North America. Of course, the concept of ‘queer theory going mainstream’ is nothing new. But as queercore in particular does so, can it remain the most radical offshoot of punk, or punk at all? Does the question even matter, given the benefits of these ideas being considered by mainstream society, or should queercore always seek to destroy the status quo (even as it becomes less oppressive)? Essentially, should queercore remain punk, or seek more recognizable success as a mainstream activist group?

Of course, the concept of ‘queer theory going mainstream’ is nothing new. But as queercore in particular does so, can it remain the most radical offshoot of punk, or punk at all?

In order to answer these questions, an examination of queercore’s roots in punk rock and its subsequent divergence from the genre is required. Punk rock, founded by members of oppressed working classes in Britain, arrived as musical opposition to the polished rock of the early 1970s, seeking to create a more lo-fi, accessible sound that anyone could produce. It was harsh, but easy to nod along to. Early punk rock rejected the classism, bureaucracy, and corporate vice that came with the intensive production of early seventies rock: the greed of enormous record labels that stifled creativity to sell records and the shitty contracts that musicians of that era were often given in order to make money for the men upstairs. Punk rock rejected all of these as instruments of a manipulative oligarchy without a plan B, thus beginning its association with anarchist movements in the UK and North America.

Queercore emerged from the same vein, with the further understanding that it was not merely lo-fi, impoverished musicians who were being marginalized by the music industry, but queer musicians as well. Queercore’s founders, several runaway teens from the Toronto area, fell in with the punk scene and sought to express the same torment they felt from society. But even punk rock, a scene bent on rejecting the status quo, refused to accept these more radical, queer punks. Not only that, but early queer punks found themselves rejected by 1970s LGBTQ activists as well, who were fighting to gain recognition of queer people, as ‘normal’ and ‘mainstream’ folks who were just like the couple next door.

But even punk rock, a scene bent on rejecting the status quo, refused to accept these more radical, queer punks.

Relegated to the fringes of both societies, early groups like Fifth Column, The Raincoats, the Dicks, and Vaginal Davis began to play small punk rock venues. J.D.’s (initially standing for Juvenile Delinquents), a popular LGBTQ zine in the Toronto area, helped to evolve and grow the burgeoning queercore genre. J.D.’s essentially became the call to arms and official bulletin of the queercore scene, establishing events throughout Toronto, Chicago, and London, publishing biographies of queercore bands, and urging the LGBTQ and punk scenes to become less oppressive. In fact, queercore had initially been called ‘Homocore,’ but changed its name to move away from the confines of gay and lesbian as monosexual identities, at J.D.’s writers’ urgings. J.D.’s survived as the main bulletin of queercore well into the 1990s, until internet chat rooms took over the task of connecting queer punks across the globe, under a thread name recognizable to youths across the web: “Queer Punks.”

Today, as queercore becomes more popular, it faces the ‘punk’s dilemma.’ Events like the one in Chicago thrust queercore into the mainstream scene. Queercore loses its status as something ‘truly punk’ when it throws events that draw such large numbers, which in punk lexicology, make it officially a ‘poseur’ genre. So much of the punk identity is reliant upon identification as the outsider, as someone others don’t want around, as undesirable. When punk is accepted, even in a limited way, it is no longer punk, making it very difficult not to become a ‘poseur’. Larger events allow more conservative influences to water down queercore’s 1970s rhetoric. But perhaps the tides will turn, and the radical philosophy of the queercore scene will trickle down, acting as another player in the fight against the oppression of the LGBTQ community. Even if queercore loses its official status as punk, one hopes we will remember worthier things from the genre rather than vague anti-pop sentiment, leather jackets, and tight jeans.

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Demilitarize McGill denounces social network research Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:09:50 +0000 Activists criticize social control applications of surveillance

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On August 3, campus direct action group Demilitarize McGill released a set of access to information (ATI) documents pertaining to the research done by Derek Ruths, an associate professor at the McGill School of Computer Science and the supervisor of the Network Dynamics Lab.

According to its website, the Network Dynamics Lab does research on measuring and predicting large-scale human behaviour. The lab receives up to $85,100 in funding from the federal government as part of the Kanishka Project Contribution Program, a multi-year investment in terrorism-focused research, to study “a system for measuring population response to a crisis in online social networks.”

Demilitarize McGill pointed to two particular sets of slides that have been released as part of the ATI documents. The slides, which Ruths has presented to Public Safety Canada (PSC), include the Montreal student protests of 2012 as an example of “uncoordinated mobilization.”

Demilitarize McGill alleges that Ruths’ research could be used by police and intelligence agencies not only to surveil social movements, but also to control them.

“The thing about Ruths’ research is that it’s not peer surveillance. We know that peer surveillance is already happening, we know the stories about the [Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)] creating fake Facebook profiles and following activists, and we know that activist spaces get regularly infiltrated,” Mona Luxion, a PhD candidate in the School of Urban Planning and an organizer with Demilitarize McGill, told The Daily.

“What’s interesting and concerning about Ruths’ research is that it’s pushing the boundaries of what you can do with the surveillance and with that data.”

“What’s interesting and concerning about Ruths’ research is that it’s pushing the boundaries of what you can do with the surveillance and with that data,” continued Luxion. “Ideally, this work is not just about understanding people’s responses, but also about how the government can influence those responses by intervening in those social networks – especially virtual social networks, but also the real-world social networks that they represent.”

In an interview with The Daily, Ruths admitted that his research, which attempts to model and infer people’s characteristics based on their social media activity, could be used in ways other than originally intended.

“I fully acknowledge that there are nefarious actors out there, who could pick up and use this technology. […] You know, bad guys are going to do this. Bad guys, whether they be badly intentioned police officers, or government officials, or just bad governments… They’re just going to do this. The technology is fairly out there,” Ruths said.

“What I think is really important about this work is that it happens in the open. We are as transparent as you can get,” he continued.

Ruths also characterized the allegations made by Demilitarize McGill as “ridiculous.”

“There is nothing that I have provided [to the PSC] that is actually usable. I haven’t given them software, I haven’t actually conducted detailed analysis, there is no person that I’ve been in contact [with] who is in any way capable of picking up the systems in the form that I’ve built them and using them for this purpose,” he explained.

According to Luxion, however, “The point here […] is not only about what the researcher’s intent is with any one particular project, but the way in which that fits into broader trends and the potential applications once that technology or knowledge is available.”

The police do not act as a neutral or quasi-neutral force in society.”

“The point is, academic research is to disseminate and add to knowledge and, to some extent, the point of governments is to consolidate that knowledge and implement it through policy and action,” Luxion continued.

Nevertheless, Ruths maintains that his research aims to help law enforcement engage with social movements in a constructive way, by making them understand the reasons why people engage in direct action.

Montreal-based community organizer Jaggi Singh said Ruths’ response was an example of “an astounding naivete about the police and how they operate.”

“If you believe the police are a neutral force within society that somehow [navigate] neutrally between governments and corporations and military and social movements, then that might make some sense. But that, of course, is not the reality. The police do not act as a neutral or quasi-neutral force in society,” Singh told The Daily.

“Unfortunately, it’s a naive point of view you often get [in] academia, where people, because they are within the framework of an academic setting, feel like they can make some sort of proclamation towards neutrality or objectivity.”

Surveillance versus control

According to Brenda McPhail, the Privacy, Surveillance, and Technology Project Director at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), there is a major difference between monitoring a social movement and controlling it.

“Any effort to control citizens, preventing them from exercising their Charter-protected rights, I think, is profoundly troubling. That doesn’t seem to have a place in a Canadian society that believes in democratic process, that believes in the right to dissent, that believes in the value of free expression,” McPhail told The Daily.

Singh emphasized that surveillance is a widespread issue. “Already we know that the police and army are part of an apparatus [that is] involved in surveillance – that already exists,” Singh said, adding that the criticism of the Network Dynamics Lab’s work shouldn’t distract from existing repressive surveillance.

“Knowledge is power and knowing how these things work can be used for either good or ill.”

“There are already clear structural ways in which this level of surveillance and repression operates within our society and, unfortunately, it’s widely accepted.”

McPhail believes that “knowledge is power and knowing how these things work can be used for either good or ill. I think that it is problematic if the purpose of the research is to provide tactics for law enforcement or surveillance intelligence bodies to exercise social control.”

