Article updated Saturday, Nov 12
Early Friday afternoon, members of the McGill Faculty Labour Action Group (MFLAG) held a sit-in outside of James Administration and attempted to deliver a letter to senior administration. The letter “condemn[s] the actions of police brutality against faculty and students,” deplores the actions and complicity of McGill security services in the events, and demands an inquiry into and official reports on the events.
After collecting signatures from students and faculty that were present, MFLAG members were refused entry to the James Administration building, and were told by Security that they would be required to make an appointment in order to meet with administration.
While a member of MFLAG called the office of Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) Michael Di Grappa in an attempt to make an appointment, two unidentified people not involved with the demonstration were allowed to enter the building through the front door.
A member of McGill Security offered to take the letter, which the group refused.
Julie Prsa, assistant to Di Grappa, told the group that he was not available. “I can’t reach him now, so I’m going to have to pass it on,” she said.
Susan Aberman, chief of staff for the Office of the Principal, and Jim Nicell, associate vice-principal (University Services) later arrived to address the crowd.
Will Roberts, an assistant professor in political science, asked Aberman why they were being denied entry. “Why is it that none of us can go into our own administration building?”
“We don’t understand why we can’t express our concerns directly to our employers and our administrators,” he added, when Aberman said that she would be willing to deliver the letter herself.
At about 4:30 p.m., minutes after her email to staff and students was sent, Principal Heather Munroe-Blum sent word that she would meet with two representatives from the group. The two representatives – Adrienne Hurley, a professor in the department of East Asian Studies and member of MFLAG, and Amber Gross, a U2 student who had been facilitating the sit-in – agreed to meet Munroe-Blum in her office.
However, members of the group opposed the idea of the two representatives engaging in discussion alone with the principal. Hurley and Gross agreed to relay a request for Munroe-Blum’s presence outside of the building to answer questions and participate in discussion.
After Hurley and Gross delivered the letter, Munroe-Blum told the representatives that, due to a preexisting appointment, she would not have the time to meet with those gathered outside. Upon request for a meeting at another time, Munroe-Blum told the two that she would consider the proposal.
When she returned to the group of students and professors, Gross called the principal’s decision “extremely disappointing.”
According to Gross, Munroe-Blum told her that the investigation into the events of November 10 would be a one-person inquiry – Dean of Law Daniel Jutras was named in Munroe-Blum’s email as conducting the inquiry – and that students would not be involved.
In an interview with The Daily Friday evening, Jutras said he had nothing further to add to Munroe-Blum’s email at that point. “I don’t yet know what the shape of the investigation will be,” he said.
A group of about sixty students from the sit-in then moved to the SSMU cafeteria, where they held a meeting to discuss organization and action for today’s gathering at the Roddick Gates and James Square, as well as planning for a student-initiated inquiry into the police action on campus.
– with files from Erin Hudson and Henry Gass
Photos by Victor Tangermann