Volume 102, Issue 41
March 25, 2013 mcgilldaily.com
Useless figurehead since 1911
Published by The Daily Publications Society, a student society of McGill University.
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FUNNY OR RACIST?: BLACKFACE, ETHNIC COMEDY, AND THE TENSION BETWEEN FREE EXPRESSION AND RACISM
Presented by the Minor Program in Canadian Ethnic and Racial Studies in conjunction with The UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Thursday, March 28th, 3:00PM
Maxwell Cohen Moot Court (Room 100) New Chancellor Day Hall 3644 Peel Street
SACOMSS Sexual Assault Center of the McGill Students’Society
Panelists: • Julius Grey: Attorney, civil libertarian and human rights advocate • Anthony Morgan: McGill Law graduate, contributor to The Huffington Post • Charmaine Nelson: Associate Professor in Art History and Communications, with specialization in race and representation • Fo Niemi: Co-founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) • Franco Taddeo: Professional Montreal-based Comedian Moderator: Morton Weinfeld, Chair in Canadian Ethnic Studies For more information, please contact Prof. Morton Weinfeld: email@example.com The public is welcome. Admission is free. Conférence publique. L’entrée est gratuite.
Free. Confidential. Non-Judgmental.
We’re here to listen.
Contribute to illustrations and see your art in print! firstname.lastname@example.org
AVOIDING CULTURAL CLICHÉS ENGLISH, FRENCH OR SPANISH TRANSLATION FOR WHAT YOU’VE GOT IN MIND.
The Daily is looking for
2 Design & Production, a Web, and a Multimedia editor for the 2013-2014 school year.
SCHOOL OF CONTINUING STUDIES WWW.MCGILL.CA/SCS-TRANSLATION 514.398.5700
coordinating@ mcgilldaily.com with questions
NEWS 03 NEWS SSMU election results
The McGill Daily Monday, March 25, 2013 mcgilldaily.com
Medical resident says he was punished for standing up for patients
Health services may cut spousal benefits
March 22 demo ends in mass arrests
McGill seeks across-theboard wage freezes
07 COMMENTARY Diversity surveys neglect structural oppression
Fuck the police
Budget cuts are harmful to labour
Taking a look at McGill’s brain research
11 SPORTS The UFC culture Racist team names and McGill
Progressive webzine keeping culture on edge Rad rapper, Invincible
Against the restructuring of Leacock
16 COMPENDIUM! Admin proceeds with good idea
Photo caption contest!
Photo Hera Chan | The McGill Daily
Farid Rener The McGill Daily
he culture of impunity for senior staff at hospitals affiliated with McGill is putting patients at risk, according to Dr. Alexander Nataros, a firstyear family medicine resident at Saint Mary’s hospital. In November 2012, Nataros, who is currently on a forced paid leave of absence, received a patient after senior doctors made what he said were “significant life-threatening medical errors.” Nataros, who says he rectified these errors, and thereby saved the patient’s life, is now under fire for questioning his supervisors’ actions. “As the junior doctor receiving the crashing patient, I acted as needed […] The tertiary hospital which received this patient on transfer recognized the corrective actions I took, as well as the senior doctors’ significant errors that threatened this patient’s life,” Nataros wrote to The Daily by email. As a medical resident, Nataros, who received his medical degree from McGill in 2012, must work under the supervision of a fully licensed doctor at the hospital he works at. However, Nataros and other residents have experienced humiliation when asking
questions of their supervisors, enough that this discourages open communication. This is detrimental pedagogically and negatively affects patient care. “It’s a shame because there is definitely a culture that discourages medical students and residents from questioning or disagreeing with the decisions of their supervisors. Someone in a position of power can so easily shame and embarrass you if they feel their authority challenged due to the breadth of information in the medical field. It’s the exception to the rule, but it doesn’t take long to become socialized into the fear, and unfortunately there are no really valid avenues to go about removing these individuals from teaching,” another family medicine resident at McGill, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Daily by email. McGill is not alone in having allegations against them that they treat their medical residents, who are the first point of contact for most patients that come through the hospital, as subordinates. “Medical education,” wrote Dr. Pauline Chen in the New York Times in February, “[is] a process often likened to military and religious training, with elder patriarchs imposing the hair shirt of shame on acolytes unable to
incorporate a profession’s accepted values and behaviours.” Nataros, who says that his life is devoted to treating his patients, was put on academic probation in January by Associate Dean of Postgraduate Medical Education Dr. Sarkis Meterissian after receiving two negative evaluations from his supervisors. These negative evaluations were based on perceptions that Nataros was argumentative. However, many doctors who have worked with Nataros wrote to Meterissian saying that they believed that his standing up to authority was for patient safety. The authors of these letters, however, wished to remain anonymous, fearing the effect that publishing them would have on their careers. The authors of the character references portray Nataros as a doctor who cares deeply for his patients. They cite Nataros’ commitment to social advocacy, including previous work he carried out with institutions such as the Red Cross and his position as Oxfam Canada’s national youth director. One of the references mentions that Nataros is only willing to challenge authority when his patients are threatened. Nataros believes that senior staff at McGill affiliated hospitals who feel threatened by residents are trying to distract people from
their medical errors by launching personal attacks on them. McGill’s residency program is currently undergoing a periodic accreditation by the Collège des Médecins du Québec (CMQ), which ensures that the hospitals are properly educating residents. Failing accreditation would mean that McGill would be put on probation and need to undergo further reviews. Nataros, who is vocal about the problems with McGill’s residency program, was told he was not allowed to be at the meeting with the accreditors due to his academic probation, even though other residents were required to be there. Nataros’ case has been put in front of the CMQ, which grants residents their license. The outcome of this case will determine whether Nataros will be allowed back into his residency program, however, Nataros says he has not yet been given the chance to tell the CMQ his side of the story. Nataros hopes he can return to Saint Mary’s soon. “I love Saint Mary’s. It’s what the future of medicine looks like – putting primary care first. I just want to be allowed to return to serve my patients,” he told The Daily by phone. Citing confidentiality concerns, Meterissian declined requests for an interview.
Mary H. Brown Fund 2013 Call for Proposals
Wednesday, March 27th Leacock, Room 232 5:30pm
This endowment provides a total of about $20,000 annually for the creation and early support of innovative, on-campus projects that benefit McGill students’ physical and psychological well-being, and related initiatives. Proposals from faculty, students and staff are all welcome. Existing projects are eligible to apply for one renewal. The 2013 application deadline is Monday 15 April 2013.
GENERAL MEETING Students interested in voting for directors of the DPS board of directors must attend the society's AGM with their student IDs.
Application is by letter to the Dean of Students, who administers the program in conjunction with the Director of Bequests and Planned Gifts.
Members of the DPS are cordially invited. The presence of candidates to the Board of Directors is mandatory.
For application guidelines, suggestions for preparing a successful application, and examples of projects submitted by previous recipients visit http://www.mcgill.ca/deanofstudents/marybrown/. Recently supported projects were valued between $500 – 3000. Please contact Meghan McCulloch at 514-398-1731 or email@example.com for additional information. Office of the Dean of Students Brown Student Services Building 3600 McTavish St., Room 4100
For more information, please contact
This is our second-to-last issue of the year! Watch for our final issue on April 4.
While we’re not in print, we’ll be updating our online content regularly at mcgilldaily.com.
Message from the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec Happy National Engineering Month! March is National Engineering Month. This event allows young people across Canada to discover the engineering profession by highlighting its excellence. In Québec, this year’s National Engineering Month is particularly important due to the events of the last few M. Daniel Lebel, Eng., PMP months surrounding the process of awarding and manaPresident ging public contracts in the construction industry. For that reason, the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ) took the opportunity provided by this year’s National Engineering Month to remind the public of its commitment to get to the heart of things and restore trust in the profession, which has 63,000 members who work in a wide range of different fields. The OIQ made this commitment in an advertisement aired throughout the month of March on television and the Web. The advertisement, which can be viewed on the OIQ’s Web site or YouTube, emphasizes the values that the OIQ is committed to defend: competence, rigour, transparency and accountability. From the disciplinary process and our ethics and professional conduct action plan to our active contribution to the work of the Charbonneau Commission, all of our activities in recent months show just how seriously the OIQ takes its commitment to the public in the advertisement.
Engineering promotion and recognition While making this commitment, the OIQ also launched several initiatives in March aimed at promoting and gaining recognition for the profession. Indeed, it is important to make young people – girls and boys – and the general public more aware of the many facets of the engineering profession in order to spark their interest in an engineering career. We want to show that engineers make an essential contribution to Québec’s socioeconomic development and to instill a desire in young people who are interested in innovation and technologies.
A quiz contest One of the activities planned for this year’s National Engineering Month was a fun and educational quiz contest for secondary school and CEGEP students.