For Luxion, law enforcement’s interest in Ruths’ research represents “a desire to co-opt movements, [and] direct people’s thinking without ever having to get into physical altercations.”

“Being transparent about what it is you’re doing doesn’t eliminate that risk [of co-option],” said Luxion.

“Is it ethical to do research that you know will have that result of enhancing states’ capabilities to repress movements? It’s not just the states that you agree with. At some point, that capacity is available to anyone regardless of who is in power, regardless of what the government is.”

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New provost takes over Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:08:18 +0000 Former Dean of Arts Christopher Manfredi chats with The Daily

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On August 26, McGill;s new Provost and Vice-President (VP) Academic Christopher Manfredi sat down with The Daily to talk about his new position, McGillís budget, and dealing with the troubles caused by provincial budget cuts.

The McGill Daily (MD): Provost Christopher Manfredi, you held the position of Dean of Arts last year and for a while before that. As provost, what is your vision for the position?

Christopher Manfredi (CM): So you are right, I was Dean of Arts for nine years, from 2006 until I took this job. That was a very rewarding position. […] I want the provost – the office of the Provost and the VP Academic – to be really integrated into the community, be connected with the community, in a really full way. I am at heart a university professor and a researcher, who just happens to have a set of administrative responsibilities. So I want to maintain the office’s close connection to the community and make sure that it’s really integrated into everything that the University does.

MD: How much more do you think the Provost position is, compared with your previous position as the Dean of Arts?

“I want the provost – the office of the Provost and the VP Academic – to be really integrated into the community, be connected with the community, in a really full way.”

CS: One of the challenges, of course, is that, although I’ve been at McGill for over a quarter of a century – and I’ve had some senior administrative roles – as provost […] I’m going to have to learn more about the different parts of the university than I had to as Dean of Arts. That will be a challenge, there will be a bit of a learning curve. […] Obviously, it’s a bigger job. Volume of work will be higher.

MD: One of the most important portfolios of the Provost is managing the budget. That said, do you have any specific plans for the budget right now? What are some of your priorities in terms of directing McGill’s funds?

CM: We have a budget already set for [the 2016 fiscal year] by [ex-Provost Anthony] Masi, approved by the Board [of Governors], which we’ll follow through on. There’s also a five-year plan, which we will adjust incrementally as we see what’s happening on the government side. […] And this year we’ll be engaging in a lot of consultations with the community, with the deans, with students, with the rest of the university community.

One of the things I think Provost Masi did extremely well was keeping open the lines of communication around the budget and particularly being very transparent about how our budget is constructed. […] And that’s something I hope to be able to continue, to make sure […] that we continue to let the community know very well what’s going on with respect to the budget.

MD: Provost Masi would go to various student council meetings and Senate and talk about the budget.

CM: Yeah, so I plan on doing that too. I did that as dean. One of the things [I] asked the staff to set up when I was Dean of Arts – I used to hold regular office hours in the lounge, the Arts Student Lounge, in the basement of the Leacock Building. So I’ve actually asked my staff to do that this year, of course, at a bigger scale, at the SSMU building. See if I can spend an hour once a month, […] for students to come and drop in and talk to me. So that’s something I’d like to do this year.

MD: I want to talk more about the budget, because that’s a very big issue, considering the provincial budget cuts. Are there any updates?

“We’ve got another $70 to $73 million in cuts for this year that the government has announced.”

CM: Well, I hope we’re getting to the bottom of the trough of budget cuts. We’ve got another $70 to $73 million in cuts for this year that the government has announced. Fortunately, they haven’t given us any news that it is going to be higher than that. So that’s good news for us.

You know, Quebec’s fiscal situation is difficult. There is a government policy trying to get back to a balanced budget and all sectors of Quebec society are being asked to do their part: the health sector, the educational sector, and so on. So we can expect, you know, not having a whole lot of injections of new money from the province, at least.

What McGill would like to see is some flexibility with respect to how we build our budget. And one of the things I’ve been surprised by, in the two months I’ve been here, is not so much about the cuts or the budget, but the kind of erratic nature of how the government informs the University of our budget, the rules being changed in the middle of the game, and so on and so forth; that makes planning very difficult.

MD: Even though the University has been asking for more flexibility, it hasn’t really taken a stance against the budget cuts imposed by the provincial government. So, do you think it would be within your vision for the position, or rather, within your purview to maybe lobby the Senate or the Board of Governors to take an explicit stand against the austerity measures?

CM: Well, I think that’s a question for the principal, [Suzanne Fortier]. I mean, she’s the one who’s the most responsible for our relationship with the provincial government. So I think that’s her decision as to how we develop that relationship.

MD: Still, as a professor of political science yourself, and as a person who has a lot of control over McGill’s budget, I am wondering if you would like to talk about your opinions on this.

CM: Well, certainly, we’d welcome a re-investment into education by the government of Quebec. We’d welcome greater flexibility with respect to how we develop our budget. And I think that those are the things we’ve been working on in terms of our relationship with the government.

“On the course cuts, what we actually did was – those were sort of expenditure neutral cuts.”

MD: There are many side effects of the budget cuts on McGill and some of the most ostensible ones […] have been on the Faculty of Arts. There were the course cuts, which got a massive reaction from students. There’s a general feeling amongst students that courses within certain disciplines, such as those in the humanities, are the first to get cut. How would you respond to this?

CM: First of all, on the course cuts, what we actually did was – those were sort of expenditure neutral cuts. The idea was to try to find efficiencies with respect to how we delivered courses, so we could free up money to increase the amounts we could provide for teaching assistantships (TAs). That’s what we did. We in fact were able to increase our TA budget in the Faculty of Arts by somewhere between 10 and 15 per cent. So, what we want to do is to find the best way to reallocate resources from one area to another, because, you know, it’s a bit of a zero-sum. If you want to do more of X, you have to do less of Y. And thatís the choice that I had to make as dean, and that’s the choice that we took.

If you actually look at where professors were hired in the Faculty of Arts, […] you’ll actually find that the percentage of professors in the Humanities disciplines have actually increased at a faster rate than the proportion of professors at the social sciences discipline.

“With respect to principal, former principal, Munroe-Blum, I think she was provided with […] what she was permitted to get under her contract.”

I guess I wouldn’t agree with the idea that courses are getting cut in the humanities more than they were in the social sciences. And, in fact, one of the things we were very careful about was maintaining our ability about delivering language courses. Because those are critical to our humanities disciplines. And those are the ones that tend to have fairly, relatively small courses, because they have to be taught in small sections. So I think we did a pretty good job in protecting that, and we made a significant re-investment in our languages, literatures, and cultures area, with new tenure track faculty and protecting graduate funding and our ability to deliver courses in that area.

MD: I’d also like to ask you about certain allegations surfaced over the summer. It is alleged that former principal, Heather Munroe-Blum, received a full-year’s salary for two years after leaving McGill. In addition, the Montreal Gazette recently reported that McGill has been raising executive salaries in a manner that could be deemed illegal under Quebecís Bill 100. How would you respond to these allegations?

CM: Yeah, so I think, with respect to principal, former principal, Munroe-Blum, I think she was provided with what her contract – what she was permitted to get under her contract. On the other issue, I think the best person to talk about that is [Vice-Principal (Communications and External Relations) Olivier Marcil], who has been working on that field.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Student-run cafeteria replaces Bocadillo Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:07:56 +0000 SSMU mandated by resolution to remove commercial tenant activity

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Following extensive renovations, the privately owned Bocadillo has been pushed out to make way for a new student-run food service, which opened August 24. Together with the Nest, the new food service will make up the student-run cafeteria (SRC) on the second floor of the Shatner Building.

The new food operation will serve salads, soups, pizza, burgers, french fries, sandwiches and more. Burgers and sandwiches cost between $6.75 and $8.50, depending on the toppings, while soup and salads run in the $3 to $4 range. Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) VP Finance and Operation Zacheriah Houston explained that the food will be affordable, underscoring that the mission of the SRC is “to provide high-quality meals at an affordable price.” However, McGill meal plans are not accepted.

The decision for a new student-run food service follows a mandate set out by a motion passed at SSMU Council in March. Confidentially discussed, the motion resolved that “the SSMU remove all commercial tenant activity in the University Centre,” in an effort to “prioritize student endeavours above any other taken up in the SSMU space.”

At the moment, however, the extent to which this motion will be implemented is unclear. SSMU VP Clubs & Services Kimber Bialik explained to The Daily that “the motion had no established timeline outlined when it was originally passed,” and that “any plans for logistics or implementation would also need to be reviewed and discussed by Council prior to making any decisions.”

