The McGill Daily Leaving McGill to work in the private sector since 1911 2016-06-25T18:39:34Z http://www.mcgilldaily.com/feed/atom/ WordPress http://www.mcgilldaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/cropped-logo2-32x32.jpg Xavier Richer Vis <![CDATA[Montréal LGBT community organizes vigil in memory of Orlando victims]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46930 2016-06-25T18:39:34Z 2016-06-25T18:35:37Z On Thursday June 16 at 7pm, thousands of mourners attended a candlelight vigil at the corner of Rue Sainte-Catherine Est and Rue Panet to pay their respects to those who died at the PULSE nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday June 12. Forty-nine people lost their lives, and fifty-three others were injured, in a mass shooting at the nightclub

Montreal LGBT Solidarity

The vigil was held in the heart of Montreal’s Gay Village, near Parc de l’Espoir (which translates, perhaps fittingly, to Hope Park). Attendees carried signs with the pictures of those killed, which read “Trans Lives Matter,” “Black LGBT Lives Matter,” and “Latino LGBT Lives Matter,” highlighting the homophobic nature of the shooting, and the fact that most who died were gay men and women of color.

“Let us put an end to hate, and demand to live in a world without weapons and violence!”

“Let us put an end to racism, sexism, homophobia, lesbophobia, biphobia and transphobia!” said Éric Pinault, President of Fierté Montreal, in French. “Let us put an end to hate, and demand to live in a world without weapons and violence! And above all else, let us open our hearts to the love and to the light surrounding us as to sow peace [in our communities]!”

“I would like to remind everybody that every microaggression, every homophobic, transphobic, or racist act contributed to the events of last Sunday,” said Marlyne Michel, co-president of Arc-en-ciel d’Afrique, in French, stressing that what happened in Orlando was horrific, but calling for the press to put equal emphasis on the daily hardships faced by LGBT communities.

Manon Massé, the Québec provincial MP for Sainte-Marie – Saint-Jacques, herself a self-identified gay woman and activist, was also present at the vigil. She linked the violence in Orlando to attacks against marginalized communities around the world, and spoke to the necessity of fighting intolerance and hate.

“I would like to remind everybody that every microaggression, every homophobic, transphobic, or racist act contributed to the events of last Sunday.”

The names of all 49 victims were read near the end of the vigil, while onlookers held candles.

Québec Premier Philippe Couillard accosted

Québec Premier Philippe Couillard, Montréal Mayor Denis Coderre, and Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly, as well as other federal and provincial MPs, attended the vigil. Days before the vigil, event organizers intentionally stressed that it was intended to be a “non-partisan gathering where all may honour the memory of the victims, reflect on the tragedy and stand united against homophobia, racism and sexism.”

“Tonight is not about politics.”

This didn’t stop several mourners from booing when one spokesperson from Fierté Montréal thanked many provincial and federal politicians for being present at the vigil. “Tonight is not about politics,” the spokesperson responded.

Coderre, Joly, and Couillard all spoke at the vigil, in solidarity with Fierté Montréal and LGBT communities around the globe.

Coderre emphasized the pride he felt at his constituents’ response to the Orlando shooting. “Here [in Montréal], you can live however you choose to, no matter who you are,” he said in French. “If you’re LGBT, that doesn’t matter, because you’re a citizen. You’re a first-class citizen.”

“We love each other the way we are. Let’s be proud of that and preserve that identity,” said Couillard, also speaking French.

“If you’re LGBT, that doesn’t matter, because you’re a citizen. You’re a first-class citizen.”

Both Coderre and Couillard were booed when taking the microphone – particularly Couillard, whose Liberal government has been unpopular due to its implementation of austerity measures. Many have argued that austerity has disproportionately affected institutions that help marginalized communities, such as those who identify as LGBT.

An event organizer responded to the booing by saying in French, “In 1960, what is happening here would not have been possible: a premier, a mayor, a multitude of deputies coming here [to stand in solidarity with LGBT communities].”

“We love each other the way we are. Let’s be proud of that and preserve that identity.”

But the crowd was astonished when Couillard was accosted on stage by Esteban Torres near the end of the vigil. Couillard and Joly were quickly escorted off stage, away from the crowd, while Torres was carried away by the police. He was later charged with assault, according to The Huffington Post Canada.

Torres, who had shouted “Révolution!” before attempting to hit Couillard, had earlier identified himself as a “trans, queer and Latinx activist”, and had been another of the event’s speakers, speaking on behalf of the Pink Bloc.

His speech had denounced islamophobia, misogyny, racism, homophobia and transphobia. While speaking in Spanish, he also condemned colonialism in many Latin American countries.

After some initial disorder, the vigil ended after a rendition of “Somewhere over the Rainbow”.

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Josephine Bird <![CDATA[Musical trees and escaping chairs]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46918 2016-06-20T17:01:50Z 2016-06-20T16:29:18Z Variations on the trope of “deus ex machina,” or “god from the machine” have been thrown around a lot in popular culture lately. From Alex Garland’s movie Ex Machina to the latest theme of the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art gala, Manus x Machina, artists are responding to the confluence of art and technology. The use of the trope in these cases explores the role of technology as a device capable of creating expedient solutions to the trials of society.

The playful aspects of technology and its ability to facilitate new sensory experiences are rarely given attention in the contemporary artistic zeitgeist. The device art triennial at Montreal’s Eastern Bloc Gallery ran from May 5 to June 1, and exhibited an array of interactive innovative devices, recognizing their integral role in our daily lives. Beyond simply making our lives more efficient, these devices seeked to create new experiences.

Developments in biotechnology, manifested in the bio art movement of the 90s, and a focus on creating interactive experiences, were at the forefront of many of the artists’ initiatives. Some highlights of the exhibition included Robertina Sebjanic, Ida Hirsenfelder, and Ales Hieng-Zergon’s Chemobrionic Garden (Time Displacement), which explores the relationship between hydrothermal chemistry, time, and evolution; Martina Mezak’s Urania, a cloud making device; and Lightune. G’s unconventional lighting and sound system in Lighterature Reading.

Device art explores the interaction between humans and their devices in society, encouraging us to embrace technology not only as a tool on which to depend, but also as a producer of experience.

Davor Sancincenti’s sound installation, Ø, involved a polished Istrian olive tree stump which, when touched, activated sonorous or surreal sounds that came from behind the viewer. The consequences of the viewer’s actions, or the sounds generated through the interaction with the art object, were invisible to the eye but were deeply felt by the viewer. The creation of distant sounds through the close interaction with the art object convinced the viewer of the universal significance of their actions, making a statement on the far-reaching impacts of one’s actions on their environment. The use of technology to re-animate the tree stump shed a positive light on the prospect of human beings working with nature, rather than against it.

As most of the artists were of Eastern European and Japanese descent, specific regional artistic influences were spotted throughout the exhibit. For instance, the influence of 20th century Russian constructivism, which emphasized the practical qualities of art and aestheticized its process, was seen in many of the artists’ works, with their devices adopting an architectural quality. This influence as well as early Japanese forays in kinetic art was evident in Takeshi Oozu’s The Escaping Chair, which automatically moved away from the sitter when approached.

Subverting the common narrative that technology desensitizes us, the exhibit explored ways to look optimistically at the presence of technology in our daily lives and considered its potential to deepen sensory experience.

In The Escaping Chair, our perceived relationship with furniture was undermined as the dynamic between the willful sitter and passive object was reversed. Typically, we depend upon furniture for comfort, both physically and mentally, in their ability to mould themselves to our bodies. Oozu played upon this dependence on inanimate objects and our delusion of a shared intimacy. The body and furniture became intertwined, and this intimate yoking of body and object gave the artwork an erotic quality. Ultimately, the anthropomorphic piece of furniture encouraged us to think critically about the nature of technology. Oozu explained in a panel interview that the viewer became conscious of the chair possessing a “will.”

Device art explores the interaction between humans and their devices in society, encouraging us to embrace technology not only as a tool on which to depend, but also as a producer of experience. The aim of Sanvincenti’s interactive work was to use technology to facilitate sensory experience, and to do so in a way that is not a perversion of nature, but rather an improvement upon it. He did not want to impede the abilities that make us human, such as our sensory faculties, but to attune ourselves to them and exploit their potential, which he did by connecting sight with sound. Meanwhile, the animation of Oozu’s chair demonstrated how technology can be used to create life in places devoid of it.

