Volume 103, Issue 25 Monday, March 31, 2014
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SACOMSS Sexual Assault Center of the McGill Studentsâ€™Society
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Table of Contents 4 NEWS
24 YEAR IN REVIEW
Loretta Saunders remembered
The year in photos
Hockey Redmen season recap
SSMU Council addresses failure of building fee
The Daily looks back at campus and Montreal issues
Year in review: Sports The role of the fan with tanking teams
Senate upholds protest protocol School of Social Work enters mediation
Off Campus Fellow Program cut
Summer in the city
SEDE avoids funding cuts Grad students file lawsuit against CFS
Year in review: Culture
SSMU executives’ year-end reviews This year at McGill
The history and continuation of eugenic practices in Canada
Year in review: News
Year in review: Features
Provincial election candidates debate at Thomson House
32 SCI+TECH The brain on meditation Privacy laws in the classroom Demarcating scientific authority
Problems in Indigenous education
The harms of bad science
An open letter to trans girls of colour, who like to write
Year in review: Sci+Tech
Rape culture is real
A defence of intersectionality theory
The need for a sexual assault policy at McGill
The value of academic boycott
Fuck this: students vent
Why moderates are wrong
Rape culture’s abuse of trust and consent
Daily editors hate The Daily more
Year in review: Commentary
Year in review: Health&Ed
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
Montreal commemorates the life of Loretta Saunders Vigil honours missing and murdered Indigenous women Kateryna Gordichuk News Writer
n March 27, Montreal saw a vigil to honour the life of Loretta Saunders, an Indigenous woman who went missing earlier this year and was later found murdered. The vigil, organized by the Missing Justice collective, took place at Place Norman-Bethune, and was part of a nationwide event. Saunders was a 26-year-old Saint Mary’s University student doing research on violence against Indigenous women when she suddenly disappeared on February 13. Two weeks later, her body was found on the Trans-Canada Highway in New Brunswick. Police have since charged her two roommates for her murder. The vigil aimed to commemorate Loretta’s life, and to call atten-
tion to broader issues concerning violence against Indigenous women. Alisha Mascarenhas, a member of the collective, pronounced on its behalf, “We are here to honour Loretta’s life and ensure that her work was not in vain.” “We gather today because government statistics assert that Indigenous women [aged 25 to 44] in Canada are five times more likely than any other women to die of violent causes.” Mascarenhas added, “The [Native] Women’s Association of Canada estimates that roughly 600 Indigenous women and girls have disappeared or have been missing since the 1980s.” Those in attendance also spoke to a lack of awareness regarding the issue. Heather Igloliorte, a professor of Art History at Concordia, told The Daily that, “One of the outgoing legacies of settlers in Canada is
the fact that we devalue Indigenous women in our culture. We have this serious instance of [a] very high number of murdered Indigenous women in Canada and yet there is very little awareness about what’s going on.” As the commemoration went on, a contemporary powwow band, Buffalo Hat Singers, performed in Saunders’ honour. The singing was followed by a moment of silence, and a poem was read by a spokenword artist. “I was just reflecting in the moment of silence and I appreciate it that it was a long moment of silence,” the poet said. “It’s good to feel a little bit of discomfort. Maybe this moment was too long, too silent. In those moments we can recognize our own death, our own being, the fire that we have inside us.”
Saunders was involved in doing research for her undergraduate degree in criminology when she was killed. “She deeply recognized her position as an Indigenous woman in the research that she was doing,” Mascarenhas said. “My interest is in honouring Loretta and other Indigenous women who had spoken out in the ways in which colonialism continues to eliminate them from society,” Darryl Leroux, Saunders’ former thesis advisor, wrote in an article published in the Halifax Media Co-Op on March 21. “We must not stand idly by as Loretta’s experiences as [an] Indigenous [woman] are trivialized, denied, misrepresented or eliminated.” Recently, the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association (NSNWA) has set plans in motion to establish a scholarship fund in Saunders’
name. Leroux, along with NSNWA president Cheryl Maloney, have also spoken about the possibility of establishing a research institution or foundation that would specifically focus on the problem of violence against Indigenous women. Shehla Arif, a member of the Missing Justice collective, told The Daily that cases such as Saunders’ are a result of the stereotypes that surround Indigenous women. She pushed back against the idea that women are killed “because they put themselves at risk,” pointing to colonial processes as the root of violence against Indigenous women. Arif stated that Saunders faced these stereotypes about Indigenous women, and said that she regarded it as everyone’s responsibility to continue Saunders’ work.
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March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
SSMU Council addresses fallout of failed building fee Contingency budget includes major cuts to clubs and services, building hours Janna Bryson and Igor Sadikov The McGill Daily
aced with the recent failure of the referendum question regarding the implementation of the Shatner building fee, councillors and executives at the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council meeting on March 27 shifted blame and accusations amongst themselves regarding the fee’s failure. In preparation for the case that a new referendum question should fail to pass, Council also discussed a contingency budget involving extreme cuts to SSMU clubs and services. Building fee and contingency budget On March 21, a crucial referendum question regarding the future of SSMU’s finances failed to pass, only receiving 46.4 per cent of student votes in favour. The question involved a non-opt-outable $6.08 per semester fee levy for full-time students to cover the costs of SSMU’s new lease, recently signed by SSMU and the McGill administration after four years of negotiations. The failure of the fee puts the financial future of SSMU, and the functionality of the SSMU building, in jeopardy. The failed fee has caused heated debate within the McGill community, with blame being passed between students and the executive. At Council, SSMU President Katie Larson addressed recent accusations that have surfaced in campus media. “Student involvement is a two-way street,” said Larson. “Could we have run a yes campaign? Of course. But at the end of the day, I shouldn’t have to explain to students why they should find something important. [...] It’s not just my fault, it’s not just the executive’s fault – it’s everybody’s fault.” In a statement given later on in the meeting, Clubs Representative Zachary Rosentzveig criticized Council for failing to assume its responsibilities. He blamed the failed fee on councillors’ compla-
cency in approving the lease, and expressed disappointment with Council’s level of involvement throughout the year. “Those sitting around this table have expressed publicly and privately an altogether unoriginal mix of bitterness. I’d like to remind Council today that we’re not exempt from responsibility,” said Rosentzveig. “We speak with arrogance about the power of our positions and the importance of our decisions, and far less so of our responsibilities as elected representatives,” he continued. “This council is tasked with defending the interests of McGill’s undergraduate students, and throughout this year we have completely failed. We provide neither service nor representation, and certainly not leadership.” In a presentation to Council, Chief Electoral Officer Ben Fung explained that the current bylaws make it impossible to put the building fee to a special referendum before the end of the semester. Larson suggested that an early referendum could be held before the end of the Fall 2014 add/drop period, or, alternatively, that a double fee could be charged in the Winter 2015 semester if the levy passes in the regular Fall referendum. VP Finance and Operations Tyler Hofmeister presented a contingency draft of the 2014-15 budget, on the basis that SSMU must fulfill its constitutional mandate to break even in the case that the building fee fails to be adopted when put to referendum again. The final draft of the budget will be brought before Council for approval at its last meeting on April 10. Proposed avenues to cut spending and increase revenue include the reduction or elimination of the Club Fund, price increases at Gerts, reduced hours of operation in the Shatner building, the halving of the IT budget, and cuts to expenses associated with executive portfolios – although not decreases in executive salaries, according to an email Hofmeister sent to The Daily. Arts Representative Ben Reedijk suggested that Council
consider charging rent to student services and clubs for the offices that they occupy. In response, Hofmeister pointed to the difficulty of establishing a fair scheme, and also raised concerns of financial transparency. “That is still incredibly sketchy to take from student fees specifically for the running of these services, and instead use it to support the building,” Hofmeister said. “That’s not financially transparent in any regard.” David Olmstead, Operations Coordinator of WalkSafe, a volunteer service that provides free night-time accompaniment to students, noted that a revocation of after-hours access to the Shatner building would be “devastating.” He added that being charged rent at the market rate for the office would be “completely financially unsustainable,” as the amount would represent double the group’s operating budget. Hofmeister added that The Nest, the student-run café, will see changes to the menu and a reduction in student involvement in its operations. The Nest, which needs to break even to fit within the contingency budget, is currently operating at a deficit of $11,000. Even after all the proposed changes, $20,000 more in cuts must be made before the draft budget can be presented at the next council meeting. Other motions Rosentzveig and VP University Affairs Joey Shea put forward a motion to provide support for McGill students facing difficulties when trying to register to vote in the upcoming provincial election. The movers called on SSMU to offer support and resources to these students, as well as to take a stance in their defence. Hofmeister motioned to dissolve the Finance Committee, citing an overall lack of productivity. A motion was also brought forward to amend the SSMU Communications Guide, altering the review process for posters put up as part of a sponsorship agreement. The three motions passed.
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 15, 2014. 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 online at www.mcgill.ca/english or in the Department of English General Office, Arts 155. Submissions must be IN TRIPLICATE.
DEADLINE: Tuesday, April 15, 2014
March 31, 2014 The McGill Daily | www.mcgilldaily.com
Committee rules in protest protocol grievance Ruling upholds limits to students’ rights
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Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, April 8, at noon in the LICM office (Room 107, University Centre, 3480 McTavish) All members are invited to attend (all fee-paying McGill undergraduate and graduate students on the downtown campus, except those registered in the School of Continuing Studies, are members of LICM). For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you there!
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Students protest in 2012 Igor Sadikov The McGill Daily
he Senate Committee on Student Grievances has ruled that the “Provisional Protocol Regarding Demonstrations, Protests, and Occupations on McGill University Campuses,” implemented in February 2012, did not violate the Charter of Students’ Rights. The decision, released on March 17, comes in response to a grievance filed in December 2012 by student Eli Freedman. The Provisional Protocol, introduced following the five-day occupation of the James Administration building in February 2012, later became permanent policy without substantial changes, under the title “Operating Procedures Regarding Demonstrations, Protests and Occupations on McGill University Campuses.” This document outlines criteria for assessing whether or not a protest can be deemed peaceful, such as “the degree of disruption of University activities.” Those who have criticized these regulations include student groups, three of the university’s unions, and the Quebec Civil Liberties Union, a civil rights group. “This document conflates mere inconvenience with violent disruption and therefore tramples on the right of McGill community members to express all but the weakest forms of dissent,” stated the Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE) in a
Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily March 2013 press release. The Committee recognized that the Provisional Protocol imposed restrictions on students’ rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, but it did not consider them to be a violation of McGill’s Charter of Students’ Rights. “The Committee felt that the restrictions on individual rights under the Provisional Protocol were reasonable, given the situation,” the ruling states. Freedman deplored that the Provisional Protocol was enacted in a rush, without prior public consultation. “In what can only be described as an authoritative abuse of power, Provost Anthony Masi took the law into his own hands, ignoring his declaration that the university community would be consulted before making reforms to its protest regulations,” Freedman wrote in a press release sent to The Daily. Before the adoption of the Operating Procedures, Dean of Arts Christopher Manfredi held the Open Forum on Free Expression and Peaceful Assembly in March 2012. He presented a report that called for slight clarifications to the language of the Provisional Protocol, but otherwise suggested no major changes. Recently, the Operating Procedures were invoked to justify the dispersion of a demonstration in the Macdonald Engineering building, with the help of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM). Demilitarize McGill, a campus group that
organizes against military research at the university, had blockaded the Aerospace Mechatronics Laboratory. Dean of Students André Costopoulos pointed to “obstruction” as a sufficient criterion to restrict the right to protest. “Obstruction – say, blocking doors, preventing people from going where they need to go – is a violation of their rights,” he told The Daily. “If you look at the Manfredi report from a couple years ago, [...] it said, we have to expect a certain level of disruption, but if it rises to obstruction, then there’s a problem,” said Costopoulos. “It’s a community standard, basically.” For Demilitarize McGill member Kevin Paul, however, the protocol is symptomatic of the University’s role in the broader structures of repression. “The protocol exists to protect the interests of an institution that is inseparable from capitalist and imperialist systems of control by legitimizing the repression of actions that disrupt the institution’s support for those systems, including through violent police intervention,” Paul wrote in an email to The Daily. “There was no reason to expect that the University’s own judicial process would annul [the protocol],” Paul added. In an email sent to The Daily, Freedman noted, “The ruling at least admits that students’ rights are restricted more than previously as a result of the protocol [...] This is a starting point for further organizing to protect students’ rights and interests.”
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
McGill School of Social Work to enter into mediation with course lecturer Human Rights Commission’s approach to systemic racism called into question
“In most institutions what we see— particularly in the French sector— [is that] racial diversity among professionals in mainstream institutions is very underrepresented.”
case was made public, Wendy Thomson published a letter in The Daily stating that the University “contests the allegations of racial discrimination in the hiring process.” If the University did not agree to enter into mediation with Lee, the Commission would have been compelled to enter into an investigation of the School. CRARR published a public statement claiming that the University originally rejected mediation; however, McGill’s Director of Internal Relations Doug Sweet says the University never refused mediation. “It wanted to first submit its version of the facts, which it did,” he added in an email to The Daily. “There are very few tenure track professors of colour, in particular black and Indigenous professors,” said Emily Yee Clare, former Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Equity Commissioner and VP University Affairs. “That in itself is a limitation on how supported many racialized students can feel.” “In most institutions, what we see—particularly in the French sector—[is that] racial diversity among professionals in mainstream institutions is very underrepresented,” said Niemi, adding that “a great number of what they call social work clientele are economically disadvantaged – poor – and many of them are racialized.” CRARR is in the process of producing a statement and organizing a forum calling for a public official policy on systemic racism from the Commission and discussing other action against systemic racism in different fields, such as employment, public services, and education. The forum is being planned for April.
Fo Niemi, Executive Director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations
—With files from Nicolas Quiazua
Hera Chan The McGill Daily
oo Jin Edward Lee, a course lecturer and doctoral student at the McGill School of Social Work, will enter into a mediation process with the University following his complaint to the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission. The complaint was filed last summer based on claims that the School of Social Work perpetuates systemic racism in their hiring practices. Lee received a letter, sent by the Commission on March 5, informing him of the University’s decision to enter into mediation. Lee will receive the aid of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) during the mediation process. “This is a positive development because mediation can still lead to mutually satisfactory outcomes at the early stage of what could be a case of prolonged, complex, and costly litigation due to the elements of systemic racism involved,” said Lee in an interview with The Daily. Lee had solicited CRARR’s aid due to problems he encountered “in the way the Commission addressed the elements of systemic racism,” he said. CRARR had already released a
public statement of support for his case on February 18. According to the public statement released by CRARR, Lee had requested the Commission to disclose a copy of its policy on systemic racism. “We are not sure the Human Rights Commission has a comprehensive policy on systemic racism, particularly in employment. Systemic racism is a very complex form of discrimination that requires a thorough review of the entire employment system of a company or an institution,” said Fo Niemi, Executive Director of CRARR. Lee filed his complaint after the School failed to shortlist him for one of two part-time faculty lecturer positions. According to Lee, the director of the School, Wendy Thomson, informed him that he was not shortlisted because he lacked clinical experience, a requirement that was not listed on the job posting. The complaint was received and processed by the Commission on July 4, 2013. In his complaint, Lee claimed that the Employment Equity Guidelines of the School of Social Work, and more broadly across the university, perpetuate hiring practices that discriminate against racialized persons for faculty positions. Shortly after Lee’s
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March 31, 2014 The McGill Daily | www.mcgilldaily.com
Off-campus program funding in jeopardy Program offers support for students living off-campus Anvita Kulkarni News Writer
hile McGill offers numerous residences at both the downtown and Macdonald campuses, over 3,000 students choose to live off-campus in their first year. A recent survey conducted by the First Year Council found that threequarters of surveyed off-campus students had trouble meeting people, compared to less than half of residence students. Over three-quarters of offcampus students surveyed also stated that they felt little or no belonging to McGill, compared to less than one-fifth of residence students. The Off Campus Fellow Program was implemented in 2010 to address these feelings of isolation
by offering events, and social and informational support, for students living off-campus. The funding for the program under Residence Life has not been renewed for the upcoming academic year. Residence Life Program Advisor and supervisor of the Off Campus Fellow Program Victoria Villalba noted, “As a self-financing operation, [Student Housing and Hospitality Services (SHHS)] cannot really justify continuing to spend money paid to us by resident students on programming not directly for students in our residences.” Events are organized by four salaried Fellows, and the program itself is currently supervised and financed by Residence Life, a part of SHHS. “A lot of the events that we do mimic the kinds that Rez students
enjoy (such as Off Campus Fest, our 450-person alternative to Rez Fest that we organized in the summer), but we also try to reach out to the Montreal community as a whole,” wrote Off Campus Fellow Alice Feldman in an email to The Daily. “At least twice a month, we venture out into downtown and other parts of Montreal [to show what] this city already has to offer – all while remaining friendly to the environment and the wallet.” Dylan Smith, an exchange student from the U.S. who participates in the program, added, “I’ve been to pretty much every [event ...] It’s a diverse bunch of events – not all of them involve drinking.” An open letter and petition addressing the end of funding noted, “There have been no measures taken to guarantee the placement of
the program under an alternative, relevant supervising department at the University.” “I think the program should exist for sure,” current off-campus student Lea Begis told The Daily. “I would totally recommend it to offcampus students; [in fact] I already did [so].” “Ideally we’d like to find a new home for this program in time for it to continue to operate next year,” Villalba said. “[But] we have not yet begun formal discussions with stakeholders on how and where it could be housed, or how it might link in to, or be replaced by, other programs already offered on campus.” The open letter also emphasized the importance of the program’s existence, noting that “the removal of this program could place an unnecessary burden on
other student services such as First Year Council, McGill International Students Network, McGill Mental Health, academic advising offices, [et cetera].” Feldman agreed with these concerns, adding, “The scope of the [Off Campus Fellow] Program is incredible: we target first-year students from Montreal that live at home, first year international students who chose not to live in Rez, exchange and transfer students in their first year at McGill – we even have some graduate students who do events for us because McGill does not have an extensive graduate student network.” Feldman continued, “For many of these students, [the Off Campus Fellow Program] is the only resource at McGill that is specifically oriented to tackle the problems that these students face.”
