T TABLE OF CONTENTS
Editor-in-Chief Caitlin Kindig firstname.lastname@example.org Creative Director Nicholas Raffoul email@example.com
NEWS SSMU MIDTERM REVIEWS OPINION FEATURE CARTOONS PHOTOGRAPHY ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
3-5 6 7-9 10-11 12 13, 17 14-16
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Managing Editors Abeer Almahdi firstname.lastname@example.org Miya Keilin email@example.com Sophie Brzozowski firstname.lastname@example.org News Editors Kyle Dewsnap, Helen Wu, & Nina Russell email@example.com Opinion Editors Lucas Bird & Johanna Cline firstname.lastname@example.org Science & Technology Editor Emma Gillies email@example.com Student Life Editor Leyla Moy firstname.lastname@example.org Features Editor Gabe Nisker email@example.com Arts & Entertainment Editor Kevin Vogel & Katia Innes firstname.lastname@example.org Sports Editors Ender McDuff & Kaja Surborg email@example.com Design Editors Erica Stefano & Sabrina Girard-Lamas firstname.lastname@example.org Photo Editor Leanne Young email@example.com Multimedia Editors Sarah Ford & Aidan Martin firstname.lastname@example.org Web Developers Jad Hamdan & Jonathan Colaco Carr email@example.com Copy Editor Keating Reid firstname.lastname@example.org Business Manager Heela Achakzai email@example.com Publisher Chad Ronalds
TPS BOARD OF DIRECTORS Heela Achakzai, Isabelle Côté, Solomon Friedman, Katia Innes, Caitlin Kindig, Marie Labrosse, Katherine Milazzo, Falah Rajput, Keating Reid, McEan Taylor, Ahmad El-Zammar
Kate Addison, Makena Anderson, Zoe Babad-Palmer, Adam Burton, Tasmin Chu, Jonathan Giammaria, Alexander Hinton, Benjamin Joppke, Deana Korsunsky,Alaana Kumar, Ronny LitvackKatzman, Kennedy McKee-Braide, Deisha Paliwal, Taja De Silva, McEan Taylor, Sophia White,Amir HotterYishay, Iman Zarrinkoub
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NEWS / 3
Meet the members of the Men’s Varsity Naming Process Committee The steering committee was established to find a name that represents the “school’s values” Deisha Paliwal Contributor Years of activism by Indigenous students and staff culminated in the decision to rename the men’s varsity sports teams. When Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier issued a statement of her decision, she announced the creation of a steering committee to pursue a consultative process. The committee is composed of 10 members including students, alumni, and coaches who are committed to f inding a new name that better encompasses the school’s values. The university will publicize the off icial new name in time for the 2020-21 school year, The
McGill Tribune sat down with the six members of the committee who are currently at McGill to learn more about them and their visions for the new name. Tia Lore
Kitchener, Ontario, Harttup
the direction we are going
wards a name that will unite
can tell, each aspect of ath-
Tia Lore is in her f ifth
has competed in high jump,
in for the name. Although
the McGill community. After
letics at McGill is touched by
year at McGill. Hailing f rom
shot put, and long jump. She
I don’t have any real direc-
being part of McGill athletics
one part on the committee.”
maintains a strong involve-
tion yet personally, I hope it
in some capacity for 15 years
–Pantis, on what he feels
bia, Lore is pursuing a major
ment with the varsity com-
will relate to Montreal, McGill,
now, I would say that this
his voice can contribute to
in sociology and a minor
munity by attending the vari-
and the values [that] the two
may be one of the most in-
in communications. She is
ous events that the council
encompass. We have peo-
teresting and important pro-
the co-captain of the McGill
runs and encouraging dis-
ple f rom a variety of back-
cesses that I will be a part of.”
women’s soccer team, play-
cussions between teams.
grounds on the committee,
–Bowles, on what being
Ron Hilaire has served as
ing in the winger position.
“I think the purpose of
and it is important to have
on the committee means to
the head coach of the foot-
Lore has sat on the Athlet-
the committee goes beyond
every side of the story in-
ball team since 2015, prior
ics Varsity Council for three
choosing a new name for the
volved. While I have my own
years and now serves as its
men’s team. The commit-
views, it will be interesting
tee is trying to highlight di-
to see the opinions of others
Alexander Pantis gradu-
defensive line coach. He has
to which he acted as the Alexander Pantis
verse voices so that when the
as the naming process pro-
ated in 2019 with a double
been immersed in the foot-
votes on the name are held,
gresses. I wasn’t expecting
ball world for 20 years as
[who] know athletics and the
as many components of the
to be [appointed], but I feel
political science. An accom-
both a player and a coach.
values of McGill well. Hav-
[McGill] community as pos-
honoured to be chosen to be
plished athlete, Pantis has
He has also served as the re-
ing the perspective of ath-
sible are represented. I will
been named to the all-star
cruiting coordinator of the
letes and coaches is crucial.
be considering a name that
–Tremblay, on what di-
rugby team three times and
Montréal Carabins and the
As well, having alumni on
is respectful and representa-
rection he and the commit-
was on the McGill Principal
defensive line coach at Col-
the committee is important,
tive of everyone, especially in
tee are headed toward for
Student Athlete Honour Roll.
lège du Vieux Montréal. In
since their voices have not
the context of the old name.
He was the recipient of the
2008, Hilaire was drafted by
exactly been heard in the
It is important that we en-
2018 Quebec Student Sport
the Calgary Stampeders to
compass McGill spirit and
play in the Canadian Football
considering how we’d like
Rikki Bowles is the full-
Rugby Leadership & Citizen-
opening our doors for people
the school to appear is im-
time associate coach of the
ship Award and was named
to come meet with us and
portant. Since there are a lot
the RSEQ 2016 Rookie of the
university, we have always
give us their suggestions,
of potential names, making
team. Prior to her appoint-
Year. Pantis has been co-
the committee tries to listen
sure that the chosen name
ment to the position in 2018,
captain of the McGill men’s
have been considered lead-
to as many people as pos-
f its well with most people is
she acted as the team’s as-
rugby team for two years. He
ers in so many f ields, aca-
sible. I think having a name
will be pursuing a Graduate
demic and athletic, and I
believe that with this new
with the Martlets, the team
is huge. Whether that means
the process of landing on a
has earned six conference
“I wanted to be a part of
embody the true values of
that we have one name for
crowns and one Bronze Baby
the committee to be a part
the university. Being on the
national championship. With
of the history of the school.
committee gives me the op-
support f rom the Women
I love McGill athletics, and to
portunity to be part of giving
in Sports initiative, Bowles
say I had an input in it is truly
a new identity to an already
–Lore, on why the com-
kinesiology and is the captain
became the sixth full-time
an honour. I want to honour
great institution, which has
mittee is well-equipped to
of the men’s hockey team.
women’s varsity sports coach
McGill tradition while f inding
decided to pursue an inclu-
choose a name.
He is f rom Saint-Basile-le-
a name that is appropriate
siveness of all by continu-
name that represents the men’s side is up for debate.”
name, we will be able to
“I take being part of the
for the caliber of the school,
ing the traditions of the past
his fourth year of studies at
naming process very seri-
a name that is indicative of
while going ahead with the
McGill. After graduation, he
ously. It is an opportunity
what it means to go here. As
plans to pursue his master’s
to be part of a process that
a committee, we are looking
–Hilaire, on the impor-
in a biomechanics lab.
means so much to so many.
to give everyone a voice and
tance of the decision to re-
I’m committed to working to-
an outlet for input. As far as I
Grand, QC and is currently in Lindsay Harttrup Lindsay
pose of the committee and
ity, togetherness, and unity
–Harttrup, on the pur-
that [encompasses] inclusiv-
on the women’s track and f ield team. Originally f rom
“We are not too sure of
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
“The people [who] make up the committee are people
NEWS / 4
Hillel trip controversy dominates SSMU Council Councillors debated whether offer of a free trip to Israel constitutes a conflict of interest Pascal Hogue Contributor
Flashback Guest speaker Charlotte Scott-Frater, president of McGill’s History Students’ Association , presented a request to council that a room in the SSMU building be renamed the honour of McGill Professor Marlene Dixon, who was forced to resign from the university in 1974 for her political activism on campus.
The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU)
Scott-Fraser said that Dixon had helped stu-
convened for their last Legislative Council meeting of the
dents mobilize to advocate for university ser-
Fall 2019 semester on Nov. 28. Councillors debated issues
vices to shed light on feminist, post-colonial,
including new climate justice policies and changes to fi-
and 2SLGBTQIA+ issues.
nance regulations, but much of the meeting was focused on Hillel Montreal’s all-expenses-paid trips to Israel, which
were offered to several McGill student representatives. Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning), addressed the topic’s divisiveness and called on the council to remain respectful of all student groups in
The Face-to-Face trips are sponsored by Hillel Montreal, an organisation dedicated towards serving the needs of young Jewish people. (Adeline Li / The McGill Tribune)
“The AUS Legislative Council would like to express their profound disappointment with the decision of two members of the AUS executive, [AUS VP Finance] Stefan Suvajac
their deliberations. “What I’m hearing from students is that they feel
information that they were provided,” Buraga said. “But,
and [Arts Representative to SSMU] Andrew
threatened on campus because of their identity,” Labeau
they did see the potential of a conflict of interest should
Chase to attend a trip funded by an interest
said. “Whether we agree or not with an assumed identity,
the need arise.”
group, the Maccabee Task Force, whose lead-
it is still their identity. Some students say they feel threat-
Senator Jeremy Garneau asked whether SSMU’s
ers have explicitly stated their goal to influ-
ened because they identify as Zionists [....] Some people tell
Conflict of Interest Policy should be amended in light
ence the decision making process of student
me they feel unsafe because they identify as Jews, which
of the controversy. Council President Husayn Jamal ex-
leaders on campus, and call on the two execu-
is also problematic.”
plained that the current policy states that determining
tives to refrain from participating in this trip.
The SSMU Board of Directors ruled that accepting
whether gifts are conflicts of interest is context sentiment.
Even in spite of this decision, we stand in soli-
the offer did not constitute a conflict of interest. SSMU
“A gift over 50 dollars is not automatically a conflict
darity with their concerns and with their lived
president Bryan Buraga elaborated on the board’s deci-
of interest,” Jamal said. “As defined in the policy, as long
experiences of oppression. We do not believe
as a gift over 50 dollars is appropriately disclosed and the
the ruling of any policy. In this case, the SSMU
“The Board of Directors took into consideration all the
board of directors institutes the steps it deems necessary.
Conflict of Interest Policy […] should serve as
information that they had […] and they determined that,
In those cases, it’s not always a conflict of interest. In this
a moral compass.” Arts Councillor Darshan
under the Conflict of Interest Policy, it did not constitute
case, however, the board ruled that this situation does not
Daryanani, on a statement signed by AUS ex-
either a real or an apparent conflict of interest with the
constitute a gift.”
Tribune Explains: SSMUnion
SSMUnion begins process of unionizing SSMU employees
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
McEan Taylor Staff Writer The Students’ Society of McGill University Union (SSMUnion) officially launched their campaign on Facebook on Nov. 24. Their goal is to unionize SSMU employees to combat issues of overworking and provide support for all full and part-time SSMU employees. SSMU employs a staff of over 100, including volunteer services such as Sexual Assault
Center of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) and Queer McGill, along with paid administrative staff. The launch included the announcement of two events, on Nov. 28 and Dec. 3, where SSMU employees will be able to ask questions, clarify demands, and sign union cards.
Why do SSMU employees need to unionize? According to SSMUnion organizers Shaquiera Keara and Belle Sullivan, both U3 Arts, SSMU employees are exploited and need more resources, regardless of their employer’s intention. “There is a large lack of training, support, and resources one needs in order to actually do one’s job,” Sullivan said. “This sort of inefficiency can make people need to work outside of their contract hours. Because most SSMU jobs are on a 200hour contract for eight months, if your project takes more than 200 hours, you either have to drop it or keep working without getting paid.” Furthermore, a lack of 35 to 50 per cent of SSMU employees need to sign cards for standardized communication a formal union to be put to a vote (Sabrina Girard-Lamas / between SSMU and its The McGill Tribune) employees has created disparities. Because SSMU executives change every year, employees never know if their
projects will continue receiving the same support. How is the SMMUnion formed? According to Sullivan, the process of unionizing is extensive and requires at least one year to complete. “In order to become a formal union, you need 50 per cent plus one of the workplace [to desire a union],” Sullivan said. “That can either be done through initial card-signing or, if between 35 and 50 percent of employees sign cards, [...] it goes to an election. [The card signing] is going well.” After the SSMUnion receives enough signatures, they will be verified by the Quebec Labor Board, which then grants them formal union status. “We will then adopt formal bylaws,” Sullivan said. “Right now we are using the bylaws of our parent union, [the Canadian Union of Public Employees] (CUPE), [to] set up a formal union structure and enter collective bargaining. Then we enter formal negotiations with SSMU to put together an agreement [that] we hope will address our list of demands and create a better system that anyone can refer back to when they’re having future problems.” Keara recognizes that SSMUnion’s goal is ambitious, even with the amount of signatures they already have. “Our goal [is] to get this done [...] by the end of the school year,” Keara said. “Given that there is such a high turnover
rate of SSMU executives, we do not want to be in the middle of this process with a new group of executives.” SSMUnion’s parent union, CUPE, is a Canadian national union [that] has experience in Quebec, having help the Concordia Student Union (CSU) form. “[CUPE] was also the union that CSU is with,” Keara said. “It is really nice working with a union [that] has experience working with a university similar to McGill.” What will SSMUnion do to help employees? Over the past year, SSMUnion organizers have collected responses from SSMU employees and are working on a list of demands to present to the executives once the union officially forms. However, the union’s list is still unfinished. “We want to get the input of the rest of SSMU’s employees before we start prioritizing certain demands over others,” Keara said. “Because there are more parttime staff than there are full-time, we don’t want to prioritize demands [of] part-time staff and then leave out the demands of the full-time staff.” Overall, the SSMUnion wants to streamline support for SSMU staff to create a better work environment, comprehensive contracts, and a unified order of communication between SSMU and its employees. SSMU is not allowed to comment until negotiations are over.