In an era defined by the plurality of artistic visions and styles, the device art movement responds creatively to some of the most central concerns we face. Subverting the common narrative that technology desensitizes us, the exhibit explored ways to look optimistically at the presence of technology in our daily lives and considered its potential to deepen sensory experience.

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Anya Kowalchuk <![CDATA[Deconstructing cultural narratives]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46903 2016-06-20T18:59:03Z 2016-06-10T13:00:40Z Joan Jonas, born in 1936, is an American video art, sculpture, and performance artist. Jonas’s work has seen widespread acclaim, participating in world-renowned shows ranging from dOCUMENTA (13) to her most recent solo show at the Venice 2015 Biennial. DHC/ART’s exhibit From Away, which opened on April 28, brings together a comprehensive retrospective of the artist’s complete body of work, the first of its kind in Canada, designed by guest curator Barbara Clausen.

From Away incorporates video and photography while featuring significant and iconic props from Jonas’s video and performance art, such as the 8-foot cones situated in a circle taken from Street Scene With Chalk, developing a raw swarming network of artistic inclination and inspiration. The methodology is highly indicative of Jonas’s attentive study of the late Aby Warburg’s Atlas. In the informational brochure accompanying the exhibit, Clausen explains that Jonas’s images interact with each other, creating “a fine web of new stories over time.”

Jonas deconstructs the linear narrative in Street Scene with Chalk, an 11-minute video projected on a loop, on the first of 4 floors which comprise From Away. It shows a filmed scene of a quiet street at night with a couple walking and moving about as the artist’s hands draw over the recording in chalk. In an interview with the Wattis Institute, Jonas spoke to the performance aspect of the piece, inspired by her 1976 performance Mirage, and explained that she organized an improvisation near Wall Street, which was completely deserted at night.

By overlaying the drawings on top of the improvised scene, Jonas proposes stories that intercept and mediate or negate each other, destroying the cohesive linear quality to any single narrative. In simultaneously presenting two images, the artist splits the attention of the viewer, forcing them to move back and forth between the stories, which in turn merge and negotiate with each other to produce an entirely new narrative.

While Jonas has many points of focus, perhaps she is most compelling in her intense study of ritual and linearity of narrative in her art, which allows her to arrive at a provocative cultural analysis of the contemporary world, the one of unprecedented disconnect.

In contrast to her efforts of deconstructing dominant cultural narratives, Jonas revives the traditions of rituals in other pieces. She achieves this most notably in her 1972 performance Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy. Jonas is deeply intrigued by the translation of performance art to other image-based media: for this reason, the exhibit presents her performance piece through a variety of stills from the original, props from the performance, as well as video clips, rather than a projected recording of the piece, as a method of immersing the viewer and effectively relating a past performance.

It is critical to note the problematic nature of Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy. In the performance piece, Jonas is seen donning a plastic mask of a woman’s face wearing heavy make-up, a peacock feather headdress, and a kimono. Jonas aims to fragment her own image by concealing it with costume, while using the camera as an apparatus to exhibit her own image. As Clausen explains, the performance discusses dualities within female representation and imagery, while considering and deconstructing the visual relationship between viewer and camera.

By appropriating cultural artifacts such as the kimono, Jonas appears to be exoticising cultures to which she has no claim. Though her aim is to discuss norms of femininity as they appear across various cultures, Jonas ultimately enacts violence upon the cultures whose artifacts she appropriates as she exploits their decorative aspects while failing to perform a nuanced engagement with their cultural meanings. Jonas is not alone in committing such acts of appropriation in her work. In fact, it has been a widespread phenomenon in contemporary art, spurring white artists to produce work that underlines the prevalence of cultural appropriation in the arts.

The DHC retrospective on Joan Jonas makes a sweeping survey of her life’s works, spanning decades and mediums alike. In an interview with Alvin Curran, she asserts that the period of contemporaneity is “historically speaking, a period of mannerisms and fragmented memory.” While Jonas has many points of focus, perhaps she is most compelling in her intense study of ritual and linearity of narrative in her art, which allows her to arrive at a provocative cultural analysis of the contemporary world, the one of unprecedented disconnect.


From Away runs until September 18 at DHC/ART.

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Tiran Rahimian <![CDATA[Montrealers protest privatization of Hôtel-Dieu hospital at public assembly]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46900 2016-06-07T02:05:18Z 2016-06-07T02:05:18Z On Thursday May 19th, over 300 Montreal residents attended a public assembly held in the basement of l’Église Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette and organized by the Hôtel-Dieu Community Project to discuss the future of Montreal’s oldest hospital, the Hôtel-Dieu.

Located at the intersection of Rue Saint-Urbain and Avenue des Pins, the hospital was founded in 1645 by nurse Jeanne Mance, and remains an important Montreal historical site. But with the recent completion of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), a mega-hospital located near the Vendome station, the Hôtel-Dieu is set to be vacated by the end of this year to allow for the merger, privatization, and consolidation of Montreal’s health services.

“The idea of this project is to take this land from the government, to have an agreement where they would give the land to the community and then to develop a number of projects.”

Numerous community organizations like the Milton Parc Community and the Old Brewery Mission have opposed the privatization of the hospital, and put forth plans to put it to good use.

Speaking to CKUT, Théo Rouhette, a McGill student who volunteers with the Coalition communautaire Milton Parc, explained some of the main pillars of the project.

“The idea of this project is to take this land from the government, to have an agreement where they would give the land to the community and then to develop a number of projects,” said Rouhette, “This project would range from social housing to student residences, to urban agriculture, to art exhibitions and galleries, to small businesses, and also to create a public green space for people to interact with the area.”

“We want to make available decent housing for the homeless, and the Indigenous people living in the area.”

Dimitri Roussopoulos, one of the speakers at the assembly, highlighted the importance of providing housing to marginalized communities, and addressed how the Hôtel-Dieu could play a part in doing so.

“We want to make available decent housing for the homeless, and the Indigenous people living in the area,” said Roussopoulos. “We want to establish a lot of social housing, especially cooperatives with green roofs,” Roussopoulos said.

Roussopoulos further spoke about the importance of community with regards to the project.

“We want it, of course, to be community controlled.”

“We want it, of course, to be community controlled,” elaborated Roussopoulos. “In other words, we want the land to be owned by the people, the partners who develop all this.”

Speaking to The Daily in French, Kia Khojandi, a student at Ahuntsic College who attended the event, stressed the importance of preserving the city’s heritage.

“Hôtel-Dieu is Montreal’s oldest hospital,” said Khojandi, “but it is also more than just a hospital. It is a testimonial to the city’s rich history and heritage. […] Thankfully, there are community movements such as this [that] try to preserve the city’s heritage and turn the site into something that is worthy of its historical value and significance.”

The coalition of community organizations working on the project has met with Montreal mayor Denis Coderre, as well as Quebec Minister of Health Gaetan Barrette. The mayor expressed interest in establishing social housing on the site’s current parking lot.

“It is a testimonial to the city’s rich history and heritage.”

“If we want public authorities to listen,” said Khojandi. “We need to continue mobilizing our efforts and show them that we are determined and that we care. That’s why public assemblies such as [these] are so important.”

Acknowledging the importance of social mobilization, Rouhette added, “The success of this story would show [Montreal] that it is possible to create another world where private property and speculation are not the main pillars, and that community-based activities, […] environmental issues, and projects can occur if there is cohesion between the people.”

“If we want public authorities to listen, we need to continue mobilizing our efforts and show them that we are determined and that we care. That’s why public assemblies such as [these] are so important.”

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Paniz Khosroshahy <![CDATA[Night demonstration commemorating the Nakba sees clashes with police]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46897 2016-05-28T02:58:57Z 2016-05-28T02:58:57Z On Saturday May 14, the Montreal-based human rights group Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU) organized a midnight demonstration to mark the 68th anniversary of the ‘Nakba’, which translates to “the catastrophe” in Arabic. The demonstration aimed to commemorate the expulsion and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland following the 1948 Palestine War and Israel’s subsequent Declaration of Independence.

According to PAJU’s Facebook event page for the demonstration, “Palestine has been subjected to a systemic ethnic cleansing operation at the hands of the Zionist movement for the past 68 years. In a blink of an eye, Palestine was wiped off the map.”

