Commentary  Editorial: Disrupting normal University activities

A vibrant collective of students, bikes, and assorted vegans converged on lower campus Wednesday to make the University aware of its poor treatment toward workers and students. Instead of taking the message to heart, the administration sent out a water truck to erase protesters’ concerns immediately after the crowd cleared.

The demonstration was an impressive show of support for a set of worthy causes proposed by the Reclaim Your Campus Coalition (RYC), and it is one that deserves your continued support through the year. Consider the following: Non-Academic workers deserve a fair contract with the University; teaching assistants who were fired from non-TA jobs during the AGSEM strike deserve just compensation; students deserve access to campus space; the McGill community deserves a Board of Governors that represents the McGill community; and the administration must listen to the voices of students, especially when they come from a democratic referendum.

Moments before the RYC demonstration began, the upper echelons of McGill’s administration handed out pizza 100 yards away. Clad in large, star shaped sunglasses, Provost Anthony Masi, Principal Heather Munroe-Blum, and a host of others schmoozed awkwardly with about 30 students, asking them about their progress and programs at the University. To boot, the event was called “Meet the Stars,” which is exactly where their heads are.

But pompous small talk is not the attention students need. If Munroe-Blum actually cared about the academic concentrations of individual students, she could look them up on Minerva. Based on the administration’s actions in the past few years, they are clearly more concerned about limiting students’ capacity to voice their opinions. In March, the University amended the “Guidelines for Booking Occasional Events” to limit “frequent, regular, or overnight gatherings,” and gave itself free license to squash any gathering that disrupts what it considers “normal University activities” at any time.

While the guideline was clearly amended to interfere with union protests and demonstrations like last year’s camp-out for accessible education, it would also make the annual overnight Holocaust Memorial against the rules. Nice one, McGill.

We’re also concerned with the manner in which this guideline was implemented. Instead of running the document through the Senate process, the admin abruptly proclaimed the new rules without consulting with students or faculty. We’re curious how their definition of “disrupting the University environment” might differ from ours, and hope that Senate contests the guideline at their meeting next Wednesday.

We urge you to support Reclaim Your Campus as they continue to mobilize throughout the year. It’s the only effective option we have to counter the disturbing trends at our University.