The McGill Daily Fingerpainting since 1911 2015-02-27T02:53:36Z WordPress Cem Ertekin <![CDATA[Undergrads and post-grads adopt joint anti-austerity stance]]> 2015-02-27T02:53:36Z 2015-02-26T17:42:43Z SSMU-PGSS summit brings councillors together to coordinate lobbying efforts

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Correction appended February 26, 2015.

On February 23, Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) and Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) councillors convened in Thomson House to help the two associations coordinate their efforts in lobbying for student priorities in the University’s upcoming budget planning and in countering provincial austerity measures.

This was the first time that SSMU and PGSS have held a joint meeting of this type, with the decisions made at the summit to be binding on both student associations. While councillors from both associations voted at the same time, motions required a separate two-thirds majority within both SSMU and PGSS to pass.

Budget priorities

Regarding McGill’s upcoming budget planning, councillors voted to prioritize lobbying for the continued support for research opportunities and funding, the diversity of course offerings, the promotion of experiential learning opportunities, the provision of student space on campus, the maintenance of scholarships and financial aid resources, the maintenance of the library services budget, and the maintenance of non-academic staff.

The motion was drafted after consultation among SSMU’s and PGSS’s constituent bodies for input on priorities.

Two other items were also added to the motion and passed: one to express SSMU and PGSS’s “discontent with the current lack of transparency of funding transfers from the government of Quebec through the central administration earmarked for student services,” and another to lobby McGill to provide the Student Health Service, the Mental Health Service, the Counselling Service, and the Office for Students with Disabilities with sufficient funding.

Supporting students in other universities

SSMU President Courtney Ayukawa put forward a motion regarding provincial austerity measures and McGill’s proposed budget cuts. “SSMU has a mandate to support anti-austerity work, and I believe PGSS has some similar mandate or policy as well,” Ayukawa said at the summit.

As initially presented, the motion resolved that both SSMU and PGSS jointly reaffirm their “complete and definitive opposition to the austerity measures in their actual form,” and their commitment to support other Quebec student associations’ efforts against such measures.

Medicine Representative to SSMU Joshua Chin took issue with committing to support other Quebec student associations, given that some of these associations had already voted to strike.

“I know a lot of other Quebec student associations are going that route within the next few days or weeks. I’m wondering if we would be committing ourselves to support those strike measures, and if this will also extend to us, whether SSMU or PGSS, or even their constituent schools, faculties, or departments,” said Chin.

Engineering Representative to SSMU Anikke Rioux echoed Chin’s sentiments. “We don’t know what other student associations are going to do, therefore we shouldn’t be committing ourselves to something we don’t actually know.”

Rioux then moved an amendment to strike out that part of the motion.

In response, PGSS External Affairs Officer Julien Ouellet said, “I think, instead of striking [that part of] the motion, we should amend it, so [as] to make sure that we support [the other associations] in spirit. We support the fight against austerity, and we will create alliances with other associations in that regard.”

The amendment to strike the clause failed, but the clause was amended to read that SSMU and PGSS would support other Quebec student associations in “similar” efforts against austerity measures.

Anti-austerity working group, loss of quorum

Another motion, which would mandate SSMU and PGSS to create a Joint Anti-Austerity Mobilization Working Group, was also on the summit’s agenda. However, quorum was lost midway through the discussion of the motion, meaning that any decision regarding that motion was purely consultative.

The working group’s purpose would be “to inform member constituents of the impacts of budgetary cuts, and to help organize demonstrations and campaigning against cuts to specific university budget lines.” The original motion stated that the group should use “only non-violent and non-defamatory strategies to reach its goal.”

SSMU VP External Amina Moustaqim-Barrette moved to strike the words “non-violent” and “non-defamatory” from the motion.

“I think that this is unnecessary,” said Moustaqim-Barrette. “I think that generally mobilization requires some sort of defamatory strategies, like picketing, and direct action could fall into those things.”

SSMU Engineering Senator Morgan Grobin spoke against Moustaqim-Barrette.

“I just want to speak to the rational people in this room. We should keep both of those things in there. We do not want to make any enemies,” said Grobin. “People in government don’t respect people running around picketing stuff; they respect people writing well thought-out responses to things, showing up to meetings, not boycotting them.”

The words “non-violent” and “non-defamatory” were struck from the motion, but the motion was amended to read “without the express intent to cause physical or psychological harm to people.” The motion will have to be passed separately by the councils of both SSMU and PGSS due to the lack of quorum.

Speaking to The Daily after the summit, SSMU VP University Affairs Claire Stewart-Kanigan commented on the use of the term ‘violent.’

“Dissent is necessarily disruptive,” she said. “Defining our committee as non-violent is not going to prevent external actors from defining the actions of the committee as violent. If the committee, for example, organized some kind of demonstration, it would be just as likely to be defined as violent by the outside, so we shouldn’t be giving more legitimacy to that side.”

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the words “non-violent” and “non-defamatory” had not been struck from the Joint Anti-Austerity Mobilization Working Group motion. In fact, the words were struck and replaced with “without the express intent to cause physical or psychological harm to people.” The Daily regrets the error.

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Commentary <![CDATA[QPIRG-McGill fee increase endorsement]]> 2015-02-26T03:10:45Z 2015-02-26T01:26:24Z EDITORIAL

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QPIRG-McGill fee increase – YES

The Daily endorses a “yes” vote on the QPIRG-McGill fee increase, which seeks to raise the opt-outable fee for undergraduate and graduate students from $3.75 to $5 per semester. QPIRG-McGill serves as the umbrella organization for 16 volunteer-run working groups and provides funding and resources to the students and community organizers that make up the groups. What’s more, QPIRG-McGill offers event series, an alternative library, workshops, and opportunities for applied, community-based research.

The most important feature of QPIRG-McGill is that it connects McGill students with the larger Montreal community, a valuable link that is rarely made. In addition, the organization is a pivotal source for anti-oppression work on campus, which is otherwise sorely lacking. Since its founding in the 1980s, QPIRG-McGill has only once asked for a fee increase (of $0.75), and so its current fees have fallen behind the rate of inflation, leaving it with less money than it needs. A fee increase for QPIRG-McGill is thus necessary to sustain its current work, and to further increase its presence on campus and in the Montreal community.

—The McGill Daily Editorial Board

Commentary editor Cem Ertekin was not present for, or involved in, the discussion and endorsement of QPIRG-McGill’s referendum fee, as he is a volunteer at QPIRG-McGill.

The referendum voting period runs from February 26 to March 2.