Social Equity and Diversity Education Office secures funding Staff positions and programs maintained after successful campaign Jill Bachelder The McGill Daily
he Social Equity and Diversity Education (SEDE) Office has renewed its funding for the next academic year, Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures,
and Equity) Lydia White and SEDE employee Emily Boytinck have confirmed. Despite an earlier budget proposed by the McGill administration that would have reduced SEDE funding, SEDE will see no decreases in its budget next year
and will be able to keep the entirety of its staff while continuing its programs. Founded in 2005, SEDE addresses issues of harassment and discrimination on campus. It also provides a variety of programs that promote social awareness and community engagement around campus, including Homework Zone, a mentoring and tutoring program that brings together McGill students and local elementary schools; Indigenous Awareness Week; and Community Engagement Day. Despite the various services it provides, SEDE has consistently struggled with limited funds. Last year, SEDE lost a significant amount of funding, forcing it to eliminate a number of staff positions. According to Boytinck, those cuts gave rise to this year’s “We Need SEDE” campaign, dedicated to securing funding for the services SEDE provides. “We were worried that something similar could happen again this year, and decided to take action to prevent future cuts,” Boytinck told The Daily in an email.
The campaign, which began in February, has employed petitioning and other outreach methods to raise awareness of SEDE’s financial state, and to garner support for its funding. The administration’s decision to maintain SEDE funding comes about two months after the campaign began, even as the University finds itself with limited budget options. White spoke to the the process behind the University’s decision to commit funding to the program. “In spite of such constraints, we are pleased to report that in the case of SEDE a decision was made earlier this year to commit to base funding for two advisor positions,” White wrote in an email to The Daily. White went on to say that the University will be funding SEDE’s permanent staff positions and all expenses associated with Community Engagement Day. SEDE will also be able to apply for additional project funding. While the exact reasons why McGill has chosen to fund SEDE are unclear, SEDE employees are pleased with the proposed SEDE
budget. According to White, SEDE Manager Veronica Amberg is “delighted that the University has decided to fund permanent staff positions at SEDE and that SEDE is looking forward to creative ways of involving the community in developing new projects and maintaining existing ones.” Boytinck cited SEDE’s importance to the McGill community as a reason why its funding should remain a priority. “By educating staff, faculty, and student leaders, the Equity Educational Advisors train McGill community members in the areas of LGBTQ rights and race and cultural diversity with the aim of cultivating a respectful, diverse, and supportive campus,” Boytinck explained, adding, “In addition, SEDE works with students, staff, and faculty through a variety of community engagement programs.” “We strongly believe that equity, diversity, and community engagement should be priorities at McGill, and ensuring SEDE program continuation and expansion is essential.”
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
McGill graduate students launch individual suit against student federation Graduate student asks court for approval of referendum to leave CFS Sam Nazer News Writer
e Sa, a graduate student at McGill, appeared before a Quebec Superior Court judge on March 18 to ask the court to schedule a vote on decertification from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) following claims that his petition to hold a referendum has been ignored by the organization. Sa’s actions come after the PostGraduate Students’ Society (PGSS) filed a case against the CFS after the CFS refused to recognize the results of a referendum to leave in 2010. The lawsuit is currently in progress. Sa’s action, on behalf of individual graduate students instead of PGSS, is meant to stop CFS from collecting fees while the suit with PGSS is being decided over the next few years. “CFS is known to try every trick in the book to not have a disaffiliation referendum,” Sa said. “They try to keep people in their federation, so they have to keep paying them. It’s like a lobster trap. It’s easy to get in and difficult to get out.” According to Sa, over 20 per cent of graduate students and post-
docs at McGill signed a petition asking CFS for an opportunity to vote to leave the organization. The petition was sent by registered mail, as is required by CFS bylaws. Sa claims that after a failed delivery attempt at CFS’ headquarters in Ottawa, the CFS failed for two weeks to pick up the petition from the post office, and ignored subsequent emails and written reminders from Sa urging them to collect the petition. Sa then sought legal counsel and served a demand letter by bailiff to CFS Chairperson Jessica McCormick, compelling her to retrieve the petition. Despite these efforts, Sa claims that the petition was still not retrieved. Sa delivered a second demand letter to McCormick during CFS’ annual general meeting in Gatineau on November 23, 2013. According to Sa, the CFS is required to reply to the petition within 90 days of receiving it, but they ignored this obligation and refused to schedule the vote. In an interview with The Daily, Brent Farrington, Internal Coordinator of the CFS, denied that the CFS had neglected its responsibilities in replying to the petition. “To validate a petition, we
work with the association and [the] University to ensure that the names that are submitted are, in fact, valid members of the CFS and that the petition meets the required threshold. Our request to get that information was never fulfilled,” said Farrington. “We have not ignored the petition. That is completely false,” Farrington continued. “We had to reach out to [PGSS] to validate it. They were unhelpful and failed to do so as per the bylaws.” Farrington also questioned the effect the students’ petition would have on PGSS’ separate case. “It’s clear why they wouldn’t cooperate,” Farrington said. “It would undermine their case if they were to admit they are members of the CFS.” Farrington continued, “It’s weird that the PGSS is suing the CFS with the argument that they are not members. But at the same time, they tried to get an injunction to hold a vote on whether or not they are members. [...] We are confused as to what their logic is.” However, according to PGSS Secretary-General Jonathan Mooney, PGSS’ legal counsel has assured them that the injunction
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“There’s a tactic that [the CFS] commonly use [...] They say we’ve received your petition so we’ll schedule a referendum a year from now. By that time, a significant portion of the signatories has graduated, so it’s not valid, and you don’t get a referendum.” Ge Sa, PGSS Councillor for Mining and Materials will not undermine their proceeding lawsuit. “This petition is by an independent student and is separate from the ongoing litigation,” Mooney said. “There’s a tactic that [the CFS] commonly use,” Sa said. “They say we’ve received your petition so we’ll schedule a referendum a year from now. By that time, a significant portion of the signatories has graduated, so it’s not valid, and you don’t get a referendum.”
“The petition was signed last semester, which means many of those who signed the petition will graduate in April and will no longer be part of McGill,” Sa said. “We think that it’s very important that their freedom of association is respected.” The court set the trial date on August 28, 2014. Sa’s case will be heard again then, and the court will decide whether there will be an immediate referendum to leave the CFS.
March 31, 2014 The McGill Daily | www.mcgilldaily.com
SSMU year in review Compiled by Hannah Besseau, Molly Korab, Jordan Venton-Rublee, and Dana Wray Photos by Robert Smith This year’s SSMU executive was, with the exception of a few notable incidences, largely unimpressive. General assemblies were sparsely attended, often not meeting quorum, and the executive failed to take strong political stances. The most well-known political conundrum of the year, involving VP Internal Brian Farnan’s apology email, consumed Council’s already limited energy while ignoring a more important impending issue: the lease of the Shatner building. Executives failed to advertise the referendum question or form a ‘Yes’ committee for the fee levy to pay for the building’s lease, resulting in a failed referendum question, and the potential for deep budget cuts. The Daily contacted the SSMU executive for interviews via email. However, only two of the executives, Brian Farnan and Tyler Hofmeister, responded, which is emblematic of the attitude toward the campus media over the last year. Their interviews have been paraphrased for the relevant reviews.
Katie Larson, President
SMU President Katie Larson’s biggest accomplishment of this year – the signing of SSMU’s lease of the Shatner building after four years of negotiation with the University – is, at the time of this writing, in great danger of falling through. At $130,000 for rent and $100,000 for utilities for 2013-14, SSMU’s new lease is far more demanding than its equivalents at other Canadian universities, where student societies often pay a symbolic $1 lease. While the University has certainly been aggressive in the matter, for Larson to sign a negotiation where SSMU would be taking on the majority of costs, and then to fail to emphasize the importance of the lease and its related costs, falls short of the demands on executives. In the case of the unpassed fee increase that would have covered the cost of the lease, Larson’s primary responsibility was, quite simply, to lead the executive in promoting the fee levy and in outlining its importance to students – a task that she has not completed, as the SSMU executive did not make clear the importance of the fee levy, nor did the executive cam-
paign for the fee in any highly publicized way. At Council on March 27, Larson deflected blame for this potentially disastrous outcome, stating that she “shouldn’t have to explain to students why they should find something important.” This reflects a lack of understanding of the student body, and a sense of apathy and disconnectedness worrisome in a SSMU executive. Aside from the lease, Larson has made progress in several areas. She has succeeded in improving attendance at SSMU General Assemblies (GAs), which saw poor turnout in the first semester. In addition, Larson has overseen the launch of the ECOLE sustainability project and Vision 2020, two important sustainability initiatives, which are integral to the presidential portfolio. Larson’s communication with campus media has been poor throughout the year. The Daily requested her input for this review, but has not heard back from her as of press time.
Brian Farnan, VP Internal
P Internal Brian Farnan has seen an unexpected turn of events this year, with his name splashed across the right-wing blogosphere and in the international media. The incident in question came from a photoshopped GIF that Farnan shared on his weekly SSMU listserv showing U.S. President Barack Obama kicking in a door after a press conference. A student filed an equity complaint, and Farnan issued an apology on the listserv, sparking a backlash. SSMU rescinded the apology later in the semester.
Though the incident was the most visible of Farnan’s tenure, it had little to do with most of Farnan’s initiatives as VP Internal. In his role, Farnan has succeeded in a number of less-visible measures. He has adequately carried out SSMU’s communications strategy, particularly in the realm of social media, an important aspect of his portfolio. He has also served as one of the first student members on the Centraide committee, a service-oriented campaign run by McGill, and on SSMU’s Francophone Commission, helping to put on this year’s Méchante langue conference. In terms of Frosh, Farnan’s primary responsibility, this year has seen a mixed bag of reforms and a continuation of the most pervasive problems facing Frosh. This year, Frosh lost $21,000 due to easily-avoidable mistakes, such as failing to factor in PayPal surcharges – a serious case of money mismanagement. Frosh also remains inaccessible, with inadequate reforms to address rape culture, and halfhearted attempts at accessibility – for instance, the near total lack of dry leaders. On the other hand, Farnan helped implement a number of important Frosh reforms, including the introduction of harm reduction teams, “Chill Zones,” and a more institutionalized, inter-faculty collaboration system. Farnan also expressed openness to collaborating more with alternative Froshes, such as Rad Frosh. Finally, Farnan has improved his communication with campus media (something that was lacking in his first term), showing that he is aware of previous criticism and has taken active
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
Tyler Hofmeister, VP Finance and Operations
s SSMU’s VP Finance and Operations, Tyler Hofmeister has the unenviable job of working with SSMU’s large budget. Under his guidance, SSMU opened the student-run café, broke even with the Society’s budget, and is currently dealing with the blow of the loss of the building fee. Though Hofmeister has communicated with campus media only via email, he has been open and reliable when responding to questions and concerns. When asked about his less visible accomplishments, Hofmeister told The Daily that he has streamlined the budget by automating large parts of the budget creation process, and has made it more transparent by including detailed breakdowns of SSMU service budgets. In addition, by shifting investment areas, he has increased SSMU’s interest revenues by tens of thousands of dollars – something he is writing into bylaws. Looking at long-term projects, Hofmeister has
been working with McGill’s administration and Development and Alumni Relations to find a way for SSMU to receive donations. Currently, Hofmeister told The Daily that SSMU does not have legal charitable status and so cannot issue tax receipts required by many potential donors. The opening of the student-run café is Hofmeister’s most visible accomplishment, although it fell short of some expectations, as its current iteration is only a counter rather than a full-fledged café. Hofmeister leaves the position this May in the middle of a crisis regarding the budget, as the referendum question regarding the building fee – created to pay for the new terms of SSMU’s lease – failed to pass. Hofmeister told The Daily that “we are all responsible” for the fee not passing, and that he is focused on creating a contingency budget that will reduce the impact of the financial loss.
Stefan Fong, VP Clubs & Services
tefan Fong has made the unusual move of running for (and winning) a re-election to the post of VP Clubs & Services. In prior interviews with The Daily, Fong said that he wanted to continue to fulfill long-term projects that could not be completed in just one year, such as Club Hub, a club management portal. Most of Fong’s time has been taken up by day-today operations, which he has performed quietly and competently. In the Fall semester, Fong dealt with a mice infestation, the clean-up of the fourth floor of the
Shatner building, and the allocation of club offices. His revamping of Activities Night in both the Fall and Winter semesters received mixed reviews. Since Fong’s midterm review, there has been little visible work in his portfolio other than the continuation of club audits and workshops, and the installation of a new sound system in the Shatner building ballroom. As of press time, Fong had not responded to The Daily’s request for an interview for this year-end review, making it difficult to to hear his reflections on the job.
Samuel Harris, VP External
n his position as VP External, Sam Harris has focused on Milton-Parc community relations, McGill’s role in the Table de concertation étudiante du Québec (TaCEQ), and “defending student interests.” The last of the three took the form of attempts to create a working group that would oppose the Charter of Values, although the group did not materialize. The Quebec student roundtable TaCEQ has been a major component of the role of VP External over the past few years. The roundtable is currently in the midst of a slow disintegration, and SSMU will be leaving, after a recent referendum question passed. However, Harris took little motion to leave prior to the departure of SS-
Joey Shea, VP University Affairs
oey Shea has accomplished a significant amount in her tenure as VP University Affairs. Her position involves advocating for students to the administration, and a large part of her role is sitting on administrative bodies such as Senate and University Committees. Throughout the year, she has maintained a strong relationship with campus media. However, Shea did not respond to requests for an end-of-year review interview. Shea has held a strong record of both collaborating with, and being critical of, the administration. She has been very vocal on Senate, and has put pressure on the administration, for example when Student Services considered allocating a surplus of $6 million to its operating budget. One of the biggest accomplishments this semester was the fulfilment of Shea’s campaign promises on mental health. An ad-hoc committee on mental health, struck by Shea and others at the beginning of the year,
has put forward a new mental health policy. The policy, which was adopted by SSMU in February, calls for the hiring of a mental health coordinator and the creation of a student mental health network. In the wake of the sexual assault case – where three Redmen football players were charged with sexual assault – Shea helped organize a Forum on Consent, hosted in late February. The Forum, which sought to address issues of consent and rape culture, was commendable as it was largely student-led, allowing voice for student groups such as SACOMSS and Queer McGill to present a proposed Sexual Assault Policy. Yet, Shea is also responsible for overseeing the Equity Committee, an area of SSMU that has recently attracted much criticism, after it formally reprimanded VP Internal Brian Farnan for his listserv GIF.
MU’s major ally and one of the three TaCEQ executives, instead sinking money into a court case. Harris also appears to have done little to hold workshops or events that connect McGill with the Montreal community, instead focusing heavily on improving relations between McGill and the Milton-Parc community. However, while his work in this area has been fairly invisible, as it has only reached a small portion of students, it has set a good foundation for his successor. Harris’s communication with campus media has been fairly good; however, as of press time, Harris has not responded to interview requests for this end-ofyear review.
March 31, 2014 The McGill Daily | www.mcgilldaily.com
THE YEAR November 11: After years of campaigning, Concordia University opens their Sexual Assault Resource Centre.
August 11: The Centre for Gender Advocacy submits a complaint to the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse alleging that Quebec’s requirements for changing a legal gender marker infringe on the rights of trans* people.
November 3: Denis Coderre snags the job of Montreal mayor.
August 30: Critical Mass, a collective bike ride held around the world, takes to the streets of Montreal a month after facing police violence.
September: University installs new set of barriers at Milton Gates to limit cycling through campus.
November 1: The Montreal Gazette reveals that three members of the Redmen football team had been charged with sexual assault and confinement of a Concordia student 15 months prior.
November 20: Concordia’s Centre for Gender Advocacy announces it will challenge the Quebec Civil Code in Quebec’s Superior Court, demanding for three stipulations for Article 71 to be abolished. Article 71 was criticized by the Centre for being transphobic in its strict regulations on gender change on official government identification.