“The Zionist movement has announced the creation of the Israeli state on Palestinian territory through the destruction and expropriation of over 500 villages and towns and the expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians to refugee camps all over the world,” the page continued.

“Israel’s military supremacy is the spearhead of its occupation of Palestine.”

Hala Yassin, a member of PAJU, addressed the crowd in French prior to the march, condemning the federal government’s turning a blind eye to Israeli military actions against Palestinians.

“Israel’s military supremacy is the spearhead of its occupation of Palestine,” said Yassin. “It allows Israel to act with impunity. The Israeli army is proud to collaborate with arms manufacturers that brag to clients about testing its products in the field [the Gaza Strip].”

“Can you believe that? Products tested on humans, on Palestinians!” she repeated.

Around 150 people gathered outside the Mont-Royal metro station for the demonstration. Notwithstanding a heavy police presence, the demonstrators chanted “Israel terroriste, Trudeau complice!” in French, (“Terrorist Israel, Trudeau an accomplice!” in English) as they marched from Rue Saint-Denis to Rue Sainte-Catherine and looped back through Boulevard Saint-Laurent.

“Can you believe that? Products tested on humans, on Palestinians!”

“We have to remember that this movement of Zionism, the State of Israel, was not created by the Jewish people that followed the traditions of their forefathers,” said Neturei Karta rabbi David Feldman to the crowd before the march. “These were people who attempted to transform Judaism from a religion into a nationalism.”

“As Jewish people who do practice our religion, we say that that the state of Israel does not represent world Jewry,” Feldman continued. “These people do not speak in the name of our people, they’re not supported by all Jewish people, and certainly the crimes that they are committing are not condoned by Jewish religion.”

The police initially blocked the march at the intersection of Rue Sherbrooke and Rue Saint-Denis, instructing the demonstrators follow their route west of Rue Sherbrooke. After a brief confrontation, the police succumbed and demonstrators continued marching down Saint-Denis, shouting “A nous la rue!”

“As Jewish people who do practice our religion, we say that that the state of Israel does not represent world Jewry.”

The demonstrators stopped in the middle of the intersection at St. Laurent and Mont Royal, blocking off the street to hear a spokesperson for Women of Diverse Origins, Dolores Chew, speak about the importance of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement.

“BDS is what we need to struggle for,” said Chew. “For our communities and all organizations and all our institutions in our church groups, in our political parties – we must push for BDS to be adopted.”

“Israel is really afraid; this is the only thing that is going to make a difference,” Chew continued. “Women of Diverse Origins stands in support of Palestinian women, and their families ask us to take a stand and struggle and not to give up.”

“Israel is really afraid; this is the only thing that is going to make a difference.”

Montreal municipal bylaw P6 (section 2.1), requires march organizers to disclose their route prior to their event. However, Anna, a demonstration organizer, told The Daily in a Facebook message that P6 is “political repression, plain and simple.”

“They want to scare, discourage, and punish people for protesting, so [we] refuse to acknowledge and give power to such a law,” Anna said.

She went on to discuss the connection between refusing to abide by such laws and protesting the Israeli occupation. “All of our adversity is connected to the same systems of oppression and repressive audacity of authority,” she explained.

“They want to scare, discourage, and punish people for protesting, so [we] refuse to acknowledge and give power to such a law.”

Members of the Young Communist League of Canada were also present at the demonstration. Speaking to The Daily, Adrien Welsh, a representative of the League, asserted “To us it is important to denounce [the occupation], first to show our solidarity with the Palestinian people, but also to show that we are active, that we are able to do things although we are geographically far away.”

“It is important to support the resistance through such actions like this demonstration and BDS, and to demand for at least the creation of a Palestinian state, at least within the borders of ’67,” Welsh added.

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Marina Cupido <![CDATA[Montreal May Day protests end with at least ten arrests]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46883 2016-05-19T04:25:21Z 2016-05-19T04:25:21Z On Sunday May 1, hundreds took to the streets for an anti-capitalist protest in honour of International Workers’ Day. Less than an hour into the demonstration, police officers used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd, after a confrontation on Ste. Catherine Street escalated rapidly. Multiple arrests were made in the hours that followed, as police pursued small groups of protestors throughout the downtown area.

Anti-capitalist protesters gathered at several prearranged meeting points earlier that afternoon, forming smaller groups which coalesced into one large demonstration at the corner of University and de Maisonneuve at around 3:15 pm.

There was a heavy police presence, with dozens of vehicles gathered on nearby streets, a helicopter monitoring the area, and several officers on horseback following the demonstration closely. As protesters made their way through downtown Montreal, rows of officers in riot gear arrived to follow the procession from the sidelines, standing in front of businesses and government buildings.

The anti-capitalist demonstration was organized by the Montreal chapter of Convergence des luttes anticapitalistes (CLAC-Montreal), and attracted a diverse collection of protesters, which included a small but enthusiastic McGill contingent. In addition to the usual anti-capitalist and anti-police chants, shouts of “Free Palestine!” and “Free Kurdistan!” could be heard from the crowd.

“The only way to completely address climate change is to not only limit greenhouse gas emissions but to also tackle the social problems that make marginalized people most vulnerable to the changing climate.”

Environmental activists were also in attendance. The Daily spoke with McGill student Jed Lenetsky, a U1 Environmental Sciences student, about the intersection between anti-capitalist activism and the climate justice movement:

“The shift towards a clean energy economy must include a just transition for workers.”

“Climate justice is firmly based in intersectionality,” said Lenetsky. “The only way to completely address climate change is to not only limit greenhouse gas emissions but to also tackle the social problems that make marginalized people most vulnerable to the changing climate. Fighting for labor rights fits squarely within this mandate.”

Speaking to The Daily, Kristen Perry, a graduating McGill Environmental Sciences student, stressed that “the shift towards a clean energy economy must include a just transition for workers.”

“This means organizing for a living wage and fair working conditions,” Perry said.

Confrontation and Arrests

The protesters marched through the streets of downtown Montreal for nearly a half hour without incident. Small amounts of tear gas were fired on at least two occasions, for reasons that remain unclear, and a number of construction pylons were knocked into the street.The overall situation remained peaceful until the crowd arrived at a police station on Ste Catherine Street.

A confrontation ensued which ended with copious amounts of tear gas fired at protesters. Police also used stun grenades to scatter the crowd.

Some protesters hurled firecrackers and coloured smoke bombs back at the officers, and a window in an adjacent building was shattered. According to CBCNews, police claim protesters began the confrontation, throwing fireworks and tear gas upon arriving at the police station. However, two activists who wished to remain anonymous told The Daily that they witnessed the incident, claiming a tear gas canister caused the damage.

“[The police] shot some tear gas, and it broke a window,” said one of the activists, speaking to The Daily in French. “But it will probably be said that it was protesters that broke the window.”

The activists also told The Daily that they had been attending a feminist conference and had decided to join the demonstration because “when you’re feminist, you’re struggling for more equality, for rights, for recognition, and when you’re anti-capitalist it’s similar. […] It’s essential not to separate the [feminist and anti-capitalist] movements.”

Following the confrontation on Ste. Catherine, small groups of protesters ran down adjoining side streets, pursued by police officers. For the rest of the afternoon, dispersed groups all over downtown Montreal tried to reunite while avoiding the police. Several were detained during this period, with the total number of arrests reported to be at least ten by various news sources, including CBCNews and The Toronto Star.

“[The police] shot some tear gas, and it broke a window. But it will probably be said that it was protesters that broke the window.”

Among those arrested were two McGill students, who preferred to remain anonymous. In an interview with The Daily, the two students said they had been walking peacefully along a downtown sidewalk when a large number of police officers arrived to disperse their group. They were pushed down an alley along with some other protesters and were eventually trapped by the police.

They were then arrested, allegedly for “participating in an illegal demonstration,” despite the fact that they had not been protesting when the police appeared. The officers did not cite any specific piece of legislation, but they still handcuffed and frisked the students, and searched through their coats and bags. Eventually, the students were released without charges. One student told The Daily that she found bruises the next day where the police had held her, and that other students with her were treated more roughly.