The “Tricks and Genius” quiz contest is presented in the form of a comic strip at www.placeforyou.ca. Site visitors who take the quiz have to find the science trick that will help Dr. Bolt retrieve an item that was stolen from him. Participants have a chance to win $3,000 in prizes.
2,034 times welcome! National Engineering Month was also the perfect moment to welcome the 2,034 new engineers who have earned their engineer’s permit in the last 12 months. Many hundreds of them attended the Soirées signature ingénieur(e) that we held in March at the Montreal Science Centre and at Espace 400e Bell in Quebec City to mark their entry into the profession. As I personally told them at these events, new members have every reason to be proud of their new professional title. Their pride is based on years of studies to earn their bachelor’s degree and, more importantly, years of efforts and work to obtain their engineer’s permit. The OIQ also celebrated this important step in the careers of its members by publishing the names of all the new engineers in Les Affaires and several Québec dailies.
PLAN celebrates 50 years Finally, this year’s National Engineering Month coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of PLAN, the OIQ’s magazine. To highlight this anniversary, the graphic design of the publication has been given a makeover and now features a cleaner look. PLAN has had a front row seat to the developments in Québec engineering over the last 50 years and the March issue takes a look back at them. This issue and other previous issues are accessible in the “Media and documentation” section of the OIQ’s Web site. As you can see, while fulfilling its mission of protecting the public, the OIQ takes concrete actions to promote and gain recognition for the profession, which is essential to all spheres of society. Happy National Engineering Month! Daniel Lebel, Eng., PMP President
The McGill Daily | Monday, March 25, 2013 | mcgilldaily.com
Katie Larson elected SSMU President All referendum questions pass Esther Lee The McGill Daily
atie Larson was elected as SSMU President for the 2013-14 academic year with 59.5 per cent against Chris Bangs’ 40.5 per cent Friday evening. Larson is the current president of the Music Undergraduate Students’ Association (MUSA) and the faculty representative to SSMU Council. The voter turnout for this year’s SSMU elections was 29.1 per cent. Larson ran her campaign on initiatives to promote the health and wellness of McGill’s undergraduate community, and an effective representation of the student body. Regarding the election results, Larson said, “I am excited.... Everyone has been working very hard on their campaigns for the last few weeks.” “I am so exhausted… but it probably means I [campaigned] right… and it paid off,” she continued. Bangs, whose platform included the transparency of administrative investments, confronted controversy regarding his involvement in last year’s student strikes. He faced accusations of deleting questions regarding the disruption of an English class from his campaign Facebook page. The position of VP Clubs & Services went to music student Stefan Fong with 88.5 per cent approval. He ran unopposed and
received 11.5 per cent ‘No’ votes. Joint Honours History and Political Science student Samuel Harris, who ran a platform on bridging the gap between McGill and the wider Montreal community, also won with 89.3 per cent approval. Though he was unopposed, he received 10.7 per cent of ‘No’ votes. On the election results, Harris commented that he was content with the newly elected SSMU Executive team. “Of course, to be perfectly honest, I had had my preferences, but I am willing to work with whoever is [elected],” he added. Harris, who has been an active follower of the Table de Concertation Étudiante du Québec (TaCEQ) discussions, looks to strengthen McGill’s ties with the Milton-Parc communities, and extend the interuniversity discussions through workshops and new initiatives. Political Science Students’ Association VP Academic Joey Shea claimed 52.1 per cent for the position of VP University Affairs, over International Development student Sam Gregory. Gregory, whose platform was similar to that of Shea, ran a close race with 47.9 per cent of the vote. Current Arts Undergraduates’ Society (AUS) VP External Affairs Brian Farnan claimed the position for VP Internal with 51.8 per cent of the votes, beating fellow candidate Julia Kryluk by a slim margin of 3.6 per cent.
The 2013-2014 SSMU executive. Economics and Finance student Tyler Hofmeister was elected as VP Finance and Operations with 71.7 per cent of the votes, beating Thomas Kim, who received 28.3 per cent of the vote. Coming into this position, Hofmeister will have to confront the prolonged problems of lease negotiations for the Shatner building and the impact on SSMU’s budget for the 2013 - 14 academic year.
Photo Robert Smith | The McGill Daily
“I am ecstatic,” Hofmeister said in his brief interview with The Daily. “This is what I have been working really hard for the past two weeks…. I think this is going to be a great year. I’ve known Katie [Larson] and Brian [Farnan] for a long time…. It’s unfortunate that I won’t be working with Sam [Gregory] as much as I would have liked to, but I think this is going to be a great year and a great
team,” he continued. Referendum questions regarding the increase of the athletics fee and the student services ancillary fees passed and both fees will now be indexed to inflation. The questions regarding the creation of a McGill Writing Centre, the creation of a SSMU equity fund, and the SACOMSS fee renewal also passed.
Health Services considers cutting services for spouses and partners Long wait times cited as concern Dana Wray The McGill Daily
cGill Student Health Services is considering cutting coverage for spouses and partners of students to reduce long wait times at the Health Clinic. Currently, the Student Health Clinic offers its services to dependants – spouses or partners, and children for emergencies only – of international or out-of-province students. In the past, services were offered to other groups on and off campus, such as students visiting from other universities over the summer, or visiting for a conference. Now, apart from dependants, the only extraneous services offered by Health Services are occasional public health initiatives, such as the H1N1 clinics offered in 2009. Director of Student Health Services Dr. Pierre-Paul Tellier explained that these extra services were designed to keep physicians busy, but that the situation
had changed. “We’re overwhelmed with the demand, and we have fewer physicians,” Tellier said, adding that it was harder to recruit new physicians due to government restrictions on healthcare policies. Other time-saving initiatives have been implemented in recent years. Nurses are trained to do certain exams, such as gynecological exams, and write initial prescriptions for contraception that are valid for a year. However, Tellier told SSMU at a Legislative Council meeting on February 12 that Health Services is still unable to meet the needs of students. “We see the waiting lines, we hear the complaints,” said Tellier. Tellier stressed that offering services to spouses, partners, and children was “a courtesy” that was “curtailing the service that we can offer to people who have paid for those services.” Tellier emphasized that the cuts would mainly affect spouses and partners, as very few children are seen by the Health Clinic.
Even if the service was cut, it would not disappear automatically. “It’s not like we’re going to cut the service [overnight],” said Tellier, “We [would] continue offering it for at least one year, so people [could] then transition and hopefully find other places.” Currently, if out-of-province, international students or dependants use health services outside of McGill, there are extra costs – that is, if they can find a physician. “[In the case of cuts] we would look for other places to go, we’re not going to leave them high and dry,” Tellier said. “But that’s a big promise to try and fill because we know there are not many physicians across the city.” The number of extra physician availabilities that would be created with the discontinuation of this service is hard to pinpoint. Health Services is currently in the process of implementing an electronic records system that would be better able to track who is using health services at McGill – something the
current paper system can’t do. Tellier has been talking to student groups about the possibility of this initiative since last spring. “My intention [at this point] is to get a little bit more information and make the decision now that I know how the students feel, after talking to the student leaders,” Tellier said. The Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) Health and Wellness Committee said in April that “a balance needs to be found between accommodating students with dependants (particularly international students whose [spouses have] accompanied them to Montreal) and prioritizing students who pay for the services.” In the end, PGSS decided to continue lobbying for the continuation of services for dependants, but also moved to investigate the implementation of an opt-in fee for spouses and dependants. In an email to The Daily, PGSS Secretary-General Jonathan Mooney wrote that members of the PGSS executive committee are cur-
rently looking into the matter. When Tellier spoke at SSMU Council, he stated that health coverage was an added incentive that “helps recruit the best students,” but emphasized, “bottom line, we’re not there to make McGill’s life easier… we’re there to serve the students.” At the meeting, SSMU Council members spoke in favour of continuing services for dependants. “Student spouses have a huge effect on how students operate on campus,” said Clubs & Services Representative Zachary Rosentzveig. “[I think] it’s great we offer them services.” Tellier stressed that the possible cuts to health coverage for dependants was a more long-term, flexible decision, and that other initiatives – such as administration turnover and the implementation of the electronic records system – were priorities at the moment. However, in the end, he said, “[the decision] might not necessarily be in my hands. I might be told, ‘I’m sorry but you can’t offer that service.’”
