Commentary  Letters

End the strike, McGill

Dear Dr. Munroe-Blum,

My distress over the university’s response to MUNACA workers has been brewing since nearly a month ago, on the very first day of the strike (and it is a strike, not some nebulous labour disruption). But the final straw that has pushed me to write this letter was the update I received from the university Monday morning, practically crowing over the injunction to keep MUNACA from “disrupting” the campus.

My education has indeed been disrupted over the past four weeks, as has that of thousands of my fellow students. But please, let us be clear about who has disrupted it.

It is not MUNACA that has been dragging out this contract dispute in order to avoid even meeting the industry standard, when it has the resources and the reputation to be a leader among academic institutions.

It is not MUNACA that has jeopardized our educations, our funding, and our stress levels by not making it clear to students that their strike-related difficulties in adding or dropping courses, borrowing books, or paying fees would never be counted against them.
Despite the picket lines, it is not MUNACA that has prevented professors from exercising their freedom of conscience teaching their classes where they see fit. Ask Professor Michelle Hartman.

It is not MUNACA that has allegedly tried to illegally employ replacement (“scab”) labour, and to pressure AMUSE and AGSEM members not to strike in solidarity.

It is not MUNACA that has used its access to student email addresses to send out weekly mass emails that disparage and minimize their opponents in profoundly biased ways.

And finally, it is not MUNACA that has used “noise” and “disruption” to justify a legal injunction that prevents the other side from peacefully airing their grievances, while continuing to finance multiple loud and disruptive construction projects on campus.
The university and its leaders have a responsibility to set an example for the world in the realms of civil discourse, honesty, ethics, and the right to freedom of thought and conscience. You are currently failing in that responsibility.

Dr. Munroe-Blum, the ball is in your court to cordially and positively resolve this conflict. I hope that you will do the right thing.


Mona Luxion
PhD Candidate School of Urban Planning
McGill University

McGill’s administration is inconsistent

Re: “Demonstrators Barred from Senate” | News | September 26

Dear Dr. Monroe-Blum and Professor Mendelson,

This letter is written with concerns to the statements quoted in The Daily article published on Monday, September 26, 2011, titled “Demonstrators Barred from Senate.” I would first like to address my open dissatisfaction with the McGill administration’s behavior regarding the MUNACA strike. Their apparent resistance to compromise harms the union between McGill staff members, as well as sets a poor example for students. This is an academic institution, and we are here to learn – there’s a definite educational opportunity in resolving this strike, and the administration is not utilizing it.

Secondly, I would like to state my disgust with the lack of unity that the administration demonstrates. Dr. Monroe-Blum, you are quoted as saying, “We are all proud of all members of our employee groups.” And while I would so like to believe this fact to be valid, your co-worker, Dr. Mendelson forces me to conclude otherwise. He’s quoted, “The vast majority of services, at least for now, have not been critically reduced.” In my opinion, that is a direct jab at the work the MUNACA employees perform. Their services are quite obviously missing from student life. As an employee of McGill residences, I can say that – with regards to the efficiency and speed at which matters are attended to – there is clearly a missing link.

Further, Dr. Mendelson, I do believe that your job title is Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning).

Thus, I conclude that it would certainly do you some good to come out into the sunshine and speak with the students themselves regarding the MUNACA strike – rather than assuming we have not noticed the difference. It is one thing to believe that you’re working for student rights, but it’s quite another to come and stand with us.

Amy Preston
U1 Arts
McGill University

QPIRG’s existence is imperative

Dear McGill Daily,

I am writing this letter to emphasize the need for a QPIRG’s existence within the McGill community. QPIRG is an important ‘umbrella’ organization uniting several clubs on campus led by students seeking an active role in their community.

The help that QPIRG has provided these associations, both logistically and economically, not only is undeniable, but has also always been greatly appreciated by students. This must not be forgotten. One must understand that opting out will undoubtedly affect the degree to which they can express themselves on campus, if only in terms of the resulting decreased number of clubs surviving such a loss.