“The Police are Our Partners”

Meanwhile, The Daily’s reporter followed another group to Dorchester Square, where a large number of officers scattered protesters with substantial amounts of tear gas. Julie, a McGill student present at the scene, expressed outrage at what she saw as the police’s heavy-handed behaviour:

“I’m feeling frustrated that people who were trying to recover after being chased were then attacked, not only with tear gas, but then [also by] ten or twenty policemen on bikes shouting […] and chasing them […] in the middle of a park!”

She emphasized that police filled the park with tear gas without making sure that bystanders would be affected. These concerns echoed last year’s May Day demonstration, during which passers-by, including children, were teargassed as the police attempted to disperse protesters.

“[The officer] hit her in the leg and then pummelled her, and they then proceeded to hound us.”

Sean, another McGill student, told The Daily what happened when he and a few others were chased onto campus near the Otto Maass Chemistry Building by police:

“Some of the police followed the group going up University, and other officers stopped and started harassing us, and attacked one student – I think she was a student – with a bike. [The officer] hit her in the leg and then pummeled her, and they then proceeded to hound us,” he said.

“Meanwhile, I confronted [a] McGill Security [officer] about this, telling him ‘the police are attacking students on campus, it’s your responsibility to make sure this kind of thing isn’t happening’, and he said ‘the police are our partners.’”

“He said ‘the police are our partners.’”

At around 6:00 pm, roughly a hundred demonstrators gathered at Philips Square, and marched east to Place des Festivals. There, the group dispersed when police arrived, and about a half an hour later, CLAC-Montreal announced via Twitter that the demonstration was officially over.

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Amy Currie <![CDATA[Bury tropes, not queer women]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46872 2016-05-11T21:26:53Z 2016-05-11T21:25:23Z I assume that we’ve all heard about the lesbian character that was killed off via gunshot, right?

No, not Tara Maclay or Delphine. Or Tosha. Or Toshiko. I’m talking about Commander Lexa from The 100.

The 100 takes place 97 years after a nuclear war destroys the Earth and follows 17-year-old Clarke, who lives in a colossal space station named “The Ark,” along with what is left of the human population. The purpose of “The Ark” is to keep the human race alive until Earth is habitable again. Clarke’s engineer father finds an unfixable flaw in the oxygen system of “The Ark”, threatening the lives on board, and thereby the human race overall. He attempts to make this knowledge public to the citizens of “The Ark,” but is caught and executed.

Clarke tries to finish what her father started, but rather is imprisoned, along with a hundred other juvenile delinquents. In a desperate attempt to save humanity, they are sent back to Earth to test its habitability. If they survive, “The Ark”’s citizens can follow suit, and human repopulation can begin.

The kids find Earth habitable, but quickly realize that they are not alone—somehow, humans managed to withstand the radiation and created a community comprised of 12 united clans called the Grounders. The hundred adolescents are immediately forced into war with the community that had survived.

Admittedly, the show is well-made, offering a critical commentary on a theme of land disputes, land ownership, and how far humanity can, or should, go to ensure survival. Clarke winds up being the leader of her people and meets Grounder commander Lexa. The two aim to bring peace between the Grounders and the Sky People and fall in love in the process. After Lexa is forced to betray Clarke to ensure the survival of the Grounders, Clarke sets out for revenge. After a series of plot twists and dramatic events, Lexa regains Clarke’s trust, and the young women finally get the intimate scene that the audience was waiting for. Just moments after, Lexa’s advisor Titus attempts to kill Clarke in disapproval of Lexa’s romantic feelings for the Sky Girl; Lexa ends up killed in the crossfire.

Out of the 35 LBPQ characters that 2016 started with, 15 have been killed off. We are only 5 months into the year and about 43% of the limited LBPQ representation on TV is dead.

So, what’s the big deal? Characters die. Get over it.

The big deal is that Lexa’s death perpetrates “Bury Your Gays,” a wildly homophobic trope in which queer characters never get the same happy endings as straight characters. In the off-chance that a queer character isn’t used for comedic purposes to perpetrate other tropes—for example, the Predatory Lesbian as exemplified in Pitch Perfect—a stereotypical queer best friend who loves shopping and musicals, or a cameo, they often meet their demise through suicide, murder, illness or accident. “Bury Your Gays” appeared in 1930s in Hays Code, an early attempt at film censorship, forbidding anything that promoted what was believed to be unnatural or morally wrong. This allowed for the inclusion of LGBT characters, but with a catch: they had to be punished for their immorality. Acceptable punishments included perpetually sad and dissatisfying outcomes, or being killed off.

Why, after 86 years, are we still misrepresenting a marginalized community in such a violent way?

Even though Lexa’s death has arguably been the last straw for lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, and queer (LBPQ) viewers, this isn’t just about one character in one show. Out of the 181 LBPQ characters in television and film history, 155 have been killed off. Only 29 have had happy endings, if you consider not being killed off a happy ending. Out of the 35 LBPQ characters that 2016 started with, 15 have been killed off. We are only 5 months into the year and about 43% of the limited LBPQ representation on TV is dead.

[I]n The 100’s universe anyone can die! But anyone can die in the real world, too. The problem lies when anyone can die, yet death has disproportionately high rates for minorities, real world or not.

Jason Rothenberg, executive producer and lead writer of The 100, actively queerbaited the community. He shared pictures of ‘Clexa’—a ship name for Clarke and Lexa—actresses Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam-Carey eating rainbow candies, attempting to reaffirm his status as an ally. After Lexa’s death was filmed, writer’s assistant Shawna Benson promised fans on LGBT forums, our safe spaces, that Lexa would not be killed off. Benson stated that if we didn’t believe that the writers loved her as much as we did, then we might want to “seek counselling” for our “trust issues”.

Before the season started, fans noticed that Debnam-Carey was not credited on IMDB in any episodes after “Thirteen” (the episode in which Lexa is killed off) and made public their concerns she would be killed off. Rothenberg shared pictures of Debnam-Carey and Taylor on set of the season’s finale, inviting fans to watch the filming in Vancouver, insinuating that Lexa would indeed be alive and well. As it turns out, Lexa is likely in an afterlife state known in The 100 as the City of Light. We were led to believe that Lexa would not be claimed by “Bury your Gays”, and that the showrunners genuinely cared for the LGBT community.

Rothenberg carried on promoting the seventh episode of The 100’s third season, “Thirteen,” as “game-changing” and urged viewers to watch it live unless they wanted to see big spoilers everywhere online. It isn’t surprising that just days after the original air date of “Thirteen,” which was a big trend online (reaching 1.38 million viewers), The 100 was renewed for another season. Through deceit and careful planning, Rothenberg used his LGBT fans to gain popularity, ratings, and viewers to ensure another year of the show.

Showrunners and filmmakers alike need to understand that the media does not exist in a vacuum, and what is shown in movies impacts life outside the screen. Younger LBPQ girls may not have anything to hold onto except limited representation of LGBT characters.

TV and film crews still don’t seem to get it. Although Rothenberg apologized to fans, his apology is more concerned with expunging “Bury Your Gays” and queerbaiting from his reputation. He tried to assure us that it was never the intention to cause harm to the LGBT community, because in The 100’s universe anyone can die! But anyone can die in the real world, too. The problem lies when anyone can die, yet death has disproportionately high rates for minorities, real world or not.

The thing is, Lexa didn’t even need to be killed off. The story could have very easily continued with her. Rothenberg unfairly blamed Debnam-Carey’s other show Fear the Walking Dead for creating scheduling conflicts. This cannot be proven as we have not seen Debnam-Carey’s contract with Fear the Walking Dead. Regardless of whether or not she could return to The 100, Lexa did not have to be killed off in such homophobic fashion.

Showrunners and filmmakers alike need to understand that the media does not exist in a vacuum, and what is shown in movies impacts life outside the screen. Younger LBPQ girls may not have anything to hold onto except limited representation of LGBT characters. I remember being in grade 8 and ecstatic to discover the existence of bisexual Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley on House M.D., only to find out that she had been diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, a genetic neurodegenerative disorder that often results in death. Thirteen disappeared, perhaps to find treatment or protect her friends from future heartbreak when she would inevitably succumb to her disease. I was heartbroken. The only character I identified with was gone.

I would like to applaud the teenage LBPQ viewers who are fighting tooth and nail to get mass media to notice the issue, and who are rightfully pursuing the genuine apology that we deserve.