With regards to commercial activity in the Shatner Building and the corporatization of campus in general, Bialik said she would not be able to comment at this time.

Houston argued that the new initiative has both positive and negative financial consequences. In an email to The Daily, Houston explained, “The removal of the second-floor commercial tenants had an unfavourable impact on the building budget, as it resulted in decreased revenue. In February, ‘business rent’ was budgeted for $216,000 in revenue. Now, in the July revision of the 2015-16 budget, it is budgeted for only $145,000 in revenue.” Still, Houston believes that the decrease can be offset by revenue generated from the new food operation, which is budgeted to earn a profit of $64,000.

“It allows us to be a more tight-knit community, it allows us to give things to students, allows us to improve.”

Edward McCrady, a cashier among the approximately 35 staff members which include Gerts kitchen staff, welcomed another student-run food initiative on campus. “It allows us to be a more tight-knit community, it allows us to give things to students, allows us to improve,” McCrady told The Daily.

On implementing the SSMU Council resolution and removing the remaining commercial tenants, McCready argued that “as long as they’re good business, I wouldn’t say anything about having them removed. As long as they’re making money for SSMU and McGill, and being successful businesses that provide students with healthy options and cheap options, that’s good.”

According to information from a presentation to Council by last year’s VP Finance and Operations Kathleen Bradley, commercial tenants account for approximately 86 per cent of annual sales in the building. Now that Bocadillo and Bamboo Bowl have left the Shatner Building, La Prep (approximately 55 per cent of annual sales) and Liquid Nutrition (approximately 8 per cent of all sales) are the only commercial tenants left, excluding the vending machines.

Jonathan Taylor, the owner of Liquid Nutrition, when asked about the place of private commercial activity in student-run spaces, said, “Franchises like ours have a lot to offer. […] I think it would be a shame if we [were] pushed out.”

“At the end of the day, people like diversity. […] If you force something on somebody, you’re going to end up with a pretty empty building […]; that’s my gut feeling,” Taylor said.

Taylor would like to renew Liquid Nutrition’s lease, which expires in June 2016, but has yet to begin negotiations with the incoming SSMU executive. La Prep’s lease is also set to expire in June.

For now, the future of the SRC remains unclear. Given that the renovation of the second floor of the Shatner building “required a significant capital investment,” Houston “would like the SRC to remain for the foreseeable future.”

Houston noted that ultimately, “as is the case with all other SSMU projects, the future of the SRC is still contingent upon positive feedback from students and the financial feasibility of the cafe.”

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Workers on campus troubled by alleged Bill 100 violation Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:05:20 +0000 Former principal paid for two years after leaving position

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On July 27, the Quebec’s Ministry of Education announced that McGill’s funding may be further cut for violating provincial Bill 100, which restricts the way in which pay raises can be given in order to combat provincial debt.

According to Bill 100, “no bonus, allowance, premium, compensation or other additional remuneration based on personal performance for either of the fiscal years beginning in 2010 and 2011, may be granted to […] a senior executive or the management personnel in the education network or a university.”

According to the Montreal Gazette, Julie White, spokesperson for Education Minister François Blais, believes that the performance-based bonuses provided to McGill administrative staff in the last five years may have been illegal.

In addition, this June, the Journal de Montréal reported that McGill’s former principal Heather Munroe-Blum allegedly received two years’ worth of paychecks – amounting to more than $750,000 – from McGill after leaving the university in 2013, while employed by Stanford University. Munroe-Blum’s term at McGill was marked by student strikes against an attempted tuition hike and the exacerbation of an already tense relationship between students and administration.

Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE), one of the campus unions, has found both of these allegations concerning, especially as McGill continues to face unprecedented budget cuts as part of the provincial austerity measures.

“It’s sad that the Quebec government, which has a reputation as being one of the most corrupt in Canada, has to be the one to call the McGill administration out on its illegal pay raises,” Molly Swain, president of AMUSE, told The Daily.

Swain further explained that it would be concerning for AMUSE, if the allegations about McGill’s decision to continue paying Munroe-Blum for two extra years were true, despite the mass cancellation of Arts courses in the 2013-14 academic year and other austerity measures.

In an email to The Daily, McGill’s Director of Internal Communications, Doug Sweet, responded to the allegations regarding Bill 100 and Munroe-Blum’s post-employment salary. Sweet stated that the administration believes it “[has] been following Bill 100 directives. In a recent meeting with the government, we realized we are using different definitions of terms and therefore more clarification is needed by both parties.”

Regarding Munroe-Blum’s continued pay, Sweet said, “It is normal practice for a senior academic administrator to earn a one-year leave following a five-year term in office. Additionally, faculty members are eligible for the academic retirement program, to which the Principal Emeritus was entitled.”

“In the current economic system, a decent wage is one of the few things that shows an employer’s respect for workers, and the low wages support staff receive show a serious lack of respect from the administration.”

“15 and Fair” campaign

According to Swain, McGill has a history of poor treatment of its faculty and support staff. “[McGill] is, and always has been, a factory for the elite – and the administration [is] very proud of this,” Swain explained.

As an example, Swain pointed to the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA)’s strike in 2011. Notably, during the strike, McGill filed two injunctions against MUNACA, which restricted the union’s picketing ability on campus and around senior administrators’ houses. In addition, there were reports of scab labour – workers going to work despite the strike – though the university was cleared of all charges.

“The administration dismisses, downplays, and ridicules those who try to change things. In the current economic system, a decent wage is one of the few things that shows an employer’s respect for workers, and the low wages support staff receive show a serious lack of respect from the administration,” Swain explained.

According to AMUSE, many of its union members, especially students in the work-study program, are paid at or barely above the provincial minimum wage of $10.55 per hour, which the union does not consider a living wage in 2015.

AMUSE is also part of the 15 and Fair McGill campaign, which calls for a $15 per hour minimum wage on campus. Other unions that are participating in the campaign are the Association of McGill University Research Employees (AMURE), McGill’s teaching assistants’ and invigilators’ union AGSEM, McGill Course Lecturers and Instructors Union (MCLIU), and MUNACA. In addition, the campaign is supported by the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) and the McGill Chapter of the Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG).

One way by which the McGill administration has implemented provincial austerity measures is the institution of a hiring freeze on non-casual positions. According to 15 and Fair McGill’s website, this means that “full-time employees with benefits are slowly being replaced with casual employees with unpredictable hours and little job security.” The effects of these measures are especially drastic for students, coupled with their low wages and student debt, and dramatically decrease the accessibility of education for students in the work-study program.

Swain explained the two options McGill has: “Either the administration must suddenly realize that their pay system is flawed and change it on their own, or we, the workers and support staff who really make the university run, must try to change things and work for a more ethical and fair pay system.”

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Using apps to combat inaccessibility Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:04:54 +0000 Researchers collaborate to compile data on barriers to various spaces

The post Using apps to combat inaccessibility appeared first on The McGill Daily.

Over 1.5 million mobile apps are currently available for Android and iOs users to download. With an estimated 55 per cent of the Canadian population owning a smart phone, apps have seamlessly integrated themselves into our daily routines. From getting the latest news, to crushing candy, to swiping for affection, these days there is an app for almost everything. While gaming-, business-, and entertainment-focused apps seem to dominate the app market, one area that has remained largely untapped is accessibility apps.

Some of these apps were created right here in Montreal, using innovative techniques and vast data collection to provide people with the information they need to determine the accessibility and to find the best spaces to fit their access needs.

Jooay: access for children with disabilities and their families

For a child, there aren’t many priorities greater than being able to play and have fun. In fact, the United Nations and the World Health Organization have recognized playing and recreation as a crucial right for children, given their role in healthy childhood development.

Jooay (a play on the word “jouer,” French for “to play”) is a mobile app that helps children with disabilities and their families find leisure opportunities that are accessible and suited to their needs. This easy-to-use app allows parents to browse nearby activities through a variety of categories – such as arts, camps, and sports – by entering certain keywords. The GPS component gives anyone in Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan information on activity locations close to them.

“Families consistently expressed [that] one of the main barriers to accessing leisure activity for their child with a disability was not knowing what activities were available,”

However, according to co-creator Keiko Shikako-Thomas, an assistant professor at McGill’s School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, “the idea isn’t only to list the resources available, but to create a community around participation and leisure.” Hence, other components of Jooay include user comments, reviews, and suggestions, all of which foster a community dialogue and keep activity providers accountable for the quality of their services.