September 5: New Principal Suzanne Fortier starts her term as leader of the University after Heather Munroe-Blum’s contentious ten-year tenure.
September: McGill continues to limit access to information requests with the two parties meeting before the Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec.
October: SSMU announces the long-awaited opening of a student-run café for January 2014.
September 1: McGill Mental Health Services and McGill Counselling Services implement one-time $20 registration fee for new and returning students.
October 10: McGill Sustainability Projects Fund hosts panel on Enbridge Line 9, after project faces national criticism for environmental degradation. September 20: The one-time $20 registration fee to access Mental Health or Counselling Services is removed. Students who have paid the fee are reimbursed.
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
IN NEWS November 21: Montrealers gather to fight gendered violence in “Take Back the Night” rally.
February 4: Montrealers hold a vigil to mourn victims of police brutality, including Alain Magloire, a man killed by Montreal police that week.
March 15: The 18th annual police brutality march sees police violence and largescale kettling.
February 17: Demonstrators clash over increased police presence in Montreal’s gay village.
December 20: Supreme Court of Canada struck down three provisions in the Bedford v. Canada case regarding sex work.
February 14: Montrealers march for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women for the fourth consecutive year in the city.
January: Student-run café opens in former Lola Rosa space amidst criticism that the café operates as a lunch counter rather than as a student space.
February: Access to information requests reveal that researchers at McGill have contracts with the Department of National Defence to develop drone software.
January: McGill comes to a settlement with respondents over ongoing ATI case, with the University agreeing to start to respond to a number of long-standing requests.
February: ECOLE, a sustainable student living project, is funded, and set to launch in Fall 2014.
February 19: McGill’s Senate approves the creation of an Indigenous Studies minor after years of effort on the part of advocates and students alike.
March: After years of negotiations, SSMU and McGill sign Shatner building lease, spanning 2011-21.
February 7: Students and community members participated in a blockade of the Faculty Club to protest the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC) Petrocultures conference.
March 21: SSMU elections see an upset, with next year’s president, Tariq Khan, winning by 78 votes after being publicly censured by Elections SSMU. The election turmoil also sees the failure of a fee levy to cover SSMU’s newly-signed lease with McGill.
March: AGSEM starts campaign to unionize all nonunionized teaching staff employees at the university.
March 14: Campus activist group Demilitarize McGill blockades McGill’s Aerospace Mechatronics Laboratory, reacting to the revelation that researchers at the Laboratory have received over $500,000 in military research contracts.
March 31, 2014 The McGill Daily | www.mcgilldaily.com
“The two main goals [of ECOLE] are to be a model for sustainable living, and [...] to serve as a catalyst for a surviving, connected community for sustainability that integrates community outreach, sustainable living, and equity.” Lily Schwarzbaum, ECOLE coordinator on the project Sustainability at McGill faced advances and setbacks this year. On the positive side, two important sustainability projects were approved by the University, Vision 2020, and the Education Community Living Environment (ECOLE) project. Vision 2020, which seeks to create a long-term sustainability plan for the McGill community, was approved on March 21. The ECOLE project, also approved in the Winter semester, aims to create a sustainability hub in the Milton-Parc community and a model for sustainable living. The ECOLE project will operate in a house off-campus, and see 8 to 12 students live there while com-
pleting an independent study project. These student residents will receive subsidized rent and academic credit for their independent study. ECOLE will launch its pilot year in September 2014. However, sustainability on campus also took a hit when SSMU abruptly lost the position of Sustainability Coordinator. The position which entailed working to align the activities of SSMU with a culture of sustainability, was ended in the Fall semester. Since then there has been little movement from SSMU to create a new position. As per a motion passed at the SSMU
Winter General Assembly (GA), the Ad-hoc Committee on Sustainability will make an “actionable recommendation” for sustainability at SSMU by the end of the Winter 2014 semester. After the recommendation is made, it will be the job of the President and executive to look into the feasibility of the proposal and steps for implementation, and an update will then be brought forward to the Fall 2014 GA. As such, much of the work to implement sustainability on campus remains to be seen in the next academic year. —Jordan Venton-Rublee
“If this isn’t social injury, then McGill needs a new definition.” Divest McGill banner Divest McGill was created in 2012 to campaign for divestment from University holdings in the fossil fuel industry. In February 2013, the group submitted two petitions to McGill’s Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR). The petitions – one seeking McGill’s divestment from the tar sands and fossil fuel industry, and the other seeking divestment from companies associated with the Nord pour tous (formerly known as Plan Nord), a natural resource exploitation project started under former premier Jean Charest – gained momentum, with support from McGill student unions, as well as numerous climate justice advocacy groups across the city. In May 2013, McGill’s Board of Governors rejected both petitions that Divest McGill submitted. The decision was based on recommendations from CAMSR that indicated that the petitions failed to prove “social injury” had occurred under CAMSR’s Terms of Reference – that is, their mandate and guidelines for reviewing the social responsibility of the University’s investments. Divest McGill continues to be very active working with other climate justice advocacy groups and Indigenous communities who are also opposed to fossil fuel and tar sands extraction in Canada, and raising awareness on campus. This year, the group held workshops, organized a bike protest, and spoke out against the Petrocultures conference hosted by the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. Divest McGill acted, and will continue to act, as a key player in increasing the pressure on McGill to divest from fossil fuels and become a leader in ethical investments among universities worldwide. —E.k. Chan and Hera Chan
“It is important to break [the invisibility of equity issues] down. We have to be intentional about it and actually make changes and work against it.” Sarah Berry, course lecturer Equity was a buzzword on McGill’s campus this year, at times due to missteps by the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) executive and staff. During the first semester, the SSMU executive was met with criticism for its Costume Campaign, which intended to educate students on culturally appropriative costumes, but used posters featuring people wearing the sort of costumes SSMU sought to ban. Despite both the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Equity Committee and SSMU Equity Committee holding forums on the subject in the second semester, the issue of equity at McGill seemed to become larger than life following a complaint filed toward SSMU VP Internal Brian Farnan over a GIF of Barack Obama included in a SSMU listserv email. Part of the Equity Commission’s ruling in the complainant’s favour was that Farnan would issue a public apology – an apology that took a life of its own, attracting international media attention. Back on campus, SSMU eventually decided to retract the decision to make the apology public at a Council meeting, on “the basis that the apology trivializes the legitimacy of equity and racism on campus,” according to the motion moved. Efforts by the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) to create a more equitable en-
vironment were positive, but flew under the radar for many students. Christopher Tegho, who was appointed Equity Commissioner for EUS in October, worked to educate engineering students on the meaning of equity, rape culture, and safer space through workshops held in the Winter semester. The workshops, held in a mandatory first year course for Engineering students, broke down such concepts for students, many of whom were hearing of them for the first time – a phenomenon that is all-too common at McGill. —Jordan Venton-Rublee
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
“[The] industry went on a mission to developing countries to get them to use chrysotile asbestos.” Kathleen Ruff, anti-asbestos advocate McGill attempted to address accusations of research misconduct in October 2013, when it hosted a conference on asbestos that included panels and discussions about research ethics and asbestos. The University found itself involved in a long-running academic dispute surrounding the work of Professor John Corbett McDonald, who undertook research in the 1960s and 1970s on the health impacts of chrysotile asbestos. His work demonstrated that the use of this asbestos was safe in controlled circumstances; however, McDonald received direct funding from the Quebec Asbestos Mining Association, “an [asbestos] industry-funded body.” Starting in 2002, numerous scientists began lodging complaints with McGill over the methodology of the research, with some claiming that data had been chosen selectively to give the result desired by industry, and to green-light the commercial exploitation of a cancerous substance. In response to mounting criticism, the University hosted a day-long conference focused on both asbestos and academic research ethics. Yet while most peo-
ple at the conference agreed that McGill needed greater ethical oversight in research, no solution was put on the table for discussion, and critics – notably Kathleen Ruff and David Egilman – argued that hosting a conference was not enough and that McGill needed to decide on an ethics policy and retract the study. Rejection of McDonald’s findings are almost unanimous within the scientific community; however, McGill still refuses to completely retract the paper. To date, critics maintain that the asbestos industry uses McDonald’s findings as evidence for the harmlessness of the substance. This is particularly true in developing countries. The Brazilian government’s position, for example, is that chrysotile asbestos is harmless; this view is based on McDonald’s findings. All that needs to happen to stop the sale of harmful chrysotile asbestos around the world, according to critics, is for McGill to denounce McDonald’s research. —Emmet Livingstone
“[We should protest] until it is taken seriously by the government [and] they actually put some effort [into] helping these Indigenous women.”
“You reach a point where you realize that there is a huge power differential between SSMU and McGill, and no matter what, we are going to be in this building and they are pretty much setting the terms of the negotiation.”
Cleve Higgins, an attendee at the October Sisters in Spirit vigil
Joey Shea, SSMU VP University Affairs
Every year, Montrealers take to the streets calling for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. This February, Missing Justice, an Indigenous solidarity collective, organized the annual march, which saw over 500 protesters participate in the march, higher than all previous marches. Despite the fact that the march has occurred annually for years now, the response from the government continues to be lacking. Even after years of demands for a formal inquiry into the issue, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government have refused to heed the demands to hold a national inquiry. Public attention was once again drawn to the issue after the murder of Loretta Saunders, an Inuk woman. In March, to coincide with International Women’s Day, Mohawks blocked CN rail lines in Tyendinaga in a plea for a national inquiry into the issue. Despite all of this initiative, the government is unwilling to take any action. —Dana Wray
It appears that the tipping point that Shea mentions in the above quote has come to pass. After several years of negotiations, SSMU has signed a ten-year lease with McGill for the use of the Shatner building. The newly-signed lease will take effect retroactively, beginning in the 2011-12 school year – the most recent SSMU lease expired in 2011 – and the lease will be in effect until 2020-21. Lease negotiations have raised financial concerns for three cycles of SSMU executives. At the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, McGill announced that it would no longer pay the entirety of the utilities cost for the Shatner building, and the lease, signed earlier this month, is the first indication of what this means for SSMU. For the 2013-14 year, SSMU will pay an increased rent of $130,000, as well as $100,000 in energy costs. Both rent and utility costs will increase yearly; rent will increase by $5,000 a year for the next seven years, and utility costs will increase with inflation. In an effort to mitigate the negative financial impacts of these steep rent increases (compare the total $230,000 to be paid out this year to the $110,000 paid in 2010-11 under the previous lease), the SSMU executive attempted to pass a
referendum question regarding a Shatner building fee in the Winter referendum period. This question failed to pass, with many questioning the executives’ lack of advertisement of or emphasis on the fee’s importance. Some have also questioned the executives’ role in negotiating a lease that places such a high financial burden on the Society. The building fee may be proposed again in a referendum in the Fall 2014 semester. —Anqi Zhang
March 31, 2014 The McGill Daily | www.mcgilldaily.com
Student vote suppression controversy debated Provincial election candidates talk higher education, Charter of Values Dana Wray The McGill Daily
ith a crowd of around 25 filling the Thomson House ballroom, the PostGraduate Students’ Society (PGSS) hosted candidates from the four major provincial political parties for a debate that addressed higher education, the Charter of Values, and international students. The candidates Evelyne Abitbol, a candidate in the riding of Acadie – which is currently held by the Parti libéral du Québec (PLQ) – represented the Parti Québécois (PQ), the party forming the current government, who called the election in early March. Geoffrey Kelly, a current representative for the riding of JacquesCartier for the sixth consecutive term, represented the PLQ, who were ousted from power in an election nearly two years ago in September 2012. The representative for Québec solidaire (QS), Molly Alexander, is running in the Saint-Henri–SainteAnne riding. Joseph Dydzak, a candidate for the riding of Vimont, was present to represent the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ). Candidates address voting controversy Candidates commented on the recent controversy over students voting in the elections. Students have reported that they have been turned away from registering to vote, with election officials claiming that they are not domiciled because they are only temporary residents of Quebec. On March 23, according to CTV, several PQ candidates, including Léo Bureau-Blouin, claimed that the election was being “stolen” by voters from outside of Quebec, especially new university students. While Abitbol stated that electoral officials should take care of this controversy, Dydzak accused the PQ and its leader, Premier Pauline Marois, of “[trying] to make political capital out of it. [...] If people fulfill the rules, they have the right to vote, and if they don’t, they don’t. That’s [the Directeur général des élections du Québec’s] job, and it shouldn’t be politicized.” Alexander claimed that the people turned away from the elec-
Candidates in Thomson House toral office were not just anglophone students, but also new francophone students. “One of the five ridings where the complaints were made by the PQ was Sainte-Marie–Sainte-Jacques, where Manon Massé of Québec solidaire has a strong chance of beating the PQ incumbent, Daniel Breton [...] Why? Because it’s new students [...] and the Parti Québécois is afraid that the student vote will not come to their side this time, contrary to 2012.” Funding for research On higher education, candidates were asked about their plans to increase funding for research and universities in general. Last year, the PQ cut $250 million from university operating grants, leaving many scrambling. Dydzak outlined the CAQ’s plans to focus on involving business in research, and encouraging more applied research that could be profitable. Alexander disagreed with the CAQ’s plans, telling the room that QS wanted “to preserve higher education’s autonomy and academic freedom by preventing private sector interference.” As QS’s mandate also states, Al-
Khoa Doan | The McGill Daily exander said that her party planned to make education free and accessible for all, and to improve both the amount of financial assistance available and the ease of qualification for this assistance. Abitbol pointed to the PQ’s role in abolishing the so-called “abusive increase of tuition fees,” referring to the PLQ’s plan for tuition hikes of $1,625 over five years announced in 2011. Abitbol also told the room that the PQ planned to re-invest $1.8 billion over 5 years until 2018-19, although Kelly later criticized them for no concrete indication of this investment. Kelly attacked the PQ’s claims that they were investing in research, pointing to $250 million in cuts from universities across Quebec. “In the last 18 months, we’ve seen a government that has reduced funding to our universities,” he said. “The government cut funding to research by $62 million last year – then they put [$26.5 million] back and said, ‘Aren’t we generous.’” Instead of focusing only on research, Alexander also pointed to the problem of large class sizes and fewer professors, calling for more oversight over the internal finances of universities.
“I think that there is an important need to review the management of finances and funding allocation in all universities in Quebec, to put priority back onto actual education, and not necessarily emphasizing the money-making research departments.” Charter of Values The next topic of discussion was the proposed Charter of Values, a bill that has been contentious since its introduction in 2013. The proposed Charter would, among other things, ban the wearing of certain religious symbols for those employed in the public sector, including professors, daycare workers, and judges. While Abitbol tried to defend the Charter as a necessary instrument of state secularism, the Charter was roundly criticized by the three other representatives and students at the debate. “[Abitbol] says that [the Charter] is popular. Well, protecting the majority rights will always be popular,” Kelly said. “But the reason we have charters of rights in our society is to protect minority rights. Minorities, by definition, are often
unpopular in societies – that’s why we need charter rights to protect them. So if you have a poll to say the charter is popular, it’s irrelevant to the debate.” While both Kelly and Alexander were staunchly against the Charter or any reiterations, Dydzak instead proposed an amended Charter that would implement “reasonable limitations,” such as banning judges or police officers from wearing religious symbols. When Kelly insisted that it was a non-issue, as many of these professions already have internal rules, Dydzak claimed the CAQ’s suggestions would “codify existing practices.” Abitbol was also unable to defend the Charter to students when pressed on her comments that the Charter would not affect them. In response to a question in French from a student, which addressed how students in co-op, in medical school, or in other public sectors would be affected, Abitbol said, “Unfortunately, these are public institutions, and these public institutions need to stay neutral [...] It’s not religion’s job to impose orders on the state, but for the state to impose its own ideology [of secularism].”