The struggle to understand and accept my sexuality was made harder by media’s refusal to treat LGBT characters with respect. I’m lucky that Lexa’s death came after I learned to love myself and my identity, having moved out of the small homophobic town that kept me in the closet for 17 years. I am privileged to have found a wonderful group of queer friends that support and care for each other. The same is hardly true for many younger, often closeted and isolated, LBPQ girls.

That being said, I would like to applaud the teenage LBPQ viewers who are fighting tooth and nail to get mass media to notice the issue, and who are rightfully pursuing the genuine apology that we deserve. LBPQ viewers may well be the ones to inspire a whole new generation of TV and film, free of harmful tropes. They have inspired multiple trending topics on Twitter every week and raised over $100,000 in Lexa’s name for “The Trevor Project”, a charity organization aimed at suicide prevention for LGBT youth.

Queer teenage girls are adamant about this fight and have already made an impact. Former writer and co-executive producer of The 100, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, has confirmed that he is no longer involved with The 100. He has taken LBPQ grievances seriously, inspiring hope among LBPQ viewers as he will be co-executive producer for the Xena: Warrior Princess reboot. The struggles of LBPQ teenage girls are not trivial. LBPQ girls are a force to be reckoned with.

To TV and filmmakers: bury tropes, not us.

To my fellow LBPQ sisters: As is often said in The 100 by Grounders who have been wronged and are seeking justice or retribution, “jus drein jus daun”.

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Paniz Khosroshahy <![CDATA[Students rally in support of Sexual Assault Policy]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46869 2016-05-09T03:16:35Z 2016-05-09T03:16:34Z On Wednesday April 20, students and community members gathered outside the Leacock Building – where a McGill Senate meeting was in progress – to voice their support for the recently student-drafted Sexual Assault Policy (SAP). The McGill administration withdrew its support for the SAP earlier this month, partly due to its emphasis on intersectionality. According to the SAP, intersectionality “is an approach which recognizes that individuals may experience oppression differently due to their membership in different social and cultural groups.”

Lucie Lastinger, a member of the SAP working group, said that the policy was expected to be brought to Senate for approval on the day that the administration retracted their support.

“We demand that McGill acknowledges that rape culture lives on this campus, and we demand that they do something about it.”

“We’re here today to tell the administration that enough is enough,” Lastinger said, addressing the crowd. “We’re here telling the administration that we’ve gone on for too long without adequate resources and support on this campus.”

“We demand that McGill acknowledges that rape culture lives on this campus, and we demand that they do something about it,” added Lastinger. “We demand a policy that is pro-survivor, proactive, accessible and intersectional. We’ll be here for every Senate meeting from today until our policy gets passed.”

“For far too many people who will experience sexual assault during their time in university, campus will be a site of violence and injustice, rather than healing and support.”

At the rally, the Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE) President, Molly Swain, denounced McGill administration’s refusal to support the SAP.

“Going to school or work should not be dangerous or traumatizing activities. However, for far too many people who will experience sexual assault during their time in university, campus will be a site of violence and injustice, rather than healing and support,” Swain told The Daily in an email, on behalf of AMUSE.

Students inside the building handed out flyers and buttons to Senators. Cecilia MacArthur, another member of the working group, said this was “an attempt to raise awareness about the policy, the process, and the administration’s recent refusal to move it forward.”

“This was largely motivated by the fact that we’ve been working exclusively with the administration, so other members of Senate – professors, staff, and even other administrators […] – have been largely excluded from the process,” MacArthur explained to The Daily.

“[This was] an attempt to raise awareness about the policy, the process, and the administration’s recent refusal to move it forward.”

Talia Gruber, also a member of the working group, told The Daily that students attended the Senate meeting after the rally.

“At the Senate meeting, there was a commitment to bring a policy on sexual violence forward by the end of 2016, ‘based on our document’,” Gruber said. “There was a question about resources, and the Provost said they would use the resources currently in place.”

“So in my opinion, they only addressed one of our three demands, but people felt hopeful,” Gruber continued.

“Establishing a presence at Senate was an attempt at making our policy, and the need for a sexual assault policy more generally, known,” MacArthur told The Daily.

The demands of the working group include hiring additional staff dedicated to sexual assault prevention and response, a transparent and collaborative review process for determining the best sets of policies for supporting survivors, and forming an ad-hoc Senate committee with student-staff parity to pass “a pro-survivor, proactive, accessible, and intersectional sexual assault policy” before the end of 2016.

“Establishing a presence at Senate was an attempt at making our policy, and the need for a sexual assault policy more generally, known.”

According to some observers, Dean of Students Andre Costopoulos was seen using a side door to enter the Leacock Building to avoid the demonstration. There was also increased security in place at the Senate sign-up location.

The working group released an open letter to the McGill administration earlier this month to denounce their withdrawal of support and reiterate their demands to the administration. The letter was signed by over 1,500 people.

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Commentary http://mcgilldaily.com <![CDATA[Letters: In support of the proposed Sexual Assault Policy]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46865 2016-05-06T16:18:05Z 2016-05-06T16:18:05Z SACOMSS A-Branch offers support to sexual harassment and assault survivors, calls for cultural and policy reform

In light of the recent articles published in The McGill Daily about student-professor relationships (“Let’s talk about teacher,” September 1, 2015, Features; “The vicious circle of professor-student relationships,” March 21, Features), A-Branch wants to remind the McGill community of the support services we offer in navigating policies and the administration in such cases. We would also like to echo the sentiments of others demanding that the University combat sexual harassment.

A-Branch is a branch of the Sexual Assault Centre of McGill’s Student Society (SACOMSS), a student-run organization based in the basement of the SSMU building (room B-27). A-Branch – which stands for advocacy, accompaniment, and activism – specifically supports McGill students, staff, and faculty in navigating McGill’s Policy on Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Prohibited by Law, The Code of Student Conduct, and other relevant McGill policies, as well as advocates on their behalf to ensure that their rights are respected and their needs are addressed. A-Branch cannot offer legal advice; however, we can offer information, accompaniment, and a safe, confidential space to explore your options. University policies and procedures can be difficult to understand, and the process often takes an incredible amount of emotional energy and time.

Should you, or someone you know, want help understanding or navigating these policies, we are here to support you through the process. We believe all survivors.

We also recognize that the policies and procedures that exist at McGill have their limitations in meeting the needs of those who access them. As detailed in previous McGill Daily articles, McGill’s Policy on Harassment, Sexual Harassment, and Discrimination is insufficient. It can often be a tiring, lengthy process that lacks adequate standards for discipline, which often prevents people from coming forward with their complaints when the potential outcomes remain unclear. Furthermore, the Policy does not adequately account for the specific nature of sexual harassment. The assessors tasked with implementing the Policy are currently not trained to address the particular sensitivities found in cases of sexual harassment, which leads to a risk of retraumatizing those who come to them for help. Although confidentiality in such processes is important, there is little accountability and transparency to the community. Finally, the multitude of complaints regarding student-professor relationships highlights the need for a cultural shift among professors and all those who hold power over others within the University. There must be mechanisms outside of the Policy to counteract these patterns of harassment, including advocacy for policy improvement, as well as measures of safety and support for complainants from the McGill Association of University Teachers (MAUT) and department and faculty leaders.

Finally, we add our voice to the over 1500 McGill students and alumni calling for the University to start better addressing sexual violence on campus. Although sexual harassment and sexual assault are often understood as distinct cases, the reality is that these lines are often blurred. This can cause harassment cases to be thrown out because they may be interpreted to fall more under the category of sexual assault, which is not covered by the Policy, leaving survivors of sexual violence with little help or institutional recourse. We support the demands for the dedication of resources and staff to addressing sexual assault, the creation and adoption of a pro-survivor, intersectional Sexual Assault Policy, and a transparent review of existing policies and procedures.

In solidarity,

—A-Branch, Sexual Assault Centre of McGill Students’ Society
advocacy@sacomss.org, 514-398-8500

Hold McGill accountable to combat sexual violence

Over the last four years, I participated in, then passionately followed, the development of an innovative Sexual Assault Policy (SAP) at McGill. This initiative, led by a group of student volunteers, also became the basis for my graduate work on campus sexual violence.

It is with great sadness, though little surprise, that I learned that the administration, which had publicly committed to bringing the SAP to McGill’s Senate, has now announced that it will not do so. I’m writing to show my support to students in the SAP working group and survivors on campus at this difficult time, and to call on students, alumni, and employees alike to show their support.