The app also links users to CHILD LesisureNet, which provides parents with additional resources on finding accessible recreation, and community members with advice on how to make leisure activities adaptable for children with disabilities.

Jooay was developed based on research by Shikako-Thomas and Annette Majnemer, director and associate dean of McGill’s School of Physical and Occupational Therapy. They found leisure participation was significantly lower in children with disabilities, even though most children expressed a desire to partake in physical and skill-based activity. Lacking the physical and social support, these children tended to defer to more passive activities, like watching television.

“Families consistently expressed [that] one of the main barriers to accessing leisure activity for their child with a disability was not knowing what activities were available,” explains Shikako-Thomas.

“As we have a good mapping now, we can see which regions are deprived in terms of activities [offered] and work with policymakers to fix that.”


In order to address this problem, Shikako-Thomas and Majnemer partnered with the Montreal Children’s Hospital and spoke to numerous parents across three provinces. They received overwhelming interest in an app that would give information on how to find accessible spaces for their children, which prompted them to begin development of Jooay.

“So how do you make an app?” Shikako-Thomas remembers asking many of her “tech friends,” having no experience herself. Not knowing much about app development, Shinkako-Thomas and Majnemer teamed up with Montreal organization Hacking Health, which “brings together healthcare professionals, developers, designers […] and anyone who is interested in revolutionizing healthcare,” according to Julia Delrieu, the organization’s director of operations. With a team of volunteers, they were able to create a prototype of Jooay.

The app received funding from NeuroDevNet, the Rick Hansen Foundation, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Through partnerships with the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Trevor Williams Foundation, both an English and French version of Jooay were eventually made available as a free iOS app, and soon an Android app will be released as well.

Looking to the future, Shikako-Thomas believes the next step is “to work with policymakers. […] As we have a good mapping now, we can see which regions are deprived in terms of activities [offered] and work with policymakers to fix that.”

Stay in Touch: designed for the elderly

Another app developed with the help of Hacking Health is Stay In Touch. This app has an accessible no-touch, user-friendly interface that helps people look after and communicate with their elderly loved ones.

“A big problem with apps for seniors is that they press the wrong button sometimes and end up on unpredictable places in their computers. We are building an app that runs on a tablet in grandmaís house which helps her stay in the family,” says creator John Brohan, who works on tech projects for the elderly. Brohan has been working on this app with registered nurse Donna Byrne, founder of Beaconsfield, Quebec nursing care company Health Access Sante, and tech expert Robert Crecco.

“Many places will say they’re accessible, but maybe their washroom isn’t, or the restaurant requires a large step to get in.”

This app allows family members to make Skype calls and send family photos without older relatives ever having to push a button. For convenience, the tablet is always on and starts automatically. Its latest addition is the inclusion of subtitles to Skype conversations; if the user is hard of hearing, family members can speak into the app and subtitles pop up.

Brohan’s inspiration for the app was his own mother, who lives with his brother in England. “It was a way I could turn a life spent developing computer programs to something useful to her,” he said.

According to Brohan, the next step for Stay in Touch is “likely to be collection of blood, glucose data by having [grandma] speak the reading, and maybe a video of anyone ringing her doorbell showing on the tablet.”

​Stay In Touch is now available as a free Android app.

Radical Accessibility Audit Project (RAAP): an app in-progress

Although still in its planning stages, RAAP Montreal is a collaboration between the advocacy group Accessibilize Montreal and the Community-University Research Exchange (CURE) that aims to initiate a project mapping accessible venues, restaurants, studios, and performance spaces in Montreal for individuals with limited mobility.

Accessibility is currently a major issue in Montreal, as in most metropolitan cities, with many older buildings, bars, and restaurants remaining completely inaccessible. In fact, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) says that only 9 out of its 68 metro stations are wheelchair accessible, a number Accessibilize Montreal believes to be actually lower, due to unnoted barriers such as construction.

“We don’t have enough resources to involve app developers at this stage. What we require is the very basic data that can eventually be turned into something more presentable and usable. ”

The idea of a mapping project came to Madde Halupka, a former Concordia student, as she “was taking a GIS [Geographic Information Systems] course at Concordia and hoped to collaborate with Accessibilize Montreal.”

Halupka explains, “We don’t have enough resources to involve app developers at this stage. What we require is the very basic data that can eventually be turned into something more presentable and usable. ”

The required information Halupka points to are accessibility audits, which are done on a volunteer basis and can be found on the RAAP website. These audits can take hours to complete in order to be meticulous, which Halupka explains is necessary as “many places will say they’re accessible, but maybe their washroom isn’t, or the restaurant requires a large step to get in.”

Halupka hopes that, once the team can gather more audits, they will then be able to work with interested app developers to create a prototype.

An intersection of technology and healthcare

All in all, it seems that many are starting to realize that mobile platforms can be used to assist those who experience physical or social barriers that make daily life hard to navigate or simply unsafe. However, given how readily available and simple to use apps are, the complexity of their development is easy to overlook. Healthcare providers don’t always have the resources or the physical capacity to compile information necessary for an accessibility app, which must take into account a plethora of elements to evaluate the accessibility of a space. In addition, accessibility apps are often conceived by people who have a particular knowledge of inaccessibility, but know little about app development.

Organizations such as Hacking Health have grown exponentially in recent years, in an effort to revolutionize healthcare accessibility through technology. The success of these organizations stems from the fact that there is a clear need to build a bridge between expertise in healthcare and technology in order to realize the full potential of apps in helping to navigate inaccessible spaces.

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In case you missed it Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:04:51 +0000 Headlines from the summer

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As always, the summer has been full of action in Montreal and at McGill. The city witnessed unions launching their new campaigns, police cracking down on protests, a petition to fight the patriarchy, and we even saw a scandal regarding the McGill Faculty of Medicine. If you weren’t paying attention over the summer, now is your chance to catch up on the news.

March in solidarity with Unist’ot’en Camp ends in arrests

On July 24, approximately twenty demonstrators gathered at Roddick Gates to show support for the Unist’ot’en Camp in British Columbia. The camp is located in unceded Wet’suwet’en territories, which are currently endangered by 11 different pipeline proposals, including Chevron’s Pacific Trails Pipeline project.

An organizer who wished to remain anonymous explained that the Unist’ot’en have been practicing “free prior and informed consent protocols.” This method entails asking potential visitors about their intention when they access the territory. “If [the visitors] are not approved by the hereditary chiefs, then they’re not allowed on the territory,” stated the organizer, adding, “[the Unist’ot’en have] made it very clear that […] Chevron is not allowed in the territory and the RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police], who is just acting to enforce this capitalist agenda, is not allowed on their territory either.” The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) responded to the protest with several arrests and tickets.

On August 26, the members of the camp announced on their Facebook page that they were “on high alert and if [their families didn’t] hear back from [them] in 24 hours, it means [they were] unable to get word out” about their situation. They later made other posts about increased police activity around the territories.

McGill’s undergraduate medicine program put on probation

Over the summer, McGill’s undergraduate medicine program was placed on probation by the Committee on the Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. The announcement came in the form of a letter, dated June 15 and addressed to McGill’s Principal Suzanne Fortier. While the letter expressed that “probation is an action reflecting the summative judgment that a medical education program is not in substantial compliance with accreditation standards,” McGill’s undergraduate medicine program has not lost its accreditation. Amongst reasons cited for the probation was inadequate instruction in women’s health and family and domestic violence. The faculty has until 2017 to address the issues mentioned in the letter in order for the program to be taken off probation, and it has already begun to do so.

Unions at McGill join $15 minimum wage campaign

On May 1, McGill’s Inter-Union Council (IUC) organized a rally at Community Square in front of the James Administration building to celebrate International Workers’ Day and to stand in solidarity with the university’s academic and non-academic workers. Following the rally, which included speeches by community members, the organizers of the rally delivered a letter to the University, signed by the event’s participants. The letter condemned many of the University’s policy decisions in response to the provincial budget cuts.

McGill worker Agatha Slupek, speaking on behalf of the IUC, announced that unions at McGill would be joining their “comrades in the fast food and retail industries [in calling] for a $15 campus-wide minimum wage.” As the collective agreements of most unions, such as the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA), are about to expire, it is expected that the campaign will affect the re-negotiation processes.

