Volume 102, Issue 18
November 5, 2012 mcgilldaily.com
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NEWS 03 NEWS
East Asian Studies loses AUS funding Interview with Principal Heather Munroe-Blum CKUT referendum begins
07 COMMENTARY Mining Canada’s extraction industry Be serious about sex clubs Subtle racism on campus The future of Canadian healthcare Peter Beinart and progressive Zionism
10 SCIENCE+TECH Paleontological passion amongst the embryos Why undergraduate publishing is ultimately important Ants, mutants, and sensationalism Meme-ifying the 2012 election
13 SPORTS Hockey Without Borders brings hockey abroad Continuing barriers for openly queer athletes The psychology of losing teams
16 CULTURE Art on the street Unfit to Print interviews Canadian authors Archiving the Arcane: why are vampires so sexy?
19 EDITORIAL McGill’s sexual harassment policy and GA endorsements
20 COMPENDIUM! Queer Theory founded Torn tights perturb hipsters
Monday, November 5, 2012 mcgilldaily.com
A-Branch seeks updates to University’s sexual harassment policy
SSMU votes against endorsing CKUT American students at McGill and the presidential election
The McGill Daily
Grievances include Provost’s lack of training and lack of formal appeal process Lily Hassall News Writer
he McGill Senate will review the University’s Policy on Harassment, Sexual Harassment, and Discrimination Prohibited by Law this year for the first time since 2009. Various student groups have criticized the policy since it was first instated as the school’s sexual harassment policy in 1988. Among these groups is Advocacy Branch (A-Branch), the part of the volunteer-run Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) dedicated to supporting students, faculty, and staff navigating the policy. The two A-Branch volunteers interviewed identified the authority the policy gives to the Provost as a chief grievance. “We find it disconcerting that the Provost has so much power,” said Taylor*, a current volunteer and former A-Branch representative. “Our concern is that the Provost isn’t required to have any training in sexual harassment or discrimination.” Under the current policy, any member of the McGill community may file a complaint against another member to an Assessor, a volunteer member of the McGill community appointed by Senate. If the Assessor fails to facilitate an informal agreement between the complainant and the respondent, the Assessor investigates and prepares a formal report with recommendations. The Provost evaluates
SACOMSS is open to the public and all services are free of charge. Masi said he attended the Assessor’s orientation, but did not pursue further training. “A judge isn’t necessarily trained as a policeman or a prosecutor,” Masi said. “I don’t see why the Provost would have to have training, I’m more on the judge’s side.” A-Branch also believes that Assessor training, which consists of an initial two-hour session with the University’s legal officer and one or two follow-ups over the course of the year, is inadequate. White noted that starting this year, additional training from the Social Equity and Diversity Education
“A judge isn’t necessarily trained as a policeman or a prosecutor. I don’t see why the Provost would have to have training, I’m more on the judge’s side.” Anthony Masi Provost On his lack of training relevant to the sexual harassment policy, of which he is the final arbitrator. the report and makes a final decision – one which need not follow the Assessor’s recommendation. Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures & Equity) Lydia White and Provost Anthony Masi do not think this is problematic. “It’s a matter of ultimately who’s responsible for how the University runs...It is not the Assessors, it’s the Provost,” White told The Daily, adding that the current Provost trusts the Assessors and has only ever followed their recommendations. Regarding the Provost’s training on the topic, White said, “It’s just not clear that there would be time...this is just one part of his job.”
(SEDE) Office would be provided. Another aspect of the policy over which Taylor expressed concern is the absence of a formal appeal or complaint procedure. While complainants do have recourse to the University’s Grievance Procedure, A-Branch believes that it is ill-suited to cases of sexual harassment. According to Taylor, “Going through a different procedure as an appeals mechanism means you have to recount your story again to more people...it’s heavy for someone to carry that.” White expressed uncertainty about whether or not there should be a formal appeal process, and Masi
believes it is unnecessary. “There is already the ability to make your case to an Assessor. The Assessor makes an initial judgment. That judgment is then reviewed,” said Masi. “I know in baseball you get three strikes, but I think the second level up is sufficient.” Professor Prakash Panangaden, an Assessor since June 2010, voiced different concerns about the structure of the policy. “Students are still afraid of filing complaints against their professors, and employees against their managers,” said Panangaden. “I don’t think people feel protected enough by us...I don’t feel like I can protect them that effectively either.” Specifically, Panangaden felt that he could not protect complainants if their cases were not successful. “We have rigorous demands for evidence...When it’s some low-grade continuous harassment that I can’t pinpoint easily, or make a compelling case for a particular side, then I can’t really put an end to it, or shield the person.” “They have not done a good enough job to provide support,” Panangaden added. “I think student mental health [services] should be beefed up.” Despite the various concerns about the general structure of the Policy, A-Branch’s main goal for the upcoming review is for McGill to at least adhere to it. They point to the fact that the University has not upheld the part of the policy that stipulates the creation of “an office the mandate of which includes the education of, and the dissemination of information...concerning such matters as harassment, discrimination and equity.”
Photo Hera Chan | The McGill Daily
“An office does not exist,” said Taylor. “There is no one space that manages the distribution of information on the policy. It’s written in very legalistic language, and it’s very hard to understand, and nowhere on campus or online is there some kind of information to help people understand it.” Quinn*, the A-Branch representative, said their second objective is to see the continued updating of the policy website. White felt that the website does need more work, but that between the website and the services provided by SEDE, the policy’s requirements for an office had been met. The SEDE Office distributes general information about equity, discrimination, and harassment, but little information about the sexual harassment policy itself. Panangaden feels that an office for the policy is perhaps unnecessary, but that the policy needs to be better publicized. “I don’t think anyone knows this whole thing exists,” Panangaden said. At the last review at Senate in 2009, A-Branch presented recommendations to the review committee and succeeded in having the word “intent” removed from the policy’s definition of sexual harassment. White said that she will be assembling the review committee shortly, and this year, A-Branch will be granted a spot. Senate will vote on the review committee’s recommendations in March 2013. *Names have been changed to preserve the anonymity of SACOMSS volunteers.
The McGill Daily | Monday, November 5, 2012 | mcgilldaily.com
SSMU fails to endorse CKUT in Fall referendum Council debates GA motions In the past, SSMU has officially endorsed attempts to increase financial support for CKUT. In the Winter 2012 semester, the SSMU Executive Committee endorsed a referendum question to make the CKUT fee unopt-out-able. The question failed to pass online ratification. VP Internal Michael Szpejda pointed out the failure of the referendum last winter as a sign that SSMU should be cautious in endorsing a fee increase associated with the same student group. The biggest concern surrounded whether it was in SSMU’s mandate to take on divisive referenda where “clearly, some students feel one way, and some students feel the other way,” said Szpejda. Arts representative to SSMU Nicole Georges commented that the goal was not to question the legitimacy of CKUT as an independent student group, but rather to determine whether SSMU has the mandate to officially endorse a particular side on a clearly twosided issue. “I know from the people I’ve spoken to in my constituency […] it feels as though it alienates people who don’t necessarily have the same opinion,” Georges said. Szpejda echoed Georges’
Esther Lee and Dana Wray The McGill Daily
he Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council opened its bi-weekly meeting last Thursday with a series of motions from the recent Fall General Assembly (GA) earlier this semester, before moving to a heated debate over the motion to officially endorse the Radio CKUT 90.3 FM fee increase referendum. VP Clubs & Services Allison Cooper stated that the intention of such an endorsement would be to “lend legitimacy” to CKUT. After intense debate, the motion barely failed, with 11 in favour and 11 opposed. Since 1988, CKUT’s fee for full-time undergraduate students has remained unchanged at $4, despite inflation and rising costs. With this referendum question, CKUT seeks to increase its optout-able fee by $1 for all full-time undergraduate students. “The fact that they haven’t increased their fee in so long means that their ability to provide that resource to students is compromised,” said VP External Robin Reid-Fraser.
Thursday’s Council meeting also discussed the motions that failed to reach quorum at SSMU’s recent GA. Described as “Old Business” on the meeting’s official agenda, the councillors opened the floor to debate on the motions regarding renewing support for accessible education, ethical investments at McGill, opposition to Canadian military involvement in Iran, and Plan Nord. Reid-Fraser, who recommended that Council pass the motion regarding accessible education, said, “SSMU should be working to make sure that this type of education that we are fortunate enough to receive should be accessible to as many people who wish to access it, regardless of financial state.” After amending the “resolved” clause to modify education from being a “human right” to a “right,” Council passed the motion with 24 in favour,
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understand the financial impact… of getting rid of investment relationships and funding…We know the environmental impacts but we don’t know how it pertains to McGill financially,” she added. The motions regarding opposition to Canadian military involvement in Iran and regarding Plan Nord were tabled indefinitely with a simple majority until further notice.
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Photo Hera Chan | The McGill Daily
zero opposed, and four abstentions. Council also narrowly passed the motion regarding ethical investments at McGill, with nine in favour, seven opposed, and eight abstentions. Georges addressed the issue of transparency in accessing McGill’s financial documents and asked Council to table the motion indefinitely. “There is not enough information for the McGill students to
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concern over the possibility of unequal representation. “I’m just curious how SSMU intends to represent all of the students at McGill University,” Szpejda said. “If we’re leaning one way, that means we’re not representing all of our constituents.”
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The McGill Daily | Monday, November 5, 2012 | mcgilldaily.com
American students at McGill navigate absentee voting Democrats Abroad McGill offers assistance Hannah Besseau The McGill Daily
rom community discussions to Facebook memes, it’s difficult to ignore the buzz on campus about the American presidential election. According to McGill’s website, 20 per cent of the student population comes from outside of Canada. Of that 20 per cent, Americans make up the majority. The United States consistently has a low youth voter turnout rate, defined as voters between the ages of 18 and 29. Despite the spike in youth votes during the 2008 election, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), an American research group, found that the youth vote turnout still lags significantly compared to the turnout of voters aged 30 and older. Ilona Dougherty, executive director of Apathy is Boring, suggested that living abroad during election time may contribute to social barriers to voting. “You vote where you live. Not being
exposed to the same information on local politics and on political candidates has effects,” she told The Daily. McGill student Patrick Miller, originally from Portland, Oregon, can attest to Dougherty’s speculation. “I am voting this year, but I’ve lagged behind in the process a bit. I haven’t had the same motivation to research issues and candidates the same way I would have just by socializing if I still lived in the U.S. I think I would have at least had a more wellinformed understanding.” Karl Urban, another American McGill student on exchange in Germany this year, echoed these concerns. “I do feel distanced from the election and that its impact will mean less to me living abroad. However, I also follow the election online through various news sources and talk with my American friends too, which really helps,” he told The Daily. However, Dougherty did point to the existence of a number of resources for voters living abroad as a cause for optimism. “The U.S. is a bit better [than Canada] in providing resourc-
es for those living abroad,” said Dougherty. “There are partisan and non-partisan groups that can help the voting process.” Among these groups is Democrats Abroad. The organization’s McGill chapter assists Americans living in Montreal with the voting process by offering postage, collecting ballots, and bringing them to the U.S. Consulate to be mailed. Daniel Braden of Democrats Abroad McGill (DAM) told The Daily, “We know it can be difficult for people to take the initiative to get to the post office, buy stamps, and mail a letter. It’s those little things that add up. Our job is to make the whole thing as easy as possible.” Marc Seltzer, also from DAM, said that through working with the group, he has been able to appreciate its impact and has witnessed the enthusiasm for this election. “Many of the Americans I encounter in Montreal do not seem disengaged at all to me – in fact, less so than many Americans living in the U.S.,” he told The Daily. “I do think that some people leave U.S. politics behind them when they
Illustration Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily
move out of the country. On the other hand, here in Canada, I meet so many Americans who are tuned in to American politics and are eager to vote. We are close and it is easy to follow the news here. Our orga-
nization has a chapter in Montreal with more than 1,000 members. That is 1,000 U.S. citizens in greater Montreal that signed up and said that they wanted to be connected to a Democratic political organization.”
