Commentary | Demonization should have no place in our discourse

An open letter from members of the McGill Philosophy Students' Association

As members of the McGill community, we feel compelled to comment on the injustice that took place on November 10. Faculty and students were subject to both physical and psychological violence on campus. A professor from our department was brutalized by a member of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) – only one of many instances of the SPVM’s indiscriminate use of force that evening. Such events are deeply troubling and have quite rightly provoked a strong response. A university campus is intended to be a safe space in every sense of the word. It is a space where ideas, information, and personal identities should be expressed without fear. It is a space where the preservation of every individual’s mental and physical integrity should be an ethical imperative. While this is admittedly an ideal, it is an ideal to which we are entitled, and to which we must aspire. But to do so in a thoughtful manner is of utmost importance.

We implore those outraged by the events of November 10 to resist the urge to antagonize others, an action which closes down channels of communication instead of opening them up. The “We Are All McGill” demonstration that took place on Monday was a heartening indication that members of the McGill community are indeed resisting that urge and choosing, instead, to let anger fuel constructive and considered action. In particular, we truly appreciate the efforts of our professors to attend to the issues raised by the events of November 10. We implore our community to continue engaging in thoughtful and open dialogue. We must continue to probe into the conditions that allowed for and produced the violence that took place. We must continue to question the boundaries of acceptable discourse. But most importantly, we must all strive to conduct ourselves with a spirit of empathy, respect, and understanding. Antagonism, demonization, and unreflective accusations should have no place in our discourse. We are all McGill – students, faculty, non-academic workers, and administrators. Let us move forward truly bearing this in mind.

Signed by Emma Ryman – Co-President; Andrew Wang – Co-President; Jonathan Wald – Student-Faculty Liaison, Co-Philopolis Coordinator, and Co-Colloquium Coordinator; and Isaac Stethem – Events Coordinator and Co-AUS Representative.