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
Indigenous control of Indigenous education Ongoing colonialism in educational systems rosalind hampton Commentary Writer
s a non-Indigenous graduate student in Educational Studies at McGill, I have a sense of responsibility to think critically about issues and initiatives concerning Indigenous education. Indeed, we have an obligation to recognize that Canada is a settler-colonial state established and maintained through the dispossession and oppression of Indigenous peoples. Those of us who benefit from the power of Canadian institutions – including McGill and other universities – must work toward the elimination of colonial policies and practices. It is with this in mind that I look at the federal government’s First Nations Education Act, and a new organization, Teach for Canada (TFC). Teach for Canada is an organization set to launch in September 2014, offering university graduates the opportunity to teach in rural Indigenous communities for two years, following an intensive summer training program. According to the TFC website, the organization’s “vision is to make education more equal by helping schools in rural, remote, and Aboriginal communities recruit outstanding classroom leaders.” Kyle Hill and Adam Goldenberg, the co-founders of the program, assert that TFC can be a solution for educational inequity in Canada. Nonetheless, building on the extensive criticism of Teach for America, which has been active in the U.S. for more than two decades, serious concerns are already being raised about TFC. Critics especially call attention to the limited quantity and quality of training that the teachers receive, and to the problematic nature of assigning predominantly white, inexperienced teachers to work with Indigenous students in under-resourced, rural, community schools. Teach for America and TFC can be understood as part of a broader austerity agenda, shifting respon-
sibility for education from the public to the private sphere. As an article by Rob Green published in the Haudenosaunee weekly newspaper Two Row Times pointed out, the public awareness campaign for TFC coincided with the Harper government’s announcement of the First Nations Education Act (FNEA) last fall. As Green observes, the embedding of the FNEA within the Conservative government’s economic budget is telling, as is Hill’s description of TFC’s “long-term dream” of having “Teach for Canada fellows sitting at a Cabinet table, sitting in newsrooms, sitting in boardrooms on Bay Street, where they can have an impact on educational inequalities from those vantage points.” The suggestion is that of prioritizing neoliberal political and economic concerns, and a colonial perception of Indigenous people as an objectified, economic resource for Canada. As Métis educator Chelsea Vowel reminds us, “there is no Aboriginal system of education in Canada, […] the system of education that exists in Canada is wholly Canadian, both legislatively and in terms of provision.” The federal government’s stated goal in relation to Indigenous education is “to provide First Nation students with quality education that provides them with the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to enter the labour market and be full participants in a strong Canadian economy.” This goal, the FNEA proposed by the federal government in October, and TFC all appear to simply ignore decades of Indigenous demands for self-determination, and jurisdiction over their own education systems. The FNEA, renamed the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act this winter, has been denounced by many Indigenous scholars, educators, activists and groups including the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador and the First Nations Education Council. The Kahnawà:ke Educa-
The suggestion is that of prioritizing neoliberal political and economic concerns, and a colonial perception of Indigenous people as an objectified, economic resource for Canada.
tion Working Group argues: “The legislation does not respect the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples to govern ourselves and take responsibility for our children. It places the Canadian government in a paternalistic position to impose Canadian and Quebec teaching ideologies upon our children, as was done in the Residential and Indian Day School eras. The legislation lacks cultural and linguistic appropriateness and does not respect the individual needs of our nations.” Although in a February 7 news release the Harper government touted the Act as “an historic agreement between the Government of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations” many First Nations insist that the government has not met its obligation to consult with them. The proposed legislation has been repeatedly criticized for failing to guarantee “necessary, adequate, equitable and stable funding for Education” in First Nations communities, failing to provide “meaningful support for the teaching of First Nations languages, culture and cultural values,” and providing “little recognition and respect for First Nations jurisdiction and control of First Nations education.” The very structure of the event announcing this “historical agreement” reflected the ongoing colonial nature of the government’s policies and practices regarding First Nations. Certain invitees and elders were named on an approved list, while others who were not approved were sent to watch the event on monitors. The latter group, including Blood Tribe (Kainai Nation) Idle No More activist Twila Singer, was later forced to leave at the conclusion of the event while approved guests were invited for a feast. Métis artist Christi Belcourt, who was present at the event, described being part of the non-approved group that was closely followed by security. As Belcourt reminds us the announcement itself took place in the context of Canadian State authorities marking and controlling the movement of Indigenous bodies on First Nations’ land. Indeed Mi’kmaw lawyer, scholar, and Idle No More activist Pamela D. Palmater argues that the Act is actually less about Indigenous education than it is about “creating a new kind of dependence for First Nations—dependence on labour jobs from extractive industries to undermine attempts by their leaders to defend their territories and the resources on them.”
Nadia Boachie | The McGill Daily In writing from the institutional location of McGill, it is also important to remember that McGill was founded on the wealth of a European colonizer and has refused to recognize and compensate the Iroquois Six Nations for an outstanding debt incurred in 1860, when according the the Six Nations, McGill borrowed $8,000 from the Six Nations Trust Fund held by the colonial government in trust for Six Nations land. As McGill expresses a desire to recruit more “qualified Aboriginal students” into its undergraduate programs, are these students merely expected to ignore the institutional failure to acknowledge its colonial history and to celebrate “the legacy of James McGill?” What are the boundaries of the current partnerships such as those that form the basis of McGill’s First Nations and Inuit Education program in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE)? How does the University position itself in relation to the assertions of the Kahnawà:ke Education Centre and the First Nations Education Council? Are the campus and community-based programs we are engaged in both challenging and eliminating colonial relations? Are non-Indigenous McGill students, researchers, educators, and administrators actively working to de-centre whiteness and settler perspectives? How can we do more? Without actively and consistently responding to these questions, education programs and
other interventions by non-Indigenous people seeking to ‘help’ Indigenous communities, can amount to little more than what scholars Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang call “settler moves to innocence,” actions in the guise of ‘decolonization’ that serve to relieve settler guilt without significantly disrupting and altering colonial institutional structures and power relations. This is not to claim that non-Indigenous educators and researchers should never work with Indigenous students, or in Indigenous schools or communities. Non-Indigenous scholars can contribute expertise and resources toward building capacity in Indigenous communities that can promote Indigenous autonomy. This can only happen, however, when Indigenous people, agendas, and belief systems are prioritized, and when approaches reflect the views of the specific communities within which the work is being done. Especially given the demands of neoliberalism, “educators are called upon to play a central role in constructing the conditions for a different kind of encounter, an encounter that both opposes ongoing colonization and that seeks to heal the social, cultural, and spiritual ravages of colonial history.” rosalind hampton is a doctoral student in Educational Studies and the coordinator of CommunityUniversity Talks. To contact the writer, please email commentary@ mcgilldaily.com.
March 31, 2014 The McGill Daily | www.mcgilldaily.com
The stories that will free us
An open letter to coloured trans girls who like to write Kai Cheng Thom From Gaysia With Love
o Coloured Trans Girls Who Like to Write Everywhere, the World Re: Stories worth telling “To my daughter I will say, ‘when the men come, set yourself on fire.’” – Warsan Shire, “In Love and In War” Dear Coloured Trans Girls Who Like to Write, The first stories we told were the ones we needed to survive. We told them silently, without words, as we hid under battered kitchen tables and threadbare couches while pounding feet and hungry fists went by. We told them secretly, in the darkened corners of our minds, and no one listened but our shadows. We pressed those stories inside ourselves as though planting seeds, and watered them with the moonlight that filtered through bedroom windows that overlooked alleyways where street youth came to gather, and fight, and make out, and shoot up. We let the stories grow in closets where we huddled, cocooned, waiting for a safe moment to emerge. We let them overtake us when hiding failed, sweeping our minds away to a distant place as our bodies surrendered to the hands of men who should have protected us. All of our stories began like this: someday, someday, someday. As coloured trans girls who would be writers, myth-makers, artists, or poets, we begin from a place of story without language. The same systems of oppression that render our bodies and desires illegible and loathsome to mainstream society also make our voices either inaudible or inchoate to the ears of those in power. We are given no examples, no archetypes, no reflection. We do not speak to an experience that whites, cisgender bisexuals/gays/lesbians, or straight people of colour find easy to understand. We exist in the grey zone, the untranslatable place that exists between. To them, the geography of our stories is alien terrain, a terrifying zone. It is the roar of a river that threatens to overrun its banks. Do not write, white men tell us, we do not understand. Do not tell, white feminists say, we do not believe. Do not speak, we are so often told by our own Chinese, Vietnamese, South Asian, Indigenous, and Black communities, we do not want to hear.
Joelle Dahm | The McGill Daily You may occasionally be offered an opportunity to sell certain parts of our stories, in the same way that we are invited to sell certain parts of our bodies. We are a novelty flavour, an exotic animal in the zoo of minority literature, just as our bodies are fetishized commodities in the sexual market. If we smile for a photo op with the white gay and lesbian movement, we might be interviewed for a 50-word soundbite printed in a newspaper article. If you bleach the anger from your tongue and the brown from your face, if you wash the smell of ‘ethnic food’ from your hair and the scent of the street from your skin, you might publish a paper in a feminist journal. If you tone down the unsavoury details, if you avoid making white people cry, if you agree to teach people how not to be violent to you, step by painstaking step, if you don’t make the government look too bad, you might get a book deal or an arts grant. We are told to smile, to be nice, professional, reasonable, polite, even as the white gay editor slides his hand up our thighs. To wait our turn. To answer all questions, even
the clueless and racist ones. To be an ambassador for your community, a credit to our races. To not challenge ‘progressives’ who tell you to wait in line for your turn at the human rights discussion table while trans girls all across the country live in a state of emergency without healthcare or social services. They are still settling the matter of gay marriage. Market yourself, they say. Make a Facebook page, a blog, a Twitter, a Tumblr. Somewhere last night, another Islan Nettles was beaten to death for the thousandth time. Pray that the next girl will not be you. Accept advice from your editor that you should not be too melodramatic, that you should not alienate your readers by speaking in terms specific to trans girls of colour. You don’t want to be too ‘niche.’ Fit yourself to the marketable mold: be an inspiration, a feel-good afterschool special, a riches-to-rags Cinderella in drag. Don’t be like those other trannies: the dirty ones, the sex workers, the ungrateful, unsellable, inedible Others. The ones who were too rough for publication, too angry for academia, too
weird even for literary voyeurism. Be a good, token, tame transsexual. Carve the ancestors out of your body, shave the fat off your belly, sever the fold between your eyelids. Cut out the dick from between your legs. Fit. Fit. Fit. Fit. Dear coloured trans girls who like to write, I am writing this to you – to us – because I think we can do something different with our voices. I want to remember our ancestors, our courage, our power – to break through the censor of the misogynist literary world, to resist the co-option of the neoliberal white gay movement, to stand strong in the face of rejection from white feminists and conservative communities of colour. We do not have to choose the survival of one identity by sacrificing another, and we are no less valuable for being less visible. I want to stop being that storyteller whose stories spell the death of our people. I want to dig up those bones that we have buried and scream until I am hoarse. No more academic papers. No more television specials. No more racist, transphobic, exploitative porn. No more street violence. No more em-
ployment discrimination. No more political lip service to ‘social justice’ that saves no trans* people’s lives. Coloured trans girls who like to write, I am sorry. Sometimes I spend so much time trying to tell the story I thought I was supposed to tell, the one that would make me rich and popular and famous, the one that fits the standards of academic and literary institutions, that I have nearly forgotten the stories that matter. The stories we told when there was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. The story you told when your father hit you for the first time. The story you told the first time you took money for sex, were arrested, attempted suicide, were chased by men not sure whether they wanted to rape or beat you. The story about someday. Someday, things will change. Someday, we will find the right words. Someday, we will be strong enough to set ourselves free. From Gaysia With Love is an epistolary exploration of intersectionality by Kai Cheng Thom. They can be reached at email@example.com.
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
In defence of intersectionality Class-based analysis is sour wine in new bottles Mona Luxion The McGill Daily
ast week, Jake Kinzey penned a column in The Daily critiquing the politics of intersectionality that he considers ubiquitous, at least on the political left (“The need for a new analysis,” Commentary, March 24, page 9). I argue below that his ‘new’ analysis mischaracterizes intersectional politics, and in doing so, reverts to an outdated and exclusionary theory of social change. The term ‘intersectionality’ was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1991 to identify the fact that women of colour experience an intersection of racism and sexism that is more than the sum of its parts, while remaining marginalized in (white-dominated) feminist and (male-dominated) antiracist work. This context is important, because it situates the concept of intersectionality as a response to narrowly-framed identity politics, and a tool for better understanding the way in which oppression operates. It is an ironic illustration of Crenshaw’s point that her ideas are dismissed, and her name erased, in this white man’s vision of an ‘inclusive’ revolutionary theory. When Kinzey argues that intersectional politics play into the logic of capitalism by individualizing social problems, he betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of how oppression works. His definition of exploitation purely in terms of the capitalist transactions between worker and boss ignores two key elements of capitalist exploitation. First, the unpaid labour that serves to support workers – and thus the entire system – and second, the systemic exclusion of certain people in order to regulate the availability of labour, cre-
ate demand for everything from wedding rings to jail cells, and keep workers from revolting by reminding them that things could be worse. This unpaid labour and exclusion from education and job markets are made to appear natural because they are enacted along racial and gendered lines. Thus capitalism simultaneously relies on, and reinforces, racism and sexism, as well as the related systems of homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, anti-semitism, et cetera. Any coherent critique of, and resistance to capitalism must recognize these forces and their intersections. These are not merely academic concerns. Though Kinzey uses sex work in a poorly thought-out example, he does not actually engage with the way that these intersecting power structures (primarily) impact the bodies of women and people of colour. Marginalized people experience extreme levels of violence to keep them in their place, while at the same time their bodies are treated as raw materials to be pillaged. The resulting traumas include disproportionate experiences of murder and assault, verbal harassment, the deprivations of poverty, as well as rape, slavery, and incarceration, and the less striking, but still exhausting, realities of sexual objectification, domestic labour, and constant discrimination. Although I focused here on race and gender, the profound importance of colonial exploitation in the development and continuation of capitalism must be recognized, and the intersections between colonialism and the oppressions described above could fill a book (or ten). Given the highly differentiated experiences we have under capitalism, it is disingenuous to characterize the struggles of marginalized people to define liberation accord-
Mimmy Shen | Illustrator ing to their own lived experiences as reformist. In fact, a revolutionary politics based in the experience of the prototypical worker (a white, abled man) is bound to be incomplete. In contrast, intersectional analysis enables us to build movements that are truly radical, by centring the experiences of those who
are worst off in the current system. Unfortunately, Kinzey has rejected the analytical framework that could actually enable the fundamental revolution he claims to want, in favour of a reductionist vision of Marxism that has been found lacking time and again by theorists and activists of all stripes.
Mona Luxion wishes to acknowledge the wealth of conversations that have informed eir critique of this article and eir understanding of intersectional praxis as a whole. E is a PhD candidate in the School of Urban Planning and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got plans for the summer? Neither do we. Email email@example.com with your opinions. Because we care.
