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A protocol by any other name

Despite claiming the opposite a mere seven days before, Vice Principal (Administration and Finance) Michael Di Grappa announced at last Wednesday’s Senate meeting that McGill will proceed with its plans to install a permanent set of rules policing campus protests.

After receiving a condemnation from the Canadian Civil Liberties Union, prominent civil rights lawyer Julius Grey, as well as several campus groups, for attempting to introduce a set of regulations that would have allowed the administration to shut down protests if they breached any one of a number of incredibly vague and nebulous criteria, such as the “degree of inconvenience” caused, Di Grappa and Provost Anthony Masi hastily withdrew the proposal.

Di Grappa released a statement which read, “the McGill community will be best served by an agreed upon statement of values and principles, rather than a protocol of operating procedures, which, by definition, must be sensitive to context and determined by judgement.”

Yet the new operating procedures, according to Di Grappa, will be “intended to guide responses to events and activities in a general way – because every situation is different….They can never be as specific as some people would like because they must be broad enough to apply to a wide variety of situations.”

McGill, after trying and failing to redefine a peaceful protest in the most ambiguous of terms – the “wide variety of situations” Di Grappa had in mind with their previous protocol effectively limited all protests to those which are not disruptive or inconvenient, not loud, not angry, short induration, and sparsely attended – is trying again.

Worse, the new set of “operational procedures” will not have to be approved by the Senate or Board of Governors: the administration would rather their latest attempt to police campus protest faces as little resistance as possible, even from the University’s own governing bodies.

Ignoring the near-unanimous outcry from students, faculty, and support staff groups, as well as the indictments of civil rights groups, is not the sign of an administration willing to engage in open discourse – and certainly not one willing to tolerate dissent.


—The McGill Daily Editorial Board