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Michele Zampa <![CDATA[Yony Bresler elected PGSS secretary-general]]> 2015-02-25T19:12:07Z 2015-02-25T19:12:07Z BRIEF

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Physics PhD student Yony Bresler will be the interim secretary-general of the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) for the remainder of the academic year, as announced by the student society on February 24. According to preliminary results, Bresler was elected with 541 votes, or 55.5 per cent, while his adversary Saturnin Ndandala received 282 votes, or 29.0 per cent. 147 voters selected “no opinion.”

The results may be contested until March 1, and will be made official on March 2. According to PGSS Chief Returning Officer Colby Briggs, a complaint against one or both of the candidates is currently under consideration.

The position became vacant following the announcement of previous Secretary-General Juan Camilo Pinto’s resignation on January 20. The resignation followed a November 13 motion of censure against Pinto passed by the Board of Directors, and a vote of no confidence by the executive on December 10.

“I’ve been a PGSS councillor for [two and a half] years, and I’ve previously considered getting more involved,” said Bresler in an email to The Daily. “When this situation arose, I felt that I could be well-suited to fill this interim position given my existing knowledge of and a rapport with the PGSS.”

“The recent disturbances at PGSS [have] impeded the society from running smoothly,” Bresler wrote in his campaign statement, emphasizing the need for “greater support and coordination from the secretary-general.”

Bresler indicated that he had no plans to run for the position again next year, and would focus on “realistic” short-term goals. He told The Daily that he planned “to work with and help the current team in their various portfolios to try and get as much as we can done; work to increase transparency, between the various bodies of PGSS and to our members; and to represent graduate student interests broadly, and in particular in relation to the planned austerity measures.”

“I’m certain I’ll have no shortage of things to learn, but I believe that my experience will allow me to integrate quickly,” added Bresler. “I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know and working with the current team through PGSS Council, and I look forward to collaborating with them more in this capacity.”

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Madison Smith <![CDATA[Unsolved, unnoticed, underreported]]> 2015-02-21T04:41:00Z 2015-02-23T11:53:41Z What Evander Kane tells us about racisim in the NHL

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Evander Kane, formerly of the Winnipeg Jets, has recently left for the Buffalo Sabres following a series of events whose meaning remains obscure. Here are the facts, as we know them.

On February 3, Kane showed up to a Jets team meeting in a tracksuit, in violation of the team’s dress code for such occasions. Allegedly to “send a message,” Kane’s teammates threw his clothes in the shower. Later, an hour before puck drop, Kane told team officials that he would not play in the scheduled game in his hometown of Vancouver. Then, on February 11, Kane was traded to the Sabres. Last, but certainly not least, Kane is a black man who plays hockey.

Is that last point salient to the events in question? Nobody who remains on the Jets seems to think so. When asked to comment on the tracksuit incident, Kane’s then-teammate Blake Wheeler said, “We’re professionals, we make a lot of money. And we’re expected to uphold a certain standard. That’s the code we live by. That’s just the way it is.” That may be how Kane’s teammates view things, but there are deeper issues at play here than mere professionalism. Kane has long been known for being ‘controversial,’ and the criticisms that have previously been leveled at Kane that made him a ‘controversial’ player have been uncomfortably tinged with racial assumptions. This reputation almost undoubtedly contributed to Winnipeg’s decision to ship him off after this recent incident.

Kane’s first brush with media infamy came in 2012 when he posted a photo of himself holding stacks of cash to Twitter. It set off a media firestorm of sorts, with some accusing him of being disrespectful to NHL fans and employees by posting a record of his wealth during the lockout. Kane has stated that he thinks that much of the criticism he received for that picture happened because he was black. Not everyone agrees. Commenting on Kane’s claims, Don Cherry, everyone’s favourite hockey bloviator and unreconstructed old-school Canadian, said, “When he says stuff like that, it gets the crowd against him […] to say it’s racial is ridiculous.” Of Kane’s character, Cherry said, “He’s gotta straighten out a little. You can’t be a loose cannon in hockey. You can in football and you can in basketball, but not in hockey.”

That kind of line illustrates the type of racially-motivated criticisms that black players receive in hockey and in other sports. First, Cherry identifies Kane’s posting of the picture as a problematic behavior that needs tamping down, and then says that that sort of behavior is acceptable in sports that are considered to be blacker than hockey. Cherry probably doesn’t even think of his criticisms in racial terms, but he is hostile to the entrance of an element of stereotypically black culture into his white world of hockey.

Cherry’s bias against blackness can be seen again in a YouTube clip entitled “Is Don Cherry Racist?” The clip compares Cherry’s analyses of the play of two rookies. First, we see Cherry – infamous for encouraging goonery in hockey – uncharacteristically criticize then-rookie P.K. Subban’s play for being violent and disrespectful, even ominously implying that somebody will hurt Subban if he doesn’t moderate his style of play. Next, we see Cherry enthusiastically cheer on the violent playing of Brad Marchand. The only obvious difference between the two players that could account for Cherry’s varrying reactions is race. Subban is black and Marchand is white. This analysis is uncomfortably reminiscent of the racist trope of the ‘uppity black man’ who needs to be put in place by white authority.

This subtle kind of prejudice, which quite often goes unnoticed by the person uttering prejudiced words, is an insidious and pervasive force in modern sports commentary. It can make sports feel unwelcoming to minority groups who wish to participate, and it will be hard to eradicate. Admittedly, hockey has its share of overt racism in addition to the more covert forms too: from P.K. Subban being the target of thousands of racist tweets from Bruins fans, to Wayne Simmonds of the Flyers getting a banana thrown at him. These acts of overt racism combine with the more frequent airings of dog-whistle prejudice to create a potentially hostile environment for non-white players. Troublingly, since the members of media who criticize black players in subtly racist ways do not think of themselves as racist, it will be very hard to convince them that they need to change their tune.

The question of race is not as hotly debated in the NHL as it is in leagues like the NBA and the NFL. This is, perhaps, because there are simply not as many visible minority players in the NHL, as there are in the other leagues, to bring this issue to the up. In recent years, players in the NFL like Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks have called out the media for using words like thug to refer to black players whose attitudes are perceived as being threatening to the status quo. The NHL needs more players like Kane and Simmonds to speak up about how fans and the media treat them to help hockey break out of its comfortably tolerant self-image.

So did Evander Kane get shipped out of Winnipeg because he was black? It’s complicated. I would not say that Kane’s blackness was the only reason, or even the most important reason, for his trade to the Sabres. Clearly, there was a toxicity in the Jets locker room that went beyond questions of race. However, I think it is clear that Kane’s race was a factor that distanced him from the fans in Winnipeg, contributed to his reputation as a ‘controversial’ player, and thus nudged the Jets in the direction of letting him go. Unlike Cherry, I say that race is of course a factor in hockey, just as it is a factor in every other facet of life in Canada and the U.S. To say otherwise is naive and ultimately damaging.