March 31, 2014 The McGill Daily | www.mcgilldaily.com
A survivor-first approach McGill needs a student-informed sexual assault policy Sexual Assault Policy Proposal Committee Commentary Writers
et’s start with the negative: right now, there is no sexual assault policy at McGill. In fact, there is no formal document of any kind specifically dealing with sexual assault. McGill has official guidelines for “Mobile Computing and Communication devices.” It has a “Policy on use of the Wordmark and Insignia of McGill University.” It also has a Harassment and Discrimination policy – but there is no sexual assault policy at McGill. Last week, a website went live, hosting our proposal for what such a policy could look like. The proposal came out of a series of meetings held between representatives of our various groups, all of whom represent or work with people who have experienced sexual assault on the McGill campus and in the McGill community at large. We conducted research on sexual assault on Canadian campuses, policies and practices at other universities, and publicized cases of sexual assault at McGill. We also talked with each other, discussing our groups’ institutional knowledge about sexual assault and consent, rape culture, and how survivors can best be supported. Part of what brought our groups together was a belief that if there’s one policy a university needs, it’s a sexual assault policy. Rape culture is widespread in Canadian and Quebecois society; statistics show that one in four Canadian women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and national media frequently publicize narratives that blame survivors or deny the reality of their experiences. As widespread as rape culture in Canada is, though, the problem is especially pervasive on university campuses. According to the Sexual Assault Centre of the Hamilton Area, 29 per cent of female undergraduates in Canada reported incidents of sexual assault. The Canadian Federation of Students also tells us that, “One survey showed that 60 per cent of Canadian college-aged males indicated that they would commit sexual assault if they were certain that they wouldn’t get caught.” This is a difficult topic to discuss, but McGill is far from immune to this problem. One thing is certain: we don’t lack a sexual assault policy because sexual assault and rape culture are not a problem at McGill. Last semester, national media reported that three members of
Carmen Fenech | The McGill Daily the McGill Redmen football team were charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a Concordia student. Their coach and members of the administration had known about the charges for a year and done nothing. Cases like these draw muchneeded attention to the issue, but media sensationalism can also distort the reality of sexual assault at McGill. The Sexual Assault Centre Of McGill Students’ Society offers support every day to members of the McGill community who have experienced numerous forms of sexual violence. As far too many students, staff, and faculty members know, sexual assault does happen here. Still, we write this in a spirit of optimism and conciliation. This year, the McGill administration has taken concrete steps to show that it is aware of the problem of sexual assault at McGill and is invested in taking action against it. Administrators have met with members of our various groups in good faith, with open and constructive conversations about what can be done to raise awareness about consent, fight rape culture, and offer support to survivors. This semester’s Open Forum on Consent gave members of the
McGill community a much-needed opportunity to discuss consent and rape culture out in the open, with the feeling that they were being heard and taken seriously by the administration. Importantly, the administration also recently announced the hiring of Bianca Tétrault to the new position of “Liaison Officer (Harm Reduction),” with a specific mandate to address the problem of sexual assault at McGill. Our proposal is offered in recognition of these efforts on the part of the administration. We consider it one of the greatest strengths of our proposal that it originated within groups representing the body of the university that has the greatest immediate experience of sexual assault and rape culture – the students. This proposal is built on the long experience and substantial institutional knowledge SACOMSS has developed from dealing firsthand with the needs of survivors and their allies, experience that is unique on our campus. Of course, not every sexual assault policy would necessarily do much to support survivors and combat rape culture at McGill. Our proposal specifically calls for a prosurvivor, consent-based policy, rec-
ognizing the diversity of survivors’ experiences and the need for multiple systems of institutional support. A ‘traditional’ policy based solely on determining guilt and giving out punishments would simply continue the practice of sidelining survivors and focusing on the experiences and concerns of those who commit sexual assault. For a policy to do any good, it must put survivors first. We remain convinced, however, that a policy is utterly necessary. Without a permanent policy on the books, McGill cannot meaningfully claim to be committed to a long-term strategy for defeating rape culture and sexual assault. Individual administrators may do their best to support survivors and combat rape culture, but over time, administrators come and go, and the problem remains. In a society where rape culture is deeply embedded and institutionalized, responses by entities like McGill must be institutional and permanent. We thus call on all members of the university community to support our initiative. Campus groups can endorse our proposal, while individuals can register their support through an online petition linked to on our proposal’s website. Up until now, McGill lagged far behind other
universities in dealing with sexual assault. By law, every U.S. university must have a policy. The University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto – the Canadian universities McGill most frequently compares itself to – both have policies and numerous well-trained individuals on campus tasked with supporting survivors and dealing with the ramifications of sexual assault on campus. The situation at McGill remains untenable, and we will not forget those who have been forced to suffer in silence over the past decades at a school that would rather look away from their experiences and needs. Yet as the issue of rape culture on campus becomes a topic of increasing public interest in Canada, McGill has the opportunity to become a leader and establish a reputation for dealing with sexual assault and rape culture in a courageous, open, and pro-survivor manner. Please join us in making McGill a campus of consent. To view the proposed policy on sexual assault, visit www.sexualassaultpolicyatmcgill.com. To contact the authors of this piece, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
Get out of the middle of the road It’s time to get angry Anqi Zhang The McGill Daily
he first time I heard it, I was standing outside of a bar on St. Laurent, waiting for a friend to finish her cigarette. “It’s the tone,” someone was saying, “that renders The Daily unreadable, more than the argument.” Since then, I have heard this argument again and again – that the tone of this newspaper, of its writers, is one of anger and accusation, and that this devalues the words printed on the page. The idea that an opinion is worthwhile only when palatable to others – and usually, this means to your opponents – is absurd. And yet it is everywhere. Feminists have been hearing for years that their expressions of anger are irrational, and therefore illegitimate, expressions of criticism. On campus, some of our readers subscribe to this ethos, as do generations of SSMU executives unable to make political decisions for fear of divisiveness. Even those politicians, speakers, and writers who are respected for their ‘passion’ are not viscerally angry; theirs is a passion that deals in eloquence, rhetoric, and Standard Written English. Given these concessions, their passion fits within the bounds of civility, and is therefore deemed acceptable, productive. Not everyone can afford to deal in such currency; not everyone is given such currency. It is this demand for civility above all else – never mind that the ‘all else’ can encompass important personal experiences or gross injustices – that I have failed to understand, despite my efforts to grapple with it. The idea seems to be that even if you disagree, you have to be nice. Let me just say, right off, that there is neither moral superiority nor egalitarian value to being everyone’s friend. Not everybody needs your friendship – or support, or kindness – in the same way. It is much less important to the billionaire chairperson of a multinational conglomerate that you are kind, than to someone recently evicted from their home.
I want to celebrate our writers for daring to be angry.
But too frequently it is painted as a matter of moral superiority. A good person would be kind while disagreeing, would never raise their voice, would never alarm their opponent. A good person, for example, would not accuse their peers of being products and perpetrators of systemic racism. Such a desire to coat convictions in a smarmy exterior removes the urgency of the issues, and, in many cases, places the onus on the individual to tailor the presentation of their own experiences to the tastes of others. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think all unfiltered sentiments are equal. Many are hateful, racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, and transphobic. But to demand that people who have experienced these exact sentiments, to varying and sometimes extreme degrees, continue to filter their experiences to be pleasing to the white, middle-class, male eye that so frequently lays judgement (whether solicited or not), is to deepen these insults. This desire to be amenable to both sides, to avoid displeasing anyone at all, manifests itself as moderatism within the political sphere. Certainly, believing in a stance that is squarely between left and right can be based on many factors. But increasingly, and increasingly at this school, and within its political bodies, I see moderatism for the sake of moderatism. But moderatism is not apolitical; representation of none is not representation of all. When our student council does not throw its weight behind a student organization like CKUT, it is not saying that it agrees with all students’ opinions on that organization; it is saying that the status quo can take care of itself. Moderatism throws strong support, in fact, behind the politics of the status quo. These are politics that allow our University to threaten student groups’ existence through systematic existence referenda and extreme financial pressure, all while removing their ability to use the McGill name. These are the same politics that allow our elected officials to manipulate voters by capitalizing on singular issues, only to renege and leave those same voters with no support. These are politics that allow our society to turn a blind eye to the disproportionate incarceration, assault, and murder of Indigenous people, while plundering their unceded territory for resources and short-term economic gain. Not one of these things is apolitical. But they are the status quo, and they are what you implic-
Catherine Polcz | The McGill Daily itly choose when you choose to stay in the centre of the road. The default. No opinion. Choosing to take a side and feel strongly can create anger and frustration, but it can also move us to fight against injustices. The loss of anger and frustration leads to quiet acceptance. Students were angry when riot police were brought to campus on November 10, 2012 to end a peaceful demonstration. We have since gained a document (the ‘protest protocol’) that institutionalized the administration’s ability to continue this practice. In fact, this has become the standard response, yet students no longer raise concerns about its implementation. The enactment of the protocol to bring riot police to the Demilitarize McGill protest on March 21 – and the lack of student outrage following – demonstrates
that, far from inciting students to more anger and action, this sort of intervention has bred acceptance of the status quo. Our university administrations and our governments alike, count on us to not get angry. They profit when individuals, groups, and communities are not angry enough to fight. When they are not angry enough to resist. There is value in centrism, but not usually value for the individual. Deferring to both sides implicitly supports the systems and structures that make up that status quo, benefitting the side that already wields control. We study and work at a university that charges its own student union $130,000 in rent, and that has added utilities to boot. A university that violates its collective agreement with a union of its workers mere days after reaching that same
agreement. A university that swears its industry- and military-funded research “adhere[s] to the highest ethical standards.” Yes, we are angry about the way the University treats student space, its workers, and concerns about its role in globally and humanistically destructive endeavours. Tell me why we shouldn’t be. I want to celebrate our writers for daring to be angry. For daring to put down their convictions and their experiences in a way that is raw, and real, and galvanizing. I want to challenge those who criticize their anger to consider why they may be angry, and you may not. So call us radical. Call us angry. Those aren’t insults. Anqi Zhang is the coordinating editor of The Daily, but the opinions here are her own. Get angry with (or at) her at email@example.com.
March 31, 2014 The McGill Daily | www.mcgilldaily.com
“There’s many applications: fire surveillance, harvest surveillance [...] Police forces are using UAVs to help them with search and rescue operations.” Inna Sharf, McGill professor of mechanical engineering, and researcher at the Aerospace Mechatronics Laboratory UAVs, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, are colloquially known as drones, and have attracted attention in recent years for their role in wars waged on foreign turf, and for allowing those wars to be waged in a detached, methodical fashion. In the above quotation, Sharf defended her lab’s research, which has the goal of making landings and take-offs for UAVs more autonomous, by pointing to its potential use in civilian matters. Sharf’s lab receives funding from the Canadian military; this came to light this year through the release of documents obtained through the Access to Information Act. Resistance to military-funded research has developed on campus in recent years. Demilitarize McGill, a campus group founded in 2009, seeks to end military research at McGill and raises awareness through walking tours of campus, workshops, and articles published in student press. Its members also engage in direct action. On March 14, in response to revelations that defence contracts fund Sharf’s lab’s UAV work, Demilitarize McGill blockaded the Aerospace Mechatronics Laboratory for close to four hours. Seen as an obstruction of university work, the demonstration was dispersed by invoking McGill’s protest protocol and the arrival of police on campus. McGill has responded that research at the university is “[conduct[ed] with integrity and adhere[s]
to the highest ethical standards.” While researchers point to potential applications outside of warfare, Kevin Paul, member of Demilitarize McGill, asserted that military-funded research at McGill is dependent on the possibility of warfare, “McGill benefits when war is being waged by virtue of the wide array of military research opportunities and labs that arguably would not exist without military funding.” Demilitarize McGill continues its ongoing campaign to disrupt, and eventually end, drone research on campus. In the meantime, McGill has released a series of heavily redacted documents in response to Demilitarize McGill’s access to information requests regarding military research at the university. —Drew Wolfson Bell and Anqi Zhang
“Among the opponents to the Charter, a number of people fall within a fundamentalist movement. [...] They become the first victims of the large-scale manipulation orchestrated by Islamists under the pretext of an attack on individual freedoms.” Martine Desjardins, former student leader and current Parti Québécois candidate, criticizing opposition to Bill 60, the ‘Quebec Charter of Values.’ (translated from French) On September 10, 2013, Parti Québécois (PQ) Minister Bernard Drainville officially proposed a ‘Quebec Charter of Values.’ The Charter includes five proposals seeking to regulate interactions between state officials and the public, but only one proposal has garnered significant attention. This proposal would “limit the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols” for state employees. In practice, this means that state employees would be prevented from freely expressing their religion if the Charter passes, potentially at the expense of their jobs. Banned religious symbols would include hijabs, burqas, turbans, kippas, and ‘large’ Orthodox crosses. Debate erupted after the Charter was proposed, leading to numerous anti- and pro-Charter rallies. Those opposing the Charter have claimed that it unfairly targets religious minorities, and as such, is racism barely disguised under a label of secularism. This claim has been reinforced by a reported increase in hate crimes against religious minorities, such as Muslim women, as part of the public fallout since the Charter was first proposed. A Léger survey released in Janu-
ary 2014 found that 60 per cent of Quebecers polled support this component of the Charter. In early March, the PQ called an election for April 7, with the intention of emerging from the election as a majority government. If this occurs, the PQ will likely push the Charter into law. Other major parties have failed to explicitly condemn the Charter in its entirety, and have instead endorsed altered versions that still prevent certain religious minorities from freely practicing religion. As such, the fate of religious minorities’ place in the public workforce in Quebec remains unclear, regardless of the outcome of the upcoming election. —Davide Mastracci
“That’s what food justice is: working with those most affected by an unjust food system, rather than creating spaces outside of it only accessible to the privileged.” Aaron Vansintjan, “The potential of food banks” (Commentary, January 27, page 8) This year, the column “A Bite of Food Justice” by Aaron Vansintjan turned a critical eye to contemporary narratives of food politics and sustainability. In tackling topics like land grabbing, gentrification, and dispossession, Vansintjan created a narrative that included broader themes of food security in the face of ongoing colonialism and capital-
ism. Alternating between a historical context and current events, and between a specific Montreal focus and case studies elsewhere, from rural Ontario to urban Hanoi, Vansintjan investigated and reported on a broad range of social politics in his seven columns. —E.k. Chan
“Every story we tell of our dead is also a story of those of us who still live: a cautionary tale, a political fable, a remembrance of what happened, and what is still happening.” Kai Cheng Thom, “For moonlight siblings on the Transgender Day of Remembrance” (Commentary, November 18, page 10) In Kai Cheng Thom’s second year of writing as a columnist, they took a different stylistic turn by penning a series of open letters, in From Gaysia with Love. Addressing their letters to personal role models like Janet Mock and CeCe Macdonald, as well explicitly addressing broader audiences at times, Thom wrote with poetic flare on a broad range of subject matter in their nine columns. Covering intersections of transness, sexuality, race, class, and other fac-
tors, the intimate nature of epistolary writing drew personal connections and contrasts between Thom and their addressees, which in turn related to broader, societal issues, such as rape culture, transmisogyny, homophobia, and racism. Writing about their own experiences cast a tangible light on normally abstracted concepts, grounding these discussions in a daily, lived reality. —E.k. Chan
“All of those expectations for me to be masculine, to act a certain way and to live up to an ideal, were thrown out the window.” Eric White, on dressing in drag for the first time, in “Sore feet and smoky eyes” (Commentary, November 11, page 10) White Noise, a column by Eric White, broached topics of queerness in Montreal, using personal experience as a jumping-off point. In his writing on heteronormativity, polyamory, drag, and the contemporary notions of what it means to be ‘queer,’ White broached critical discussions that re-
mained accessible to the student body. In his columns, White refrained from invoking highly academic terms and instead focused on a relatable narrative, through which urban queerness could be explored and critiqued. —E.k. Chan
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YEAR IN REVIEW
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
YEAR IN REVIEW
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
1 - Demilitarize McGill blockades site of campus drone research Nicolas Quiazua
2 - Montreal Zombie Walk 2013 Robert Smith
3 - Gita Hashemi’s “The Idea of Freedom” tackles Iran’s past Tamim Sujat
4 - McGill students speak out against fossil fuel extraction Tamim Sujat
5 - Police crack down on annual anti-police brutality march Tamim Sujat
6 - Kent Monkman’s “Welcome to the Studio” challenges traditional narratives of Canadian history Tamim Sujat
7 - Tariq Khan elected SSMU President by only 78 votes Tamim Sujat
8 - Montreal march protests colonialism, racism, and Quebec Charter Ralph Haddad
9 - Rally calls for release of Canadians detained in Cairo Robert Smith
10 - Speakers critique McGill’s review of asbestos research Robert Smith
YEAR IN REVIEW
March 31, 2014 The McGill Daily | www.mcgilldaily.com
“We are pleased with the compromise with McGill.” Sean Cory, president of the Association of McGill University Research Assistants (AMURE) Satisfaction with compromise is not something our writers are used to hearing from unions on their negotiations with the University. Nevertheless, in January of this year, Sean Cory, president of the Association of McGill University Research Employees (AMURE), expressed satisfaction with an agreement made between labour unions and McGill to avoid harsh salary decreases for low-paid employees, which would have otherwise occurred as a result of proposed changes to the payroll frequency. The payroll compromise has been a high point in a relatively slow, and at times frustrating, year for labour at McGill. This year saw the beginning of a campaign by AGSEM: McGill’s Teaching Union to unionize note-takers, graders, tutors, and undergraduate course assistants, responding to concerns about their current pay and work conditions. In October of last year, AGSEM’s invigilator unit also unenthusiastically signed its first collective agreement – though it filed a grievance against McGill only a week later when the University violated the agreement – while AGSEM’s course lecturer unit split off to form an independent union. The years-long back-and-forth between unions and the administration over pay equity escalated this year in a challenge of the University’s pay equity adjust-
ment calculations for 2001-05 by the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA). This concluded in an agreement that will give McGill until February 2015 to account for employees who were not considered in the first round of calculations. Beyond our own campus, at the University of New Brunswick (UNB), we watched for a full three weeks in January as professors and library staff went on strike mainly to advocate for fairer salaries for UNB professors. The Daily editorialized on the issue, urging
students to resist an all-too-common rhetoric that pits students’ interests against those of workers. This year, like any other, McGill unions have negotiated for their members’ best interests. These institutions provide a level of support and bargaining power for many workers at the university, and their value cannot be ignored by the student body that shares its space with these groups. —Jill Bachelder and E.k. Chan
