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table of Contents

January 13, 2020 | The McGill Daily

Table of Contents 3




• Know Your Rights, Fight Renoviction

• Anti-War Protest Held Downtown • Quebec Weed Reform

7 • Commentary Even AIESEC is “Voluntourism”


Sci+Tech • No Food for Thought, Please

10 • Reorientation Reorientation Resources

12 • CompendiuM Being “Culturally Queer”

Sexual harassment and discrimination happen at McGill.

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Volume 109 Issue 13

January 13, 2020 | The McGill Daily


editorial board

680 Sherbrooke Suite 724, Montreal, QC H3A 0B8 phone 514.398.6784 fax 514.398.8318

The McGill Daily is located on unceded Kanien’kehá:ka territory.

coordinating editor

Kate Ellis

Know Your Rights, Fight Renoviction

managing editor

Willa Holt news editor

Yasna Khademian Emily Black commentary + compendium! editor

Michaela Keil culture editor


features editor

Pandora Wotton

science + technology editor

Leslie Brown sports editor


video editor


photos editor

José Noé De Ita Zavala illustrations editor

Daisy Sprenger

copy editor

Justine Ronis-Le Moal design + production editor


social media editor


radio editor

Amy Lloyd cover design

Daisy Sprenger contributors Emily Black, Leslie Brown, Yasna Khademian, Willa Holt, Phoebe Pannier, Daisy Sprenger, Alexis Zhou le délit

Grégoire Collet


esidents of the Plateau Mont-Royal have recently been faced with a crisis that disproportionately affects marginalized communities: renoviction. According to British Columbia’s provincial website, “renoviction” is used to describe an eviction that is carried out to renovate or repair a rental unit, a process closely related to the greater problem of gentrification. Cases like this have been present for much longer in neighbourhoods such as Verdun, Cote-des-Neiges, St-Henri, Centre-Sud, and Hochelaga. It is heavily connected to the Airbnb crisis, wherein despite local short-term housing laws, a number of affordable housing units are being renovated – only to be listed on Airbnb. Since spring 2019, Facebook groups such as Chez Queer Montreal and Gentrification Montreal have been flooded with discussions of renoviction by community members providing advice on the subject. The Comité logement du Plateau MontRoyal reported receiving at least 221 calls from tenants at risk of losing their homes to renoviction between April 1, 2019 and December 1, 2019. Housing advocates have labelled the situation a crisis. “We used to get 50 to 100 calls per year, from people complaining about being forced out of their apartments by landlords,” says Martin Blanchard, a community organizer with the Comité logement de la Petite Patrie, “now we get many hundreds every year.” In order to recognize abuses of power from landlords, it is important for tenants to know the laws in place that strive to protect them from renoviction. For instance, owners can only evict a tenant when they want to divide up the rental unit, demolish it, enlarge it or change what it is used for. Furthermore, an owner is not allowed to evict or repossess an apartment on several conditions, including if the tenant or the tenant’s spouse is 70 years or older, has lived in the apartment for 10 or more years, or has an annual income that makes them eligible for

low-rental housing (HLM). However, not all at-risk groups are necessarily protected under similar laws. If an eviction does occur, the owner must pay the tenant both compensation equal to three months’ rent and reasonable moving expenses. There are also restrictions regarding reasonable notice for eviction: in the case of a lease that is longer than six months, tenants must be notified six months prior to the termination of the lease. Supporting affordable and accessible community housing initiatives is an effective way to fight back against renoviction. In 2019, SSMU created the Affordable Student Housing Committee as a part of the portfolio of VP External Affairs. According to SSMU Services Representative Noah Merali, the committee’s goals “are to research the problems surrounding housing in Montreal, consult with students and student groups to better understand their needs, promote existing housing options, work with Unité de travail pour l’implantation de logement étudiant (UTILE) and other groups to plan new housing options, and work with the Legal Information Clinic at McGill to educate students on their housing rights.” Students can get involved by attending a town hall meeting on Monday January 27th at 5p.m. at 3590 Jeanne-Mance, to talk about making housing more affordable for students. If you are facing the threat of renoviction, consult the housing and legal resources on page nine of this issue. Even if you’re not, consider supporting people who are, by becoming a member of your local housing committee – for many McGill students, this is the Comité Logement du Plateau Mont-Royal. To avoid rising rent and gentrification, consider a lease transfer as opposed to letting your landlord reassign the apartment – this ensures that the incoming tenant pays similar costs as you did. The Facebook group Cession de bail et sous-location Montréal (Lease assignment and subletting Montreal) can help facilitate this process.

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January 13, 2020 | The McGill Daily

News: Montreal

Anti-War Protest Held Downtown No Justice, No Peace, US Out of the Middle East

Yasna Khademian News Editor


Street from Phillips Square, they chanted, “US imperialists, number one terrorists” and “No more war,” among other slogans.

n Sunday, January 5, just days after the US ordered the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport, anti-war protestors took to the streets of downtown Montreal to decry US aggression. Two Montreal demonstrations against a U.S.-Iran war were originally organized by separate parties – Montreal activist Shelby Johnson and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) in Canada – before deciding to merge into one unified demonstration, beginning Demonstrators held posters at Phillips Square and ending at the US consulate on Saint with anti-war messaging, such Catherine Street West. As the as “Stop economic terrorism protesters marched down Aylmer now,” “US out of Middle East,”

Many fear for their families’safety in Iran, as well as increasing surveillance of Iranians in the US.