The McGill Daily | Monday, March 25, 2013 | mcgilldaily.com
Police crack down on annual March 22 protest Approximately 200 demonstrators kettled Hannah Besseau and Dana Wray The McGill Daily
demonstration held to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the largest march of last year’s student strike ended quickly on Friday evening with police kettling. More than 200 protesters were issued tickets for $637. The demonstration began at Place Émilie-Gamelin at 6:20 p.m. Protesters were blocked by police from marching east on Ste. Catherine, and so started to march east on Maisonneuve. The march was soon declared illegal under municipal by-law P-6, which requires protesters to give the route for large assemblies to police over 24 hours in advance. Within minutes after the announcement, the police split the group of protesters and kettled two groups, each containing approximately fifty protesters. Others managed to evade capture by running through a mall, darting into stores, or running westwards on Maisonneuve. Police escorted people from the kettles to a series of STM buses where they were detained, ticketed, and subsequently released. The mass crackdown by the police is in stark contrast to last year’s protest, which saw over 200,000 students come out to demonstrate against tuition hikes imposed by the Liberal govern-
Photo Hera Chan | The McGill Daily
Kettled protesters were given $637 tickets ment. That demonstration saw no arrests, injuries, or violence. This year, students have taken to the streets again to protest the Parti Québécois’ (PQ) new plan to index tuition to inflation. At the
education summit on February 26, the PQ announced that they would increase tuition by 3 per cent annually. Since then, there have been weekly demonstrations, which have
all been quickly declared illegal, and have all ended in mass arrests. The past few weeks have seen a rise in the number of controversial policing techniques. The Service de police de la Ville
de Montréal (SPVM) now often immediately resorts to kettling, a tactic that sees mass amounts of demonstrators – and sometimes bystanders – detained for long periods of time.
McGill seeks across-the-board wage freezes Upper administrative and dean salaries to take 3 per cent cut, employees say. Lola Duffort The McGill Daily
he McGill administration met with representatives of employee groups from across the university last week to discuss a series of cost-cutting initiatives, including hiring and wage freezes, and early retirement packages. According to interviews with employee group representatives, the administration is seeking across-the-board wage freezes for the 2013-14 fiscal year. The McGill Association of University Teachers (MAUT) executive has met with the administration regarding a wage freeze for professors. MAUT President Alvin Shrier declined to comment further until the matter had been brought back to the association’s council. Several employee group representatives interviewed by The Daily, however, said that human resources had told them that faculty had already
accepted a wage freeze for 2013. The McGill University NonAcademic Staff Association (MUNASA) executive met with human resources on Tuesday. Because the meeting took place “in the strictest confidence,” according to MUNASA President Ron Critchley, he would not comment on the details of the administration’s proposal. Neither MUNASA – which represents roughly 500 workers across campus – nor MAUT are unions, which means that they do not have the legal protection afforded to campus unions through their collective agreements. Their only recourse, according to Critchley, will be “moral suasion.” For unions, wage freezes would mean re-opening collective agreements in order to cancel or defer previously negotiated scheduled pay increases. The McGill University NonAcademic Certified Association (MUNACA), which represents 1,700 workers across campus, met with the
administration on Tuesday. According to MUNACA VP Finance David Kalant, the board of representatives has already decided to refuse to re-open the collective agreement. The administration’s proposal would have cancelled a 1.5 per cent wage increase due in June, as well as scheduled pay-step increases. “They want employees to take this wage freeze, and certainly the cuts from the government are ridiculous, but on the other hand, McGill has become top-heavy in the last few years,” Kalant said. “The number of layers of upper administration seem to be growing […] when they say there’s no fat at the top. There is.” Those with job security will be protected, according to Kalant, but those roughly 100 MUNACA members who don’t “are very vulnerable.” AGSEM – McGill’s Teaching Union’s Teaching Assistant (TA) unit was also asked to re-open their collective agreement. Their membership will vote on the proposal during their March 27 gen-
eral assembly, though AGSEM VicePresident Justin Marleau said the AGSEM executive will recommend they reject the proposal, which would have cancelled 1.2 per cent wages increases due next January. “The admin are saying that everyone needs to be contributing equally to sacrifices. But we did not benefit during the good years – our pay rates have barely kept pace with inflation,” Marleau said. “Why should one of the poorest employee groups be making the same sacrifices?” The Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE) was asked last Friday to re-open their collective agreement to cancel the 2013 pay increases. Though she “doesn’t want to speak for their membership,” the union’s president, Jaime MacLean, said that it’s “highly unlikely” that will happen. According to several employee group representatives interviewed, the administration is offering a 3 per cent cut on all upper administration and Dean salaries.
Director of Internal Relations Doug Sweet declined to confirm the 3 per cent cut, saying only that “a message about this package of measures will be sent to the entire McGill community, and that message could come as soon as early next week.” In late February, the province rescinded a monetary penalty for not trimming university budgets immediately, extended the timetables for administering cuts over five- and seven-year periods, and promised a $1.7-billion reinvestment in 2014-2015. The McGill administration is saying that this will make little difference, and that waiting to implement cuts later rather than sooner will only further balloon the University’s accumulated deficit. Citing that this reinvestment is contingent on economic conditions in the province at that time, VP Finance Michael Di Grappa said that the University “cannot responsibly count on this investment,” in an internal memorandum to the community.
The McGill Daily Monday, March 25, 2013 mcgilldaily.com
Misunderstanding discrimination and diversity On the need to address structural, not individual oppression Benjamin Elgie Commentary Writer
cGill recently surveyed a random sample of students on their experiences of discrimination at the university. The primary question of the “Understanding Diversity and Discrimination at McGill” survey, carried out by the Planning & Institutional Analysis Office, asks: have you experienced discrimination by McGill professor, teaching assistants, administrative staff or fellow students? These four questions are virtually the same as those in the 2009 Student Demographic Survey. It seems that little has been learned in the intervening four years, as once again the survey designers implicitly discount any forms of discrimination beyond isolated actions by individuals with malicious intent. McGill states that in its 2009 survey, 36 per cent of students reported facing discrimination from other students and 28 per cent from staff (with the report stating a “vast majority” reported no discrimination), but neither this nor the 2013 survey can possibly capture any useful assessment of oppression when it overlooks discrimination ingrained at the institutional level. Individual acts of oppression do occur, both in the form of microaggressions (small but relentless words and actions which perpetuate hurtful assumptions), and in more overt shows of prejudice (such as McGill’s former Chancellor referring to Native peoples as “sauvages”). However, a major form of oppression is institutional or systemic oppression, whereby structural inequalities perpetuate existing power disparities. Consider single parents, par-
ticularly single mothers; the 2011 Canadian census found approximately four times more lone-parent families are headed by women than men. The 2009 McGill diversity survey says only 4 per cent of respondents reported having one or more children, compared to 22 per cent of all Canadians aged 15-34. While there are various reasons for this difference, among them are the extremely limited childcare facilities at McGill. If you’re a student parent trying to raise children while attending school, you need access to childcare; you need sufficient funding to cover your living expenses (funding that is more difficult to claim without the free time to build a CV); and you need a support network that allows you to work in your spare time without impacting your grades. Additionally, you have to hope that the stress of your situation doesn’t lead to anxiety or depression, because mental health services on campus are scant and overburdened. It’s entirely possible that you could be forced to drop out of McGill because you can’t support a family, manage school, and keep yourself healthy all at once. The suggestion that the struggles of single mothers come down to time management and willpower is, frankly, either ignorant or dishonest. This is a major form of gender discrimination at universities. But which individual can young mothers identify on this survey as having committed an act of discrimination against them? Or consider students of colour. A 2010 report to the Principal’s Task Force on Diversity, Excellence, and Community found disproportionately low numbers of non-white faculty, who can often make a significant difference in such students’ lives by sharing a lived experience of racial or ethnic discrimination and prov-
Illustration Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily
ing that they too can make a career in academia. This lack of support can mean the difference between continuing in their fields, or leaving academia entirely. But which individual can they point to as making their time here more difficult? This is why McGill desperately needs offices such as the Social Equity Diversity Education (SEDE) office, and why student associations need equity committees. These bodies recognize systemic forms of oppression, and need to be able to take or at the least advocate corrective measures. While the administration will write, as in the 2009 report, that “the fact that there is any [gender] discrimination is of concern,” it will also spend over a decade in court trying to avoid pay-
ing the equity payments required by the Quebec government for majority-female job positions, which are underpaid in comparison to majority-male positions. It is not a surprise that the same 2010 report found a “lack of awareness [or] commitment to diversity as more than [a] catch phrase” and a “lack of understanding of [the] opportunities and benefits of diversity.” McGill’s understanding of discrimination is severely limited by its view that discrimination is a discrete act, directed by a specific individual toward another individual. Reading McGill student responses to news articles on this topic reveals a similar attitude among much of the student body itself. Many students only seem to recog-
nize the obvious actions of individuals as oppressive (and even those are often excused as ‘unintentional’ or ‘humorous’). When we speak of the oppressive implications of tuition hikes, many McGill students seem to think that such things affect everyone equally. But, in fact, they disproportionately affect those already experiencing structural oppression. If McGill’s students and admin continue to view discrimination solely as a function of individual incidents, they will continue to fundamentally misunderstand why McGill is failing to create or maintain a diverse community. Benjamin Elgie is a Ph.D. student in Neuroscience. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Police brutality restored my faith in humanity Solidarity, not the police, will bring social justice Anne Arky Commentary Writer
n Friday, March 15, I went to the annual demonstration against police brutality in Montreal. I went knowing that police brutality is an awful thing, and something I should protest. I went having never been subjected to police brutality. I went with an understanding that many other protesters would have more personal reasons for being there. But I also had the naïve and
slightly self-centered idea that the only people who got arrested at these demos were trouble-makers who, though they probably had valid reasons for their actions, were still doing something they knew could get them in trouble. Looking back, that was the most ridiculous thing I could have thought. Within ten minutes of arriving at the starting point, I saw cops pushing over cyclists and threateningly cracking their batons on their shields. Five minutes later, they randomly snatched a girl from her group of friends and held her face-down on the
street. From that point on, lines of riot police began to section off the group, herding them in different directions. My group ran from one cluster of cops and ended up face to face with another line, and were then pinned against the wall of a building and held for almost two hours. We were arrested, handcuffed and put on city buses which took us to a police station by Langelier metro. This was all, from what I had seen, unprovoked, unwarranted, and completely unnecessary. The police don’t care whether your demo is peaceful or not, whether you walk on the sidewalk when
they tell you to, whether you wear a mask, or if you yell “fuck the police.” They are there to do a job, and that job is to crush any dissent, any voice that even whispers a question about their authority. To them, you are deserving of a $637 fine just for standing with your friends and believing that police brutality is wrong. The police weren’t there to serve or protect anything that night except their own interests. The people that kept me and my friends safe during the ordeal were those who shared their Goldfish crackers and water bottles and chanted
the number of a lawyer. Those who maintained my faith in humanity, as stupid as it sounds, were the protesters who waited for us with food and coffee, hugs and solidarity, after the cops let us go. The actions of the police removed any lingering belief I had left in their capacity to support social justice, and the actions of my fellow ‘criminals’ reminded me why we should not give a shit about the police. Anne Arky is a pseudonym. Send comments to commentary@ mcgilldaily.com.