“McGill is always reactionary and it needs to stop being reactionary. And in addition to priding [itself] on ratings and research, [McGill] needs to pride [itself] on excellence within [its] community and fostering consent and safe space [on campus].” Joey Shea, SSMU VP University Affairs In November 2013, a case in which three McGill football players were charged with sexual assault drew attention to issues surrounding rape culture and the lack of a sexual assault policy at the university. On November 21, the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Ollivier Dyens released an email statement promising the installation of a full-time coordinating position to deal with issues pertaining to sexual assault, the holding of a forum on consent in early 2014, and the establishment of an annual forum on safe space, to be first held in the upcoming academic year. On February 26, McGill held the Forum on Consent, which was co-chaired by Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) VP University Affairs Joey Shea and Carrie Rentschler, director of the McGill Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. Speakers from student groups and from the Montreal community discussed consent, rape culture, and sexual assault. Panelists from the Union for Gender Empow-
erment, the Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society, and Queer McGill insisted on the necessity of a sexual assault policy, as McGill’s Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures does not distinguish sexual assault from other forms of assault. On March 20, Bianca Tétrault was appointed to the newly created Liaison Officer (Harm Reduction) position to coordinate policy and oversee the actions of various campus initiatives to reduce discrimination, substance abuse, aggression, sexual assault, and other forms of harm. Many voices on campus continue to insist the administration has not been sufficiently proactive. On March 21, eight prominent student groups co-signed an open letter highlighting the need for a stronger response. A proposal outlining a specific sexual assault policy accompanied the letter. —Janna Bryson and Igor Sadikov
YEAR IN REVIEW
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
“The motion was clearly an abuse of power on McGill’s part […] They basically wanted to have the law rewritten to suit their needs.” Mona Luxion, ATI respondent This year saw a continued struggle to access information at McGill – but the fight is not yet over. In January, the University settled a case that had been before the Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec since last year, agreeing to uphold long sought-after access to information (ATI) requests, and release documents related to military research, fossil fuel investments, and sexual assault complaints, among others. The settlement came after the University refused to uphold such requests, instead accusing stu-
dents, journalists, and other interested parties of filing requests in a “systematic” and “abusive” manner. In arguing its case to the Commission, the University requested the power to deny all future requests from a blanket group of students and their associates. This power, however, is legally unprecedented, as only the Commission can make that sort of delegation. The Commission ruled against the University in October, though the University sought an appeal – which later turned into a settlement, something respondents alleged was a “de-
“Direct action costs them money, and the more expensive we make it for them, the closer we get to winning.” Amanda Lickers, organizer at Swamp Line 9
Two years after the protest-heavy academic year of 2011-12, direct action continues to be a tactic of choice for student groups. However, direct action has also faced a increasingly hostile environment courtesy of the administration. In 2013, McGill adopted two documents, commonly called the protest protocol, that limit the scope and the types of direct action on campus. Outcry from campus and civil rights groups did not alter the protocol, and it still remains in effect today. Some campus groups, such as Divest McGill – which seeks to pressure the University to divest from fossils fuels – and Demilitarize McGill – which aims to stop military research at the university – still protest on campus. In addition to workshops, petitions, and other forms of action, Divest McGill held a bike rally earlier this year. The group Support Our Staff at Mc-
Gill (SOS-McGill) also handed out letters outside of a Senate meeting. February saw the blockade of the Petrocultures conference, where demonstrators unfurled a banner outside the Faculty Club to protest fossil fuel extraction. The bike rally, the demonstration outside of Senate, and the Petrocultures blockade went off with little to no blowback from the administration, but not all demonstrations got off scot-free. A few weeks ago, on March 14, Demilitarize McGill blockaded the Aerospace Mechatronics Laboratory after revelations that some researchers in the Lab conducted military-funded research related to drones. The peaceful blockade lasted almost four hours, but the administration eventually called the police to campus to shut down the protest. —Dana Wray
cision to cut its losses.” According to the settlement, documents would be released starting at the end of February up until the summer. The most recent documents released by the University have been heavily redacted, to the point of being unreadable, due to concerns about the release of information related to third parties. The next few months will tell if information continues to be limited, or if the long-standing requests will finally be fulfilled. —Molly Korab
“The Charter of [rights and freedoms] protects the right to freedom of expression, but there is no right to protest.” Jean-Bruno Latour, SPVM spokesperson, in French to La Presse Although the municipal bylaw P-6 has been in effect since 2001, the city only saw the grim results of its stipulations on March 15, 2013 when the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) used the bylaw to shut down the annual anti-police brutality march. On that date, the police kettled – sectioned off and detained different parts of the crowd – and doled out fines of $637 to the demonstrators. According to the SPVM website, bylaw P-6 prohibits any participant at a demonstration – defined as an assembly, parade, or gathering – from covering their face; this includes scarves, hoods, and masks. Additionally, it is mandatory to disclose the location and itinerary of a demonstration to the police at least 24 hours beforehand. Failure to comply with these requirements results in the demonstration being declared illegal, and potentially a heavy fine for demonstrators. The bylaw was most visibly enforced at the height of the Maple Spring – the Quebec student strikes of 2012 – and has since been cited by many as extraordinarily repressive. Last year, 78 community groups endorsed a public statement issued by the Anti-capitalist convergence in Montreal (CLAC) that called for solidarity against police repression in Montreal. Although the bylaw is largely associated with the Maple Spring, its enforcement continues to make waves, such as during this
year’s anti-police brutality march, which was shut down within minutes of its initiation. Currently, collective defences and class action lawsuits that plead not guilty are challenging the legality of the arrests and the conditions of detention in last year’s kettles. The lawsuits are just beginning to be heard in court, and many other individuals are challenging their tickets without a lawyer. CLAC, an advocate for individual challenges of tickets, continues to host workshops, sharing information on how to defend oneself, and what to do in case of arrest. —Hera Chan
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
THE SCIENCE OF HARM )Â?<*dGÂ…Gdd&|Â…ÂŠd&|Â€*Â…*dÂŠ WRITTEN BY BENJAMIN ELGIE ILLUSTRATION BY ALICE SHEN
n 1985, my family was living in southwestern Ontario. My father was working odd jobs and drinking away the money. My mother, only 23, was working as an apprentice in a candle-making shop, trying to raise her son, and preparing for her new baby, coming just a year after her first. Things got harder when my sister was born. â€œ[The doctor] came into the hospital room and told me that she had Down syndrome,â€? my mother told me. â€œAnd I didnâ€™t know what he was talking about. So then he told me that she was â€˜mongoloid.â€™â€? The term was used by John Langdon Down to describe individuals with trisomy 21 (three copies of the 21st chromosome), based on his belief
that they belonged to the â€˜mongoloidâ€™ race. This was part of a contemporary theory that racial groups represented the arrest of human development at different stages, with the white race fully developed into adulthood, while â€˜mongoloidâ€™ and â€˜negroidâ€™ races stopped their development at earlier stages. What my mother heard from the doctor was hardly encouraging. â€œThe next time the doctor came in he said, â€˜You know, you really donâ€™t have to take her home, weâ€™ve got places we can keep her, sheâ€™s not going to do anything, your life will be better if you just leave her,â€™â€? she relayed. Six months later, my mother was exhausted.
Features My sister’s heart problems required us to regularly travel to Toronto for consultation. And given my father’s attitude to parenting, my mother was essentially on her own. Her doctor told her to go see the obstetrician/ gynecologist (OB/GYN) in town, believing there might be some lingering complications from her pregnancy. The OB/GYN hardly spoke to her, and only asked if she wanted more children. My mother replied that she wanted to wait and see. She had always wanted four children, but at the time knew she wanted to wait before having another pair. My mother explained to me, “When I said I wanted to wait, when I looked up, he was looking at your sister, and looked over at you, and he said, ‘Okay, we’ll do a D&C and that’ll take care of your health problems.’” My mother wasn’t told that D&C stands for dilation and curettage of the cervix, nor did he tell her that it can result in Asherman’s syndrome, which can cause miscarriage and infertility. She didn’t receive any follow-up care, and only learned 25 years later about the surgical damage that caused her three subsequent miscarriages and permanent infertility. “He looked at me like I was white trash, and young and stupid, and I shouldn’t be having any more kids, and I think he just sort of made that decision,” my mother told me. “I was just one of those young stupid women, and I was just going to be having babies ’til I died, and so he was going to fix it. His attitude toward me was obvious. He didn’t think I was smart enough to bother explaining anything to me, or to give me op-
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
tions. I think our whole interview was 15 minutes. He made his entire judgement of me in that 15 minutes.” The 15 minutes my mother’s doctor took to make his decision is still more than the five minutes the Alberta Eugenics Board gave to its own life-altering decisions. The Alberta Eugenics Board Established in 1928 through the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta, the Alberta Eugenics Board consisted of two doctors, nominated by the Senate of the University of Alberta (U of A) and the Council of the College of Physicians, and two non-medical members, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor. The Act decreed that when an institutionalized patient was to be discharged, the Board had to rule whether the patient could be discharged without “the danger of procreation” and the “risk of multiplication of the evil by the transmission of the disability” to any potential children. In cases where a patient had an inheritable disability or disease, the Board could order the surgical sterilization of that inmate as a condition of their discharge. Originally taking an hour to review each case, by the mid-1930s the Board took a mere five minutes to deliberate the authorization of a sterilization. Initially, the Act required the consent of the individual’s parent or guardian, but under William Aberhart’s Social Credit government, the requirement for consent was removed for individuals labelled as “mental defectives.” This included “any person in whom there is a condition of arrested or incomplete development of mind existing
“The next time the doctor came in he said, ‘You know, you really don’t have to take her home, we’ve got places we can keep her, she’s not going to do anything, your life will be better if you just leave her.’” The author’s mother On her experience discovering that her daughter has Down syndrome before the age of 18 years, whether arising from inherent causes or induced by disease or injury.” It also included individuals with drug or alcohol addictions, epilepsy, or syphilitic infections of the central nervous system. The Act protected everyone else involved, including parents or guardians, Board members, the province, and surgeons, from civil liability for sterilizations. I spoke to Robert A. Wilson to learn more about eugenic practices in Canada. A professor of Philosophy and Educational Policy Studies at the U of A, he is the principal investigator of the Living Archives of Eugenics in Western Canada, a project focused on working together with sterilization survivors in Alberta to inform the story of eugenics in Canada. “Legislated eugenic practices in British Columbia [BC] and Alberta operated primarily through ‘training schools’ for people deemed feeble-minded or mentally deficient – often wrongfully,” he told me. “This meant
in practice that people who were poor, who were immigrants thought to be of ‘inferior stock,’ who were Indigenous, who were neglected or abused in their home environments, became the effective principal targets of those practices.” Training schools were a form of institution for individuals, mostly children, who had mental or physical disabilities, or who were considered social undesirables. My sister could have ended up at one. The principal training school in Alberta was called the Provincial Training School for Mental Defectives, in Red Deer, Alberta. In 1955, a child named Leilani Scorah (later Muir) was institutionalized by her mother at the Red Deer school, the site of the majority of the province’s sterilizations. Four years later, having scored below 70 on an IQ test, Muir was sterilized without her consent by order of the Board. She was told, like many others, that she was to have an appendectomy. In 1995,
March 31, 2014 The McGill Daily | www.mcgilldaily.com
Leilani Muir brought a civil case against the Province of Alberta. Social control in sterilization Muir’s suit revealed that the Eugenics Board had ignored the minimal standards set by legislation. Testimony from Margaret Thompson, a Canadian geneticist and member of the Board in the early 1960s, showed that the Board frequently authorized sterilization for inmates who were not due to be discharged, contrary to the rules set out by the Act. According to Thompson, the Board rarely attempted to assess whether a disability was heritable. In considering the case of one hearingimpaired boy who had scored over the threshold of 70 on an IQ test, Thompson decided that since the Provincial Training School reported that he was a poor worker, he would likely not be very socially successful, and thus ought to be sterilized. She also approved the castration of men with trisomy 21, despite their infertility, to, in her words, “make assurance doubly sure.” Furthermore, the judge found that sterilization had been authorized to reduce menstruation or sexual interest for the convenience of the School, as well as for girls who masturbated or showed “lesbian tendencies.” Thompson’s decisions on the Eugenics Board also supplied herself and Leonard Jan Le Vann, the director of the Provincial Training School, with testicular tissue for genetic experiments. Le Vann’s experiments included non-consensual testing of psychiatric drugs on the children at the School. In an article he wrote for the American Journal of Mental Deficiency in 1950, he stated, “The picture of comparison between the normal child and the idiot might almost be a comparison between two separate species. On the one hand, the graceful, intelligently curious, active young homo sapiens [sic], and on the other the gross, retarded, animalistic, early primate type individual.” The final ruling found that Muir had suffered “loss of liberty, loss of reputation, humiliation and disgrace, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of normal developmental experiences, loss of civil rights, loss of contact with family and friends.” Muir was awarded $740,780 in damages and $230,000 in legal fees. Alberta’s sterilization law was repealed in 1972, though involuntary sterilizations continued after repeal of the Act. A similar act in BC was quietly repealed in 1973. The records of the Eugenics Board there were apparently lost. In Canada, only Alberta and BC passed eugenic sterilization laws; however, Wilson explained to me that practices similar
to those institutionalized in Alberta and BC also occurred across Canada. He gave Northern Canada as an example. “Aboriginal and First Nations peoples became a particular target of, at best, borderline coercive birth control practices, including sterilization and birth control by [intrauterine device] and pills,” he said. “Those practices persisted throughout the 1960s, [and] were subject to parliamentary investigation in the early 1970s.” Eugenics outside the law Diane B. Paul, professor emerita at the University of Massachusetts Boston, studies the history of eugenics and modern practices in prenatal and neonatal genetic testing. When we spoke, she suggested that legislation shouldn’t be the focus of people concerned about coercive eugenic practices. “The significance of the passage of these sterilization laws can easily be overstated,” she told me. “Whether laws were passed, whether they were opposed, is often in whole or in part unrelated to ideology. So it just doesn’t tell you very much because so many structural and accidental factors were involved.” Paul cautioned against looking for coercive eugenic practices to manifest in predictable places. “When people have looked at practice, they have pretty consistently found that the passage of laws is not the key thing. People always say [that] there was no eugenics [movement] in France, or only a weak movement. But the rates of sterilizations in their hospitals were higher than in countries that had sterilization laws.” In fact, she added, “In some instances where practice was ongoing, the laws may have actually acted as a control, providing some oversight that otherwise didn’t exist. I’ve come more and more to think that we’re way over-focused on the passage of laws.” In some institutions, she explained, sterilizations occurred for reasons besides eugenic ones. And rather than being decided by the laws in place, the decision to sterilize a patient was often made entirely by the director of a particular institution. Given the ongoing history of coercive eugenics in Canada, I asked Paul about the popular idea that coercive eugenic practices declined with increased public knowledge of Nazi eugenic practices and increased scientific knowledge. “When I looked at writings, what people were actually saying and doing, it didn’t seem to me that was true.” She cited work by Alison Bashford showing that anti-eugenic arguments invoking the Nazis didn’t become popular until the 1980s. “In some places you actually have a resurgence of flat-out eugenic rhetoric, among the new molecular biologists [post-World
In cases where a patient had an inheritable disability or disease, the Board could order the surgical sterilization of that inmate as a condition of their discharge. Originally taking an hour to review each case, by the mid-1930s the Board took a mere five minutes to deliberate the authorization of a sterilization.
War II], for example.” A common view is that advances in the scientific understanding of genetics undermined the scientific basis for eugenics. But in Paul’s view, these advances had little impact on attitudes towards eugenics. These discoveries generally occurred in the first two decades of the 20th century, when eugenic sterilization laws were still being passed, and were readily accepted by most eugenicists, some of whom were highly respected geneticists themselves. Though these advances showed that elimination of “feeblemindedness” by sterilization and segregation would be difficult and extremely slow, for nearly all eugenicists, doing something
ophy department and co-founder of the Canadian Psychological Association. Until the late 1990s, a lecture series and an award in the department of Philosophy at the U of A were in his name. The department of Psychology still offers an undergraduate award in his name. Thompson has received an Order of Canada and is an Honorary Consultant at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, where she led a clinical genetics service in the 1960s after her time on the Eugenics Board. She also has a PhD thesis award in her name, offered by the former Genetics Society of Canada, of which she was a founding member. Curiously, her bi-
“You’re working with incredibly vulnerable people. They weren’t sure what they were signing off on, and there wasn’t really much of an attempt [to] gain consent, just to get them sterilized. And there was no legislation that really governed that.” Robert A. Wilson, professor of Philosophy and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Alberta On the limits of evaluating eugenic practices solely through legislation was still preferable to doing nothing. Wilson agreed that harmful eugenic practices can occur outside of legislation, and suggested that consent can be gained in problematic ways from the kinds of people who have historically fallen under eugenic legislation. “You’re working with incredibly vulnerable people. They weren’t sure what they were signing off on, and there wasn’t really much of an attempt [to] gain consent, just to get them sterilized. And there was no legislation that really governed that.” My mother’s experience with her OB/GYN stands as an example. Canada certainly isn’t the only place this happens, given the example of a July 2013 Senate report in Australia on the forced sterilization of women and girls with disabilities. “It’s the same kinds of groups that are targeted by traditional legislative eugenics,” Wilson explained. “It’s people with disabilities, especially intellectual disabilities, [and] disproportionately, women and Indigenous peoples.” He described another recent inquiry in California (where involuntary sterilization has been banned since 1979), that found that more than 150 female prisoners had been sterilized in situations of dubious consent by prison doctors between 2006 and 2010. “Again, it’s at best a grey area in terms of consent, but you can certainly understand the politics of it,” he said. “People could in some sense wiggle out and say they technically had the legal authority to do that.” A legacy of harm Despite settlements for more than 700 of the survivors of the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta, Canada has sent mixed messages to survivors and those who could today be at risk of the same, unofficial practices. The Chairman of the Alberta Eugenics Board from 1928-65 was John MacEachran, head of the U of A’s Psychology and Philos-
ography on SickKids’ 55th anniversary website makes no mention of her time on the Eugenics Board. And although the judge of the Muir case found that the Eugenics Board casually and commonly violated the slim protections established by the Sterilization Act, no individual associated with it has since faced any civil or professional penalty for their actions. “There’s this element of subhumanization,” Wilson told me, “that’s so deep and so callous, and that goes beyond simply, ‘here’s what the laws were at the time.’ It’s got to do with the underlying conceptions and views of people who were regarded as mentally deficient.” My mother’s own experience with this kind of subhumanization began the day that my sister was born. “I really didn’t know what the doctor meant by Down syndrome, but my mum happened to be there at the time,” she told me. “She said that when she was in nursing they used to kill the babies before the mothers would see them and just tell them that the baby died.” Many people remain unaware of Canada’s eugenic history, a fact that underscores the importance of community-university projects like the Eugenics Archive. “In my experience, most students in Alberta, the province in which nearly 3,000 people were sterilized on eugenic grounds, don’t know that this occurred,” Wilson told me. “I think that providing basic information about the eugenic past, and engaging citizens in thought and discussion about that past and its connection to their own lives, is fundamental here,” he said. “Sandra Anderson, Leilani Muir’s lawyer, once said to me that until we come to value each and every person as they are, we’ll never be done with eugenics. I think of that as a deep point to keep in mind as we reflect on surviving eugenics in the 21st century.”