By pulling out of the student-drafted policy, McGill has shown gross disregard for the time and energy of its students, having wasted time through back and forth meetings and negotiations for three years. The SAP working group is composed of those most likely to be affected by sexual violence within the McGill community – mainly women and trans people. The administration paid lip service to their unpaid work, using this labour to bolster its reputation. When a university commits to creating a sexual assault policy and takes credit for the free labour done by community members – only to blatantly disregard the result of their work after three years and declare its intention to establish its own policy development process – systemic cissexism and misogyny at McGill are made visible.

Coming from upper-level administrators, this withdrawal of support is not some awkward misstep. It demonstrates the administration’s disregard for the safety and well-being of the McGill community. McGill’s actions reek of political maneuvering: it let the group continue its work for three relentless years, benefitting from the publicity, only to negate the importance of intersectionality in tackling sexual violence, a pillar of the proposed SAP, and establish an entirely new policy development process. A recent McGill Daily article (“McGill feeds a cycle of violence,” April 20, Features) demonstrates that McGill’s treachery goes much deeper.

The proposed SAP is incredibly innovative, and reflects best practices established by the most recent research on responses to campus sexual violence. McGill has missed the opportunity to act as a forward-thinking institution and has once more shown its utter disregard for the epidemic that is campus sexual assault.

I invite the McGill community to excel where the administration has failed: hold the university accountable, stand for the SAP, and demand that more be done to combat sexual violence on campus.

—Anais Van Vliet, Master of Social Work ‘13

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Paniz Khosroshahy <![CDATA[McGill feeds a cycle of sexual violence]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46845 2016-04-21T00:54:50Z 2016-04-20T19:32:13Z Content warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault and self-harm.

I have spent the last two years in a fight, struggling to accept that I have been sexually assaulted by another student, and that I am worthy despite what has happened to me. The first year, the fight was with myself, and I won; the second year, it was with McGill, and I lost miserably. It has become abundantly clear to me that, following the shameful example set by the Canadian justice system, McGill breeds predators, lacks adequate mechanisms to support its students, and refuses to put any in place. And in the past year, I have watched myself fall through its cracks.

In the first few months after the assault, I was in denial. I couldn’t even tell my therapist what had happened to me – she still doesn’t know. I spent most of my days sleeping, drinking, and smoking. I dodged my family. I regularly watched entire seasons of shows on Netflix in mere days. I had unpleasant sex with random people as I desperately attempted to regain control over my body. I took handfuls of Advil just to feel numb. I gained weight. I couldn’t concentrate for long enough to read a single page of a course reading in one sitting. I was weeks behind in my classes, and ended up withdrawing an entire semester worth of credits. I was toxic to my friends, and I wondered if killing myself would make them feel the pain that I was living with every day.

Some days I remember something new: a colour, another object in his room, another word that was exchanged. Some days I wonder if it was all a bad dream.

It’s been almost two years. I still have to leave my classrooms whenever sexual assault is brought up without warning, and I regularly puke after seeing rape scenes in movies. Some days my anti-depressants don’t drug me enough to be able to walk across campus without panicking at the sight of every white man I see. I avoid certain buildings on campus that he frequents. I still cannot verbalize how it happened, though I still see it projected on the ceiling over my bed at night. Those are the most vivid memories I have of anything I’ve ever been through. Some days I remember something new: a colour, another object in his room, another word that was exchanged. Some days I wonder if it was all a bad dream.

No, I won’t tell you “what happened,” because it shouldn’t matter. Because your next question shouldn’t be about how I acted, or what I wore. Because you shouldn’t be evaluating the morality of his act of rape based on what I did before or after it happened, because you should trust women – and science – when we speak of the nature of memory, abuse, self-hatred, and trauma.

But since I’m going to be accused of lying no matter what, I will tell you this: let’s assume I have made this all up, for attention, for “revenge,” or any of those goals that women are supposedly so desperate to achieve that they resort to publicly lying about rape. McGill had no way of knowing that my story was false. They treated me the way they would treat a “perfect victim” that is raped at gunpoint in a dark alley wearing a skirt and shrieking in resistance. Now, may I continue?

***

In the first week of the Fall 2015 semester, following the instructions I received from an administrator, I went to see a disciplinary officer (DO) to file a cease-and-desist order against my assailant. Let’s call him C. This order would not get C expelled, since sexually assaulting another human being is not reason for expulsion at this institution – though plagiarism is – or have any effect on him after he graduated. It would only prevent him from contacting me, and to me, that was enough. I was afraid of running into him, being harassed, receiving booty calls or replies to my comments on public McGill-related Facebook groups or pages. But, really, I shouldn’t have to justify why I want the reassurance of not having to hear a word from the person that sexually assaulted me for as long as he is a McGill student.

The first thing that I asked the DO was whether C had graduated. She told me that this information could not be disclosed, not even if I filed a sexual assault case against him. It seemed as if my safety on campus, for which McGill is responsible, mattered less than a rapist’s confidentiality. I hastily messaged a friend that knew him. He was still on campus.

It seemed as if my safety on campus, for which McGill is responsible, mattered less than a rapist’s confidentiality.

“What happened?” The DO asked as she sat back and crossed her arms, not mirroring my body language at all – which is what you would do if you’ve been trained in active listening – but actually asserting her power. If only what happened was that easy to remember and retell. As I collected myself and shifted my focus to the grimmest day of my life, I requested a more specific question.

Did it happen on McGill property? No.

Did it happen at a McGill event? No.

Apologizing, she stated that since the incident hadn’t taken place in a “McGill context” (meaning on McGill property or at a McGill-related event), there was not much that McGill could do. This policy is bizarre, unrealistic, and inapplicable to our university, where the majority of students do not live in a “McGill context.” Next time I’m getting sexually assaulted, I should have said, I’ll make sure to pause so we can move it to Rez or a couch in a student lounge – if that’s what it takes to have McGill acknowledge my pain and address my needs. How convenient for McGill to only take responsibility for students’ conduct toward each other when it occurs on its own property, and ignore the impact of students’ off-campus interactions on their academic performance and safety on campus.

The DO went on to justify this policy by comparing my mental and bodily integrity to an inanimate object: if I had my backpack stolen by a McGill student off campus, I was informed, the hands of the administration would be tied. I am a person, not a backpack, I should have said, and I would be happy to give her my backpack – tens of backpacks, actually – just to undo what happened to me. But instead I bit my tongue. I bit my tongue enough times at that meeting that it bled.

A cease-and-desist order against C could only be imposed until a tribunal, after which point it would expire, she told me. I would lose the tribunal for not having been sexually assaulted in a “McGill context,” I was informed, and I surely wouldn’t want to give C the pleasure of knowing that McGill couldn’t do anything for me? I was having a head rush. I said, I don’t know, I guess. My bodily integrity had been taken away from me; now, with her suggested advice, it seemed that so had my ability to make my own decisions about how to respond to this situation.

I bit my tongue enough times at that meeting that it bled.

The DO asked me if there was a reason I didn’t file a police report. Yes, I should have said, because of people like you. But I was speechless at the DO’s ignorance of the reality of the criminal (in)justice system’s treatment of survivors. She told me that there is a staff member in Security Services that could tell me honestly and confidentially if my case could have any legal weight. Except that I already knew it didn’t.

She asked me why I had waited an entire year to file a report, as if the passing of time delegitimized my experience. She asked if any recent interaction with C had triggered me. I was already on trial. Sorry, I should have said, next time I get raped I’ll make sure the first thing I do immediately after is to run to your office. She didn’t seem to know that you have to take time to heal to even be able to utter the word “sexual assault” while talking about yourself.

She asked if I had a fear of C harming me. She generously clarified, “And by harm I don’t mean if he’s going to rape you again.” When I heard the word “rape,” which I had not used at that meeting nor verbally in any other context to describe my experience, I started scratching my thighs over and over, until I could feel the dead skin gathering underneath my nails. I don’t think so, I said, thinking back to the last time I had a nightmare of that incident.

Then she asked me if C had contacted me lately at all, and when I said no, she asked me why I was there. I didn’t know why I was there anymore either. I said, “You realize that he is still out there, doing the same things.”

She replied, “Even if we kick him out, he may not be raping McGill women anymore, he’s still going to rape Montreal women.” Let me paraphrase: rape is tolerated in this institution because rape is everywhere.