McGill suspends all Hong Kong exchange studies Helen Wu & Katia Innes News Editor & Arts & Entertainment Editor
ficulties faced by those who wish to apply for
beau said. “That was troublesome. Coupled
with that, the signs we were getting from
nancial aid] on a case-by-case basis.” For students planning on going on
“[We have] told students who were try-
our exchange partners, the universities
exchange to Hong Kong, the abrupt can-
ing to go to Hong Kong [for exchange] that
themselves in Hong Kong, were [that] they
cellation poses logistical and financial in-
McGill has suspended all student ac-
they can choose a new destination, but the
were going to be terminating their semes-
conveniences. Students were forwarded a
tivities in Hong Kong for the Winter 2020 se-
likelihood of that happening is reasonably
ter early or allowing [their] students to do
list of possible replacement destinations for
mester due to safety concerns caused by an-
small,” Labeau said. “It’s December now. If
the rest of their semester online [...] and take
the exchange, though none of them are
ti-government protests. The university’s five
you want to turn around and find a new
exams online [….] So the signs we were get-
in Asia. Helen Du, U2 Arts, was planning to
partner institutions in Hong Kong—the Chi-
destination and do the paperwork, the like-
ting from them is that they were on their
go on exchange at the University of Hong
nese University of Hong Kong, City Univer-
lihood of it succeeding is very small so I as-
way to closing.”
Kong in the Winter 2020 semester. However,
sity of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic
sume that most of the students will actually
University, Hong Kong University of Science
remain here at McGill next semester.”
Throughout the Fall 2019 semester,
given the short notice of procuring a new
McGill routinely checked on its students in
Visa, housing, and transportation to a new
and Technology and the University of Hong
Several Hong Kong universities have
Hong Kong. According to Labeau, all 22 stu-
destination, it is unlikely that she will go on
Kong— will no longer be destinations for Mc-
been caught in the crossfire between pro-
dents are safe and are abiding by the admin-
Gill students going on exchange in January
testors and the police, including The Hong
istration’s request for them to leave the city.
“I spent $1,500 on a round-trip ticket [to
2020. In the Fall 2019 semester, over half of
Kong Polytechnic University, which was
While the University of British Columbia has
Hong Kong] and I’m not going to be able to
the McGill exchange students in Hong Kong
seized on Nov. 11 by hundreds of demonstra-
offered each of their 31 exchange students
get $350 back,” Du said. “I [also] spent $200
attended the University of Hong Kong and
tors armed with 4000 firebombs. Labeau
in Hong Kong a $1,000 emergency bursary,
on my Visa, so this is a bunch of money I’m
the rest were at the other 4 institutions. Mc-
referenced the Travel Advisories issued by
McGill will only offer financial assistance
Gill spokesperson Cynthia Lee explained the
Global Affairs Canada, which help the McGill
extent of activities affected.
administration estimate the safety of desti-
“[There are] some students [who] didn’t
NEWS / 5
22 students had their Fall 2019 exchanges cut short
It is unclear as to when student activities in Hong Kong will resume.
“[The suspension] includes but is not
nations abroad that staff and students visit.
have any trouble finding a way out,” Labeau
“At the end of the day we’re not the big-
limited to student exchanges, teacher train-
On Nov. 15, 22 McGill students in Hong Kong
said. “Some of them have plans to go and
gest victims here,” Du said. “This does not not
ing stages, internships and independent re-
were alerted of the administration’s decision
visit another country nearby and [rearranged
directly affect us as we are in Canada and this
search abroad,” Lee wrote in an email to The
to end their Fall 2019 exchange programs
the] airfare that was booked [….] In cases
is happening on the other side of the world.
where we had students mention financial
But it’s really frustrating because of how long
Deputy Provost (Student Life and
“The unrest that was occurring [was]
issues, we directed them to our Scholarship
the process took and it was really dragged
Learning) Fabrice Labeau discussed the dif-
getting closer and closer to universities,” La-
and Student Aid Office where we give [fi-
Campus activism against Bill 21 McGill Against Bill 21 is a McGill contingent of the province-wide action ‘Non à la loi 21’ Margaret Askey Contributor
Bill 21 was passed by the CAQ in June. (Leanne Young / The McGill Tribune) The Education Undergraduate Society (EdUS) is one such group. The Tribune spoke with their Internal, Courtney Murdoch, to find out more. Murdoch explained the obligation that these organizations have to their students. “Undergraduate societies exist to benefit our students,” Murdoch said. “We also provide professional development opportunities [...] [with] the goal of helping our students find jobs in which they can be successful after graduation. Bill 21 invalidates this effort and forces students who are part of a minority group to choose between their rights [...] and their chance at finding a job.” Murdoch also acknowledged how the bill not only affects Education students at McGill, but a variety of students across multiple faculties. “This does include Education, but also
includes Engineering, Medicine, Nursing, Physical and Occupational Therapy, Management, Social Work, and more,” Murdoch said. “Beyond the direct impact on careers, however, Bill 21 sends the message to all students at McGill who are part of a religious minority that they do not belong in this province. As a University, this is not something we can allow to happen.” Like McGill Against Bill 21, the EdUS also seeks to support students who are impacted by this bill. “EdUS and the Faculty of Education must stand against this bill and support our students,” Murdoch said. “There is no doubt in our minds about it,” Murdoch said. “We will do everything in our power to be allies to our students impacted by this bill, and we hope to provide them with a platform to speak out and fight this bill should they so desire.”
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
Students may have seen the ‘No to Bill 21’ pins on various backpacks and jackets this semester, but they may not understand what the pins represent. Bill 21 is a law passed by the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), which prohibits public sector employees from displaying religious symbols at work. The bill affects teachers, police officers, and lawyers employed by the province of Quebec. The pins represent collaborative Montrealais and Quebecois efforts to speak out against the bill, which would prevent those who wear or carry religious symbols from finding employment in Quebec while also practicing their religion.The McGill contingent of this effort, McGill Against Bill 21, describes themselves as a space for students to come together, share articles, support each other, and plan actions against this bill. McGill Against Bill 21 falls under the portfolio of Adam Gwiazda-Amsel, the Vice-President(VP) External for the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU). The McGill Tribune met with Gwiazda-Amsel to find out more about this campus-based initiative. Gwiazda-Amsel explained the importance of campus groups advocating on behalf of students affected by this legislation. “We recognize that students don’t just exist as students. [They are] also racialized individuals, they have distinct realities outside of what’s referred to as ‘student issues,’” Gwiazda-Amsel said.
Because SSMU is mandated to act as a representative on behalf of the entire McGill undergraduate body, it also has the responsibility of advocating on behalf of its members affected by Bill 21. “There’s the added aspect of education and law students not being able to find jobs in some of the professions that they’re preparing for,” Gwiazda-Amsel said. “[That’s] something that some of our members have displayed a unique concern about.” When speaking to the goals of a group like McGill Against Bill 21, Gwiazda-Amsel explained that the organization supports students affected by the bill by existing and being a visible resource. “Students that are being targeted [can] feel more supported, which is a priority,” Gwiazda-Amsel said. “People are scared. McGill against Bill 21 starts this conversation on campus.” The group doesn’t only serve as a resource for those who face barriers to employment—it also seeks to engage other students in concrete action against the legislation. For students looking to get involved, Gwiazda-Amsel shared the current plans for the initiative moving forward. “[There will be a demonstration] in front of the premier François Legault’s Montreal office, at 5:00 pm on Dec. 4,” Gwiazda-Amsel said. While SSMU is doing valuable work to bring awareness and organization to this issue, there are a variety of other student and non-student organizations on campus that are vocal in their opposition of this legislation.
SSMU MIDTERM REVIEWS / 6 WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU)
Executive Midterm Reviews 2019-2020
President, Bryan Buraga
VP Student Life, Billy Kawasaki
VP University Affairs, Madeline Wilson
In light of the SSMU General Manager’s recent resignation and delay in the University Center Building’s reopening, Buraga has done a commendable job ensuring the SSMU is still operational and that there hasn’t been a negative impact on the resources and services the SSMU has been providing to students. His efforts in governance reform and advocacy for the Fall Reading Week are laudable, however his desire to fulfill his ambitious campaign goals are still rather ill-suited to the primary duties of the presidential position. Hopefully he’ll be able to direct his focus on his biggest goals next semester so he can see to the end of the projects he starts.
Kawasaki has improved accessibility for club executives to the information and resources they need in various ways, including making it easier to book rooms and request services, such as MSERT, for events. Additionally, he is collaborating with the mental health commissioners, the VP University Affairs, and the Wellness Hub on several projects and policies to improve mental health resources at McGill. Kawasaki has fallen short, however, with the Club Fund. The fund, which was to go toward services like his proposed club portal, failed in the Fall 2019 referendum after an inadequate campaign that did not justify to students the necessity of the fee increase.
Wilson has collaborated with various campaigns on campus this semester including ‘Know Your Rights’, advocating for improved accessibility of the Student Wellness Hub and supported initiatives pressuring the McGill administration to divest from fossil fuels. In the Winter 2020 semester, she plans on continuing work on creating a database of university related documents that will be searchable with tags on specific topics, supporting the Arts Senator in creating a Black Students Bill of Rights and researching and addressing McGill’s assessment policies regarding how students are graded. Although her idea of including an updates corner on the SSMU listserv were not realized, Wilson has used her social media platform to actively support individual students and student groups.
VP Internal, Sanchi Bhalla
VP Finance, Sam Haward
VP External, Adam Gwiazda-Amsel
Bhalla has had a rocky semester, receiving criticism from the student body for poorlyworded french translations in listserv emails, neglecting to mention remembrance day, and most significantly, failing to send an important announcement in a timely manner at the request of the SSMU Indiegnous Affairs Committee. While ////the Tribune// recognizes the efforts Bhalla has made to ameliorate student concerns on these issues, her inability to regain the trust of the Indigenous Affairs Committee and Indigenous student leaders has prevented her from adequately fulfilling her role as VP Internal. Although the time may have passed, the absence of a public statement or apology from Bhalla regarding the Indigenous Affairs issue is disheartening.
Sam Haward has had an excellent first term as SSMU’s VP Finance. Haward’s management of the club banking reset is laudable, as a process that led to a month-long blackout period for club funds last year was completed in just eight days. While the new bank has proven slow at times, Haward has dealt with this challenge by implementing a system that ensures clubs can still operate during waiting periods. Haward has also proven nimble in his position, as he has reworked campaign promises when necessary, like with his work on procuring better prices for the International Health Insurance Plan. Other initiatives Haward has taken on include providing certain clubs, such as Midnight Kitchen, with their own credit cards to ensure unnecessarily slow bureaucratic processes are bypassed, while also, he has held double office hours to ensure he is accessible to clubs that need in-person assistance.
During a semester in which protest movements such as Divest McGill and advocacy against Bill 21 have largely characterized student life, VP External Adam Gwiazda-Amsel has succeeded in supporting student groups aiming to make a difference. While Gwiazda-Amsel has encountered challenges in receiving support from the McGill administration, particularly with reference to bridging the gap between McGill and Montreal, progress towards his larger goals of integrating students into the MiltonParc community is underway. Additionally, the creation of the Affordable Student Housing Committee on SSMU Legislative Council has provided groundwork for more progress to made next semester.
Campus should be a safe space Milton-Parc during November and December. Likewise, Drivesafe can prevent many intoxicated students from freezing on their way home from a party, but can be equally useful for first-years who live in residences like Solin who do not want to either make a frigid walk home or use public transit late at night. However, both of these programs are funded by students and run by volunteers whose work is too emotionally intensive to be done without pay. McGill should step up to work with the Student’s Society of McGill University (SSMU) to fund both of these programs, as they are invaluable resources for students who are studying, partying, or just trying to get home safely. The way McGill organizes campus security also has ramifications for student safety. McGill outsources its security needs to private companies, however, it also employs full time security agents who patrol campus and work directly for the university. This means there is inconsistency in the training, experience, and skills security guards have which, depending on the event or circumstance, could pose a threat to student wellbeing. There is an acute lack of information regarding the training that McGill security officers receive on the campus public safety website, and security officers from private companies are often not equipped with active listening or deescalation training. In addition, McGill’s campus safety office chooses to distribute these officers counterintuitively: More security officers seem to be present on campus during the day than at night, when safety becomes a heightened concern. The way McGill uses security officers as resources is telling:
Currently, security guards seemingly work to protect McGill’s priorities, such as the white tents erected on the lower field earlier this semester, which had almost constant security. While events like these remain heavily guarded, students walking home from the library at night remain acutely vulnerable. Security officers should protect students and student interests by acting as a resource available in times of need. Instead, their reputation on campus positions them as authority figures who will reprimand those that disrupt the sense of order set by McGill’s administration. This power dynamic is only intensified for racialized students. Security on campus is in many ways a form of policing that is packaged differently. As they currently exist, McGill security officers do not represent a viable resource for a racialized student to reach out to in a crisis situation. No matter the diversity of McGill’s security force, security guards, like police, are not immune to racially profiling people. McGill needs to ensure that all of its security officers receive a uniform level of instruction, including active listening, deescalation, and racial sensitivity training. Only this will give them adequate skills to serve McGill’s student body. In addition, McGill should seek to use its security resources more thoughtfully and, in doing so, let McGill students know that their safety matters. Finally, while it is certainly not the job of students to be campus security, all McGill students can create a safer environment by being careful, paying attention, and being active bystanders by helping those in need.