“No blood for oil,” and “Stop the war machine.” A few held up photos honouring the deceased general, a move which angered some Iranians at the rally who hold unfavourable views of the government. While marching down Maisonneuve Boulevard West, one protestor shouted “Islamic regime is terrorists” and waved the flag of the former monarchy in Iran, which was overthrown in the 1979 revolution. After reaching the US consulate, a number of Iranians, Americans, and Canadians took turns decrying Western imperialism in the region. “No one deserves to live in a war zone,” one protestor declared. Demonstrators Condemn Western Imperialism In their speeches, speakers referred to the 1953 CIA coup in

Iran, U.S. economic sanctions on Iran, the American occupation of Iraq, and its benefits to Western oil companies, many of whom gained profitable access to Iraq’s oil industry and came to dominate it because of the war. While sanctions may not initially seem to put lives at risk, this is not the case in Iran. Due to sanctions and governmental mismanagement, Iranians lack critical access to humanitarian goods such as life-saving medicine, especially chemotherapy treatment drugs. The weight of sanctions introduced by US President Donald Trump in the past year have also resulted in inflation rates of 35.7 per cent according to the International Monetary Fund, meaning that the average price of consumer goods has risen by that percentage in

the past year, therefore making it difficult for many Iranians to afford essential items. Deutsche Welle noted that the Statistical Center for Iran calculated an even higher inflation rate of 47.2 per cent, with food and fuel inflation at more than 60 per cent. This pressure has undoubtedly compounded into civilian unrest, as the Iranian government’s decision to increase gas prices in the wake of mounting economic stress incited widespread protests in the last few months of 2019. Another protester in front of the consulate noted similarities between former US President Bill Clinton and sitting President Donald Trump. “The last time a president was impeached, he resorted to violence,” they stated to the crowd, “just to manipulate [US] domestic politics.” Indeed,

Yasna Khademian | News Editor

January 13, 2020 | The McGill Daily

news: montreal in 1998, Clinton launched a strike against Iraq just days before his impeachment inquiry, and was later acquitted in the US Senate. Additionally, Trump’s tweets in 2011 and 2012 that stated Obama would strike Iran in order to be re-elected have resurfaced. One Twitter user called these statements “pure projection,” describing Trump’s actions as having “no plan, no strategy, no rhyme, no reason, just impulse from the man who thinks a president could try to stay in office by starting a war.”


and thousands of injuries. In December, Reuters reported that approximately 1,500 Iranians had been killed in demonstrations against the government across a two-week period.

“You can be critical and have feelings of disdain for a regime that murders its own people and still believe that war ia not going to be any kind of solution.”

Varied Perceptions of Soleimani One speaker turned to comment on the death of the Iranian military figure, stating “We are feeling the loss of General Soleimani [...] he lived in the hearts and minds of the people in the Middle East.” This statement, again, was met with shouts from one protestor against the current Iranian government -Persis Karim and Soleimani. Indeed, there are varied After looking into leaked Iranian opinions among Iranians and Iraqis of Soleimani. Many Iranians intelligence reports, The Intercept see him as having been one of the found that Shia militias’ actions primary reasons for ISIS’ losses in Iraq, which had been backed in the region, which garnered the by Soleimani, had created an late general immense respect. unfavourable perception of Iran Thousands of Iranians attended by Iraqi Sunnis. In Jurf al-Sakhar, his funeral in Tehran on January Shia militias loyal to the Soleimani6. However, some are not as led Quds force defeated ISIS in saddened by his death, especially 2014, but the battle was followed those living abroad. Just a day after by the killings of innocent civilians the strike, the Los Angeles Times and the displacement of tens reported on Iranian-Americans’ of thousands. reactions, citing quite a few of whom who felt relief at the news. Effects on Iranians and One was quoted as saying “In a Iranian-Americans While many are averse to the vacuum, objectively, his death is a welcome development,” but that current regime, for Iranianfor many Iranian-Americans, they Americans, the idea of war is “are fearful of the repercussions. frightening. In the past week, This is a really dire situation if President Trump has threatened the attack of 52 Iranian cultural it escalates.” sites, which, per Human Rights Watch, is a war crime. Many fear for their families’ safety in Iran, as well as increasing surveillance of Iranians in the US. The weekend after the strike, approximately 200 Iranian-Americans were detained and questioned at the Canadian border entering Washington state, and some were held for 12 hours. Both the Los Angeles Police Department and the New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, issued tweets following the attack, calling on citizens to “say something if -protester you see something” and stating that they “will have to be vigilant Iran’s increasing involvement in against this threat for a long Iraq’s political affairs has garnered time to come.” Many Twitter Soleimani further criticism as well. users have called these tweets France24 reported that Soleimani “propaganda,” as one user argued had visited Iraqi authorities in that “these ridiculous warnings November 2019, advising them of non-existent ‘threats’ are just on how to repress the protestors fear tactics to help sell Trump’s in the midst of increasing illegal imperial war of aggression demonstrations against Iranian against Iran.” “I immediately just thought [after influence. In Iraq, this repression by the state security forces led to the hearing the news of the strike], this killings of 500 peaceful protestors is so terrible,” stated Persis Karim,

“The last time a president was impeached, he resorted to violence just to manipulate [US] domestic politics.”

director of the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies at San Francisco State University, as quoted in the Los Angeles Times. “You can be critical and have feelings of disdain for a regime that murders its own people, and still believe that war is not going to be any kind of solution.” As the protest in front of the US consulate cumulated around 1 p.m., the crowd repeatedly chanted “No justice, no peace, US out of the Middle East.”

Yasna Khademian | News Editor

After reaching the the US consulate, a number of Iranians, Americans and Canadians took turns decrying Western imperialism in the region. “No one deserves to live in a war zone,” one protestor declared.


