News | Student supporters successful in James occupation food delivery

Late-night pulley system caps days of failed attempts

The 11 remaining students on the sixth floor of the James Administration building received food on Thursday night after several failed attempts by supporters to deliver food over the course of previous days.

The students on the sixth floor estimated they received forty pounds of food.

At nearly midnight on Thursday, as about fifty supporters participated in a teach-in beneath the sixth floor window, a line of fishing wire was thrown from the window in order to set up a pulley system. Once successfully installed, the pulley was used to lift bags of food and supplies to the window.

Security agents on the third floor tried to reach the line from a window with a broom, but were unable to. Security agents outside of the building made no attempt to stop students from operating the pulley system, which they did from within a circle of supporters linking arms.

In an email to McGill staff and students on Thursday night, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) Michael Di Grappa wrote that the students “are free to leave the building if they are hungry, feel ill, or need things like medication, as they have been free to do from the beginning of the occupation.”

The sixth floor students responded to the email in a statement released on their website.

“Forcing us to choose between our bodily needs and exercising our rights to speech and assembly is hardly a free choice,” the students wrote.

The students reported that they had enough food to last through Wednesday, and made it clear in communications on Twitter and with campus media that, previous to the food delivery, their supply was running low.

While students occupied the lobby of the James building on Tuesday, student Amber Gross was allowed to meet with negotiators and Associate Vice-Principal (University Services) Jim Nicell. Nicell refused to allow Gross to bring food to the meeting.

On Wednesday night, a rope and bucket were lowered from the window that the sixth floor students gained access to; however, security agents on a floor below the occupiers cut the rope to prevent the attempt from continuing.

Six professors tried to enter through the front door of the James building on Thursday afternoon with a supply of food, but were denied entry by security forces and told that the building was closed.

“As faculty, we don’t have access to this building at all and [security] didn’t have a response to that, weren’t able to talk to that, and they weren’t able to put us in contact with somebody who would have an answer to that,” said Associate Professor of Islamic Studies Michelle Hartman, one of the professors who was turned away.

“They suggested Provost [Anthony] Masi,” Hartman added. “[Security] claimed that they had no way of getting in touch with him and we would have to figure out a way to get in touch with him if we wanted to know what the policy was about why to close the building.”

Students who were gathered outside of the building next attempted to throw pieces of fruit into the window, an effort which saw short-lived success.

­­–with files from Erin Hudson


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