The McGill Daily | Monday, March 25, 2013 | mcgilldaily.com
McGill’s budget cuts threaten us all Collaboration between students and workers is essential Robin Reid-Fraser and Jaime MacLean The McGill Daily
or the past few months, budget cuts and the Parti Québécois (PQ) government’s summit on higher education have taken the forefront of the ongoing discussion on university financing. As students, our automatic reaction is to wonder about class size and availability, finding books at the library, and the availability of advisors. However, for another segment of the McGill community, the automatic reaction is to wonder about job losses and wage cuts. There are over 4,500 non-academic employees at McGill who keep the university running from day to day. They are responsible for the physical upkeep and administration of the university and constitute a community in their own right. Many employees work at this university for their entire lives, and hold institutional memory that many professors or senior administrators lack. And every time a government decides to implement a new round of austerity measures to public institutions, this community fears for their jobs. Most of the people who work at McGill are unionized (with four large new units accredited
within the past three years), and these unions safeguard against an institution that is forever threatening budget cuts and wage freezes. This week, we heard from the Principal about the need for the entire community, students and workers alike, to pull together and unite in this difficult time. But what does this mean? For workers, this means the University is backing out of wage increases that were fought for, and promised, through long, difficult negotiations. There is a sense that workers should take a lower wage “for the good of McGill”; we see this every day in the cases of students who work at the university and are encouraged to perform skilled work for minimum wage, or for free with the promise of a good reference. This is a complicated time for student associations as well. The budget cuts have left us in a unique position. We share McGill’s concern about the cuts, but are also wary of collaborating with those who opposed us over last spring’s proposed tuition hike. The government leaves us all wondering what they’re going to do next; it is difficult to know how to proceed. That being said, it is essential that there be conversations at the student association level about how
to react to the cuts, and what we should expect from the University in terms of transparency and involvement in the decision-making process. Currently, there is little information from the administration about their next steps, but as the largest constituency at the university who will potentially feel the impact of the cuts in a multitude of ways, it is imperative that we take strong positions about being kept in the loop at every step of the process, and that the administration provide us with the information backing up their decisions. Following the change in government, the cancellation of the tuition hike, and the subsequent announcement of these budget cuts, there has been a tendency to blame the students and allies who mobilized against the tuition increase last spring. “What did you expect?” the argument goes, “this is what you get for opposing tuition hikes – universities that are in such a desperate situation that they might have to cut jobs and services.” Not only is this an easy trap to fall into, but it is also a way of thinking that is completely unjustified. Despite the fact that the actual amount of funding that universities require is debatable, it is not the
case that the students who were against raising tuition are against well-funded educational institutions. We simply disagree over the method of funding. Supporters of the strike argued that the funding required for education should come from more progressive taxation measures. This would have meant that students could have paid their fees once financially able to, and not sink into debt at the start of their adult lives. Many of the conversations between administrators and students about the budget situation have included suggestions that students make contributions specifically to McGill, either as new fees or in the form of donations. This may seem like the easiest way to alleviate a short-term ‘crisis’ situation, but it could be a dangerous path to go down if it reduces pressure on the government to increase public funding. Instead of talking about paying more through a slightly different measure, we must call for a cancellation of the cuts and a real commitment from the government to support high-quality education without increasing the burden on students. Similarly, we must recognize that students and workers are not mutually exclusive on this campus. The effects of the cuts may be reduction of jobs that students
are relying on in order to pay for their studies. SSMU has a history of working with the unions on this campus and currently sits on the Inter-Union Council. Now, more than ever, we should be continuing the communication between associations, in order to understand all sides of the budget cut discussion and use our links with the administration to reduce negative impacts on students and workers alike. We are fortunate, as students, to have associations at all levels that are able to bring our issues forward both here on campus and in the provincial government. If you have questions, suggestions or concerns, now is the time to get in touch with your departmental, faculty, or campus-wide association and find out what they can do for you. On Tuesday, March 26 at 4 p.m. in the Lev Bukhman Room, SSMU will be hosting an open discussion session for students and workers to talk about how we should proceed. All are welcome to attend. Robin Reid-Fraser is the SSMU VP External. Jaime MacLean is the President of the Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE). They can be reached at email@example.com. ca and firstname.lastname@example.org.
SSMU Open Discussion: Budget Cuts and Indexation of Tuition Tuesday, March 26 4-6 pm. Lev Bukhman room. In December, the PQ government imposed budget cuts of 5.2% on Quebec universities. Since then, we have heard opposition to these measures from the university but still are unclear about whether or how the administration will implement them. In February at the Summit on Higher Education, the government announced that they intend to index tuition at 3% per year, despite a number of student associations and unions coming out strongly against this measure. What does this all mean for students and workers at the university? How should we respond, through either formal channels of our associations or informally as small groups or individuals? SSMU is hosting an open discussion to try and sort through some of these questions.
Food and refreshments will be served.
The McGill Daily | Monday, March 25, 2013 | mcgilldaily.com
“FiRsT yEaR” by Gardner’s Floor 7
The McGill Daily Monday, March 25, 2013 mcgilldaily.com
Science on the edge A look into current McGill research on language, cognition, and music Illustration Akanksa Chaubal | The McGill Daily
On curiosity-driven research and funding Caitlin Mouri The McGill Daily
obert Zatorre is a professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery. He runs the Auditory Processing Laboratory at the Montreal Neurological Institute and is co-director of the International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research. His lab focuses on cognitive processes involving the auditory system, particularly those relevant to music. When he first started studying music, Zatorre fought to convince others that his work was valid. “The scientific community was not always completely enthusiastic,” he remembered. “They would reject it out of hand if you put ‘music’ in the title. They would say it’s fluffy, it’s not hard science.” Over the years, interest in the field has snowballed. Music casts a whole new light on memory, learning, motor performance, emotion – according to Zatorre, “almost all of the cognitive functions that we think of as representative of being human.” Musicians have also become more open to a scientific take on their art. “It took a couple of decades,” he said, “but now I give a lot of lectures to musicians at musical festivals, in music departments, and so on.” Despite burgeoning interest in the field, Zatorre, like many scientists doing basic research, still has battles to fight. When the
Quebec government cuts $14.8 million from Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT) in the next fiscal year, Zatorre will be left in the lurch. He and his colleagues have a FRQNT-backed project, but with a 15 per cent reduction in funds, he’s not sure how he’s going to pay all his staff. Meanwhile, health researchers across the province saw their proposed cuts altered from $10 million to $2 million after launching an ad campaign featuring a woman fighting ovarian cancer. Zatorre said, “They’re going out and finding a cure for cancer – that’s an easy sell.” Curiosity-driven research is harder to justify, making it much more difficult to receive funding. Zatorre recalled being asked pointblank: “Why aren’t you doing something important, like curing Alzheimer’s?” Basic research, he responded, provides a crucial foundation for applied research. “When we do an experiment that makes us understand the connection between the auditory [system] and the motor system, that research gives very good background for people using musical interventions for Parkinson’s. That’s a typical result of basic science.” Zatorre noted that applied researchers are just as supportive of basic research. “It shouldn’t be a zero sum game,” he said. “Scientists are united on this. I understand that there are constraints, but you don’t get something for nothing, either.” The funding agencies, it seems, have yet to realize the importance of the synergy between applied and basic research.