January 13, 2020 | The McGill Daily

NEWS: Quebec

Quebec Weed Reform Emily Black AND Willa Holt The McGill Daily


he CAQ’s reformed laws on cannabis consumption and use, which passed on November 1, 2019, went into effect on January 1, giving Quebec the highest age restriction on the consumption of any substance of any province in Canada. Despite leading the country in non-prescription sales, this amendment of the Cannabis Regulation Act, passed by the federal government in 2017, The Act to tighten the regulation of cannabis, also known as Bill 2, is stated to be a move towards “reducing the risks and harm to the health and safety of individuals.” In service of this goal, the CAQ emphasized protecting “vulnerable groups including young persons,” “preventing the initiation to cannabis use” for these mostly unspecified vulnerable groups, improving road safety, and promoting integration into the legal market. Since the original act went into effect in 2018, no other provinces have introduced further restrictive legislation on personal use.

What has changed? Age restrictions are among the many new qualifiers and regulations that have gone into effect in Quebec. Consumption of cannabis in public spaces is also completely prohibited, posing Quebec as another outlier across the provinces. However, Quebec governmental regulations allow smoking of cannabis in municipal parks, mirroring municipal regulations on smoking tobacco. During discussion on the Bill, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante opposed the provincial government’s complete ban on public consumption, instead advocating individual municipalities to decide their own regulations. While the CAQ conceded, allowing municipalities to determine the rules for legal use in public parks, the city of Montreal has not released official regulations, which will likely vary from space to space. Transporting cannabis is now more heavily regulated, as products must either be sealed and unopened or out of the driver’s reach. Currently, the Régie du logement has restrictions on smoking cannabis in common areas, and it is left to the landlord’s discretion whether or not they permit the smoking of cannabis on each individual lease.

Cannabis Reform Fact Sheet - If you are under the age of 21, you cannot buy, sell, or be in possession of cannabis. - Public consumption of cannabis is no longer legal. - People over 21 may possess up to 150 grams in public or private settings, but law enforcement can limit and confiscate cannabis at their discretion. - Each residence can have no more than 150 grams of cannabis for recreational use, regardless of the number of occupants. - Medical cannabis can be possessed and consumed according to federal regulations, except regarding transportation – and the provincial government reserves the right to further regulate transportation and storage.

Daisy Sprenger | Illustrations Editor Possession has also become more complicated, as each individual can only buy or transport 30 grams at a time, and possess no more than 150 grams total between public and private spaces. Multiple occupants of a single dwelling also can’t possess more than 150 grams combined, and cultivating plants in private residences is now prohibited. What about medical cannabis? According to Bill 2, all the restrictions in Chapter IV which restrict transit and transportation of cannabis apply to legal medical cannabis. This section of the Bill lays out that only government-approved officials may transport cannabis, and that the government may restrict or regulate transportation and storage of cannabis how they see fit. Other than this set of rules, federal regulations regarding possession and consumption apply. What does this mean for students at McGill? Due to regulations regarding university spaces and restrictions on consumption near child-care facilities, smoking cannabis is prohibited on campus. Though Quebec’s law does not consider student residences to be prohibited “university areas,” but McGill’s guidelines include residences in their definition of “campus.” So while it is not officialy illegal to use

cannabis in residence, McGill’s forbids it, and has not updated these guidelines since the passing and implementation of the CAQ’s new regulations.

marginalized communities and people of colour who are disproportionately targeted by systems of mass incarceration and criminalization, especially on cannabis charges. Citing the bill as “overlook[ing] the potential negative effects outlined by l’Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ)”, the undersigned counselors stated that they stand “firmly opposed” to the Bill. Affirming their support for harm reductionist approaches to law enforcement, SSMU “urges lawmakers to take into consideration the public health of their constituents as well as the implications of this policy for marginalised groups, who are often legally and publicly held to a different standard when it comes to selling and consuming cannabis.” As it stands, many aspects of Bill 2 are left up to the government and law enforcement to determine on a case-by-case basis, which presents an immediate concern for marginalized communities, as addressed by SSMU. Cannabis-related stops and searches are a documented method of racial intimidation by police forces across North America. Quebec’s new legislation allows law enforcement officers to make cannabis possessionrelated decisions “at their discretion,” further opening the door for potentially Responses to the legislation dangerous interactions, especially On November 14, 2019, SSMU following the SPVM 2019 report’s released a statement condemning the findings on racial profiling restrictions, emphasizing the harm to in Montreal.

Quebec’s new legislation allows law enforcement officers to make cannabis possessionrelated decisions “at their discretion,” further opening the door for potentially dangerous interactions.

January 13, 2020 | The McGill Daily



Even AIESEC is “Voluntourism”

Voluntourism is Hidden Amongst AIESEC’s Programs Alexis Zhou Commentary Contributor

