The Dean of Arts is missing a very important point in defending the cuts to Arts classes “AUS holds Town Hall on elimination of 100 Arts classes” (News, January 24, page 5). If you are an Arts student who already has a tough time finding classes that study critical topics, this letter is for you; if you are an Arts student who finds McGill’s extreme lack of faculty diversity repulsive, this letter is for you; if you find McGill’s Eurocentric bias in many departments disingenuous, this letter is for you; and if you have a tough time studying the legacies of colonialism, slavery, and imperialism in Canada at McGill, this letter is for you.
Although the Dean of Arts would likely consider these issues to be entirely separate, I think there are connections: one of the effects of the Dean’s decision will be, in my opinion, to shore up the existing selection of courses, which are currently insufficient in covering these crucial topics. Furthermore, one of the messages sent from this decision is that the Faculty of Arts has too many classes currently, as opposed to diversifying its courses and offering more. Finally, critical subjects are best learned in small classroom settings, where students can connect readings to their personal experiences – it appears from the Dean’s decision that large classes are in the Faculty’s strategic interests.
Instead of cutting classes, I say that Arts students demand more: major programs in Indigenous Studies, African and African-Canadian Studies, Diaspora Studies, and Ethnic Studies, among other marginalized fields, in addition to diversifying programs like Philosophy or Political Science by hiring professors of colour. All of this would be to simply ask from McGill what comparative Canadian or elite American universities already have. The time is now Arts students: ORGANIZE!
— Eliyahu Freedman