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
“[Calling prostitution violence against women] names the experience for us without asking us.” Amy Lebovitch, current sex worker, executive director at the Sex Professionals of Canada, and one of three women who brought forward the landmark case Bedford v. Canada in “A legal void,” January 27, 2014
“I, for example, do not believe in the concept of nation, but would undoubtedly vote ‘yes’ if there was a referendum tomorrow.” Mathilde Michaud, former McGill student and current Université du Québec à Montréal student, on separatism in “Monolithic? I don’t think so,” March 17, 2014
“We can co-exist, but never touch.”
When the Supreme Court struck down three provisions that regulate (and criminalize) sex work in Canada, the country exploded with speculation about what will happen to sex work when the provisions lapse a year from December 20, 2013, the date of the ruling, and leave sex work in a legal void. If Parliament doesn’t pass any new legislation before that time, sex work will become completely decriminalized in Canada. Janna Bryson spoke to activists all over the map to get a picture of who was advocating for which model of sex work legislation, and why.
Bethany Douglas, a Mohawk from Kahnawà:ke and a graduate of Concordia with a Bachelor’s degree in History, on the meaning of the Two Row Wampum Treaty in “Another idea of sovereignty,” March 17, 2014 It’s impossible to talk about Quebec without talking about separatism. In two parallel pieces, Graham MacVannel and Mathilde Michaud looked at the complex concept of separatism from two completely different angles. In “Monolithic? I don’t think so,” Mathilde laid out the wide variety of ideologies that exist under the banner of separatism, including her own, anarchist brand. Graham investigated the implications of separatism for First Nations and indigenous peoples in his piece, “Another idea of sovereignty.”
“Do you ever feel, or have you ever felt, self-conscious of your race?” “A better question would be, ‘Do you ever not feel self-conscious about your race?’ and the answer would be — fucking never. I feel self-conscious in classes. I reflexively worry about being ‘too Asian’ when responding to questions I know the answers to.” Amina Batyreva in conversation with a U3 Biology student who identifies as Chinese in “Colouring the conversation,” September 16, 2013
Many students at McGill deal with racism on a daily and permanent basis, and although the conversation surrounding race is seldom easy, it is an important one to have. Amina Batyreva compiled several accounts of racism on campus, giving students of colour a voice and debunking the myth that North American society has finished talking about race.
“It’s bullshit, it’s a cop-out. You know, unintellectual. It’s fearmongering, it’s childish.” Aaron Lakoff, Palestine solidarity activist and anti-Zionist Jew, on anti-Zionists being characterized as anti-Semitic in “An eye toward Zion,” January 20, 2014 Ralph Haddad reported on dissent in the Jewish community, and how it’s often repressed and/or dismissed as anti-Semitic hate speech, specifically when it comes to anti-Zionism or critiques of Israeli policy toward Palestine.
“[As for] my personal practices, I don’t eat children, I don’t burn babies (I have a baby, thank you) [and] I don’t fly on a broom, but that would be cool.” Robyn, member of the Montreal witchcraft community for over 20 years, on stereotypes of Wiccan practice and the importance of maintaining the sanctity of her personal practices by keeping them secret in “Ding-dong! The witch is not dead,” October 28, 2013 With Halloween around the corner and the usual proliferation of stereotypical images of witches, Grace Harris and Samantha Shier explored the connection between feminism and witchcraft to understand what it truly means to be a contemporary witch. After interviewing several Wiccans, the authors learned that Wicca and witchcraft are all about fluidity and constantly redefining one’s identity and beliefs without letting external societal structures impede their own self-realization.
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
Rewiring your brain Exploring the mysteries of meditation Leanne Louie Sci+Tech Writer
n the past, the brain has been viewed much like a machine, programmed permanently and unchangeably. If its circuits sustained injury, the resulting damage was thought to be irreparable. However, with the invention of brain-imaging technologies like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), scientists now have the ability to watch the working brain in action. This has led to numerous revelations – with perhaps the most prominent surrounding neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to rewire itself, and even create new neurons. It was previously believed that only young brains had these capabilities, but research has shown that the brain remains changeable well into adulthood, and even old age. The discovery of neuroplastic processes has had groundbreaking implications. In the world of medicine, stroke victims have recovered their faculties, and painful phantom limbs have been cured. In the world of psychopathology, depression and anxiety disorders have been overcome through changes in thought patterns. Even for the everyday person, the understanding of neuroplasticity has created new opportunities. The brain’s control over us is no longer a one-way street. We have power over our brains, simply through the experiences we choose to pursue. This idea has opened up a new field of research, and numerous studies investigating brain-enhancing activities have emerged in its wake. One of the main subjects of such research is meditation. Though meditation can be viewed solely as a method to destress, its benefits extend far beyond relaxation. The practice can actually alter neural structures. A 2007 study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience compared the brains of 20 experienced meditators to controls, finding that meditators had increased brain mass in regions associated with memory formation, emotional control subjects, and attention. It was also found that meditators 40 to 50 years of age had grey-matter volumes that were comparable to those of control subjects who were 20 to 30 years old – in other words, their brains resisted the effects of time and showed reduced age-related thinning. Some studies have even found that experienced meditators have decreased pain sensitivity and heightened compassion. Many studies following nonmeditators through meditation training have found similar results.
Eleanor Milman | The McGill Daily A team at Massachusetts General Hospital compared differences in brain structure before and after participants took part in an eight-week meditation program, finding that an average of 27 minutes of practice per day was enough to show a visible increase in brain density in areas associated with learning, memory, selfawareness, and introspection. Even meditation’s well-known effect on stress, largely credited to its relaxing nature, has been found to be a by-product of its effect on brain structure. Meditation is thought to loosen neural connections between the brain region responsible for information about ourselves and areas related to sensory information and fear. This results in a lessened personal reaction to stress, anxiety, and unpleasant feelings such as pain or itching. Due to its well-publicized effects on the mind, meditation has rapidly gained the reputation as a ‘cure-all.’ Although it has many benefits, meditation may also hold a few drawbacks. Studies have found that because of its effect on mindfulness, meditation could block the mind-wandering processes involved with creativity, and have negative effects on habitual processes, such as riding a bike. Such procedural activities are learned implicitly, or mindlessly, so meditation may interfere with their execution. Another potential hazard of meditation lies in the world of psychopathology. Although evidence
suggests that meditation can reduce symptoms of depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and anxiety disorder, its practice can have a very negative effect on people with schizophrenia, and studies have revealed cases of meditation-induced psychosis. Ishan Walpola, a research assistant at Amir Raz’s psychology lab at McGill, further described why this might occur. “There’s a neural network for the internal world, which involves thoughts and feelings, and for the external world, which monitors what is happening around us,” Walpola explained. For most people, only one of these networks can be active at a time. You can either focus on your surroundings or your internal world of thoughts and feelings, but not both. Some forms of meditation focus on dissolving the distinctions between such dualities. To people with schizophrenia, this can be detrimental, because it can interfere with the ability to distinguish between external and internal worlds. Even individuals without any psychological ailments have reported unpleasant, and even traumatizing meditative experiences. Shortly after Hans Burgschmidt, a Canadian “spiritual seeker,” began the practice of mindfulness meditation, he had a strange experience while making his bed. His thoughts seemed to be happening in space, without reference to him. With no warning, his “self” had disappeared. Though such an
experience might have been hailed as “enlightenment” by an experienced meditator, Burgschmidt called it “terrifying and alienating.” For the past seven years, he’s been dealing with similar frightening experiences – and he’s not alone. Burgschmidt has been helping others like him cope with similar problems. These kinds of unpleasant reactions may be due to a lack of cultural context in Western meditative practices. Walpola elaborates, “In the Buddhist tradition and context, there is a historical precedent for the meditative experiences where you lose your sense of self. This isn’t present in the Western mindfulness tradition, which is a stripped-down, secular form. Although meditation is hailed as a cure-all, there are elements of it that should be hailed with caution and with context.” The flip side of Burgschmidt’s experience is what most meditators call “enlightenment,” or what the mystics of the world term “the true self” or “nothingness.” Though its scientific explanation remains elusive, meditators describe “enlightenment” as a shift from the self-focused, personal perspective that most people embody to a more grounded, selfless experience of the world. This in turn leads to reduced stress, increased happiness, and higher levels of fulfillment. At Harvard’s Functional Neuroimaging Lab, the process of “enlightenment” was observed occurring in
the brains of two expert meditators. During these periods, the brain regions responsible for higher cognitive function showed a dramatic increase in activity. Further study is required to fully understand such processes, but this type of research provides a glimpse into the less understood aspects of meditation. When it comes to phenomena such as “enlightenment,” research is restricted by the lack of regard that scientists have for the subjective experience of meditation. Most researchers focus on the clinical applications of meditation practice, with little consideration of its spiritual origins and potential. Yet, at McGill and around the world, a new generation of students is entering this field of study, many of whom wish to pursue research into the spiritual aspects of meditation. Perhaps in our lifetime, we will know the full extent of meditation’s effects. Although meditation has potential hazards, these can be mitigated through caution and careful study. Few people have the negative experiences discussed above, as the vast majority of meditators report heightened connections to experiences, higher levels of happiness, and a greater presence in the moment – and let’s not forget its effects on brain structure and aging. Though it certainly isn’t a cure-all, meditation is a practice that can be highly beneficial if it is exercised with caution.
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
Whose property is it anyway? Considering copyright laws in the classroom Zapaer Alip The McGill Daily
n 2011, McGill threatened students with disciplinary action for breaching copyright laws by posting course notes online via Wikinotes. At the end, students removed the notes and no disciplinary action was taken by the administration. Since then, Bill C-11, also referred to as the Copyright Modernization Act, implemented new amendments to the Copyright Act. One such change was the inclusion of education under fair dealing – a set of users’ rights that permit the use of copyrighted material for certain purposes. David Lametti, an associate professor in McGill’s Faculty of Law who specializes in the field of intellectual property and theory, says, “[As a result of C-11] there is now a stronger claim for uploading and trading notes with other students, provided that they do not infringe [on] the economic and moral rights [of the professor].” However, he also notes that “in the commercial realm, the fair dealing argument becomes weaker as copies are made for the purposes of gaining money.” With more companies entering the business of buying and selling course notes, often providing incentives for students to contribute material, the legality of uploading this material can lead to turbulence. The main issue with uploading content lies in ownership. It is essentially all about proving who owns the intellectual property in question. The materials produced throughout a course belong to the professor or student who produced them. For example, in the case of course notes, if the notes are taken verbatim, the intellectual property rights would belong to the professor; however, if a student were to take nonverbatim notes or explain a concept in a unique way, the student would be the producer of original content and, as a result, would hold the copyrights and ownership. The copyright only protects the fixed expression of an idea whereas the idea itself is open for public use. As explained by André Costopoulos, Dean of Students, “If you post [...] the work you did to solve the problem posed by the professor, that’s fine. If you post the professor’s solutions, then there is a problem because you need the permission of the professor.” He recommends checking with the instructor to avoid any potential copyright infringement. A variety of factors other than intellectual property ownership are also involved in copyright laws. These include the intention of the
Tanbin Rafee | The McGill Daily uploader, where the content is made available, and who is able to access it. Each factor can influence the decision of a civil court in determining if any copyright infringement has been committed.
Many professors are reluctant to return major assessments such as exams, fearing that students will post the questions online. When the administration threatened disciplinary procedures against the students accused of copyright infringement in 2011, they did so using the Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures. While the code does not specifically mention the uploading of course content, under the Rules of Conduct, in the section entitled “Relationship with Civil Law and Authority,” any offence under federal or provincial laws that occurs in the university context and is not specifically described in the Code
is considered an offence if it “adversely affects the functioning of the University.” Additionally, under the Code, uploading your previous assignments or answers to quizzes or exams could potentially fall under plagiarism. The University can act independently of civil law when it comes to disciplining students for violating federal laws such as copyrights infringements. The civil law is concerned with investigating the violation of copyrights, while the University’s disciplinary procedures determine how the act has affected the functioning of the university. According to Costopoulos, “There is no offence against any article of the code for [students uploading their work]. In order to say that is an offence against the code, if [professors] want me to act on this under the code, they are saying that this material is the property of the University. That usually gets them to change their mind.” This perhaps signals a change in the University’s attitude – instead of intervening with threats of disciplinary procedures, the administration now seems to prefer communication between students and professors to resolve issues. Many professors are reluctant to return major assessments such as exams, fearing that students will post the questions online. Costopoulos believes professors have a responsibility to design exams and assignments in
a way that will prevent cheating and plagiarism – for example, changing the details of problems even when
“We are meant to be curators of knowledge, we are meant to develop knowledge, and I think we are moving increasingly toward sharing and open source models.” David Lametti Associate Professor, Faculty of Law maintaining the same structure to test for certain skills or knowledge. Mariam Hachem, Engineering Peer Tutorial Service U1 math tutor and U2 Chemical Engineering student, offers an alternative to upload-
ing coursework. “[The] Chemical Engineering Student Society makes coursepacks of previous quizzes and assignments [for some courses] with the professors knowing about it,” Hachem told The Daily. She stresses the importance of professors being kept in the loop and asking for their permission before sharing any coursework on sites like Docuum, a message echoed by Andrea Gideon, EUS VP Academic. Gideon recalls an incident where a professor got upset when a student put up notes they took in class for others to see. “The prof claimed them as his property and asked the student to take the website down. They came to an agreement where the student would send the prof his draft of notes and the prof edited them before making them available on MyCourses with his name on them,” described Gideon. Everyone agreed that the best solution to avoiding potential copyright infringement suits or disciplinary procedures is to be ethical when using other people’s work and practicing good communication. Simply put: ask before posting. When questioned about the role of copyright within academia, Lametti responded, “I think we are meant to be curators of knowledge, we are meant to develop knowledge, and I think we are moving increasingly towards sharing and open source models.”
March 31, 2014 The McGill Daily | www.mcgilldaily.com
The state versus the expert Demarcating scientific authority Mohamed Leila Sci+Tech Writer
cience, with all its wonders and promises, always enticed me as a child. With all the naiveté of youth, I subscribed to the notion that scientists (and experts in general) would lead us to a utopian future of a united human race with nothing but abundance and prosperity for all. Then, I grew up and learned the truth about politics; about how this utopia had never been of interest to politicians, nor to most people in the first place. A trade-off exists between two types of government systems: technocracy and democracy. The pure form of technocracy leads to elitism and possible tyranny, while the pure form of democracy (without a mechanism to include expert judgement in decision-making) will lead to state failure. Although the following two stories occur in very different times and places, the connection between them will help us formulate the right questions on demarcating scientific authority. Charles Thorpe, a professor of sociology at the University of California San Diego, thoroughly analyzed the case of J. Robert Oppenheimer in an article published in Social Studies of Science by depicting the inquisition of scientific authority in post-World War II America. Perhaps the second-most renowned physicist of his time (the first being Albert Einstein), Oppenheimer was the lead scientist on the secret Manhattan Project, which was responsible for developing the atomic bomb. After the Allies dropped the atomic bomb, ending the Second World War, science in the U.S. was seen a means to further advance the military. Assimilation between scientists and the government began to take place so that scientific expertise could be used for further military (and later economic) applications, especially with the rise of the Soviet threat. The mechanism for the assimilation was based on forming panels of scientific experts,
Tanbin Rafee | The McGill Daily or ad-hoc committees, to offer advice to elected officials. In that sense, those officials retained control over policy orientation while benefiting from experts’ knowledge. When the Soviets tested their first hydrogen bomb (H-bomb), the U.S. government rushed to keep up with the arms race, demanding that their scientists focus on building the American H-Bomb. Though Oppenheimer emerged from WWII as the most prominent scientific advisor to the state, he exceeded his demarcated authority by discouraging his peer scientists from working on the H-bomb because he questioned its strategic
It doesn’t end here! Sci+Tech will be publishing throughout the summer. Find us online at www.mcgilldaily.com/ category/scitech
necessity. Oppenheimer advised the government to invest in researching small-scale tactical nuclear weapons that could be deployed in the battlefield rather than on civilian populations, a suggestion that the ‘Red Scare’ propaganda advocates in the military detested. Red Scare propaganda in post-World War II America was based on exaggerating the Soviet threat to secure popular support for military expenditure and heightened security measures. Oppenheimer was brought to a hearing by the United States Atomic Energy Commission in which his national loyalty was questioned. Although exonerated from treason charges, Oppenheimer was stripped of his security clearances and privileges and was no longer allowed to work for any government projects. The second story takes place in Egypt in 2014, where in February, the Egyptian military announced the discovery of a cure for HIV. The mechanism of the ‘cure,’ which allegedly treats not only HIV but also Hepatitis C (HCV), was not discussed thoroughly for alleged security reasons. The timing of the
announcement, on the brink of presidential elections in which the Egyptian popular hero Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is running – suggests that the invention aims to highlight the achievements of the military and its leader, and appeal to a significant demographic of the electoral pool (Egypt has highest rate of HCV infections in the world). When Essam Heggy, chief scientific advisor to the Egyptian president and a renowned NASA scientist, expressed his harsh skepticism about the invention and considered it a scientific scandal, he was subject to the Egyptian media’s ad-hominem attacks. Heggy told Egyptian newspaper El Watan, “I want to be clear and explicit, what has been said and published about the invention of the armed forces hurts the image of scientists and science in Egypt.” Not unlike the Oppenheimer hearing, Heggy was accused by government supporters of treason and anti-nationalistic sentiments, and by some TV talk show hosts of siding with the ousted Muslim Brotherhood against the military. The
witch-hunt continues to this day. Despite the great variance in time and place of both stories, an obvious connection exists between them. Both Oppenheimer and Heggy were part of the government, and both of them disagreed with high-ranking officials. One can argue that if both issues were put to a vote, the American population during the Red Scare of the 1950s, and the Egyptian population during the country’s turbulence in 2014, would put their trust in their political leadership over scientists. The problem is therefore inherent to the system in which the public, represented by their elected officials or beloved military heroes, challenge the authority of the experts whenever it defies their government propaganda. The questions of how to establish scientific authority that gains the trust of the people, and the boundaries of this authority versus the judgement of the elected officials, will remain unresolved. In the end, people will have to make a choice about who to trust to govern them, and for that choice we shall reap the consequences.
