Features | Found on campus

Humera Jabir talks to the people behind the scenes at McGill

Alan Youster
Shoes off, and be silent – or else

Alan is the librarian for the Birks Reading Room, a source of great conversation when in search of wisdom, and an inspiration to bearded persons everywhere.

“I’ve worked at Birks since 2000, but I’ve been at McGill for 39 years. I have a bit of background at McGill; I’ve been at the Board of Governors for 15 years. I would like to see us become a great university, obviously, recognized for its contribution to knowledge and to teaching. But somehow I’d like to be able to see that university, and to see it do that and find a way to treat its staff better. It’s a general comment, but we can take specific issues, like … the benefits issue that is going around that you are probably not aware of at the moment, and I think that’s an issue that highlights the problem that…needs to be addressed.

“The focus of the University should be students, knowledge, and teaching – but the non-academic staff play a large role in how the University functions, and if it functions, I mean you could plan meetings but if the doors aren’t open and the rooms aren’t clean, it doesn’t work. We should treat people better…. Students are people too, and academics are people too, and we tend to divide ourselves too much. I know that we all have different roles to play, but it doesn’t mean that groups playing different roles within the University community should be left out or feel alienated, so that’s my wish.”

Angelo Tambasco
Keeping the grounds safe in all seasons
Angelo has worked at McGill for the past 23 years, and is now Supervisor of Grounds and Vehicle Maintenance.

“My daily work here starts by serving the campus, getting information from various key departments, such as security services, parking, that inform us of problem areas, and we make sure that outside our regular maintenance that we take care of the problem…. To be honest with you, students are very understanding with us, and we try and be very understanding with them, no matter whoever comes in and requests our help, because at the end we are here for you.

“There are certain issues that are grassroots, that you can just come to me directly and ask, ‘Angie, can we borrow some barriers, some shovels?’ as has been the case, you don’t have to go through all the channels to come and see me. It depends what is being asked. You can look me up on the web, come meet me here at our office, where we can share a cup of coffee and discuss whatever is at hand.

“It’s 23 years that I am here, and I do enjoy it…. I’ve seen students come and go. I’ve seen students succeed in life, which I am happy to have witnessed. These are individuals that I have worked closely with, and seeing them succeed is a greatest satisfaction, as if they are part of you, part of the family…. As I’ve mentioned it to many other students, please come and see me in our office: if you need any guidance, just come by.”

Jeff Alcendor
Security guy at the Milton Gates. Yes, you have to get off your bike
«Je vis à Montréal depuis cinq ans, et je vivais en Haïti auparavant. Certains de mes collègues viennent du Chili, d’autres d’Afrique. Il y a plusieurs nationalités, dont les Québécois. Mon horaire de travail est flexible: aujourd’hui j’ai travaillé pendant dix heures, mais habituellement, c’est huit heures. En fait, je suis remplaçant à McGill. Quand je reçois des appels pour y travailler, j’y viens.

Généralement, je surveille les gens qui passent, avec leurs vélos, sans compter les voitures qui circulent. Je trouve cela parfois difficile, parce que je demande aux cyclistes de descendre du vélo, et ils ne m’entendent pas ou n’écoutent pas; je ne crois pourtant pas qu’il s’agisse de racisme.

C’est obligatoire de descendre du vélo et de marcher, mais certains passent rapidement. Quelques étudiants sont aimables. J’imagine qu’on pourrait tout de même améliorer la situation. Je ne fais que mon travail, mais il n’en reste pas moins qu’on gagnerait à ce que les étudiants se conforment aux limites de vitesse.»

Marie LaRica
Welcoming more student visitors
Marie’s been working at the Redpath Museum since 1984, and is proud to share the museum’s collection.

“I have been working here since 1984. I came to McGill a lot earlier, in 1981 – I guess we had one computer here and it was a PC and the reason I was hired was because I had computer experience. The secretary who was leaving told me, ‘Well, the machine is there; they tell me you know how to use it!’
“I think all of the museum is important. It’s the only museum of its kind in Quebec. It holds the second largest anthropology or ethnology collection in Canada and that’s up on the third floor. It’s the only natural history museum in Montreal. There is a mineral collection, [a] very expensive shell collection, and we have some animals that are endangered. There is a diversity of life, so from the beginning of life that can be observed. We have a dinosaur that’s pretty popular, and we have a mummy…. And that’s what the museum is really.”


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