On languages and learning Caitlin Mouri The McGill Daily
ery few places flow seamlessly between languages the way Montreal does. With many growing up in bilingual homes, children in Montreal are naturally immersed in the city’s polyglot environment. Fred Genesee, a professor in the Department of Psychology, draws the city into his research by studying second language acquisition in preschool and school-aged children. Genesee’s work has been influential in debunking the myth that learning a second language can hinder a child’s educational progress. On the contrary, children simultaneously learning two languages reach the same developmental milestones – speech segmenting, babbling, and first words – at the same age as monolingual children. “It’s not a challenge to the children,” Genesee said. “The challenge is for the parents to provide enough [linguistic] input.” In fact, Genesee pointed out that there are cognitive advantages to learning two languages. Bilinguals tend to be better at executive functions, processes which control the flow of attention for decision-making and everyday problem-solving. Children who learn two languages constantly control which language they use. Genesee called it a kind of “mental calisthenics.” These advantages carry into adulthood
as well. In bilingual people who develop Alzheimer’s disease, the onset of the disease is delayed compared to monolinguals. Bilinguals are also less likely to suffer from dementia and age-related cognitive decline. Canada is a bilingual country, and immersion programs have been offered in schools since 1965; however, some of these programs still suffer from the misconception that bilingual language acquisition may delay progress. In addition, immersion programs don’t always provide the same range of resources as regular schools. As a result, children who are struggling in school are often discouraged from participating in immersion programs. Genesee sees this as a serious ethical concern. “In a sense, these programs can become elitist,” he noted, adding that “all kids should have access to these programs and discouraging kids that might struggle in them is exclusionary. You’re potentially depriving them of skills they need later in life.” Conversely, students who struggle in math are not discouraged from learning math – it’s a skill they need to function in the world. With globalization, bilingualism is more valuable than ever. In areas outside North America, English immersion is in demand, and many schools use the immersion programs initiated here in Canada as models. “If you know French and you learn English, your possibilities explode,” Genesee reflected. “You have far more access if you’re bilingual.”
On research in the age of the internet Anqi Zhang The McGill Daily
ognitive training tools, brain games, cognitive exercises: call them what you will, personalized online games that supposedly make you smarter have grown rapidly in popularity as computers have become ubiquitous in our society. Lumosity, arguably the best-known of these, calls upon its users to “harness [their] brain’s neuroplasticity and train [their]
way to a brighter life.” But these cognitive tools are used in a slightly different way in the Prevention of Neurodegenerative Diseases in Everyone at Risk (PONDER) initiative currently underway at the McGill Centre for Studies in Aging, under the guidance of Jens Pruessner. In an interview with The Daily, Pruessner defined PONDER as “a cognitive training program that...[allows people] to train in areas of cognition that have been shown to benefit from routine exercising and repeated training.” However, it is also a research
project that makes use of the users’ results to analyze the changes in cognitive data over time, in hopes that this will identify variables related to age-related disease. Eventually this may aid in the prevention of disease onset, though Pruessner says that at this point, the timespan for such developments is not clear. The research conducted through PONDER is targeted at adults who are forty to sixty years old, and while the online interface allows the project a broad reach, it also introduces unique challenges, for example, the
difficulty of accurately identifying an individual’s age from behind a screen. The researcher must rely on the information the subject provides. This is why Pruessner emphasizes that the cognitive training tools are available to all. If the program was restricted to a certain demographic, the scientific controls of the experiment could be compromised, by causing, as Pruessner told The Daily, “people [to] claim to be forty and over even though they’re not.” This is one example of the challenges related to the control ele-
ments of the experiment. Pruessner also mentioned other typically controlled aspects of experiments that are made more difficult through an online interface, such as testing environment and time of day. On using this online interface for conducting an experiment, especially in an age of increasing technological literacy, Pruessner noted that “it’s attractive to think of the amount of time and resources you can save,” but stressed the importance of finding “a good question that can be answered with these types of tools.”
The McGill Daily Monday, March 25, 2013 mcgilldaily.com
Violence and machismo UFC 158: Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz Omar Saadeh The McGill Daily
“Human cockfighting” In reference to its ultra-violent and barbaric nature, this was the name given to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) by U.S. Senator John McCain during his 1998 countrywide campaign to ban the sport. Today, UFC remains one of the only stages in the world – other than actual war – where contestants legally engage in handto-hand combat. This eight-sided steel-caged battle of survival has gained considerable mainstream media attention since its birth in 1993. It is televised in over 150 countries, and broadcast in 22 different languages. UFC 158: March 16, 2013 I arrived to a capacity-filled Bell Centre to witness my firstever mixed martial arts (MMA) event, UFC 158: Georges St-Pierre (GSP) vs. Nick Diaz. I was seated in the section specially reserved for media, much closer to the action than my graduate student budget could afford. To my right, I introduced myself to a professional photographer specializing in the niche of wrestling. Hanging from his neck was a highcalibre Canon DSLR camera. To my left was a short bald fellow, a sports broadcaster for SIRIUS satellite radio. Throughout the course of the night, they both served as my main source of rules, explanations, and gossip. At the start of each card (the UFC term for a fight), blasting pump-up music fills the air as the fighters charge into the arena accompanied by an entourage of trainers, medical staff, camera men, and security. Wrestling enthusiasts, UFC fans, and what seemed to be self-declared prospective fighters lined the front row, determinedly extending out their fists toward the fast moving group. An array of sporadic multi-coloured lights, followed by an energetic introduction by “The Voice of the Octagon,” ring announcer Bruce Buffer (who sounded like he could have been hooked up to an IV espresso drip), got the crowd on their feet. Fighters rip off their advertisement-laden warm-ups, complete a quick medical check, and enter the Octagon. Cards other than the main event are composed of three fiveminute rounds. The two contestants start at opposite corners of the ring. In order to win, one must inflict so much pain onto the other that they either collapse to the floor from a decisive knock-out
Illustration Alice Shen | The McGill Daily
(often leading to concussion-like symptoms), or tap out (voluntarily quit) due to extreme discomfort. In the event that time expires, the winner of the fight is decided by the judges. The fighter must evidently channel all his anger, will, and hostility towards his enemy, essentially vilifying his foe. It’s a fight for survival. At the end of each round, the fighters head to their respective blue or red corner and are attended to by their medical staff, who fix up nosebleeds, soothe swellings, and cover lacerations. I wonder about the possible long-term health risks – traumatic brain injury, dementia, Parkinson’s. Thankfully, eyegouging and hitting the opponent in the groin is banned under UFC regulations, but the risk for other injuries remains. After their one minute of allowed recovery time, the blood is wiped away and we’re back – game on. As the two prize-fighters get back to business, the crowd cheers on their favourite – and the cheers are considerably louder if one is a homegrown Quebecer. That being said, it does not take much to turn things around. If there has not been a sufficiently bloody blow or considerable action within about a minute, the crowd gets impatient. “What the hell are you doing, dancing?!” screams a particularly aggravated man from the crowd. It is instantly followed by immature giggles and juvenile comments from the spectators in front of me. Then, as if pre-planned, a fierce kick to the face immediately prompts cheering, and the Bell Centre is back on its feet. As a newcomer to the UFC fan world, I get the impression that,
consciously or not, we’re really here to see someone get knockedthe-hell-out. The only small hint of civility comes after the referee calls the fight. The two bleeding and bruised opponents shake hands or embrace in an odd and somewhat misplaced act of camaraderie. After all the rampage, it seems almost inappropriate to see such a sign of mutual respect. The victor is crowned, and they both proceed to leave the arena down the same path. First the loser, bloodied and defeated, stumbles slightly dismayed toward the exit to a few hurrahs and consoling chants. Following him, in sharp contrast, the winner parades down the aisle with an arrogantly pumped chest, radiating his macho-man energy while acknowledging a few lucky fans by slapping high fives or tossing away sweaty merchandise. People go bonkers! Curious to investigate the sort of audience that such an event attracts, I observed a middle-aged man, seated a couple rows from me and likely deep into his night’s beer quota, openly snapping a few shots of the rather un-conservatively dressed ring girls. He then continued to cheer with his bros, laughing over a few sleazy comments. As I glanced up at one of the dozen overhanging big screens, the message to the audience was further drilled home – “Sports, beer n’ sex.” Broadcast to the entire stadium, and to everyone watching from home, the ring girls – Arianny Celeste and Brittney Palmer – seductively waved and blew kisses in the air. The stadium filled with whistles and cat calls. “Pft, ya, I could tap that,” narrated the same middle-aged man.