AUS strips East Asian Student Association of funding Association’s seat reinstated, funding will remain suspended Jordan Venton-Rublee The McGill Daily
t the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Council meeting last Wednesday, the East Asian Students’ Society Association (EASSA) was stripped of their funding as a result of the second absence of Alexandra von Zadora-Gerlof, the EASSA representative to AUS. According to the AUS Constitution, missing two Council meetings without providing written notice five days in advance results in the removal of AUS funding from the departmental association and in the suspension of their seat indefinitely. Von Zadora-Gerlof was absent from Council on October 17 and 24. Justin Fletcher, AUS VP Internal and former EASSA representative
to AUS, told The Daily, “After [von Zadora-Gerlof] had missed the October 24th council, I emailed the departmental association telling them that their seat has been suspended and here is how they can reclaim it.” Von Zadora-Gerlof’s seat was reinstated during last Wednesday’s meeting of AUS Council, though the association’s funding will remain suspended for the rest of the semester. The October 24 meeting was a special session of Council, called to approve the AUS referendum questions. According to Fletcher, the meeting was called at the October 17 meeting – at which von ZadoraGerlof was not present – as well as over emails from AUS President Devon LaBuik and the speaker. Fletcher added that the AUS Constitution allows the president to call such sessions.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, but we do take attendance at AUS Council very seriously,” he said. In an email to The Daily, the EASSA executive wrote, ”Owing to some personal matters, our AUS rep was unable to attend the first meeting, and a bit of a miscommunication resulted in her being unable to attend the second […] However, at the last AUS meeting [on] Wednesday, the matter was discussed and resolved.” To reclaim a suspended seat – as mandated in section 9.1.2 of the AUS Constitution – a departmental association must notify AUS five days before the next Council to be put on the agenda. Once at the Council meeting, they must receive a majority vote in favour of their reinstatement. “Last night, we voted whether or not to approve their seat on
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AUS Council, and we did approve that. However, the article in the Constitution stated that they will lose their funding. So that isn’t negotiable,” said Fletcher. “Essentially, we just followed the rules in that circumstance,” LaBuik told The Daily. “I think we just had to make a point that they had to be there.” When asked how the loss of funding would affect EASSA, LaBuik said, “Basically they have to fundraise all the rest of their money for the rest of the semester […] They get their funding for next semester, just not this semester.” AUS VP Finance Saad Qazi added, “The Constitution doesn’t specify what happens to funding that loses its seat on Council, so I guess that’s up to our discretion.” According to Qazi, the money intended for EASSA will instead be
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put into a supplementary departmental fund, for which all the departmental associations can apply. EASSA, however, must wait until next semester to apply. “[EASSA] have already submitted a budget with loss of funding taken into account,” said Qazi. “It’s upsetting it happened so early in the semester, but we did reinstate their seat,” said Fletcher. “We did attach a clause in the resolution though that one further absence this year will result in the immediate revocation of future funding and voting rights at AUS Council.” He added, “I really hope this won’t happen with any other of the associations. It was a very difficult motion to present.” According to the AUS website, there are 111 students in EASSA, which receives $262 per semester from AUS.
The McGill Daily | Monday, November 5, 2012 | mcgilldaily.com
Principal sits down with student media Asbestos, underfunding, and diversity discussed
ast Friday, McGill Principal Heather Munroe-Blum met student reporters from The Daily, Le Délit and the McGill Tribune for a 45-minute interview in the James Administration Building.
The McGill Daily (MD): My first question is regarding the asbestos research. A lot of people, including Dr. Colin Soskolne at the University of Alberta, have described the report carried out by Professor Fuks as “self-serving and without transparency.” […] How do you respond to that and to the multiple criticisms of the report? Heather Munroe-Blum (HMB): In fact, the report has broadly been very well received and followed a good process and in the context of the academic review, which is peer review, we feel very comfortable that a very objective review was done. It was asked as a special request of our integrity officer, so it was outside the normal purview of the research integrity officer, and I certainly feel very comfortable with the conclusions of that report. MD: Why wasn’t an external report done? HMB: Because we have processes and procedures that we use. As I say the entire research enterprise is governed on a peer review basis and through the policies and constructs that we have in place. MD: In 2009, the Principal’s Task Force on Diversity, Excellence and Community Engagement found that students from highincome households were disproportionately represented at McGill, and you have also repeatedly said that tuition does not correlate to accessibility. Do you believe that maybe accessibility for those families from lower-income households is related to tuition? HMB: Let me just tell from a public policy point of view the dynamic here. Quebec had, for a long time, very low frozen tuition and did right up to the last couple of years. It’s just a few years now that it has been unfrozen to go up at some notion of cost of living increases year over year…It’s very clear that if you come from a background
with low financial means, you need more than free tuition. You actually need a bursary for your scholarship or something that pays for housing and transportation, and books, and the cost of being a student. […] So while the values of having low frozen tuition or even no tuition are values we can all relate to, as you can imagine, when I was a student, I might have taken a different position on what intuitively makes sense about getting accessibility. In fact, in a system like Quebec’s where you have low tuition, you have the poor subsidizing those who can afford to pay a reasonable share of their education...Now we’ve had a campaign over the last seven to eight years where building support for students has been one of the three major pillars. We have increased by 500 per cent the amount of student support available. The problem is that we still have a gap between what I’d like to be able to say before the end of this calendar year, that every qualified student can come to McGill independent of financial need. McGill Tribune (MT): Coming back to the asbestos report, are there plans to adjust the recommendations of that report, for example that the Board of Governors avoid investing in asbestos companies and that McGill hold an academic conference on the issues? HMB: [Avoiding asbestos investments] is not something you can do without having a formal motion come forward and so forth. That’ll depend on people bringing it forward. We do have a committee of the Board on socially responsible investment. The issue of managing investment portfolios is a complicated one and the goal of the investment committee is to preserve the money that comes in and to invest it so as to grow it over time to the best of our ability in common markets. And so it’s an easy thing to say; it’s very complicated when you understand that a majority of investment tools today are big conglomerate investment tools…we know of no investments that we have currently in asbestos. MD: After your departure, only five out of 23 senior administrators
Photo Hera Chan | The McGill Daily
will be women, and furthermore only 18 per cent of tenure-track professors are female. Do you think that McGill has a problem in terms of equity? Do you think it can be fixed? HMB: […] I’m happy to speak to the general issue, which is we definitely do. And you’ve read my task force report – we need measures to really encourage women and other underrepresented groups to move into positions that have a possibility for leadership, and it’s a strong theme for me, and you can imagine that it is. And so again, just in terms of what I’ve seen over my lifetime, unless you really pay attention to these issues…there was a very strong movement in North America in the seventies and eighties called “Women’s Lib” and I know there’s just been a weeklong series of events tied to this. Women moved into positions, and in some sectors there are fewer women in the same leadership positions than in the early nineties [which] had seen such progress. So if we’re not attentive, we lose ground and we need to be careful not only to not create disincentives for women and other underrepresented groups to come into these roles but to cre-
ate incentives for them to. […] Am I concerned about it? Yes, and I’m interested, and it’s actually one of the reasons why Lydia White was given the position that she has [of Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures & Equity)]. That was a direct response to the taskforce’s recommendations. So I’m hoping we’ll make serious progress. MD: You have mentioned several times that McGill is underfunded, and in the latest budget presented by the Provost there is a deficit in the operating fund. But when we take into account the restricted, the capital, and the endowment funds, would McGill’s financial shape change? Can the movement of money be done across the funds? HMB: The reality is we have no flexibility. The pension fund is a constrained fund, which you know is very challenged right now. Our endowment, which is just over $900 million right now…we pay out 4.25 per cent a year right now on that. And a vast majority of that money, we don’t accept money for things that we don’t believe are consistent with our mission. […] We make it clear when we’re going after gifts what our priorities
are, and those gifts come in with no strings attached…Our donors come in with very precise – you know fellowships in such and such, research support in this area, an endowed chair for a professor in this field – and we have no flexibility at all to move that, and I think one of the things that’s not well understood is when people say, that’s almost a billion dollars in endowment. You know, why don’t you take $700 million of it and fix the infrastructure and put the rest into student aid and solve your problems? We can’t do that legally because it’s to go where it’s to go, and those needs are great and pressing needs…but the other is, we only get… roughly $40 million a year that comes into the budget out of that $900 million plus. And that then is all completely targeted, and dominantly to student and research support, some student services, some fellowships and bursaries allotted in the fellowships and bursaries area and very targeted areas. This interview has been edited for space and clarity. —Compiled by Juan Camilo Velásquez
CKUT holds referendum for $1 fee increase Hillary Pasternak The McGill Daily
KUT, McGill’s campuscommunity radio station, begins its referendum period today regarding a $1 increase in its opt-outable student fee. CKUT has been operating on the same $4 fee since its launch in
1988. The radio station’s last referendum was held last year, in which a motion to make its student fee non-opt-outable did not pass. In an interview with The Daily, Elections SSMU Chief Electoral Officer Hubie Yu said she didn’t want to speculate as to the results of the referendum, but is confident in the importance of the institution.
“Referenda in general, not just for CKUT, are important to campus and student life as their outcome can influence the loss or improvement of a service that students – even if it’s only a sector of the population – have come to love or depend on. Referendum results are also important indicators of what students want or believe in, which makes the pro-
cess such a unique component of democracy at McGill.” Carol Fraser and Tim Beeler run CKUT’s ‘Yes’ Committee. An official ‘No’ Committee has not been formed. “CKUT is an important bridge between McGill, the greater Montreal community, and the rest of the world,” Beeler told The Daily. “CKUT is well-loved in this
city, and has consistently been voted the number one station in the Mirror’s readers’ poll. For example, we have an intern who came to us from Germany because of how much she loves the show ‘We Funk’.” The Students’ Society of McGill University failed to pass a motion to endorse CKUT during its meeting last Thursday.