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Michele Zampa <![CDATA[Homelessness Marathon broadcast aims to raise consciousness]]> 2015-02-23T19:31:35Z 2015-02-23T11:25:56Z BRIEF

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February 25 will mark the beginning of the 2015 Homelessness Marathon, a 14-hour-long radio broadcast starting at 5 p.m. and lasting until 7 a.m.. Airing on nearly forty campus and community stations across Canada, the broadcast will be hosted by CFRC radio at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. McGill-based CKUT will be one of the stations airing the marathon and raising awareness of the event.

“The idea of the marathon is really to engage a broad discussion across the country about the deeper issues of homelessness and housing,” CKUT Community News coordinator Aaron Lakoff told The Daily.

The initiative began in 1998 in Geneva, New York, with the goal of raising awareness about the housing and homelessness crisis in the U.S.. CKUT brought it to Canada 13 years ago, and hosted the event for 11 years before passing the torch to Edmonton-based CJSR last year.

“The homelessness crisis is a capitalism crisis.”

This year, CKUT will be broadcasting part of the marathon from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. from the Native Friendship Centre on St. Laurent. A community dinner open to everyone will also take place before the event, starting at 6 p.m. at the same location.

According to Lakoff, the marathon is a consciousness-raising rather than a fundraising broadcast, and as such is intended to challenge “this idea that if you drop a couple of coins into the Salvation Army’s bucket, that’s going to somehow alleviate the problem of homelessness.” Instead, the broadcast will provide an opportunity for people who are homeless and their allies to speak on the radio and, at the same time, allow a nationwide discussion on issues facing people who are homeless and their possible solutions.

“The homelessness crisis is a capitalism crisis,” said Lakoff. “It’s a crisis of our economic system, and it’s going to take a deep discussion and deep action to solve the problem, as well as privileging the voices of people living on the street themselves, who are the best ones to recount their own experience of life on the street.”

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Jill Bachelder <![CDATA[J-Board rules on General Assembly procedures]]> 2015-02-23T19:11:43Z 2015-02-23T11:16:20Z BRIEF

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On February 20, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Judicial Board (J-Board) released a set of recommendations regarding rules of procedure at General Assemblies (GAs). These specified that SSMU is required to adopt and publicize a simplified version of standing rules for the GA, but that a special two-thirds majority rule instead of a simple majority for a “motion to postpone indefinitely” was not a valid standing rule.

The J-Board was mandated to investigate the matter on January 17 as a result of a mediation session to resolve a J-Board case against the SSMU president and speaker filed by Nadir Khan and Zain Ali Syed. They had sought a special GA to discuss the Palestine solidarity motion that had been postponed indefinitely at the Fall SSMU GA.

The J-Board ruled that article 5.2 of By-law Book I requires SSMU to adopt simplified standing rules and to publicize these rules to its members at least five days in advance of the GA.

However, the J-Board recommendation makes a distinction between “standing rules” and “special rules of procedure.” It notes that “standing rules” – which are meant to regulate the administration of SSMU – “do not interfere with the freedom of a meeting, and they may not conflict with the constitution, bylaws, rules of order, or other standing rules,” and can be changed without prior notice by a majority vote at any meeting.

However, “rules of procedure” are in place to facilitate the meetings, and cannot be changed as easily.

The two-thirds majority rule for the motion to postpone indefinitely is a change to rules of procedure. Thus, in its recommendation, the J-Board stated that it is not under the authority of Council to include a revision to the motion to postpone indefinitely.

However, the recommendation did note that the rule could be changed if the Board of Directors was to adopt a change, or if members at the GA voted to amend or suspend the rules of order. According to the ruling, both Robert’s Rules of Order and article 13.2 of the SSMU constitution support this.

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Emmet Livingstone <![CDATA[Construction halts on alleged site of historical Indigenous village]]> 2015-02-23T05:22:18Z 2015-02-23T11:07:34Z Heritage preservation non-profit linked to construction company

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Construction of an office complex in downtown Montreal was halted on February 15, due to fears that developers were building on an Indigenous heritage site.

Ivanhoé Cambridge, a real estate subsidiary of provincial pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, paused construction following a series of complaints to the municipal and provincial governments, as well as archaeologists, from freelance photographer Robert Galbraith.

The site, just south of the corner of Maisonneuve and Metcalfe, is a candidate for the disputed location of the St. Lawrence Iroquoian village of Hochelaga visited by Jacques Cartier in 1535. This visit is famed for being the first recorded instance of contact between Europeans and Indigenous people on the island of Montreal and one of the defining moments in the history of New France.

The site was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1920 because of its “potential archaeological resources, objects, and sites.” However, according to Galbraith, Ivanhoé Cambridge began digging foundations for the office building on February 11 without consulting an archaeologist.

“To assume that there is no archaeological evidence or human remains under the asphalt without an adequate investigation [shows] a total lack of concern [for], and [an] abandonment [of], this largely unknown period of Canadian history,” Galbraith told The Daily in an email.

When John William Dawson, a McGill geologist, first excavated part of the site in 1860, he found extensive human remains and pottery, and proposed it as the location of the Hochelaga village.

Anthropology professor and Dean of Students André Costopoulos spoke to The Daily about the site’s significance.

“Whether the Dawson site is Hochelaga is an open question, but clearly it’s a settlement very much like Hochelaga,” he said, adding that even if archaeologists proved that the Hochelaga village was located elsewhere, it was important to protect the site downtown.

“It’s a site that has cultural significance, not only [for] French Canadians, but for people from Kahnawàke, and people from other Indigenous communities near Montreal,” Costopoulos continued.

Accusations of neglect

Asked whether construction had begun because of a lack of interest in the historical and cultural significance of the site from the City of Montreal, Costopoulos argued that it was simply a case of the relevant authorities being ignorant of the situation.

However, in an email to The Daily, Galbraith said that neither the City of Montreal nor cultural organizations had objected to the construction project. He pointed out that other cities, including Rome, London, and Quebec City, have stringent building regulations in order to protect their heritage.

In reference to Montreal, he said that “various organizations are trying to rewrite history and disclaim people who have a great knowledge of history for their benefit.” He further complained that Montreal had a “wild west municipal government.”

Héritage Montréal, a non-profit that works to protect the “architectural, historic, natural, and cultural heritage of Greater Montreal” did not oppose the building project either. Galbraith accused the organization of deliberate neglect in its duties. Ivanhoé Cambridge, the developer, is a major financial sponsor of Héritage Montréal.

Speaking to The Daily, Héritage Montréal spokesperson Dinu Bumbaru rejected the allegation that an affiliation to Ivanhoé Cambridge had influenced the organization’s decision. “There is a perception that this is a site of Hochelaga – but this is a perception,” he said.