I can’t help but notice the irony of the situation. The audience may have been one of the most unathletic, Bud Light-drinking and Pizza Pizza-gorging group of people I have come across. The contestants, on the other hand, have probably spent the better part of the last year enduring the toughest of training programs and following a diet consisting of something like lean chicken breast, broccoli, and whey protein shakes. It is rumoured that some even abstain from sex for up to six weeks before their fight. Furthermore, in between the overweight and drunk members of the audience, I could see little kids decked out in Georges St.-Pierre robes and headbands inscribed with “must win” in Japanese. They chased each other around, screaming and boasting their championship belt replicas, only briefly pausing to quench their thirst with sugar-concentrated and caffeineinfused beverages served in gulp sized, 1.5 litre cups. And if they got hungry, they scuffled down some buttery popcorn or a slice of oildripping cheese and pepperoni pizza. One day, they, too will have a chance to share seven or eight beers with their ‘bros.’ Shouldn’t this event be R-rated? The Main Event The start of the pay-per-view main event was like an alarm clock sounding off. The crowd in the sold out Bell Centre was on its feet, cheering, yelling, and all fired up. This was Quebec’s very own golden boy, Georges St-Pierre, against the audaciously cocky American fighter, Nick Diaz. Chants of “Fuck you Diaz!” filled the Bell Centre, followed by a chorus of “GSP, GSP, GSP.”
The main event consists of five rounds lasting a maximum of 25 minutes total. Aside from my spiteful rant, I will admit, I was actually enjoying this egocentric, testosteronefilled environment. Press are prohibited from ordering alcoholic beverages, but I would have killed for a beer. Neither can the press be openly biased towards a particular fighter – but seriously, “Fuck Diaz!” The machismo atmosphere was a bit too much for me to deny; I was sold. In the prelude to the fight, Diaz aggressively paced back and forth in the Octagon. One could literally feel his flowing arrogance as he stared down his opponent like an anxious killer, ready to pounce. GSP held up his cool. He portrayed the shining image of a knight defending Quebec from an onslaught of loud-mouthed American bigotry. He could be Captain Quebec. Each time GSP took Diaz to the ground, the crowd roared with enthusiasm. Despite the lack of blood and a conclusive knock-out punch, the fight lived up to its hype. After five rounds of a mostly one-sided assault, the pride of Quebec was left untarnished. GSP was recrowned champion. In the post-game interview, GSP thanked Diaz for his competitive spirit and further insisted that he is, in fact, a nice guy. Diaz, oddly, admitted to tax evasion, and contemplated retiring. The UFC experience defines all that is stereotypically manly. Its violent nature and beer-drinking culture may make for the ultimate bros-night-out, but our society should seriously consider asking the question: Do we want our kids watching this?
The McGill Daily | Monday, March 25, 2013 | mcgilldaily.com
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH CREATIVE WRITING PRIZES AND AWARDS The MONA ADILMAN PRIZE IN POETRY, estimated value $500--or estimated value $250 for two students, is open to undergraduate or graduate students registered in the Faculty of Arts for the best poem or group of poems relating to ecological or environmental concerns. The CLARK LEWIS MEMORIAL PRIZE, estimated value $400, is open to major or honours students in the Department of English. The prize is awarded annually or from time to time for original plays staged in the course of the academic year. The CHESTER MACNAGHTEN PRIZES IN CREATIVE WRITING (two prizes, one of estimated value $600 and another of estimated value $300) are open to undergraduate students of the University for the best piece of creative writing in English, i.e. a story, a play, a poem, an essay, etc. Printed compositions are ineligible if they have been published before April 16, 2012. The PETERSON MEMORIAL PRIZE, estimated value $2,000, is open to undergraduate or graduate students registered in a degree program in the Department of English with distinction in English Literature (CGPA 3.30 or above) who has also shown creative literary ability. The LIONEL SHAPIRO AWARDS FOR CREATIVE WRITING, three prizes of estimated value $1,300 each, to be distributed if possible among the genres of poetry, fiction, screen writing and playwrighting. Each prize is to be awarded on the recommendation of the Department of English to students in the final year of the B.A. course who have demonstrated outstanding talent. (A note from your academic adviser verifying you will have completed your program requirements and the minimum credits required by the Faculty of Arts MUST accompany your submission.) These competitions are restricted to students who have not previously won the First Prize.
Forms to be completed are available in the Department of English General Office, Arts 155. Submissions must be IN TRIPLICATE. DEADLINE: Tuesday, April 16, 201
Illustration Alice Shen | The McGill Daily
Redskins, Redmen, racism? A history of troubling team names Queen Arsem-O'Malley The McGill Daily
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hakespeare’s Romeo was pretty convinced that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The Washington Redskins – Washington, D.C.’s team in the National Football League – would disagree with that sentiment. Clearly, Romeo didn’t have $1.6 billion invested in that rose. The Redskins, which have been named as such since 1937, have a logo consisting of a profile of a stereotyped Native man, with reddishbrown skin and a feather sticking out of his head. The team’s name and associated logos have spent years as a topic of discussion about disparaging representation of Native peoples. The team is not alone in their heavily-debated position: teams like the Cleveland Indians (which features a similar logo of a grinning, bright red face with a feather in its hair) have also been targeted by campaigns to clean up their brand. The Indians have been the focus of protests for years; an April 2012 article in the Plain Dealer explains the twentyyear history of annual protests, organized by the Cleveland American Indian Movement (AIM) at Indians home games. Professional teams have largely been resistant to change, for obvious (financial) reasons. Polls organized by groups like Sports Illustrated have attempted to gauge how Native communities feel about the name and logo, with results that often claim that few are offended – a claim that is disputed by decades of activism and clouded by questionable sample sizes and methodology. Huge numbers of fans have complained that names like the Redskins’ are not racist, offensive, or problem-
atic. The idea that language – no matter how ingrained that language is in our lexicon or brand names – is isolated from political implications is naïve and dangerous. One of the Redskins’ arguments in their own defence is that high school and college teams all over the country share the name, and that to change the team is to affect all of its derivatives. The argument falls flat in the face of a long list of amateur teams who have changed their names in the past, and the recent vote by students at a New York high school to change their team name from ‘Redskins’. At McGill, the university’s sports teams are known as Redmen and Martlets (men’s teams are the Redmen, while women’s are the Martlets). In past years, students and members of the university community have expressed concern about potentially problematic origins of the name ‘Redmen’. A media guide released by McGill Athletics addresses the origin of the name, quoting McGill historian Stanley Frost. “A look into the history of the nickname ‘Redmen’ reveals that it was first used in 1927 and was originally written as two words (i.e. ‘Red Men’), in reference to the red school colours and red jerseys worn by McGill teams,” the guide reads. It goes on to explain that Frost draws the connection between the nickname ‘Red Men’ being used for ancient Celts due to their hair colour, and the Scottish heritage of McGill founder James McGill. (A similar explanation was used by the University of Massachusetts, which argued that the origin of its teams’ name ‘Redmen’ was jersey colour. In 1972, UMass changed its teams’ name to the Minutemen.) Earl Zuckerman, communications officer for Athletics & Recreation, explained the history
of McGill team names. He attributed the start of the nickname ‘Red Men’ to media outlets in the 1920s. “Papers didn’t have a lot of room in their headlines, so they came up with nicknames,” Zuckerman said in an interview with The Daily. He said that he was unsure when McGill officially adopted the name. A quick search will turn up the Montreal Gazette’s reports on the ‘McGill Indians’ in the 1950s. Zuckerman said that the media attached the name to junior varsity teams, back when McGill had senior varsity, junior varsity, and intermediate teams. Around 1970, in a funding crisis, McGill “stopped all funding for athletics,” Zuckerman explained. When that happened, junior varsity teams were cut, effectively ending the use of the name. It’s a somewhat convoluted history, complicated further by logos that Athletics has tried to separate from the names. A text by Zuckerman, originally posted on a former incarnation of the McGill Athletics website, explains that, “of the 48 varsity sports teams at McGill, only football and hockey have for a brief period of time, used an aboriginal symbol as part of their playing uniform.” The text explains that a 1992 inquiry by the McGill Athletics Board in 1992 decided to remove the logo that had been in place since 1982 – which is described just as “an aboriginal logo” – because it had “nothing to do with the origins of the team name.” The 1992 decision by McGill was a positive step toward recognizing the impact of culturally insensitive team names which may someday extend to the professional ranks; however, the refusal by McGill to address the problems with the name ‘Red Men’ – regardless of what they claim its origins to be – shows that we still have a long way to go.