Once arrived, program participants are expected to perform duties ranging from “physical examination, or those who might not nutritional status assessment, visual be familiar with AIESEC, acuity, heart and respiratory rate” to it is a multinational youth “[writing] reports on the data collected organization with chapters in more and make recommendations,”which than 126 countries and a proclaimed would theoretically be used to improve membership of more than 44,000 the Kenyan public health system. But none of the recommendations people. AIESEC organizes international youth exchanges for made by those first-aid trained high volunteering, entrepreneurship, school graduates would be adopted and corporate internships. All by the Kenyan health system, exchanges are conducted under the because high schoolers aren’t stated purpose of encouraging and trained professionals in public fostering global citizenship. Its global health or medicine. Most, if not all, of those volunteers who spend a headquarters is located in Montreal. Some of AIESEC’s work has been couple thousand dollars to just be unequivocally changing the world in this program, are not certified for the better. Using the words of physicians or nurses. Therefore, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, it’s those students are unable to and a network of youths with a 70-year incapable of curing diseases or track record of changing the world. offering the local communities Unlike some of its competitors, who “proper healthcare,” to say it in the exclusively organize volunteering program’s own marketing language. Dennis, a former AIESEC tours with a price tag, AIESEC also bolsters many paid internships participant who chose to not and entrepreneurship training disclose her real name, also programs, which students apply expressed her concerns about for through AIESEC in the hope AIESEC’s on-campus marketing of landing internships hosted practice. “AIESEC is run like a by a long list of multinational multilevel marketing scheme. At corporations like Microsoft, Apple, their workshops, they really do a PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and lot of lectures and chants about Accenture. I have said it and I will how important [AIESEC’s work] is say it again, AIESEC has long been a and how reasonable it is to pay to positive force that empowers global join their programs. But at the end youths and builds student leadership. of the day, they are just a resumeIt is admirable and respectable that polishing service who is really good AIESEC and millions of its program at glorifying their business model.” Merely a few clicks away on participants worldwide have selflessly devoted their passion to AIESEC’s website, one may find themselves looking at another AIESEC something bigger than themselves. However, it cannot go unaddressed “volunteering opportunity” that claims that some of AIESEC’s purportedly to be in congruence with a United “volunteering” opportunities are Nations sustainable development goal thinly-veiled voluntourism trips. It is of providing “quality education.” Its an exceptionally questionable business participants are expected to “train the practice to monetize charity at the cost teachers on innovative basic teaching of the communities being “helped,” methods” and “drive a sustainable while providing the paying participants project for the school that works to maximize the student’s potential,” with a false sense of being helpful. On the information page of one all of which would be available to of AIESEC’s volunteering trips to a paying customer who does not Kenya, titled “Healthy and Happy,” mind losing a few hundred dollars to the introduction states that “we enter the program. As for eligibility [AIESEC] realized that many kids in requirements, a Bachelor’s degree in Kenya do not have access to proper Literature or Education would suffice. healthcare, therefore suffer diseases On the listing, this program has the that may have direct impact on their earliest start date of January 5, 2020 physical and intellectual growth.” and the latest end date of November Therefore, AIESEC is looking for 29, 2020, yet the program only lasts high school graduates with first-aid six weeks. Does that mean there will training to pay $71,498 in Kenyan be one wave after another of college Shillings, which is about half the graduates, flocking to these Kenyan annual Gross Domestic Product of schools to give “professional” opinions Kenya per capita, in administration on how to run a school, and coming up and other miscellaneous fees to with a vaguely defined “sustainable become a volunteer for this program. project” to maximize student’s


Daisy Spenger | Illustrations Editor potential within six weeks? It does not take an education professional to point out how ludicrous it is to continuously have foreign students, one after another, giving “guidance” to local teachers, and at the same time revolutionizing the school within a mere six weeks, only to leave it to the next group of foreign volunteers to do all over. Those voluntourists may indeed make a difference here or there, but the whole thing is more about organizers collecting administration fees and participants polishing their resumes, rather than focusing on making any serious or long-term difference for the better in Kenyan informal schools. After some digging, I also found out that AIESEC has been associated with an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya, which also used to be an international voluntourist destination called Faith With Action Children’s Home. The orphanage’s Facebook page stopped updating in 2014 and it’s unclear if it is still operational. From the promotional video of this orphanage, one can easily identify the classic paradigm of “orphanage voluntourism.” A well-to-do foreigner

flies in to volunteer at a school or an orphanage, where they teach children English and build a well, a ditch or a brick building. After a mere few days or weeks, they fly home and post on their social media, flaunting their charitable deeds with images of smiling children in the background. This is far from being a singular example. On AIESEC’s website, if you filter a trip search by the keyword “orphan” or “orphanage,” there are an alarming amount of similar trips consistently offered by AIESEC in many locations around the globe. Most of those programs, if not all, charge the participant a fee that is far higher than the average wage required for hiring a full-time teacher in the local area. According to The Guardian, “two thousand dollars can pay for a week-long trip by an unskilled American volunteer – or it could pay the salary of a village teacher for four months.” It’s laudable that some college students aspire to make a difference in the world, but they have to recognize that no voluntourist would be as effective in helping the local communities as a full-time worker hired locally or

a trained professional who is more suited to perform some of the tasks. Also, despite the diversity in AIESEC’s membership, it is still alarming that AIESEC tends to confuse colonialism with the lack of foreign volunteers as the reason why some countries might need assistance in the first place. No, the lack of foreign volunteers willing to give out a helping hand is not why those crumbling schools exist in Kenya; it is colonialism in collaboration with multinational corporations that is responsible. However, there are a variety of factors as to why those voluntourist destinations exist, and maybe they do serve positive purposes to a certain degree. This is not to say that all of AIESEC’s volunteering programs are pretentious and ego-filing voluntourism. To make such an unfounded and dramatic accusation would be nothing short of slander. But next time, you should definitely think twice before signing up for a costly international volunteering trip, whether that is with AIESEC or any other organization.


January 13, 2020 | The McGill Daily


No Food for Thought, Please The Information Fatigue Epidemic

Leslie Brown Sci+Tech Editor


hen was the last time you had a stressful question to answer, like how to solve a difficult problem in your assignment, or what components were missing from your grad school application? For many students, what starts off as a simple Google search can quickly spiral into something more stress-inducing: hours of scrutiny on the computer, all the while procrastinating other tasks because you’ve become entangled in a cycle of anxiety and selfdoubt. What if the next video I click on has the best explanation for this problem? What if this forum has the most useful advice for getting into that master’s program?!