Bumbaru added that Héritage Montréal had come to a decision regarding the site following a McCord Museum conference in 2010, which concluded that the Hochelaga village was not on the site.

“If you were in their shoes, what would you say?” responded Galbraith after learning of Bumbaru’s comments.

“There’s more to life than [to] dig and destroy,” he continued. “But here, because of a political climate and greasy politics and stuff like that, and the almighty dollar, we’re about to sell our souls.”

Representatives of the City of Montreal could not be reached for comment by press time.

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Marina Cupido <![CDATA[Senate discusses McGill’s mission statement, academic freedom]]> 2015-02-21T08:56:11Z 2015-02-23T11:03:50Z Implementation of mental health recommendations criticized as slow

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Convening for the second time this year on February 18, McGill’s Senate debated revisions to the University’s mission statement, discussed student mental health, and heard a presentation on the budget for 2015-16.

Changes to mission statement

Senate discussed a proposed revision to simplify McGill’s mission statement and amend it with a statement of principles, namely “academic freedom and responsibility, integrity, accountability, equity, inclusiveness, and respect for cultural and individual diversity.”

Several faculty senators expressed concern over the inclusion of academic responsibility in the principles, arguing that the term carried negative connotations and imposed constraints on academic freedom. Some recalled the controversy surrounding the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC)’s 2011 “Statement on Academic Freedom,” which defined academic freedom as being “constrained by the professional standards of the relevant discipline and the responsibility of the institution to organize its academic mission.”

Medicine Faculty Senator Kenneth Hastings argued that the term ‘accountability’ was “dangerously” ambiguous. “To whom are we accountable for the nature of our scholarly activities? Is it to our principal? […] Is it to our donors? None of those really sound like academic freedom,” said Hastings.

Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Arts Senator Kareem Ibrahim decried the fact that the senators seemed to “be shirking away from the idea of including [the term] ‘responsibility’ because of the supposed negative connotations.”

Speaking to The Daily after the meeting, SSMU VP University Affairs Claire Stewart-Kanigan noted that the senators’ opposition to academic responsibility was significant in the context of the ongoing review of McGill’s research regulations.

“Myself and the rest of the Senate caucus [were] highly disappointed in the adversarial response of the Senate body to the inclusion of responsibility as equally important to, and associated with, academic freedom,” said Stewart-Kanigan. “This represents the broader institutional reluctance to [adopt] meaningful stances on the role of research in supporting social well-being and providing benefit, not harm, to society.”

Closing the discussion, Fortier said that senators’ thoughts would be presented to the Academic Policy Committee (APC), which would draft motions taking into account their suggestions.

Implementation of mental health recommendations

Stewart-Kanigan, SSMU Arts and Science Senator Chloe Rourke, and SSMU Medicine Senator David Benrimoh submitted a question regarding the University’s commitment to ensure a pan-university implementation of the recommendations of the Mental Health Working Group, struck in 2013.

In September, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Ollivier Dyens said at Senate that a consultant would be hired as of January 2015 to work with “stakeholders across the University” to implement the recommendations.

“Given that the recommendations do apply to academic policies and […] practices, will the individual tasked with [implementing] these recommendations have a working relationship with [governing bodies at McGill]?” asked Stewart-Kanigan.

Dyens replied that no such individual had been hired as of yet, and said that the revision of University policies was the responsibility of the individual governing bodies. He assured Stewart-Kanigan that the recommended reforms would nonetheless be carried out in a transparent manner, noting that the timeline according to which the recommended changes will be implemented is available on the website.

Stewart-Kanigan expressed her disappointment with Dyens’ comments in an interview with The Daily. “The University’s response was concerning, given that the recommendations of the Mental Health Working Group did extend to reforming academic policies, and the University did acknowledge that reforming academic policies was essential, but when asked […] they skirted the question and suggested that […] those recommendations would not be able to hold academic units to account,” she said.

Budget forecast

Provost Anthony Masi gave a presentation on McGill’s budget for 2015-16 and following years, the second of three to be presented to Senate this year. He warned to expect additional provincial budget cuts in the coming year, which will “exacerbate the university’s chronic underfunding.”

Masi told senators that although Quebec’s overall financial situation is improving, the provincial government “[has] no intention of stopping the pressure on both hospitals and education,” and McGill will likely face a budget cut of roughly $6 million when the provincial budget is announced in April.

According to Masi, the restrictive measures announced in October, which included a hiring freeze for administrative and support staff positions and the postponement of non-essential equipment purchases, will remain in effect at least until the end of the year.

“We have to make sure we respond to reductions in provincial funding […] of our publicly underfunded university,” he said, adding that the University was seeking to “diversify and optimize some of [its] revenue sources.”

Masi also noted that tuition would be indexed by 1.7 per cent in regulated faculties and by 5 per cent for international students in deregulated faculties. It’s unclear, he said, how the government will proceed with further tuition deregulation.

New programs, tenure regulations

Senate approved three new Professional Development Certificates in the School of Continuing Studies, namely English for Healthcare, English for Social Services, and English for Healthcare Administration, as well as a Diploma in Entrepreneurship.

Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures & Equity) Lydia White also presented new regulations on the process of appeal of denial of tenure, combining two sets of regulations into one and clarifying them. The revisions passed, after some discussion over the appointment and composition of committees to review tenure decisions.

At the end of the meeting, Dean of Students André Costopoulos gave a brief progress report on the development of McGill’s sexual assault policy.

Although the policy was previously expected to come to Senate for approval by the end of the academic year, Costopoulos said that it most likely only come for discussion, with potential approval to follow next year.

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Erin Sobat http://www.erinsobat.erinsobat. <![CDATA[Missing the mark]]> 2015-02-21T05:12:31Z 2015-02-23T11:02:59Z LETTER

The post Missing the mark appeared first on The McGill Daily.

While I absolutely believe in standing up for our smaller branch libraries in the face of austerity measures, the piece, “In defense of our Islamic Studies library” (February 16, Culture, page 19) misrepresents the goals of the Library’s Feasibility Study. While the project is absolutely exploring high-density storage options for collections, the goal is not to remove all books from our libraries in any way. This would not make sense for a unique, print-based, and largely non-English language collection like that of the Islamic Studies Library.

The study is largely being conducted because we are physically running out of space for collections, and many materials are being stored in less-than-optimal conditions such as the Currie Gym basement. In addition, our libraries currently provide seating space for only 11 per cent of our student population, while the North American minimum recommendation is around 25 per cent.