Another point is that QPIRG, essentially, through its funding and participation in social justice-related activities, somewhat bears a role that McGill’s administration fails to fulfill. For instance, thanks to its funding of the KANATA Journal, QPIRG not only contributes to the improvement of relations between native and non-native communities but also helps advocating for an Indigenous Studies minor at our university, which McGill’s administration still refuses to create. Needless to say that such a program would be quite popular on campus when one looks at the increasing number of multidisciplinary courses related to the topic being created every year, reflecting a growing student interest for such a topic.

Lastly, I truly believe that the opt-out campaign takes advantage of the ignorance of many students on issues that they have perhaps never even tried to be informed of. I do not blame the average student who sees in the opt-out option a minor solution to personal indebtedness, but I accuse them of ‘opting’ for an intellectual shortcut with the excuse of saving $7.50 per year. I believe this is deplorable and if students truly wish to have voice on campus maybe they should at least make their own investigation before opting out.
Therefore, because of the Quebec Public Interest Research Group’s relevance in student life, I believe it should remain considered an important student service to pay for.

Thank you for your consideration,
Nicolas Magnien
McGill Student

Gentrification is about more than just students

Hi McGillians,

I’m an alumna of McGill (‘07) and also part of a working group at QPIRG McGill called Right to the City. This working group does research, education, and action on the displacement of marginalized groups from neighbourhoods. Some people call this gentrification and think it’s sort of a good thing because everything gets shinier and there are some cool bars before they get turned into the inevitable bauhaus-style furniture stores. And ‘those’ people who were always around before looked kind of scary anyway. But a particular interpretation of aesthetics shouldn’t overshadow the fact that people – as we speak, all across Montreal – are being forced from their homes and the neighborhoods they have deep ties with. This is bad for everyone; cohesive neighborhoods and communities are one of the most important sources of quality of life, and of struggles for social justice.

Students get blamed a lot for this ‘gentrification’ phenomenon, and I think a lot of us feel pretty guilty. And for sure, those of us who are more privileged (and not all students are!) must take responsibility for our impact. But a lot of this is to distract from the developers, city planners, and politicians that are the real drivers of neighborhood displacement. So that’s my pitch – it’s not inevitable, get involved!

Also, this working group is just one of a ton of projects and groups supported by your fee levy to QPIRG McGill, which pretty much no other institution would be interested in funding or supporting.

Holly Nazar
M.A. Candidate Media Studies
Vice-President External
Graduate Students’ Association
Concordia University

It’s not that simple

Representatives of QPIRG and Tadamon!, while defending their calls to remove Lebanon’s ruling Hezbollah party from Canada’s list of terrorist organizations, claim to support the interests of refugees and migrant workers. I feel obliged to mention that the 400,000 Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon under Hezbollah rule are barred from holding professional jobs, owning property, accessing public health care, or even from leaving their camps without a permit. Sam Bick, Claire Hurtig, and Rami Nakache also assert their passion for the rights of queer people – surely forgetting that Hezbollah enforces a strict version of Sharia law under which homosexuality is punishable by death. I hope I need not mention Sharia’s distinctive approach to the rights (or lack thereof) of women – another area of concern purported by QPIRG’s representatives.

Bick, Hurtig, and Nakache go on to reiterate Tadamon!’s core principles, which “reject…oppressions based on class, gender, ‘race’ and ethnic or religious affiliation.” I do not expect them to be concerned with the repeated calls by Hezbollah leaders for Israel to be wiped out and Jews to be exterminated from the Middle East. We might hope, though, that they would recognize their own staggering hypocrisy in standing up for one of the world’s most repressive, violent, and dangerous political movements.

McGill is an institution of higher learning with a proud history. Its students should not be compelled to fund QPIRG, an organization whose actions are so plainly and wildly at odds with the principles it claims to uphold.

Emile Scheffel
J.D. Candidate
University of British Columbia
Faculty of Law