Too much information is a real phenomenon, and it has a name: information fatigue. Too much information is a real phenomenon, and it has a name: information fatigue . The idea has been grappled with for over a millenia. In the 13th century, Dominican friar Vincent de Beauvais eloquently recorded his frustrations with “the multitude of books, the shortness of time and the slipperiness of memory.” In the age of the Internet, information fatigue has been defined along the lines of “a difficulty in processing and making decisions when faced with an abundance of information.” The psychologist who coined the term, David Lewis, equated the phenomenon with a faulty case of plumbing: what should have sped up the flow, ended up clogging the pipes. Information fatigue is closely tied to analysis paralysis, which occurs when the fear of mistake or unknowingly foregoing a better solution can stifle decisionmaking and productivity, as well as induce feelings of helplessness and anxiety. Though counterintuitive, the theory is that with more information, there are more choices to be made, which can send individuals into a state of panic. These choices can involve

workers” – but similar effects can also occur in anyone using social media, where platforms built-in with endless scrolling, personal curation, and algorithms are purposefully designed to keep users constantly consuming content. As a result, it’s no surprise that youth can be affected by information fatigue. As postsecondary education students, particularly at research-driven institutions like McGill, there is an inherent pressure to constantly be on the pursuit of knowledge, and on the cutting edge of new information – so juggling studies, emails, appointments, extracurricular commitments, part-time employment, social media, news, the learning of new skills, and other endeavors is Information fatigue most more often seen as an expectation often tasks those who work in than as a feat. Though it is a privilege fields where massive amounts to have access to such extensive of information are processed – knowledge at our fingertips, collectively named “knowledge much of which resulted from assessing how reliable a source is, deciding which source to trust, or debating how relevant it will actually be to the individual’s task. Being unable to process and cognitively organize such large amounts of information can mean more serious consequences for professionals like pilots or surgeons, who rely on taking as much information into account to find solutions.

Information fatigue is closely tied to analysis paralysis.

thousands of years of accumulation and effort, feeling the need to know and keep tabs on everything – being cognitively overloaded – is ultimately unsustainable, driving down our performances and worsening our mental health. In an age where information bombardment is by design, remember to take a step back when needed and consider: 1. Just like you may not feel guilty about not reading all the books on your shelf, don’t feel guilty that you might’ve not considered all the available information – think of the law of diminishing returns, which states “at some point, adding an additional factor of production results in smaller increases in output.” Eventually, Googling frantically won’t yield any better conclusions. 2. Opt to exert tighter control over your technology – minimize notifications, filter emails, set limits, and use curation tools so

only truly relevant information and news reaches you.

Being cognitively overloaded – is ultimately unsustainable, driving down our performances and worsening our mental health. 3. And don’t neglect decluttering your own mind – avoid multitasking, jot distracting thoughts on paper, rest periodically, and take care of yourself.

Phoebe Pannier | Staffl Ilustratior

January 13, 2020 | The McGill Daily



Reorientation Resources


Financial Aid

Work Study Program: Offers or more information on these, head over to McGill’s students with financial need access Scholarship and Student Aid to clerical, research, technical, library or other jobs on campus website). or in some of the McGill-affiliated hospitals and organizations. Email: Emergency Financial Aid: Telephone: 514-398-6013 Students can apply for emergency fun In-Course Financial Aid: Loans ding in extenuating circumstances and bursaries designed to help when experiencing a range of supplement or pay off government- financial emergencies. Emergency loans can be processed rapidly based student loans. Tuition Deferral: Students can by completing an application and defer the payment of tuition while immediately calling the financial aid waiting to receive financial aid or office. for students who are experiencing funding delays.


Food Security


idnight Kitchen: “Midnight Kitchen is a non-profit, worker and volunteer-run collective that operates out of Tio’tia:ke (unceded Kanien’kehá:ka territory) dedicated to providing accessible food to as many people as possible. We aim to empower individuals and communities by providing a working alternative to current capitalist, profitdriven systems of food production and distribution.” Website: Email: midnightkitchencollective Facebook: Midnight Kitchen Collective


hez Queer: Chez Queer is a Facebook group “for all the queers and queer allies of Montreal to help queers find lovely housemates and safe happy homes. Post ads if you’re looking for a place to stay, a new roommate, a sublet, or just folks to start a new home with.” Website: groups/641712229179289/



omité logement du Plateau Mont-Royal: “With a $2 yearly membership fee, you can become a member of the CLPMR. In addition to receiving our newsletter, Le Locataire [The Tenant], being a member gives you the right to vote in our general assemblies and to become a part of the administrative council. The CLPMR’s mission is to defend the rights of tenants.” Website (French only): Email: Telephone: 514-527-3495

ead and Hands: “Since 1970, Head & Hands has provided medical, legal and social services to Montreal youth. Today, our services include free weekly drop-in medical clinics, legal information and consultations, counselling, a young parents’ program, youth drop-in, tutoring, street workers, and the Sense Project peer-based sex ed in high schools.” Telephone: 514-481-0277



ood Against Facism: “Food Against Fascism is a non-profit, community project that prepares and distributes free, hot, healthy meals every Saturday at 2pm at Norman Bethune Square in downtown Montreal.” Website: Email:


Legal Support


ducaloi: “Éducaloi is a registered charity that was founded in 2000. It is a leader in the movement to improve access to justice in Quebec. The core of our mission is explaining the law to Quebecers in everyday language. Our activities focus on creating legal information in plain language (Web, print, videos, etc.), creating legal education tools for teachers, helping people develop the skills to exercise their rights, sometimes called “legal capability,” raising awareness about how the law is part of everyday life, being a leader in the field of plain legal language, amd helping other organizations communicate in plain language.” Website:


cGill Legal Information Clinic: “The Legal Information Clinic at McGill (LICM) is a non-profit, student-run, bilingual and free legal information service. Anyone can make an appointment to access legal information, referral and other services. The Clinic maintains a continuing commitment to meeting the needs of marginalized groups, helping them access information and resources that might otherwise be out of reach.” Website: Phone number: 514-398-6792


