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Volume 101, Issue 31

February 9, 2012

McGill THE

DAILY Not invited since 1911

Published by The Daily Publications Society, a student society of McGill University.

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The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 9, 2012 |


Occupations continue throughout the night Lobby “party” ends, sixth floor contingent carries on Erin Hudson

The McGill Daily


ollowing a rally Tuesday morning in support of CKUT and QPIRG, 23 students occupied the office of Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson. The students occupying Mendelson’s office are holding a “suprise resignation party” for him in protest of the administration’s decision to invalidate the results of the fall 2011 existence referenda for CKUT and QPIRG. A second group of students occupied the lobby of the building after pushing past McGill Security stationed at the front entrance to the building. The lobby occupation lasted for 24 hours starting Tuesday morning and ending on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. Around 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday evening, Security Services’ Operations Administrator (Special Events) Kevin

Byers announced to occupants of the lobby that they would no longer be permitted to enter and exit freely. As of 9 p.m., wireless Internet was disabled in the building. “The building is closed, so if you guys want to sit here and keep doing what you’re doing, it’s been peaceful, so let’s keep it that way. If you guys do leave, please take your belongings, because we won’t let you back in,” Byers told the students and faculty in the lobby. Washroom facilities were not available to those in the lobby, and security agents were directed to stop students from finding alternative ways to go to the washroom. Students “partying” on the sixth floor negotiated with Associate Vice-Principal (University Services) Jim Nicell on Tuesday evening regarding their two demands: the McGill administration’s recognition of CKUT and QPIRG’s fall referenda questions and the resignation of Mendelson. In the midst of negotiations,

“partyers” on the sixth floor requested a student from the lobby partake in negotiations. Student Amber Gross, escorted by Nicell, joined negotiations on the sixth floor about half an hour later. QPIRG Board member Patrick DeDauw said that Jim Nicell is not involved in their discussions with McGill administration concerning the fall referendum question. Nearly thirty students remained in the lobby throughout the night. A tent was pitched and around seven demonstrators spent the night outside in support of occupiers indoors. A public Facebook event called “The James 6th Floor occupiers do NOT represent me” was created after the occupation began. “We reject their extremist rhetoric. We reject their radical tactics. We reject their divisive speech. We are the Silent Majority. Or rather, we were the Silent Majority,” it continues. At press time, the event had 1,043 people attending. Full story at

Physical altercation in James building McGill Security films incident, along with sleeping demonstrators Erin Hudson

The McGill Daily


ne of 22 students staging a “surprise resignation party” for Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson in his office on the sixth floor of the James Administration building was thrown out of the building. At around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, reports from the sixth floor “party” contingent were received stating that four security agents were surrounding the student, Moe Nasr, who was looking to leave the building to obtain his osteoporosis medication. Security agents said they offered to escort Nasr to a back door in order for him to exit the building, however Nasr wanted to exit the building through the lobby, where nearly thirty students were partying in solidarity with the sixth floor contingent. Students in the lobby attempted to negotiate with security agents for Nasr to join them or for Nasr to

be escorted by another student to the back of the building. “They told me it’s either the back or side staircase, I told them it’s the front staircase,” said Nasr. “They were like ‘Ok, go through the front staircase.’ They escorted me downstairs until we were between the first and second floor.” In a film shot by students in the lobby, Nasr is shown surrounded by five or six security agents and later carried up the stairs. Nasr states he fell several times, sustaining two blows to the head, and was carried by Security. “I was punched a couple of times,” Nasr told The Daily. “Once an actual punch, the second time you can call it a punch but it’s an elbow to the stomach.” However, in an email to Le Délit, Director of Media Relations Doug Sweet wrote that “Security personnel threw no punches. There was a scuffle, because the individual in question, having been warned repeatedly that if he did not go out of his own volition he would be carried out, then resisted security personnel with

Nicolas Quiazua | The McGill Daily

Students camped out overnight in front of James Admin.

Negotiations continue as food dwindles Erin Hudson

The McGill Daily all his might.” Nasr said he was “thrown out” of the west side entrance of the building. “After that I went pretty much crazy. I started shoving them, I pretty much pushed practically every single one of them. I started pushing them back, running towards the door trying to open it,” he said. Nasr then moved to the front entrance of the building. He attempted to gain access to the building but was repelled by security agents. Nasr said a member of McGill Security filmed the altercation between him and agents. Byers also filmed those in the lobby at about 4 a.m., while most were asleep. “They’re not allowed to reenter the building [if they leave],” Sweet added. Reports from students who were outside the James building said their attempts to deliver food to students on the sixth floor were ongoing. At least three students planned to spend the night camping outside of James. Full story at


n Wednesday night, students outside the James Administration building attempted to deliver food to the 12 students who remained in Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson’s office on the sixth floor. A makeshift pulley – a bucket and rope – was lowered out of a sixth floor window to students waiting below. Security agents cut the rope before any food could be supplied to students within the building. “Security guards at the lower level grabbed the bucket and the rope, and destroyed them,” said student and Daily staffer Ethan Feldman, who was, at press time, still occupying Mendelson’s office. “Right now all we want is to eat.” At 9:40 p.m., the students tweeted that they were on their last sandwich. Students on the sixth floor gained access to a window after their negotiation team refused to exit the designated negotiation room. The students’ negotiating team has met with Associate Vice-Principal (University Services) Jim Nicell. Nicell was no longer negotiat-

ing with students as of 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Feldman said that Nicell told students on the sixth floor that he would be a “phone call away” if they wished to contact him. Earlier in the day, a student announced outside of the James building that Nicell told the bargaining team that he “doesn’t have the power to grant them access to food.” Nicell was unavailable for comment at the time of press. Reports from the sixth floor said that the students had only planned for food provisions to last until yesterday night. Director of Media Relations Doug Sweet said that in terms of food provisions, “My understanding is that they had brought provisions and were planning to settle in for some length of time. If they didn’t have sufficient provisions, they also have an option: they can go outside the building.” “They’re not allowed to reenter the building [if they leave],” Sweet added. Reports from students who were outside the James building said their attempts to deliver food to students on the sixth floor were ongoing. At least three students planned to spend the night camping outside of James. Full story at

4 News

The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 9, 2012 |

Who represents you?

Get educated about the Faculty of Education’s student society President Harman discusses Frosh, political stances, and an upcoming referendum Juan Camilo Velásquez The McGill Daily


anessa Harman, president of the Education Undergraduate Society (EdUS), leads one of the smallest faculties at McGill. Education has only 1,600 students, including those in Kinesiology and Physical Education. According to Harman, her role as a president is an “overarching” duty by virtue of the uniqueness of the program. “[The President’s role] is essentially to act as a spokesperson for the undergraduates and to represent the student views and concerns in the faculty council and in the department meetings,” said Harman. Harman, a U4 Secondary English student, became motivated to be the faculty association president after experience as VP Academic and U2 Secondary Representative. “That really inspired me to want to take it to the next level, and be able to really be a leader in my faculty,” said Harman. The primary mission of the EdUS this year, under Harman’s leadership, is to engage its students and get them more involved with the community. “The main headspace of the previous years has been one of being

more distant from the rest of the campus physically. We are far away from main campus and also the fact that we have placements every year – and every [class] goes out on placement at different times – makes for a very disjointed student body,” said Harman. According to Harman, because of the nature of the co-op program, the EdUS has not taken a “specific stance” on prominent political issues this year, including the potential general strike against Quebec tuition increases. “It is difficult for Education students to see their place in getting involved with political decisions,” Harman said. “We are hosting a Town Hall next Thursday, to get our students talking about these issues,” she added. Harman explained that she “doesn’t necessarily see the EdUS moving to strike.” She explained that the nature of the Education program is such that “we can’t really just not go and teach the students.” Earlier this year, a conflict arose between the EdUS and Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) after the former increased the fees for Education students who wanted to participate in Arts Frosh. Harman explained that the conflict between the EdUS and

the AUS did not escalate. “We haven’t had any issues following what happened with Frosh,” she said. Following these difficulties and student demand, EdUS formed a subcommittee to work on planning an EdUS Frosh. “We have felt for a few years that it’s important that we have our own Frosh, so we are very excited to plan that for our students,” said Harman. She said EdUS’s Frosh would be implemented in fall 2012. Harman said that, this year, EdUS has been able to offer more events and resources for students than in past years. “We brought in someone to do a workshop about teaching children with autism, but that is just one example among others. It is just kind of refreshing for the faculty just because we haven’t seen a whole lot of student engagement in the past,” said Harman. Harman said she plans to spend the remainder of her term trying to amend the entrance requirements for the program. EdUS is also trying to revamp career advising services to have “substantial and meaningful” services for Education students. “We just finished the process of writing a referendum question to be voted [on] in the upcoming elections to implement a student

Victor Tangermann The McGill Daily

Harman is president of one of McGill’s smallest student associations. fee for our career advisor and our career advising services. We will be submitting that referendum

question and hopefully implementing this $25 per semester student fee,” said Harman.

One of the occupiers’ demands partially met by administration Existence portion of CKUT referendum question recognized Henry Gass

The McGill Daily


KUT has an agreement in principle with the McGill administration recognizing the existence portion of their controversial fall 2011 referendum question. They will submit a new question for the winter referendum period asking that their fee become non-opt-outable. The announcement comes as a student occupation of Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson’s office – demanding, in part, that the administration recognize the results of both CKUT and QPIRG’s fall referenda – enters its third day. The sixth f loor “partyers” are also demanding Mendelson’s resignation. Caitlin Manicom, funding and

outreach coordinator for CKUT, confirmed that the campus radio station has reached an agreement in principle with the administration. “[The administration] will not be recognizing, as it stands right now, the validity of the question in its entirety. We’re currently negotiating for existence to be recognized, and those negotiations are ongoing,” said Manicom. “We won’t be releasing further information until the occupation is settled, and hopefully the students’ demands will be met,” she continued. Manicom said that CKUT had been negotiating the agreement before the occupation started, and that they had no idea the occupation was going to take place. As a result, Manicom said, “There are a lot of different factors at play.” Manicom said that the station informed the students on the sixth floor of the agreement in the

interest of transparency. “We wanted to be as transparent as possible to the people who are occupying, without jeopardizing their occupation and their demands,” she said. “The reason that we were discussing getting the administration to – at the very least – acknowledge existence, was because that was the basic requirement that we need from them to negotiate our MoA [Memorandum of Agreement],” she continued. The agreement would allow CKUT to negotiate and sign its MoA with McGill, while simultaneously trying to implement an alternative to the current online opt-out system that has resulted in increasingly lower revenue from student fees since the administration implemented the system in 2007. Manicom spoke to what would happen to CKUT if they don’t change the opt-out system.

“That would leave us in the position that we’ve been in for the last few years, which is struggling to find financial stability, struggling to run a radio station when the costs of running a radio station increase every year, and we continue to lose increasing amounts of finances from the optouts,” she said. In an email to all McGill staff and students on Wednesday, Provost Anthony Masi described the history and the administration’s rationale behind online opt-outs. “In consultation with students, an easy-to-use on-line system was introduced for opting out of voluntary fees,” read the email. “We believe this process is more convenient for students.” Masi’s email added that, “individual student groups do not have the right to change an optout system to a method less con-

venient for all students.” The James Administration occupiers are demanding that the CKUT student fee be only opt-outable through CKUT, which was the request of CKUT’s fall referendum question, invalidated by the administration a month ago. One of the sixth floor occupiers said that the recent agreement in principle is “something that CKUT was forced into.” “That’s something that emerged in a coercive process, in which McGill held all the cards and could force an organization that should be autonomous to do what it wants,” he said. “Clearly it’s in the direction of our demands, but our demands are the complete recognition of both the CKUT and QPIRG referenda results, and so until that happens, our demands haven’t been met,” the student continued.


The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 9, 2012 |


Suspended J-Board case finally heard Henry Gass

The McGill Daily


fter an over four-hour hearing with testimony from eleven witnesses on Monday night, the SSMU Judicial Board (J-Board) now has up to thirty days to issue a judgment on whether to invalidate the fall 2011 referendum results for QPIRG. Students Zach Newburgh and Brendan Steven’s petition challenges the validity of QPIRG’s fall referendum question. It cites an allegedly unclear – and thus unconstitutional – referendum question, numerous ‘Yes’ committee campaign violations, and Elections SSMU CEO Rebecca Tacoma’s failure to fulfill the duties of her position. The McGill administration refused to recognize the results of both CKUT and QPIRG’s referenda a month ago, citing a lack of clarity in the question. Debate ensued over the role of both Newburgh – who served as SSMU president last year – and current SSMU President Maggie Knight in Tacoma’s hiring process. While under cross-examination, Newburgh said he was “positive that the current SSMU president was involved in the [hiring] process.” In an interview with The Daily immediately after the hearing, Knight said that, to her recollection, her only role in the hiring process was reviewing applicant resumes. “I did, however, participate in the hiring of many other staff members along with the former president,” said Knight. “We did conduct a lot of interviews together, so it is possible that he simply mistakes what happened.” Newburgh and Steven’s petition lists excerpts of 15 emails sent from Newburgh to Tacoma detailing alleged campaign violations by the

QPIRG ‘Yes’ committee. The emails form part of the petitioners’ basis for the argument of a “reasonable apprehension of bias” on the part of Tacoma. According to the petition, at least one ‘Yes’ committee member continued to advertise support by Kanata, “a group external to SSMU,” after a separate censure, and was not penalized. “The Respondent [Tacoma]’s definition of groups external to SSMU is based on an unworkable criterion. The decisions based on this definition are therefore unreasonable,” reads the petition. “Whatever procedure she might have set was not applied consistently,” continues the petition. In testimony, Tacoma said Knight had advised her to not write detailed responses to emails during the referendum period. “I was concerned that she would spend too much time at her computer writing out detailed answers,” said Knight during her own testimony. “Given that it was a very contentious campaign… I suggested to her that it was important that she be as physically present [on campus] as possible,” continued Knight. Knight admitted in testimony that SSMU’s bylaws are “convoluted.” Testimony was provided regarding the recent financial harm inflicted by opt-outs on QPIRG. The petition cites QPIRG’s 2010-11 expenses, which state that opt-outs constituted 11.74 per cent of total expenses that year. Former SSMU VP Finance and Operations Nick Drew, who served on the SSMU executive with Newburgh last year, testified that a 12 per cent loss in expenses was not enough to threaten the existence of a not-forprofit organization like QPIRG. Three interveners participated in the hearing – QPIRG, CKUT, and

SSMU VP Clubs and Services Carol Fraser – each of whom called witnesses. Newburgh and Steven declined to comment after the hearing. Vladi Ivanov, legal advocate for CKUT, drew attention to the similarities between QPIRG and CKUT’s referendum questions last semester. “The constitutionality of the two questions is the same,” she said during the hearing. “CKUT are here as interveners to protect the constitutionality of the question in the future.” The J-Board case has been mired in controversy since it was announced on January 14. Originally scheduled to be heard January 31, the SSMU Board of Directors (BoD) suspended the case on January 26, citing the need to clarify the constitutional relationship between the J-Board and the BoD. See for the full text of this article.

Nicolas Quiazua | The McGill Daily

The Lev Bukhman gallery was full for the majority of J-Board.

QPIRG referendum question “Do you support QPIRG continuing as a recognized student activity supported by a fee of $3.75 per semester for undergraduate students, which is not opt-outable on the Minerva online opt-out system but is instead fully refundable directly through QPIRG, with the understanding that a majority ‘no’ vote will result in the termination of all undergraduate fee-levy funding to QPIRG?”



“as the [question] pertains to just one issue, QPIRG’s existence, it is constitutionally valid”

Question constitutionality

“is unconstitutional because it includes two questions…and it is not clear”

Sanctioned QPIRG ‘Yes’ committee for three campaign violations

Campaign “irregularities”

“Unprecedented” seventy campaign violations


Knight: “We did conduct a lot of interviews together, so it is possible that he simply mistakes what happened” “his involvement in the discourse between OPIRG Ottawa and Hillel poses a reasonable apprehension of bias” “that the referendum results…are not overturned so that the voices of all SSMU members who voted will remain justly heard and the jurisdiction of the Respondent respected”

Hiring Tacoma Justice Szajnfarber bias


Newburgh: “positive that the current SSMU president was involved in the [hiring] process” J-Board: “difficult to argue that comments made years ago, in a different city about a different organization, in a different capacity, and in response to a specific event, could in any way be construed to translate into a bias” “that the referendum results be invalidated… The remedy would help prevent future irregularities and uphold the legitimacy of future electoral processes”

Engineering Council discusses tuition hikes Councillors: Students protesting tuition hikes not representative of engineering student body Nick Kandel

The McGill Daily


he Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) Council met last Monday to discuss impending tuition hikes, as well as the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students’s (CFES) annual congress. Discussion centred on how students protesting against tuition increases do not properly represent the engineering student body. Ethan Landy, president of the Civil Engineering Undergraduate Society, noted that the views of most engineering students are not

being heard. “Radical action is not the best representation of students,” said Landy. “I don’t think most engineering students are against tuition hikes.” VP Academic Harold Day agreed with Landy, stating that most engineering students have more pressing concerns. “We have to find a way to make [Principal Heather Munroe-Blum] understand that the majority of students don’t care about the issue,” said Day. The Arts Undergraduate Society has held two General Assemblies (GAs) as part of mobilizing around tuition hikes. The

Science Undergraduate Society also recently announced it would hold a GA on the issue on February 29. President Josh Redel later confirmed with The Daily that the EUS would not be holding a GA. Redel also announced to council his intention to run for SSMU president this semester. The meeting also featured a report on the CFES Congress. The CFES, which represents 60,000 engineering students across Canada, holds an annual congress meeting that brings together various Canadian engineering student associations. The CFES held the conference, which ran this year from January 4 to 12, in

Whitehorse, Yukon. Redel, EUS VP External Myriam Desranleau, and former EUS President Dan Keresteci attended the conference. During the Council meeting, Redel, Desranleau, and Keresteci noted some conclusions from the congress that could be applied to improve EUS in the future. Redel observed that schools in the CFES stress integrating engineering logos on their clothes, adding that the EUS needs “more widespread branding.” “It identifies you as an engineer,” added Keresteci. Nonetheless, Redel, Desranleau, and Keresteci all agreed that the CFES congress itself could be

improved. Notably, Redel stated that the CFES fails to lobby to industries and the government on behalf of engineering students. “[CFES] will never budge on lobbying, because it is not what CFES believes what it is,” said Redel. Currently, lobbying is not included in the mandate of the CFES. Last year, the EUS co-signed a letter accusing the CFES of mismanagement and questioning its leadership; holding the annual conference in the Yukon was one of the issues the EUS raised at the time, as well as the lack of CFES lobbying.

6 News

The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 9, 2012 |

Prospects for McGill’s Griffintown campus “Quartier de l’innovation” raises questions over private and public partnerships Laurent Bastien-Corbeil The McGill Daily


proposal by McGill to build a new campus near the Bonaventure Highway in Griffintown has raised questions over the efficacy of private and public partnerships. The plan, which was submitted to Senate last month, calls for the construction of a “Quartier de l’innovation” (QI) to enhance the visibility of the University and foster innovation in “all realms of creative endeavors.” According to the McGill VP Research and International Relations Rose Goldstein’s report to Senate last month, the success of the project will depend on the strength of its relationships with private and public entities. The report states that “corporate partners are anxious to have access to [McGill’s] pool of highly trained individuals. We recommend that QI-based businesses be given unique access to this pool.” QI reflects a larger trend, in which universities increasingly rely on private and public partnerships to build new facilities, expand into new neighbourhoods, and increase their international visibility. In California, cash-strapped public universities have used Private and Public Partnerships (PPP) in around sixty different projects since the University of California system began in the mid-20th century, with projects ranging from the construction of medical office buildings and research facilities, to new housing for students. In Canada, the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University,

Sergey Tsynkevych | The McGill Daily

McGill’s business proposal for a new campus in Griffintown is due in March. the Emily Carr institute of Art and Design, and the British Columbia Institute of Technology have all been involved in the Great Northern Way Trust private limited company, with business partners since 2001. While a full business proposal for QI is not due until March, the Senate report already stresses the need to attract private partners. However, a look at the history of PPPs in the education sector reveals a mixed track record. Despite a tuition fee of $10,000 per semester, the campus of Great

Northern Way incurred “significant annual operating losses” over the last five years. A global study in 2007 on the effectiveness of PPPs revealed that, while they have been successful in the transportation sector, the effectiveness of such projects in education are less clear. With a focus on fostering innovation in information and science technology, the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto is similar to the QI. While it is not affiliated with any university, the project

was also based on a PPP model. But the Discovery District has had issues with financial accountability. The senior executives at MaRS are some of the highest paid in the Ontario public sector, and the contribution of the private sector has been negligible. In Montreal, plans for an expansion by l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) ended in failure. Two of its construction projects, the Pierre Dansereau Building and the Ilot Project, brought the university

close to bankruptcy. The Ilot was built through a PPP with Busac Real Estate, a subsidiary of a U.S company. It went $106 million over budget. While it is still unclear what role the city of Montreal will play in the project, similar bids in the United States were usually funded by significant contributions from the city. In New York City, for example, a proposal by Cornell University to build a new campus on Roosevelt Island is being partly financed by more than $100 million from the City.

Chilean student activist tours Canada Camilo Ballesteros speaks in Montreal about student movement Vanessa Pagé News Writer


amilo Ballesteros, former president of the University of Santiago student federation, executive council member of the student confederation of Chile, and Chilean student activist, spoke in Montreal last Saturday as part of a nationwide tour discussing Chilean student activism. Tens of thousands of Chilean students took to the streets beginning last May, calling for education reform in Chile.

Students have criticized the lack of accessibility of post-secondary education – tuition in public and private universities in the country has increased by over 60 per cent in the last decade – as well as a lack of accountability over the allocation of government funds. Ballesteros has been travelling through Canada for the past few days, meeting with various protest groups – namely, Occupy Toronto and the Canadian Federation of Students – and said at his talk that he is impressed with the level of autonomy and independence that the Canadian

movements have (universities control the funding of student organizations in Chile). Ballesteros said he first became aware of the extreme degree of inequality in Chilean education in 2011. Along with fellow activists Camila Vallejos from the University of Chile Student Federation, and Giorgio Jackson from the Student Federation of the Catholic University of Chile and Confederation of Chilean Student Federations, he started the Chilean student movement “with a communication campaign looking for people who wanted knowledge,”

he explained in Spanish. Later, the group looked for “angry people [and began] telling people about their movement and improving their organization.” Ballesteros further explained that, in Chile, not only is education very expensive for most people, but the universities are not keeping pace with the labour market. He blamed this statistic on the lack of technical courses available in schools. According to Ballesteros, the movement informed itself of how the education systems of the world worked, and explained to Chileans,

“What they thought was normal was not actually the case.” Eventually, he explained, the Chilean movement grew to include demands for health reforms, lodging and pension schemes. Aurelian Basa, a Concordia Urban Planning student, said he hoped that Ballesteros’s tour of Canada will inspire students across the country to protest against their own governments. “People should look at what Quebec is doing right – not wrong,” said Basa. “The other provinces should lower their tuition rates or have education be free.”


The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 9, 2012 |

To yell or to talk The diversity of dialogue within the Atheist community

We appreciate the sixth floor support A statement from the QPIRG Board of Directors

One Less God Harmon Moon



bout a year ago, there was a large debate among different atheist blogs about how atheists should deal with others. Every time I look at it, I have to cringe a bit. Not because it’s embarrassing, or because it dug up some mean spirited aspects of the movement, or even because there were bad arguments on either side. Rather, it’s because somehow the terminology managed to land on the most awkward and inconvenient terms for the two sides that I could possibly imagine: confrontationism and accomodationism. These are not terms that are well known, in this context, outside the Atheist community; yet, knowing them can help one understand the nuances within the Atheist community. To illustrate the two sides, let’s take two imaginary atheists: Mark and Sally. Sally is our typical confrontationist and she certainly has much to be angry about: honour killings, child molestation, terrorism, evolution not being taught in schools, et cetera. Sally’s not going to let this stand – she’ll scream the crimes of religion from the rooftops if she has to. In her opinion, every person that turns away from belief in a god-figure makes the world a better place. Mark, as an accomodationist, has a slightly more laid-back view when it comes to dealing with religious individuals. He also believes numerous problems are perpetrated in the name of religion. Yet, he believes that, in debates regarding religion, one attracts more flies with honey than with vinegar. It does more good to work together with religious groups, and to give no more than a slight push towards the idea of there being no God. In Mark’s view, there’s room for compromise. There are good arguments for both sides here. In the face of the outrages committed daily in the name of religion, it’s hard to simply sit back and claim that we need to be respectful. When religious individuals demonize same-sex relationships and drive queer identifying people to commit suicide, one


Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily should be angry. We should also be upset when one cannot publicly draw a picture of the prophet Mohammed without being subject to threats and attacks on one’s life. Those that defend such actions as just being done by a fringe religious group simply enable the problem by refusing to acknowledge that holy texts can be used to support both positions, and the radicals have just chosen to ignore different parts than the moderates. On the accomodationist side, nobody reacts well to accusations. Claiming that moderates are responsible for the crimes of the radicals does not endear them to you, and you’ll get farther by being role models of civility and understanding than by just being shrill. It’s not fun to keep your mouth shut when being lectured about how you’re going to hell, but you’ll at least spend more time at the table. My own stance is accomodationist; I prefer to try to foster dialogue and understanding between

groups rather than hammer on the religious atrocities occurring across the world. But the stronger point to make here is that it’s not necessary that the atheist movement be completely purged of one side or the other, becoming completely accomodationist or confrontationist. Sure, the two can hamper each other in their work, but there’s room for both amongst non-believers. There’s a time to be restrained and diplomatic and there’s a time to be cathartically blunt. Being aware of differences between confrontationists and accomodationists can help one remember – the atheist movement is not monolithic in terms of its interactions.

One Less God is a twice-monthly column on atheist communities and philosophy. Harmon Moon is a U2 History student and VP External of the McGill Freethought Association. He can be reached at

he Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) at McGill has been overwhelmed by the show of solidarity from students and their supporters both inside and outside of the James Administration Building on McGill campus since Tuesday morning. While QPIRG was completely unaware that a “surprise resignation party” was planned for Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson, we understand that these students, professors, and workers are committed to the students’ right to determine and vote on the funding for organizations such as CKUT Radio and QPIRG McGill, and to have these decisions upheld by the University. We are dismayed by the response to these students and their supporters thus far; their demands for discussion regarding QPIRG and CKUT were not met when The Daily went to press. Moreover, the students that were in the lobby had been denied access to leave to use the washrooms and get food; additionally, the shut-down of Internet services in the building has hindered their ability to communicate with supporters or the press on their situation and wellbeing. One student in the building who was seeking access to his medication was met with violence by a security guard on site. If one thing is clear, it is that the McGill administration continues to take an adversarial stance and punitive measures against dissenting student voices. QPIRG stands in solidarity with the students in the Deputy Provost’s office, their supporters in the lobby of the James Administration Building, and those camping outside of the building overnight. Ever since the Fall 2011 referendum results were announced in November, QPIRG has been working tirelessly to have the McGill student vote recognized by the administration. The referendum had exceptionally high voter turnout, with 24 per cent of the student body participating in the vote, and 65.6 per cent of these students voting in favour

of QPIRG’s continuation. Despite this astonishing turnout and show of support, the administration has continuously refused to implement the results, stating in a letter to QPIRG that our “question was unclear and as such, will not provide McGill’s Board of Governors the assurance necessary to approve renewal of your agreement with the University”. Contrary to the assertions of the McGill administration, the referendum results were very clear: students overwhelmingly voted to support QPIRG’s existence as an autonomous organization that administers its own fee refunds in lieu of the administration’s Minerva online opt-out system (a system that was unilaterally imposed on us in 2007). Moreover, the QPIRG ‘Yes’ Committee – composed of over 100 student volunteers – worked tirelessly to publicize the referendum and to clearly explain the inextricable link between online opt-outs and QPIRG’s existence. These are the conditions under which students voted to have QPIRG continue to execute its mandate. Since the referendum, QPIRG has maintained in-person, phone, and e-mail correspondence with the Deputy Provost’s office, urging them to accept the results as proof of the overwhelming demand for QPIRG on campus. Thus far, our requests have been met with staunch refusal. We sincerely wish to reach an agreement with the Deputy Provost on the referendum results, an agreement that upholds student democracy at McGill and the continued existence of QPIRG on campus. While QPIRG and the administration are continuing to engage in their own negotiations to have the student vote upheld, we urge the administration to also discuss the QPIRG and CKUT referenda with those students currently at the James Administration Building, who are clearly expressing their frustrations at not having their voices heard.

Signed by the QPIRG-McGill Board of Directors.

8 Features

killing your sex life? the strange side effects of happiness drugs. words by shannon palus. illustrations by amina batyreva.


mean, I’ve never even –” Nicole* says, pausing, “ – had an orgasm.” She draws out the “a” in “had.” We’re sitting on bar stools around the island of her parents’ kitchen, in a suburb of Philadelphia. This is where we sat senior year of high school – high, eating cookie dough, picking over hook-up prospects; where, in grade five, we ate grilled cheese and talked

about the cutest boy in the class. Now, it’s summer break, and we’re halfway through university. Nicole’s been struggling with depression, and until recently she’s been taking Effexor, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), the most commonly prescribed class of anti-depression medication. Though we’re still talking about sex, we’re tuned into something a little darker this time.

The listed side effects of taking SSRIs include: headache, dry mouth, anxiety, nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, sleeplessness. In 2000, a twelve year-old who had been on Paxil for seven months hung herself. So, to this day SSRIs in the United States carry a black-box warning about suicide. But lurking in the drug pamphlet of every SSRI, somewhere between the media-hyped worst-case

The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 9, 2012 |

scenarios, and the string of mundanities that typically fade after a week or two, are the words “sexual dysfunction.” The list of conditions that fall under that term could hold its own in a fine-print contest. In no particular order: no or lower libido, delayed orgasm, anorgasmia (no orgasm), pleasureless orgasm, erectile dysfunction, problems with arousal (unspecified), and possibly genital anesthesia (in which genitals are no more useful for pleasure than, say, your arm is). These side effects reportedly hit between 2 and 70 per cent of patients on SSRIs – the number varies study to study, depending on how the study is done. In studies where you wait for patients to bring up sexual dysfunction, a comparatively small number report

having it; but when the question is asked specifically, reports always clock in at 30 per cent at least. It all makes the little, bouncing genital-less smiley faces in those Zoloft ads seem more than a little wicked. Ben Goldacre, a doctor and Guardian columnist, lays out the stakes involved in drug-induced sexual dysfunction in his book Bad Science. “I’m trying to phrase this as neutrally as possible,” Goldacre writes. “I really enjoy the sensation of orgasm. It’s important to me, and everything I experience in the world tells me that this sensation is important to other people too. Wars have been fought, essentially, for the sensation of orgasm.”

Nicole had taken Effexor for nearly a year, however, our topic of conversation that afternoon – about whether it affected her sexual function – was one that she had not even broached with the doctor that put her on the medication. Audrey Bahrick, a psychologist at the University of Iowa, explains that the decision to take medication should be one of “informed consent.” Patients should have an understanding of the benefits and downsides of the medication, including the possibility that it’ll mess with your sex life. “It almost sounds trivial,” says Bahrick. You might be prepared to cope with a little loss of libido. “But it can be much more. It can be really quite a pervasive change.” Studies clearly show that patients will,


far more often than not, fail to bring up sexual side effects unless specifically asked. This is especially true when patients have just 15 minutes with a general practitioner before being shoved out the door. (A game to play at McGill Health Services: get a doctor to prescribe you an SSRI, see if they bring up the birds and the bees.) Prior to prescribing an SSRI, doctors need to suss out a “baseline” – or typical sexual function – with patients first, explains Bahrick. If you have a solid idea going into taking the medication of what your sexual function is like, it’s easier to know if the drug is taking something away. Though Bahrick does not prescribe drugs, as a psychologist she is directly involved in patient’s treatment plans. She sees the 18 to

10 Features

The McGill Daily | Thursday, Fenruary 9, 2012 |

22 year olds that she works with as an especially vulnerable population, as their baseline of sexual function isn’t as firmly established as it is for adults. Further, women’s sexuality risks being ignored: if a man cannot get an erection or stays hard for too long (one man I spoke to described “erections that last forever”), it seems to be a clear, easy-to-explain problem. When a women can’t reach orgasm, however, it may be harder to recognize that as an issue. “We know a whole lot more about men’s experience. They’re a lot easier to study,” says Bahrick.

It turns out this is true in more ways than one. Anita Clayton, a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia who works with drug companies to study side effects of SSRIs, explains that it’s harder to get government funding to study female sexual dysfunction. “I think there’s a cultural and institutional bias against women and their sexuality, that it needs to be contained,” she says. “And I think that much of that influences the funding to do studies.” She cites abstinence-only education as another factor impeding a meaningful discourse on the subject. Abstinence-only education isn’t good – this is true. But the problem is deeper than that. Its not just that sexual function is hard to study, or that it’s harder to study in women – it’s that sex is, even in some of the best of cultural conditions, defined in a male-centric and heterosexist way. It’s reduced to the male orgasm, the act of intercourse, a penis entering a vagina and depositing an amount of sperm. Women’s pleasure – which often stems from acts other than vaginal intercourse – is taken for granted or ignored altogether. These complications apply to people like me and Nicole, too, who were not products of abstinence-only education – quite the opposite, in fact. Over the years, we’ve rented the movie All I Wanna Do from the now-bankrupt video store so many times that we might as well have been charged as responsible for wearing out the tape. In it, Kirsten Dunst goes to an all-girls boarding school, and fights the oppressive rule against wearing jewelry, and, most importantly, the one about not having male visitors. She and her cohorts skirmish with the nighttime chaperones, essentially, for the sake of getting laid. Everything about our world told us that Dunst was right. We were taught that – should we somehow ever find ourselves apparrated to a conservative boarding school – the right to still have sex was one worth losing our dining hall privileges over. In grade five, volunteers from Planned Parenthood played the “penis game” with us, in which everyone shouted out words for genitalia at the top of their lungs, as though our yelling could hit a frequency that would shatter the playground stigmas. The school nurse had free condoms on hand, in case, it seemed, of an emergency. In our liberal world of readily available condoms and birth control, we were free to have intercourse. But sex is brilliantly multifaceted – desire and dysfunction aren’t always easily identified. And yet what dominates the discourse is a binary language: yes or no, penetration or not. From nosy peers: “how many people have you slept with?”; from doctors, “are you sexually active?” If there is an erection going into a vagina, according to this way of thinking, the system is functional – enough to count as active, enough to make another notch in the bedpost. The dysfunctions experienced by men can more clearly fall under this straight-andnarrow definition. Bahrick mentions a female she treated who said that she was not concerned about sexual side effects – she had a boyfriend, but

they were not having intercourse; sexual side effects didn’t have anything to do with her. Female arousal is more complex, and hidden, both physiologically and culturally: women do not necessarily have orgasms with every act of intercourse, though the clitoris swells when aroused, it is out of sight. While male cum featured – necessarily, it felt – in many of my teenage conversations with Nicole, female pleasure came up explicitly for the first time that summer afternoon. It was part of her sexual baseline that she hadn’t quite bothered to look into before. In grade ten sex ed, the subject of female masturbation came up once. Later at track practice a friend asked me, “Does anyone do that?”

For Bahrick, the problem is scarier than just asking the right questions, or being sensitive to the fact that a patient might not yet have discovered their baseline of sexual function. Much of her work comes from the firsthand accounts of people on SSRIs, people who have been on them for longer than the standard eight-week trial that it takes to get the drug approved by the FDA. Her findings are drawn from both patients in her office, and members of a Yahoo discussion group called SSRIsex. There are things lurking here that are deeply sinister: accounts of people going on SSRIs, losing their sexual function and never getting it back. The mainstream medical community has not accepted the notion of post SSRI sexual dysfunction – there is no research that proves it. It could turn out to be as invalid as the link between vaccines and cognitive diseases. But, unlike Jenny McCarthy’s choice cause, no research has been done to show for sure that there isn’t a link between posttreatment sexual dysfunction and SSRIs, either. This is the scary thing about these drugs – if there are long-term side effects, ones that extend beyond the eight-week trials, we’re currently testing them in situ, on millions of people. “We need to talk about what we don’t know,” she continues. Post-SSRI sexual side effects are not accepted by the mainstream medical community. Still, in the past decade, studies on suicidal thoughts and SSRIs have shown that the twelve year-old’s death was likely not caused by the drug, and yet the drugs still carry warnings. Better to err on the safe side.

It is strange that a solution to happiness could rob us of sex. A drug called Viibryd hit the market in early 2011; the data, at glance, indicates that it might sidestep this paradox (can’t you feel that sentiment pumping through its name?). If you look at the drug insert material, rates of sexual dysfunction clock in around 2 per cent. The FDA approved the drug – but not the claim that it offers superior sexual function, as the study only compared rates of side effects in Viibryd to a placebo, not to another SSRI. In spite of its questionable accuracy, the 2 per cent figure was out: it made the media rounds, landing headlines on news websites from Salon to ABCNews. The fact that patients are looking for a better SSRI, though, is a positive step: When Prozac first hit the market, studies that asked specifically about sexual side effects weren’t even being done. If you have a drug that really does reduce side effects, that would be a brilliant thing to market. “Yes, and if you have one that is going to be negative, you want to know that too, because it might negatively affect the treatment plan,” Clayton says earnestly. She dismisses the claim that SSRIs can cause post-treatment sexual dysfunction – there are psychological factors to explain the

post SSRI libido drop. “The number of these reports is so low. If that is the case, it’s just a coincidence,” she says, though quickly adding, “in my opinion.” There is one more striking – and perhaps crucial – difference between the emphases of Clayton, who works hand in hand with big pharma, and Bahrick, who is a psychologist, and spends much of her time with patients. While Bahrick uses the language of “informed consent”, in her literature, Clayton uses the typical pharma language of “treatment compliance.” “‘Treatment compliance’ is a term suggesting a more passive, less collaborative role of the patient and a more paternal role of the prescriber,” explains Bahrick. The term is out of favor with pyschologists, for this reason. “Yet the language of ‘compliance’ does still seem ever-present in the sexual side effects literature, i.e. – the side effects pose a risk to treatment compliance.” For Bahrick, a patient who sees sexual side effects as a reason to not take a drug has a valid point. In high school, we poured over consensual sex for hours in the classroom, reading stories, running through hypothetical scenarios, like militia running though war theory. What we weren’t taught was about how to say yes or no to a drug, to a company; what violation of your self happens when you swallow a pill. What we weren’t taught is that we were entitled to explore a range of feeling, including feelings that that might take time to figure out. I ask Clayton what she says when patients decline drugs because of side effects. “In those patients what are we going to do?” she replies, implying annoyance. “Shove it down their throats?”

It is winter break, 2011, and six months have passed since Nicole stopped taking medication. Though she sees a pyschiatrist regularly – and did make it through the bulk of her depression while on meds – she’s also started doing yoga and writing more in an effort to feel better. One evening a few days before Christmas, we take the train downtown, watch a local band play a few songs at an Irish bar, and then wander out onto 12th street. It is our first time going out in Philly since we reached the legal drinking age. In a moment of abandon, we pop into a club called iCandy: a pocket of techno and rainbow strobe lights in the mild winter, encased in revolution-era brick. We take our seats on bar stools at a table for two, and a man wearing nothing but a santa hat and red briefs serves us rounds of twizzlerflavored test tube shots. It’s one of those moments when I feel like I have wandered out of my own life and onto a movie set. I check to see that we’re still wearing the cardigans that we left the house in. We’re off script this time: happiness and pleasure are things that aren’t necessarily tied to a chemical or a sexual conquest. We’ve learned the lessons of Dunst characters – the ones who risk it all for the act of sex under its strictest definition – and now we’re leaving them behind. When Nicole weaned herself off the anti-depressants, she told me about how she opened up each individual plastic pill and dumped out the hundreds of tiny white beads that contained the drug. First, four every day, then, a week later, eight, and so on, until there were none left to spill out. Now, in the bar, a small pile of glassware accumulates in front of us, as we become drunker in fifty-milliliter doses of alcohol and syrup. Nicole leans forward. “It happened,” she says, smiling and shrugging at the same time. “I had one.” *Name has been changed


The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 9, 2012 |


Unethical Investments How McGill profits off of exploitative companies Sean Phipps Soap Box

Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily


lot has been said in recent months about the need to reform the fundamental structures of this University: to begin to live up to the ideals that we as students, professors, and even administrators have given to this institution we call McGill. The need for greater student involvement in university decision making, reforming how we view protest on campus, promoting dialogue between different members of the McGill community to prevent future conflict; all these are important fights, however, the issue that registers most outside the Roddick Gates is McGill’s investments. McGill has invested with a series of companies whose operations do not exemplify social and ethical leadership, but instead cause environmental degradation and human rights abuses. And unlike an incompetent senate or an autocratic principal, investing in these companies does not just harm us, but perpetuates abusive corporate practices on a global scale. In 2011, McGill had an endowment fund of $962.3-million, which is invested in a variety of different Canadian and international firms, managed by external investment managers, such as Pyramis Global Advisor who include companies like Suncor and Gold Corp in its portfolio. These companies have documented records of human rights and environmental abuse. Goldcorp’s Marlin mine in Guatemala has become synonymous with bad corporate practice, with water contamination from the mine leading to disease in nearby communities. Community leaders protesting the mine have received anonymous death threats. Little of the mine’s revenue has gone to benefit the community. The adverse environmental and social affects have led to groups like the International Labour Organization and the Inter-American

Commission for Human Rights calling for the mine’s suspension. As of June 23, 2010 the government said it would look into shutting down the operation, yet production still continues. And we come to the Tar Sands giant Suncor, whose actions are strikingly similar to Goldcorp’s – except they did not occur in Latin America but right here at home. The story of the people of Fort Chipewyan first

broke in 2006, when a local doctor reported abnormally high cancer rates among the native population living along that part of the Athabasca River. Subsequent studies showed that the river in which much of the population relied on for water and fish showed above average levels of arsenic as a result of seepage from a nearby Suncor tailings pond. Suncor had known about the seepage yet

done nothing. Furthermore a Suncor study from November 2006 revealed that the arsenic level in the food of the people of Fort Chipewyan was 453 times the acceptable level, yet still nothing was done and the people of Fort Chipewyan were not informed. When our University says, in its own environmental policy, that it wishes to be “actively promoting the restoration and preservation of a healthy

environment for the future and in contributing to building an equitable world”, is it by investing in these companies that it hopes to do so? I propose an alternative. Those companies which have been proven to cause grievous social injury should be divested from and replaced with more ethical investment alternatives. How then, you may ask, do you propose to bring about this change? The framework already exists. McGill has a Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility, whose job is to hear complaints about social injuries committed by companies McGill has dealings with, with the right, if social injury has occurred, to recommend disinvestment from the offending company. However, the committee has not met for two years and the complaints process is slow and unwieldy. Rather than work to solve the problem, it serves as a symbol of the administration’s reluctance to live up to even its own stated ideals. It is time for us as students, along with other members of the McGill community, to take it back, to push for an efficient and proactive social injury committee to oversee the investment process with greater power to divest from those companies which the community decides have caused unacceptable social harm. This can be done, the mechanisms exist, it is time for us to see that they work. To do so would not only send a message to those offending companies in a way letters and petitions never could, it would also help us along the way to preventing the unquestioned corporatization of this university and move us closer to our ideal of an inclusive, sustainable, and socially-just McGill. This is our endowment. Let’s see to it that it’s not investing in corporate abuse on our behalf.

Sean Phipps is a U1 Latin American Studies Student. He can be reached at sean.phipps@mail.

Let’s hold ourselves to a higher standard An open letter from the SSMU President Maggie Knight Two Cents


n the article “Board of Governors adjourned due to student protestors” (News, February 2, Page 3), my comments regarding the option to not have the BoG meeting in open session were taken out of context. The point of noting that McGill did not have to hold the discussion in open session was to raise the concern that the actions of pirate-costumed students in shutting down the BoG

provide an excellent rationale not to hold important discussions in an open session forum, and consequently to point out that these actions do a disservice to students and to the McGill community as a whole. In my role as SSMU President, I attempt to support the efforts of students of many different opinions to express themselves; however, I also find it frustrating when students engage in protests that limit the ability of other students to engage in important campus issues and simultaneously fail to effec-

tively communicate their concerns. From the comments I heard (both from administration and from other students), the singing pirates appeared to many to be childish bullies, which I assume was not their intent. There are other forms of protest that communicate legitimate critiques while allowing others to express their own views. It is frustrating to see students choosing not to use them, to the detriment of others, including those who had travelled from the Macdonald Campus to hear the discussion.

I endeavour to understand that the intended aim of the protestors was to draw attention to what they see as structural flaws in the Board of Governors. However, the BoG is unlikely to change because fewer than twenty students shut it down. Rather, discussions about making the BoG more accessible to students and creating stronger understanding between the student body and individual Governors are made drastically more difficult, and future access may be restricted due to fears of disruption. Ends do not always justify

the means, and in this case the cited desired ends of a democratic BoG were sought through a decidedly non-democratic action by a small group of students apparently on behalf of many. I think we can do better. Let’s exchange ideas, endeavour to understand each other’s perspectives, and advocate for specific practical changes, not bulldoze over each other without warning or apology. Maggie Knight is the SSMU President. She can be reached at


The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 9, 2012 |

Hitchhiker’s guide to the galleries Victoria Lessard explores our city’s art Okay, confession: like most students in their first year at McGill, I was amazed at the sheer number of art galleries, music festivals, and other cultural activities Montreal had to offer. Yet, upon my return to my hometown in the summer, I realized that I had actually never really ventured beyond the McGill enclosure. That is, I had yet to make it past St. Laurent or St. Catherine – yikes. Determined to burst my self-imposed life in the bubble, I began to trek all around the city, wielding my OPUS card like a newly earned badge for geographic mobility. From Rosemont down to St. Henri, and everywhere in between, Montreal art galleries are like hidden gems. So, I offer you my own little treasure map.

1 BattatContemporary

4 Gallery Gora

7 Parisian Laundry

7245 Alexandra Suite 100

279 Sherbrooke Ouest, #205

3550 St-Antoine Ouest

Stepping into the BattatContemporary art gallery is like stumbling across a secret fort for art lovers. The space is tucked away in a small loft in an old converted apartment building, evoking the tantalizing feeling that only those with a map and a password will make it in. The gallery assistants are welcoming, offering visitors help without hovering, and creating a warm and friendly atmosphere. The gallery’s current show, Nervous Lattice, offers colourful, engaging paintings by Krisjanis KaktinsGorsline. The artist uses stencils throughout the works, creating organic abstract landscapes reminiscent of both a vibrant garden and the nervous system of the human body.

Stepping into Gallery Gora is like visiting your eccentric, art-loving aunt ­— the gallery can be rented out for events, so the space is filled with contemporary graphic furniture. Abstract, surrealist works fill the walls, spilling out around the gallery in sculptural forms. My personal favourite is the plastic sheep grazing on grass in the corner. The art works are compelling, offering fantastical visions of the world, such as Max Werner’s “Cruise Ship on the Desert.” The gallery also offers art and language courses.

Parisian Laundry is my favourite gallery in Montreal – my apologies to all the other wonderful galleries in the city. With a ground floor, an upper level, and a bunker, the gallery is able to exhibit multiple shows at once, and makes it a point to support Canadian contemporary artists, especially those hailing from Montreal. Parisian Laundry always displays evocative pieces, and is unafraid to show more avant-garde works than one would find in a typical gallery. The current exhibits do not disappoint – BGL returns to the gallery with Concessionaire, and Michael Jones McKean presents The Gilded Scab in the bunker.


2 Art Mûr

372 St-Catherine Ouest

Art Mûr is a bustling gallery space, currently housing fiercely political works in the exhibition, A Stake in the Ground: Contemporary Native Art Manifestation. The mediums used in the pieces currently on display range from multimedia, such as Kevin Lee Burton’s S.E.C.K., to a short film interviewing four young Aboriginals about their relationship to the lost languages of their people, to Métis artist Jason Baerg’s sculptural “Relations Installation,” which evokes the forms of celestial bodies. With two floors, there are countless concealed nooks and crannies in the gallery, leaving visitors with the sensation that there could be a surprising art work to discover behind every corner.

3944 St-Denis A tiny gallery on St-Denis, this space is oriented more towards selling art works than merely displaying them, but the friendly gallery assistant and the adorable puppy – who is jokingly referred to as their “public relations associate” – make the gallery a worthwhile visit, even for a student in no position to purchase a piece. When I admired an artwork by Jennifer Meanley, the assistant pulled out a much larger piece by the artist from the gallery’s collection, kindly giving me a glimpse, and bridging the gap between curator and spectator. The gallery exhibits prints, photos, and mixed media.

8 Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery 1400 de Maisonneuve Ouest

It is easy to pass by the Belgo building on St-Catherine without ever knowing what is going on inside. The Belgo is a center of creativity, with different cultural spaces on each level. The fifth floor is comprised entirely of contemporary art galleries: Galeriestroispoints, the Joyce Yahouda Gallery and the SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art are a few favourites. As you walk down the stairs to the lobby, you’re likely to see dancers hurrying past you, or catch a glimpse of artists disappearing into their studios. While I was there, an artist was filming for a piece – at the Belgo, unlike other spaces, you’re as much immersed within the artistic process as you are presented with the final piece.

5826 Saint-Hubert

3 Beaux-art des Amériques

Les Galeries d’art contemporain du Belgo


Division/Arsenal/Rene Blouin Gallery 2020 William These three galleries are housed together in a renovated warehouse. Each gallery occupies a small space, creating its own individual vision within their allotted walls. The Arsenal is the first gallery when you enter the building, presenting many different mediums by contemporary artists, such as Marcel Dzama’s diorama, The Horsemen Flee (2010), and Allison Schulnik’s painting, Home for Hobo (2009). Division Gallery is next, currently showing No Show by Wanda Koop. Koop uses graphic squares of colour to offset seemingly apocalyptic landscapes. The Rene Blouin Gallery is currently showing Dissolutions, featuring work by Serge Murphy, Shirley Wiitasaol, and Etienne Zack.

The Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery is housed Concordia University’s McConnel Library Building, and continually presents strong exhibitions focusing on contemporary artists. The gallery also provides an important space for public outreach, planning frequent lectures, tours, and screenings. The current show, Traffic: Conceptual Art in Canada 1965-1980 offers an enthralling inside look at the contemporary art scene in Canada from the sixties to the eighties. The exhibition showcases a range of different mediums, from multi-media works, to prints, posters, and sculptural forms. The show also displays the social context for the art pieces, displaying critical and public reactions in the form of newspapers and correspondence.


DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art 451 St-Jean Located in two separate buildings in Old Montreal, the DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art is like a hidden oasis amongst the cobblestones and souvenir shops. The foundation has only a small sign outside to indicate its whereabouts, and is easily missed along a small side street if you’re not looking closely enough. Committed to displaying provocative works of art, the gallery shows two exhibitions a year. The current show, Chronicles of a Disappearance, focuses on the works of five artists, all of whom explore themes of grief, political idealism, and defeat.



The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 9, 2012 |

As vibrant as Montreal’s professional art scene is, all artists got their start somewhere. Student spaces at McGill and Concordia offer an alternative to larger, more intimidating galleries and enable creativity within the University structure.

10 VAV Gallery

11 Fridge Door Gallery

1395 Rene Levesque Ouest

Arts Lounge, Leacock building

The VAV Gallery is a student-run space, attached to the Concordia Fine Arts building. The gallery is democratically run, and provides a place for Concordia art students to display their work. With shows changing at a faster pace than other spaces, the VAV Gallery is constantly presenting fresh ideas and works, pushing boundaries, and allowing visitors to glimpse into the minds of the next generation of talented artists. The current exhibition, Material Culture, is their Annual Ceramics show, although these works will blow away any typical image that the word “ceramics” brings to mind.

The Fridge Door Art Gallery is a semi-annual show exhibiting the art works of McGill’s very own student population. Run and curated entirely by Art History students, the group aims to promote and encourage the promising artists at our own university, who lack the benefit of their own Fine Arts. While the Fridge Door Art Gallery doesn’t have a permanent space, viewers interested in past exhibitions can check out their blog,, to view past artworks while eagerly anticipating the next show.




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The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 9, 2012 |


“Celebrating our natural sizes”

Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily

Annie Shiel reports on Eating Disorder Awareness Week


his week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week in Canada: an annual effort by groups across the country to educate the public about eating disorders and body image issues. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the aim of the week is “to ultimately prevent eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment.” The week-long event is promoted by the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC). According to NEDIC representative Emily Pam, “we take for granted the idea that women – and men, too – should look a certain way…it sort of gets lost that eating disorders are a really serious problem and it comes from, in some part, trying to live up to a certain cultural ideal.” Thus, promoting awareness of eating disorders often includes de-bunking the myths and unrealistic body image ideals promoted by popular media. According to NEDIC’s website, “The media doesn’t cause eating disorders, but they send out the clear message that you should be thin. They keep showing or telling us certain lies about women, such as ‘You can’t and shouldn’t be happy with yourself unless your body looks exactly like the thin ideal.’” Supermodel Kate Moss, for example, is 5’7” and weighs around 100 pounds, which is 30 per cent below what is widely considered ideal body weight and meets the critical body mass index for anorexia.But according to the Renfrew Center Foundation, only 5 per cent

of women have the body type seen in most advertising: tall, genetically predisposed to being thin, broadshouldered, narrow-hipped, longlegged and usually small-breasted. In fact, Hollywood sex symbol Marilyn Monroe wore around a size 12, far from today’s projected ideal. Reflecting this concern, NEDIC has made “Celebrating our natural sizes” the slogan for the week. NEDA reports that Americans spend more than $40-billion on dieting and diet-related products each year, and eating disorders have been growing at unprecedented rates in the past two decades with as many as ten million females and one million males struggling with an eating disorder. The need for greater awareness around eating disorders is particularly relevant for university students. The website of McGill’s Eating Disorder Program (EDP) claims that “university life may be a prime breeding ground for eating disorders,” citing a Princeton University study which found that “among patients with lifelong eating disorder problems, 53 per cent say that their disorders first emerged during college.” According to Randi Fogelbaum, Director of the Eating Disorder Clinic (EDP) at McGill, “university is a huge transition point in somebody’s life.” Students must become more independent while still managing schoolwork and making new friends; fear of the dreaded “Freshman 15” may add additional stress. These are all factors that increase students’ risk of developing an eating disorder. Disordered eating comes in many forms. The most commonly

known are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa involves sudden and drastic weight loss driven by efforts to change weight or shape, and often includes a restrictive diet and severely distorted body image. Bulimia nervosa involves cycles of binging on excessive amounts of food and then purging, which can include vomiting, laxative use, excessive exercise, fasting, or the use of diet pills. Binge-eating disorder, on the other hand, is characterized by binge-eating episodes that may not be accompanied by purging, and are “marked by a large degree of shame and guilt,” according to the EDP website. “Eating disorder not-otherwise-specified” is a diagnosis in which an individual may not meet all of the criteria for anorexia or bulimia but still exhibits disordered eating behaviors. The EDP, housed at McGill Mental Health Services in the Brown Student Services Building, aims to address eating disorders in the McGill community by helping students discover healthier alternatives while addressing the underlying issues that cause disordered eating. The clinic takes a multidisciplinary approach to treatment, offering individual therapy, group therapy and support programs, physical health monitoring, and nutritional consultation and meal support. The EDP also offers public education services and support for family and friends of individuals with eating disorders. According to Fogelbaum, the clinic sees approximately three to four new patient assessments each week, and has approximately 100 new

referrals each year. The EDP also includes a group of about ten student volunteers who focus on enhancing awareness of eating disorders and promoting a positive body image in the McGill community. According to Sam Neuberg, a member of the program’s student volunteer group, awareness is an integral component of the work they do. “Students should know that they have the opportunity to seek treatment and therapy here,” he said. “If it’s not widely raised on campus then how are they supposed to get help?” Fogelbaum added, “It’s not just about advertising our program. It’s about really reaching out to the university population to keep them talking about the importance of building self-confidence and having a positive body image.” In the EDP’s mission to increase awareness and foster discussion on eating disorders and body image, getting people to talk about these issues has often posed a challenge. According to Fogelbaum, eating disorders can be a difficult topic to breach, and as a result, they are often misunderstood. Society’s stigmatization of eating disorders also plays a role. Neuberg recalled how many students avoided the EDP table at activities night. “A lot of the time people see our posters and run away…or they’ll make a joke like ‘I guess this is the table that doesn’t have any candy,’” he said. “So it’s either offensive in a humour-based way, or in a stigmatized ‘I-don’t-want-to-get-near-you’ kind of way.” For this year’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week, the EDP is hoping to make its outreach more effective

by partnering with other groups that have common interests and goals. This week, they’ll be hosting discussion groups with Queer McGill and McGill’s fraternities, hoping to reach a larger audience and reduce the stigmatization associated with eating disorders. The joint presentation with Queer McGill – which will take place at 5:30 pm on Wednesday in the SSMU clubs lounge – will address body image and eating disorders in queer communities. The discussion with the fraternities will focus on the link between eating disorders and substance abuse. Other events this week will include a screening of the film “America the Beautiful” on Tuesday evening in the Brown Building, and two bake sales. The EDP will also be tabling around campus all week, with information on eating disorders, body image issues, prevention, and how to help a friend who may be struggling with disordered eating. Despite the challenges faced by awareness groups and by individuals struggling with eating disorders themselves, there is reason to be hopeful for recovery. According to Fogelbaum, while university may be a likely period to develop an eating disorder, “it’s also the best time in your life to be able to create change and get help, and deal with those problems.” If you feel that you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, please call the Eating Disorder Program at 514-398-6019 or find them online at for more information or to find help.


The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 9, 2012 |

volume 101 number 31

editorial 3480 McTavish St., Rm. B-24 Montreal, QC H3A 1X9 phone 514.398.6784 fax 514.398.8318 coordinating editor

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McGill may cause cancer Quebec is a major global producer of asbestos. While asbestos was once a profitable industry, its use has declined significantly as a result of it being labelled as a carcinogen. Currently, over 55 countries – including every EU member state – have banned the use of asbestos, citing almost universally accepted evidence of its deadly properties. Even with this international precedent, McGill seems to have cloistered itself from the logical arguments made against the mineral’s use in favour of corporate interests. Roshi Chadha is a member of the McGill Board of Governors (BoG) and an executive with Seja Trade, a subsidiary of the Montreal trading company Balcorp, Ltd., which exports Quebec-mined asbestos to developing countries. Last week, Chadha took “a leave of absence” as a result of increasing media pressure. Furthermore, a forty-year McGill study on the safety of asbestos is being accused by industry critics of lacking transparency and containing manipulated data. According to a recent episode of CBC’s The National, the Quebec Asbestos Mining Association (QAMA) funded $1 million of research into this study. In 1997, a seperate study carried out at McGill claimed that it was another contaminant in the Quebec mines – not asbestos – that was causing cancer and that it was safe to export Asbestos to third world countries. McGill researchers are refusing, point blank, to publicly release the data of the 1997 study, obscuring how dangerous this mineral may be. Our University does have a Regulation on the Conduct of Research stating that research at McGill “ meets high scientific and ethical standards”. However, there is no transparent policy regarding corporate sponsored research. To ensure McGill does not partner with such morally questionable industries in the future, the requirements for a corporation to enter into a partnership with McGill should be made publically accessible. There should also be a way for students to question the research being done at McGill. McGill is no longer conducting asbestos research, but as long as Roshi Chadha remains on its BoG its corporate connections to asbestos remain. Chadha and her husband – Concordia Board member Baljit Chadha – are seeking a $58 million loan from the Quebec government to re-open the massive Jeffrey Mine in Abestos, Quebec, to keep exporting Canadian asbestos overseas. Roshi Chadha’s presence on our Board only legitimizes her business, and The Daily urges McGill’s BoG to remove her from her position.

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The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 9, 2012 |

Lies, half-truths, and CampuSPOT


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