Petition starts “alcohol does not equal consent” campaign

Earlier this spring, a petition was launched demanding that the Quebec government make it mandatory for alcohol bottles to have the slogan “alcohol does not equal consent” written on them, as well as for establishments with alcohol permits to display the same slogan at their bars and restrooms. According to Kharoll-Ann Souffrant, one of the people behind the petition and a social work student at McGill, the petition sought to make the message visible and create awareness about the issue of sexual assault. Mélanie Lemay, an administrator at the Centre d’aide et de lutte contre les agressions à caractère sexuel (CALACS) Agression Estrie, the first step to fight rape culture is admitting that it exists. “That’s the biggest test, and most people don’t do it, because it’s hard to believe that actually everything’s made up so that women [are not even the owners of their own bodies],” Lemay told The Daily.

By the petition’s deadline on July 24, 574 people had signed the online petition; however, the organizers claimed that the total number exceeds 1,000 if paper versions of the petition are included.

Affordable housing group’s camp dispersed by the police

The Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU), an affordable housing group, took to the streets on May 21 to denounce the limited funding for social housing from the federal and provincial governments and protest housing inaccessibility. Several hundred demonstrators joined the march in downtown Montreal.

Around 2:30 p.m., the congregation arrived at the Quartier des spectacles, where approximately sixty campers from Montreal and surrounding regions who were either facing housing difficulties or were tenants of social housing intended to stay in tents.

At approximately 4 p.m., the SPVM intervened, making three arrests and seizing some of the protesters’ tents. Eventually, police surrounded the camp from multiple directions and by 5 p.m. had dismantled the protest.

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Carter High football team takes to the big screen Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:03:25 +0000 Writer/director Arthur Muhammad talks race, second chances

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Sports movies: the lifeblood of the American psyche. There is nothing quite like how the hard work, personal dramas, and dedication of young athletes move us to tears and make us want to be better people. Sports movies play an important role in documenting cultural values surrounding athletics, and in highlighting the stories that will be remembered for generations to come.

But the new sports movie Carter High, aside from bringing to life the epic story of the rise and fall of one of the best high school football teams in history, is different from most well-known sports movies, which raises troubling questions about Hollywood’s portrayal of sports teams. Almost sixty years after the first Black NFL player played his first game, after decades of Black high school football teams, Carter High is the first major movie whose narrative focuses completely on Black athletes and their experiences, without warping their stories to comply with a white narrative, such as in “white saviour” type stories like The Blind Side.

“I think that this story is a good story regardless, Black or white, but [Hollywood] chose not to do it and said they couldn’t do it because it was a Black film.”


The film is set in Dallas, 1988: the site of one of the biggest controversies in football history. The famed David W. Carter High School football team took home the Texas state championship after a tumultuous year of being pulled in and out of the league over questions of one player’s eligibility due to a possible failing grade. The story culminated in 1991, when it was revealed that members of the team had been part of a series of robberies, and the team was stripped of its title.

The other side of this story came to life on screen in Friday Night Lights, a movie about the Dallas team who lost to Carter High at the final game of the state championships. However, this film has been criticized for stereotyping the Carter players, inaccurately depicting them as low-income when, in reality, the students were from middle-class, suburban households, and for suggesting the team “played dirty” when the team was in fact highly respected.

But now, almost thirty years later, Carter High’s story is about to be told on the big screen. Arthur Muhammad, who played on the 1988 team, wrote and directed Carter High, which is scheduled for release in theaters on October 30 in the U.S.. Former Dallas Cowboys player Greg Ellis is the film’s executive producer, and the cast includes Vivica A. Fox, Pooch Hall, and Charles S. Dutton as Coach James, the inspirational leader of the team. The Daily spoke with Muhammad, for whom the production of this film was extremely personal.

The McGill Daily (MD): Why did you decide to tell the story of Carter High?

Arthur Muhammad (AM): Carter was always a story that I wanted to tell. It’s a first-hand account kind of thing. I was actually a junior that particular year, so I interviewed Coach James, who was the head coach, I talked to all of the players that [were] involved [and I had] my knowledge of the events that took place. I found that the story itself is a very compelling story, because it’s something that’s relevant until today, because you have a lot of athletes making bad choices. […] Well, this story kind of sheds light on that, and shows the mistakes that was made by real-life people that were very, very confident, but made some bad choices. So I thought it would be good in that way – that it would help someone else make a better choice.

MD: Does the film provide a different narrative of the events than the media at the time and the movie Friday Night Lights?

AM: I think Friday Night Lights really gave a fictitious portrayal of Carter, even of that whole season; but of course, it’s Hollywood – it was the filmmaker’s, so to each his own. But the thing was that we grew up in middle class households back then. Most of us had two parents, [support of] two families, a house and a home, and we had pretty much new cars even as students, as teenagers. […] We were just a very confident and good athletic football team, but we weren’t playing dirty and all that kind of stuff, no. We were considered a dirty team by no means. Some people, they’d call us a little arrogant, a little conceited, that sort of thing. You could say that, but we were just confident.

I found that the story itself is a very compelling story, because it’s something that’s relevant until today, because you have a lot of athletes making bad choices.

MD: You have discussed in past interviews how the fact that the movie is about Black people has made it more difficult to make. Why did it take so long to get this particular story told?

AM: I think that’s the reason. Matter of fact, there’s this article in the Observer [where the author] actually was saying that he went through the process of trying to get this story made, and it was through Hollywood. As soon as [he pitched the story to people], they’d thought it was a great idea, so he wrote out the treatment and he sent it to them. And in the character description, it showed that the players were Black and this was basically about a Black high school, [then] the people said we can’t do that movie. He didn’t understand why. I don’t understand why. I think that this story is a good story regardless, Black or white, but they chose not to do it and said they couldn’t do it because it was a Black film. And maybe that’s the business side of Hollywood, so maybe it’s show business. They feel that a story like this will not be good for business […] Straight Outta Compton just came out, a film during the same time period, 1988 to 1989, that same time, and it’s done very well, and it’s a true story, again. So I think we have all those same things going for this story.

MD: Can you comment on other sports movies with Black characters, such as Remember the Titans?

AM: In fact that was the seventies, but I guess they feel like that was more of a Hollywood story because it did have a Black narrative in it but you still have a white, racism-type thing going back and forth, so it wasn’t strictly an urban Black film.

MD: Do you think that Carter High will open the door for future movies about Black people and sports and start a conversation about these issues?

AM: It’s my hope and prayer that it will begin that [conversation…] Even with Barack Obama recently, in his process of talking about the criminal justice system and how we have a lot of people locked up for crimes that didn’t involve any violence… I think if you could even see that these 17, 18 year-old teenagers [are] given 15 [to] 20 years is like, you really have taken their whole life away from them. That’s the system. That system that took place in 1988 that gave them that kind of time is still relevant and being implemented today. So I hope it will shed light on that, that this is not a new thing and it’s something that should be really taken a look at.

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On waiting for representation Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:02:27 +0000 Cutting through red tape with a Green MP

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On an April evening in 2014, I opened an email and panicked. It was from a Model United Nations (Model UN) conference I was supposed to attend. The conference was in five days, and I had just been told that I would be part of a special committee – the House of Commons – and that I would act as the leader of the Green Party. Little did I know that this one email would mark the beginning of a valuable engagement with the human side of politics.

Coincidentally, I was a high school student in Saanich, B.C. at the time. As such, I was especially aware of Elizabeth May. I knew that she was my Member of Parliament (MP), and that her job was to represent the people in her constituency. While preparing for the conference, I realized that my ideas were only based on guesses of what May might do, and those ideas seemed vague, unconvincing, and somewhat immature. I wanted to be an outstanding Green, even though it was just a mock House of Commons.

I tweeted at May the next day, and she responded within hours. I probably asked a few too many questions over the next two days as eventually she asked, politely, whether we could correspond by email. So I sent her an email at 6 p.m., and she responded at 11 p.m., which was 2 a.m. in Ottawa, with an email twice as long as mine. I asked the question, “How often, and when, do you compromise in the House?” She responded, “I DON’T.” With this strict principle as my guidance, I did very well in the Model UN – I wrote a great paper on the assigned topic and delivered speeches that got right to the heart of the problems in the mock House. I was surprised and grateful that Elizabeth May had stayed up late for me, an unknown high-schooler, and answered my questions.