She asked me, in a pitying voice, if I was seeking support. I was frustrated. I was there for concrete action, and I certainly hadn’t taken an entire year to process trauma only to go to a DO for mental health advice. Workshops on anti-oppression, active listening, consent, and allyship happen all over campus all year round, and I could tell that the DO had probably not attended a single one of those. Was she required to undergo such training before being trusted to meet with survivors of sexual violence?

“Even if we kick him out, he may not be raping McGill women anymore, he’s still going to rape Montreal women.”

I couldn’t get the phrase “rape you again” out of my head. I apologized and left the DO’s office in tears. I was ready to let go of the cease-and-desist order before I found out that I was in the same math class as C. There was another section available that I could switch into, but anyone who has ever taken a math class at McGill knows that it is common for students to attend other sections of a class or go to the office hours of the other sections’ professors and teaching assistants. Plus, I hadn’t done anything wrong, why did I have to be the person switching sections? Switching would have been an acceptance of C’s continued domination over my body. I couldn’t let him win. Trauma had turned my life into a competition. I wish I had switched, if only to spare myself from the suffering that was to follow.

For two weeks, I cried myself to sleep the nights before my math class and got over my anxiety by burning my ankles with cigarettes in the morning, only to spend the entire lecture scanning the room for C. I panicked every time someone entered the classroom. After class, I ran out of the room quickly and took stairs connected to other buildings to lower the chance of potentially running into him. I was afraid to stay after class for a clarification, of going to office hours, of walking into class late lest I’d have to be the centre of attention. This wasn’t sustainable.

In mid-September, I went to see a member of the senior administration. He had forwarded my email about a request for a meeting, which included a note about my sexual assault, to his secretary without my consent. The DO, I learned, had actually given me false information about what McGill could do for me. The administrator told me that he would meet with C and ask him to switch sections.

Despite sending him a reminder email two weeks later, he never contacted me about his meeting with C and the situation with my class. I shouldn’t have to justify why I didn’t send him more than one reminder to do his job, but I will. I had come to fear this email so much that I rarely even checked my McGill email anymore, afraid of being blamed, shamed, or accused of lying. This had dragged on for so long that the semester was about to end. If no meeting with C had taken place yet, there was little point in arranging one now. But also, in mid-November, C disappeared from the class list of both sections of my course. Had he withdrawn from the course? Had the administration removed him from the class list to fool me? Had he left McGill?

For two weeks, I cried myself to sleep the nights before my math class and got over my anxiety by burning my ankles with cigarettes in the morning, only to spend the entire lecture scanning the room for C.

I didn’t go to class all semester, nor did I go to office hours or tutorials. I missed my midterm to write the make-up exam just to lessen the chances of being in the same room as C. I wrote my final exam in a state of panic expecting to see C at any minute. And I failed the course. My professor, although sympathetic, told me that he couldn’t raise my grade to a passing one since apparently being too afraid to go to class is a “matter unrelated to the course.” I wasn’t looking for an unearned raise, but perhaps another chance, some special considerations short of having to write a supplementary exam in May after my other finals.

In January, an advisor implied in an email to me that, since I had failed my math course, I was academically incompetent to take computer science courses. I told her all I needed was safety in my classes, and that if the administration had done their job right, I would have, too. She never replied. How many other stories of sexual assault are heard by the administration in this school and swept under the rug?

I didn’t have the mental or emotional stamina to pursue this any further. My friend contacted the Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) on my behalf and corresponded with them throughout the semester as their volunteers met with the administration. While the administration was often incredibly unresponsive, I also took too long to decide how to proceed at different stages. I wanted to bury this story and never look back, not to remind myself of it over and over as I navigated the many ambiguities of McGill’s administrative channels. But I had to. I already had five “withdrawal” grades from the earlier semester on my transcript, and I didn’t want to jeopardize my future further by having a low GPA as well.

It was already spring break by the time the administration offered to negotiate accommodations with my SACOMSS representatives, but I couldn’t make a meaningful decision without knowing what information about me had been exchanged between the administration and C. The semester was going to be over in a few weeks. I was confused, lost, and tired.

How many other stories of sexual assault are heard by the administration in this school and swept under the rug?

Earlier in the semester, the administration promised to take care of having the F on my transcript E-flagged – meaning, even though it would still be on my transcript, the F would not affect my GPA. Later, they told me that it was my obligation to contact an advisor about my request and, aware of my experience but insensitive to it, suggested that I contact the same DO that I’d talked to earlier. I knew that if it was left to me, I would never be able to recount and relive my rape once more for another stranger, so my friend wrote the text of the email for me. Since I don’t have an assigned advisor, I sent this email to a general email address that could be read by any Arts advisors and god knows whoever else.

Despite a vague email an administrator sent me immediately after I called him out publicly on a Facebook event, I still have not been updated with meaningful details about my case. I don’t know if there is a cease-and-desist order against C in place and I don’t know when he graduates. After eight months of requests and reminders for accommodation and information, not only have I lost all trust in this administration, I would also not believe them if they communicated with me now.

***

In the U.S., Title IX, a portion of a law that forbids gender-based discrimination in federally funded educational institutions, often comes in handy when students protest their university’s disgraceful treatment of survivors on campus. In Canada, we don’t even have that. Here, universities are not even required to make statistical information about campus crimes public, a disclosure mandated in the U.S. by the Clery Act. In Canadian universities, the fate of survivors is entirely at the mercy of whoever happens to hold relevant positions in the administration, and the corporatization of our universities has stripped administrations of the decency required to treat their students as more than a mere revenue source.

Sexual assault is an unfortunate rite of passage for many young women. Rape happens here more often than we think, committed against people we know, by people we trust. Yet, McGill has no official policy on sexual assault. Just this month, administrators explicitly refused to bring the Sexual Assault Policy drafted by student activists to Senate due to its emphasis on being intersectional and pro-survivor. Without this policy, I cannot in good conscience encourage anyone to report their sexual assault and to put themselves through McGill’s maze of outdated and inefficient policies and insensitive and untrained administrators that offer nothing but cheap words, empty promises, and conflicting information.

If I hadn’t reported, I would have still suffered, but I would have at least suffered without feeling disposable to, and dehumanized by, my university. I have been stripped of my self-worth once by C, and once more by McGill. Reporting didn’t make me feel safer, but more vulnerable. Reporting didn’t benefit me at all, and, because I did report, there are now people on this campus who see me as the “liar” who “changed her mind” after sex, as the girl who “cried rape.”

If I hadn’t reported, I would have still suffered, but I would have at least suffered without feeling disposable to, and dehumanized by, my university.

I wonder to this day, McGill, what other terrible thing needed to have happened to my body in order for it to be worthy of your attention? To be bruised and covered in blood? To get pregnant? To get raped in front of the administration – how’s that for a “McGill context?” Go on, McGill, go on and protect rapists that roam freely on this campus looking for fresh meat. I won’t be chasing a justice that is impossible within the current system anymore. You’ve worn me out. Go on, McGill, and cover up your complicity in sexual violence by adding to a trauma that will take me years, if not a lifetime, to heal from.

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News http://mcgilldaily.com <![CDATA[SSMU Board of Directors referendum endorsement]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46838 2016-04-16T02:31:20Z 2016-04-16T02:30:31Z The final Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) referendum period of the 2015-16 academic year will be held from April 15 to 22. The questions concern the proposed restructuring of the SSMU Board of Directors, as well as the ratification of directors who will hold office until the Fall 2016 General Assembly.

Moreover, because the previous referendum regarding mandatory fees charged by the University failed to make quorum, those questions will be asked again. Read our endorsements for those questions here.

Restructuring of the SSMU Board of Directors – YES

The Board of Directors, which oversees SSMU’s legal and financial affairs, is currently composed of 15 executives and councillors. The proposed restructuring would reduce the size of the Board to 12 directors, four of whom would be members at large. Further, because legal constraints prevent international students from sitting on the Board as full members, the proposed changes would create an an advisory seat reserved for an international student. Finally, whereas the Board currently has to ratify all decisions of the SSMU Legislative Council, the restructuring would give Council autonomy in decisions that do not concern legal and financial matters.

The Daily endorses a “yes” vote on these changes, which will make the management of the SSMU’s affairs both more efficient and more democratic.