Financially, it costs approximately $4.80 per year to keep a single print book on a shelf due to continued facility, retrieval, and administrative expenses. In comparison, a book in high-density storage costs less than $1 per year. Thus, traditional open stacks are becoming unsustainable for a growing collection. This is a reality of research libraries across the country that have turned to high-density or off-site storage options.

While the use of print materials varies by discipline, general stats on print check-outs show a downward trend that cannot simply be explained by books being consulted in-branch or being more available online. One of the challenges of the study will be to balance the need for print browsing and fast retrieval with more efficient storage.

The Feasibility Study does not seek a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to budgetary and space restraints, but rather to create library spaces that better serve their varied users. This includes a desire to maintain and showcase our important print collections, such as that of the ISL, rather than to hide them away.

—Erin Sobat,  Library Improvement Fund Coordinator at SSMU

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Cem Ertekin <![CDATA[New federal permanent residency rules for international students criticized]]> 2015-02-23T16:39:47Z 2015-02-23T11:02:58Z Students applying through Quebec will not be affected

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On January 1, new rules came into effect at the federal level concerning the permanent residency applications of international students. Previously, the application system gave an automatic leg-up to international students with Canadian work experience. Under the new regulations, however, international students will now be put in a general pool with other immigrants and will be scored according to a “comprehensive ranking system.”

In order to receive a formal invitation from the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, international students need to receive a high score on the ranking system. For instance, if the applicant is particularly skilled at a job that, according to a government assessment, no Canadian worker is available to do, they are awarded 600 points. The most recent bulk of invitations were sent to applicants who scored above 800.

Representatives from the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) and the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) have voiced concern about the attitudes of the federal and provincial governments toward international students.

“My first reaction is that it is quite unfair that that regulation would be put in place, and that [the] exception has been removed,” said SSMU VP External Amina Moustaqim-Barrette in an interview with The Daily.

“International students come here and make a large investment in the society and in our post-secondary education system. It is unfair that that investment of time and resources wouldn’t be recognized. It’s true that it’s really difficult for international students to be full-time students and also gain work experience, so it definitely puts them at a disadvantage, and unfairly so,” Moustaqim-Barrette said.

The new rules change only the treatment of students in the Express Entry program under the Canadian Experience Class, and does not alter provincial selection systems. Students wishing to live in Quebec cannot apply through that program, and will not be affected by the changes. However, Quebec students wishing to reside elsewhere in Canada need to use the federal system.

Currently, Quebec holds the power to declare applicants who are applying through the Programme de l’expérience québécoise as eligible for consideration for permanent residency by issuing a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ), which is similar to the Quebec Acceptance Certificate that is issued when applying for a study permit. Holding a CSQ, however, does not guarantee permanent residency, as the authority to grant it ultimately rests in the hands of the federal government.

“PGSS is involved in everything that deals with international student rights at [the] Quebec and Canadian levels. We’re going to do a bit of research on this topic,” said PGSS External Affairs Officer Julien Ouellet.

“I’ve heard of this issue pertaining to the flexibility of what international students can do in Quebec before,” said Ouellet. “Even when people want to get involved in student politics, it’s much more difficult for international students to do that, especially at [the] FEUQ [Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec] level. Because if they don’t take [an adequate] number of credits, they can be asked to leave the country. This is not something that we think is very healthy, of course. The government seems to be going in a different direction right now than what we would like the situation to be.”

In an email to The Daily, McGill Vice-Principal (Communications and External Relations) Olivier Marcil said that the federal immigration program does not apply to McGill or other Quebec universities. Pauline L’Écuyer, Director of International Student Services, echoed Marcil’s statement.

“My understanding is that the new Express Entry program does not apply to our international students who want to stay in Quebec after graduation,” L’Ecuyer wrote in an email to The Daily. “Quebec is currently conducting a consultation on the future of immigration in Quebec; perhaps this will evolve in new [permanent residency] programs.”

Forgoing the rights of international students

Pointing to McGill’s recent restatement of support for international student tuition deregulation, Moustaqim-Barrette argued that there is a trend of putting the burden of austerity measures on the backs of international students, given that it is much more unlikely that there will be high mobilization around the subject of international students’ rights.

“I think it’s a very strategic move to do. In 2012, when [the provincial government] tried to raise tuition for Quebec students, they saw these massive mobilizations – thousands of people in the streets. So it’s very strategic on the government’s part to do something like that, because they won’t see that kind of pushback [on the part of international students], and they know it,” Moustaqim-Barrette explained.

Ouellet also pointed to the difficulty of lobbying with the federal Conservative government, which tends to be unresponsive to student demands.

“We have very little [recourse] in what does not affect our members directly. When it’s something that is outside of Quebec, we have very little reach, because even the FEUQ has a hard time getting in touch with Conservative ministers and deputies,” explained Ouellet. “We’ve managed to get in touch with all three other federal political parties, but I think we meet […] a Conservative [maybe] once a year, and it’s usually very brief. It’s very, very difficult to talk to them.”

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Jill Bachelder <![CDATA[Algonquins of Barriere Lake file lawsuit against government, managers]]> 2015-02-21T09:04:17Z 2015-02-23T11:02:35Z Community cites mismanagement, demands control over own finances

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As part of their ongoing struggle against the Canadian government, the Chief and Council of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake (ABL) have filed a lawsuit against the government and their current and previous third-party managing companies, Hartel Financial Management Corporation and BDO Canada.

The lawsuit, filed on January 30 for $30 million in damages, claims that the government and managers have harmed the community “by mismanaging and withholding funds that were to be used for the benefit of the community and its members,” according to a press release from the ABL.

The managers currently hold the community’s money in a trust, according to the press release, effectively placing the ABL community’s funds out of their control and leaving the community with little agency over its own finances.

“As it is now, the community is dissatisfied with how third-party management has continuously kept us in the dark,” Barriere Lake’s Interim Director-General Tony Wawatie told The Daily.

“We have requested information regarding our financial status, and it was repeatedly refused or ignored,” Wawatie continued. He added that the managers did not work well with the ABL and did not listen to what the community members asked of them.

The press release expanded on this discord, noting that managers have “ignored our reasonable requests for basic information, and have bounced cheques to suppliers, interfered with our economic relations with suppliers, hired and fired employees without authority, and otherwise proven themselves completely unconcerned with the interests, wellbeing, and future of our community.”

According to both Wawatie and the press release, the managers charged millions of dollars in fees to the community, as they take a 10 per cent fee of every project they take on, whether or not the deficit is reduced. This money was paid by the ABL community, even though the ABL did not want the help of the managers.

This lawsuit comes after growing tension between the third-party management program and the ABL. Last December, the ABL sent out a press release calling for food and donations for 15 Algonquin families, including 25 children, to whom the federal government refused welfare checks after the ABL failed to comply with the First Nations Financial Transparency Act as protest against the community’s lack of agency over its own finances under the third-party management system.