As a thank you, I gave her a copy of my paper at the next town hall meeting she hosted, and thought I would never meet her again. But she had left a strong impression, and I was motivated to do further research into the issues I had tackled in the mock House. I realized that I found the Greens to be a very inspiring party, and that, although her party did not hold many seats in Parliament, May was a significant political figure. I also watched a number of her speeches. Although I often drifted off in the middle (as any English learner would), I still felt the power, determination, and passion with which she approached each issue at hand. What she had told me before was true: she never compromises. Until then, I had always been an acquiescent follower. I could remain silent when confronted, and apologize for something that was not my fault. After watching her speeches and reading all sorts of articles about May and the Greens, I decided that I too would no longer tolerate people dictating the circumstances of others’ lives only to further their own interests, especially those who have the most power.

Canada’s immigration system, for one, imposes heavy constraint on immigrants’ lives – all with a purpose that remains unclear to me. My own family was at the time split across three timezones: myself studying in Victoria, my father in China, and my mother in Toronto, working as a nanny. Extremely underpaid, she was trying her best to ensure that within two years, she would be able to fill out a permanent residency application for our whole family. She began working last June, just before the federal government passed Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act. The bill narrowed the definition of a “dependent child,” and now full-time students aged 19 and over, instead of 21 and over, are not allowed to apply for permanent residency along with their parents. In just less than a year, as my mother finishes her two-year contract, I will turn 19. Determined that these three years of separation wouldn’t be for nothing, my mother volunteered to be paid less in order to log more hours, with the hope of accruing the 3,900 hours of work required to file the application one month earlier.

Bill C-24 also makes it harder for students who have graduated from Canadian institutions to obtain Canadian citizenship, and mandates language proficiency tests for those aged 14 and up. Recently, an amendment made Canadians born outside of Canada susceptible to the revocation of their citizenship.

[I] would no longer tolerate people dictating the circumstances of others’ lives only to further their own interests, especially those who have the most power.

I kept in touch with Elizabeth for a year after our initial encounter. I found out that she would soon be organizing a youth town hall meeting at my high school – I was excited to join her, along with a dozen other students and a few staff members, for a luncheon. The conversation at the event was in-depth, and I feel that I have to apologize here to others who were in attendance who had their own questions, as I talked about immigration issues for so long. When I asked what role the government wanted foreign students, workers, and landed immigrants to play in Canada, I was expecting a clear, definitive answer. However, the fact that Elizabeth May, a competent and honest MP, was not able to provide such an answer was scary. Perhaps I would need to interrogate the prime minister myself one day to understand the motivations behind Canada’s immigration system.

In contrast to many of the realities that my family faces, a lot of government immigration materials I have read talk about how much Canada welcomes, even needs, newcomers. At the youth town hall, I expressed concerns about getting mixed signals regarding the government’s attitude towards foreign students and workers. In the end, Elizabeth promised to help my family with our struggle.

I felt like the luckiest, most privileged girl on earth. I was well aware that my family was in the so-called ‘normal’ immigration system, just with bad timing. We were not stuck in a refugee camp unable to access the outside world, we were not being deported unreasonably, nor were we homeless. We were only waiting, and I was the only one who would be affected if things went wrong. I’m young, and I can always try again. I didn’t feel like I deserved attention or sympathy. There were so many people worse off than me.

At the same time, I was neither a citizen, nor a permanent resident. I was an international student, able (albeit barely) to pay her through-the-roof tuition, and I did not feel entitled to Elizabeth’s help. I remember my face burning. “I’m not a Canadian yet,” I said. I stared down at the sour cream left over on my plate to hide my disappointment. I could feel that everyone in the room was staring at me, or trying not to stare. The person beside me, another Chinese girl, froze.

Elizabeth’s next sentence almost threw me out of my chair. “You’re in my constituency. I’m responsible for helping you,” she said.

“Even if I’m international?”

“Even if you’re international. I’m your MP. It’s my responsibility to take care of everyone who lives in my riding.”

Later that day, I wrote an email to her riding office, explaining in detail my family’s situation, my concerns, and what I thought should be done. There was no response for weeks. Then, one day, I got an email asking me when I would like to visit my mother in Toronto. The trip would be paid for with Elizabeth’s travel reward points. After several emails and phone calls, we had booked a one-way ticket to Toronto for that summer. I was moving, and I would have no more official connection with Elizabeth.

Summer came. A surprise family reunion in B.C. made me laugh and cry at the same time. It had been two years since both of my parents and I had been together. I wanted to share my joy with Elizabeth, yet she was nowhere to be found. We went to the riding office for the first and maybe last time, to say thank you. The next day, on the plane to Toronto, I secretly wished for another MP who would say “you’re in my constituency, I’m responsible for helping you” to an unknown international student.

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Greeting from the basement Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:01:42 +0000 EDITORIAL

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Thanks for picking up a copy of The Daily – even if only to use it as a samosa wrapper. We hope you find our Disorientation Guide adequately orienting and are ready to start a new year in Montreal. You can look for a new issue of The Daily every Monday, for stories from McGill and the greater Montreal community.

Much has changed at The Daily since our humble origins as a sports rag in 1911. We began addressing controversial topics in the 1960s, and in recent years, we’ve chronicled the Quebec student strikes, austerity cuts, and the never-ending SSMU drama. This year, we’ve replaced one news editor position with a second web editor position to shift our focus to online coverage. If print is dying, then we refuse to die with it.

The Daily is guided by a Statement of Principles (SOP) that mandates us to be critical of societal power structures in our coverage, and to give space in our paper to voices and issues that are often overlooked in the mainstream media. As a student publication, we aim to hold the McGill administration accountable to its students, as well as highlight the role that postsecondary education plays in maintaining the current oppressive sociopolitical order.

Intrigued? Send us an email, drop by one of our meetings, and look out for our upcoming workshop week from September 21 to 25. We welcome everyone, regardless of experience! Whether you want to get more involved on campus, have a say on issues that are important to you, or just want a space to express your creativity, there will always be a place for you here in the cozy basement of the SSMU building, room B-24.

—The McGill Daily Editorial Board

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Bottomless hole of despair to solve McGall’s infrastructure crisis Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:00:57 +0000 Benefits of hole-based educational approach deemed “pretty high”

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McGall’s new plan to “streamline the university experience” for its students through cost-cutting measures will involve the continued digging of a large, soul-sucking hole on the university’s downtown campus, newly appointed provost Christopa P. Manfreddo announced last week.

“With our crumbling buildings in desperate need of repairs that we can in no way afford, we thought it best to defer all maintenance indefinitely,” said Manfreddo. “We chose instead to centralize McGall’s world-class soul-crushing educational experience into a modern, robust, universally accessible location.”

The construction of the hole began earlier this month on Lower Field. The hole will be expanded over the next few years, its warm darkness coming to progressively engulf each and every one of McGall’s lecture halls, classrooms, libraries, and laboratories.

Upon cursory observation of the hole, The Weekly foresaw a gaping maw in the middle of Montreal; an aphotic abyss into the depths of the Earth; a black hole from which there is no return; a breach in the body of Mother Earth; a cavernous cavity clearly created with cantankerous care.

This infrastructural change will synergize with the continued evolution of McGall’s educational philosophy. The provost’s polemical People, Ploughs, and Partnerships plan will proceed as previously projected, with more and more humanities classes converted into increasingly long and deep “learning lessons” in the new hole.

“It’s just so much simpler this way,” Liberal Science professor Ed Geedude told The Weekly. “No longer will I have to bleaken my students’ miserable lives with interminable coursework and impossible examinations – bleakness and misery will now be available on a self-serve basis in the soul-destroying hole.”

Incoming froshies were introduced to the updated educational paradigm at a new orientation week event called “Managing Expectations: Digging Yourself Deeper Into the Hole.”

“I’m a bit disappointed,” said U0 Space Philosophy student Carla Hagan-Sawking, speaking to The Weekly after the event. “As a new student, I was looking forward to getting involved with clubs on campus like the Young Astronomers’ Guild. I must say, I fear that spending the rest of my life in the hole might not be conducive to my social development.”

“I, for one, am happy,” said U12 Existentialist Studies student Geneviève-Pauline Goodseeing. “Finally, there is a hole as deep as me and my intellectual capabilities. Can you imagine the conversations I will have with all my friends, staring into this abyss?”

