Principal Heather Munroe-Blum, as well as Provost Anthony Masi and Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson, attended the Engineering Undergraduate Society’s (EUS) Council meeting on Monday, March 12.
EUS said the meeting was intended as an open forum for the administration to answer questions from the Engineering student body.
While much of the discussion centered on the administration’s role in the Engineering program, issues regarding the larger student body were also raised.
One such issue was the administration’s decision to remove the McGill name from a number of student groups. Last semester, EUS was forced to remove the McGill watermark from its logo.
Rafi Azari, equity commissioner and branding director for EUS, told the administrators that removing McGill’s name from campus groups alienates students from the University.
“Preventing us from branding with [the McGill name] shows that we are not part of the community,” stated Azari.
Mendelson responded that the administration’s efforts to force student groups to remove the McGill name were not malicious.
“It is a misconception that the administration does not want student clubs to use the name,” said Mendelson. Mendelson explained that the reasoning behind the decision was to eliminate ambiguities about who provides a given service. Mendelson pointed to the Legal Information Clinic at McGill – formerly the McGill Legal Information Clinic – as an example. “The McGill legal clinic makes it seems that McGill is offering legal advice, but this not the case,” noted Mendelson. “So we asked them to remove the [McGill] name.”
Mendelson added that more campus groups are using the McGill name than before. “There have been claims that 135 clubs had to drop the name – this isn’t the case,” stated Mendelson.
It’s a misconception and it will be great to get the facts out,” added Munroe-Blum.
It was reported last November that 132 student groups would be forced to change their name as a result of SSMU signing their new Memorandum of Agreement with McGill.
SSMU VP Clubs and Services Carol Fraser said, “We counted 135 clubs, that’s how we got the number.”
She admitted, however, that some have been “minor changes” – for example, the McGill Chapter of the Make a Wish Foundation became McGill Club for Make a Wish.
Students also raised concerns about the quality of teaching assistants and professors. Ethan Landy, president of the Civil Engineering Undergraduate Society, expressed his disappointment with the caliber of teaching. “Some professors are more focused on research over teaching,” Landy told Council.
In response, Munroe-Blum stressed McGill’s role as a research-intensive university that still puts high value on teaching. Both Masi and Mendelson agreed. “Professors are hired for their commitment to teaching,” noted Mendelson.
The remainder of the meeting was devoted to the administration’s role in improving the Engineering program at McGill. Council members described the University’s lack of connection with professional industries, as well as the relative shortage of equipment compared to other engineering programs in Canadian universities.
Munroe-Blum, Mendelson, and Masi all emphasized that many of these issues are dealt with on the faculty level. Nonetheless, Masi noted that the administration is planning to allocate $2 million towards improving engineering laboratories, though he did not provide a specific time frame.
Throughout the meeting, the administrators spoke to the importance of direct relations between students and the administration.
“The hallmark of this administration is to meet with students,” stated Munroe-Blum.