IDS Community Care Montreal: “ACCM is a volunteer-based community organization working to enhance the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS and/or hepatitis C, to prevent HIV and hepatitis C transmission, and to promote community awareness and action.” Website: Email: Telephone: 514-527-0928


ollective Kitchens of Quebec: Quebec Collective Kitchens Association is a non-profit organisation aimed at the promotion and consolidation of emerging collective kitchens in Quebec. The values promoted by the collective kitchens include self-sufficiency, empowerment, dignity, democracy and social justice. Assuming the role of popular educator, the Association offers workshops on starting up and uebec Food Banks website Food Bank locator: https:// leading collective kitchens, as well www.banquesalimentaires. as training sessions on economics, org/en/our-actions/our-network/ politics, social relationships and other topics that interest our members. network-members/map/ Website: Email: Email: Telephone: (514) 529-3448 Telephone: 514-344-0789


ontreal Abortion Access Project: “The Montreal Abortion Access Project aims to support abortion access in Montreal. People accessing abortion may be required to navigate an unfamiliar situation on their own or with little support. We created MAAP to bring the principles of doula care to abortion by providing support and accompaniment services. Our current support team is comprised of trained doulas and sexologists.” Website: Email:



ile End Legal Clinic: “The Clinic’s service model rests on three important components: 1) We offer free legal consultations from within organizations already deeply rooted in their communities. This allows us to reach a greater number of potential clients and marginalized individuals in particular. 2) We work hard to create a welcoming space to reduce feelings of intimidation that individuals may face in having to deal with a representative of the legal system. 3) We guarantee the financial accessibility of our services by offering them free of charge.” Website: Phone: 514-507-3054 Email:

ACTUS Montréal: “CACTUS Montréal is a community organization for the prevention of blood-borne (BBSI) and sexually transmitted infections. [that works with] injecting and inhaling drug users, sex workers, and trans people.” Website: Email: Telephone: 514-847-0067


January 13. 2020 | The McGill Daily


Blade Runner: Queer Allegory? Re-examining a Science Fiction Classic

Daisy Sprenger Illustrations Editor


s this testing whether I’m a replicant or a lesbian Mr. Deckard?” Rachel asks coyly as Rick administers the Voigt Comp test. Perhaps the answer should be…both! Ridly Scott’s classic sci-fi film Blade Runner, based upon Philip K. Dick’s novel, is an examination of what it is to be human. The journey though post apocalyptic streets perpetually drenched in rain follows bounty hunter Rick Deckard as he tries to capture and “retire” four renegade replicants: robots made so human that it becomes hard to tell the difference. Both the novel and the film are commonly accepted as a commentary on the inevitable coming of AI, singularity, and the societal dangers that come with technology. But what if the film is an allegory for something else; for instance, queerness in a world of institutionalized homophobia? Though the evidence towards this conclusion is thin, it still serves as an interesting thought experiment. For then the film becomes not a cop chasing robots, but a reiteration of the everyday police persecution and discrimination against LGBTQ+ community. Seen in this light, the question of whether Rick Deckard is a replicant himself adds further nuance. The cruel irony persecuting other replicants becomes a poignant allegory for internalized homophobia and denial.

How chilling it is that this funny machine defines a person’s identity, and subsequently their designated place in social hierarchy There are really only a few overt examples of any reference to “queerness” throughout the film, appearing to be more anomaly than intention. The aforementioned example of Rachel’s cool retort seems more like an attempt to show how arbitrary the replicant test is. Rachel’s remark acts to deflect and undermine the test. But what is quickly glanced over as a bit of flirtatious snark should in fact be examined more closely. If the Voigt Comp test is considered as a way of determining someone’s sexual orientation, it takes on a much more

ominous tone. The test’s wheezing bellows, flickering pictures of eyes, and weird questions should already induce skepticism. Not to mention the troubling fact that this silly test is the only thing between determining “human” or “replicant,” or in other words, alive, or persecuted. How chilling that this funny machine defines a person’s identity, and subsequently their designated place in social hierarchy? Taken as a test of humanness, it’s all swallowed with the good faith in the genre, a little science fiction fun. When applied to real life discrimination, it stinks of eugenics and harassment. The other allusion to homosexuality takes even more imagination to examine, but leads to no less interesting conclusions about what the film is trying to do. Roy Batty, the leader of the rebellious replicants, shouts something off handedly to Rick on the infamous Bradbury building chase scene: “Straight doesn’t seem to be good enough!” It seems that he is referring to Rick Deckard’s bad aim as he tries to kill Roy. Taken as a double entendre for sexual orientation, could it be a criticism of Rick’s choices to adhere to the system? The default? This remark, tossed out with all the taunting witticism and joie de vivre that Roy brings to this sequence, surely has many meanings. Besides simply criticizing Rick’s inability as a cop, it also mocks him as being perhaps straight laced and rule abiding. It might also be a general remark to Rick’s lame existence. To contrast the two characters in this scene, it becomes uncertain as to who is the one on the run, and who is doing the chasing; their respective purposes are ambiguous. Roy is trying to stay alive, but he is also trying to teach Rick a lesson in living life to its fullest. Is it so far a stretch to say that he is trying to coax Rick to renounce heterosexuality and the “norm” as well? Rick by contrast, is just trying to get a job done. Roy, running around