When asked to comment, Deputy Provost (Student Gripes and Weed) Sir Lolliver Sandwichheart assured The Weekly that the provision of services to students will in no way be affected by the moving of all educational activities to the hole.

“Student health – especially mental health – will remain as much of a priority for us as ever, with students spending more and more time in the hole and hopefully reaching a near-permanent state of complete despair,” Sandwichheart said. “I can’t emphasize enough how beneficial this hole will be.”

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Let’s talk about teacher Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:00:52 +0000 I slept with my professor and here’s why it shouldn’t have happened in the first place

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For about half of my undergrad, I was having an affair with the professor I worked for. This man had been one of the biggest influences on my thought and education while at university — he had my utmost respect as a scholar. But my experience with him was far from the glamorized narrative often found in people’s minds. While still a taboo, this is the kind of subject that titillates imaginations, often causing people to gloss over the inevitable ethical confusion regarding both consent and the abuse of power. My former professor has a side to this story too, but the story that you are about to read is mine and mine alone.

I got to know him the way most students get to know their professors — by taking one of his classes. The first time I went into his office, we ended up chatting more about the town I’m from, which is where he did his graduate work, than the actual course material. It felt good to have someone to talk to who knew where I came from. I remember thinking he was funny, kind, and attractive. I felt terrible about that last one. I don’t find that many people attractive to begin with, but as a student, I felt particularly guilt-ridden about attraction to a teacher.

Over the course of that semester, I would be sure to only go to his office hours when I had a questions about the class material, even though I wanted to go and chat with him more. I felt that, more than my professor, he was becoming my friend. I reminded myself that going in for any other reason would be a waste of both my time and his, not to mention any other students who had course-related questions. I also didn’t know if he was married or seeing anyone monogamously, which made the way I viewed him seem even more inappropriate. I’m not saying these things to cast judgement on anyone else who’s been in these situations or on how they’ve navigated through them. I’m just saying these were the standards I held myself to and the way I viewed my situation at the time.

Toward the end of the semester, he asked me if I wanted to work as a research assistant for him. In hindsight, I’m sure he had reasons for offering me the job beside his belief in my capabilities as a researcher; but at the time, I was just happy to be offered a job that didn’t involve making lattes. As I spent more and more time with my professor, my attraction to him grew.

Things came to a head one night in winter, when he asked me to come in to scan a book after hours. I didn’t think twice about it. We were chatting, as we normally did, and he joked about how short I am. I asked him how tall he was, and he gave me an answer in centimetres, which was next to useless to me. So he stood up and walked over to me, and we stood back to back so we could compare our heights. Then we turned around and faced each other again. We were close enough to kiss. And had he tried to kiss me, I wouldn’t have stopped him.
He didn’t, though, so I broke our glance and said that I should really scan the book.

“Well, that was awkward,” he said, giving a little chuckle.

After I scanned the book, we got to talking again, and soon we were sitting so close to each other that our knees were touching. Our talk got more personal, and he asked me to keep the first of many secrets that he would tell me. I pinky-promised him I wouldn’t tell, and as our fingers linked, his hand lingered. We talked some more, and then all of a sudden, my hand was completely in his. He looked at me.

“I really shouldn’t be doing this,” he said, but he made no move to let go.

“I mean, I’m not saying no,” I replied, shrugging.

“I can just tell I can trust you,” he said.

About a week later, he needed another book scanned. Are you starting to recognize a pattern here? If you are, you’re quicker than I was. He went out to a bar with another professor in the department, but came back to his office so he could give me the book. He was tipsy. We were talking, and he went and sat on the couch . I sat next to him, and he kissed me. He laid me down and pulled up my shirt. He put his hand in my pants but I pulled it away. He put my hand on his pants and asked if I wanted to see it.

“Not here!” I blurted out. He looked me in the eyes. “I want more,” he said.

We left his office together that night. As we walked through Jeanne-Mance park, he grabbed me and kissed me again. At the time it felt amazing. I hadn’t been kissed like that since, well, ever, because I was nineteen years old and seriously, what the fuck did I know? We established that we weren’t officially dating. I wasn’t in a place at the time where I felt I could handle anything serious, and he felt the same, because he’d just gotten out of a relationship, and given our circumstances, we couldn’t go out in public — not to mention I didn’t want anyone knowing about what I was doing. He swore to me that I was the only student he was seeing, and I swore I wouldn’t tell anyone about us — which I didn’t, not until the very end.

We fell into a habit where I would work in his office during the day, and then see him almost every other night. I came to care for him greatly, but regardless of the nature of our interactions, it was nice just to have someone to really talk to. At the end of the year, he went off to do research, and I went back home for the summer.

Things weren’t the same when we got back to Montreal in the fall. I had stopped working for him over the summer due to mental health concerns I was having, and I asked if we could take a break from seeing each other until I felt better. His response was to ask if we could have sex one last time, and then to say “hopefully [I was making] the right choice.”

That last comment spooked me. I gave us both a bit of space, and then asked if he was interested in seeing each other again. I was given an ambiguous response, but then we resumed right where we were before: sleeping together. Not too long after, I got a phone call from him where he told me “a friend” overheard two students talking about how he was sleeping with one of his RAs.

“You told someone! You told someone!” he kept repeating.

Luckily, I was at home when he called, because I was hyperventilating and on the verge of tears. If students knew, then professors knew, and in my mind that meant I could say goodbye to my career, or at least a career where people weren’t constantly whispering that I’d slept with my boss to get the opportunities I was presented with.

“I didn’t tell anyone, I swear!” I kept protesting.

He ended things and hung up the phone, and eventually my panic subsided. All I could do was hope that my name wouldn’t get connected with this gossip.

A few weeks later, I got a text from him.

“Can we talk about what happened? It’s still bothering me.”

I had no desire to talk to someone who had, in my eyes, abandoned me. So I told him that I wasn’t ready to talk at that time but I would let him know when I was ready.

Later that week, he needed a book scanned — again. I asked if he could leave it in his mailbox so that I could pick it up without having to be seen going into his office, as I was still on edge from the alleged rumours. I scanned the book and emailed him the files, but he still asked if I could come into his office quickly, saying it wouldn’t take long. I conceded.

When I got into his office, he asked how I’d been. I told him I’d been fine, and asked how he was. He responded with, “not great.” I asked what was wrong, thinking he was discussing something unrelated to our interactions — I refuse to call what we were doing a relationship.
He sat down across from me, and told me he couldn’t stop thinking about me. How he’d been masturbating to thoughts of me. He took my hand, and unlike the first time he did so, I very much wanted him to let me go. But I was too shocked to do anything about it.
“Did you feel the same way [after seeing each other]?” he asked me.
I mumbled something about how I’d been scared because of the gossip and so I hadn’t really thought of it. Then he kissed me, and things that hadn’t seemed important before, suddenly seemed overbearing — he was my boss, I was in his office, and we had this history. How could I call things off now? So I went with it. I went with it for the rest of my time at McGill. I went with it when he signed his name on a letter of recommendation for graduate school.

I tried to avoid him, but minimizing our time together just frustrated him. He told me to just tell him if I ever lost interest, but he would also say that he’d try to seduce me even if I did. Given that the only time I had asked for a break, all I’d gotten from him in return was a bunch of ominous commentary, I did what I thought was best. I just dealt with it, continuing along because I knew there was an end-date.

I saw him off on the day he left for summer break. As I walked home, I expected to feel some kind of sadness. After all, the man I’d been involved with for most of the past year and a half was gone, and I wouldn’t be seeing him again for close to a year. All I felt was shaky and relieved.
A few days later, I was at a department event, and one of my friends told me my prof had asked her out when they’d run into each other off campus. “She must have misunderstood something,” I thought to myself.
The next night, I was out for shisha and drinks with friends. We got onto the subject of my professor.
“A student in the department told me he asked her out on the street,” one of my friends exclaimed.
“I saw him holding hands with a really young looking woman in the Mile End back in winter,” another friend remarked.
After that, I couldn’t shake the comments. I told one of the friends I was out with that I’d been having an affair with him, and she urged me to confront him. So I did.

When I told him what I’d heard, he asked to Skype me, and he denied all the allegations. He said there must have a been a misunderstanding, if not, the claims were completely fabricated on the part of the students. I bought it, and we started talking about other things.

After we finished talking, I called my friend and said there had just been a misunderstanding.

“No. No. No. Red flag. Red flag! This is me waving a biiiiiig red flag!” she said.