“We will not back down. We will never back down, our parents and grandparents did not back down, and that is why our land is still protected.”

Wawatie also noted that the infrastructure and training programs the managers were supposed to arrange for the community were never provided. “One of the things that the third-party managers were supposed to do was to come up with some capacity development [and] training for the community members,” he said.

According to a document released by the ABL in 2014, Barriere Lake has been reduced to 59 acres of reserve, on which “the socioeconomic conditions of the community are extremely poor.” The unemployment rate ranges from 80 to 90 per cent, and a housing crisis has lead to on average seven people living in a home, though this number can be as high as 18 to 23 people.

“Our members continue to experience [abject] living conditions, in spite of the tremendous wealth generated through resource extraction within our traditional territory,” the press release reads. “Our roads, water, hydro, school, and social services remain gravely underfunded, when compared to the funding available to Canadians living in non-First Nations communities.”

The Hartel corporation declined to comment. BDO also declined to comment, citing the fact that the lawsuit is currently ongoing. As of press time, neither Hartel nor BDO have responded to ABL’s claims.

James Campbell, a member of the educational activist network Educators for Peace and Justice, condemned the management system and expressed solidarity with the ABL.

“The imposition of third-party management is simply the latest stage of the federal government’s attempts to break any and all forms of resistance by the people of Barriere Lake,” Campbell wrote in an email to The Daily on behalf of Educators for Peace and Justice.

“It is only possible because of the continued existence of an explicitly racist [and] white-supremacist piece of legislation [The Indian Act]. It is a direct attack on the people of Barriere Lake and we support their fight against the racist laws and policies of the Canadian government.”

“There [have] been many different ways that the Canadian and Quebec governments have tried to destroy the community and the language and the culture and the way of life that the Algonquins of Barriere Lake have,” noted Kira Page, external coordinator of Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) McGill.

Community organizations stand in solidarity with ABL

Educators for Peace and Justice and QPIRG McGill were two of over fifty organizations who supported a list of demands set forth by ABL in 2008 to the governments of Quebec and Canada, insisting these governments honour the agreements of 1991, 1997, and 1998, and respect the self-sufficiency of the ABL and the conservation of their languages and culture.

Wawatie noted that the current management system goes against these two agreements, and that since the signing of the 1991 and 1998 agreements, the Quebec government has done little to nothing to ensure the self-sufficiency of the ABL.

The ABL has long resisted the Canadian government’s attempts to impose regulations and programs and promote resource extraction on their lands.

They have employed legal actions in the past – they filed a lawsuit against the federal government in 2010 after the Minister of Indian Affairs forced them into adopting an elective governance system, under Section 74 of the Indian Act, which implements a foreign system of governance onto the community, invalidating customary leadership structures as a legitimate source of governance.

“The imposition of third-party management is simply the latest stage of the federal government’s attempts to break any and all forms of resistance by the people of  Barriere Lake.”

According to, a platform sustained by the Barriere Lake Solidarity QPIRG McGill working group, this band council has made deals with forestry companies and other industries, against the general desires of the community, and now Barriere Lake sees the extraction of $100 million in resources annually, none of which goes to the ABL.

The ABL have also worked in collaboration with other communities and community organizations to resist these measures, holding protests in Ontario and Quebec to protest the Section 74 electoral process.

In 2008, the ABL created a blockade on the highway that passed through their lands, demanding the government give the community a voice in the decision to develop 10,000 square kilometres of the land on which they live.

A video on their website describes the struggle of the ABL.

“Our Algonquin community of 400 people is fighting for control of our land, our government, and our way of life,” says an unidentified voice. “We will not back down. We will never back down, our parents and grandparents did not back down, and that is why our land is still protected.”

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Zapaer Alip <![CDATA[Nutrition should not be this hard]]> 2015-02-23T02:31:28Z 2015-02-23T11:02:10Z Researchers call for a better labelling system

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You are what you eat, but what happens when you don’t really know what you’re eating? It’s no secret that we are terrible at estimating the amount of calories we consume, as well as the amount of sugar, salt, and fat in our food. This is why nearly all processed foods are mandated to have nutritional information displayed on the packaging. Now ask yourself, when was the last time you checked the nutrition fact table on any of the processed foods you bought?

The resulting discrepancy between the calories we think we consume and the actual amount has resulted in an epidemic of over-consumption. According to Statistics Canada, 50 per cent of women and 70 per cent of men in Canada consume more calories than needed on an average day. The health implications are worrying; 6 in 10 Canadians are either overweight or obese, and almost 8 in 10 Canadians are consuming salt at levels associated with an increased risk of negative health outcomes such as heart disease.

The current labelling system

Naturally, everyone wants to know what they are eating, and nutritional information like the salt, sugar, and fat content could significantly influence our decision-making when it comes to choosing what food products end up in our basket and eventually inside of us.

The current nutrition label system regulated by Health Canada is the Nutrition Facts table. It provides a lot of useful information including the sodium, fat, vitamin, and fibre content in terms of the Percent Daily Value — the proportion of what the item represents in terms of the amount you need each day – in addition to sugar, protein, and calorie content. In theory, consumers should easily be able to use the Nutrition Facts table to make healthy choices.

A recently published study by researchers at McGill found the exact opposite. According to the researchers, the Nutrition Facts table is both ineffective and too complex to be used while shopping. It provides too much information and does not resolve any nutrition conflicts, leaving consumers to make complex decisions such as choosing between high sugar versus low sodium content.

According to the researchers, the Nutrition Facts table is both ineffective and too complex to be used while shopping.

The study entitled “The effects of nutrition labelling on consumer food choice: a psychological experiment and computational model,” was conducted by Peter Helfer, a PhD student in psychology and neuroscience, and Thomas Shultz, a professor of psychology. They compared four different nutrition labelling systems: the currently-used Nutrition Facts table, the NuVal label, the UK Traffic Light Signpost label, and a binary label (heart symbol or health check) indicating healthier food items.

The research study

The independent study, funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), assessed the different labelling systems based on their validity, if the labels lead to healthier choices, and usability, or how easy they are to use.

In an interview with The Daily, Shultz explained that the study involved psychological and computational parts. The psychological part of the experiment focused on measuring people’s ability to compare the nutritive value of food.

To start their experiment, Shultz and Helfer created an online survey and advertised it on food and nutrition-related websites. Participants in the online survey had to choose between pairs of food based on product images, taste scores, and one of the four nutrition labelling systems. They also had to answer factual questions to make sure they were not making up their data.