in nothing but his underwear, howling like a werewolf, is living

Daisy Sprenger | Illustrations Editor and feeling. Rick, with his broken fingers and rain drenched coat is miserable. Rick is outshadowed by Roy in his ability to live life to its fullest, despite the tragedy he has endured. As viewers, we know that he has lost all five members of his rebellion, most recently with the especially gruesome slaughter of Priss. Is this a call out to straight members of society who willfully ignore LGBTQ+ counterculture in both its cultural creations and the tragedies imposed by the conventional world? It would be foolish not to include an examination of the scene in which Roy kisses his creator Tyrell full on the mouth before killing him. Though in his biography, Rutger Hauer (who plays Roy in the film) emphasizes that he didn’t intend for it to be particularly romantic, it’s still worth examining what it means. Hauer explains that for him, it was the best way he could

express all the complicated emotions of meeting and being disappointed by your maker. What’s more, Hauer suggests that as a replicant Roy has one way of showing love whether it’s to his “father,” “sister,” or “lover.” This doesn’t capture the nuance of these complicated relationships. For instance, Tyrell is the surrogate father figure, but then again, the fact that he isn’t leaves open a world of interpretation. Most importantly, who is Priss? She could easily be a sister or lover. This exacerbates the complications of replicant relationships. This is further exemplified by Leon’s obsession with his photographs, the fierce loyalty they all have to each other because they have no one else. That being said, what does Roy kissing then promptly killing Tyrell mean? It could be taken as a sort of Oedipal instance of killing his father and romancing his mother,

Tyrell being both the mother and the father in this case. A fascinating result of taking the replicants as allegory for queer communities is the debate around whether Rick Deckard is in fact himself, a replicant. “You ever take that test yourself Mr. Deckard?” Rachel asks him at one point in the film referring to the Voigt Camp replicant (homosexuality?) test. From this point, a doubt is established in the mind of the viewers which is never resolved. At face value, it’s a great comment on the self reflexive hypocrisy of the police force. Adding the new dimension of a metaphor for being gay, this becomes a sharp reflection of the way our society can be really, really messed up. Is Rick Deckard gay? If so, then the Bradbury building chase scene can be read as Roy trying to teach Rick to accept himself as well as a better way of life. Roy offers an ontology based in identity affirmation, and rejection of modes of convention and

January 13, 2020 | The McGill Daily

Culture the violent oppression of the police. Roy’s strategy seems to work to some extent: Rick reevaluates his life and runs away with Rachel. Though clearly heterosexual, it’s more important that he rejects policehood in favor a rebellious existence. There are certain facts in the film which are taken for granted for the sake of plot. For the purpose of analyzing the film in a queer perspective, they prove particularly curious. Particularly in wondering why the replicants are not allowed to be on Earth? In a brief prelude, the film explains some dreadful disaster as a result of replicatant habitation, but the restriction of being a replicant and being on Earth is never explained. However, it does serve as an interesting point on the arbitrary restrictions and interdictions placed on marginalized communities. Similarly half-formed excuses may be given by a homophobe as to why certain rights aren’t allowed allowed, or why some are used for persecution. The replicant restriction is not only blatant segregation, but indicative of the fear that always surrounds “the other.” The film undoubtedly addresses questions of identity. The similarities between replicants and humans, how they choose to live life in a dystopian Los Angeles, and the crumbling city invokes the moody existentialism of a corrupt society. Is it really so much of a leap to say that the setting of Blade Runner particularly addresses queer identity? The question of how queer

These themes of imposed secrecy and survival, juxtaposed with a quest to literally seek out more life, fits only too well.

communities choose to reconcile the institutionalized and socialized homophobia, and negotiate these challenges has always been a point of contention. The dichotomy between fighting for a new, better way of living and not back down, or simply choosing the safer route of existence (and not pissing off too many straight people), only really begins to uncover the internal conflicts inherent in being LGTBQ+ in modern society. These themes of secrecy and survival, juxtaposed with a quest to literally seek out more life, fits only too well. While this queer reading of Blade Runner certainly brings to the film to a new level of social commentary, there are a few dangers with this reading that shouldn’t be overlooked. Ridley Scott’s

overarching question of what makes us human is a fascinating one, especially with regard to AI (as is the case of the film’s overt purpose). Though some might walk away from the film convinced that the replicants are more human than the humans, and will probably at the very least be somewhat sympathetic of their plight, Scott’s overall message is purposefully ambiguous. Some of the moments in the film serve to humanize the replicants, such as Roy’s famous Tears in Rain Speech, or moment when Rachel realizes that she is a replicant. But there are also moments in the film where it is hard to forget that the replicants are anything but human. Priss’ horrific death is just that, largely for the reason that it is incredibly disturbing to watch this woman, for lack of a better term, “short circuit to death.” Acting choices by Hauer (Roy), and Darylle Hanna (Priss) at times make them seem incredibly mechanical, which has a disturbing effect because they seem so human otherwise. What’s more, viewers watch the replicants kill time and time again, and are told of even more horrific things that they have supposedly done to get as far as they have. Are the replicants the villains of the film? Though Rutger Hauer claims in his autobiography that they aren’t, (and a fair population of fans will agree) it is not a stretch to say that the replicants are the villains, and this would then imply the problematic vilification of being gay. Certainly, the film is much more subtle and nuanced than this. One i n t e r p re t a t i o n is that society makes the replicants “evil,” both in their depiction, popular culture, treatment, and forced adoption of last resort measures. It’s pure survival, combined with the Foucaultian principle that you become what society expects of you. This possible r e a d i n g puts the fault then on the hegemony, not the replicants. All the same, this ambiguity creates a slippery slope: reading the

