| Letters

Queers Condemn Police Violence

The Queer McGill Political Action Working Group condemns the McGill administration, McGill Security, and the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) for their respective roles in the repression of student protest, culminating in the SPVM riot squad’s violent dispersal of an assembly in front of the James Administration Building on November 10.
We are outraged by the use of pepper spray, tear gas, and batons against those gathered in James Square, and see these events in a context of political repression that did not begin on November 10. In obtaining legal injunctions against MUNACA picketers, the McGill administration has illegitimately marginalized oppositional voices, implicitly threatening police intervention. By filming sit-ins and rallies and initiating disciplinary proceedings against student activists, McGill Security has used intimidation to suppress solidarity with MUNACA. We also recognize that the repression and police violence that appear extraordinary on campus have been – and remain – daily realities for many beyond the borders of McGill. Across Montreal, Quebec, and the world, cops brutalize and kill with impunity. Women, people of colour, indigenous people, queers, the poor, sex workers, and other marginalized groups tend to face police violence on a particularly disturbing scale. Locally, the SPVM’s creation of a unit tasked with monitoring and disrupting anarchist and “marginal” movements (GAMMA) has threatened to further normalize political profiling and repression as tools of the state in its function of defending capital.

As queers who continue to endure symbolic and physical violence at the hands of the state simply for dissenting from the norms imposed on bodies and bodily acts, we stand in solidarity with the students and faculty harmed by security and police forces on November 10. We see forced submission to police authority as symbiotic with the systems of dominance, coercion, and violence that devour queer lives. If we allow the SPVM or the McGill administration and its security force to determine the legitimacy of our actions, we risk surrendering our self-determination as queers to a hostile ecosystem of power.
The struggle that intensified on November 10 is far from over. We must continue defying the boundaries dictated to us by an authoritarian administration. Together, we can reclaim our campus and build a community where people stand up for themselves and each other.

Queer McGill
Political Action Working Group

 

 

Being honest about history

It is a lack of respect to both students and to this province’s history to spread misinformation about Quebec’s student movement. Last week The McGill Daily’s joint special insert with the Link stated that if we “decide to go on an indefinite general strike in 2012 over the winter semester, international students could stand to lose over $10,000 in tuition fees.” A student newspaper needs to be careful to protect student history, as no one else will.
So let me make this crystal clear: Whether international or out-of-province, Quebec students have never lost a semester in the history of general unlimited student strikes.
In 2005, student unions made it clear to the government that if even one school lost a semester, they would return to the picket lines. When necessary, the semester was merely extended and evaluations were re-negotiated.
No one lost $10,000 in tuition fees. Rather, we collectively gained $103 million per year in bursaries for Quebec residents. And international and out-of-province students directly benefited from that strike as soon as they became Quebec residents.
The more students look out exclusively for their individual interests, the greater the risk to all students. Focusing on differences between us only benefits the government. The Minister of Education already justified her intransigence on Nov. 10 by saying “we can’t describe the totality of university and CEGEP students as being part of a monolithic group.”
On Nov. 10, Concordia and McGill students may have woken up to our collective history when they voted for a one-day strike. But that alone was not enough. If part of the purpose of higher education is to think critically, that includes looking at our current situation as a student body with a historical eye. And that eye tells us that when united, student strikes make history.

Nadia Hausfather
Councillor, Concordia Graduate Students’ Association
Free Education Montreal
McGill Alumni

Re: Open Letter

From McGill Theatre Groups (Oct 24, Page 7)

Reading about how the MUNACA strike is making it a struggle to mount theatrical productions, I was struck by how practical and valuable the experience had inadvertently become for McGill theatre students. Learning on the job, as they say.
Because, frankly, if you’re going to routinely put on plays after graduation, venues may routinely need to be found last-minute, equipment may routinely never arrive, actors or producers or directors may routinely quit, and you may routinely lose money on many, many shows.
You also may, unless you’re truly fortunate, have the pleasure of rehearsing (and mounting shows!) in, among other similarly prestigious locations, apartments, backyards, decrepit art galleries, parking lots, offices, and church basements.
Nothing is guaranteed, for anyone, until the final curtain has fallen. (The Met recently had to re-cast the part of Siegfried–the hardest male role in opera – just one week from opening night; and David Fennario has been trying to organize a benefit reading for the MUNACA hardship fund for months now.)
The upheaval might also be a great opportunity to step back and deeply reflect on what theatre means to its community; what its role is; what its responsibilities are.  Attending a play is a communal event. A lot at McGill, and the world, is in flux right now. What in your work might speak to/alleviate/mitigate/exacerbate things? What makes your work relevant to the community?
Regarding the McGill community: how many people know that Rahul Varma, the Artistic Director of Teesri Dunya Theatre, works at McGill? And how often are his works (or any other McGillian’s) staged by McGill theatre groups?
True art doesn’t come from stasis, and “artists” who won’t persevere through trials are mere dilettantes.  So stay strong, use adversity to make art that resonates, and never, ever expect it to be easy.
Ever.