Caitlin Kindig Editor in Chief I am, for the most part, a happy person, but I would not be described as cheery by my friends or family. However, if you were to read one of my emails or Slack messages, I am a bubbly ball of joy. Until last week, I forced exclamation marks into my daily digital interactions. They were littered throughout text messages to my peers, Slack reminders to my coworkers, and even emails to my professors, littering my language with false enthusiasm. My words
did not feel like my own, and I started to despise my various empty correspondences. Eventually, I stopped including exclamation marks in my notes, instead opting for periods, or excluding punctuation altogether if the exchange was casual. Acting on this introspection, I felt immediately relieved, yet, I was met with strong opposition from my peers. I received replies like “Are you mad at me?” and “Is everything ok??” I tried reassuring them by using emoticons or elongated vowels in place of exclamation marks, but those do not come naturally to me either. Spending hours wondering whether to include exclamation marks in messages or not is a uniquely gendered experience: When someone receives written communication from a woman, they expect a certain degree of vivacity, and in most cases, it is delivered. According to a 2006 study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, women use more exclamation marks than men when writing emails in order to seem more friendly. However, when it comes to using an exclamation mark, women are put in a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situation: If you use them too much, you are unprofessional. If you use them too little, you are a bitch. If you use them because you feel like you have to, you are not being yourself. And, if you use them because it feels natural, you are supporting the patriarchy. I find that the problem of overly amicable texting is rooted in the fact that women are socialized to conform to what men are comfortable with: An email lacking exclamation from a woman is often assumed to be cold or mean, while a similar email from a man is seen as casual workplace communication. Worrying
about something as insignificant as exclamation marks is a form of emotional labour reserved for women subconsciously trying not to emasculate men. Recent studies affirm that women would benefit from being more assertive, more vocal, and from apologizing less. In my classes and workplace, I witness my female colleagues not advocating for themselves, and the results are devastating. A brilliant idea that a woman mumbles will be shouted by a man within seconds, and nearly every time, he will get the credit. The common denominator in assertion, vocality, and refusing to apologize, is that in order to get ahead in life, women should behave more like men. This idea is very unsettling, and what is more, I am disappointed in myself for upholding these stereotypically male ideals by being intense and insistent; although perhaps if I were a man, I would just be acting professionally. Communication within a professional context is a key element in the pay-gap between men and women: Workplaces are set up in a way that respects men who demand raises or promotions, and disregards their female counterparts for doing the same. Instead of encouraging women to participate in this unnecessary and, quite frankly, obnoxious behaviour, we should inspire a culture that is not dominated by stereotypically male norms. I would love to live in a world where using exclamation marks was a universal way of expressing enthusiasm rather than a mark of femininity, and therefore inadequacy. For now, I will continue to operate in the gendered divide of communication. I will keep writing emails, Slack, and text messages the way a man would, and advocating for myself at the cost of being percieved as cold.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
In defence of texting like a man
OPINION / 7
As final exams approach and the sun sets earlier, more students will be walking to and from campus after sunset. The many construction projects around McGill’s campus make navigating the area more difficult and reduce the amount of well-lit areas for students to traverse. Consequently, McGill’s administration has a responsibility to increase the resources available to students who are made to feel vulnerable or unsafe and rethink the way security resources are used on campus. Not only do students have a right to be safe on campus, they have a right to feel safe as well. The most basic issue regarding campus safety is lighting. The campus is poorly lit, and increasing visibility in common outdoor areas would make nighttime walkers feel safer on campus. In areas where construction has obstructed normally well-lit walkways, construction crews or the university could easily set up temporary lighting fixtures in darker, well-populated around campus. Construction on campus has also impeded access to the yellow emergency phones placed around the downtown campus. Making these more visible and accessible, especially near construction sites could help students feel safe at night. Campus organizations like Walksafe and Drivesafe are important resources that become even more crucial during this time of year. The Walksafe program is an ideal solution for someone walking home from campus late at night, but it is also helpful for individuals who participate in the many drinking oriented events that take place in
OPINION / 8
Canada needs a high-speed rail system
Kennedy McKee-Braide Staff Writer In November, VIA Rail, the Crown corporation that controls passenger train travel in Canada, unveiled plans for a “high-frequency” train project along its Quebec City—Windsor corridor. Although the project will no doubt make travelling by train more pleasant, it is not a sufficient solution. Canada should avoid quick fixes and invest more money and resources into developing a national high-speed rail system. People living and travelling in Canada, such as McGill students, could stand to gain from convenient and accessible travel within the country. For some, being at McGill can be a stressful and isolating experience, and many students are far from
their loved ones. However, going home for a weekend to destress can be difficult due to the high cost of tickets, especially for flights, and the time it takes to travel there and back. For the 68.7 per cent of McGill students living elsewhere in Canada, a quick train ride that is accessible and inexpensive could allow them to visit home more often. Those from outside of Canada can benefit, too; getting a change of scenery and experiencing new places can be great for one’s mental health. While trains from Montreal to cities like Ottawa, Toronto, and Quebec City are frequent and quite comfortable, they can also be expensive and tend to come with an abundance of delays. An economy ticket for a student may be under $50 if booked far in advance, but the prices for a last-minute ticket can rise to over $150. Delays are common, and more expensive routes, such as the 25-hour Vancouver -- Edmonton train, costs hundreds of dollars, have at times experienced delays of a whole day or more. Since VIA Rail does not In November, VIA Rail, the Crown corporation that controls passenger train travel in Canada, unveiled plans for a “highfrequency” train project along its Quebec City Windsor corridor. Although the project will no doubt make travelling by train more pleasant, it is not a sufficient solution. Canada should avoid quick fixes and invest more money and resources into developing a national high-speed rail system. People living and travelling in Canada, such as McGill students, could stand to gain from convenient and accessible travel within the country. own the tracks it operates on, it is at the mercy of the Canadian National Railway, the freight railway that owns the rail system in Canada. Ultimately has control over scheduling, and tends to be responsible for these delays. VIA has offered a potential solution to this issue. The newly announced high-frequency project proposes the construction of new dedicated tracks between Toronto
and Ottawa, and between Montreal and Quebec City, which VIA claims will reduce travel times. However, there has yet to be a date set for the project’s completion. Many have long argued in favour of high-speed rail in the country for its shortened travel times and environmental benefits. Plus, the technology for such a project already exists—countries and regions including China, Russia, and all countries in the European Union have some sort of high-speed rail system in place. In Europe, most high-speed trains can travel at speeds of around 300 kilometres per hour. China’s network has a total length of 2,298 kilometres, which is promising considering Canada’s size. Despite these benefits, the closest Canada has come to realizing such a project was a Transport Canada study on hyperloop technology, a concept that has never been executed, and is in early stages of development. Companies like Canada’s Transpod and Virgin’s Hyperloop One claim that their pod-like system can travel at up to 1,000 kilometres per hour with minimal environmental impact, with a proposed travel time between Montreal and Toronto estimated at 39 minutes. While the concept is exciting, experts have expressed concerns regarding the system’s safety, citing its high pressure levels, which mean that a small defect could cause an explosion. Coupled with the fact that the technology is in its early stages, Canada should still work to create a high-speed system with technology that has proven safe and cost-effective. Canada needs to catch up and make real improvements to its interprovincial transportation networks. Establishing a high-speed rail system could have significant environmental benefits and would encourage more people to travel within the country. A quicker and more efficient way to travel could bring many McGill students closer to not only their family, but also places in Canada that are inaccessible otherwise.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
The lecture hall: Where my two cultures meet
University is a hot spot for dialogue. (Abeer Almahdi / The McGill Tribune)
Sepideh Afshar Contributor I was born in Iran, but my family and I moved to Canada when I was four-years-old. Although Farsi was my first language, English quickly became my dominant one and, even though I was surrounded by Iranian culture at home, at school I was being exposed to a completely different set of norms. While growing up with two different cultures allowed me to gain a unique perspective on many social and political issues, McGill played a pivotal role in my perception of my two conflicting identities–Canadian and Iranian–and allowed me to see them in a positive light. Growing up, it was impossible to ignore the glaring differences between my life and those of my friends at school. For example, we did not celebrate Thanksgiving or have huge Christmas dinners. On the other hand, when I went to Iranian language classes, it seemed that my family did not adhere to a lot of Iran’s social norms either. My dad, though still a Muslim, drank alcohol and made us ham sandwiches. The older I became, the more I needed to fit into a specific culture. I often felt too Westernized to be Iranian like my family, but too
Middle Eastern to truly be Canadian. The height of my uncertainties came during the 2016 United States presidential elections, when suddenly my two identities were being pitted against each other. I thought that I had to justify that I was a Canadian, as if my citizenship was not enough, and I started feeling hyper-aware of the way that my Iranian name rolled off of Canadian tongues. I felt increasingly like I did not fit into either category. Thankfully, coming to university enabled me to start appreciating both of my cultures. The presence of so many different cultures at McGill immediately made me feel more at ease. However, this did not happen immediately: I was initially worried when I saw that a unit of one of my political science courses was, “Nuclear Weapons and the Case of Iran.” There were definitely moments of discomfort, such as sitting in class and hearing people disagree with the professor when he stated that ‘Iran was not a rogue state.’ Nevertheless, when I voiced my opinions in a conference, I felt welcomed for the first time in my life. Looking around the room and seeing others nod their heads, genuinely appreciating my perspective, gave me a sense of validation that I had not experienced in my education before. At McGill, I feel that my input is not discounted
due to my personal connection with Iran, and if anything, I am listened to more intently. My experience of feeling heard is only possible because of the nature of McGill as a university that embraces diversity and the respective outlooks that come with its students. Professors, TAs, and students who want topics to be approached in different ways become incredibly important. Academia is the first place where I have not felt the need to justify either of my cultural identities because, even if I am not always agreed with, I feel heard. I am learning that although it may be difficult on a personal level, and the feeling of not belonging might not disappear completely, my dual cultural identity offers a unique perspective in my education that is appreciated by my peers. Being surrounded by people from two or more cultures at McGill has made me proud of the uniqueness of my upbringing. Smaller things, like the fact that even though my family in Iran call every year at Christmas even though they do not celebrate, feel much more important. Details like having a Muslim dad who drinks and loves bacon do not feel quite as divisive. I am more appreciative than ever of my cultures, and I can only imagine how that appreciation will grow as my time at McGill continues.
McGill ignores invisible disabilities Accessibility barriers are, unfortunately, part of the McGill University experience. Students at McGill have repeatedly reported a lack of silent study spaces on campus, and the closure of the Schulich Library and the University Centre—among other construction currently taking place on campus— exacerbates this problem. While the initiatives of on-campus advocacy groups, like the Arts Undergraduate Society’s (AUS) creation of McLennan’s “Tranquility Zone”, are commendable, we feel compelled to express some concerns about McGill’s accessibility barriers. In general, access needs for students with cognitive and physical disabilities are being overlooked. We are writing to ask McGill Administration that these access needs be prioritized, with the urgent recommendation that McGill implements more quiet spaces on campus. These issues are ongoing, and there are currently no short-term solutions for disability advocacy. The students of COMS 411: Disability, Technology & Communication want to contribute to campus accessibility, which offers a place conducive to thinking about designing for disability. We did a survey of McGill’s current silent study and alternative spaces, reviewing each area based on specific design parameters. Based on our findings, the university’s conception of disability has been primarily concerned with spatial understandings of access and physical disability. The administration seems to understand intellectual disabilities and mental health as matters that do not require spatial considerations.
However, these impairments do, in fact, require spatial accessibility policies. Intellectual disabilities, neurodiversity, and mental health are not one-dimensional, nor are they non-spatial. Accessibility goes beyond physical access to buildings, rooms, and washrooms, and has many different dimensions that need to be addressed to create truly accessible environments. In our audit of the downtown campus, we evaluated light levels, acoustics, and chemical access, among other access categories, which are all crucial when designing accessible spaces. It is widely known that existing resources for students with cognitive and physical disabilities are sparse: For example, there are no quiet zones or rooms on campus that are specifically designed for students with disabilities. A quiet space is an area, zone, or room where one can access and evaluate their needs, rest, take a break, or relax. The absence of quiet spaces is an accessibility issue for students with cognitive disabilities and sensory sensitivities and should be built. There has been an effort to make existing spaces more physically accessible, but the administration must consider a wider spectrum of access needs and design spaces with disability in mind from the very beginning. Questions about accessibility issues from students are addressed superficially at best. Although the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) has implemented the Accessible Media Room on the first floor of the McLennanRedpath library and has offered accommodations such as notetakers, McGill still must recognise that there are more important and long-term needs for students
with disabilities. Put simply, the university needs to make accommodations to make McGill’s campus safe, comfortable, and usable for students with cognitive or physical disabilities. Part of the current issue is that if information exists, it is difficult to access or find on McGill’s various web pages. As such, we are currently designing an accessible website which will include a directory of resources for students’ well-being, and a map for silent spaces, lounges, and hubs on campus. We hope that, in the future, this website will be transferred to the Wellness Hub or to another centralized resource, rendering it a long-term and ongoing project. While the university has made efforts toward promoting greater physical accessibility such as installing wheelchair ramps, wide doors with push buttons, and spacious stalls in washrooms, there is still a long way to go. We recommend that any decision to design a quiet space or oncampus resource for students with disabilities be built with a resonant material, or materials designed for specific disabilities, and that any space on campus is designed for a range of disabilities and access needs. Students with disabilities should be consulted and included in the decision-making processes regarding the creation of accessible spaces on campus. Without the input of these individuals, the university administration will continue its pattern of neglecting an important membership of McGill’s demographic. It is crucial that McGill and its community continue communicating about access needs, carve out accessible resources and work together on issues of accessibility on campus.
