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LSA President Catherine Coursol

Part of a series on faculty association presidents: LSA gets political

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Law Students’ Association (LSA) President Catherine Coursol’s main job is to coordinate amongst the VPs, meet the dean weekly, and stay on-pace with SSMU and the administration. “The president last year convinced me to run,” said Coursol, who also served as LSA’s VP Internal two years ago.

Comparing the LSA to other faculty associations, Coursol said, “It’s easier because we’re smaller and people are just really involved.”

Although she sits on the presidents’ round table, Coursol admitted to not knowing much about the undergraduate side of McGill’s faculty associations, SSMU included. The LSA does collaborate with the Medical Students’ Society during small events, because of their similarities in size and demographic.

Two years ago, the LSA tried to leave SSMU. Coursol insisted it is not a plan this year. “I think this year the faculty presidents are all really close,” she said.

She also describes the LSA’s relationship with the administration as positive. “We don’t agree about everything, but at least we talk.”

The LSA wavered between stances of neutrality and support for MUNACA during the union’s strike last semester. At first, LSA Council voted to stay neutral. In the LSA General Assembly, however, a motion to support MUNACA passed. Finally, another LSA student filed a petition that led to an online and offline referendum on the issue; the result was a renewed LSA stance of neutrality.

Although LSA executives were present at the protests on November 10, Coursol did not meet with Dean of Law Daniel Jutras during the two months he worked on his investigation into the day’s events.

“Some people from other faculties were saying it maybe was not neutral, but…he’s really someone you can trust,” said Coursol. “I’m sure he did his best and that it was neutral.”

In Coursol’s last meeting with Jutras, she said they discussed the Jutras Report for “only one minute.”

Coursol explained that she is impressed at the level of political involvement within the faculty this year, having never seen similar levels of involvement in her four years in law. She said that she was surprised that the LSA came out against tuition increases.

Coursol insisted that this initiative was not about strikes or protests, however.  “We gave solutions that weren’t, ‘We want free education.’” The LSA wrote a letter to the Montreal Gazette, for example, outlining their plan for increased bursaries.

This year, the LSA has also been advocating for renaming the undergraduate LL.B. (Bachelor of Law) degree to the J.D. (Juris Doctor). Coursol said the switch would benefit students who want to work internationally, where the J.D. is more recognizable. The name change could be accompanied with program changes. Ultimately, the decision to rename the degree rests with the faculty.

“If the faculty knows it will benefit students, they will change it,” said Coursol.

This year, the LSA also introduced smaller initiatives to encourage faculty involvement, including an open-door policy and biweekly “breakfast with the execs” in the LSA office. Coursul said having two VP Internals also made things smoother this year, a success evidenced by 95 per cent attendance at LSA Frosh this year.