—The McGill Daily editorial board

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Paniz Khosroshahy <![CDATA[Administrators withdraw support from Sexual Assault Policy draft]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46835 2016-04-14T13:56:38Z 2016-04-14T13:56:38Z On April 7, the Sexual Assault Policy Working Group published an open letter to condemn the McGill administration’s refusal to support the final draft of the Sexual Assault Policy (SAP), which has been in development since 2013. On March 22, Dean of Students André Costopoulos and Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures and Equity) Angela Campbell informed the working group that they would not be bringing the policy to Senate for approval. Without their support, it would be nearly impossible to have Senate adopt the policy.

The open letter has over 1,300 signatures at the time of this article’s publication. The letter reads, “The administration’s refusal sends a clear message that McGill does not support survivors of sexual assault and is unwilling to commit the resources required to adequately support survivors and address sexual violence on campus.”

The demands of the working group include hiring additional staff dedicated to sexual assault prevention and response, a transparent and collaborative review process for determining the best sets of policies for supporting survivors, and forming an ad-hoc Senate committee with student-staff parity to pass “a pro-survivor, proactive, accessible, and intersectional sexual assault policy” before the end of 2016.

“For him to turn around and say he does not support it in this iteration was surprising, and incredibly disappointing.”

Cecilia MacArthur, a member of the working group, told The Daily that she was frustrated that the administration has used their labour to bolster their own image in the past two years.

“There were definitely benefits for them in purporting to support the policy all along; considering in any article written about sexual assault across Canada, McGill was always cited as ‘developing a policy,’ or something along those lines,” MacArthur wrote in an email to The Daily. “But the administration – namely [Costopoulos] – also made concrete commitments in the past […] so for him to turn around and say he does not support it in this iteration was surprising, and incredibly disappointing.”

According to the open letter, the administration has instead offered an “aspirational document,” a one-page outline of a policy prepared by Costopoulos, as a compromise. However, Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) VP University Affairs Chloe Rourke told The Daily that the document is “very watered down and nonspecific.” The alternative to the “aspirational policy” would be developing an entirely new policy through an ad-hoc committee of Senate.

Among the administration’s objections is the incorporation of intersectionality in the policy. Intersectionality, according to the SAP, “is an approach which recognizes that individuals may experience oppression differently due to their membership in different social and cultural groups.” In accordance with this recognition, SAP includes the right “to have access to resources that accommodate [one’s] particular experiences and identities” among the list of rights survivors should be provided.

In an email to The Daily, Campbell explained her objection to the current incorporation of intersectionality in the SAP.

“For her to say she tried to work on intersectionality with us is truly a mystery to me.”

Campbell said, “Incorporation [of intersectionality] into any policy or procedure must be done carefully and responsibly to ensure that the interests of all equity-seeking groups, especially those affected by intersectionality, are identified and foregrounded.”

“The University did not reject the integration of intersectionality within a policy addressing sexual assault, but in dialogue with the working group, indicated that more work and discussion are required to accomplish the goals set above,” Campbell continued.

While the administration has been in touch with media about the SAP open letter, according to Talia Gruber, another member of the working group, it has not reached out to the working group itself.

“The only meeting [Campbell] ever came to was this last one [on March 22]. We invited her to at least three other meetings which she did not attend,” Gruber told The Daily in an interview. “So for her to say she tried to work on intersectionality with us is truly a mystery to me. The only time she even brought it up was at the last meeting to justify not passing the policy.”

“We intentionally named people to ensure that they are adequately represented in the policy and in all measures within it.”

At the March 22 meeting, Campbell objected to naming historically marginalized groups in the SAP. Gruber told the Daily that the inclusion of these terms is important for the working group.

“We intentionally named people to ensure that they are adequately represented in the policy and in all measures within it,” Gruber said.

Campbell has also objected to including a definition of consent in the policy that could potentially conflict with the legal definition of consent. However, according to the working group, McGill Legal Services has already approved this use and other universities have included a definition of consent in their policies.

Gruber mentioned to The Daily that the working group was willing to let go of its request for the addition of another staff member for responding to sexual violence on campus.

“All the things admin are saying they can’t have in the policy are all things that the working group openly agreed to take out or change. The problem isn’t those things – it’s just an unwillingness to fight for a policy created ‘untraditionally,’ i.e. not through Senate,” Gruber said. “The only things we really didn’t agree to change were the intersectionality bits and the pro-survivor [clauses].”

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News http://mcgilldaily.com <![CDATA[Students can opt out of SSMU]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46832 2016-04-17T22:35:43Z 2016-04-08T21:57:47Z Recently, McGill has been rocked by controversy after controversy. From the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to electing a new student body president, it seems that nothing can get done without large swaths of people priming themselves for war and charging head first for the causes they truly believe in. While there is usually nothing wrong with that – debating and discussing important issues is the hallmark of any vibrant community – some argue that things have gone too far.

The truth is that a sizable minority, perhaps even a majority, of people are dissatisfied with SSMU. Some people think that SSMU is being held hostage by political activists. A different group of people claim that SSMU has not done enough to foster safe debate on campus and create the safe spaces that have come to characterize many parts of McGill. Still, others want nothing to do with SSMU anymore, either since they see the organization as incompetent or since they want to focus on learning and not politics.

Whether or not any of these criticisms are valid is not for me to say. However, students around campus seem to be operating on the assumption that membership in SSMU is compulsory. That is false. Every student has the right to choose whether or not they wish to be members of SSMU. It is true that, by default, every undergraduate student is a member of the organization. But according to Article 26 of the Act Respecting the Accreditation and Financing of Students’ Associations, any student can notify SSMU in writing that they wish to no longer be represented by the association. And then, like magic, you would no longer be a member of SSMU.

This does not mean that cancelling your SSMU membership is a good idea. First off, you will still need to pay the SSMU fees, and you will not have a say in SSMU elections, referenda, et cetera. But if you feel strongly enough then cancelling your membership can send a strong message – either that you disagree with SSMU’s policies, the way SSMU operates, or that you doubt that the association is legitimately representing student interests. Regardless of your motives, you have the right to opt out of SSMU at any time.

—Robin Morgan, Law student

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Maha Nagaria <![CDATA[3D printing our education]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46827 2016-04-08T01:22:08Z 2016-04-08T01:08:17Z This February, the McGill Anatomy and Cell Biology Students’ Society (MACSSS) acquired an in-house 3D printer and scanner for the McGill’s Strathcona Anatomy and Dentistry building, thereby offering 3D printing services to supplement anatomy courses. This new technology promises numerous possibilities that could play an essential role in the human anatomy courses offered by the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology.

The Strathcona building has a large and diverse collection of cadaver sections on site in the human anatomy lab and museum, which are available to medical and anatomy students. The costs associated with maintaining cadavers, however, are high because the period of time for which they can be used for educational purposes is limited due to decomposition. Also, cadaver sections must be kept in formaldehyde solutions, handled with extreme care, and kept in a well-ventilated lab. Sections can be easily damaged in cadaver labs, hindering the discernibility of key anatomical features.

But now, having access to an in-house 3D printer and scanner will allow students and professors to scan pre-existing cadaver sections and produce replicas that are tougher, longer lasting, easier to use, and readily available for students to examine. Plus, 3D printing is a crucial step toward having a more sustainable campus with affordable, practical, and renewable teaching materials.

The 3D printing and scanning technology will be used exclusively by anatomy professors, students, and department members for educational uses. There is also discussion within MACSS about the possibility of selling brand new 3D printed sections to students to help cover the upkeep costs of the machinery and to allow students to obtain affordable replicas of sections studied in class and in the lab. An extensive library of section templates is currently available to print organs, muscles, bones, and other anatomical features.

The printer is part of an effort to implement 21st-century technology in the classroom, and to continue providing the hands on materials of courses, such as ANAT 214: Systemic Human Anatomy, which attract the most number of students. Geoffroy Noel, the Director of the Anatomical Sciences Division of the Centre for Medical Education at McGill, stated in an interview with The Daily that he “sees the addition of 3D printing services to be exactly what the department needed to improve student learning.”


 Maha Nagaria is the incoming VP Academic of MACSS for 2016-17.

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Commentary http://mcgilldaily.com <![CDATA[SSMU: a love story]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46804 2016-04-04T18:25:52Z 2016-04-04T18:25:52Z We found each other,

we battled for SSMU.

I lost the election

but I didn’t lose you.

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