OPINION / 9
The COMS 411 Fall 2019 Class
McGill’s current accomadations mostly focus on physical disabilities. (Diana Berry / The McGill Tribune)
Mind your headspace
As the approaching finals mark the end of another semester, the spike of stress, anxiety, and mismanaged student mental health crises warrant a conversation about headspace. It is by no means news that mental health services at McGill do not effectively accommodate students’ needs: There are many instances of students waiting for months to receive a consultation. This is due to various reasons, such as a lack of clinical professionals and limited funding. The end of the semester represents a generally tense time for students.The lack of days off and time for self-care
of a challenge. For others, the semester represents a lack of motivation and burnout. While exercising or exploring Montreal are some great ways to take time for one’s self, the reality is that non-stop work for three straight months takes a heavy toll on students. The provision of stress-balls and opportunities pet golden retrievers offers only short-term relief in comparison to the accumulated stress and emotional fluctuations that students experience throughout the semester. Therefore, a greater consideration from McGill by offering more breaks would add a great deal to the process of taking time for ourselves. The prioritization of mental health in the university space is a task for both students and the university. The university holds a great responsibility in ensuring that mental health services are accessible. McGill recently collaborated with the Rossy Foundation to create the the Wellness Hub, with the aim of integrating medical care with counselling and psychiatric services. This is very much a step in the right direction. However, structural elements, such as the limited days off, present a large burden on students’ mental health, and further reforms in addition to this Wellness Hub should consider this factor. The end of the semester invites for these necessary conversations on how the university can implement reforms that will allow students to gain some much needed headspace. Whether a first-year new to university or an upperclassman, the time spent in university is pivotal in the transition to adulthood. This process weighs heavily on students’ mental health, as it involves establishing one’s personal politics, deciding what professional paths to take, and possibly setting emotional boundaries. An essential way that McGill can alleviate the stressful burden of a packed fall semester is creating a full break for students to regenerate.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
Favour Daka Contributor
exacerbates feelings of stress. From the start of the semester until now, students have had a total of one day off, for Thanksgiving. The fall semester is a particularly challenging three months for many reasons. For one, the semester encompasses the transition from summer to winter. The days gradually become shorter, which unfortunately correlates with the semester becoming increasingly intense, with exams, ‘paper season,’ and assignments all due within a short period of time. With only a one day break, students become overworked and exhausted as the semester progresses, which ultimately hinders their academic performance nearing finals season. Yet, students’ calls for instituting a Fall Reading Week have been met with delays and filibustering from the university. For first-year students, especially, the fall semester is quite the whirlwind. Acclimatizing to the intensity of university while establishing a network of support away from home is a strenuous process. Without breaks from school, first-year students do not have any opportunity to stop and reflect on the rush that is the first semester. The pace of first-year can lead to a disregard for mental health for the sake of keeping up academically, a trade-off that is quite damaging. The very structure of university imposes constant stresses and triggers to engage students through regularly scheduled quizzes, assignments, and exams. Though this works to ensure that students stay on-track, it also is overwhelming. The demand for time is also heightened by further peer pressure to be involved socially and to be involved with extracurricular activities. With all of this constant pressure, making time and space for oneself to relax is crucial. ‘Taking time for yourself’ looks different for everyone. For some, the marathon of a non-stop semester is not as much
Student Life Editor
n an airy Plateau studio space perched high above Saint Laurent, Instagram dreams come true. It’s clear from the neon sign, white walls, and minimalistic furniture that Black Rose Tattoo is a millennial haven. Laden with house plants, it bears a closer resemblance to a trendy open office space or an aspirational Pinterest apartment than a tattoo studio, albeit punctuated by the persistent hum of tattoo gun. A relative newcomer to Montreal’s growing tattoo scene, Black Rose exemplifies the changes the industry has gone through in the last decade. Founded in 2017 by Christina Fleming (@ christinastattoos) and staffed mainly by women, the friendly and decidedly unintimidating studio is a breath of fresh air, and a marked departure from a subculture that has not always welcomed outsiders. Sabrina Avakian (@sabootattoos) was the first artist at Black Rose alongside Fleming. Avakian believes that Montreal’s art scene
influences its growing tattoo scene. “[Montreal is] a very artistic city,” Avakian said. “So [when] tattooing started shifting into a more artistic, more contemporary [space...], the cultural view of tattooing [became] completely different, and I think Montreal brought that to be.” Shops like Black Rose, with its bare walls and pre-drawn flash designs on Instagram, are relatively new entrants into the tattooing world. The prototypical tattoo shop of years past was likely street-level, humming with music, and welcomed walkins. Its walls were invariably lined with flash art, likely in an immediately recognizable style. Traditional flash images, vibrant with warm yellows, reds, and greens and bounded by bold black outlines, are deeply ingrained in the visual culture of tattooing—think skulls, snakes, panthers, a heart on the bicep, or a pair of swallows on the upper chest. Though these bold, iconographic traditional motifs are most strongly associated with the idea of a tattoo, they are likely not the ones dominating your Instagram feed. Some of the most popular tattoos on the internet right now, paradoxically, are barely perceptible. Singleneedle designs—like the one famously etched on Kendall Jenner by JonBoy, who infamously charges a $300 minimum for dime-sized ink—are everywhere. Subtle tattoos are a relatively new concept, and these fineline designs have gained traction alongside, and in part due to, a general spreading of tattoo culture to a broader demographic. The act of permanently marking the body, which would have been unthinkable for broad swaths of the straight-laced middle class 10 years ago, is no longer as surprising: Justin Trudeau holds the highest office in Canada and has a large Haida tattoo on his bicep. The subtly tattooed mainstream population, however, tends to favour simplistic designs heavy with ascribed meaning. For fans of the traditional tattooing subculture like Liesl van Wyk, U2 Engineering, the rise of so-called ‘acceptable’ tattooing is bittersweet. “Anecdotally, [when] I talk to people about their tattoos, a lot of the time they’ll have a really intense meaning behind them,” van Wyk said. “While that’s not at all a bad thing, I think sometimes [meaning] can be [seen as] necessary to make it acceptable, like a rationale for [getting tattooed.]” van Wyk developed an interest in tattoo culture through Instagram, but gradually became fascinated by its history. Though there is evidence of tattoo traditions in nearly every culture across the world, the traditional tattoo style prevalent in the Western world traces back to sailors who collected tattoos on their travels. When European sailors made contact with indigenous peoples, they noticed distinctive tattoo traditions, such as Maori tā moko face tattoos, thin black lines that spiralled across the face and resembled filigree work, and
The quickly changing la
ndscape of ta
S a m o a n pe’a tattoos, which covered men’s bodies from the waist down. Thus, the colonial tattoo tradition was born: European sailors began to collect tattoos as symbols of their travels, and the art of tattooing spread through imitation of these styles. Since it originated as an iconographic tradition to distinguish individuals and mark belonging, the traditional tattoo style has always prioritized legibility and visibility. Its bright but limited colour palette makes tattoo subject matter unambiguous. Traditional motifs convey meaning with the clarity of a traffic light. In a broader sense, traditional tattoos have retained much of the stigma that once clouded tattoos as a medium. While a delicate wave tattoo on the ankle or an infinity symbol on the wrist became synonymous with both suburban moms and beachy California girls, bolder, traditional tattoos, particularly on women, still draw stares. This stigmatization harkens back to cultural conceptions of what types of body art fall within the tasteful, subtle aesthetic bounds of middleclass femininity. For van Wyk, this stigma is still palpable. “The stigma around tattoos has lessened, I think, but it’s [still] more of a shock to people to see women getting traditional tattoos,” van Wyk said. “The experience of getting traditional tattoos is definitely a very male dominated experience.” Despite a persistent sense of public disapproval that remains around tattooed bodies, the internet has had a transformative effect on the world of tattooing, at both ends of the needle. While many artists still keep traditional flash books, maintaining an Instagram feed offers a unique immediacy to the practice, placing a polished, chronological portfolio right at potential clients’ fingertips. With the ubiquity of the Pinterest tattoo board, more people are searching for artists and ideas online. “[Instagram has] made [the art of tattooing] more accessible to a lot of people,” van Wyk said. “People can argue whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I think it’s a good thing to have [it] be more accessible and through that, be more accepted slowly.” Apprentices entering the tattoo scene today enter into a culture inseparable from the online realm. Dina Ivanova (@dinovink), who works at Black Rose, mentioned the transformative effects of this shift on the industry. “From what I’ve gathered, [social media] changed the tattoo industry in a way that almost nothing else has,” Ivanova said. “All of a sudden, you could see all these artists from all over the world [...] You now have that selection at your fingertips of essentially the entire world [...] It kind of just cracked the whole thing wide open.” For Ivanova, a former McGill student, her tattoo apprenticeship allowed art to become her career. As an
artist w i t h a budding interest in tattooing, Ivanova initially studied in the faculty of Management with hopes of one day opening her own shop. “I realized [...] the only thing I actually wanted to be doing [...] in that moment was art, not waiting until I finished a business degree and then starting. I was like, I need to go do this now,” Ivanova said. Despite having adapted to new mechanical and social technologies, the apprenticeship process remains a hallmark of the experiential learning required by a profession that requires muscle memory alongside artistry. Ivanova described drawing continuously to develop a portfolio, and slowly moving up to practice on fruit, and later, friends. In an age of immediacy, clients can call up a never-ending stream of tattoo posts from artists around the world, each of which is the product of hours of work. As such, it can be easy to forget the hours of sketching, needles on skin, and trial and error that go into these carefully composed online portfolios. “I’m still learning and developing, everyone in the industry is,” Ivanova said. “A big thing with Instagram is that you see art from all over the world—and that’s amazing, but at the same time, it can also be overwhelming [...] especially when you’re [...] starting out. It can be a little disheartening [...] just scrolling, to see hundreds of new stunning pieces of art every single day on your timeline. Because you see the post, [but] you don’t see the eight hours of work that went into it.” Ivanova has always been part of a tattoo scene that lives halfway on the internet. Because Black Rose is a private studio, most clients who come through its the doors made their way there through Instagram. Besides being an integral part of the booking process for many artists, particularly those who work in private studios, the Internet gives artists a newly global reach. In allowing artists and shops in different cities to follow one another’s work, social media more easily facilitates international guest spots, wherein artists travel to tattoo in shops around the world. This worldwide scope has transformed the creative landscape within which artists operate. The mononymous Fanny-Jane (@fanny__jane) began tattooing in 2013 in London—where she initially moved to exhibit her paintings—before the influence of social media had taken hold of the industry. Fanny-Jane was initially apprehensive about her return to Montreal in 2015; she was worried about losing the client base she had built up in the United Kingdom. “I was like, ‘No one will want to have tattoos from me,’” Fanny-Jane said. “And actually because of Instagram, people already [knew me.] So when I came back, I already had a few people to tattoo.” For emerging artists, the internet has been omnipresent, a tool nearly as integral to their process as the coil machines themselves. “[Instagram is] how all of us have our portfolios now.” Ivanova said. “The only way you can really get tattooed by anyone [at Black Rose] is [by contacting] us through [Instagram], or [...booking] a flash [from] Instagram [...] [without it], we wouldn’t have any of that.” Conversely, many established artists have seen the scene change a r o u n d t h e m
of tattoo artistry
throughout the course of their careers. “A lot of tattoo artists have become like social media moguls now, [so] it’s a weird transition,” Avakian said. “We’re in the middle of it because [...] literally a couple years ago, people were still going into shops, consulting, looking at books.” Fanny-Jane’s style, for instance, is indivisible from the body and thus better displayed on Instagram than within the paper confines of a traditional flash book. Her personal style—a tangle of free-flowing lines that inherently contrasts with the medium of permanent ink under the skin—has kept her work in high demand in Montreal among fans of this style. “I would say [my style is] human based, organic, and airy, spacey,” Fanny-Jane said. “A lot of my tattoos are also freehand, so I really need a human to do what I love [...] It’s always based on my vibe with the person [...] The placement on the body becomes so essential and everyone’s different so [that] does really influence my drawing.” For artists like Fanny-Jane, the internet is an indispensable tool. Though, at times, it can stifle creativity by blurring the distinction between inspiration and copying, online platforms like Instagram have expanded the industry beyond its previous bounds. Its unique power to connect people from around the globe and broaden the scope of artists previously hindered by geography has transformed the space of tattooing for both enthusiasts and artists. “For once, [the] internet is not a bad thing,” Fanny-Jane said. “It gave to the tattoo world the opportunity to show people that you can get very personal with what you want to have. You don’t have to get only one style. They [started] realizing that you can go everywhere with this.”
