News  Munroe-Blum comments on Jutras Report

Nearly two months after the release of the internal investigation into the events of November 10, Principal Heather Munroe-Blum has issued her response. The Jutras Report, which was conducted by Dean of Law Daniel Jutras at the request of Munroe-Blum, was released to the public on December 15. The report made six recommendations to University authorities

Click here for The Daily’s exclusive interview with Principal Heather Munroe-Blum on her response to the Jutras Report and last week’s #6party occupation. Read the report here.

Nearly two months after the release of the internal investigation into the events of November 10, Principal Heather Munroe-Blum has issued her response.

The Jutras Report, which was conducted by Dean of Law Daniel Jutras at the request of Munroe-Blum, was released to the public on December 15. The report made six recommendations to University authorities.

The recommendations came in the wake of the November 10 occupation of the James Administration building, which ended with Montreal riot police driving demonstrators off campus using pepper spray and tear gas.

Munroe-Blum has accepted all six of Jutras’ recommendations. In her response, she outlined the various ways that senior administration has already begun, and will continue, to follow the recommendations.

Munroe-Blum pointed out that “the senior administration also has a responsibility to the community to promote and protect this culture and, additionally, to ensure the safety, security, and well being of all on the McGill campuses.”

In response to Jutras’ first recommendation – that “University authorities should provide and participate in a forum open to all members of the University community to discuss the meaning and scope of rights of free expression and peaceful assembly on campus” – Munroe-Blum announced that Dean of Arts Christopher Manfredi will be chairing an Open Forum, supported by an Advisory Group.

The Group will include “faculty, students, administrative and support staff, and alumni or other engaged members of our community.” Manfredi will report at the end of his consultation, and the report will be shared with the University’s governing bodies and the McGill community. The Open Forum has a blog, on which Manfredi states that he “looks forward to hearing from all McGillians.”

According to SSMU President Maggie Knight, SSMU has been asked to contribute to the nomination of people to Dean Manfredi’s work group.

“It’s not always completely clear to what extent we are expected to be able to affect what actually happens, versus just listening to us,” she added. “Something [the SSMU] have been striving to communicate is the importance of communicating how feedback from students has been incorporated.”

In an interview with The Daily, Munroe-Blum explained that Manfredi’s Work Group would not be the only venue for consultation with the University.

“Many new avenues have been opened up through the Fall, into the Winter, and some are channels that were there, but that we’re using more actively,” she said.

“I really believe that the Open Forum will be really important to the extent that we can encourage people to come out… It’s really important to have fora that allow a range of views to be expressed, with us and with each other, but this has to be a broad community undertaking.”

Munroe-Blum added that all of these initiatives had been underway since before the second occupation of the James Administration began. The occupation, which began on February 7, lasted five days.

Munroe-Blum has also called for a review of Security Services’ standard operating procedures – to be conducted by Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) Michael Di Grappa – and to be reported to her by April 15.

Referring to the concern raised in the Jutras Report that McGill’s Security Services agents are not clear as to what McGill expects of them in the event of acts of civil disobedience, Munroe-Blum explained in her response that Di Grappa “has implemented appropriate clarifications.”

“[Di Grappa] will make further changes as appropriate, pending the conclusion of his review of McGill Security Services’ standard operating procedures,” she wrote.

In terms of emergency management, Munroe-Blum reported that “some initial steps have been taken,” giving the examples of the “use of available technologies to communicate quickly and effectively with the McGill community.” McGill’s use of the Alertus emergency notification system was announced last month.

Munroe-Blum also referred to the provisional protocol on demonstrations on campus in her response, released publically to the McGill community on Sunday.

The provisional protocol – signed by Provost Anthony Masi and Di Grappa – states that “the events of the last few days clearly indicate the need to issue an interim set of guidelines” regarding campus protests.

“If any type of occupation occurs, and the occupiers refuse to leave when requested to do so, civil authorities will be called,” the protocol states.

According to Munroe-Blum’s response, elements of the protocol may be revisited as a result of the Open Forum, and a formal protocol will be released to the University community by the end of the calendar year.

Finally, Munroe-Blum wrote that “work is underway, and has been since immediately following the events of November 10, to clarify the values and aims of McGill with respect to the relationship with police, to enhance effective communication with the SPVM, and to develop together the most effective means of ensuring the safety of McGill’s campuses.”

She added that she and Di Grappa would invite the Chief of Police to meet with them annually on campus “in order to facilitate and grow mutual understanding and positive working relationships between the Montreal Police and the McGill Community.”

Speaking with The Daily, Munroe-Blum explained that “what I put in the response is kind of the minimum. The ideal is that we have a much more open, collaborative relationship.”

“Having had a chance to speak with the chief of police about what might be a values difference, and also an informational difference…there was much more we could do to be proactively informing each other, learning from each other, so that if either good opportunities are there, or in the rare event that there’s a safety issue or a management concern with respect to our ability to secure the safety of the campuses, we know who each other are, we have some things talked out in advance, and we’re not working through it for the first time,” she said.

Knight explained that “there can be different types of responses to the events that have been seen.”

“One generally results in more security, harder lines, and the other one is – if part of the problem is that people feel the lines are too hard, we need to discuss that,” she said.

“When you have a power imbalance like you do between the administration and students, then it’s obviously easier for the stronger party to be the one to open up,” she added. “So I think it’s not totally clear from the Principal’s statement exactly what will happen in that regard.”