The McGill Daily Monday, November 5, 2012 mcgilldaily.com
Illustration Hera Chan | The McGill Daily
The invisible gold rush Canadian imperialism and the gold mining boom Sean Phipps Commentary Writer
s I write this the price of gold is $1,776.80 an ounce, the highest it’s ever been, up from $1,023.50 in 2008 and $282.40 in 1999. Global economic instability has fueled this dramatic spike, and along with it a massive increase in gold production, an expansion that some have termed “an invisible gold rush.” In Canada we – or at least some of us – directly benefit from this expansion. 75 per cent of the world’s mining companies (in both production and exploration) are Canadian registered, and several of the industry’s biggest players such as Barrick, Goldcorp, and Kinross are Canadian. And, with a government increasingly working to reflect the needs and interests of the extractive industry, these companies have emerged as key dictators of our country’s economic and foreign policy. As a country, we are increasingly tied to gold. It is with this in mind that I chose to look at the long and often brutal history of gold mining, the way in which we have viewed gold over time, and to help piece together our strange relationship with this mineral. Why gold? What has led us to value it above all other substances? Looking at a sample in the display cases in the Redpath Museum, it is hard to deny its beauty. However, gold’s real power has always been symbolic, for gold is wealth itself. Before there was money, there was gold. Anthropologist Michael Taussig calls gold the ur-capital, the very essence of wealth that gives
money its value. And, just as capital has its own magic (reproducing with an apparent life of its own), so too does gold have a certain power. It was dreams of gold that drove the Spanish to conquer Mexico and Peru and help lead the way for the largest theft in history: the plunder of a continent that provided for the primitive accumulation that allowed European capitalism to grow. As the industry will tell you, no matter what happens, gold will always be there for you, a safe investment. What better advice from an economic system gone mad; people are losing jobs, losing their homes, the whole world is gripped with economic crisis: better buy more gold! Investment in gold stocks and gold mining is often the investment of choice for people and institutions seeking solid and stable returns, our own university included. Of all the gold consumed, about 40 per cent is as securities in bullion, 50 per cent as jewellery, and a mere 10 per cent goes toward tangible industrial functions. Marx talks about capitalism’s predilection to make fetishes out of commodities, to ascribe meaning and power to that which the market has created. Gold is the ultimate fetish. What then are the human costs of this fetish? What has this latest round of our endless gold rush meant? Taussig speaks of gold as a fundamentally transgressive substance. In the Chocó region of Colombia, where he worked, gold is seen as the devil’s substance, and it is the devil you must deal with if a mining operation is to be successful. Today, multi-nationals such as Barrick Gold and Newmont
are the primary producers, who through advances in amalgamation and truck tire design (of all things) are able to mine ores previously not considered commercially viable, and on a massive scale. Open pit mining and cyanide leaching are the primary methods. Pits over 250 square kilometres large are carved into the earth. Ore is excavated, crushed, and mixed with cyanide to extract the gold. In their wake is left tens of millions of tonnes of waste rock; 95 per cent to 99.9995 per cent of mined and processed ore ends up as waste product. What then are the effects of this kind of mining on local environments and communities? Over the past two and a half years I have studied the effects of Canadian mining on (mostly indigenous) communities in Latin America as part of the McGill Research Collective for the Investigation of Canadian Mining in Latin America (MICLA) – a research collective that looks at the social costs of Canadian mining, observing what happens when the exploitative logic of the mining industry collides with a radically different set of values. In recent years there has been mobilization across Latin America in opposition to large-scale mining projects, and in defense of local ecosystems and sovereignty. In these conflicts it has been gold, the quintessential symbol of decadence and prolifigacy, set against the vital necessity of a healthy community, that seems to have captured the protesters’ imagination. It is also been in the field of gold mining that Canadian companies have been most active. “El agua vale más que el oro,”
was the slogan of protesters in the Cajamarca region of northern Peru. Water is worth more than gold. The two have much in common; both are a kind of lifeblood; one of the planet, the other of capitalism. What is more, gold is dependent on water; the average gold mine uses up to 100 million gallons of water a day – about 477 kilolitres for every kilogram of gold mined – used primarily in processing ore. There is also the risk of contamination in the form of acid mine drainage. Residents near the Barrick-Goldcorp Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic have reported toxic runoff polluting the local water supply, which they now allege is highly acidic with traces of lead, mercury, and other heavy metals. Who benefits then? With the gold mining industry helping to fuel the Toronto Stock Exchange, it has risen to a level of importance where it is even coming to shape Canadian foreign policy. In 2009, the Minister of International Development announced a shift in Canada’s foreign aid budget. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has decided to focus on new initiatives such as “Enhancing the Development Impact of Extractives Industry” in countries where Canadian mining companies operate, and to fund projects in those communities where opposition has been strongest, such as with CIDA’s project in Quiruvilca, Peru, the site of Barrick’s Lagunas Norte mine, which has been accused of contaminating the water supply and expropriating communal lands. Even the Canadian embassy has gotten involved; a 2011
US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks revealed that US and Canadian diplomatic officials had met with mining company and Peruvian government officials to discuss the rotation of teachers and priests opposed to mining in their communities, as well as the expulsion of anti-mining NGO’s. Closer to home, our own university invests heavily in Canadian gold mining companies. An Access to Information (ATI) request regarding the breakdown of the investment portfolio of McGill’s $920.8-million endowment fund secured last year revealed that McGill has stocks in Barrick Gold, Goldcorp, Kinross, El Dorado, and other large and junior mining companies, and has partnerships with AngloGold Ashanti, AgnicoEagle, Barrick, and Newmont Mining through the Department of Mining and Materials Engineering. And before we take the moral high ground, our own student union invests $28,000 in gold reserves and $23,000 in Donner Metals, a junior mining company, as part of our $2.3 million investment fund. What, then, is to be done? We have to work to oppose destructive mining projects, both here in Canada and abroad, through direct action, legislation, the courts – any means necessary to stand in solidarity with those communities whose sovereignty and livelihood is being threatened. We cannot be complicit, both as a school and as a country. It is time to break the illusory power gold has over our society. Sean Phipps is a U2 Latin American Studies and Environment student. He can be reached at sean.phipps@ mail.mcgill.ca.
The McGill Daily | Monday, November 5, 2012 | mcgilldaily.com
Sex but no solidarity A response to “Sex and solitude vs. solidarity” Benjamin Elgie and Amelia Mensch* Commentary Writers
ou feel like having some fun, so you go out to a sex club that you’ve been to a couple times. You have a drink before you go – you don’t want to get smashed, but it makes it a bit easier to socialize. It’s a slow night – just yourself, a friend, some people you’ve seen there before, and one couple. That’s fine. Maybe you’ll have sex later, or watch some people, or just hang out and have a few drinks. Two strangers show up. They aren’t anyone’s guests, and no one recognizes them. If you’re new, it’s common to be introduced by people recognized as being members of the scene. They’re obviously drunk, five to ten years younger than anyone else, and they don’t introduce themselves. This makes several people uncomfortable and wary. One of the strangers wants to use one of the beds (presumably with their friend), but the other pulls them away to the bathroom. You begin to wonder why they came and if they might start trouble. Sex clubs have only been legal in Canada since 2005 (after R. v. Labaye, a case involving a private swinger’s club which had to be appealed to the Supreme Court),
and patrons often feel like they’re at risk of arrest, if not conviction. If that happens, you can lose your job if you work with children or your kids if you’re in the middle of a divorce. Emery Saur’s article, “Sex and solitude vs. solidarity” (Health & Ed, October 25, page 10) is striking in two ways. One is the complete lack of respect for the objects of their article. Saur expects us to share their disgust at the idea of middleaged people having sex, their sensationalistic gawking at their surroundings, and their attitude that sex absent intimacy is lacking something essential. They expect us to be startled that they were treated with respect and weren’t solicited for sex, and to find polite conversation at a sex club to be somehow incongruous. Presumably people at sex clubs don’t chat when they aren’t fucking. The other is the complete lack of curiosity with which they approach their subject. We aren’t told the name of the club, where it is, what subset of the community it serves (the presence of a bar woman suggests it wasn’t exclusively for men, at least), or when Saur went. All these things can change the social dynamics of a club or scene. Saur questions why someone might attend a sex club (“Is it the thrill? Is it some form of validation?”), comes to various conclusions (“Sex with-
Illustration Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily
out intimacy is a lonely thing...”), and describes these conclusions in universal, rather than personal terms. At no point does Saur write the answers that the patrons of the club tried to give them. Instead, Saur only mentions their own perplexity and confusion with the seeming incongruity between these remarks and their own naive impressions of the venue.
In place of the information one might expect from a Health & Ed column, such as an overview of sex or fetish clubs in Montreal, the opinions and experiences of their patrons, or the issues and conflicts within the community, the author substitutes their own recollection and introspection of their drunken, spontaneous, slumming experience. The article reads like
a blog update, rather than a sincere attempt to inform and educate, and it does not inspire confidence in future offerings on sex and sexuality in this column. *Name has been changed Benjamin Elgie and Amelia Mensch are executives at Sexuality and Kink Advocacy. They can be reached at email@example.com.
It’s racist, like it or not On covert racism and calling people out Victoria Lessard The McGill Daily
n October 25, students flooded into the SSMU building, ready for an evening of Halloween debauchery at 4Floors. Amongst the kittens, superheroes, and Waldo’s, was, disturbingly enough, at least one student dressed in blackface, several costumes of sexualized indigenous women, and other ethnic stereotypes. What is perhaps even more troubling than the fact that students at our hallowed “institution of higher learning” thought these were acceptable costumes, is the aura of silence that surrounded their actions. These people were able to enter a described “safe space,” party to their heart’s content, and then go home without being questioned or confronted. Even worse, photographs of these students at the event were later post-
ed on Facebook by a McGill publication without a second thought for the inherent racism involved in the act of costuming oneself as another race. The belief that we live in a racism-free country is a naive one. Racism is expressed in Canada through covert and subtle acts. Outright acts of racism are no longer socially acceptable, and are easily condemned. This is racism that hides behind proclaimed innocence (‘It was just a joke, man’) and ignorance that is prevalent in Canada, and – as demonstrated on October 25 – our own campus. Silence often accompanies acts of covert racism – tell me you’ve never been in this situation before: your friend makes a derogatory joke about another race; you feel distinctly uncomfortable. Do you speak up? Or do you laugh and move on, knowing their response will be, ‘Relax, I’m only joking?’ Perhaps at 4Floors, a student felt disgust-
ed with the person who attended in blackface, but hesitated to say something, knowing they would receive a response similar to the one outlined above. Through silence, covert racism gains power by contributing to the myth that if ‘it’s only a joke’ or ‘it’s just for fun’ then it’s acceptable. After graduating from high school, I came to McGill with the innocent belief that university represented a bastion of free-thinking and intellectual debate, free from prejudice and ignorance. Coming from my predominantly white high school, it initially did seem a more diverse and accepting campus. However, it is this facade of multiculturalism and understanding that covers the more insidious forms of racism, by masking structural racism and student apathy. It’s easy to be principled in theory – to do a reading for a class, or read an article, such as Tiffany Harrington’s “A haunting disguise indeed!” (Commentary,
October 25, page 6) – and agree. Yet, when it comes to applying these concepts to student life, there seems to be a barrier. The prevailing thought is, ‘Well, I’m not racist, and this is just a joke (costume, for fun, et cetera).’ But our actions matter. When “Pocahontas” is your Halloween costume of choice, you are contributing to the stereotyping of Aboriginal women. You are normalizing the idea that Aboriginal women are somehow sexually deviant and available to anyone. This racist perception contributes to the chilling reality that indigenous women have to live with: three times as many Aboriginal women have suffered violence than non-Aboriginal women. As a white person who grew up in suburban Calgary, Alberta, I cannot pretend to know the effect that racism has on the conscious self. I will never know what it feels like to have a collective history of oppression; I will never know what it feels
like to be harassed by the police force because of the colour of my skin; and I will never know what it feels like to walk into a Halloween party and see a fellow student on my campus caricaturing and demeaning my skin colour. To feel empathy is not enough, however. Covert racism will only be recognized if we all first acknowledge our own roles within the perpetuation of this oppression, myself included. If we remain silent when we recognize an act of racism, then we are just as guilty and ignorant as the person who made the joke, or the comment, or dressed up in blackface. So speak up. Call people out on their derogatory remarks. Let’s all make each other accountable for our actions. Victoria Lessard is a U4 Art History and English Literature student and a Daily Culture editor. The views expressed her are her own. She can be reached at victoria.lessard@ mail.mcgill.ca.