(Sabrina Girard-Lamas / The McGill Tribune)
CARTOONS / 12 WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
Finding your place, Sunny Kim, Sabrina Girard-Lamas, Nicholas Raffoul, Winnie Leung, Elli Slavitch, Daria Kiseleva & Cordelia Cho
McGill Constellations, Erin Sass
Welcome to McGill (Campus)!, Daria Kiseleva
Leanne Young / Photo Editor
PHOTO / 13
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT / 14
Creating laughter, and space, from silence Decentering male cis-normativity from Montreal’s stand-up
Montreal offers a plethora of opportunities for marginalized comics. (Kaitling Wong / The McGill Tribune)
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
Montreal has always been a city that loves to laugh. It is home to the world-famous Just For Laughs comedy festival and has become a hub for open-mics, weekly stand-up series, and even the occasional underground show. It rarely matters what day of the week it is, for somewhere in the city, someone is standing in front of a microphone and joking about their Tinder date or how they slipped and fell on their way to work. Yet, for many of these shows, the setlists are often guilty of what is only glaringly obvious to some: A startlingly significant majority of male performers. Elspeth Wright, a comedian and stand-up show producer in Montreal, points out the disparity between the gender expectations of men and women, suggesting a social discouragement for women to be funny. “Women were taught from the time we were little not to take up space, not to be loud, to be demure,” Wright said. “I think doing comedy isn’t something that’s traditionally feminine, and I think that’s scary. You think, ‘Oh, people will judge me,w and I can’t get away with that much because I’m a woman.’” Despite the increased presence of popular female stand-up comics on the mainstream circuit, such as Ali Wong and Iliza Schlesinger, women remain vastly underrepresented in comedy, both at the international level and in many local scenes. Wright recalls that many times she has assumed the position of ‘token woman’ at the show, an often frustrating role. “There are shows where it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s the girl of the show!’” Wright said. “First of all, I’m not a girl, I’m 32. I’m a woman.” In the absence of welcoming spaces, comedians Katie Leggitt, Lar Simms, Lise Vignault, and Erin Hall created a comedy festival in 2015 centered on femmes and non-binary individuals. Having had its fifth annual run this past September, Ladyfest is an environment that encourages and celebrates underrepresented comedians and performers. Sara Meleika, a comedian and two-time Ladyfest producer recalls beginning her comedy career performing there in 2016. “It was one of the first spaces where I felt safe to try something new, and where I felt welcome and [that I] deserved room for my voice,” Meleika said. Dedicated spaces for those other than cisgender
men remove the obstacle of having to confront one’s audience with the difference in one’s identity. Each time that a performer differs in identity from their audience, their entire individuality becomes reduced to just that difference. Rather than starting from a clean slate like many men, minority comedians’ performances immediately have to demonstrate talent in order to prove that they are more than just their appearance. They must put in extra work to relax the audience into abandoning any stereotypes or expectations. In contrast, when there is a diversity of performers, comedians do not feel tokenized and subsequently have the freedom to explore their own creativity while learning from others and feeling accepted. “There’s nobody in the audience [saying], ‘Oh, the white man’s onstage’ and judging him based on that alone,” Meleika said. “Versus, if you’re a woman you’ll be ‘the one female comic on the show’ or ‘the one brown comic.’” Often, Meleika notes, speaking up for underrepresented performers can be taxing. It takes a lot of mental and emotional work to explain a different point of view to someone who is more focused on defending their closed-mindedness than genuinely listening. Meleika avoids such conversational dead-ends, choosing instead to focus on advocating for women, people of colour, and other minorities. “It’s more important to empower the people who need empowerment rather than fight the people who are resistant,” Meleika said. Stand-up comedy is a platform for sharing experiences and bridging gaps. Comedian, singer, and entertainer Tranna Wintour describes her comedy as rooted in the personal, while having the potential to relate to broader audiences. “That’s the comedy that has always inspired me. I just think there’s real power in sharing,” Wintour said. “[Performing], to me, is so powerful. Because it’s in those moments of exchange that we learn and our points of view change.” Yet, this sharing and personal connection only becomes available once the audience lets their guard down. When presented with difference, people from privileged backgrounds tend to linger on it, becoming unable to relax and truly pay attention to the performance. It is almost as if one’s marginalized identity acts as a muffler for their voice; only when their identity is addressed and moved out of the way can a performer be heard. To marginalized performers, this can often be anxiety-inducing and create added pressure to distance themselves from
the stereotypes surrounding their identity. “When I’m performing in a room that’s largely cisgender and heterosexual, it’s sort of like I have this obligation to identify myself as trans, and to share it right off the bat because if I don’t, the audience is sort of guessing and trying to figure me out,” Wintour said. Furthermore, many obstacles that marginalized comedians encounter have less to do with their own hesitation and more to do with lack of access. “The industry gatekeepers, the people who program networks and festivals and produce shows: All of the industry positions are still largely occupied by [cisgender] straight people, so it’s easier for them” Wintour said. “They’re naturally more inclined to go with what they know, and go with what has always worked for them.” Wintour pointed out that one of the easiest ways to improve the atmosphere in a city’s standup circuit is simply to support minority voices by attending their shows. Supporting local comedy shows, Wintour said, is an opportunity to promote the growth of less visible individuals in an otherwise homogeneous comedy scene. “We’re all just so used to being excited and sharing the work of mainstream and already successful artists, but they don’t need our help,” Wintour said. “It’s really the independent people who need your attention and support.” To be a comic is to have an ability to create laughter from silence, and to connect with an audience. It is often daunting, however, to position oneself on such a pedestal of vulnerability— particularly if one identifies as femme, non-binary, 2SLGBTQIA+, or a person of colour. In many venues, individuals simply do not feel like the space is safe or meant for them. Luckily, shows like Ladyfest, Colour Outside The Lines, and many other productions throughout the year are emerging around the city, creating inclusive spaces for up-and-coming comedians. While it still needs improvements, Montreal’s stand-up comedy scene is steadily growing in its inclusivity, offering individuals with less visibility comfortable spaces to share their voice, and start conversations with others.
Elpseth Wright’s next show is on Dec. 4 at 7:30 pm, at The Diving Bell Social Club. Tranna Wintour’s next show is on Dec. 5 at 8:30 pm, also at The Diving Bell Social Club. Sara Meleika’s next show is on Dec. 14 at 7 pm, at Le P’tit Impro.
THE MCGILL TRIBUNE PRESENTS:
Sophie Brzozowski, Kyle Dewsnap, Jonathan Giammaria, Deana Korsunsky, Katia Innes, Gabe Nisker, Kevin Vogel
Managing Editor, News Editor, A&E Editors, and Staff Writers
Ari Aster traded Hereditary’s claustrophobic setting and occult imagery for sunny plains and floral dresses. Spearheaded by Florence Pugh’s devastating portrayal of grief and despair, the result is no less terrifying.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Another Tarantino film, another cinematic success. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’s all-star cast, witty dialogue, and pleasingly violent scenes make for a delightful ode to ‘60s Hollywood.
A daring examination of structural inequality from acclaimed director Bong Joon-ho. Clever dialogue and striking images punctuate this twisted family drama.
Robert Eggers creates a world of one eyed seagulls, crazed monologues, and drunken dancing. With its exploration of sanity and isolation, The Lighthouse is sometimes funny, but mostly horrifying.
Jordan Peele returns to make what is normal and innocuous—a red jumpsuit and a pair of scissors—absolutely terrifying. It is a fitting warning to stay away from tunnels near the beach.
Worst: Tall Girl
Dance Moms star Ava Michelle makes an unfortunate return to the silver screen in Tall Girl, a formulaic, bland young-adult rom-com.
Full of dark humour and disturbingly comical ruminations on life and death, Natasha Lyonne gives a dazzling performance in season one of her morbid, Groundhog Day–esque drama.
Fleabag’s second season brings back the hilarious, hot mess of a woman that is “Fleabag,” exploring the intricacies of familial troubles, romantic troubles, and, well, life troubles.
I Think You Should Leave by Tim Robinson
Oh my god, we admit it: I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson’s cast of absurd oddballs made for some hysterical sketches.
Sex Education is an unflinching portrayal of teen sexuality: Embracing all the awkwardness and embarrassment that comes with growing up, it’s one of the most genuine coming-of-age stories in recent television.
The Crown (Season Three)
Oscar winner Olivia Coleman plays Queen Elizabeth II opposite Tobias Menzies’ Prince Philip in what continues to be one of the best historical dramas on TV.
Worst: Queer Eye Japan
The only thing worse than neoliberal virtue signaling is neoliberal virtue signaling with an imperialist twang. Queer Eye Japan is inappropriate and tone-deaf, misconstruing cultural differences as negatives that can be improved through Western living.
Lana Del Rey pioneered an entire genre of melancholic and dreamy ballads in the early ‘10s. With NFR!, she rounds out the decade with her magnum opus: A haunting exploration of love and loss that affirms her as a voice for her generation.
Titanic Rising by Weyes Blood
Singer-songwriter Natile Mering will make you happy to be sad with 42 minutes of dreamy ballads about love, despair, and hope.
Igor by Tyler the Creator
Post–Flower Boy Tyler is here for the TikTok e-boys and sad girls on Instagram. This woozy, lovesick album marks a mature step for Tyler without losing his trademark edge.
MAGDALENE by FKA twigs
After four years of silence, FKA twigs has re-emerged with one of the most poignant and visceral works of the year. Inspired by the oft-misunderstood biblical character, MAGDALENE is extraordinary.
thank u, next by Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande’s latest pumps out airy pop hits bumping to celebrity drama, breakups, and personal growth.
Worst: Teal Album by Weezer
2019 saw many a musical faux-pas, but none more shameful than when four middle-aged white guys decided to cover TLC’s “No Scrubs.”
SONGS “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X
A poignant exploration into the complexities of cowboyhood, what started as a TikTok meme became the undisputable anthem of 2019, launching Lil Nas X into muchdeserved stardom.
“Earfquake” by Tyler, the Creator
Heartbreak has never sounded better. A Whoa Vicky reference has also never worked better.
“So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” by Caroline Polachek
From vocal-saxophone effects, to lyrics that sing life to feelings of longing, this single is so hot it’s hurting all of our feelings.
“Cellophane” by FKA twigs
At once soaring and sparse, the first single off of FKA twigs’ affecting album is a heartrending portrait of the fatigue of unrequited love.
“Venice Bitch” by Lana Del Rey
Lana’s longest single brilliantly mixes soft rock, breathy vocals, and nostalgia to create a lyrical narrative about summer romance.
Worst: “Senorita” by Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello
There has never been a pair of industry plants with less chemistry than these two. Enough said.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT / 15
THE BEST AND WORST OF 2019
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT / 16
Another one bites the dust
Punk-rock co-op Katacombes is closing its doors Patrick Gilroy Contributor
In another hit to the Montreal independent music scene, DIY co-op and underground punk-rock venue Katacombes will be shutting its doors at the end of 2019. In a Facebook post announcing the closure, the co-op reported that rising rent prices and other financial pressures were to blame. This announcement follows a host of other independent venues that have had to close their doors or change locations in recent years. In early 2018, indie-scene staple Le Divan Orange shut down, unable to cope with rent and tax hikes. In February of the same year, Mile End coffee shop and music venue Le Cagibi announced its move from the intersection of Saint-Laurent and Saint- Viateur to a nearby space in Little Italy, also citing rising costs. Having hosted nearly 2,000 shows spanning many genres in the 13 years since it opened, Katacombes’ abrupt closure marks a severe loss for an increasingly gentrified Montreal neighbourhood. The Latin Quarter, which encompasses large portions of the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) and the lower half of SaintDenis Street, has seen an increase in rent prices in response to the development of the Quartier des Spectacles. This cultural development project, first proposed by the Quebec Association of the Record, Entertainment and Video Industry (ADISQ) at the 2002 Montreal Summit, intends to house 30 different performance halls. Pre-
Katacombes will close at the end of 2019. (Imran Zarrinkoub / The McGill Tribune) existing facilities such as Place des Arts and the Musée d’art contemporain (MAC) are included in this project and will be complemented by new constructions. In 2008, Mayor Gérald Tremblay claimed that the project’s $120 million budget would bring in nearly $1.9 billion in private investment. The Quartier des Spectacles subsumes the entire Quartier Latin, and its growth plays a role in the area’s increasing gentrification. “[The] surrounding neighbourhood has been subject to redevelopment as of late with empty lots and older buildings being transformed into
office and condo towers,” CHOM-FM radio station noted in their report on Katacombes’ closure. Whether or not this will happen to the lot the venue occupies is still to be seen. In the Facebook comments of the post announcing the closure, owners of Katacombes guessed that the building will, at the very least, be demolished soon. Without smaller, independent venues to serve as showcases for local artists, communities risk marginalizing musicians who may struggle to find alternative spaces to play. The loss of
Katacombes is another blow to the local artistic identity of the Quartier Latin and to the strength of its legacy. The replacement of underground hubs with large condos or other corporate driven enterprises severely harms the cultural development of individual neighbourhoods, and repercussions echo throughout the communities. In 2017, the City of Montreal claimed to be forming a committee with the goal of looking out for the success of smaller music venues. “[We recognize] that a lot of places are fragile and that they provide a really valuable cultural service without getting any of the support, or any of the funding, that one gets for providing this absolutely essential input into our cultural landscape,” said Christine Gosselin, the city councillor member and executive committee member responsible for culture, heritage and city planning. The closure of Katacombes suggests a failure to translate these words into action. If the city refuses to stand up for small independent music venues, it will be up to individual community members to support their local artistic spaces. The venue’s closure marks the end of an important cultural artifact, and it hurts both the up-andcoming artists with nowhere to play and the music lovers with nowhere to go. Despite the closure, Katacombes will continue hosting shows until Dec. 31, giving regular spectators one last chance to support a local music staple.