The McGill Daily Monday, March 25, 2013 mcgilldaily.com
Illustration Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily
“Bringing the margins to the centre” Montreal Serai: a resting place for cultural travellers Nathalie O’Neill The McGill Daily
It’s taken for granted that we’ll be at the edge of things,” says Montreal Serai editor Patrick Barnard. Montreal Serai, one of the first Canadian webzines, has been publishing progressive cultural material since its founding in 1986. Cultural arts, thorny political issues, and the written word are seen by many radical publications as mutually complementary. Current progressive cultural writing is building on a long tradition that reaches back to such long-standing publications as Serai. Serai publishes “thoughtful essays, reviews, commentaries, short stories, poems, artwork, videos, music, and much more,” according to its website. Over its 26 years of existence, Serai has published the work of over 400 different contributors. “People write for us from Australia, India […] the whole world,” explains Rana Bose, a Serai founder. Along with regular issues, which are released every two to six months, Serai also has daily columns such as Maya Khankhoje’s coverage of Montreal’s International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA). Serai now has 250,000 hits per month and reaches international audiences, boasting nearly 2,000 regular subscrib-
ers. “We want to expand beyond 3,000,” notes Bose. Serai’s origins are tied in with Montreal’s South Asian Women’s Community Centre. A few Serai founders, most of whom are South Asian and Indian immigrants, were also writers for the Centre’s magazine. “Serai started with an antiracist focus,” explains Bose. Serai began as a monthly print magazine, continuing to print for the next three years, until it could no longer afford the primary costs. As a result, Serai subsequently began online publication in a quarterly format. Bose agrees that the switch to web was a “blessing in disguise,” preventing Serai from being “confined to a certain community.” Bose explains that “the times have changed and the magazine has evolved.” Serai is Persian for ‘resting place’ or ‘place of transience’ for a traveller. “In the mid-1990s,” says Bose, “the composition changed considerably to include more than just immigrants.” “It [tells] the story of an evolving allophone community,” says Barnard, who describes Serai as “a collective.” Every issue is curated by a different editor who seeks out relevant and thought-provoking content. The Serai team is notably diverse, reflecting the webzine’s mandate to “bring the margins to the centre.” One editor is a wellknown Montreal musician, another
is a professor-cum-environmental activist. Columnist Khankhoje, another founding member of Serai, was born of Belgian and Indian parents and grew up in Mexico. Bose himself is somewhat of a nomad: having left his native India to study engineering in the U.S., he lived south of the border for five years before moving to Montreal, where he has now been living for 35 years. He describes himself as “an engineer, but also a poet and writer.” “Our readership is mostly English, as are the writers,” explains Khankhoje. He explains that submissions in other languages are “welcome,” despite the fact that they are “the exception rather than the rule” in this overwhelmingly English publication. In the past 26 years, Serai has received 14 submissions in French, and has also published pieces in Spanish. Serai’s current issue, “The Literature Issue – Subtlety in Stigmas and Stereotypes,” has a prominent poetry and short fiction focus, but also includes book reviews, essays, and interviews. “We try to put out a literature issue every year,” says Bose. “Along with other [regulars], such as our annual cinema issue.” The most eye-catching content in Serai are the pieces that fold political issues into the arts. Highlights of their current issue include an interview with Indian cinema curator Meenakshi Shedde entitled “Indian
Expressionism – The Fascinating Marriage of Indian and German Cinema,” as well as an editorial by Bose himself, “Literature and Remaining Idle No More.” “They spoke in literature and words that moved mountains and churned up the rivers,” writes Bose of the First Nations women who began the Idle No More movement. Although Serai’s mandate is to provide coverage of the arts, their analysis of popular culture’s political implications alongside their creative content frequently causes a splash. Bose explains that “anything that deals with Quebec issues” is particularly attentiongrabbing. “[We published] an issue on Palestine that was popular a few years ago,” he adds. Bose describes the growth of Serai’s influence as “exponential,” as both the diversity of contributors and the readership base grow. Past thought-provoking pieces include Sujata Dey’s “Community Organizing in Côtedes-Neiges Then and Now,” Mirella Bontempo’s “The Multicultural Panic,” and Shubhobroto Ghosh’s “‘All animals are equal but some are more equal than others’: an examination of identities.” A not-for-profit publication, Serai has been receiving funding from the Canada Council for the Arts for the past five or six years under the electronic publishing category. “We were the first magazine to apply
for it,” says Bose. He laments, however, that Serai has been plagued by “diminished funding,” which creates “a lot of pressure” for the webzine. The editors are all volunteers – funding serves to pay contributors. The volunteer basis of the Serai team reflects the personal connections editors feel to Serai’s mission. For instance, Barnard, a Westmount resident, first got involved in 2007 with an article called “A big story in a small place.” An environmentalist, Barnard tackles “the turf war” that pitted local residents against the City of Westmount over the latter’s proposed replacement of all the green spaces in Westmount Park with synthetic turf. Serai’s upcoming issue, “Class, Caste: Cultural labels?” will explore how Canada’s political issues are influenced by class. “[This theme] covers lots of issues,” explains Bose. Serai, which Bose describes as an exploration of “the minorities within the minorities,” promises to keep pushing the envelope in upcoming issues. Their coverage has a wide span, and the fact that they’ve been finding new margins to bring to the centre, staying fresh since 1986, should be applauded. While “the minorities within the minorities” is not an obvious interest for many people, it is by writing about these issues and topics that we can bring them closer to the mainstream, and popular concern.
The McGill Daily | Monday, March 25, 2013 | mcgilldaily.com
Photo Hera Chan | The McGill Daily
Detroit’s finest Invincible brings a little Motor City summer to Montreal’s winter Hillary Pasternak The McGill Daily
oward the end of their Thursday show at La Sala Rossa, the rapper known only as Invincible introduced a track called “Keep Going” by asking the crowd what “keeps them going.” Answers ranged from the idealistic (“unity,” “sisterhood”) to the earthy (“sex,” “tacos”). Invincible knows how to put on a show: they’ve got an impressively complex flow and a killer vocabulary, not to mention a multitude of flashy images to project on a sheet at the back of the stage – everything from news footage to anime. Revolutionary-themed crowd participation instructions were eagerly followed by the portion of the crowd drunk enough to forget that they’re too cool for this shit. “Raise your sledgehammer” (fist)! Shout “love!” (“Love is the answer/but what the fuck is the question?”) Though their pseudonym was originally given to them by a graffiti-artist friend who thought it would look cool as a tag, the moniker has
grown up with the artist. These days, Invincible connects their name with something that might be considered the opposite of invincibility by hip hop’s mainstream. “When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, and to be in tune with the parts of yourself that are vulnerable, then that’s how you strengthen them,” Invincible told The Daily earlier that day, clad in a keffiyeh and a Detroit baseball cap, clutching a mug of tea at Casa del Popolo. “Even in our communities, paying attention to the voices that are made most vulnerable at the intersections of the most impact of oppression, if we focus on that vulnerability, then that’s how we strengthen our collective whole.” Invincible got an early start in hip hop, writing their first rhymes at the age of nine, and beginning to perform in their mid-teens. When asked for their early influences, Invincible drops a few names that you’ve probably heard of (Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, MC Lyte), but says their real inspiration comes from the Detroit scene. Rappers like Slum Village, Proof, Royce da 5’9’’, Black Milk, and eLZhi, who is often called
“Detroit’s best kept secret.” They moved to New York at 17 to join the anti-misogynist hip hop collective ANOMOLIES, home to “some of the best MCs to ever hold a mic,” according to Invincible. “The goal of ANOMOLIES is not just to critique the representation of women and gender in hip hop…but to develop the music we’d like to see and the images we’d like to see and the spaces we’d like to see.” Though they’re not as involved in ANOMOLIES as they used to be, Invincible still considers them family, and has featured them in the track “Ransom Notes” on Invincible’s 2008 release Shapeshifters. “[The goal is] to not just ask for a seat at the table, but create our own, what I like to call ‘parallel universes’ where we can develop opportunities that aren’t legitimizing or reinforcing the current power structures,” they said. It’s easy to see how these ideals might have influenced Invincible’s work as an organizer, particularly with Detroit Summer, a youth-led community-building organization. Detroit Summer was Invincible’s
gateway to activism. They began attending protests in their early twenties, and would eventually move on to help coordinate the program, working on projects such as the creation of Detroit Future Youth, a network of youth leadership organizations. It was hard to escape the feeling that Invincible was trying to save the world in a few too many ways. Throughout the night, songs were dedicated to the support of female and trans* rappers and Palestinian independence. Invincible proclaims that “we are the leaders that we’ve been waiting for,” and later follows it up with a derivative of everyone’s favourite change-related Gandhi quote. Invincible has some useful things to say, but are they getting lost in the beats? They’re obviously not the first rapper to grapple with the ‘change the world vs. throw a party’ dilemma, but they may be the first to do so on so many fronts. This is, after all, a show put on by the Howl! Arts Collective, which consists of “cultural workers, artists, and activists working for social justice via artistic expression.” Nobody can say that the audience
was unfamiliar with social justice. The hipster/activist crowd was a bit too relaxed and amiable that night for hardcore revolutionizing, or perhaps they were taking a night off. The show opened with No Bad Sound, featuring teenage spoken word poetry filled with platitudes about uniting and rising up. Not the most polished or original, but passionate, and impossible to dislike. Next came the nigh un-Google-able A K U A, whose enjoyable one-woman show produced some low-key, mildly trippy R&B entirely devoid of politics. In truth, there might be a bit of a disconnect between the performer onstage and their protest-happy Montreal audience. “Protesting is different from doing revolutionary work,” Invincible told The Daily. “To me, protesting is one little part of things but some people confuse protesting for the whole thing.” And if Invincible can craft a show with a slightly more coherent message, there’s a good chance they’ll be able to recruit plenty more for the type of revolutionary organizing they’ve devoted their life to.