The McGill Daily | Monday, November 5, 2012 | mcgilldaily.com
Zionism with nuance Peter Beinart speaks about Jewish youth and ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Corey Lesk Commentary Writer
he Israeli-Palestinian peace process is paralyzed and hope is scarce for reanimation. In North America, discussions of the conflict are similarly stuck and opposed viewpoints that still manage to stir up unbridled vitriol in people of diverse backgrounds. The debate is even polarized and acrimonious within the North American Jewish community. A widening division exists between those who support Israel’s current security policy and those who yearn for a more progressive and proactive path to peace. For many, the crux of the debate is the occupation of the West Bank. Though arguably a security necessity, it jeopardizes Palestinian human rights and threatens to erode the democratic values upon which Israel was founded. To increasing numbers of North American Jews, particularly the youth, this reality is a source of moral torment. Yet the conservative consensus is that any admission of Israeli wrongdoing in the West Bank is unacceptable, even traitorous or anti-Semitic. How did such fissures open up in the Jewish community? How can peace advance with such a profound split? American political commentator Peter Beinart addressed this crisis in his first-ever appearance at McGill on October 24.. A Jew and avowed Zionist who has built a career on criticizing Israeli policy, Beinart is a controversial figure in the North
American Jewish conversation. Speaking concisely before an audience mainly of students, he began by reaffirming his commitment to Israel as the Jewish homeland before outlining his criticism of Israeli policy. Beinart denounced the Israeli settlement of and military rule over the West Bank on the same basis: that it is unacceptable for two populations to live side by side with unequal rights. Such a state of affairs, he argued, is in fundamental contradiction to the democratic principles upon which Israel was founded and the social justice concerns of the Jewish people. How could it be, he asked, that North American Jews stood at the forefront of the push for peace in Darfur while remaining so silent on the human rights abuses perpetrated in their homeland? His answer lies in the Jews’ perception of themselves in the world. Since the end of the Second World War, Jews have emerged from two millennia of marginality to become a globally powerful group. For the first time in modern history, Jewish challenges “stem not from our weakness but from our power.” To Beinart, the source of the puzzling Jewish neglect for Palestinian human rights lies in the absence of “a language to talk about the ethical responsibilities of Jewish power.” The unique position of North American Jewish youth allows them to see the conflict in a fundamentally different way from their parents. Temporally isolated from the horrors of the Holocaust and spatially distant from the insecurity of life in
Illustration Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily
Israel, they “have only seen Israel and Judaism as powerful.” As such, Beinart asserts that they have less discomfort demanding accountability from Israel. On this basis, Beinart ended his talk by emphasizing the duty that North American Jewish youth have to help end the occupation and establish the Palestinian homeland. With an intimidating sense of urgency, he set the deadline for peace at twenty years from now, after which a two-state solution would cease to be possible and Israel would become an “international pariah” inextricably entangled in human rights abuses. An unusually orderly and respectful question period followed the talk, and many questions responded to an obvious ambiguity in the lecture: what ought Jewish youth do with
their power? Beinart proposed that the Jewish mindset would be more sympathetic to Palestinian plight if it had greater exposure to it. After all, the current state of Palestinians so closely resembles the Jewish condition over the past millennium. But he acknowledged that to do so requires strategic engagement with leaders of the Jewish community, who tend to hold conservative views on the conflict. Beinart’s comical suggestion was for progressive Jewish youth to approach their rabbis, who tend to be eager to involve Jewish youth in the faith, and offer to attend synagogue services in exchange for hosting a Palestinian speaker. He also expressed dismay at how few Jewish youth visiting Israel make a trip to the West Bank or Gaza.
But it will prove difficult to encourage concern and sympathy for the Palestinians among older North American Jews, many of whom so deeply hold animosity and resentment toward them. But for Beinart, ending the occupation is not merely a matter of social justice but a measure to preserve Israel as it ought to be: democratic and peaceful. Progressive Jewish youth should thus advocate a fundamental reinterpretation of what it means to be pro-Israel, emphasizing the community’s commitment to the founding principles of the country. Doing so may restore crucial sense to a critically irrational debate. Corey Lesk is a U2 Earth System Science student. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Healthcare reform: universal taboo Reassessing attitudes toward our system Morgan Fergenbaum The McGill Daily
hen asked, Canadians will inevitably cite universal healthcare as a defining national characteristic. Ask the same Canadians if they would consider reneging on the system in the name of fiscal responsibility, and they would answer with a resounding ‘no.’ The healthcare system is so institutionalized that abandoning this cornerstone of modern Canadian identity is politically, and perhaps morally, unfeasible. That is perfectly fine and well. I support universal healthcare in principle, and I hope it endures. Yet dismissing even the slightest suggestion of change has led us into a difficult predicament. As unfortunate as it may be – almost akin to discovering Santa Claus isn’t real – it is important that Canadians recognize the problems endemic in the system. This is espe-
cially important if future governments will expect complicity from the general public when instituting some aspects of privatization to reform healthcare, like raising taxes or cutting other social programs. While the global postwar development of welfare states has shown potential for success, their implementation does not mean they should stay static. That the state has a role in maintaining the health of its populace is not justification for never-ending blank cheques from the government. Extensive institutional bureaucracy, exasperated by Canada’s unique provincial-federal relations, and the tacit acceptance of sub-par management policies have produced a system that does not fulfill its true potential. At present, Canadian healthcare does its best to meet the medical needs of its population. In many respects, such as acute emergency care, the system thrives. Yet it is in the system’s shortcomings that
the need for change is evident. Provincial governments are perpetually scrambling to balance budgets, and the task becomes more difficult with each passing year. The system has created a serious gap between jurisdictional responsibility and the practical application of provincial revenues, with cash being disproportionately funneled into healthcare. Provincial governments’ plates are full, and their pockets empty. We proudly compare Canadian healthcare extensively with its neighbour to the South – to the Canadian system’s detriment. This kind of Michael Moore-emboldened self-congratulation has run its course, and only serves to further consecrate our only-average system in the collective nationalistic psyche. This seems akin to celebrating the superiority of the handling of Exxon Valdez’s oil spill compared to BP’s. The Canadian system falls short of its counterparts across both the Atlantic and the Pacific. Other
countries, like Japan and the UK, offer more comprehensive and fiscally responsible healthcare to larger populations at a fraction of the Canadian price tag. The system also neglects non-emergency cases: unless life-threatening, Canadians can expect the longest wait times in the Western world. It lacks adequate alternative points of access to the system, which revolves around hospitalization and the ER. Meanwhile cheaper, more efficient, more appropriate alternatives are neglected – such as preventive care, community outreach, education, and increased promotion of walk-in clinics. Persons with chronic conditions like diabetes or AIDS, and the elderly, would better benefit from cheaper healthcare settings outside the hospital. Most importantly, Canada’s system has been the subject of makeshift band-aid solutions. The Canada Health and Social Transfer program dramatically cut federal transfer pay-
ments, yet resulted in widespread hospital closures across the country. Paul Martin’s $4.5 billion offering from 2004 to reduce wait times has only temporarily alleviated the problem, putting more medical professionals on the job in the short term. When the money runs out, waiting lines will be as long, if not longer. These quick fixes will not remedy fundamental problems in Canadian healthcare. Universal healthcare is a celebrated Canadian treasure, but we can’t ignore the program’s fiscal unsustainability. If young Canadians want to reap the benefits of our national healthcare system in the future, they must reassess their complacent attitude toward Medicare and enact serious structural changes now. One mustn’t fix what’s not broken, but we should fix what is. Morgan Fergenbaum is a U3 History and Political Science student. He can reached at morg. email@example.com.
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Illustration Bracha Stettin | The McGill Daily
Dr. Chickenosaurus Or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the bones Edna Chan The McGill Daily
t was sometime in my last year of high school when I encountered a news story about Jack Horner and Hans Larsson, paleontologists at the Museum of the Rockies in Montana and the Redpath Museum at McGill, respectively, working on a project nicknamed the “chickenosaurus.” The basic concept was to reverse-engineer a recognizably dinosaur-like creature by manipulating the existing genetic materials in dinosaurs we have today – that is, birds. Hopefully this sounds as exciting as it does far-fetched, because if it does, you have an idea of the fantastical images lingering in the back of my mind when I packed up most of my earthly possessions and moved to Montreal two years ago. On some bored weekday night in my first semester, I attended a public talk in the Redpath Museum and, on my way out, spotted a poster calling for volunteers in a lab researching vertebrate evolution. At that point I hadn’t decided what exactly I was at school for, but ‘evolutionary biologist’ had a nice ring to it, and this opportunity seemed to fall somewhere in line with that. After exchanging a couple of
emails with my soon-to-be lab supervisor wherein I explained my lack of practical experience, I was nonetheless invited to “come by the museum and meet Hans.” Slowly, something clicked in my head: Hans... Larsson? The dinosaur-maker? After a few Google searches I was thrilled to find Larsson’s body of work not only included turning chickens into dinosaurs, but what seemed like a picture-perfect image of paleontology in the field – digging up dinosaurs, crocodiles, and other bits of prehistory in badlands and deserts across the world. I wondered if I would end up cleaning or categorizing some of those fossils the way my ten-year-old self had always imagined. As it turned out, my position was in the wet lab and simply entailed the extraction of chick embryos from their eggs – a relatively easy (and, after the initial squeamishness, boring) task that involved picking bits of shell apart until a sizable window formed, followed by some careful tweezerand-spoon handling. Eventually I was ‘promoted’ to an all-around gopher in the lab, trying out various protocols from running DNA gels, to making stock solutions, to showing new volunteer arrivals the limited and particularly uninteresting tricks of the trade as I walked them through the meth-
ods of handling the embryos. During my first summer in Montreal, I piloted a method of installing Teflon ‘windows’ into chick eggs. This was done to facilitate observation without needing to disrupt or extract the embryo, with the ultimate goal of creating a few-seconds-long timelapse video of the embryo developing in ovo, which was never quite realized. Considering my experiences, the Jurassic Park-esque mental image of people in lab coats examining chick DNA in a dimly lit fumehood, or using a finetoothed brush to clean off fossilized Tyrannosaurus teeth both seemed a bit far off, but some parts of the research in the lab veered farther in that direction than others. Some of the students in the lab were trying to create a living model of the fin-to-limb transition; that is, ‘training’ live fish out of water to see if they could be induced to crawl more efficiently on land. My project, on the other hand, ostensibly involved tracking patterns of tissue movement in the developing chick limb, with the use of fluorescent dyes – at least, that’s what I told other people. It actually largely involved hunting through literature for protocols, permanently staining my clothes with fluorescent dyes, acciden-
tally breaking hair-thin needles (usually with my hand), and wrangling with a makeshift microscope stage fashioned – in all seriousness – out of an old spoon. In the end, I weaved some (statistically) insignificant results into some eye-catching but uninformative figures, and was rewarded with the first A grade I’d achieved during my time at McGill. I felt a little cheated, having contributed, in theory, to the chickenosaurus project for two years and never having seen so much as a mosquito in amber. Of course, if science worked the way media described it, we probably would have slapped some lizard legs onto a plucked chicken and called it a day. Unlike the way I had to reassess my expectations of working in the lab, I found the hand-dirtying, elbow-greasy paleontological side of things more or less what I expected. This summer, I spent two weeks on a field course led by Larsson, living out of a oneperson tent alongside a dozen or so other students in southern Saskatchewan. We went on day-long hiking expeditions into arid valleys, learning to identify dirt qualities by taste, uncovering and collecting millennia-old teeth and bones by the sackful. The childlike thrill of spending
an afternoon on a crumbly shore using awls and brushes to uncover a dinosaurian jawbone the size of my face was as much as I could have possibly hoped for. After a week and a half of collecting, we also spent some time in the T. rex Discovery Centre in Eastend, Saskatchewan, cataloguing, cleaning, and gluing together the dusty shards we hauled out. Working on the job, we learned to identify crocodile ribs, gar scales, and raptor teeth, while museum visitors peered into the research lab through floor-to-ceiling windows. Though the objects of study were rather different, working under the fluorescent lights in the T. rex Discovery Centre brought a certain reminiscence of hunching over a lab bench in the Stewart Biology building. While in hindsight, the monotony of collecting data for my project was not especially inspiring, watching it go from numbers in a spreadsheet to an informative contribution to a much bigger picture was reaffirming. As for working with fossils and fitting together more literal pieces of a puzzle, I found it incredibly satisfying. After I handed in my field book at the end of the summer, I was able to tell my mother during the car ride home that I had finally decided to be a paleontologist.