‘A History of Breathing’ explores faith and trauma in a fantastical hellscape Human-like animals and animalistic humans take to the stage at Moyse Hall Joey Caplan
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
What do you get when you cross a frog, a murderous soldier, and (maybe) god? This is the question that McGill Drama and Theater’s performance of A History of Breathing attempts to answer. This outlandish play combines elements borrowed from creation myths and the post-apocalypse, two themes that appear fundamentally contradictory. While the premise is intriguing, A History of Breathing never seems to reach its potential, and the resolution fails to fully reconcile these themes. However, admirable work from the performers, as well as exceptionally creative set, costume, and lighting design shines through. The play begins with an interpretation of a Indigenous creation myth: Toad (Oluchi Akinfenwa), Turtle (Cameron Leonard), and Muskrat (Kateryna Fylypchuk) sit on a boat, with no land in sight, waiting for a woman to fall from the sky. They bicker and bother each other, each of the actors committed to presenting the childlike curiosity of their characters. The play shifts suddenly to a father and a daughter, also drifting along in a boat. The two of them bicker as well, primarily about inane subjects, but also dropping subtle hints as to what happened to
In the creation myth that the play is based on, a turtle is said to be holding the entire world on its back. (Adeline Li / The McGill Tribune) this flooded, burning world, building a mysteriously lonely atmosphere. Maddy Corvino plays the daughter, and while her abilities as an actor shine through at certain, more restrained and emotional moments, the character’s near perpetual state of anger makes it difficult to relate to her. The father, played by Gabriel Ray, displays her acting chops, providing a calmer and more comforting presence to contrast the daughter’s fury. After a while, a stray boat drifts along and its captain, played with captivating ambiguity by Cameron Leonard, offers the family some
much needed nourishment in exchange for an oar. Is this man simply another survivor, or could he be god? The other boat, as well as the audience, is kept guessing, and this enigmatic newcomer provides a much needed change of pace. Just before the end of the first act, the aforementioned murderous soldier is introduced along with his young, silent prodigy (Charlotte Gimlin). Arielle Shiri plays the soldier as an unpredictable allegory for the horrors of war, finally bringing a much needed sense of excitement to the story. Every word the soldier says takes on a sinister edge, making the
soldier’s presence intimidating even if the script is not. The costume design contributes greatly to the play’s dreary atmosphere. The father and daughter’s outfits suggest they were forced to escape with merely the clothes on their backs, while the captain curiously wears fishing attire, despite the apocalypse leaving everyone else entirely unprepared. Each of the animals’ attire is simple and charming, featuring a cap with frog’s eyes, a turtle shell, and a muskrat’s pelt, making it perfect for a creation myth. The first act featured creative set designs consisting
of boats made to look like nondescript books, and lighting that conveyed the endlessness of the flooded territory. When the curtains opened at the beginning of the second act, the entire stage had changed: Instead of the minimalist combination of boats and lighting, the stage was populated with a massive, whimsically painted tree, a burning house, and murals featuring demonic sheep. Unfortunately, the second act is nothing but a pretty face. While all the performances remain impressive and dynamic, the script itself becomes even more tangled in its own metaphors, unsure of whether it wants to be a commentary on violence, faith, or fatherhood, and promptly fails to deliver on all three. The creation myth aspect of the play contrasts wiith the murder and profanity pf the rest of the production, which not only causes tonal whiplash between scenes, but becomes especially problematic when the two stories finally come together. The play’s script might be disjointed at times, but every other element makes A History of Breathing more than worthwhile. The McGill Department of English Drama & Theatre Program proves that it can impress under any circumstances, and the amount of effort put into every scene left the audience breathless.
Benjamin Joppke / Staff Photographer
PHOTOGRAPHY / 17
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
How individuals develop their styles today Sophia White Staff Writer I have always been fascinated by personal style, and I often wonder how our unique and individual styles are formed, what causes trends to come and go, and why we dress the way we do. Though we might assume that we can tell a lot about a person based on what they are wearing, in reality, we are only getting a small glimpse into their overall identity. There is something refreshing and exhilarating about observing the street style in a diverse city like Montreal. For many, the city is a fresh start, a blank canvas for personal reinvention, and there is never any shortage of style inspiration walking down a crowded block in any one of Montreal’s neighbourhoods. From the quintessential Mile End toques and mushroom haircuts to sophisticated downtown workwear, Montrealers consistently express their histories, culture, opinions, and ideas through what they wear. One possible influence on the development of individual style is the way people were raised and what they wore growing up. The clothes that people were exposed to as children have the potential to affect style choices in the present because they happen to be more available in their minds. Since sartorial tastes can come from subconscious places, it makes sense that our parents and other people we grew up around have the ability to affect our style choices just as they affect our mannerisms, behaviour, and personality. Additionally, people tend to gravitate towards the clothes that remind them of safety and that are associated with fond memories. A staple of my own wardrobe is a brown suede jacket that I snagged a few years ago from my mother’s closet, much to her frustration. Not only is that jacket a vintage find that I’m sure would be difficult to get a duplicate of today, it also has deep sentimental value. My family used to take annual day trips every fall to a nearby orchard. As a kid, one of the highlights of those trips was the giant slides sitting atop makeshift hay stacks. I have a vivid mental image of my mom wearing that jacket as she slid down the giant slide, grinning from ear to ear with my younger brother in her arms. I might be inclined to purchase a similar jacket if I spotted it in a store today, but the sentimental value attached to the original makes me love hers even more. Personal style at McGill tends to be highly creative and
representative of our generation’s desire to experiment by trying out new trends and styles. Many undergraduates are still figuring out who they are and who they want to be, so for many, university is the opportunity to come into an identity, explore new things, and draw inspiration from peers. Laura Cohendet, U3 Management, is a co-executive director for McGill’s Fashion Business Uncovered. Cohendet describes her own personal style as minimalistic with staple and long-lasting pieces. “I like to invest in some quality, basic pieces and repurpose from there,” Cohendet said. “I got a pair of Levi’s jeans from Portobello Market in London, which is where a lot of designers go to seek inspiration and where individual merchants set up shops. You can find a lot of quality pieces there, and my jeans are vintage, so I paid more for them than I would for a pair of fast fashion jeans, but I wear them all the time.” Cohendet noted that there are people with similar styles worldwide, which creates a sense of community in the fashion industry. “Everyone has their own individualistic style and curates the image [that] they want to portray to the world every day when they wake up,” Cohendet said. “[...] I think that, within the world, even though you might feel like you’re dressing uniquely, there are other individuals maybe in Brazil or Paris that have similar styles, and that creates tribes that dress similarly [....] I think that everyone belongs to one of these tribes.” Rachael Atkinson, U3 Management, finds it difficult to pin down her style, but is a big fan of thrifting a range of pieces and using them in different ways. “My style is hard to define, and its influences are far and wide,” Atkinson said. “[...] But I like to thrift a lot, which gives me a lot of really interesting pieces and has developed my style so that it exists at both ends of the spectrum, from the classic Coco Chanel and Jackie O to the more eccentric and modern Comme des Garçons. I don’t necessarily have one go-to. I draw from [...] everything.” Advertising and mainstream fashion also strongly influence style. The more people see and are exposed to trendy pieces, the more likely they are to react positively to them without necessarily knowing why. If many people see a bizarre new style in a store window, only those with an interest in fashion or a real sense of adventure are likely to buy
it immediately. But once everyone has seen it on a few people, scrolled through multiple ads for it, and started to recognize it as something normal, the piece can begin to move from the subconscious to the conscious mind, and the mainstream might end up giving it a try. Trends also make it easier to fit in with our peers, as we see certain groups of people who identity with different ‘looks.’ Our brains are constantly picking up clues and signals from everyone around us, so it is likely that our styles sometimes resemble those of the people we are with the most. A study in the online magazine Perception led by assistant cognitive science professor Mark Changizi of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute showed how direct and repeated exposure to ads increases consumer preference for promoted products, and explained why the most effective ads are often those that consumers do not even realize. “The frequency with which an individual is visually exposed to an object can provide evidence of this expected gain, and our brains have developed mechanisms that exploit this information, rationally modulating our preferences,” Changizi said to ScienceDaily. Our culture constantly bombards us with pressure to buy, accumulate, and always seek bigger and better. When it comes to clothes, no matter how full our closets are, many of us complain that we have nothing to wear. Consumers in the Western world generally believe that they are totally free to express themselves and dress how they please. At the same time, however, many try to conform to images from mainstream advertising and media as an approximation of their ideal image. There are norms and expectations imposed on us every day, and the clothes we wear vary according to our goals, jobs, and overall social position. Ultimately, style is the ability to sort through an abundance of options, make a distinct choice, and do so in a way that conforms to how we see ourselves and how we want to be seen. Style is a stamp of personal identity and a visible image to the world. It is an ode to creativity and novelty as well as an excursion into self-expression and our personalities. It is a reflection of our unique complexities as human beings, a selfknowledge and self-confidence expressed through what we choose to wear, and a life-affirming symbol of character and spirit.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
STUDENT LIFE / 18
Revealing a sense of identity through personal style
Personal style at McGill represents our generation’s sense of curiosity. (Ruobing Chen / The McGill Tribune)
Clubs still struggling to find spaces Miguel Principe Contributor In March 2018, the University Centre, commonly known among students as the “SSMU Building,” closed for much-needed renovations. While the building was scheduled to open by the end of that year, this date has been pushed back to April 2020, 16 months past the initial deadline. During this twoyear period, the loss of this crucial space has forced multiple student-run collectives, clubs, and services to relocate. The issue of communicating disruptions to student events started to surface weeks before the building was set to close. On Feb. 12, 2018, a preparatory inspection showing a high level of asbestos in the Players’ Theatre’s office caused an unexpected closure of the space along with major disruptions to the McGill Drama Festival, which was being held at the time. Cheyenne Cranston, Players’ Theatre event coordinator, expressed her disapproval of the lack of forewarning surrounding this problem in an interview with the The McGill Tribune. “Our biggest concern is [why] this wasn’t made an issue before we had 50 students working months to put on this show,” Cranston said. The need for student-run collectives to adapt with insufficient resources continues to be a problem, as highlighted by the problems Midnight Kitchen, McGill’s own food collective, has faced. With a goal of providing affordable food as well as a space to congregate and work against food insecurity, the club has unique needs which, according to Midnight Kitchen coordinator Leah Freedman, remain unmet. “We needed an industrial kitchen on campus, and we never found that,” Freedman said. “We only have an industrial kitchen in Saint-Henri [....] We’re doing a good job keeping up, but [our service] is
Vegan lunch service Midnight Kitchen was one student organization displaced by the building closure. (Kaylina Kodlick / The McGill Tribune) really limited.” Other clubs have had to contend with limitations, such as the lack of wheelchair accessibility in 3471 Peel, which houses many organizations such as the Peer Support Centre and Walksafe. Other issues, such as the lack of on-campus spaces for large events, storage space for equipment, gender-neutral washrooms, and the lack of communication with clubs regarding delays, suggest a greater problem of the administration’s handling of the University Centre closure. “It feels like [the clubs] are taken out of the conversation, and we are being deprioritized,” Freedman said. “In my opinion, McGill doesn’t want [community] spaces to exist, because it’s not in their best interest, which is profit.” Freedman further explains that the deprioritization of these community spaces by the
administration impacts the organizing culture of the university. These locations, which are coined as “third places” by sociologist Ray Oldenburg, are breeding grounds for social connections, inclusion, and democracy. While students are also able to go to other hangout spots such as cafes or bars outside campus, spaces that are driven by the community rather than profit are the most inclusive and beneficial for promoting a culture of exchanging and sharing ideas. The University Centre was one venue where student-run organizations could share this goal of cooperation and solidarity. For McGill to better support inclusive student-run organizations, Freedman believes they must communicate and plan better. “It would be better if they came up with a proper solution,” Freedman said. “If they would overshoot the deadline but commit to a viable solution in the meantime, that would be way [better], rather than [...] push[ing] the dates.” Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) President Bryan Buraga believes the solutions that McGill have provided are sufficient given the circumstances, but remains equally dismayed by the University Centre’s postponed re-opening. On SSMU’s part, they have stated that they are doing their best to accommodate student groups but there remains more requests for spaces than they have available. Despite the ongoing dilemmas associated with the University Centre’s closure, Midnight Kitchen remain both adaptive and optimistic. “We’re as bummed about the closure as anyone,” Midnight Kitchen wrote on the Facebook post regarding the ongoing construction, “But the forced flexibility has kept us on our toes and will likely lead to a new, revitalized perspective once we are back.”