replicants as an allegory for queerness is also burdened with this dangerous connotation of the “other,” and the ambiguity of “humanity.” In Scott’s defense, this very emphasis is perhaps in itself a way of bringing to question our perceptions of otherness. But ambiguous conclusions can at times be dangerous, and easily misappropriated. Perhaps a way to negotiate this problem within reading of this film as a commentary on queerness is to focus less on the direct allegory it presents, but rather on the more basic principle of questioning convention. It is an ambiguous film which can either be taken as Rick Deckard’s psycological to reconcile his position in society, or as a hero’s journey for the replicants to realize their own purpose and position. Either way, the film addresses social positionally. Rick Deckard needs to re-evaluate his approach to life, and perhaps his own sexuality and identity. Roy Batty and the rest of the replicants want to find a purpose or a meaning of life in a society that is incredibly hostile to them. The film becomes not so much a clear call to action for social change, but rather a more subtle re-evaluation of the normalized structures around us. Queer or


straight, replicant, or human, what matters more than the differences that divide us, are the lessons which we learn from each other: lessons in defining your own identity and subsequently living your best possible life.

It is an ambiguous film which can either be taken as Rick Deckard’s psycological quest to reconcile his position in society, or as a hero’s journey for the replicants to realize their own purpose and position. Either way, the film addresses social positionally.


January 13, 2020 | The McGill Daily

Compendium! Lies, half-truths, and too many Richards from Florida

Being “Culturally Queer”

Interviews with People who have Drunkenly Given Themselves Tattoos Faculty of Farts


ultural queerness” refers to the performance of queerness as an identity or aesthetic without necessarily being queer. Cultural queerness has nothing to do with actual gender identity or sexual orientation, nor with allyship. Simone Sanders (U1 Sociology) tells us about her refusal to give her sexuality a label: “Sometimes on TV ‘not liking labels’ is a euphemism for bisexuality, but I’m definitely not bisexual. I’m definitely more, like, I guess you could call it straight? But I don’t use that word, because I don’t like labels. Well, except for the ones on my Blundstones. I mean, have I dated a girl? Like, no. Do I want to? Not especially. But like, have I made out with a girl when we were both on molly? Yeah, of course I have. Do I want to repeat the experience? I mean, I’d definitely do molly again, if that’s what you’re asking. Point being, I don’t like labels.” Simone tweets exclusively about her deviated septum and the fact that she was once in a threesome with two men. The Gaily interviewed Tony Tabernac (U2 Anthropology) to get another perspective on being “culturally queer.” When

bewildered by the concept of nonbinary gender identities. “We’re all one gender,” he repeated with a bit of desperation in his voice. “The human gender. Right?” With a bit of research we learned that The Human Gender is the name of Tony’s mediocre indie rock band. He plays guitar, which explains why his black nail polish is chipped on only one hand. Evidently he hasn’t heard of top coat. Bianca Bobbin (U3 Cultural Studies) is taking one GSFS class before she graduates at the end of the semester. While she’s yet to attend any of the lectures, she’s already found that she’s learning a lot about her own identity just by being enrolled. “Me and my boyfriend Scott (the one in the beanie over there) are totally queering heterosexuality. Have you heard of pegging? I learned about it from watching Broad City. Have you seen that show? It’s so good. Anyway, pegging. That’s some good shit.” The Gaily reluctantly agreed that yes, asked for his pronouns, he told pegging is some good shit, but that us: “we’re all one gender. The we don’t quite see how the GSFS human gender.” Tony’s ex-partner class led to this realization. “Oh, later told the Gaily that Tony it’s because there was a reading never once gendered them about ‘queering heterosexuality.’ Daisy Sprenger | Illustrations Editor correctly over their six month- I didn’t, like, actually read all long courtship. When asked for of it, but the abstract just really can be in a straight relationship marker of academic success.” comment, Tony genuinely seemed made me think about how you but also in a gay relationship, We hope for the sake of his and because of gender roles. You Bianca’s relationship that she know?” Bianca is one of those has more intelligent things to say rare heterosexuals with an about cultural studies than she undercut, which, based on the does about gender. amount of times she flipped her hair, is a fact that she wanted us to observe. Luckily for us, the aforementioned beanie boy himself, Scott Sapling (U3 Communications), then wandered over and (unprompted) told us about his own identity: “I consider myself queer even though I’m a -Bianca Bobbin cisgender man who is exclusively We also interviewed someone attracted to cisgender women. My queer identity is called who is both “culturally queer” and ‘sapiosexuality.’ It’s really hard to actually gay. Here’s what Jeremy be sapiosexual, because it’s not Jerome (U1 Political Science) a term that a lot of people know. had to say: “I’m not into that, When people come out as gay or like, political correctness stuff. trans or whatever, it’s easy, because I think that us homos need to everyone knows what that means. stop worrying about gender It’s much harder to be sapiosexual, and whatnot. How will we be into heterosexual which means ‘being attracted to accepted people who are intelligent.’ It’s society if we don’t try to mirror also really hard because when them as much as possible? I, people do know what it means, for one, couldn’t care less about they always laugh at me. When I queerness as a deconstruction came out to my family, my brother of heteropatriarchy. I’m just gave me a custom-made brain- interested in having sex with shaped fleshlight as a joke. No one men.” Jeremy’s Grindr bio is just understands that what I find sexy the eggplant emoji and the words Daisy Sprenger | Illustrations Editor is a PhD, or an equally bourgeois “no femz.”

“Cultural queerness” refers to the performance of queerness as an identity or aesthetic without necessarily being queer Cultural queerness has nothing to do with actual gender identity or sexual orientation, nor with allyship.

“Anyway, pegging. That’s some good shit.”

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The McGill Daily Vol. 109 Issue 13  

The McGill Daily Vol. 109 Issue 13