“In each case, participants were asked to choose between four food items, either four different yogurts or four different cereals. There were two additional manipulated variables: time limit (20 seconds or unlimited) and accompanying visual information (showing the actual product photo or generic clip art that indicated only the food category – cereal or yogurt),” said Shultz.

The computational model of the decision-making provided insights into why people made the choices they made. The researchers used decision field theory (DFT), which is considered to be one of the most successful models of human decision-making. DFT works with the idea that decision-making is about comparing options to your wanted outcomes and in the process gradually building up preference for an option. Once a certain threshold is reached, the decision is made. One of the insights gained is that time didn’t affect nutrition choices because preferences often emerged quite early.

The computer neural network models were provided with the same information as the participants and generated many of the same choices, Shultz said the computer model “captured the general qualitative pattern in data.”

In short, the computer-generated data and the results from the psychological component came to the same conclusions. The binary labels such as the health check are fast to use but also tend to produce not-so-nutritious choices. The Traffic Light labels take more time to use and result in only a mediocre increase in nutrition. The most commonly used Nutrition Facts table takes the most time and results in the least nutritious choices. The NuVal label was found to take the least time to use and result in the most nutritious choices.

A much better alternative

NuVal is a novel labelling scheme in several respects; it remains one of the only nutrition labelling schemes to have been scientifically tested for validity, and it does not classify foods in the traditional categories of healthy and unhealthy. Instead, it provides a score on a scale from 1 to 100, based on the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI) algorithm. The score is positively influenced by the presence of fibres, vitamins, minerals, and the quality of fats and proteins; and negatively influenced by saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, added sugar, and cholesterol.

“NuVal is fairly unique in considering the positive aspects of food, which provides an important advantage over other labelling schemes. 

In 2011, researchers at Harvard published a paper in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine which concluded that people who ate according to the NuVal scores would be less likely to be overweight or obese, and less likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. However, several of the researchers who conducted the validity studies are from Harvard and Yale. Both universities are involved with NuVal to varying degrees, with Harvard’s School of Public Health using the algorithm to conduct its own research and Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center having funded the initiative to create NuVal.

According to Shultz, “NuVal is fairly unique in considering the positive aspects of food, which provides an important advantage over other labelling schemes. Many nutrition-labelling schemes focus only on the negative aspects, in the manner of warning labels on tobacco products.”

NuVal has its flaws and is in no way is a perfect system. For one, the ONQI algorithm developed by experts at prestigious universities such as Harvard and Yale is kept secret as it is patent pending. It also poses challenges to mainstream adaptation, as Shultz points out that “sensible governments are unlikely to mandate or fund research into anything that is not transparent.” Additionally, NuVal is limited in its scope to only products and does not provide any information for overall dietary quality. While it makes it easy to compare between same food types like two brands of pretzels or between different food types like apple juice and strawberry yogurt, it doesn’t provide any information as to how it will impact your overall diet.

The future of nutrition labelling

Ideally, there would be an alternative labelling scheme like NuVal, but more transparent. This highlights the need for continued research in finding a scheme that is both easy to use and actually beneficial to your health. The research by Shultz and Helfer, which started out as a side project, highlights the need for science-based evidence when it comes to implementing nutrition labelling schemes. With advances in computational modelling, it is no longer too expensive nor difficult to assess the nutrition and health merits of different schemes as proven by this recent study. Consumers are directly harmed when essential nutrition information is not provided in an accessible manner. You shouldn’t have to be a dietician to make nutritional choices. It’s time to radically revamp the current labelling scheme, because simply put it’s evident it wasn’t designed with consumers in mind.

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Isabel Lee <![CDATA[The trouble with words]]> 2015-02-21T07:04:31Z 2015-02-23T11:02:10Z How saying 'ethnic' is dehumanizing and alienating

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Author’s Note: I use the terms ‘non-white’ and ‘white’ in this article because racialized terms are widely used in the Canadian and American contexts, and I want to make it clear that the term ‘ethnic’ originates from historically racist structures. People of colour have always been arbitrarily grouped together and discriminated against. The dichotomy between ‘white’ and ‘non-white’ has forced me to use this language to denote how much of an othering effect this division creates.

When I saw that the McGill Food and Dining Services website described the Vietnamese food offered at Vihn’s Café as “ethnic delights,” I was shocked. Why didn’t they just refer to it as Vietnamese food? It’s not as if pho noodles are so ‘foreign’ and ‘exotic’ in U.S. and Canada. The use of “ethnic delights” disturbs me because it indicates a broader problem related to using terms like ‘ethnic,’ ‘foreign,’ and ‘alien’ to describe people and cultures that don’t belong to the dominant white culture in Canada and the U.S.. It reinforces the assumption that this culture is the norm.

The word ‘ethnic’ is a political term used to alienate cultures that do not conform to the dominant one; it essentializes non-white cultures as abnormal. When we describe a non-white cultural product as ‘ethnic,’ we are effectively creating an ‘us versus them’ dynamic. Calling food, fashion, or anything else ‘ethnic’ is code for saying that minority groups are strange or exotic. Although those who use the word may not mean anything by it, it’s still harmful.

The word ‘ethnic’ is a political term used to alienate cultures that do not conform to the dominant one; it essentializes non-white cultures as abnormal.

Exocitizing cultures in this way is commonplace, yet this normalization is what leads to tokenization, hostility and – further down the line – racist immigration laws and institutionalized discrimination. Using the word ‘ethnic’ is a gross oversimplification of the diversity of cultures and traditions in U.S. and Canada. And for people who belong to cultures outside the norm, the word is dehumanizing. For myself, when I see my own culture trivialized by white Canadian and American norms, I feel that my culture and identity are inferior – something of which to be ashamed.

This is internalized racism, and it causes people to erase their own identities in order to assimilate and survive. In this way, white norms are insidious – they swallow non-white identities and spew them back out as watered-down, trivialized, bite-sized ‘ethnicity.’ They also force people to internalize these cultural norms, which then alienate them from their own culture. No one is technically forcing anyone to conform to the prevailing culture, but people find themselves changing who they are because it is too painful to be an outlier in a society that only pays lip-service to multiculturalism.

This is why growing up in the U.S. and Canada is hard when you’re not part of the dominant culture. I don’t necessarily identify as being East Asian, but I’m forced to take on that identity because of how I look. I’m forced into recognizing the fact that I look ‘ethnic,’ even though that’s not how I feel. I’ve spent my whole life in Canada and the U.S., my first language is English, yet people still ask me if I’m from China. I’m not. I’m pushed into accepting an East Asian identity, because of how I look – even though it feels alien to me. Why can’t I be American and Korean at the same time, and not have to sacrifice cultural diversity?