The McGill Daily | Monday, November 5, 2012 | mcgilldaily.com
Publish or perish? Perish the thought A response to criticisms of publishing undergraduate research Kate Sheridan Science+Technology Writer
hile reading the October 15 issue of The Daily, I was surprised to find out in Caitlin Mouri’s article, “Publish or Perish?” (Sci+Tech, page 13) that I was supposed to feel pressured to publish research. All summer, I’d been working in a lab in the McGill Department of Biology, helping with some of the most intellectually-stimulating research I’d ever been involved in. The work I was doing was certainly a far cry from feeding fish, but it wasn’t something that any of us in my lab ever intended that I publish; the other undergraduates that I worked with didn’t seem particularly obsessed with publications either. While my current research project, due to start
this winter, is barely more than a seed and is certainly a long, long way from being publishable, as an editor for MSURJ (McGill Science Undergraduate Research Journal), undergraduate research and publications are never far from my mind. Members of the MSURJ editorial board discussed the “Publish or Perish” article in depth. Given that publishing and promoting undergraduate research is the journal’s mandate and a personal passion, I felt compelled to respond further. Mouri states in “Publish or Perish?” that a successful undergraduate research experience results from the undergraduate being integrated into the “fabric of the lab” – something that I have experienced and benefited from. I am constantly reminded about how lucky I was to find not only a lab that was doing work that I could become passionate about, but one
that was also truly willing to integrate another undergraduate into their existing team. My experience in the lab would not be as positive as it is if I were just ‘Undergrad #3’ instead of ‘Kate, who has been tracing dendritic arbours,’ or if my lab-mates hadn’t spent time while waiting for incubations chatting with me like I was a peer. However, a truly successful experience should also give undergraduates a door to the wider scientific community – and like it or not, joining the wider community is best achieved through presentations and publications. If undergraduates have done good work (as many have done – just look at our previous authors), they should be encouraged to share it with the world. As quoted by Mouri in the aforementioned article, Undergraduate Research Officer Victor Chisholm said: “When you’re in the lab, you’re
participating in the creation of new knowledge.” The creation of new knowledge in research means results, and results – even undergraduate results – are meant to be shared and reviewed by others. Publishing is both a part of the scientific process and a part of the life of a scientist – being able to communicate one’s passion and knowledge about science is an important component of research. To fully experience what it means to work in a lab, undergraduates should take the time and do the work – some of it long and tedious – to put together a paper that is up to peer review. I hate the idea that people might think the work I do as an editor, and the work MSURJ does as a journal, is part of a system that puts undue pressure on undergraduates to publish; that is not why MSURJ exists. I believe the original author and I (and, of
course, MSURJ) share many of the same goals – undergraduates should have the kind of experiences in the lab that enrich their education and fuel their passion for their field, without being pressured to publish. However, I would caution those who seek to reduce the emphasis placed on publications for undergraduates to ensure they don’t end up underemphasizing them instead. While publications should absolutely not be the only goal of research, the value of undergraduate publications cannot be understated or dismissed as a part of an unnecessary trend. But hey – I might be biased. Kate Sheridan is a senior editor for the McGill Science Undergraduate Research Journal and a U2 Cognitive Science student. She can be reached at kathleen.sheridan@ mail.mcgill.ca.
Attack of the supersoldiers Debunking the myth of the Frankenstein ants Diana Kwon Science+Technology Writer
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iant-headed supersoldier killer ants. The thought is enough to get anyone’s skin crawling. But wait! This isn’t another 2012 apocalypse story. Contrary to what some have come to believe, these ants have much to offer to science and to our wellbeing as a species. McGill’s “Freaky Fridays” are a speaker series aimed at debunking myths surrounding the latest scientific discoveries and bringing to light the facts that underlie them. The talk on October 26 featured Dr. Ehab Abouheif, a biology professor at McGill, and his lab’s remarkable ability to genetically engineer supersoldier ants. Earlier this year, Abouheif and his research team published a paper in Science describing a major breakthrough – the creation of supersoldier ants by the artificial ‘unleashing’ of ancestral genes in the laboratory. Supersoldiers are twice the size of regular soldier ants with much larger heads and jaws. These supersoldiers are rare – they occur in only a handful of ant species, and are found mainly in the deserts of Arizona. However, after the discovery of the supersoldier ants in Long Island, New York (a long way from their native habitat), Abouheif and his team discovered they could artificially induce the development of supersoldier ants by exposing larvae to a specific hormone
called juvenile hormone (JH) at a critical period in their development. This provided evidence that it was possible to “unlock the hidden potential” of ancestral genes in species where they had not yet been expressed. This exciting discovery hit the presses like wildfire. Abouheif admitted in an interview with The Daily that the extent of media hype this story received was both surprising and humbling: “It was very exciting, and unexpected. I was very surprised that there were very reputable resources, and they got the story right on. It was [also] great to see how much we captured the imagination. I’m honoured, because as scientists, we don’t always get this amount of attention. We could toil away for years, and people never get any attention at all.” However, not all of the media coverage was positive – or accurate. Soon after the initial excitement came another wave of stories with a different tone. Suddenly these supersoldier ants were referred to as “Frankenstein ants” and “monster ants with terrifyingly huge heads and jaws” by such publications as the Telegraph and the Daily Mail. According to Abouheif, these exaggerated reports brought on a scare with some of the general public. He reported getting emails begging him to stop the research to prevent these ‘monsters’ from being unleashed onto society. When asked how he felt about the negative reactions, Abouheif said “I’m a little worried, because I am afraid that it will be misunderstood…I hope the impor-
tance of the work...doesn’t get lost amongst the crazy stories.” We’re still far away from creating a team of heroes with super powers, and an army of supersoldier ants is unlikely to start wreaking havoc on our cities. But this research does provide insight into the effects of recent developments in medicine and agriculture. As mentioned in the talk, because of the advances in agriculture, our diet has changed radically within recent years. This has led to a subsequent increase in body mass and change in levels of growth hormones. Abouheif’s research points to the possibility that the interaction between the environment and hormones may have an impact on evolution. These findings can thus provide insight into what effects the changes in our environment may have on us in the coming years. Such huge advances in science hold the potential for future discoveries. No finding is an end in itself, and we should be sure to expect more exciting discoveries from the Abouheif lab in the future. However, from climate change to advances in medical treatment, popular media has a tendency to exaggerate the facts. Though most reputable sources do get the story right, these blown up versions often capture the attention of the public, and have the potential to spark negative reactions. Considering that most people outside the scientific community receive information from popular media, it is important that the translation of knowledge remains accurate and unbiased.
The McGill Daily | Monday, November 5, 2012 | mcgilldaily.com
Illustration Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily
Mr. Internet goes to Washington The spectacle of politics moves to the World Wide Web Hillary Pasternak The McGill Daily
pparently, studying through Obama and Romney’s town hall debate on October 16 was a mistake. When I logged on to Facebook the next morning, my newsfeed was clogged with an endless stream of variations on the themes of ‘Romney,’ ‘binders,’ and ‘women.’ Jokes, memes, pictures, charts, outraged screeds of varying grammatical proficiency. One thing was missing: an explanation. This Romney-binders-women constellation was, according to my regular internet haunts, endlessly funny and controversial, but I had no idea why. As an internet-savvy, politically-minded American teenager, this was the ultimate embarrassment. Being outside of my home country was no excuse (as many are aware, Canada isn’t a very good place to hide if you’re trying to escape U.S. politics): I was out of the loop. Things didn’t exactly improve when I ventured beyond social media. I had a better idea of what Romney’s comment meant after a few clicks, but not why it was so pervasive, or why it was more important than anything else said that night. Debate recaps dwelt on the comment, pundits offered endless over-analysis, political
discussions among my friends began and ended with “binders full of women.” What was so special about this one blunder? So Mitt has a bit of a women problem. So he highlighted this with an amusingly out-of-touch turn of phrase. So what? He does that pretty frequently. Why was this moment representative of the entire debate? The reason is simple: because while it was far from the most enlightening moment of the night, it was the most meme-worthy by a long shot. It was a phrase born for image macros (pictures with superimposed white text – you’ve seen them before). “NO ONE PUTS BABY IN A BINDER” captioned an image of Patrick Swayze from Dirty Dancing. “DID SOMEONE SAY BINDERS FULL OF WOMEN???” adorned a randylooking Bill Clinton. Characters from Futurama offered their two cents on the matter. A twitter feed or four manifested from the ether. Halloween costumes appeared. And suddenly, the young folk talking about the issues with their voices rather than their keyboard strokes were a bit hard to hear over those doing the reverse. The implications were tipping the scales toward scary: how are we, the future ‘movers and shakers’ of North America ever going to get anything done if all we can do is
snicker at caricatures of reality, rather than face it head on? The interplay of internet memes and democratic discourse begs many questions, but it’s probably best to start with the basics: what is a meme anyway? For many of us, it falls under the heading of “I know it when I see it, but I couldn’t exactly explain it.” Pronounced to rhyme with ‘cream,’ the term was originally coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins as a device for discussing the cultural transmission of ideas, and how they can sometimes function as a form of evolution. “Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperm or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.” This was all the way back in 1989. ‘Meme’ didn’t really gain legs and invade the public consciousness until the dawn of the 21st century, and the explosion of internet-based culture that followed. Presumably, we weren’t entirely sure what ‘lolcats’ were, so ‘meme’ seemed as good a label as anything. In 2012, a meme generally
begins its life in the depths of Reddit or 4chan, gets passed up through Twitter and Tumblr (where it will inevitably gain its own accounts), then to blogs, internet magazines, and maybe a geeky t-shirt or two. After this, a select few make it to the mainstream media – talk shows for the fluffier ones (cats and cute kids), maybe the website of a mainstream newspaper for the more topical. This is the point when you’re sick of hearing about them, and your parents want you to explain what they are. This all generally happens within a few weeks, and all but the most memorable tend to settle into comfortable irrelevance by the end of the cycle, the province of message board inside jokes rather than new material. Memes are ephemeral by their very nature. It’s become a cliche to speak of how “things move faster” in this, the grandly-titled Age of Information in which we now live. But like most cliches, it holds a grain of truth: a meme can blow and plaster itself all over the internet in a matter of hours, but who will remember it next year? “What diminishes their significance is the rapidity of the cycle in which memes are replaced by other memes,” said Professor Darin Barney, an associate professor in the Department of Art History
and Communication Studies at McGill. “And so any given meme kind of loses its impact value or its shock value because the public comes to know that there’s going to be something else coming down the pipe tomorrow… The impact of any given individual meme is diminished by what can reasonably be expected to be a surplus of subsequent memes.” But beyond the digital windowdressing, the problem of spectacle over substance in democracy is nothing new, according to Communications professor Jonathan Sterne. “If you look at the history of American elections, they’ve been tied to spectacle since before we had any electronic media. Election day was associated with parades and drinking in the 19th century.” He cites the proliferation of flashy meme-inflected political discourse as a modern manifestation of an old problem. “It’s a sad fact of mass democracy that spectacle becomes so important to the campaign machinery.” The United States is a democracy, and a democracy depends on people. People, as a rule, are attracted to spectacle dressed in the latest technology. Campaign buttons, radio jingles, and now the internet. The new boss, it would appear, is the same as the old boss, just with a bit more caffeine in its system.
The McGill Daily Monday, November 5, 2012 mcgilldaily.com
From left to right: Matthew Robins, Kaan Budak, and Craig Klinkhoff pose at a rink in Ankara, Turkey.
