My seven years at McGill gave me innumerable gifts: the ability to think critically, to admire those who stood up for what is right, and to articulate what I found objectionable about unjust decisions. In the humanities department at Dawson College, I now strive to inspire my students in a similar way.
Although I never took a course with Norman Cornett, I had many friends who did. Their praise inspired me to attend Cornett’s public lecture series during the past months, through which I have come to know his unique pedagogical style and unparalleled passion, which have inspired my own teaching. During this period, I’ve also come to learn the details of McGill’s unexplained dismissal of Cornett, which uncannily reminds me of a documentary I saw on the meat industry.
In both cases, I was sickened at what existed beneath the surface. Once you know how the meat industry really works, you’ll think twice about eating a hamburger. This incident and the way the administration shamefully dealt with the 2008 TA strike (it took me 14 months to receive payment for work completed before the strike) have irreparably tainted my perception of McGill. It’s a true shame that my wonderful memories of the University must now contend with these unsettling facts – but these clouds cast very large shadows.
We cannot point the finger at “the University,” as though it were some monolithic entity. What we can point to, however, is the atmosphere the administration’s actions create, which invariably influences its students and graduates. Would we want to live in a society where McGill’s graduates behave like their alma mater? As a worldwide leader in education, McGill’s example inspires me in countless ways. But its behaviour with Cornett is not one of them.
BA ’05, MA ’08