No one is technically forcing anyone to conform to the prevailing culture, but people find themselves changing who they are because it is too painful to be an outlier in a society that only pays lip-service to multiculturalism.

Whether or not assimilation happens voluntarily, it’s easier to conform to the dominant culture rather than struggle with identity issues and try to figure out how you fit into your community. So when I encounter casual use of the term ‘ethnic,’ I’m reminded of all these confusing identity struggles, and how different I am from the so-called norm.

That’s why the phrase “ethnic delights” when referring to food from Vihn’s Café is such an ugly reminder that non-white cultures are treated as unfamiliar, foreign, and inherently different. European food isn’t othered in this way, which says a lot. I often see people explicitly distinguishing between European food, whether it be Italian, Greek, French, or anything else. Italian and Greek food are rarely referred to under the same category as ‘Mediterranean food,’ and when they are, this narrow definition most likely does not include Libyan or Egyptian food. Foods from European countries are referred to by their proper name, whereas ‘ethnic’ foods are grouped together under a non-white blob that implies something spicy and foreign. This is only one example; however, it exemplifies the kind of racial essentialism that alienates cultural identities and erases cultural self-determination.

The word ‘ethnic’ is a barrier to non-white cultures being accepted in U.S and Canada. It’s the line that denotes the end of European comfort zone, the end of familiarity, the end of all things white. The word ‘ethnic’ is a reflexive othering mechanism that stems from underlying racist structures. It props up the dehumanization and stereotyping of entire groups of people, creating the illusion that people from ‘ethnic’ backgrounds are somehow all the same, or that they lack complexity. It’s time we stopped using it, and start referring to people and their cultures in the ways they prefer.

Isabel Lee is a U2 Political Science and Philosophy student. To reach her, please email


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Janna Bryson <![CDATA[Coalition launches in support of student-run food services]]> 2015-02-23T17:07:25Z 2015-02-23T11:01:37Z Members hold “heartbombing” event to show dedication to student space

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Employees and members of various student-run food services on campus are in the process of joining to form the McGill Food Coalition, a new campus group that aims to “bring together all student-run food initiatives, and give them a place to share goals, work together, and maintain the culture of student-run spaces on campus,” according to Coalition member and SNAX employee Emma Meldrum.

The Coalition held its first public event on February 13: a “heartbombing” under the Leacock stairs, where representatives from SNAX, Midnight Kitchen, the Nest, and the McGill Spaces Project had snacks and information for those passing by.

The online description for this inaugural event outlined the goal of the coalition. “Currently, [student-run food and space] initiatives are vulnerable to the top-down, profit-driven decisions of our administration. We believe that unified, the groups in the coalition will have stronger negotiating power within McGill’s hierarchy and ultimately more influence on campus.”

The survival of student-run services and spaces is an issue that has reared its head frequently at McGill. Last semester, the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) negotiations took the spotlight when McGill ordered the AUS-run food kiosk SNAX to “cease and desist” the sale of sandwiches.

Kathleen Bradley, Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) VP Finance and Operations and former head chef at the student-run cafe the Nest, told The Daily that the SNAX controversy helped prompt the development of the Coalition.

“Around the time that McGill told SNAX that they couldn’t sell sandwiches – that was sort of the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

“Around the time that McGill told SNAX that they couldn’t sell sandwiches – that was sort of the straw that broke the camel’s back – a whole bunch of students from Frostbite, from SNAX, from the SRC [student-run cafe, the Nest], from a bunch of SSMU services kind of got together,” said Bradley.

“We met with the people from the Concordia Food Coalition, and they shared their experience with corporatized food services and how they’re working against the Concordia administration to make sure that student-run food services are preserved on campus,” she continued.

The Coalition is in the process of drafting a charter that outlines its purpose and values, one of which is to support student-run food services in their interactions with the McGill administration. According to Bradley, advocating for students throughout MOA negotiations is one way this goal can be achieved.

“We were a little bit late to the SNAX game, but hopefully in the future if EUS [the Engineering Undergraduate Society] or another faculty was negotiating its MOA and was having difficulty preserving their student space, the Coalition could come together, do demonstrations, [create] awareness, and put pressure on the McGill administration to put [measures to preserve student space] in the MOA.”

Meldrum added, “If the SNAX negotiations continue to drag as they are, there is still definitely an opportunity for the coalition to participate.”

Bradley listed “coming out to demonstrations if you see them, writing letters to the McGill administration or getting in contact with your faculty and seeing how you can support their student-run food service,” as ways that interested students can get involved with the Coalition.

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Igor Sadikov <![CDATA[Science undergraduates to fund summer research awards]]> 2015-02-23T16:48:15Z 2015-02-23T11:01:33Z BRIEF

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The Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) General Council (GC) voted to fund three Science Undergraduate Research Awards (SURAs) at its February 18 meeting. The SURAs, managed by the Office of Undergraduate Research, are awarded to students on the basis of academic merit to fund 16 weeks of full-time research during the summer.

“It’s an already established award where donors, potentially like ourselves, would contribute $2,800 toward an award, and then whoever the professor is who takes the student will match it,” explained VP Communications May Yin-Liao.

“The money is not going anywhere if we don’t use it.”

Yin-Liao noted that international students are eligible for SURAs, as opposed to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Awards, which are only available to Canadian residents.

“We do technically fund a significant number of research positions under work study, but obviously not everyone qualifies for work study, whereas […] anyone in the Faculty of Science and [in] Arts and Science can apply for [a SURA], so that’s more accessible to all of our constituents,” said Yin-Liao.

A total of $8,400 will be allocated for the SURAs for Summer 2015, coming directly from SUS’s operating budget. Yin-Liao indicated that she hopes to fund the awards through “more sustainable sources, such as external sponsors” in future years.

Answering a question on how the recipients of the awards will be determined, Yin-Liao said that the awards will be allocated randomly to three of the 19 departments in SUS, and the recipient of the award will be chosen by the department.

Bachelor of Arts and Sciences Integrative Council (BASiC) President Matthew Satterthwaite raised concerns over the amount of funding.

“I’m just worried about the $8,400 – that seems like a lot of money coming out of student fees, and I’m not sure [these awards] that can benefit three students are the best use of that much money,” he said.

Yin-Liao responded that, following the recent increase in the SUS base fee, there was money allocated specifically for new initiatives such as this one.

“The money is not going anywhere if we don’t use it,” she said.

The motion passed with one abstention.

Tuition deregulation was also discussed at the GC. Representative to the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Zacheriah Houston told councillors that all three representatives to SSMU had voted against the motion to oppose tuition deregulation that passed at the last SSMU Council.

Houston said that he voted in this way because, although there was no time for proper consultation, a majority of the forty Science students he consulted were opposed to the motion.

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