The renovation of the Legal Information Clinic at McGill is currently underway following the temporary closure of the “Green Corner” on the first floor of the Shatner Building.
The Clinic is a free, non-profit, student-run information service. It also runs the Student Advocacy Program, which provides advice and representation to McGill students going through disciplinary and grievance processes.
In summer 2012, the Clinic served over 1,000 clients and referred about 2,000 students to other legal services. In addition, the Student Advocacy Office assists about 150 to 200 students per year.
In an interview with The Daily, Clinic Executive Coordinator Emily Elder explained the reasons behind the expansion of the Clinic.
“Students and [the general] public come into the Clinic to access our services,” said Elder. “Some people come in with very confidential issues, such as sexual assaults.”
“The additional room at the Clinic will allow us to provide a fully secured space for them to discuss their issues with our volunteers,” she added.
In addition to increased confidentiality, the additional space will allow the Clinic to add two more volunteers to every shift on top of the four to five volunteers currently serving the Clinic.
“Most people in Quebec cannot afford legal services, and thus the services provided by the Clinic become very important for anyone from the McGill or Quebec community who cannot afford that,” said Elder.
The additional space will also house the Student Advocacy Office, which will continue to help McGill students advocate for their rights and deal with issues related to discipline and other legal negotiations within the McGill community.
The new space was originally occupied by the Green Corner project led by Organic Campus, one of SSMU’s 21 student-run services.
Since its establishment several years ago, Organic Campus has used the Green Corner to sell baked goods and local produce, as well as for other “green” groups on campus to gather and post information.
In an email to The Daily, SSMU VP Clubs and Services Allison Cooper explained that the Green Corner was “a creative idea to use the little perhaps [six by six foot] space behind the vending machines, but in practice was a little-used hang-out spot that always smelled a little weird.”
According to Cooper, the SSMU Environment Committee and other green groups on campus came to an agreement with the Legal Information Clinic to reduce the space designated to the Green Corner.
“The SSMU Building Committee made the decision [to expand the Legal Information Clinic at McGill] at least last year,” she wrote.
SSMU Sustainability Coordinator David Gray-Donald told The Daily in an email that “the idea is not to kick Organic Campus out.”
“Rather, there has been a temporary displacement of furnishings during the renovation process and then Organic Campus will continue using the space,” he wrote.
“They took some of the space away to extend the legal services clinic,” said Noemi Stern, one of the Organic Campus coordinators. “I mean, we will just have less space, but it should be okay for Organic Campus.”