Michael Mitchell
15-year veteran of Canadian theatre and
Striking MUNACA member

“Flash-mob” Occupation of a yet-be-disclosed Bank: Don’t Miss it!
Dear Editors,

A recent Globe and Mail article said that 58 per cent of Canadians support us Occupiers. Bravo! By the simple act of occupying a square we’ve managed to expose the profound injustices of our economic system. We’re there, in the financial heart of the city, and we plan on toughing it out through winter and cold.
In that sense, everything is perfect; we’re doing exactly what we need to be doing. But, let us be mindful of a famous activist, Saul Alinksky, and his seventh rule for radicals:  “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”
This is not to say that the occupation has become a drag. On the contrary, it is the corruption and crookedness of the 1 per cent that has dragged on too long! But we need to continue to mobilize and organize ourselves in creative and innovative ways.
And that’s why we’re proposing this simple intervention:
On Friday, November 18 at 11 a.m., meet us at the statue in The People’s Plaza (formerly known as Square Victoria). Together, we’ll dress up in Robin Hood costumes (props will be provided on site) and begin a peaceful “flash-mob” occupation of a yet-to-be disclosed bank in the downtown core.
Our goal? To raise public awareness about the Tobin a.k.a. “Robin Hood” Tax – a small tax which could be levied on each trade in currency or stock, generating billions of dollars a year, which would then go to fund development in poorer countries and favor economic justice at home.
So, come out and join us! Let’s take action together to change hearts and minds in a fun and creative way. Email us at robindesboismontreal@gmail.com if you’d like to get in touch with us, or check our blog at http://robindesboismontreal.blogspot.com/

Friends of Occupy Montreal

I find your editorial piece November 10 “We are all liabilities” (November 10, Page 23) too naive. If you are insulted it is because you have wrongly assumed that this university, with respect to its students, “exists, above all, for their education and improvement.” The goal of this university is to generate revenue and cultivate meaningful relationships of power. Any action which jeopardizes its income base is indeed a liability. Any action which promotes the educational improvement of its student populace is contrived, consciously or not, to satisfy the principal goal. I doubt it is about who or what is fit to use the McGill name but about the context in which the McGill name is used. A positive relationship equals money. Similar points have been much more expertly stated by others:
“Go to any elite university and you are usually speaking to very disciplined people, people who have been selected for obedience. And that makes sense. If you’ve resisted the temptation to tell the teacher, ou’re an asshole, ”  which maybe he or she is, and if you don’t say, “ That’s idiotic, when you get a stupid assignment, you will gradually pass through the required filters. You will end up at a good college and eventually with a good job.”  – N. Chomsky
By Canadian and world standards, this is considered an elite university. My guess is the majority of McGill students are here to get a “good job”, which suggests that the university is being responsible in this respect towards that majority. It is not embarrassed, it is managing us. The  university you speak of, the one that promotes learning and encourages critical reasoning is difficult to find. It does not necessarily exist but in the minds of those who genuinely wish to understand.

Maiko Sell
M. Eng. 2013

 

To whom it may concern,

I’m writing in response to the November 10 article “McGill students violently forced off campus” (November 14, Page 3).
I’m a little amazed The Daily would even consider publishing an article this poorly sourced on an incident it considers important on campus. With only one quoted source this is at best a bad news story – more likely, it’s it a column rather than a news story at all.
If you want us to take you seriously as a publication, follow some degree of journalistic standards. No news story should ever be published with fewer than three sources – more if possible for contentious stories such as this – and certainly none should be published without sources from each side of the story. If you’re not going to bother finding proper sources for your stories, don’t bother printing them at all. Otherwise, keep it out of the news section and on the opinions page.

Sincerely,

Malcolm Aboud
Law 4


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