STUDENT LIFE / 19
Organizations like Midnight Kitchen persist despite displacement
Illuminating Medical Herstory The online space highlights women’s experiences with healthcare Alaana Kumar Staff Writer
Medical Herstory seeks to empower women to speak about their experinces in healthcare by highlighting their individual stories. (Kellyane Levac / The McGill Tribune) own story of battling medical mistreatment, Ford was pleasantly surprised by the feedback that she received, specifically from those who began to share similar stories. In an email to The McGill Tribune, Ford described how this led her to start Medical Herstory. “[I created Medical Herstory as a response to] the
feeling that women’s bodies are not allowed to be messy or leaky, and the consequences [that] we feel when our health doesn’t allow us to keep up appearances of being ladylike,” Ford wrote. Medical Herstory seeks to destigmatize conversations about female-presenting people’s experiences of seeking
presenting individuals feel less alone when seeking medical assistance. From stories of being prescribed white panties for chronic yeast infections, to being provided with numbing cream after a painful first sexual encounter, and even having ovarian cancer dismissed as being indigestion, the writers for Medical Herstory speak openly and candidly to remind women and femmes that their pain is real and should not be ignored. “My wish is that Medical Herstory can make illness less invisible and less isolating,” Ford wrote. “I hope our readers take away that many people [around them] are suffering in silence [and] [...] how gender expectations, sexism, and institutional inequality amplify this suffering.” Ford credits her time at McGill and working at the Office of Sexual Violence Response, Support, and Eduction (OSVRSE) and as an executive at the Women’s Health Advocacy Club, for teaching her the importance of handling other people’s stories with care. She hopes Medical Herstory inspires a call to action regarding womens’ medical health and wellbeing. “I hope our readers will use whatever positions or influence they occupy to push for healthcare that is comprehensive and compassionate for all,” Ford wrote.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
Inequality and injustices within the healthcare system are no secret, and high-income countries are no exception. Individuals of colour, those of a lower financial or social status, and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are sometimes treated dismissively by healthcare practitioners. Research on the differential treatment by gender in medical settings is also a growing topic of discussion and has revealed that women’s medical concerns are still disregarded, resulting in insufficient care. Medical Herstory aims to fight this issue by offering an online space for women and femmeidentifying people to share past, present, and ongoing experiences of being dismissed by clinicians while seeking healthcare. Individuals who present as female are often perceived as weak both in society at large and in the healthcare sector. Women are more likely to be told their pain is psychosomatic and are often criticized for being overly dramatic or emotional. Tori Ford (BA, ‘19), founder and editor-in-chief of Medical Herstory, started the website as a way to help women break the stigma surrounding the discussion of their bodies. After attending women’s health circles and sharing her
medical assistance. Research published in the Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics suggests that women’s pain is often perceived as less severe compared to men’s. Through her time at McGill and her current academic work, Ford found a prominent overlap between structures of social inequality and health. “I learned the importance of power structures, positionality, and lived experience,” Ford wrote. “I wanted to create a platform to raise awareness on medical topics [that was] separate from sterile, academic, or scientific discussions that too often leave patient experiences on the margins.” Medical Herstory takes readers on a journey through a female patient’s perspective. The website seeks to captivate readers through honest stories accompanied by visuals created based on the author’s direction. “When designing this website, I was keenly aware of the fact that we would be sharing stories that were often heavy, raw, and difficult,” Ford wrote. “I wanted the aesthetic of the website to balance these emotions by offering bright, colourful, and welcoming images.” With personal stories of seeking diagnoses, birth control, abortions, and other medical procedures, Medical Herstory hopes to help feminine-
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY / 20
The haphazard world of scientific research funding A biased system leaves little space for the basic sciences Ronny Litvack-Katzman Staff Writer
Human systems, from medicine and technology to industrial agriculture, are built upon the tools and findings brought forward by scientific achievement. Yet, to practice science in the 21st century, researchers depend upon another cornerstone of modern civilization: Money. The amount of funds required to conduct scientific research is almost incomprehensible. Last year, McGill received over $500 million to fund research. In the past, grant money has allowed McGill scientists to uncover the molecule behind synaptic plasticity, suggest innovative climate change solutions, and peer into life on other planets. Although the benefits of research endowments are obvious, the source of McGill labs’ research money is a more complicated story—one that includes various stakeholders across the scientific community. In Canada, the vast majority of grants for scientific research come from the federal government. When scholars apply for federal funding, they submit a proposal to one of three governing bodies: The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), or the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). These bodies indirectly receive funding from the government, according to Katie Gibbs, executive director of Evidence for Democracy, a non-profit organization that advocates for evidencebased policymaking in Canadian politics. “The federal government decides how much money to give those councils and has varying degrees of determination over how those funds are distributed,” Gibbs said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. These three funding agencies, together referred to as the ‘Tri-Councils,’ are led by scientists who read and choose which applications to fund from university faculty and graduate-level researchers. The competitive nature of this application system creates tension in academic environments. Among other aspects, a professor’s research output can be a deciding factor in a university’s decision of whether to grant them tenure. This reality puts additional pressure on academics to secure funding and churn out more papers; the alternative entails jeopardizing career growth. In a country where the government holds a tight grasp on the purse strings of science, researchers find themselves strapped to propose immediately useful projects. Studies with instant benefits to
the public interest are more likely to receive funding and have been appearing with increasing frequency in the application process. These projects typically fall within the fields of medical science or engineering—disciplines that are known for producing direct and tangible results. Another issue associated with the current funding landscape is the inconsistency of available money from year to year. Left to the whims of changing federal governments, each prime minister can dictate the federal budget’s research allocations during their time in office. The Harper government increased Canadian expenditures to science and technology from 2005–2009 but decreased the same funds by 10 per cent leading up to 2015. “Certainly, over the years of the Harper government, funding for the TriCouncils was pretty stagnant,” Gibbs said. “Even when there was new money made available, it was often criticized that a lot of the new programs put in place required things like an industry partnership.” At McGill, industry-sponsored research represented the fourth-largest funding source in 2018. Approximately eight per cent of McGill’s research budget, which amounts to just over $44 million, was acquired through industry partnerships from businesses and corporations. Industry funds are not typically dispersed evenly between disciplines. Similar to successful governmental grants, research subjects that attract interest from corporations come from scientific fields with direct applications. This practice can ostracize scientists who require funds to complete what is known as basic science in the fields of chemistry, physics, and biology. These subjects provide foundational knowledge for researchers in the applied sciences to create the drugs, machines, and technology of the future. Rafael Reif, the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) wrote to the Wall Street Journal in 2016 about the issue of the asymmetric support that industries provide to certain disciplines. “The qualities [that] make industry good at applied research, primarily their appetite for immediate commercialization, a laser focus on consumer demand, an obligation to maximize short-term returns, and a proprietary attitude about information—make industry a bad fit for supporting basic scientific research,” Reif wrote. Gibbs is unsure that the government has lived up to its campaign promise to provide scientists with additional support that they requested five years ago. “Overall, the Trudeau government has done a pretty good job,” Gibbs said. “They didn’t really make any big promises around funding in the  election. They expressed, more broadly, vague commitments around ‘restoring science to its rightful place,’ so it is kind of hard to measure if they have followed through or not.” In 2017, the federal government
commissioned a report on the state of scientific progress in Canada and recommended fairly large investments into fundamental research. Yet, federal government spending on science and technology is expected to decrease by 2.6 per cent from $12 billion to $11.7 billion in 2019. In fact, federally funded research in Canadian universities and institutes remains among the lowest per capita of any high-income economy, sinking to less than 25 per cent in 2017. Thus, Canadian institutions are left to supplement 50 per cent of these costs today, to the detriment of both research and education. The repercussion of government funding decisions directly impacts researchers at all levels of academia. Decisions to cut the amount of funds available to McGill professors in the basic sciences has consequences for their students as well. Brendon McGuinness, a secondyear PhD candidate in the Department of Biology, understands this experience firsthand. He expressed frustration with the NSERC application process specifically. “It is a lot of money,” McGuinness said. “[But] the applications are not fun to do because it really is quite intimidating. It’s very competitive and a lot of work for an award you are statistically not going to get.” Graduate students are generally encouraged by their supervising professors to seek additional sources of funding aside from government grants that have become increasingly difficult for students to depend on. In an interview with the Tribune, Jessica Rose, Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) Chair of Teaching Assistant (TA) Bargaining, explained that supervisors are hesitant to offer students research contracts because they fear that the university will not be able to reliably supplement the student’s income. Graduate students are therefore left to accept graduate offers that are not adequately supported by federal f u n d s and must take on the additional
responsibilities as TAs or search for other sources of income. “In our conversations with the Faculty of Science, we found that most of the funding for doctoral students comes from their supervisors, but the supervisors were very reluctant to guarantee students a minimum [salary], because they were concerned that they could lose their grants,” Rose said. McGuinness also explained that students are not always motivated to apply for funding, since they rely on money from many other sources. “In my experience, you are not incentivized financially when applying for the [NSERC] awards because so much of the money that we make is coming from other sources,” McGuinness said. “Yes, it looks good on a CV and is very good for getting postdoc positions, but in terms of the money you are receiving, it most likely is coming from somewhere else. Regardless of the pressure, we are encouraged by our supervisors to apply for grants.” Scientific progress is only as successful as the people involved. As of yet, the Canadian government has still not found a mutually amicable way to relieve the financial burden placed on individual professors, their students, and the institutions that support them. Ultimately, basic sciences should not be overlooked, and instead must receive funding that reflects the immense contribution of scientists to more applied fields.
Many researchers in Canada get grant money from funding agencies that depend on the federal government for support. (Zoe Countess / The McGill Tribune)
The gut microbiome in disease and health Miguel Principe Contributor There are thousands of different bacterial species living inside our intestines. This environment, called the gut microbiome, provides the body with key vitamins and ensures a healthy immune system. The composition of the gut microbiome is key: Dysbiosis, a condition that occurs when ‘bad’ bacteria take over the gut, is linked to a wide variety of diseases ranging from inflammatory bowel disease to autism spectrum disorder. A group of researchers from McGill and the Université de Montréal found that dysbiosis is often correlated with fibromyalgia, a disease marked by chronic pain, constant fatigue, and gastrointestinal problems. Their results were published in a paper in the journal Pain in November. Dr. Amir Minerbi, a pain physician-scientist at the Rambam Health Campus in Haifa, Israel, was one of the paper’s lead researchers. “Fibromyalgia is very frustrating for patients,” Minerbi said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “They seem okay on the
Researchers found a correlation between gut microbiome health and fibromyalgia. (Ruobing Chen / The McGill Tribune). outside, but inside, [...] it feels like having the flu for a very long time [....] It is frustrating for physicians, because we are not good at diagnosing fibromyalgia. It takes four years to diagnose, and [...] after diagnosis, even with the best treatment, [the patient] may still [experience] symptoms.” This frustration was the catalyst for investigating the
relationship between the gut and fibromyalgia. Their hypothesis was justified, since the microbiome has been associated with other chronic pain disorders, such as chronic dysfunction pelvic pain and chronic fatigue syndrome. In the study, researchers collected stool samples from people with and without
fibromyalgia. Through sequencing bacterial DNA found in the stool samples, they found that people with fibromyalgia had more bacterial species associated with factors such as inflammation, inhibition of brain activity, and metabolism of organic acids within their microbiome. Furthermore, patients with more pronounced symptoms of fibromyalgia had higher amounts of bacteria associated with such factors. These findings, however, are still preliminary and represent only a correlation rather than causation. There is still the possibility that fibromyalgia causes an altered microbiome, instead of the other way around. Nevertheless, this opens the door for better diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia through examining the health of patients’ microbiomes. Promoting a healthy gut microbiome might entail incorporating a wide variety of plant-based and fermented foods with plenty of prebiotics into one’s diet. Prebiotics are compounds that alter the gut microbiome to grow beneficial microbes. They are frequently absent from the current Western diet, which is
characterized by large amounts of meat and processed foods. At McGill, the Microbiome Project aims to promote good bacteria and avoid dysbiosis. Founded by Julian Russell, U2 Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and John Weilenmann, M1 Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the club has hosted numerous workshops on how to make all types of foodstuffs, such as hot sauces and natural wines, that are based on fermentation and therefore contain plenty of live bacteria called probiotics. The group hopes to steer clear of artificial chemicals commonly used in commercial products. They also aim to tackle other aspects of life that promote a healthy microbiome, such as exercising and sleeping enough. “We focus on various types of fermentation, as well as a lifestyle component,” Russell said. “A healthy body and a healthy gut go together, so we encourage people to take their exercise and sleep seriously [....] If you’re not living a healthy lifestyle, [that is] going to negatively impact the good bacteria that live in you, [allowing] you to be susceptible to pathogens.”
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY / 21
Promoting good gut microbes has life-changing implications
Learning to love physics
McGill Physics professor explains why you should not fear the subject Gwenyth Wren Contributor
For many, understanding intimidating subjects like physics means learning the little things first. (Athena Ko / The McGill Tribune). People often doubt their ability to understand physics because they have trouble wrapping their mind around things that they cannot see. “I find this response funny because people have no problem getting their mind around CRISPR or trying to understand advanced technology in other areas of science they can’t see,” Ragan said. “No one has ever seen a hydrogen atom, but they believe it can exist.” While many might continue to be ‘physics shy,’ starting with small steps can help to overcome fear of the subject. Astrophysics and blackholes may be daunting, but as Ragan points out, learning about the laws of the universe can be as simple as learning a few real-world physics concepts. For me, this mindset has allowed me to genuinely partake in physics conversations with my boyfriend.
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Two months ago, my boyfriend picked up a physics minor, and our conversations gradually began to veer off into the realm of Newton’s laws and black holes. I, far from a physics lover, expressed my frustration that our discussions were going way over my head. Soon after, he bought me Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, a popular science book by Neil deGrasse Tyson, that focuses on common questions about the universe. With that, I dove into my boyfriend’s newfound passion. The book offered an interesting perspective on how humans fit into the universe. For me, learning about the cosmos was a reminder that the world doesn’t revolve around humans. That being said, physics itself still intimidates me: The prospect of learning the laws that govern the entire universe seems too immense of a task. Ken Ragan, a professor in the Department of Physics at McGill who teaches PHYS 101: An Introduction to Mechanics for the Life Sciences and PHYS 131: Mechanics and Waves, defines this fear as being ‘physics shy.’ “People underestimate the extent [to] which they can understand physics,” Ragan said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “The idea that ‘It’s so complicated that I [could] never understand it,’ [...] that’s the part that is holding people back.” According to Ragan, students do not need to have a background in physics to take his PHYS 101 course: In the class, students learn basic governing principles that allow them to understand more applied concepts. “The scary things are the complicated things,” Ragan said. “But you don’t give an eight-year-old a 400-page book
[to teach them how to read] [....] You have to start small.” Science communication has a large role to play in making daunting scientific concepts digestible for nonscientists, a goal that Astrophysics for People in a Hurry hopes to achieve. The book explains the universe in its entirety, from the Big Bang 14 billion years ago to today, detailing phenomena such as the formation of the Milky Way and the naming of planets and asteroids. Instead of feeling inspired by the book, however, some can feel overwhelmed by the onslaught of large-scale science and the lack of basic explanations of universe-level happenings. Unlike the big picture approach that Tyson’s book takes, Ragan believes that the key to loving physics lies in starting small. “Physics, [at least at] the level that I teach in U0 introductory courses, is primarily mechanics of how things move, how forces work, [...] how we describe [...] rotating systems in which collisions are happening, and how we think about energy,” Ragan said. “The nice thing about physics is [that] there are all sorts of examples around you for how these concepts work. Bicycles have rolling wheels, kids’ toys have springs, balls or hockey pucks slide on frictionless surfaces. There are lots of real-world examples for how you can understand systems in quantitative ways.” Yet, when most people hear the word ‘physics,’ they think of massive black holes and the theory of general relativity. “All of the cool physics [in] best-selling books and popular documentaries is not the kind of physics [that] we teach at the basic level,” Ragan said. “Astrophysics, gravitational waves, or quantum mechanics are all based on introductory concepts. That’s the striking feature of physics: You build up this toolkit.”