Photo Courtesy of Craig Klinkhoff, Hockey Sans Frontières
Canada’s game, all over the world Hockey Sans Frontières uses hockey as an international community builder Maggie Rebalski Sports Writer
icture the weekday morning of many Canadian youth: 6 a.m. practice, Tim Horton’s, a frosty drive to the rink, and a solid couple of hours playing hockey with friends. While we often write this off as the quintessential Canadian childhood, Hockey Sans Frontières (HSF) is a non-profit organization that is quickly revealing the value and importance of the sport that is so much a part of Canadian culture. Hockey Sans Frontières, or Hockey Without Borders, is a charity aimed at effecting positive change in the lives of children and youth all over the world by using the values of hockey. The organization sends coaches abroad, holding clinics and bringing equipment to underfunded, politically and ethnically diverse hockey communities. In this way, HSF aims to develop coopera-
tion, leadership, and integration in youth all over the world. They have sent initiatives to Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, and hope to expand to ten more countries in the next year, including Iceland, China, South Africa, Mexico, and Israel. Hockey Without Borders was officially founded in November 2011, and its roots were planted right here at McGill. A group of Redmen had graduated and gone to play for the Serbian national team, including Daniel Jacob, former captain and current assistant coach of the McGill varsity team. After returning from their time in Europe, they realized how fortunate Canadian hockey players were with established, well-funded programs, plenty of coaching resources, and equipment readily available. They felt the need to use their experience to help foster hockey communities elsewhere and give youth all over the world the experience they were so lucky to have had growing up.
In a recent interview with The Daily, two members of HSF, Matthew Robins and Craig Klinkhoff, shared their experiences with the foundation. Robins, a McGill graduate, and Klinkhoff, a current McGill student, became involved in the foundation in 2011 through their ties to the local hockey community and Fred Perowne, the president of HSF. Five days after being approached by Perowne, Robins left for Subotica, Serbia to help coach a clinic there. Although he was a long way from home, Robins described how hockey functioned as a bridge between him and the other athletes, serving as common ground off of which they could build relationships: “I brought my equipment into the locker room – it was the only thing I could really relate to and recognize there. Then all the players came in and we started talking and it was just like I was at a rink at home.” In July 2012, Klinkhoff joined
Robins on another trip – this time to Ankara, Turkey. Klinkhoff describes a similar feeling to what Robins experienced in Serbia: “From a cultural standpoint, we didn’t have anything in common. Hockey was the basis of the relationship we had. Because of that, it allowed us to share something with some incredible people. It opened a door to the community that we otherwise would have never seen – I had 20 friends the second I landed.” In Turkey, the coaches saw a lot of positive change result from their coaching clinics. They met a boy who wouldn’t leave his apartment for days at a time, spending all his time playing video games. After getting involved in the HSF program, he became more active, social, and motivated. He now hopes to play for the Turkey national team one day. “Hockey is a social program, a way to keep kids focused, out of trouble, channeling their energy
in the right places. It promotes working together and fosters physical activity. It has a huge positive impact on their lives outside of the rink.” Hockey runs so deep in Canadian culture that sometimes its values and impact may go unnoticed. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean we take it for granted, as Klinkhoff told me at the end of our interview, elaborating that, “it’s just how it is here. We are very fortunate. You ask a Canadian why they started playing hockey and they don’t have an answer – kids will start to play hockey as soon as they can walk. Go to any of these places and they do [the same]. Even though it’s not part of the culture in these places, they still show the same passion for it, and that’s saying something.” And as Hockey Without Borders is expanding as a foundation, it is evident that the sport is valuable to many people, and not just those in Canada.
The McGill Daily | Monday, November 5, 2012 | mcgilldaily.com
Illustration Maya Richman
The never-ending fight Queer athletes and the culture of sports Juan Camilo Velásquez The McGill Daily
here are people who fight to live and then there are people who fight for a living. Orlando Cruz, a professional boxer who is openly gay, does both. And despite the blood and sweat, the fight in the boxing ring is quite straightforward; you either win or lose (and in Cruz’s case, it is usually the former). But for Cruz and many other queer athletes, the fight against discrimination has yet to be won. On October 4, Orlando Cruz became the first openly gay professional boxer, and one of the very few queer athletes to come out while still pursuing a career in sports. With his announcement, he also became North America’s only openly gay male active professional athlete. As the story usually goes, the move was described by the media as being a risk to Cruz’s public life and professional career. In fact, his career has been on the rise ever since he became a professional boxer in 2000; Cruz has won 18 fights, lost only two, and was ranked fourth among featherweights last month by the World Boxing Organization. The fact that Cruz’s sexual orientation made news is telling of a wider phenomenon in professional sports – there are very few openly queer athletes in professional mainstream sports. There is not one reason for this; there is no way to decide whether it is the hostile environment from teammates and fans or the structural basis upon which professional sports events and leagues
are constructed. Queer athletes are in a constant state of fight against oppression, against patriarchal forms of homophobia, and sometimes against themselves. “I’ve been fighting for more than 24 years, and as I continue my ascendant career I want to be true to myself,” Cruz told the Associated Press. “I have always been and always will be a proud gay man.” My experience with sports has been one of repeated disappointments mainly because of the oppressive and overly masculinized behaviour I encountered. Growing up, I was taught to suppress any and all ‘unacceptable’ feminine manners in every aspect of my life, but it was exacerbated during gym class and in the schoolyard. From a very early age, people other than me defined my role in society as they defined what team I was supposed to play for. I was to play football with the other boys and to learn how to pick (and win) a fight, and whether I was ‘man enough’ was suddenly defined by how hard I could hit and how fast I could run. With my late teenage years came a craving for rebellion and renewed emotional strength; I needed to prove to myself and others (mostly to others) that I could play sports. Being taller than the average 16-yearold, volleyball seemed like a natural choice. But in my school, volleyball was associated with femininity, and the lack of physical contact and confrontation made it a ‘gay sport.’ Jokes ensued. From within the team, though, it was very different. Perhaps it was my teammates’ necessity to compensate, to be taken seri-
ously ‘as men,’ but every single minute spent as team became a competition of masculinity. At every game, the stench of excessive masculinity – of patriarchal oppression – permeated the court. The atmosphere was heavy and tense, there was no room for deviation: you had to ‘man up’ and show your opponents your brute force and fierceless commitment to bringing them down. But the hardest moments were those times of fraternal bonding, the moments before and after every game in which my teammates talked sex and street fights, as if it were a masculinity contest. There was a pervasive culture of machismo in my experience with sports, a culture that constantly asked me to try to fit in, to suppress my real urges and act as a man. In the locker room, there is no room for deviation; being gay was the worst sin I could commit. People often say that if you can play the game your sexual orientation should not matter, but on the court you need confidence to win, and the pervasiveness of homophobia destroyed my confidence and in turn my ability to play the game. In the end, you either have to fit in or hang up your gloves. In contrast to Cruz’s, my story is the story of that kid who ‘gave up.’ The kid who, after always being chosen last in gym class, decided that he did not want to get chosen at all. It took a few years of internal struggle to realize that I need not behave according to society’s definition of masculinity, that it was fine to embrace my femininity and be who I truly am. But this came at a price, this is why my story is the story of a kid who decided to run away, to quit
sports, and never look back. For professional athletes, however, the pressure to stay in the closet is ever present, as appreciation from fans is crucial for their career. The lack of queer professional athletes cannot be examined without dissecting the commodification of sports leagues and its athletes. Treating athletes as walking advertisements is strongly tied to discrimination in sports; endorsements are given to ‘valuable’ athletes, to those who can fill stadiums and look good in front of the cameras. But when you are queer, when you deviate from the norm, then you are no longer valuable to the capitalist system because you can no longer appeal (sell) to the masses. Cruz’s announcement is daring because, in a sense, he could lose his financial security and even physical security. And every fight he has won since the start of his career at the 2000 Sydney Olympics could be obliterated and forgotten. He could become ‘that gay boxer.’ But for many other queer people the possibility of going to the Olympics, or even starting a career in sports, simply does not exist. Most professional and mainstream sports are constructed upon a binary structure of gender. Sports leagues, tournaments, and events separate athletes into two categories – male and female – thus leaving out queer athletes that fit somewhere in between or outside the traditional continuum. Trans* athletes are not given the possibility to compete and even at the ‘pinnacle’ of sports competition, the 2012 London Olympics, controversy was stirred over ‘gender testing’ techniques, which sought to verify whether athletes were ‘truly’ male or female.
Orlando Cruz’s move is inspiring but it should not be seen as a step in a process, because the fights against discrimination in sports should not be seen as processes. I am often told that I should wait, that the next generation will change things and being queer in sports will then be ‘acceptable.’ This used to inspire me. It used to make me fantasize about better moments to come and it used to make me cheer for ‘baby steps’ toward that end. But now it doesn’t: oppression and discrimination happen today and have happened for many yesterdays. We should not have to wait for future generations to solve it. Cruz’s announcement is not a step, but a victory. He has won one of many fights that he (and all queer athletes) will have to continue to fight. He has won a fight I and many others lost many years ago, and this is what makes it inspiring. Are the fights against discrimination in sports won by giving jabs and hooks or by learning how to block and duck? Should we attack or should learn how to take the punches? I can’t tell; there are as many fights as there are people, but in the end we are all fighting. Personally, I have decided that sports are not inherently homophobic; instead, it is the culture that surrounds them – which is shaped in many ways by a patriarchal society – that denies sports the possibility of being a safe space for queer athletes. Thus, I am no longer fighting to be allowed to play with the ‘big boys’; my fight is to make the big boys realize they are not playing a fair game. And even though I will probably lose, I won’t forfeit this fight.
The McGill Daily | Monday, November 5, 2012 | mcgilldaily.com
Illustration Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily
Always losing, and proud of it Why do fans stay committed to awful teams? Queen Arsem-O'Malley The McGill Daily
04 years is a long time to lose. Just ask the Chicago Cubs. Logically, one might think that after watching a team be defeated for years and years (and years and years), a fan would give up hope, wash their hands of their fandom, and switch their viewing allegiances to Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, or to a more successful team. After all, in a society obsessed with success, no one likes to be defeated. Yet, despite 104 years without a World Series win, the Cubs are doing pretty well in terms of filling their stadium’s seats. In 2011, they drew over 3 million fans to their stadium, and averaged 37,259 fans per game – not far off from a sellout, every game, despite a 71-91 regular season record. The Boston Red Sox, during their 86-year championship drought, didn’t see Red Sox Nation shrink (in fact, it
probably became more fanatic). Buffalo Bills (a football team most famous for losing four straight Super Bowls) fans still pay more than a hundred dollars to buy new jerseys; Leyton Orient (an English soccer club that plays in the third tier) fans still watch YouTube clips from their 2006 season (when they played in the fourth tier). There are hundreds of teams whose club names are synonymous with losing, and most of them seem to be doing pretty okay in the area of moral support. There are the moments where it doesn’t seem possible to endure it anymore. Take my grandfather, for instance: a lifelong Red Sox fan, he swore he would never return to Fenway Park after Buckner lost the Red Sox the 1986 World Series. But ask him the score of last night’s game, and he inevitably will have watched it. Ask him the roster, and he will be able to rattle it off. So why do these fans stick it out? Tennis star Maria Sharapova once said that “fans always root
for the underdog.” A 2007 study out of the University of South Florida (USF) investigated this very phenomenon. In proposing hypothetical sporting and Olympic matches, researchers found that their test subjects tended to favour the underdog in unevenly matched situations. Note the ‘hypothetical’ in the USF scenarios. The romanticized triumph of an underdog clawing their way to the top may be appealing, but Gordon Bloom, associate professor of Sport Psychology at McGill, says that’s not what draws fans of long-suffering teams. “One of the things that you get from sports is a strong affiliation or emotional tie,” Bloom explained in an interview with The Daily. “Whether you’re an athlete or a fan, sports is one domain where passion and loyalty come into play.” That loyalty is a key part of fandom. “Sports fans stick with their team win, lose, or, draw,” Bloom said. “I think that’s just
part of the sports culture that you stick with your team through thick and thin.” This culture is why a ‘fairweather fan’ – someone who only supports a team while it’s on top, or switches to rooting for a more successful team – is an insult: a real fan sticks with their identity no matter what happens. Supporting a losing team is a proud show of undying loyalty, and demonstrates an ability to weather the pain of constant disappointment – a contest of fandom, if you will – but Bloom says that being the underdog doesn’t gain fans. If you’re a fan who’s drinking post-playoffs to drown sorrows rather than popping champagne, blame your hometown and your parents. Bloom sees sports fandom as generally dependent on one of two things: geography and family ties. “I’m not as convinced that [supporting a team is] a choice that people make as much as you’re sort of brought into this world in a certain place and you choose to
follow that either because geography or because of family lineage... people in sports don’t look at [the] win-loss record when they’re forming a bond with their teams.” Who we support is intrinsically linked to our identity: just as we can’t change where we’re from, or what games our parents raised us on, we can’t change the pride and intimacy of supporting a team that resonates with a crucial aspect of who we are. And so, despite the heartbreak, we bounce back for another season, promising ourselves and our peers that this is the year. After the tears, cursing, hair-pulling, and maybe some TV-breaking, long-suffering fans can be assured of one thing: as rare as our victories are, they are that much sweeter when they arrive. Sure, it might be nice to win a championship every few years, but when you’ve spent decades of your life waiting for it, your party’s going to be a lot more fun.