“…what do you know?” I asked.

She paused. “You’re not the only student he’s doing this with,” she said.

I went numb. This was a complete game-changer. Even though I couldn’t articulate it yet, in that moment, the nature of what I had been involved in became crystal clear. I had known he was seeing other women while he had been seeing me, part and parcel of not being in a relationship, but I didn’t know some of them had been students.

He was a predator. He was a manipulator. He was a liar. He was using young women as vessels for self-validation. He was abusing his power, and he had no intention of stopping.
I told him not to contact me personally again, and only professionally if absolutely necessary. Then I blocked his number and his email so that he could only contact me using my student email address.

I was devastated for a long time after I realized that I wasn’t anything but a mildly entertaining wet hole to this man. I felt betrayed, and beyond disappointed in him. I had been dedicated to his ideas and to his work, and he had taught me most of what I knew at that point about academia itself. But I guess my respect didn’t really mean shit to him, on any level.

Eventually I got in touch with another woman he’d been sleeping with, a woman who I considered a friend during our time at McGill. We talked about our experiences with him, laughed at some of his quirkier sexual tendencies, and tried to figure out what, if anything, we were going to do.

It turns out ‘anything’ is going to be more difficult than I thought — other women this professor has slept with, propositioned, sent inappropriate emails to, or generally made uncomfortable are unwilling to come forward and talk about their experiences. While I can’t speak for them, I can only guess from my own experience that they fear retribution, on professional or personal levels, or feel that nothing could be gained from coming forward, which makes sense.

McGill has no official policy or process regarding complaints against professional misconduct such as this on the part of professors. While the McGill Charter of Students’ Rights states that “every student has a right to be free from a sexual solicitation or advance made by a person in a position to offer or deny to the student an academic advantage or any opportunity pertaining to the status of student, where this person knows or ought reasonably to know that this solicitation is unwelcome,” and that “every student has a right to be free from a reprisal or threat of reprisal for the rejection of a sexual solicitation or advance,” the process going forward with such a complaint is murky at best, with no guarantee of accountability action on the part of the University. Furthermore, there is no mention of situations to which students appear to consent, but given the power differentials between students and professors, only do so within that agency we, as students, really don’t have.
There is a sexual harassment policy, but it’s debatable to what degree professor-student affairs fall under this category, and the sexual harassment policy at McGill has a reputation of being traumatizing for the plaintifs, with little to no results. Additionally, the names of the perpetrators of sexual harassment are kept anonymous in the process, and not released to the broader university community. I don’t really see how the policy of anonymity about professors who sexually harass their students maintains “safe and suitable conditions of learning and study,” as guaranteed in the Charter of Students’ Rights, but that’s another discussion.

While this may seem like an isolated incident, as I revealed my experiences to others, I discovered that these cases are hardly rarities. Talking with other students turned up names of professors from nearly half a dozen departments who had reputations of either serially harassing or sleeping with their students. Where some professors were concerned, students spoke of the incidents like they were common knowledge. The prevalence of such an abuse of power on campus causes me great concern, as a recent alumnus, for the well-being of McGill students. The best way to curtail such behaviours that threaten the safety and integrity of students would be an explicit policy on student-professor relationships, accompanied by a supportive and clear process for action for students. Until then, McGill University’s silence implicitly condones a culture where professors treat their classrooms like real-life Tinder accounts.

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Let them learn French Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:00:14 +0000 A word of advice to graduating international students

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I moved to Toronto from South Korea at age 13 without my parents. Now I’m 24, but still, I am neither a Canadian citizen nor a permanent resident. Although I overcame numerous obstacles to feel “Canadian” – the cultural and the English language barrier – I still face other challenges that prevent me from obtaining “Canadian” status. I want to talk about one thing in particular that has added to my sense of alienation: the complexity and inaccessibility of resources and information about the French language courses that international students should take as they try to immigrate to Quebec.

In the summer of 2014, I applied for an internship at one of the English TV networks in Montreal. On my first day, the director welcomed me with a string of questions about why I was in Montreal when I couldn’t speak French. There was no chance of me finding a journalism job in Montreal, since knowledge of French is essential. For instance, a conversation with a police officer on the phone is usually conducted in French, and a lot of documents available online are offered only in French. Yet, discouragingly, there is a complete lack of support from both McGill and the government, in terms of providing accessible information about learning French for immigration purposes after graduation.

Four things are required from international students to apply for permanent residency in Quebec through the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ): $765, a Quebec university diploma, an application form for a Quebec selection certificate (CSQ), and an official document demonstrating an “advanced intermediate” knowledge of oral French (level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference). Yet, until late 2014, McGill’s International Student Services did not provide a document stating which French courses available at McGill satisfy the French level requirement. Between 2009 and 2014, I took eight French as a Second Language (FRSL) classes at McGill, including FRSL 302 and FRSL 303. Despite having the prerequisites, I did not take FRSL 321 or FRSL 325 (Oral and Written French 2), not knowing that only those classes and more advanced ones are recognized by the Quebec government as meeting the language requirement.

I emailed the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI), and received confirmation that it would not recognize the eight French classes I took at McGill as sufficient. I was left to fend for myself, and spent the next year taking two TCFQs (Test de connaissance du français pour le Québec), one French course at Centre Saint-Paul, and ultimately, FRSL 325 at McGill. Saint-Paul, run by the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM), is a free language school that accepts non-Canadian students only if they have a certain type of work permit. In January 2015, I started a course at Saint-Paul, but in February, I was asked to leave or pay over $1,000 at the next session of class. My post-graduate work permit was not acceptable, the school said, and it had enrolled me by mistake.

So I went back to McGill. While browsing McGill’s website in March 2015, I found a recently uploaded document about French courses that meet the B2 level requirement. But since I was no longer a McGill student, I was registered as a independent student and asked to pay $3,500 for that one French course. Due to the failure of McGill, the MIDI, and the CSDM to equip international students with the skills and information necessary to adapt themselves to Quebec’s linguistic expectations after graduation, I had to pay for their mistake, wasting not only time, but also a lot of money, which could be a significant burden for many people.

I have learned a lot in the past year; working part-time as a waitress for an entire year while I was taking the additional classes – with the knowledge at the back of my mind that I owed my parents roughly $200,000 – made me proud of myself and boosted my self-confidence. Nevertheless, I would like to make some recommendations to help students avoid my mistakes and some suggestions to McGill offices and Quebec policymakers.

To international students who want to apply for permanent residency: first, take the necessary French course at McGill and apply for a CSQ as soon as possible, as the level of French required for immigration has only been getting more difficult. It’s currently the advanced intermediate B2 level, while. In 2013, it was the intermediate B1 level. Before that, only a one-on-one interview with an MIDI official was required.

Second, if you have not yet obtained a CSQ at the time of your graduation, apply for a year-long working holiday visa instead of applying for a post-grad visa. This will allow you to take French for free at one of the CSDM schools – in fact, you can even take free classes at some of these schools with your student visa.

Finally, after obtaining your CSQ, apply for permanent residency right away. Usually, it takes less than a month to get a CSQ, and although it takes a year to two to get your permanent residency, you will be given a number in two to four months after applying. With your CSQ and that number alone, you can start taking French full-time while receiving at least $115 of government aid per week.

As for the Quebec government and institutions offering French classes, what I would most like to see is transparency. I was given new – and sometimes contradictory – information at every turn. I think that the confusion among language schools and governmental offices is due to a lack of transparency on behalf of the government regarding the regulations. For instance, to my great confusion, I was given three different answers each time I called the MIDI. The first time, I was told to contact the CEGEP du Vieux Montréal to set up an appointment to evaluate my French proficiency in order to take French classes for free with my CSQ. The second time, I was told I should apply online and then mail other documents to be tested by an evaluator from the MIDI. The third time, after my application had been rejected, I was told I could take French only part-time. I asked a lot of questions to gain as much information as I could, since details are not available online. At the end of that conversation, I asked for a document that had the information I needed, but I was told that they could not give me a document. But why not?

As a recently graduated international student, I want to stay in Montreal even if that means I have to take time off from looking for a job to invest time in learning French. I personally see this as a great opportunity rather than a burden. However, some days I feel so dejected by all the hurdles I have to jump over, the walls I have to turn away from, and the confusion I have to swim through due to a sea of misinformation that I just want to throw in the towel and call it quits. No one should have to jump through this many hoops to meet the basic language requirements for immigration.

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