SPORTS / 22
Professional sports after McGill
McGill athletes past and present demonstrate the value of Canadian university sports
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 2019
Zoe Babad-Palmer Staff Writer From March Madness to the Frozen Four, sports fans often follow tournaments in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)—the organization in charge of American college sports— as fiercely as they follow professional leagues, keeping track of draft prospects and filling up 100,000–seat stadiums. But U SPORTS, the Canadian university sports governing body, is significantly less popular. Despite this disadvantage, McGill student athletes have found success both in professional leagues and on the national stage. The smaller size of U SPORTS as a league compared to the NCAA means that schools generate less revenue through their sports teams, leaving them with fewer resources to spend on athletics. McGill alumna and former Martlet basketball player Alex Kiss-Rusk played one season in the NCAA with Virginia Tech before transferring to McGill and noted the drawbacks of playing in a smaller league. “The NCAA has money and resources that Canadian schools simply cannot match,” Kiss-Rusk wrote in an email to The McGill Tribune. “The vast majority of the money coming into these programs [is] generated by the schools’ football teams [....] The money [the football team] produces has allowed many schools to flourish in all sports.” Even with the disparity in resources, Kiss-Rusk believes that the cross-border programs are not as different as some may think. “Although the competition in the NCAA is obviously superior, [...] I can’t say [that] there are tremendous differences,” Kiss-Rusk wrote. “Playing at McGill, I felt as though academics were held [to] a higher standard. But, as for my on-court experience, it was very similar.” Kiss-Rusk is now playing for BC Pharmaserv Marburg in the Deutsche-Basketball-Bundesliga (DBBL), a German women’s basketball league. She is not the only McGill alumnus to go pro: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (M.D. ‘18) is a guard for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. Additionally, McGill graduates, including women’s hockey gold medalists Charline Labonté and Kim St-Pierre, have triumphed at the Olympics. McGill’s alumni network boasts 28 Olympic medalists, and there has not been an Olympic Games since 1908 without a McGill graduate competing. Martlet Hockey Assistant Coach and program alumna Alyssa Cecere won three national championships with the Martlets and one Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) championship with the Montréal Stars (later renamed Les Canadiennes de Montréal). She found that her experiences at university prepared her to compete with the Stars. “When I played at McGill [we had] high-paced practices, which transferred over to our games,” Cecere said. “With the Stars, it was a bit of a higher pace.” In addition to the game itself, Cecere said that McGill’s travel schedule transferred well to that of the Stars. As a coach, she now tries to instill a culture of professionalism in her players to prepare them for the workplace, whether that be a hockey rink or not. Kiss-Rusk has a similar pride in the broader skills McGill taught her, which she believes are crucial to her professional career. “Understanding how to be a leader on a team is very important [when] playing professionally
Alex Kiss-Rusk now plays for BC Pharmaserv Marburg in Germany after graduating from McGill in 2018. (Derek Drummond / McGIll Athletics) and is certainly something I learned while playing at McGill,” Kiss-Rusk wrote. “When you’re on a professional team, you are often joining a new group every year. You’re stepping into an important role on the court, so finding a way to lead a new group that doesn’t know you and doesn’t trust you yet is a challenge.” For many McGill athletes, going pro isn’t the initial or ultimate goal. While NCAA athletes can often start their studies having already been drafted, a professional career was not in Cecere’s plans until her final year at McGill. “It’s something that you think about as you keep going on, but it wasn’t something I necessarily thought, ‘That’s what I’m definitely going to do,’” Cecere said. “[My] fifth year was kind of like, ‘Well, you know what, I’m not done playing yet.’” Kiss-Rusk went through a similar process. “[Going pro] really only manifested itself as an option to me after my fourth year, when we won the national championship,” Kiss-Rusk wrote. “I began getting attention from the [Canadian] Senior Women’s National Team, and my time with them that summer solidified my decision to go pro after university.” Other players, like Martlet ice hockey alumna Mélodie Daoust, managed to play professionally while still at McGill. She played one game with the Stars during her first year as a Martlet and competed for Team Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in her third year, winning a gold medal. In Daoust’s final year, goalie Tricia Déguire joined the Martlets and soon also began attracting national attention. Déguire, now a fourth-year, has been invited to three Hockey Canada training camps and played at the Nations Cup in Germany. She credits the mentorship of teammate Daoust and assistant coach MariePhilip Poulin, one of Canada’s most decorated active hockey players, with helping her develop the drive that has brought her this far. “The thing [Daoust] always told me is to be the best I can be,” Déguire said. “She was always [at her] best when she was going on the ice, so she tried to translate that to me [....] [Poulin] says ‘Just continue to work as hard as you can. Push it through and give it [your] all, so that you can [succeed] after [your]
university career.’” Déguire, Kiss-Rusk, and Cecere, as well as other McGill alumni who are now professional athletes, benefited from McGill Athletics’ support system, which includes mental health support, physiotherapy, and tutoring, among other services. But going pro is, unavoidably, a trial by fire. Whether an athlete is in a North American or a European league or with a national team, they find themselves playing with more athletic teammates and against stronger opponents than at the university level. “The speed of the game [with the national team] is a bit quicker,” Déguire said. “The players [...] are all strong, good, big players, compared to [the university] team [whose players are] sometimes a bit smaller and weaker.” In addition to the game itself, athletes find themselves in an entirely new situation, outside of the common network that is university. “When I was at McGill, everyone was in the same boat. [We all] had classes, had training, [and] had practices,” Cecere said. The CWHL did not pay its players during Cecere’s time with the Stars, so she and most of her teammates worked full-time jobs, practicing on the evenings and competing on the weekends. “I wasn’t always at full capacity, my energy was lower,” Cecere said. “I would spend my full day on my feet teaching [physical education], [...] and then I would go from that to CEGEP practice, coach there, and then go to my practice [with the Stars] [....] You’re spent, pretty much.” Even with these challenges and changes, McGill athletes still consistently achieve excellence: Cecere helped her team win the Clarkson Cup in 2012; Kiss-Rusk led the DBBL in rebounds and blocks in 2018-19; and Déguire continues to hold her own against more experienced players at national camps. Whether they aim to go pro from the start or discover their options later on, McGill athletes have managed to find their way to professional leagues, despite the smaller size of U SPORTS and the McGill program. McGill’s alumni take their experiences at McGill and thrive—some even, as Cecere did, choose to come back to McGill to guide younger athletes on their own paths.
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The decade’s most impactful sports moments The events that defined sports in the 2010s
Jack Armstrong, Sarah Farnand, Shaun Lalani, Zoe Babad-Palmer, Adam Burton, Ender McDuff, Kaja Surborg, & Miya Keilin Contributors, Staff Writers, Sports Editors, & Managing Editor As the decade comes to a close, The McGill Tribune looks back in chronological order on 10 of the most impactful moments in sports that helped shape athletics and the world. From incredible upset victories to social movements, the 2010s will go down as a decade to be remembered.
LeBron James’s “The Decision” (2010) With all of LeBron James’s spectacular on-court play over the last 17 years, it’s hard to believe that his most impactful moment happened in an ESPN TV studio. LeBron announced his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat on live television, a controversial move in the moment, and one that has only increased in significance since. He succeeded in changing the public’s perception of athletes from just players to actual people with their own difficult choices to make. His decision made it acceptable for athletes to change teams and market themselves, and it kindled the flame for what eventually became the player empowerment era. Since then, athletes have seized control and taken their careers and voices into their own hands, making for a more lively and interesting world of sports.
Waka Waka by Shakira (2010)
National Women’s Soccer League is established (2012)
The founding of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) was a truly monumental occasion in US soccer history. The league, now heading into its ninth year, has already outlasted its predecessors by several seasons and has become an established heavyweight in the world of professional women’s soccer. The success of the NWSL has coincided with that of the US women’s national team, who won the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cups. The NWSL has helped women’s soccer viewership continue to rise across the US. 2019 saw the league register a total attendance of 792,409—a 111 per cent increase from its inaugural 2013 season. The rise in popularity has also helped expansion efforts: In 2021, the league will welcome its 10th franchise.
From 1999 to 2005, the world of cycling was dominated by Lance Armstrong, an American who won an unprecedented seven Tours de France in a row. It seemed too good to be true, and it was: In 2012, Armstrong was stripped of all seven Tour de France victories win what was perhaps the largest performance enhancing drugs (PED) scandal of all time. As early as 1998, Armstrong had been using PEDs, and in 1999, his entire team reportedly also practiced blood doping. In the following years, Armstrong used increasingly deceitful practices to avoid tests and win at all costs, including bribery and extreme evasive measures. In the years since this discovery, the Cycling Union has disavowed Armstrong and made efforts to distance themselves from further scandals by cracking down on PEDs.
Germany defeats Brazil 7–1 in the World Cup Semifinal (2014) At the 2014 World Cup, Germany shocked the world by defeating host nation Brazil 7–1. Germany went on to win the tournament, while Brazilian soccer was defined by the loss for the rest of the decade. An Olympic gold medal for Brazil two years later barely softened the blow. Germany played well in the semifinal, but Brazil was disgraceful the entire game, and they found themselves down by five goals in the first 30 minutes. Brazil came into the tournament as both the favourites and the host nation, and their collapse cemented this match as one of soccer’s greatest upsets ever.
Leicester City wins the Premier League (2016) In one of the most unlikely triumphs in the history of team sports, Leicester City Football Club won the Premier League title for the first time ever. Leceister came into the season more concerned with avoiding relegation to the second-tier league than their 5,000-to-one odds of winning the league; they left having defeated some of the biggest names in European football. Since its formation in 1992, only six other teams had won the English Premier League, all with enough money to blow smaller club teams like Leicester out of the water. Leicester accomplished this incredible feat with exceptional scouting, an emphasis on a team-first mentality, and a counter-attacking style of play with an exceptional defence. This victory against all odds will go down as perhaps the most surprising moment in English football.
Kaepernick kneels to protest the oppression of people of colour (2016-17)
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protested police brutality and racial inequality by taking a knee during the US national anthem in the 2016-17 NFL season. By the 49ers’ final preseason game, Kapernick’s teammate Eric Reid was kneeling alongside him. Every week, more and more players joined the protest. The backlash from football fans, professional athletes, politicians, and the general public was vicious, including calls for dismissal and even death threats. Kaepernick continued to kneel and speak out, however, and donated more than one
million dollars to causes such as Mothers Against Police Brutality, Meals on Wheels, and many other community-supporting organizations. Kaepernick became a free agent after the 2016-17 season and has been unemployed since.
The Nigerian women’s bobsled team competes in the Winter Olympics (2018) In 2017, the Nigerian women’s bobsled team, comprised of Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere, and Akuoma Omeoga, qualified for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, racing on their sled Maeflower. In addition to being the first African bobsled to compete at the Olympics, the team was the first ever Nigerian delegation to attend the Winter Olympics. The team was founded after raising $75,000 through a crowdfunding campaign, which they used to convince the Nigerian government to create the Bobsled & Skeleton Federation of Nigeria, later attracting Visa as a sponsor. Onwumere, one of the two brakewomen, carried the flag for her country at the opening ceremony. Although the team finished last in their event, they were proud to bring Nigeria to the Winter Olympics and bobsledding to Nigeria.
Tessa and Scott become the most decorated Olympic figure skaters of all time (2018) Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir stole Canada’s collective heart when they won ice dance gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. At the time, Virtue and Moir were just 20 and 22 years old, respectively. Over the course of the decade, the duo has continued to wow audiences and judges across the world. Their successful competitive career culminated in winning ice dance gold again in the team and individual events at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang. This win made them the most decorated Olympic figure skaters in history, with three gold and two silver medals across three Olympic Games. Canadians will forever remember their final free dance to a medley of the Moulin Rouge soundtrack that melted everyone’s hearts all over again.
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When South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010, it was not only the first one in Africa, but also the event that resulted in the release of one the most iconic songs and dances ever recorded: “Waka Waka.” Performed by Shakira and South African band Freshlyground, “Waka Waka” got children and adults alike doing the fabulous dance, which almost anyone who watched the 2010 World Cup will know. The single has nine-time platinum status in Sweden and has reached well beyond the host nation, tournament winners Spain, and Shakira’s home country of Colombia. While soccer was hardly niche before the 2010 World Cup, “Waka Waka” helped propel the sport firmly into popular culture.
Lance Armstrong is stripped of his titles (2012)
US Gymnasts speak out, team physician Larry Nassar convicted of sexual assault (2018)
One of the most well known cases in the #MeToo movement was the testimony of 156 women, many of whom were current or former members of the United States Women’s Gymnastics team, against sports physician Larry Nassar. Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexual assault of minors as a result. Olympic gold medallists Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, and Simon Biles were among those who testified against Nassar, sharing their stories of how his abuse affected their lives and athletic careers. The bravery of these women will hopefully shed light on the prevalence of the issue and show that abusers must be held accountable for their actions. As Raisman said in her testimony, “We are a force, and you Larry, are nothing.”
From incredible upset victories to social movements, the 2010s were filled with impactful sporting moments that helped shape athletics and the world. (Michael Zagaris / Getty Images)
Fall 2019 Highlights NEWS
Updates made to ‘Our Shared Spaces’ to help promote equity on campus Kate Addison
Lecture halls are still unsafe for racialized students Favour Daka
A&E In conversation with Nervous Nancy: Living through this Tatianna Sitounis
STUDENT LIFE At home at ECOLE Elinor Rosenberg
SCI-TECH Searching for the first stars Amir Hotter-Yishay
Standing with First Nations Youth: A Protest in Solidarity Aidan Martin & Sarah Ford
EDITORIAL Sharing Milton-Parc The McGill Tribune Editorial Board
FEATURE A moving target Ender McDuff
SPORTS Pride from 3,000 miles away Miya Keilin