The McGill Daily Monday, November 5, 2012 mcgilldaily.com
Art on the block A tour of graffiti & street art in Montreal
Text: Ralph Haddad | Illustrations: Amina Batyreva & BOSNY
s a recent arrival in Montreal, I have appreciated the traditional architectural environment the city offers. Despite the many sixties-era concrete monstrosities crowding the downtown, there are numerous old buildings from a time when art and architecture went hand in hand â€“ the Sun Life building; the old grey stone homes; City Hall. Still, I had heard that the city was a hotbed of graffiti and street art, those rebellious splashes on the urban fabric that defy the cityâ€™s intended aesthetic, as well as traditional notions of art. My curiosity was piqued.
I decided to take matters into my own hands and venture out into the streets of the city, armed only with comfortable walking shoes and an iPhone. I started to discover the little quirks that Montreal has hidden in its recesses; little streets and back allies that seem like alternate universes. In exploring these open galleries, one is rewarded with an entire story told through skills of an unnamed graffiti artist who wanted to turn something as boring as a wall into work worthy of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
My search for street art was concentrated mostly in the vicinity of McGill, with only sparse use of my OPUS card for travel, in order to choose an easily accessible range of works that other students can seek out if they wish to. The bulk of the quest took place in two major areas: the Quartier des Spectacles including Ste. Catherine East, and the Plateau. Although I used the metro to reach St. Henri in a futile search for an abandoned factory/graffiti haven, what I found was well worth the trip.
The McGill Daily | Monday, November 5, 2012 | mcgilldaily.com
Quartier Des Spectacles + Ste. Catherine East Quartier des Spectacles and the surrounding area is packed with graffiti-covered brick walls, most of them visible along Ste. Catherine on the way to Place des Arts and Metropolis from Phillips Square. At the beginning of the expanse of Place des Arts, look out for a parking lot that is wedged between two brick buildings, located across the street from the Imperial Theatre on Bleury . The lot feels a bit like an exhibition for graffiti artists, the huge expanses of wall a haven for artistic spray painting. Walking down the street toward Metropolis, the same could be said for the buildings that line Clark. Look out for the top of a building with the heading “Screaming Eagle” and a blown-up realist portrayal of someone playing the harmonica . Across the street from Metropolis, on St. Dominique, lies a gaping parking lot, topped off at one end by an amazing mural that seems to stick out of the mosque it is painted on . Painted in yellow and gold tones, it gives the viewer an intense sense of warmth. The mural itself depicts thousands of tiny people and camels sprawled across a great expanse of desert. Beautifully designed Quranic calligraphy crowns the sides and the top of the mural. Across the street from the mosque is a three-story brick building that is completely painted from top to bottom with portraits of jazz players in varying hues of purple, pink,
bronze, and gold . Keep walking down Ste. Catherine, past Metropolis, and you will stumble upon a horrific face trying to claw its way out of the side a book store and stationary supplies shop, Librairie Guérin . At the intersection of Ste. Catherine and Bullion , a little alley presents itself as a huge collage of different types of graffiti. In wide variations of colour, style, and concept, the environment comes together into one huge explosion of artistic talent. Further down, on the corner of Ste. Catherine and Ste. Elisabeth , you will find a three-story structure completely covered in different shapes and colours, the bottom half of which is reserved for the usual graffiti script and caricatures, where, in contrast, the top half is a nearrealistic replication of a city skyline. When you finally hit the Village, be sure to check out the public art installation at the corner of Wolfe and Ste. Catherine . From ground level, it resembles what might seem to be a multitude of illuminated letters attached to spikes of varying lengths. But, if seen from the viewing podium erected there for the purpose, it turns out to spell “Au village nous croyons que les différences doivent enrichir plutôt que diviser,” which roughly translates into “In the village, we think that our differences must enrich us rather than separate us.”
the lower plateau Walking up from Maisonneuve to the Plateau is tiring, but it sure is aesthetically rewarding. The first thing you see when you finally get to Prince Arthur is a mural covering an entire side of a house on the corner of Prince Arthur and Bullion . The mural itself is a cluster of overlapping pink and white swirls against a turquoise background, but after focusing on the painting for a few seconds you realize that the swirls are actually angels painted in hues of pink and orange, with yellow and white wings. The street art in this area is exceptional, and blends in easily with the surrounding charm of the Lower Plateau. Upon arriving on Pine, walk over to the intersection with Saint Laurent . Against the backdrop of a red brick house, a giant collage of people and faces (characters from the neighbourhood’s past) mixed with drawings of houses, looks as though it were built along with the structure itself, and fuses in flawlessly. Turn the corner onto St. Laurent and just walk to wherever your feet take you; this area is full of wonderful little bits of graffiti you won’t regret taking the time to see.
St. Henri + Little Burgundy
HLM Jeanne-Mance The most prominent feature of this area (one of the city’s largest social housing projects, or habitation à loyer modique), are the blurred-out neon murals of unidentified landscapes. Arranged along Maisonneuve between St. Laurent and Sanguinet, one is painted in shades of green and pink, the other in blue and purple. Enlivening the beige sides of depressingly bland complexes of social housing, they genuinely serve to brighten up the place . Straying away from Maisonneuve, you will stumble upon an average-looking apartment building, which, upon closer inspection, is completely decorated with tiles of different colours forming swirling and geometrically designed mosaics.
I was not familiar with this area before last Friday, when I learned that it contains a graffiti haven for local artists who want to let loose and freely express themselves away from the eyes of police. “The Graffiti Factory” (housed in what used to be the Babcock & Wilcox Boiler Plant) is basically three floors of spray paint. Though I heard that it lies somewhere along the south side of the Highway 20 in St. Henri, we were unfortunately unable to find it. I decided to take a couple of friends with me to St. Henri in search of this mysterious warehouse. We took the green line metro toward Angrignon, and disembarked at Lionel-Groulx. The area itself is a huge contrast from the bustle of downtown Montreal. Atwater, which divides St. Henri and Little Burgundy, is lined with quaint little shops and cafes. Other than the beautiful old houses lined side by side, the area is full of small parks, narrow streets, and factories in various states of abandonment and redevelopment.
In our futile search for the Graffiti Factory, we stumbled upon another abandoned building that took us by surprise. The walls of the courtyard where we stood were completely covered with graffiti. Ominous faces and shapes cluttered the facade, along with all-seeing eyes, and mystical godlike representations of characters drawn to realistic proportions against a blue background. On an adjacent wall, one would think that someone just drew a simple light/dark concept landscape, but a comment by my close friend revealed that the mural was in fact the visual story of the first people of Israel, and their transition from Egypt to the Holy Land. Situated on the corner of Selby and Rose-de-Lima – under the highway – it’s worth the metro ride to ogle at the beauty of this masterpiece. When walking around the area, stop and relax at one of the parks that line Atwater; it’s worth taking some friends and discovering this pleasant area on the border of Little Burgundy and St. Henri.
Unfit to Print The McGill Daily
nfit to Print, The Daily’s radio show and podcast, was born with a restless heart. This variety show is never content until it explores the widest range of topics possible, from pornography to partying, neuroscience to the latest news. Now we turn to the wide world of Canadian literature. For our fourth episode of the year, we sit down with three prominent writers: Charles Foran, Tim Wynne-Jones, and Jay MillAr. We made sure to mine them for advice for any hopeful writers out there. Below are excerpts from the conversations. Be sure to check out the complete interviews on the Unfit to Print page.
Charles Foran on staying in versus going out (a.k.a the Proust vs. the Hemingway) “It happens to be that, for me, it was the world that turned me on. Gaining slowly and steadily an appetite, and a humility, about the complexity of life and the complexity of human society has fuelled and continues to fuel my work.” It’s different for everyone. [...] People at university now, at your age, I honestly think your job at this age is to be watching, and listening, and doing things. I don’t think young people, even if they have the great itch to write, should be worrying too much about the writing yet. There is probably at the end a value to having done things, having had experiences.
Illustration Sean Kershaw
Life does a job on you. It simply instructs. It instructs on tragedy, comedy, it instructs on failure, on success, on love, on loss. You’re going to write more powerfully and with greater authenticity and depth about those things if you have simply experienced them. And you don’t have to leave your room to do that – all those things will come to you. Or you can go out and find them. There are two different paths – there is the path of a Hemingway, who at 19 went off to basically find a war so he could write about it, or there’s the Marcel Proust, who really never wanted to leave his house in Paris. And both wrote great books from it.”
Tim Wynne-Jones on the book and nostalgia
“I read a statistic just recently – and I have no idea if it’s true, but it sounded like it might be. 26 per cent of the population reads books with any kind of regularity. And 26 per cent of the
population wants to write books. And it’s really sort of funny...Increasingly, our society is much more oriented to other forms of entertainment, but that hasn’t stopped people from wanting to become writers. I think the book has become kind of iconic – even in an age when we do everything on our laptop and phone, there’s something kind of magical about a real book. Our lives have become really small in some ways. We watch TV, movies, read a newspaper on their laptop. Everything is so small...It’s really nice to then turn to something that’s big. And by comparison, I think a book is kind of big because there it is, it just sits there, and it has no other purpose. It doesn’t tell you the time, it has no apps. It’s just this one thing – and there’s a kind of stillness to that.”
Jay MillAr on his first poetry reading while in university
“I’d never been to a poetry read-
ing. I was interested, I’d been sort of tinkering with my own poems, so I thought I’d go down and check it out. We were sitting around [at the reading], they’d set up the chairs in a circle, and I was trying to pick out who the poet was. I decided it was the guy in the mock-turtleneck sweater and the tweed jacket. And then that guy stood up – and it turned out that he was a professor from the university, and he introduced to the audience Bill Bissett. [Bissett] then stood up, pulled a maraca out of his back pocket, and start[ed] doing his thing. He was singing and chanting and tapping his foot and dancing around and doing a lot of things I wouldn’t expect out of a poetry reading. And it really freaked me out! It made me not only really curious...but very afraid.” Unfit to Print airs Monday, November 5 at 11:00 a.m. on CKUT 90.3 FM.