volume 102 number 41
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Say goodbye to your departments Last week, the McGill administration announced their proposed plans, the “People, Processes & Partnerships” project, to drastically rearrange the space in the Leacock building. The third and sixth floors would be turned into student advising and administrative services, respectively, and Arts professors’ offices would be scattered between floors. Support staff would all be put on the sixth floor, and their ties to departments would be severed – they would become support staff for the whole faculty as opposed to their original departments. Additional staff, such as TAs or visiting scholars, would be moved to what is now the Jewish Studies building on McTavish, physically separating them from their departments. This proposed plan essentially destroys departmental communities within the Arts faculty. The plan is framed through the rhetoric of efficiency – that these moves will make it easier for students to navigate departmental administrations. While a noble goal, these changes should not come at the expense of departmental communities. Community is supposedly valued at McGill – you may remember the world record fruit salad that was desperately cited as building a more cohesive community. Yet this plan threatens departmental spaces, which foster important communities based on academic culture. Students in smaller faculties will have even more difficulty obtaining the help they need once support staff are no longer a part of a distinct, departmental entity and their professors are spread throughout Leacock. Already, professors have come out against the plan. History professor James Krapfl wrote an impassioned email to students denouncing the plan, and there are multiple petitions circulating that protest the proposal. The move is also troubling in terms of labour. As administrative positions are centralized, administrators would have less specialized knowledge of individual departments, and workers could be laid off to save money. The admin claims the plans will compensate for the potential loss of administrative staff – but the plan, by consolidating services, makes current support staff vulnerable to losing their jobs. Another worrisome aspect of the plan is the funding. The budget for this reshuffling would be up to $2.5 million and would come from private grants. McGill construction projects, however, have a nasty habit of going over schedule and over budget – just look at Phase II of the McLennan terrace renovations, which had been scheduled to finish in October 2012, but continued well into the Winter 2013 semester. Amid the oft-cited Parti Québécois budget cuts, it is financially unwise to spend this much money on a project that is not totally necessary. Perhaps most troubling is the neoliberal, managerial aspect of the plan. With the ballooning numbers (and salaries) of the senior admin, moves to reduce faculty and staff that actually
Illustration Name | The McGill Daily
Illustration Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily
deal with students directly make no sense. Here, academic support staff have been turned into general employees who work for all departments instead of just one. It fits within a trend of creating more administrative positions that are removed from the students. Consider how arduous it is to get help from McGill’s bureaucracy; now, imagine that your department doesn’t have any more specialized workers to help you. Instead, every support staff member will be handling requests from every department. There is precedent for this scenario. For example, at the University of Manchester, where a similar centralization of administrative services has taken place, professors have had to take over general administrative tasks that unspecialized support staff could no longer address. Contrary to the McGill administration’s assertions, efficiency may not even be increased. This is yet another example of the administration failing to integrate the opinions of anyone else on campus into their plans. Consultation on this issue has been an empty gesture, used only to rubber stamp a decision that has already been made by the administration. After the Arts cuts were announced, Dean of Arts Christopher Manfredi claimed that more full-time lecturers were what students wanted. Sure, students want full-time professors, but not at the expense of intimate seminar classes. The restructuring of Leacock is similar: yes, the students want a more efficient system, but not at the expense of one of the few true sources of community that McGill has left. To sign a petition against the proposed plan, go to: http://chn. ge/ZH4tH2.
—The McGill Daily Editorial Board
Errata In the article “Post-grads instate gender equality, divestment at annual meeting” (News, page 3, March 21), The Daily incorrectly stated that PGSS “saw three CROs leave the position due to tensions with the council.” In fact, only Brock Rutter resigned due to tensions with Council members. The article incorrectly stated that the PGSS “board has historically been all-male” and that Danielle Meadows was the first female director this year. In fact, two women have sat on the board this year, though they have both resigned. It was also stated that PGSS will work with an appointed researcher. In fact, it will work with its own researcher. It was stated that a censure motion “was brought forward at the start of the meeting by PGSS councillors”. In fact, the motion was brought forward by PGSS members. The article “Brave New McGill” (Features, page 8, March 21) stated, “Professors were certainly split on the issue at the Senate meeting I attended, and again at the March 23 meeting.” The reference is actually to the January 23 meeting. In “Our sexual assault centre should not be up for a vote” (Editorial, page 15, March 21), it was incorrectly stated that the fee to support the Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) is separate from the SSMU base fee. In fact, the fee is part of the base fee, and goes to referendum to renew that position. The Daily regrets the errors.
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The McGill Daily Monday, March 25, 2013 mcgilldaily.com
lies, half-truths, and we are all Katie Larson now
This construction project is necessary and cannot go wrong, says Dean Manfreddo assures campus that Leacock redesign “is best of all the worlds.” Euan EK The Twice-a-Weekly
ean of Farts Christopa P. Manfreddo has assured students, faculty, staff, and other administrators that new plans to restructure the Leacock building by consolidating all administrative services on one floor, breaking up the current departmental structure, is the “only sensible thing to do.” Manfreddo said that administrators have learned from their previous attempts to complete major structural redesigns and that this one cannot possibly go wrong. “This time we are going to write down our ideas before we do them,” said Manfreddo. “[It’s] foolproof.” Previously, administrators barked orders from the top of James Admin and assumed that they were “obeyed.” “It was a good and a bad system,” said Manfreddo. “We enjoyed it, but then the graphs.” Currently, each academic department in the building has its own floor and administrators, because of face-to-face contact. Manfreddo told The Twice-aWeekly that if the proposed foolproof construction project goes ahead, academics, students, and other nuisances will be moved to “one of those roads to the left, as you look at James.” “McTavish, is that one?” said
Manfreddo. “Or Peel? Somewhere west of Peel would be nice.” The newly-vacated space will then be used to house an above-inflationary number of administrators, each with a bespoke security officer. “The security officers will help with autonomy and solidarity, collegiality, and it’s always good to have personalized relationships between security staff and administrators. Losing these intimate relationships would be too high a price to pay for ensuring faculty and students can see each other in a building on campus,” said Manfreddo. “But Second Cup is nice.” Despite Manfreddo’s confidence that he is doing a good thing, many on campus are not so sure. Faculty are pretty outraged but too scared to say anything generally because they’re reading; “damn and blast,” one anonymous faculty member wrote in an email to The Twice-a-Weekly. Support staff are tired of this, but totally unsurprised and won’t comment because what’s the point. Management students have praised the move but have asked why the Dean “has not yet thought to outsource students and faculty to India.” Campus communist paper The McGall Daily is “pissed” about the plans because “they are not rad,” but has offered little in the way of constructive criticism, its staff preferring
Illustration A. Caffeinator | The Twice-a-Weekly
to shelter in their echo-chamber in the basement of the Shatner building. Despite the largely negative feedback and the administration’s
inability to count past the number six, Manfreddo is confident his solution is “the best of all the worlds.” “We spoke to the physicists,
and it looks like there is actually only one world,” Manfreddo said. “So we think we’re going to halve the budget…for shits and giggles.”
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Photo Mister Smithers | The McGill Daily
Published on Apr 2, 2013