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McGill Abolishes Floor Fellow Position

Union warns of “marked decline in the quality of student services”

On February 15, McGill announced that the university’s 65 Floor Fellows, upper-year students living in residences, would be out of their jobs next year as the university would abolish their positions. This decision was received with significant uproar from the Floor Fellows and the Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE), the union that represents them.

According to Graeme Scott, AMUSE’s Vice-President, Floor Fellows found out about McGill’s decision when they were called to a Zoom meeting with the Associate Director of Residence Life. In the meeting, which lasted only eight minutes, they were told that their positions would no longer exist after this year.

“There really was no sense that this was coming,” said Scott. The McGill Media Relations’ Office (MRO) told the Daily that this decision was “based on a comprehensive reassessment of Student Housing and Hospitality Services’ (SHHS) operational needs.” They further explained that “the evaluation takes into account various factors, including the evolving demands and preferences of the student body and an analysis of the students’ use of the Floor Fellow services.” However, Scott believes that neither the Floor Fellows, nor other employees working in residences, were consulted in this process.

When asked about the rationale behind this decision, the MRO responded that “there are more support services available to students than there were when the Floor Fellow position was created, and the unit has determined that the services meet the needs of the students.” They contextualized this decision as “part of a broader initiative to optimize resources, improve efficiency, and better meet the diverse needs of the student community.”

With Floor Fellows gone, “there will be an increase in the number of Residence Life Facilitator (RLF) positions,” added the MRO. Currently, RLFs’ main duties focus on planning events for students living in residence. Unlike Floor Fellows, they don’t live in residence, which makes Scott concerned about their ability to support students to the same degree which Floor Fellows can.

“I think it’s important to keep in mind that Floor Fellows, because we are live-in [and] because we are peers, are able to have a really close flexible peer relationship with our residents,” he said. “When a student is in crisis, it’s a lot easier for them to go talk to their Floor Fellow and have their Floor Fellow point them to relevant resources than it would be when they’re on their own, and don’t know how to access these resources.” Similarly, AMUSE’s press release additionally argues that accessing the university’s alternative services is currently “a complex bureaucratic and technical process” that would be difficult for first-year students to navigate on their own.

Scott explained that Floor Fellows are trained in a wide variety of support roles to deal with physical and mental health crises. They are taught how to recognize signs of suicidality, receive disclosures of sexual assault, recognize the signs of an overdose, administer naloxone, and perform CPR. However, he said that one of the most important roles that Floor Fellows play is giving residents someone to talk to who has once been in their shoes.

The decision to abolish Floor Fellows would leave McGill as one of the only universities in North America without a live-in support system for first- year students in residences.

“As we acknowledge the rich history of Residence Life, we are also excited about the opportunities to further enhance and evolve the program,” the MRO wrote in a statement to the Daily. “By building on the strengths of the past, we aim to ensure that Residence Life continues to support and foster a vibrant and inclusive community for all our students.”

Scott, however, is less optimistic. “We’re going to see a really marked decline in the quality of student services and the ability for resident students to actually access resources,” he told the Daily.

AMUSE is currently gathering testimonies about students’ experiences with floor fellows. If you’d like to share your thoughts or experiences, the form can be found on their website: