McGill Daily Vol101 Issue 37

Page 1

Volume 101, Issue 37

March 15, 2012

McGill THE


since 1911

Bloquin’ the hausse since 1911 Published by The Daily Publications Society, a student society of McGill University. Published by The Daily Publications Society, a student society of McGill University.



The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 15, 2012 |


McGill’s highest governing body discusses McGillLeaks Principal states Board’s position on unlimited student strike Esther Lee

The McGill Daily


he University’s Board of Governors (BoG) held its fifth meeting of this academic year to discuss recent incidents, including the breach of confidentiality in the office of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) by the anonymous group McGillLeaks. Chair of the Board Stuart Cobbett started the open session of the meeting by congratulating the members at large for “[the] exceptional job in…dealing with situations of 10 November, the Jutras Report…[and] creating open sessions around the campus.” Cobbett then addressed

Principal Heather Munroe-Blum. “Despite the unfortunate occupation of February…you and your team have handled [the situation] well,” he said. On the meeting’s agenda was a discussion concerning documents leaked from DAR’s portfolio. “Immediate and aggressive measures have been taken,” Munroe-Blum said, but added that the investigation is not complete. “[McGillLeaks] raises profound questions about our security measures,” she said. In response to McGillLeaks, Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) President Roland Nassim questioned the administration’s decision to forgo issuing a public statement to the University community.

“Some members of the University society are trying to create stories with McGill’s relationship with the corporate world,” Nassim said. Munroe-Blum responded that the administration does not “respond to every story.” “If there is an academic intent to discuss McGill’s [relationship] with the corporate world, we’ll be happy to do that,” she said. BoG members also discussed the subject of student strikes. The meeting took place as the Arts Undergraduate Society held a General Assembly with a motion to enter an unlimited student strike. Munroe-Blum stated, “Two student associations have voted to boycott classes…[and] there will

be other votes. Our position is that…anyone has the right to fulfill their work responsibilities. McGill will continue, and the expectation is that everyone will fulfill their [academic] responsibilities.” After the meeting adjourned, Cobbett spoke to The Daily about BoG’s awareness of the student strikes against tuition hikes. “The Board is very well aware of what’s going on and the Board is updated regularly,” he said. “But frankly, most of the immediate responses to any of those issues…are responses that come from the Principal and her team.” Macdonald Campus Student Society BoG representative – who is considered a student observer by the Board – Audrey Hasegawa said that MCSS “supports the

strike; we support the one-day solidarity.” As a student observer, Hasegawa has speaking rights as BoG but cannot vote. “We have voted for a solidarity strike on Thursday. This is the first time that [a Macdonald campus GA] has reached quorum,” she continued. “We feel that we don’t have as much communication with the downtown administration. There needs to be implemented… supplementary support for the Macdonald Campus,” she added. The agenda concluded with a report presented by Dean of Arts Christopher Manfredi on developments in research and undergraduate programs. The Board will hold its next meeting on April 24.

Winter 2012 SSMU Election Results!

For more information please visit



President: Josh Redel

ASEQ Fee: Yes

VP Internal: Michael Szpejda

Arts Sci Councillor Seat: Yes

VP External: Robin Reid-Fraser

Composition of Council: Yes

VP Clubs and Services: Allison Cooper

Composition of Judicial Board: Yes

VP University Affairs: Haley Dinel VP Finance and Operations: JP Briggs

Accountability of Judicial Board: Yes Legal Compliance of Judicial Board: Yes CKUT Fee Question: No


GENERAL MEETING The AGM of the Daily Publications Society (DPS), publisher of The McGill Daily and Le Délit, will take place on

Wednesday, April 4th in Leacock 26 at 6pm Members of the DPS are cordially invited. The presence of candidates to the Board of Directors is mandatory. For more information, please contact


The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 15, 2012 |


Josh Redel elected SSMU President by 0.4 per cent CKUT referendum to be non-opt-outable fails Juan Camilo Velásquez The McGill Daily


osh Redel, current president of the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS), was elected SSMU President by 0.4 per cent of the vote last night. Redel edged out his only opposing candidate, current SSMU VP Finance and Operations Shyam Patel, by a slim margin of about 24 votes. The referendum question seeking to make campus-community radio station CKUT non-opt-outable was voted down with 42 per cent of the vote. Anniessa Antar, co-chair of the CKUT Yes Committee, told The Daily she was “disappointed” by the results of the question. “I’m really interested to know how this word spread out that CKUT is no longer a viable thing. I am actually so confused as to why nothing was said when we made the information available,” said Antar. CKUT says the volume of online opt-outs in recent years endangers its existence. Tim Beeler, who was elected as one of the undergraduate representatives to the CKUT Board of Directors (BoD), spoke to The Daily about the consequences of the result. “My position now goes from worrying about what a radio station should be doing, like planning stuff for students and enriching campus environment, and it’s just once again going to be about trying to keep the station alive and breathing,” said Beeler. “It’s gotten to a point where

the reason we ran these two questions is because the station cannot cut anything else out of its budget; we cannot lose another staff member,” he added. Current SSMU VP Clubs and Services Carol Fraser was elected as the second undergraduate representative to the CKUT BoD. “I really didn’t see that coming, there was nothing in the press as far as I know that was in opposition, there was no ‘no’ committee and it came out of nowhere,” she said. Current Senator for Religious Studies Haley Dinel was elected VP University Affairs with 33.8 per cent of the vote, beating out fellow student senators Matt Crawford and Emil Briones, who received 23.5 and 13.7 per cent of the vote, respectively. “I think we are going to have a lot of challenges, and the big thing for me will be uniting student voices and giving back to the community,” said Dinel following the results. The VP Clubs and Services (C&S) position went to Allison Cooper, who received 46.5 per cent of the vote compared to 24.3 per cent obtained by current C&S councillor Sahil Chaini. Robin Reid-Fraser will be the SSMU VP External next year after receiving 37.8 per cent of the vote. Her opponent Raphael Uribe Arango, current VP External for the Inter-Residence Council, got 24.8 per cent. Reid-Fraser said she was surprised by the number of people who chose “no opinion” in the vote for VP External – 37.4 per cent.

Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily

Meet your 2012-13 SSMU executives. “I am going to do the best that I possibly can, and I will be looking for input from all kinds of people,” said Reid-Fraser. Michael Spzejda won VP Internal with 18 per cent of votes – 24.1 per cent voted “no opinion” – and JP Briggs will be the VP Finance and Operations after obtaining 37 per cent of the vote. Redel told The Daily he was “happy and proud of the support received” after the results were announced. “I think that next year we have

Social Work Student Association joins unlimited student strike Henry Gass

The McGill Daily


he McGill Social Work Student Association (SWSA) voted to go on unlimited general strike yesterday in opposition to upcoming tuition increases ordered by the Quebec government. The SWSA, which represents the 242 undergraduates in McGill’s School of Social Work, is the first McGill student association to join the unlimited general strike, which currently has over 180,000 students participating across the province. In a press release sent to The Daily last night, SWSA VP External Echo Parent-Racine explained that social work is a profession “established to improve the situation of marginalized people and to critically examine societal structures which oppress.” “As a faculty that values social

equity and the promotion of social justice and advocacy, it is appropriate that the undergraduate Social Work students voted in favor for an unlimited strike, in order to promote the belief that education is a right and not a privilege,” continued Parent-Racine in the press release. The vote was conducted as part of SWSA’s first-ever General Assembly (GA). 94 students attended the GA, with the final vote tallying 47 in favour and 29 against joining, with one abstention. Quorum for the GA was 24 students. The GA was held in the Wendy Patrick Room in Wilson Hall, which has a capacity of between seventy and eighty students. Parent-Racine explained that they had to find an overflow room for some portions of the GA. The GA passed two amendments to the strike motion. The first required SWSA to hold the next

GA to renew the strike mandate in one week, as opposed to two. The second moved the start date of the strike from March 21 to March 19. Parent-Racine described the ninety-minute debate on the motion as “passionate” in an interview with The Daily after the GA. “Students were really engaged,” she said. “There was a lot of respect in the room. People were courteous to each other despite different opinions held, and it was reflected in the comportment of the students.” Media was barred entry into the GA yesterday afternoon. Parent-Racine explained that it was to ensure students felt comfortable during debate, and also because of space constraints. “We value making people feel comfortable, and, especially because it was our first GA, we didn’t want any outside influence to sway the students’ opinion one side or the other,” said Parent-Racine.

the opportunity to work with the campus that’s fallen apart a bit, and I’m really excited to work hard as hell to bring it back together,” said Redel. “It’s a very diverse group of people – it will certainly be a challenge to get diverse opinions and backgrounds to work together, but we have a great team,” he added. Patel said the narrow margin in the presidential election “shows that we’re both qualified, and either of us would do a great job, and I think Josh will be great.”

Maggie Knight, current SSMU President, also commented on the challenges for next year. “Next year’s exec is a very different political composition from this year, so we’ll see how that shifts and how that changes things,” said Knight. “Hopefully it’s all on people’s recent minds what a negative effect it has in the society when an exec becomes so divided that it is dysfunctional, so everyone will be committed to working together,” she added.

Architecture students strike vote fails by a slim margin Erin Hudson

The McGill Daily


motion for a one-day strike failed by four votes after being brought to the Architecture Students’ Association (ASA), McGill’s official representation of undergraduate Architecture students, yesterday evening. ASA, part of the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) since 2011, voted on two motions in what was the association’s first General Assembly (GA) in “living memory,” according to VP Communications Meredith Toivanen. The motion for Architecture students to strike on March 22, the provincial day of action against tuition hikes, was struck down in a secret ballot vote with 39 in favour of the strike, and 43 against. 7 students abstained. A second motion regarding accessible education resolving for ASA to “specifically oppose” the incremental $1,625 tuition increase slated to

begin in September, passed with a vast majority. One of three movers of both motions, U3 Architecture student Julia Manaças, said she wasn’t surprised the strike motion failed. “On the one hand, I’m happy that it was tight, because it shows that there was a real debate, and that people came out and voted,” she said. However, Manaças noted her disappointment. “It would have been really great to show that people in Architecture, and in McGill especially, do care about this,” she said. Manaças added that the close vote “says something in itself.” ASA’s constitution states that quorum for the GA is 30 per cent of the Architecture undergraduate student body, amounting to 48 students for last night based on Toivanen’s count. The GA maintained quorum throughout the nearly 2.5-hour meeting. “I was really surprised at the turnout,” she said. “The people who are against the strike are very not vocal, I find, so they kind of surprise you.”

4 News

The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 15, 2012 |

EUS President works to bolster student involvement Nastasha Sartore The McGill Daily


or Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) President (and newly-elected SSMU President) Josh Redel, this year has been one of great success within the Engineering community, in spite of increasing tensions with the McGill administration. Redel began the year with several new initiatives intended to create “a more solid internal structure” for EUS. The first of these initiatives was a weekend retreat held to train all 45 Engineering councillors on how to write motions and hold productive discussions. Redel said that EUS has also worked on instating measures designed to increase the transparency and accountability of the executive. As a result of his efforts, Redel said there has been “so much more engagement in Council” than in previous years. Redel’s other major focus has been on improving student space.

EUS has begun renovation plans for the General Store and the Nook – a space right next to the store, inside the McConnell Engineering building – which Redel hopes will becomes “more of a social space.” EUS is also finalizing plans to turn the locker area in the basement of McConnell into a multi-purpose club space. $2,000 of this year’s EUS Space Improvement Fund has been allocated to renovating space for Architecture students. Redel said improvements included small studio renovations like newly-waxed floors and new ceiling tiles. EUS is also contributing an additional $4,000 to renovate the Cellar, the space that used to be the Architecture Café. “We’ve worked really hard this year to make sure that [Architecture students] feel at home in EUS,” Redel said. That’s not to say Redel has not encountered substantial challenges over the year. Redel and EUS have been at odds with the administra-

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tion on numerous occasions over issues such as the use of the McGill name in the EUS logo. Redel expressed frustration over his dealings with McGill on this issue. He explained that he had personally committed to working on improving EUS branding and marketing during his term as EUS VP Communications last year and that McGill had not once brought this to his attention. “We’ve just worked a year and a half on all this branding and then find out, ‘Oh, you know the logo – the core of your branding – you can’t use that anymore,’” Redel said. According to Redel, EUS and the University had come to an “agreement” to this dispute, but stressed that the solution is still a work in progress. Planning the Open Air Pub (OAP) has also been a contentious issue for Redel because of increasing difficulties in booking space to hold the event. “McGill is…cracking down on how space is used [and] on insurance,”

Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily

Increased tension with administration one of the biggest challenges of the year

Use of campus space is a major initiative for the EUS this year. Redel said. “[McGill] has become more stringent, and they’re less easy to talk to.” In addition, since the Quebec Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux made changes to its regulations, Redel explained that EUS has been having trouble obtaining the necessary liquor permits to hold


Gather new skills, strengthen existing gf]k Yf\ Z]f]Õl from exposure to new cultures and people. Ernst & Young’s Global Student Exchange Program is your opportunity to go outside your time and comfort zones. Visit to learn more. See More | Opportunities


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OAP. While they have managed “to work around” the new regulations, Redel said that this had made the process “extremely shady.” “McGill [administration] needs to help us more,” Redel added. “They need to play a stronger role… We don’t have assistants who can email or call them all day.”

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The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 15, 2012 |


AUS strike vote fails Disorganization plagues General Assembly as SSMU asks for reparations Devin Kesner and Jordan VentonRublee The McGill Daily


rts students voted against joining the unlimited student strike in Quebec on Tuesday evening, in the third Arts General Assembly (GA) of the year. Beginning three hours after its scheduled start time, and with the last-minute addition of two overflow rooms, the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) GA convened in the SSMU cafeteria at nearly 9 p.m., with over 1,000 students in attendance at various campus locations. While five resolutions were on the agenda, the majority of students attended to vote on the resolution calling for AUS to join in an unlimited strike against the impending tuition hikes in Quebec. There are currently over 180,000 students on strike across Quebec in protest of a five-year, $1,625 tuition increase scheduled to begin this September. In an informal discussion period prior to the start of the GA, a student questioned why AUS was not prepared for the volume of students – the line to enter the Shatner building stretched across campus – resulting in a hourslong scramble for additional space. AUS Speaker Ben Lerer said that the rate of attendance could not have been anticipated based on prior participation at AUS GAs, both of which had showings of fewer than three hun-

dred students, and lost the 150-member quorum within the first few hours. Communication between the SSMU cafeteria and overflow in the SSMU ballroom and Leacock 132 was facilitated via Skype. Logistical issues continued to be a problem throughout the GA, with ten to twenty-minute delays in hearing results from all of the rooms. A mandatory six-minute debate period was enforced, with three speakers in favour of the motion and three against. Before amendments to the motion could be made, a motion to suspend the rules and call the strike vote to question was raised by Brendan Steven, a U3 Political Science student and member of the McGill Moderate Political Action Committee, in the SSMU cafeteria. The motion passed with 777 in favour and 236 against. After a suspenseful thirty-five minute wait for the results of the final vote, the strike was voted down with a final tally of 495 for joining the strike, 609 against, and 16 abstentions. The vote constituted a 55 per cent vote against the strike. Harmon Moon, a U2 History student and Daily columnist, came to vote against the strike. “I think that we proved pretty conclusively that McGill does not want to strike…and as a result McGill is not going to go on strike, despite this attempt to shoehorn it through a GA,” he said. SSMU VP Clubs and Services and building manager Carol Fraser

Blair Elliott | The McGill Daily

called the allowance of the AUS utilization of the SSMU cafeteria a “really big exception.” “Things were really disorganized, and they didn’t seem to have a contingency plan or crowd control,” said Fraser. Fraser was additionally frustrated with the fact that the AUS “kicked people out of their normal bookings” – specifically the Muslim Students Association – despite the fact that AUS had been warned in advance that there were no addi-

tional rooms available. Students left en masse after the results, and 119 people remained to vote on the remaining resolutions. The body voted to adjourn shortly after, without discussing or voting on any further motions. In the aftermath of the GA, the SSMU Executive Committee issued a statement to AUS communicating that they were “disgusted by your sense of entitlement and disrespect for the space, time, and resources of others,” as “the SSMU Executive and full-time

staff had to neglect their other responsibilities to intervene in the crisis.” A number of actions were taken in addition to this statement, including a banning AUS from room bookings in the Shatner building for the remainder of the semester, except on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, AUS will be billed for “all security agents, staff overtime, services (including TVM), and cleaning costs incurred [during the GA].” The full version of this article is available at

McGill threatens The Daily with legal action Student media to cease publishing on contents of McGillLeaks documents Jessica Lukawiecki The McGill Daily


he Daily Publications Society (DPS) – publisher of The Daily and Le Délit – has issued a press release condemning McGill lawyers’ threat of legal action against one of its publications, The Daily, for publishing an online article on the leak of hundreds of confidential documents from McGill Development and Alumni Relations. On its now-defunct website, McGillLeaks stated that it would release further documents in later weeks. After publishing an article on March 5, “McGillLeaks publishes confidential internal documents,” on, The Daily received a letter from McGill’s lawyers, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, that evening. The letter stated that “the documents and information disclosed or about to be disclosed by

McGillLeaks are owned by McGill and are protected by intellectual property rights owned by McGill, and their disclosure is in violation of McGill’s rights.” The letter further demanded “that you take immediate necessary measures to remove any link on the website… We also require that you immediately delete any reference to these documents and information and also delete any comment made on them.” “Please be advised that McGill University is determined to use any available legal recourse to protect its rights and the rights of the third parties and of the individuals affected by this legal disclosure,” the letter continued. “We expect that you will confirm, within the next three hours, that you have governed yourself in accordance with this letter.” After consulting with its legal representative, The Daily agreed to remove only the hyperlink to McGillLeaks’ website within the

time frame requested. The DPS explains in its press release that, due to limited funding – as well as the fact that most of its funding is provided by students – “DPS publications will, for the time being, refrain from publishing any hyperlinks leading to the documents and from publishing anything on the actual content of the documents,” in order to avoid legal proceedings with McGill. “DPS publications may, however, continue to report, comment, or editorialize on the relevant fact as to the existence of McGillLeaks and McGill’s position on and investigations of it,” the press release continues. The press release adds, “Our decision does not entail, however, that we agree to the soundness of these legal threats, nor that we agree with McGill University’s oppressive tactics. It is lamentable that small independent organizations such as The McGill Daily and Le Délit cannot properly report on matters that directly pertain

to their readership because of their limited financial and legal clout.” “We find the actions and intimidation tactics of McGill University and its legal representatives to be suppressive of our and any organization’s rights to freedom of speech,” the press release concludes. The online publications Canadian University Press and Milton Avenue Revolutionary Press received similar letters from McGill’s legal representatives after publishing hyperlinks to the McGillLeaks website. Both have removed the hyperlinks. More recently, on March 13 Dawson College student and representative of the Dawson College Student Union (DSU) Michael Forian received a letter from McGill legal representatives demanding that he remove a post on his Twitter account that referenced content leaked by McGillLeaks. The letter from McGill’s lawyers demands that Forian “immediately remove this tweet and refrain from releasing, posting and, in any other

way, making reference to any confidential information that may have been illegally communicated to you relating to documents stolen from McGill University.” In response to a tweet that Forian previously posted and has since removed on Twitter stating: “Is that a copy of confidential documents from McGillLeaks in my inbox?”, the letter states that “we hereby demand that you immediately destroy all of said confidential documents that you may have illegally received.” Forian explained that at this time, he will refrain from publishing further links or tweets regarding the content of the McGillLeaks website, but does not plan on deleting his Twitter post unless further action is taken by McGill. Forian is currently receiving legal consultation from the DSU. “I was just a little taken aback,” said Forian. “It’s intimidation, and it’s trying to get people to do things that they don’t necessarily have to do.”

6 News

The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 15, 2012 |

PGSS executive candidates Best and worst thing about PGSS this year

• Campaign for accessible education and guaranteed funding • Support students with families via the establishment of a daycare and support for needs-based bursaries • Support international students by advocating for international tuition relief and affordable French courses

Best: Functional, hard-working executive committee and civil; respectful Council Worst: PGSS should have played a larger and more cohesive role in shaping the current discourse on freedom of expression

Experience working with policy makers through Right to Play; Toronto Board of Trade’s Policy & Advocacy Team on behalf of Toronto’s business community

• Engaging in a careful cost-benefit analysis of current membership fees vis-à-vis other universities in Quebec and Canada • Engage and consult on service needs, establish a framework to prioritize and fund important projects • Continue implementation of project management process for ventures like daycare, bursaries, infrastructure improvements

Best: Huge coup! The daycare project Worst: The President’s attempted motion to denounce the actions of the #6party occupation

Current PGSS Councilor (1 year); PGSS Social Commissioner (elected), 2010; Part of “No to CFS” Committee, 2010

Campaigned for the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) in Delhi University elections for two years

• Implement strict financial reporting practices • Ensure that we have the resources necessary for student support and advocacy, including upcoming campaign against a tuition increase • Complete support to the daycare and needs based bursary projects for postgraduate students with families

Best: PGSS managing to maintain a functional executive through turbulent events Worst: The executive should have taken a stronger stand on certain issues, especially the events of November 10

PhD 3, Economics

Councilor; PGSS representative at the Mental Health Advisory Board; Health and Wellness Committee Member; EGSA VP-Academic

Ran for Parliament in the last general election (candidate for Conservative party)

• Reducing the differential fees for foreign students at McGill • Lobby for better tax treatment for graduate students and post-docs • Increase the number of programs covered by guaranteed minimum funding

Best: Financial awareness week Worst: Council meetings distracted by QPIRG - CKUT issues

PhD, Communication Studies

President, Art History & Communication Studies Graduate Student Association; VP, Communication and Culture Graduate Students’ Association, University of Calgary

Held executive positions in departmental student associations and advocated for accessible education and labour rights

• Mobilize for accessible education • Research the impacts of the proliferation of partnerships between the University and the private sector • Advocate for guaranteed minimum funding for graduate students

Best: PGSS campaign to fight the tuition increases, and mobilization of graduate students at Annual General Meeting Worst: Inability to mobilize large groups of students to attend workshops, demonstrations, and events

PhD 3, Chemistry

PGSS Social Commissioner since March 2011; PGSS Councilor since 2010


• Including more students from different backgrounds and student parents • Finding out what the PGSS members think and want • Using Thomson House to its full potential

Best: More student involvement than the last year’s Worst: No debate about the constitutional changes at the AGM

PhD, Faculty of Education

PGSS Councilor 2010

President, Education Graduate Students’ Society (EGSS) 2010-2012; VP Student Life, Education Graduate Students’ Society, 2009-2010

• Build community through diverse social and cultural activities for all graduate students • Create mutual exchange and support for campus Graduate Student Associations • Organize interdepartmental events

Best: Being part of the eighties dance party at PGSS

MSc, Chemistry

PGSS Senator and Library Commissioner


• PGSS and University Committee Recruitment • Working with the IT resources at PGSS to build an information-dense, easy to navigate website that will act as an information collection • Expanding the number of seats that the PGSS holds at Governing Bodies of the University

Best: Getting involved as soon as I was enrolled as a graduate student Worst: Seeing how disheartened graduates students can be when they feel someone else has power over them

PhD, Biology

SUS Speaker 2006-07

Active in BGSA events, participated in PGSS GA

• More efficient and forceful advocacy for McGill Graduate Students • Clarity and fairness in Student/Advisor relationships • VP Academic Caucus for better faculty and departmental policy

Best: Attendance at the AGM and popularity of Thomson House Worst: E-mail and publicity

Relevant PGSS experience

PhD 4, Chemistry

Current Speaker of PGSS Council; PGSS Health Commissioner (2010-2011); PGSS Councilor (2009-2011); PGSS Committee on Monetary Affairs (2009-2011)

PhD 2, EducationDepartment of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE)

DISE representative on PGSS Council

PhD, Chemical Physics

VP Internal Errol Salamon

President Jonathan Mooney

VP Finance Cora-Lee Conway Pooja Tyagi

Sebastien Forte

VP External

Political experience

Top 3 priorities for the position

Student status


Michael M. Krause Heather Phipps

VP Academic

Adam Bouchard Donald Fowler


The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 15, 2012 |


Wrong motives Asma Falfoul Hyde Park


or a Canadian like me – reading countless articles describing the torturous uprising happening in Syria – it is clear that this nation sits amidst all sorts of foreign strategists eyeing its every step. From the sanctimonious claims of “humanist and caring” foreign parties ranting about brotherhoods and a militarized opposition to a confused, numb international community, the discourse around Syria is a ceaseless battle of conflicting solutions. Syrians, despite their greatly divided sectarian and ethnic complexities, are united in their desperate wait for either the international community or a legitimate Syrian opposition group to induce the collapse of the current regime. While they wait, the lives of more than 7,000 Syrians have already been paid as the price for freedom. But how can the vulnerable residents of this country finally be freed from a dangerous regime when the international community has the wrong priorities for Syria? It is evident that misguided international endeavours have created failing solutions. In fact, the concerns

of some foreign allies and “peacemakers” seem to reinforce a volatile social and political reality, leading to the deaths of more victims as a result of the Syrian crackdowns. In the midst of arguments about intervention strategies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been discussing supplying military aid to the Syrian opposition. For them, it is the only solution to end the massacre of Syrians which has been going on now for 11 months. As the Saudis draw attention to their plan for a militarized opposition, the rising supply of arms involved is only going to yield more bloodshed. Let’s face it, this sabre-rattling ideology on the part of Qatar and Saudi Arabia will not do. Despite their increasing number, the armed opposition rebels will never succeed in the face of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s inhumane assault, especially since Assad has hired mercenary warriors. There is little hope for a militarized opposition. On the other side of the globe, the United States hasn’t changed its same old hopeful humanitarian message, framing their recommendations for Syria in the frame of counter-terrorism. Last week, after denouncing Assad’s regime with much insistence on the need for an immediate cessation of rule, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed her deep concerns about

Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily

How the international community has been complicit with bloodshed in Syria

Al-Qaeda’s involvement with the Syrian opposition rebels – especially considering Saudi Arabia’s proposed arming plan. But why conflate concerns about Syria with America’s own worries about Al-Qaeda? Shouldn’t we be concerned about Assad’s current massacre, and the foreign powers, like Russia, who are complicit in Syrian civilian deaths? Monitoring Al-Qaeda’s possible involvement in Syrian politics is necessary. However, the importance of Russia’s peace-preventing strategies, and its dangerous affilia-

tion with Assad, should be the foremost international concern. Russia is one of Syria’s closest allies and its foremost arms dealer – a relationship that’s been strong since the 1970’s with Russian-Syrian naval cooperation – leading Syria to be Russia’s primary toehold. Recently, this relationship has been revealed when Russia, alongside China, blocked the attempt at the UN Security Council resolution calling for Assad to step down. Are we, as spectators of this international conflict, worried

about the endless deaths and suffering experienced by the loved ones of Syrian protesters, or are our own political ties more important than the price paid by thousands of souls? There will be no peace and the massacre will not cease until foreign entities reconsider their motives in this Syria’s genocidal turmoil. Asma Falfoul is a U1 International Development Studies student. She can be reached at asma.falfoul@

Down but not out Reflections on the AUS General Assembly Balaclava Discourse Davide Mastracci


initially thought this article would be written for, and read by, a campus on strike. I didn’t believe that the AUS would vote to strike, but there was always hope. The AUS GA was six hours of exhausting political soul sucking that snatched that hope away from me. These are my thoughts on the AUS GA and where those who voted ‘yes’ to a strike can go from here. 1. I’m very impressed with the turnout at the AUS GA. Thanks to Mob Squad’s ability to mobilize students for accessible education, and ModPAC’s ability to spread good old fashioned fear about the strike in the

hearts of students, 1,120 voted on the strike resolution. This is approximately 15 per cent of Arts students. In comparison, just five per cent of Concordia voted to put their entire school on strike. 2. The turnout isn’t as big of a deal for me as I’m sure it will be for other commentators. I would have preferred a minimum quorum with a majority ‘yes’ vote, rather than the turnout and outcome we received. This is because I view accessible education throughout Quebec as far more important than McGill students being unusually politicized for six hours. 3. With that said, the ‘yes’ side managed to acquire 44 per cent of the votes. A supposed “radical minority” nearly steered the way for the whole faculty. Some may call that unfair; I call it impressive. 495 voters is nothing to scoff at. And it was made possible due to the efforts of the wonderful people

who worked tirelessly and passionately on the ‘yes’ campaign. 4. If you voted against the strike but claim to also be against tuition increases, I look forward to seeinghow your opposition will manifest itself. McGill has never been part of an unlimited general student strike. Going on strike would have expressed solidarity with the Quebec students who have made the tuition at McGill what it is, despite the fact that McGill has historically leeched off of their efforts time and time again. McGill’s tarnished reputation amongst other Quebec universities will live on. 5. Another thing that will live on is Quebec’s anti-increase movement. History has shown that Quebec universities and CEGEP’s do not need McGill’s participation in order for strikes to be successful, and with this strike shaping up to be one of the largest in history, there’s a good chance the government will buckle to the student move-

ment’s demands. This reality makes McGill’s current lack of participation less crushing than it could be. 6. Even though the chance of an AUS unlimited general student strike may be gone, the involvement of McGill students in the movement should not end. 495 Arts students indicated that they are willing to fight for accessible education, and, as such, I would encourage them to do so. How, you may ask? Well first, by attending the province wide rally on March 22 against tuition increases. This call does not go out to just Arts students, but McGill students in general. This rally will be a show of force to the Quebec government, and more bodies equals more strength. 7. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, students within AUS can still go on symbolic or unlimited strikes. This can be done by holding GAs for departments within the Arts faculty. So, for example, Philosophy

students are working toward a GA which will give them the opportunity to strike. While these organizations will not be able to harness the full power of the AUS, having certain departments on unlimited strikes is certainly better than having no departments on unlimited strikes. So, to the 495, keep on keeping on. The GA definitely was a blow, but it’s not the end. Strikes at McGill are still possible, strikes throughout Quebec are still guaranteed, and a strong presence on March 22 is still required. The fight for accessible education does not end here.

Balaclava Discourse is a column written by Davide Mastracci on the structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in society. You can email him at balaclavadiscourse@

8 Features

The PHANTOM STUDENT GOVERNMENT They took student money and didn’t do their job. Now no one can get in touch with them. What happened to the executive board of the Continuing Studies student union? WORDS AND PHOTOS BY HENRY GASS


eople talk about last year’s Continuing Studies student government the way people in hillside villages talk about Big Foot. It’s not that anyone’s seen a large, hair-covered biped strolling across their front lawn. But there’s a sense of, well, I’ve got three goats missing and no witnesses: you explain it. The accusations aren’t just coming from the credulous masses, either. In fact, their succesors – this year’s student governors – are crying foul the loudest. They think the president exceeded his term limit, but few have actually ever seen or met him. They think some, if not all, of the former executives might no longer be McGill students. But they don’t know for sure: they don’t even know who the executives were. And it’s not like the accusers are just conspicuously bad at looking. In my three months of reporting, members of the former executive declined my repeated requests for comment. The former McGill Association of Continuing Education Students (MACES) president, Lyes Hamdi, did not reply to any messages sent to either his personal or office email accounts. Kevin Hardy, the current MACES VP External – and member of the new, non-phantom executive – chose to run for his position out of frustration with the former administration. He said communicating with the former executive was like standing on a cliff and screaming out into thin air. “There were no comebacks, there were no call-backs, there was no life in the administration. I’ve never actually seen Lyes. I’ve never seen the man,” he said. Hardy came from work – as an inventory manager at American Apparel – to meet me in the deserted MACES office on Peel early one evening. The course of our interview meandered through recent MACES history, with which Hardy has been familiarizing himself since he took office on February 15. He’s still trying to figure out exactly what happened. “The situation deteriorated more towards

the end of his term, and I don’t exactly understand why,” said Hardy.

Getting MACES-d MACES occupies a somewhat peripheral space on campus, barely existing even in the minds of Continuing Education students. Students in McGill’s School of Continuing Studies (SCS) range from twenty-somethings looking for further academic qualifications, to people like Hardy, who’s in his fifties with graying hair and a full-time job. Scholastically, an SCS degree falls between a Bachelors and Masters, and takes an average of two years to complete. With roughly 8,000 members, MACES is about the same size as the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS). But it has two Senate representatives, while PGSS has three, and its Board of Governors representative is a “student observer,” meaning they are not allowed to vote. And that hardly matters because they haven’t actually elected a Board of Governors representative in at least four years. SCS students pay a $12.99 per-course fee to MACES. With each student taking an average of two classes a semester, the Association takes in over $200,000 every semester from student fees. (This is based on my own back of the napkin calculations – no one can find an up-to-date MACES budget. When I asked Hardy about it, he sighed and shrugged.) The MACES building itself has a hushed, sepulchral feel – less like a church, more like the awkward silence that dominates the first hour of a party. I went one afternoon at the request of my editor to “get the thoughts of regular ContEd students.” There were two students in the four-story building that day. Neither knew anything about the former executive. “The whole building is empty, and [students] are just paying money for nothing,” said James Kuong, a second year SCS student in the

Management program. “Nobody’s here, and that is a sad thing.” Hardy said MACES is struggling to resolve a “bit of a profile problem.” “I think it’s a bit of a hangover from the communication issues that were present with the previous administration,” he said. Every turn through MACES’ narrow, quiet halls leads to a different conflict that has escaped campus attention for years. The MACES cafe used to be in the basement, but was shut down years ago due to a lack of profitability. My journey to check out the wreckage ended in two locked doors and the building’s sprinkler room. On the second floor, three rows of pristine, one-year-old Macs are at the centre of a much more heated controversy. The former MACES executive bought ten of the computers, which retail at $1199, and dumped them in a computer lab. But hardly anyone ever uses them. One person inside MACES, who asked to remain anonymous, called the computers one of the “major injustices” of the past executive. “There was such apathy amongst the student body,” they said. “Honestly, I don’t even think they could give less of fuck if I walked out of here with two computers under each arm.” “It’s just little thing, after little thing, after little thing, and it’s mismanaged money. So it’s just like an example of something that happens at McGill off in a dark corner, and nobody really cares about it. But I think it does matter. Thousands of dollars are just going [to waste],” they continued.

MACES governance MACES’ oddities continue down to the nuts and bolts of everyday governance. The Association keeps one physical copy of its bylaws in the building. There is no online copy, and the document hasn’t been updated since February 10, 2006. Meetings were recorded on two-track cassette tapes.

The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 15, 2012 |

The by-laws list seven positions on the Executive Board. Each executive holds the position for a 24-month term. Guesses as to how many of the positions were filled before the most recent election this January range from one – Hamdi – to three. After a few weeks of digging through old records, Hardy has come to the conclusion that “a lot of the day-today activity went through Lyes, and I’m not really sure what the level of participation was of the other Board members.” Alex Popp, the new VP Internal Affairs, said he has seen Hamdi three times in the two years he’s been in SCS. He says he’s seen another executive twice, though he doesn’t know her name or position. Popp also claimed that the duties of the VP Financial Affairs were being performed by an outside contractor. Hardy says MACES frequently contracts outside help, particularly for accounting. “I know that right towards the end of the previous administration there weren’t a whole lot of people hanging around, and stuff does have to get done. Suppliers have to be paid, employees have to be paid, checks have to be signed,” he said. MACES’s most recent articles of incorporation – filed with the Registre des enterprises du Québec (REQ) on September 26, 2011 – listed Hamdi, along with two others, as members of the executive. In the document, Hamdi was titled “President.” The others – Kathleen Duplessis and Engelbert Gayagoy – did not have titles. The office of the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) keeps annual lists of every student society’s executives. Lists from the last two years named Duplessis as VP Internal Affairs, and Gayagoy as VP Academic/ Senator. In 2008-09, the slot for President is left blank along with the asterisk “MACES does not have a full executive – plan on running a by-election in late Sept./ early October.” Whatever their positions, those three seem to have been running the show since 2009. A quick search of The Daily News section’s inbox (I’m a News editor) produced an email sent to The Daily on September 1, 2009 advertising a MACES Hawaiian luau event. The three executives – Hamdi, Duplessis, and Gayagoy – were copied on the email.

Nice work if you can get it Gayagoy was the only former executive to respond to my requests for comment. In an email, he explained that he had been admitted to a Master’s program at another

university midway through his term. Gayagoy said that he didn’t understand “why, after our contribution and enthusiastic commitment to MACES, we are being questioned about our integrity.” “Instead of leaving MACES, I made a commitment to help the student organization fulfill its objectives in providing assistance to Continuing Education students,” he added. “I could have resigned, but I wanted to finish my term. I volunteered my time to MACES while I had pressing academic obligations.” Five of the MACES executive board positions come with $4,800 annual salaries, paid out in three installments. (The Senate and BoG representatives each earn $3,000 salaries.) “I can see why they were attached to it when they were, because they don’t have to do a god damn fucking thing. They got paid like $6,000 [sic], which is not a lot of money, but for doing nothing it’s a lot of money,” said the source. A clause in the MACES by-laws states that executives will only be paid on the condition that they are “achieving three fourth (3/4) of their duties” as executives. For some of them, this includes representing the Association in Senate, BoG, and their various committees. Joshua Abaki represented SSMU on Senate as last year’s VP University Affairs. In an interview with The Daily he said his dealings with MACES “were really limited.” “They really never did show up to the meetings, and most of the Senate committees, the slots that they had, they hardly ever showed up. A lot of the things that we did invite them to, they never came,” said Abaki. “I actually never met with any of them,” he continued. “They’re like a shadow organization that doesn’t exist… They’re supposed to be representing their constituents. They’re not doing their jobs, I don’t think.” Emily Clare, the current SSMU VP University Affairs, said she has sent MACES several emails, and also visited their office once personally, but didn’t receive a response before January’s elections. She added that she understood “they haven’t had a Senate representative for the last couple of years.” In an email to me, Secretary-General Stephen Strople wrote that he had been sending MACES emails reminding them of the need to fill the vacant positions. He said their last reminder was sent October 4. Because MACES is incorporated under Quebec law McGill has to take a hands-off approach so long as MACES is in good standing with the REQ. “The Secretariat plays no direct role in MACES elections. Our role is limited to reminding MACES of the need to hold an election to fill the Board seat and to select two


of its members to fill the Senate seats reserved for MACES reps,” wrote Strople in the email. Both Popp and the anonymous source inside MACES said they believed the executives had postponed elections in order to receive more paychecks. The executive postponed elections for their replacements three times between when they were supposed to be held – on April 15, 2011 at the latest – and when they finally were held, between January 22 and 28. Assuming they were elected in 2009, their terms formally ended last April. Three pay installments have passed between their terms ending and the new executive being elected. Hardy said he “couldn’t confirm” if Hamdi or any other executive received paychecks this year. He added that, as an executive, “you’re not getting paid a hell of a lot.”

Business as usual? According to Hardy, the transition between executives last month was comprised of a late-night, six-hour meeting between Hamdi and Nadia Houri, the new president. He described the process as “a bit of a dog’s breakfast.” “[Houri] basically had a whole shitload of information dumped on her lap, and in six hours she had no way to make sense of it. And since that time they’ve helped us in one internal process once,” said Hardy. “That, unfortunately, was the grand total of all the training that was handed off to the new Board, so we were relying very heavily on Nadia to have a good memory.” At this point in our interview, I had drifted away from the table in the Board room, listening to Hardy describe the shoebox that had essentially filled in for a Chief Returning Officer early in the elections period last semester. The room was as spotless and deserted as Miss Havisham’s estate in Great Expectations. I noticed a partially boarded-up window over Hardy’s shoulder. A squirrel audibly scampered across the roof overhead, and Hardy muttered something about repairs. The conversation eventually returns to Hardy’s predecessors. “There’s two things I know for sure: Not a lot happened, and that’s not going to happen again,” he said. Some are not so confident, however. The source, while admitting they were pleased with the “pseudo-revolution” currently underway in MACES, said they wouldn’t be surprised if the issue repeated itself in two years’ time. “I can pretty much guarantee that someone’s going to want to stay in office, and somebody’s going to want to obscure information,” they said. “That’s just the nature of politics, right?”

Health & Education

The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 15, 2012 |


Melatonin: a potential solution to make those hours in bed count McGill scientists discover a novel compound that can selectively promote deep restorative sleep

Health & Education Writer


e have all had a few terrible nights with barely any sleep. For students, dark circles, bags under the eyes, and increased heart rates are most prominent around exam period. Luckily, this transient insomnia soon comes to an end once we face the fate that awaits us in the exam room. Unfortunately, approximately 10 per cent of Canadians suffer from a different type of sleeplessness, chronic insomnia, a condition that can span from six months to years. Since the definition of insomnia can be vague, the American Sleep Association has clarified the condition as being both a sleeping problem and an impairment of daytime activities. To alleviate the detrimental effects of insomnia, a handful of drugs – such as benzodiazepine and derivatives – are available on the market. Some, however, prefer a more natural solution. A recent study led by Dr. Gabriella Gobbi and colleagues at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) established a new understanding of the neurohormone melatonin, and out-

lined a compound named UCM 765 that may enhance the quality of sleep. It is crucial to know that sleep is an active cycle, which is largely divided into Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REMS) and Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (NREMS) sometimes referred to as Slow-Wave Sleep (SWS). SWS is known as “restorative sleep” or “deep sleep.” The average adult undergoes four to five sleep cycles per night, and spends 15 to 20 per cent of the total sleep time in deep sleep. This stage of sleep is critical to our well-being, because it allows the growth and repair of tissues and the restoration of energy as well as memory consolidation. Although controversy surrounds the claim that melatonin induces sleep, this neurohormone has been proven to control a structure in the brain’s hypothalamus called suprachiasmatic nucleus, which is involved in the circadian rhythm, a part of our sleep cycle. Melatonin binds to two receptors, MT1 and MT2, and it is the latter which interacts with UCM765. Dr. Stefano Comai, a member of Dr. Gobbi’s team, has studied this receptor. Since her lab focused on depression and anxiety disorders, it came as a surprise when they found that UCM 765 induc-

es sleep in rats and mice. After an injection of the compound into the blood stream, the rats showed a selective increase in the NREMS without affecting the REMS. It was discovered that the brain area involved in sleep regulation became more activated when the compound interacted with the MT2 receptors. Results were validated in mice lacking either type of receptors – mice with no MT1 receptors slept more when the compound was administered, whereas mice with no MT2 receptors had no change in sleep following the injection. Although numerous sleepinducing drugs – like benzodiazapenes – are available, many of them have adverse side effects, such as drowsiness, cognitive impairment, dependence, and tolerance to the drug after a lengthy treatment. These drugs can also alter phases of REMS and NREMS thereby changing the sleep architecture. UCM765 seems particularly promising as it induces NREMS without disrupting the sleep cycle. The compound has to undergo a series of clinical trials in humans before entering the market. However, Dr. Comai expects that the new drug will be tremendously efficient in treating insomnia by specifically targeting restorative sleep.

Edna Chan | The McGill Daily

Rachael Kim

That’s raw A take on a new line of vegan, organic salad dressings Marlee’s vegan kitchen Marlee Rubel


awFoodz’s salad dressings are a bit of a surprise. When I heard they were vegan, I got excited. When I heard they were raw, my excitement multiplied. Add the fact that they’re organic, and somebody better catch me when I fall. Never having really looked before, I think I may have discovered my dream salad dressing. I was lucky

enough to sample three different varieties of their dressings, and will happily admit to being shocked by how varied the tastes and textures could be, given the fact that each bottle lists so many similar ingredients. RawFoodz boasts military-style adherence to keeping short cuts, fillers, preservatives, and regrets out of their products, and a quick gander at their ingredient lists supports those impressive claims. The dressings are made in Canada, and packaged in glass bottles (which I will definitely hold onto after I’ve emptied them… Makeshift vases, anyone?). Most

importantly, they are absolutely delicious. The first I tried was “Purely Poppy,” slightly sweetened with coconut sugar and kept true to its roots with unhulled sesame seeds. I believe this dressing is as close to a classic creamy Cesar dressing as a raw, vegan product can get. It’s the most viscous of three I tried, and would be great over a simple salad – the dressing stands on its own. Next, I dabbled in “Glorious Greek,” only to discover that it tastes exactly how it sounds: like Greek salad dressing. It only lacks the tangy aftertaste that preservatives and artificial sweeteners

can sometimes leave in more typical household brands. My only reservation about “Glorious Greek” was the amount that it had settled and fermented in the few short days it was sitting in my fridge. A minute or two of stirring and shaking quickly solved the problem, and I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a fair compromise for the pure ingredients and fresh, feta-like flavour that it offers. Finally, I tested their “Japanese Joy” flavour, and discovered my favourite of the three. I was thrilled to see three superfoods on the ingredient list: apple cider vinegar, sprouted brown rice, and

chia seeds – which are all nutrient-packed and delicious. This dressing would be great alongside homemade sushi or tempura, or mixed into the marinade for a tofu and vegetable stir-fry. The flavour is bright and creamy, and the dressing stays true to its original orangey-brown colour. RawFoodz is a relatively new company, run by Michelle Cass and Sher Kopman in Toronto. Their website claims that their mantra includes Hippocrates’ oath: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, and – from what I have sampled – they certainly fulfill that mandate.


The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 15, 2012 |


FOKUS your attention please Maggie Rebalski previews films from TVM’s annual festival I t’s film festival season here at McGill. TVM’s FOKUS film festival is an annual showcase of short films created by McGill students. Last week, I previewed the films for the 72-hour film competition (in which students have 72 hours to make, edit, and submit a film) and FOKUS film festival in the cramped and sweaty TVM office in the dungeons of the SSMU building. These films will be screened for the public at Cinéma du Parc on Friday, March 16. I had many different responses to the films: I was impressed, amused, confused, and surprised. However, I can guarantee you one thing: for the whole two hours that I spent on that dingy couch, I was thoroughly entertained. Here are a few of my favourites from both festivals:





Courtesy of YouTube








Lucky Ghost Marriage

Five point Five

Under One Roof

The Mirror Stage

A beautifully shot montage of typical morning routines, this short experimental film makes waking up seem like the best part of the day. Think alarm clocks, white sheets, a sunny kitchen, eggs, and coffee. The cuts are seamlessly edited, and the director’s use of sound is biting – quite literally. What’s more, the instrumental background music perfectly matches the tempo of the montage. Mornings somehow manages to capture both the hurriedness and the peace of a morning ritual, all while making me suddenly crave some Place Milton. Both a culinary and a cinematographic delight.

The puzzling title of this film matches the ambiguity of its narrative. In this case, the plot is not what drew me in. Set in a broken down, graffiti-ridden warehouse and shot with 16mm film, the cinematography of this experimental short captivates the viewer. The film is an experiment in form – with high contrast, detailed black and white shots – and demonstrates great prowess in filming and editing.

One of the only longer experimental films, Five point Five was a much-needed break from the other heavy, more abstract films in the experimental category. Shot in vivid colour, with scenes set at a lake, in a house, and on the streets of a suburban neighborhood, this film might seem to be a work of fiction. It follows a protagonist, but the only thing missing is a comprehensible plotline. We see the main character in a library, in a backyard spilling onto a lake, inside a house, and driving a motorcycle down a tree-lined road. The viewer is given no connection between the various different scenes and settings of the film. After the preview screening, I heard it described as Tree of Life meets Dawson’s Creek, set in an Abercrombie and Fitch ad. I fully agree. Intrigued? You should be.

One of few works of narrative fiction being showcased, this adorable story is unique among the films. It tells the story of three roommates at McGill, and how much they all value the support and companionship of each other. Although it displays no remarkable cinematographic elements, this film is so clean and wholesome that, by the end, you just have to smile. If it were any longer, it might come off too amateur and simple, but, ultimately, this film’s innocence is what makes it so charming.

Recalling scenes from The Bourne Identity, and influenced Jacques Lacan’s theory of the mirror-stage, this short film is about a character who can’t find their image in the mirror and is experiencing a worrisome loss-of-self. Incorporating suspenseful and dramatic elements of the Bourne series with a more serious academic reading of Lacan creates clever and ironically humourous moments. From the talented, dramatized acting, to the high-tempo, intense soundtrack, this film is, as a whole, pleasing to watch. In addition, the editing tricks are impressive, with multiple shots of a character standing in front of a mirror with no apparent reflection. The film alludes to deeper meanings about one’s sense of self, and I particularly appreciate how it is able to convey this message while also maintaining an almost self-mocking, satirical quality.


The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 15, 2012 |


More than just a piece of meat J

ana Sterbak is a Montreal based sculptor and performance artist who attended Concordia University. She is best known for her piece “Vanitas: Flesh Dress for and Albino Anorectic”, a dress made entirely of flank steak. This piece is very controversial, and played part in her recent acceptance of the Canada Governor General’s awards in the Arts. The McGill Daily (MD): You recently received the Canada Governor General’s Award for your piece, “Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic” (1987). What does it mean for you to win such an award? Jana Sterbak (JS): This is actually a career award for all of my pieces. [This piece] is more known because it was captured by the public imagination. It was shown in Ottawa, in the National Gallery of Art, which was close to the parliament. Because of that, there was controversy about what is or isn’t art. The award pays no special attention to the work itself. And yes, I think it is a big honour. MD: Let’s start with your most well known piece then. The term “vanitas” refers to 17th century Dutch paintings intended as meditations on the fleeting nature of life and inevitability of death. Is this what you’re sculpture is mostly based on? JS: That’s pretty much it. Various people have various interpretations. Many things have more than one possible type of entry and everyone brings their own meaning to it. The one that you mentioned is mine. MD: Given the title of your work, and the fact that it is a dress, did you intend to make a commentary on fashion and the body? JS: Not in terms of fashion

or consumption in any way. It is more about the body aging, and its perishability. MD: But why flank steak – in regards to the dress or women’s bodies? JS: The cut of the steak has to do with the facility of constructing the object. And flesh, well, because we are flesh. MD: So is this directed toward women, or feminist ideas specifically? JS: No men are also made out of meat. I would not have thought of this, but it could have been any garment. [In terms] of aging we are no different from men. The reality of death is the same for both genders. MD: Ideally, what should we, as viewers, take from it? JS: People are to experience as they wish, they can add to it. There have been various feminist interpretations on my work, but I did not make it for a political point of view. Voila, people bring what they bring. MD: 23 years after you completed your work, Lady Gaga wore the dress at an award ceremony, contributing more feminist concepts to its presentation. What are your thoughts about that? JS: She is using this way of wearing the flesh meat for her own purposes. She is a contemporary woman and I am surprised she wouldn’t think of something else. The dress is 25 years old, but this is not the first time it happened. But I think we have completely different concerns, [what Lady Gaga did] has nothing to do with [what] I do. What was nice was that the media already had my name down when they were interviewing her after the show. MD: With regards to your other works, you seem to have a

re-occurring theme. “Catacombs” are bones made out of solid chocolate, “Cake Stool” is made out of sponge cake, “Bread Bed” out of bread. How would you describe these pieces and your inspiration behind them? JS: Most of these pieces refer to regular objects in everyday life. We survive through food materials; they are more poignant to us. It makes the art have much more emotional power because of their consumability. My work is not only about death; it is also about the passage of time. MD: Are any of your more recent pieces relevant to this theme? JS: Yes. I have an installation in the Musee National des Beaux Arts du Quebec called “Disillusion.” It has 16 chairs where the seat back and seat are made of ice, and the legs are made out of metal. It is done every day– and, during the day all of them melt and they come crashing down. This is an ephemeral work that has to be redone over and over again by the staff. It shows – in a tragic way – again, the passage of time. It is also a performance of the human element. MD: What should we be expecting from your upcoming artwork? JS: My most recent piece is inspired by a Brother’s Grimm story. It is going to be in the Ottawa at the National Gallery of Canada on the 29 of March. You have to experience it yourself; talking about it does not do [it] justice because everyone has their own vision. Don’t talk about them, you have to see them in real life. Especially works that are in three dimensions.

—Compiled by Gaby Lei

We’re takin’ off folks! And someone has big, fancy shoes to fill.

Run to be a Culture editor! email

Houda Chergui | The McGill Daily

Artist Jana Sterbaks talks flank steak dresses, inspiration, and Lady Gaga

Financial Statements April 30, 2011


The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 15, 2012 |

Lies, half-truths, and sad, sad songs :(

The day critical thinking died How an insitution was brought to its end Euan EK

The McGill Daily

Yesterday, at 6 p.m. in Gert’s, U8 Heidegger Studies student Critical Thinking died choking on her own vomit. Faced with the difficult choice of whether to have an opinion or continue drinking, McGill students voted en masse to continue stirring their rum and cokes. It was an ignominious end for a woman who had, at her height, galvanized students into thinking about something other than their pathetic excuse for political in-

volvement. While the details of her death are still emerging, most observers agree that Critical Thinking entered her downward spiral shortly after the AUS General Assembly. “I don’t think she could stomach the fact that people voted against public education,” a nearby Arts student observed. “But the end of campus radio broke her.” “She couldn’t fucking believe it,” said Johnson Macdowel, a U2 Schmeconmics student who was visibly delighted by the proceedings. He downed a couple shots of tequila while making his comment to The Daily. “Watching the tears swell up in her eyes...

I haven’t felt pleasure like that since I discovered fire.” Critical Thinking had led a long life as a social justice activist at McGill, and had fought against racism and sexism time and time again. Unfortunately, facing the silent majority’s burgeoning interest in playing Whack-a-Mole with political change on McGill campus, she could fight no more. In the words of Lendan Breevan, a U4 Neoliberal Journalism student present at the scene, “the white squares rose, brave and strong, to destroy Critical Thinking and restore order to McGill. Let the status quo reign!”



An (I guess AUS doesn’t give a fuck about the) Hike-u

I’m going to vom. So much fucking privilege. These votes, what the fuck?


Do some journalistic CPR and save critical thinking Daily Editor applications due Sunday at midnight

Given some recent depressing events – Shyam Patel losing the SSMU presidential elections, AUS choosing not to strike, and the CKUT motion failing, to name a few – The Daily compiled a list of sad songs to help soothe the soul. 1. Dust In the Wind - Kansas 2. My Heart Will Go On - Celine Dion 3. Fire and Rain - James Taylor 4. I’ll Be Missing You - Puff Daddy and Faith Evans 5. I’ll Never Be Happy Again - Bright Eyes 6. Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying - Belle & Sebastian 7. Someone Like You- Adele 8. Hallelujah - John Cale 9. This Place is a Prison - The Postal Service 10. In the End - Linkin Park 11. Jackson - Lucinda Williams 12. The Dark End of the Street - Percy Sledge 13. It’s Time to Say Goodbye - Andrea Puccelli 14. Let it Be - The Beatles 15. Moonlight Sonata- Ludwig Van Beethoven


Winner 3

Winner 1

Pizza Giovan

McGill electorate Solidarity and decency

FINAL SHOWDOWN AUS GA Fuck it, I have ballet practice

Winner 2

Winner 4

Real human SSMU candidates No opinion

Welcome to The Daily’s McGill-based pop culture and current-events March Madness bracket. The series will run all month! Email or tweet at @mcgilldaily with your picks or if you think you have better match-up ideas. All contestants subject to our comedic whims.

I. Spott Fitzgerald | The McGill Daily

The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 15, 2012 |

volume 101 number 37

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

Joan Moses coordinating news editor

Henry Gass news editors

Queen Arsem-O’Malley Erin Hudson Jessica Lukawiecki features editor

Eric Andrew-Gee commentary&compendium! editor

Zachary Lewsen culture editors

Christina Colizza Fabien Maltais-Bayda

science+technology editor

Shannon Palus

health&education editor

Peter Shyba sports editor

Andra Cernavskis photo editor

Victor Tangermann illustrations editor

Amina Batyreva production&design editors

Alyssa Favreau Rebecca Katzman copy editor

James Farr web editor

Jane Gatensby le délit

Anabel Cossette Civitella cover design

VIctor Tangermann Contributors Jacqueline Brandon, Edna Chan, Huda Chergui, Steve Eldon Kerr, Asma Falfoul, Maggie Gerbalski, Devin Kesner, Rachael Kim, Esther Lee, Gaby Lei, Davide Mastracci, Marlee Rubel, Nastasha Sartore, Annie Shiel, Juan Camillo Velasquez, Jordan Venton-Rublee


Don’t target student publications On March 5, The Daily Publications Society (DPS) – publisher of The McGill Daily and Le Délit – received a letter from McGill’s lawyers threatening legal action unless The Daily removed “any reference” to the McGillLeaks website, as well as reference to the Development and Alumni Relations documents – a number of which were marked “confidential” and “highly confidential” – that were released by McGillLeaks. The DPS was forced to concede, in part, to McGill’s demands by ceasing further publication on the content of documents made public by McGillLeaks. In response to the actions taken by McGill’s lawyers, the DPS issued a press release on March 12 denouncing “McGill University’s oppressive tactics.” The Daily agrees with the DPS’s pragmatism. Extended court proceedings could threaten the very existence of the newspapers it publishes, given that the DPS is an independent, not-for-profit publishing organization with limited funds. The DPS is in an especially vulnerable position right now because it will enter into negotiations with McGill next year for a new Memorandum of Agreement (MoA), without which McGill has no obligation to release student funds to the DPS. Furthermore, The Daily thinks it would be fiscally and morally irresponsible for the DPS to conduct legal proceedings against McGill: the time, money, and resources involved would inevitably hamper the DPS’s ability to support coverage of campus issues. By threatening student-run media with legal action, this University has yet again used its financial power in order to control student voices on campus. Already this year, McGill has forced many student groups to stop using the McGill name, unilaterally kept CKUT and QPIRG’s opt-out systems online, and issued a Provisional Protocol that severely limits the right to free assembly on campus. McGill resorts to bullying tactics to pursue its own interests, taking advantage of its financial and administrative power over campus organizations in order to suppress dissenting student voices. The DPS, the Canadian University Press, and the Milton Avenue Revolutionary Press – all student media – received threats of legal action from the University for writing about the leaked documents. However, major media outlets like the CBC and the Montreal Gazette, who had published similar stories, had not announced receiving similar threats from McGill when The Daily went to press. Potentially, McGill did not issue the same legal threat to these publications because the University understands that they have the financial clout to fight back. It seems clear that freedom of expression – in this case – is not a right but a privilege; one that is enjoyed only by those with the financial and political power to challenge McGill. McGill’s claim that the confidentiality of the documents prohibits anyone from legally reporting on their contents is dubious given that The Daily had no role in distributing the documents. According to McGill, the documents remain confidential even after being released to the public, because they were allegedly obtained illegally. Legal counsel on behalf of McGill used this claim as the basis for censoring references to contents of the leaked documents. But can documents be called confidential in any meaningful way if they are available online, as they had been for three days when The Daily first wrote about them? And does confidentiality, even if it does exist indefinitely, trump students’ right to know about their University’s partnerships? All universities have a duty to actively support the right to freedom of expression. The idea that an institution of higher learning would abuse its power by silencing its own students is frightening; it becomes even more worrying when one considers that this incident fits into a larger pattern of McGill’s tactics of intimidation regarding students and staff. Student media must be able to report on matters pertinent to student life without fear of financial blackmail. Otherwise, we’re letting the administration decide what we’re allowed to know. And who would want to go to a university like that?

As members of the DPS Board of Directors, Coordinating editor Joan Moses and Production and Design editor Alyssa Favreau did not take part in the writing of or discussion about this editorial.

The Daily is published on most Mondays and Thursdays by the Daily Publications Society, an autonomous, not-for-profit organization whose membership includes all McGill undergraduates and most graduate students.

3480 McTavish St., Rm. B-26 Montreal, QC H3A 1X9 phone 514.398.6790 fax 514.398.8318

Boris Shedov Letty Matteo Geneviève Robert Mathieu Ménard

advertising & general manager

sales representative ad layout & design

dps board of directors

Anabel Cossette Civitella, Marie Catherine Ducharme, Alyssa Favreau, Joseph Henry, Olivia Messer, Sheehan Moore, Joan Moses, Farid Muttalib, Mai Anh Tran-Ho, Aaron Vansintjan (chair [at]

The Daily is proud to be a founding member of the Canadian University Press. All contents © 2012 Daily Publications Society. All rights reserved. The content of this newspaper is the responsibility of The McGill Daily and does not necessarily represent the views of McGill University. Products or companies advertised in this newspaper are not necessarily endorsed by Daily staff. Printed by Imprimerie Transcontinental Transmag. Anjou, Quebec. ISSN 1192-4608.


Daily Publications Society’s



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