Myth and meaning in teen fiction
nyone who has walked near a bookstore or a television set over the last five years can tell you vampires are back, and bigger than ever. We’re not talking fake blood and horrific sci-fi movies, we’re talking Edward Cullen and Sookie or whoever Anna Paquin plays in True Blood (she was awful in X-Men, so I refuse to watch the show). They’re romantic heroes, overtly sexualized (even if their sexual activity ranges from Mormon-chaste to HBO-raunchy), and hysterically attractive. The romanticization of vampires is nothing new; it’s a pretty stock plot device, with some seedy implications of a helpless woman’s body being consumed by an uncontrollable otherworldly being. Vampires ravish the living, though
Berlin Telegram November 5 9:30 p.m. Imperial Cinema 1430 de Bleury $10.75
Though Cinemania, the city’s French film festival, promises many good choices throughout its run until November 11, this one caught our eye for your Monday night movie fix. Berlin Telegram follows a simple story of recovery following a breakup, but distinguishes itself with deliberately stylized camerawork and technical elements that lend specific meaning to the narrative.
La danseuse malade
Lady and the vamp Elena Dugan Archiving the Arcane
This week on Unfit to Print: Canadian writers talking life and work
The McGill Daily | Monday, November 5, 2012 | mcgilldaily.com
the way we understand living changes depending on our cultural context. But vampires are disgusting. Why would anyone want to get with “a bloated, blood-filled corpse which leaves its tomb, bringing disease and death,” to quote the Oxford dictionary of English folklore. What is sexy about the undead? More than that, what is attractive about the forfeiture of our bodies? Why is there a section in American bookstores called “Teen Paranormal Romance”? Why does my 13-year-old cousin dream of a boyfriend who wants nothing more than to suck out her life force and leave her a broken shell of a human being? Vampires assign some value to life, as an abstract principle. To have our blood, our life force, coveted by someone, indicates that it’s something worth having. I imagine that I wouldn’t have framed that in such bald existential principles at 13. But craving a crush at that age, craving a
secret admirer, is in a very microcosmic way, seeking affirmation of your life – that is your social life, the most potent definition of life to an insecure teenage girl. (For example, when my eighth grade crush went out with my rival, I wrote “MY LIFE IS OVER” in enormous tear-stained letters in my diary). To be wanted for what makes us human, and what makes us alive, is an affirmation of our existence. To frame it in a cheesy chaste romance, like Twilight author Stephenie Meyer does, means that young girls are able to engage with that truth on a level that means something to them. Plus, there is the fact that Kristen Stewart is such a boring Bella, not particularly special or specific in any way, that her abstract and universal applications can stand out all the more. She’s alive, but only nominally. I would hesitate to say that that was the intention of the director, but one can hope that it was an artistic decision.
Second, the idea of vampires carries within it the defeat of death. A classic way to insult religion is to say that it’s merely a coping mechanism to help people deal with the reality of their impending doom. This is far too reductionist, but it is fair to say that much of mythology deals with the transcendence of death. Religion scholar Joseph Campbell boils all mythology down to this basic framework, in his construction of the “monomyth.” Think about the ending of The Twilight Saga, when Bella’s mortal body is superseded by her more-attractive, more-powerful vampire self. Within death, there is the possibility for life. Within sorrow, there is the possibility for love. Within a terrible series of books, there is the possibility for meaning. Mythology is everywhere, you’ve just gotta look for it. Disclaimer: I’ve seen all the movies. Deal with it.
November 8 8:00 p.m. Segal Centre 5170 Cote-SainteCatherine Free
Dance shows in Montreal can be financially troublesome for students, with larger-than-life-priced tickets for small ramen-noodle budgets. Here’s your chance to see a unique piece of dance for free. La danseuse malade is based on a Japanese dance form called Butoh. Don’t miss out – when else will you get a chance to see a critically-acclaimed Japanese dance show over ten years in the making, for free?
Howl! Arts presents: D’bi Young and Kalmunity Vibe Collective November 8 8:30 p.m. La Sala Rossa 4848 St. Laurent $9
Like her hosts the Howl! Arts Collective, D’bi Young’s performance combines art with anti-oppressive political awareness. Combining dub poetry, theatre, and song, D’bi Young’s art attempts to combat colonialism and its legacies. Her performance is part of the tenth edition of the HTMlles feminist digital art festival.
A Spring in Images November 7 to 18 Cinema Excentris 3536 St. Laurent Free
Photographer Jérémie Battaglia is showing at Cinema Excentris as a part of Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal (RIDM). Battaglia participated in the student movement in Montreal last spring, taking numerous photos of members of the crowd. Battaglia’s works show the passion, feeling, and experiences of those who wore the red square, and took to the streets in protest of tuition hikes.
volume 102 number 18
Don’t add insult to injury
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As McGill’s Policy on Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Prohibited by Law comes up for review at Senate, serious questions are being raised about the policy’s implementation at McGill, and the policy itself. Despite the policy stipulating that it do so, McGill has failed to establish an office explicitly dedicated to disseminating information about the University’s policies on harassment and discrimination. Instead, students, staff, and faculty in need of these resources must rely on the scattered information provided by the Social Equity and Diversity Education (SEDE) Office’s website or the Secretariat’s page on the McGill website. The first barely discusses the policy and the second features merely the text of the policy, clouded in legalistic and inaccessible terminology. For those who wish to file a complaint, the only guidance and support available is provided by the Advocacy Branch of the Student Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) – an entirely volunteer-run organization under the purview of SSMU, rather than the University – which has no legal authority. Those who do file a complaint will have their case reviewed by an Assessor, a volunteer from the McGill community appointed by Senate, who may only have hours worth of training. Finally, a decision is arbitrated by the Provost, who has no relevant training. No formal appeal process is available for those dissatisfied with the final decision enacted on their complaint. McGill must update their policy on harassment and discrimination. These issues affecting our community must not be so easily dismissed and cannot remain unaddressed. Someone who is in a position to seek help is already in a vulnerable position; to have to navigate a confusing and inaccessible policy in seeking help is adding insult to injury. Information regarding the policy should be simplified and better publicized. A formal appeal process should be created, and someone with adequate training should be making the decisions that have a dramatic impact on the lives of those who work and study on our campus and in our community.
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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.
Referendum endorsements from The Daily Increase of the SSMU base fee towards the McGill Student Emergency Response Team Referendum: YES The McGill Student Emergency Response Team, or M-SERT, has been steadily expanding its coverage for the last seven years, providing essential first response medical care to students, athletes, and community members. Student-run and staffed entirely by volunteers, M-SERT is a great example of a community service that asks very little and gives so much back. In this question, they are asking for a 50-cent fee increase, to pay for training and supplies that could protect you or loved ones in the event of injury, allergic reaction, alcohol poisoning, or any other medical crisis. They offer an amazing service and keep our campus and community safe and healthy. This is a no-brainer – vote yes! Increase of CKUT’s opt-outable fee: YES CKUT 90.3 is seeking a $1 increase to their opt-outable fee, bringing the fee to $5 a semester for full time students, $3 for part time students. This is the first fee increase – despite increased costs and inflation – since its founding in 1988. CKUT, our campus community station for the last 25 years, is a place that welcomes anyone who ambles through their front door at University and Pine. Through its musical content, talk shows, and radio journalism, CKUT gives everyone a voice, connects and broadens community, and encourages creative and critical growth. Even if you’re not a big fan of the radio, campus culture is not a la carte – supporting groups like CKUT means a more vibrant community for everyone. This won’t be possible if CKUT can’t afford to keep their doors (and arms) open, so vote yes. Full disclosure: Both Unfit to Print and The McGill Daily Newsdesk are aired on CKUT 90.3.
Errata In the article “Our Board of Governors” (Education Issue Pullout, October 29, pullout page 7), The Daily mistakenly listed Principal Heather Munroe-Blum as a member of Yellow Media’s Board of Directors and Gerald Butts as the President and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund Canada. In the same article, the profile of Board member Martine Turcotte uses information applicable to Peter Coughlin. In the article “How do we learn around the world” (Education Issue Pullout, October 29, pullout page 5), The Daily wrote that the United Kingdom is not a member of the European Union. The UK is a member of the EU, but it does not use the Euro currency. In the article “Blackface and other costumes stir controversy at 4Floors” (News, November 1, page 2), The Daily mistakenly quoted the Bull & Bear as saying that they had removed the photos as to not “inadvertently perpetuate a potentially abuse representation of the Black community.” It should have read, “inadvertently perpetuate a potentially abusive representation of the Black community.” The Daily regrets the errors.
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lies, half-truths, and I was a river, I was a tall tree, I was a volcano
Judith Butler co-founds Queer Studies Ottawa Plebeian perturbed Laurent Berlant The Twice-a-Weekly
ost-structuralist theorist and deconstructivist aficianado Judith Butler announced at a press conference today that she had “co-founded” Queer Theory to cultivate “marginality” and “radicalism” among “Arts” students “everywhere.” “Unfortunately, we’ve decided that teaching students some white straight male’s version of what constitutes ‘gay history and culture’ was not sufficient,” Butler told The Twice-a-Weekly. “So I was like, ‘hey, why not spend our time doing more productive things like, I don’t know, dismantling the naturalization of heterosexuality and resisting the violence that is continuously perpetuated through ideal gender norms? Simple stuff, really.” Acclaimed American fuck-
face and author of Patriarchy? In my oppressive society? Bruce B’awww-er called the move a “an overall bad move” and said that although oppression was a “real thing, probably,” students and academics should just stop making a “big fucking deal about it.” “These people are saying that my penis doesn’t naturally determine how I think,” he said. “I disagree, as a case in point: I am kind of a dick.” In a groundbreaking article in the Ottawa Plebeian, B’awwwer demonstrated a link between Queer Theory, Women’s Studies, Black Studies, and the philosophy of Karl Marx. “It all goes back to Karl,” he said. “I sketched it out and it all made sense.” B’awwer added that students would be better served by studying “objective facts” about “history.” “I’m sure everyone can agree on what ‘history’ is,” he said.
Illustration Amino Acid | The Twice-a-Weekly
“And by ‘everyone,’ I really mean straight white males.” Meanwhile, Butler said that since Queer Theory was now “legit,” everyone could just stop performing their gender roles.
Black tights torn in Blackader Most hipsters too self-absorbed to notice
“It’s over people; we can just stop performing our gender roles and go home,” she announced to the relief of everyone. “Also, could we try performing things that aren’t so fucking destructive
next time? Because this sort of role-playing stinks.” Laurent Berlant is the Georgia Marie Pullman Professor of English at the University of Anti-Oppression.
is looking for crossword fairies. Wings not essential. Spelling is.
Bellissima Coldpizza The Twice-a-Weekly
This story is still developing.
hile the McGall Library Community has calmed down after last week’s Autumn Sweater infestation, patrons were alarmed at the jarring Tights Rippage in the Blackader-Hipsterman Library earlier this morning. U3 Art History student Odette Friperie tore the front of her favourite black tights. The tear resulted from a minor scuffle over an empty computer chair near the window, some eyewitnesses state. “I mean it’s kinda embarrassing, because, like, Blackader is suuu-uch a scene and everyone saw it. But, like, I think she can pull them off. It’s like, kinda Courtney Love-y, ya know?” noted U0 student Kiki McMolson, whose major is still undecided. A medical examination states that the incision is not fatal, and the tights could be wearable with a longer dress. So long as the outfit is not “trying too hard,” as another eyewitness explained. Friperie is still in the singlewashroom, with a close friend. They are currently in negotiations over three bobby pins, but
The Philosophy Students’ Society holds General Meetings every Tuesday at 18:00 in our lounge, LEA 931.
Photo Hieronymus Chanski | The Twice-a-Weekly
will comment on the issue later. The other victim’s Cheap Monday jeans are still intact. She
could not be reached for comment, as she left for a film screening immediately after the incident.
We attempt to build a non-hierarchical space and decide by consensus. What movie will we screen? What is the Philopolis conference? Will we participate in the Nov 14 - 22 Global Student Days of Action? Will we endorse CKUT YES? It’s only up to us! *This is serious.