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
One byte closer to an automated future Automated content software and the future of journalism Fernanda Pérez Gay Juárez Sci+Tech Writer
magine the newsroom of the future – filled with computers taking in data and spitting out news articles; a world where human journalists have become obsolete. Is this mere imagination, or are journalists getting closer to being replaced by machines? There are some moments in modern life that seem, upon reflection, more like science fiction than reality. That was the case when I found myself on the Narrative Science webpage, where I came across a blog post titled “Human Insight at Machine Scale.” This led me to a short video describing what Narrative Science was about. In it, the narrator says, “Our patented artificial intelligence engine automatically transforms structured data into written narratives indistinguishable from those written by humans.” The video explained that Quill – the recently-developed software – could turn numbers, symbols, charts, and graphs into human language (in this case, English) that would be indistinguishable from that of a human’s. Narrative Science is not the only company working on this type of product. Automated Insights, a company that works with news agencies such as Bloomberg and USA Today, promotes a similar product that uses
artificial intelligence (AI) to scan large data sets and write automated stories. “Except we [produce stories] in realtime and at a scale of millions,” they advertise on their homepage. This type of “automated content” produced by AI or software is now being used to produce what’s called “algorithmic news” – short articles written based on a series of algorithms that puts information together in the form of a story. Some media outlets are already using these technologies. For example, the Los Angeles Times has an automated content generator capable of reporting news of an earthquake minutes after it occurs. Christer Clerwall, a professor at Karlstad University in Sweden, conducted a study earlier this year to compare people’s assessment of news written by a journalist and a machine. The ratings given by the 46 subjects came incredibly close. Although people seemed to find most automatedcontent articles to be “descriptive and boring,” people had difficulty distinguishing the origin of the article (man or machine). Almost no differences were found on the various measures, but articles written by journalists were judged as slightly more coherent and pleasant to read. Though these results may draw a bleak picture for journalists, there are still limitations to the technology. The current algorithms are unable
Jasmine Wang | The McGill Daily to produce opinionated or insightful pieces. Creativity is an intrinsically human trait that allows us to think outside the box to develop new ideas. Any algorithm that can currently be implemented in a machine will follow a strict path, and cannot yet challenge the flexibility the human mind can offer. Currently, the automated content produced by software mostly consists of short, organized reports of available datasets. These capabilities may prove very helpful when it comes to finan-
cial reports or sports statistics, which summarize the most relevant points from a data bank. However, there is a gap between an easy-to-understand report and an article or dissertation on a topic capable of giving us different perspectives, new ideas, or questions about its content. Journalism is more than the mere act of producing simple reports of data or facts. Rather, it is a creative exercise that questions ideas, exposes unique points of view, and generates new approaches to subjects that may awaken
the reader’s interest. Without creativity and comprehensive understanding, both exclusive of human beings and non-existent in machines, there can be no new venues of interpretation. Great ideas, deep analysis, and random moments of inspiration when a new point of view arises cannot be predicted, orchestrated, or programmed. Creativity is something that automated-software will not be able to easily mimic. As technology develops, traits once thought to be uniquely human will continue to be challenged.
To vaccinate or not? How public misinterpretation of science is harmful to society Karine Makhijani Sci+Tech Writer
he question of whether or not to vaccinate has recently been a contentious subject in the realm of popular science. In the realm of public discourse, certain individuals have been arguing the necessity of vaccinations for children. A recent measles outbreak in the Chilliwack community in British Columbia brings this issue to the forefront of societal discourse. There were two confirmed cases at a school in Chilliwack, along with over 100 suspected cases in the surrounding community over the past year, endangering populations extending to all areas of Fraser Valley East region. This outbreak has been attributed to a low level of immunization in public schools. In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, Victoria Lee, a spokeswoman for the Fraser Health Authority, stated that, “In the East Fraser
region we have immunization rates of 60 to 70 per cent, but in some of the schools we are examining, the immunization rates are as low as 0 per cent.” The low levels of immunization have been associated with the ideological beliefs of the ultra-orthodox Protestant community. Pastors in this community have expressed their convictions that vaccines are an attempt to pervade the will of God. The province has made arrangements for the distribution of the measles vaccine to general practitioners and pharmacies in the region as well as set up specialized clinics around the vulnerable regions. The Public Health Agency of Canada declared Canada free of endemic measles as of 1998, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends vaccination against 16 vaccine-preventable diseases for children. The Chilliwack outbreak, similar to other outbreaks since 1998, has been attributed to the
importation of the virus from other endemic regions, which was then aggravated by the extremely low levels of immunization within the community. Most infectious diseases need 85 per cent of the population to be vaccinated to achieve “herd immunity,” which is the state of immunity where a percentage of the population has been immunized to safeguard those who do not have immunity against the infection. For example, malaria is highly contagious and requires 90 per cent of the population to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. Malaria is an airborne disease that can cause pneumonia, brain damage, deafness, blindness, serious complications for pregnant women, and even death. The best prevention is two doses of the vaccine, which has been freely available to all Canadians born after 1957. Aside from religious reasons, the recent trend against vaccines stems from the belief that vaccinating chil-
dren results in more health concerns later in life. This trend stems from a discredited, but much-publicized study by Andrew Wakefield in a 1998 issue of the Lancet, which claimed to find a correlation between the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism in children. In his article, Wakefield called vaccination a “moral issue,” facilitating a plunge in vaccination rates in the UK – and resulting in a resurgence of endemic measles. Wakefield’s position was further endorsed by various public figures and celebrities, with the most recent being Jenny McCarthy. McCarthy’s widespread campaign began in 2007, when she announced that her son’s autism was a result of vaccinations. She published a book about her own experience dealing with her son’s autism, Louder Than Words, A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism, and participated in fundraisers, online chats, and other activities for nonprofit organizations to help affected
families with autism spectrum disorders. Yet her claim that the MMR vaccine was the cause of her son’s autism was rejected by medical practitioners and researchers, and has no basis in scientific evidence. No scientist has been able to replicate Wakefield’s findings. It was later discovered that he was paid to publish certain results of his study, and was subsequently charged with “dishonesty and irresponsibility” in conducting his research by the General Medical Council. Despite his being discredited, Wakefield’s study introduced the idea of vaccination as being a “moral issue” into society. The scientific community is responsible for providing society with innovations that will further progress knowledge and contribute to the well-being of the public. Conversely, it is the duty of the socially-responsible citizen to critically analyze publicized beliefs and to be educated on an issue before taking a stance.
March 31, 2014 The McGill Daily | www.mcgilldaily.com
“Our current economic model is jeopardizing the very planetary conditions that sustain life [...] Our governments are willing to bail out the economic elite, while the rest of us are stuck with the bill.” Kristian Gareau, Climate Justice Montreal (CJM) A look back on the year in climate change research and policy in Canada presents a bleak picture. School kicked off with “Stand Up for Science” rallies in September, where demonstrators gathered to protest the Canadian government’s muzzling of scientists and the general lack of regard for evidencebased decision making. Little has been made in the way of progress, as the Harper government is still silencing scientists, cutting funding to basic science, and prioritizing industry-friendly research. Scientists are largely in agreement that a change as ‘small’ as 2 degrees Celsius could have a major impact on the earth’s ecosystems. Since the year 1800, global temperature has risen by 0.8 degrees Celsius (although two-thirds of that has been since 1975), pointing to the urgent need to slow
down and reverse global warming. The most recent report produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released in September, presented overbearing evidence that human activity and climate change were directly related. Despite being “the most peer-reviewed documents there is,” according to James Ford, professor and leader of the Climate Change Adaptation Research Group at McGill, the reports were met with skepticism by some – including Canada’s environment and former natural resource ministers – who suggested that the concerns surrounding climate change are exaggerated and remain debatable. If progress has been made this year, it’s been in the wrong direction. In early March, the National Energy Board approved the En-
bridge Line 9 pipeline reversal, despite outcries from critics who pointed to the negative environmental and health effects of this decision. Meanwhile, Environment Canada revealed its plans to cut spending from $1.01 billion in 2014-15 to $698.9 million in 2016-17. Funding cuts have also been made across the board for environmental research, and the National Research Council has been restructured to fit its increasingly industry-driven attitude toward science. Canada is currently facing a carbon bubble with a great amount of value being put into fossil fuel extraction. While the rest of the world shifts their attitudes to target climate change, Canada has been shutting out scientific evidence for the sake of profit. —Diana Kwon
“By taking out this whole liability aspect, you are really just encouraging this whole backdoor of personal information going into the hands of police officers without there being probable cause.” Charmaine Borg, Member of Parliament for the New Democratic Party (NDP) This year has been revolutionary in terms of internet privacy and security. In the U.S., a leak by National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden of confidential NSA documents revealed that the government was collecting data on its citizens as well as foreign individuals. The leak caused a global uproar, along with questions in Canada regarding the conduct of our NSA equivalent, the Communications Security Establishment Canada. The revelations served as a reminder for people to be cautious when sharing information on the internet, and posed the need for civilian oversight of government policies. The U.S. has been
cracking down on individuals who have attempted to leak information about the government’s breach of individual privacy. Recent years have been marked by the sentencing of Chelsea Manning and hacktivist Jeremy Hammond, as well as the proceedings against activistjournalist Barrett Brown. In Canada, the federal government proposed Bill C-13, or the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act. The bill provides legislation regarding information access and cyberbullying. If passed in the spring of 2014, the bill would lower thresholds for law enforcement agencies to obtain warrants for tracking data. It would also reduce the checks and
balances in place to prevent internet service providers from sharing our personal data. Though the new legislation aims to criminalize cyberbullying by making it illegal to share intimate pictures of persons without their explicit consent, many Canadians, including Shaheen Shariff, an associate professor at McGill and founder of Define the Line, a program dedicated to cyberbullying research, remain skeptical. Bill C-13 is seen as an ineffective solution to cyberbullying that may cause more harm than benefit. The loosening of privacy protection is concerning, particularly in light of the NSA leaks. —Zapaer Alip
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
The value of academic boycott On the relationship between BDS and academia Ralph Haddad The McGill Daily
srael is a colonial settler state. This is very hard to contest regardless of the history – religious or secular – of the Zionist movement. In response to this settler colonial occupation of unceded Palestinian land, in 2005 a group of academics, intellectuals, and activists in Palestine launched the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which (as its name suggests) aims to put political and economic pressure on the State of Israel in order to end its occupation – harking back to the similar boycott movement against South African apartheid. One of the main affiliates of BDS is the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), which launched in 2004. The campaign aims to boycott cultural and academic Israeli institutions “until Israel withdraws from all the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; removes all its colonies in those lands; agrees to United Nations resolutions relevant to the restitution of Palestinian refugees rights; and dismantles its system of apartheid,” according to its website. BDS and Montreal McGill’s own complicity in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is quite obvious if examined. The university underwent weapons research for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) that directly contributes to Palestinian oppression and Israeli apartheid. According to an article published on McGill’s website on September 14, 2012, McGill has signed memoranda of understanding with multiple universities in Israel. One of these is Technion University, which conducts arms research that furthers Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and has the highest number of graduates enlisted in the IDF in comparison to other Israeli universities, according to a report published by Tadamon! in October 2010. It is hard for many professors to speak out in favour of academic boycott of Israel at McGill given the University’s standing toward the state, but underground support does exist. Paul Di Stefano, educator, researcher, activist, and a member of Tadamon!, wrote in an email to The Daily that, “There is a lot of support for BDS among activist collectives in Montreal. We see this collaboration during Israeli Apart-
heid Week where different groups, focusing on different issues, come together to organize a week dedicated to exposing Israeli apartheid.” Tadamon! is a “Montreal-based collective which works in solidarity with struggles for self-determination, equality, and justice in the ‘Middle East’ and in diaspora communities in Montreal and beyond,” according to its website. In another email to The Daily, Michelle Hartman, associate professor of Arabic Literature at the Institute of Islamic Studies, asserted, “One thing that we have seen recently, however, is [that] more and more scholarly and student associations, unions, and other groups, are supporting the Palestinian call for BDS and this is inspiring.” On the topic of activism in Montreal, she wrote: “Locally in Montreal there are groups like BDS Quebec working on specific issues, like drawing attention to companies like SodaStream [which operates within the occupied West Bank]. There are also a number of professors and other workers at local universities and CEGEPs who meet in a group called College and University Workers United (CUWU), one of whose aims is to support BDS locally and beyond.” Human rights or academic freedom? “If we do not apply or support the boycott, we are advocating normalization and, with normalization, Palestinians will always lose. Normalization is all about accepting the humanity of Israelis, while denying the Palestinians their own. This framework also improperly casts the relationship as symmetrical when it is, quite obviously, not,” Di Stefano said. In her article “Israel/Palestine and the Paradoxes of Academic Freedom,” published in Radical Philosophy, Judith Butler, American philosopher and gender theorist, warns that, “When academic freedom becomes a question of abstract right alone, we miss the opportunity to consider how academic freedom debates more generally – and here I would include both pro- and antiboycott debates – deflect from the broader political problem of how to address the destruction of infrastructure, civil society, cultural and intellectual life under the conditions of the Occupation.” Butler’s words should be heeded, and people should never forget the intersectionality of the conflict itself when discussing issues of boycott
and divestment. Yet, what is more important to remember is that academia is also dissent if utilized as such, and can have a tremendous effect as a result. Ethics of a boycott The academic boycott of Israel is underway, it is alive, and it is growing. That is not the question. The question being debated at the moment is if the boycott is ethical. Noam Chomsky, professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and well-known pro-Palestinian activist, has come out against the boycott, stating that academics should concentrate on their own state’s complicity in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (for example, as of 2010, 28 U.S. tax-exempt institutions raised $33.4 million in funding for illegal settlements in the West Bank) as opposed to boycotting other academics. Typically, people who disagree with the academic boycott cite the hindrance of freedom of education, and discrimination, as reasons not to endorse it. According to a January 2014 Jerusalem Post article, as many as 92 American universities have rejected the academic boycott of Israel, in response to the recognition of the boycott by the American Studies Association (ASA). The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called the ASA’s measure “discriminatory and unjustified,” while Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, issued a statement shortly after the decision stating that “such actions are misguided and greatly troubling, as they strike at the heart of academic freedom [...].” Prominent institutions that have rejected the boycott include Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, New York University, Yale, and Dartmouth. The U.S. Congress has also put forth a bill that “would strip American academic institutions of federal funding if they choose to boycott Israel,” according to Al-Jazeera. “The fact that Palestinians are denied basic rights as well as academic freedom due to Israel’s military occupation is lost on [those arguing against a boycott]. And [the argument’s] privileging of academic freedom as a value above all other freedoms is antithetical to the very foundation of human rights,” writes Butler. Anti-boycott academics who want more academic freedom should be considering the academic freedom of Palestinians as well, since, according to Butler’s article, many
Alice Shen | The McGill Daily students in the West Bank cannot get to their universities and classes on time because they are stopped at Israeli checkpoints, and sometimes have their universities shut down for a full semester. Students in Gaza are unable to reach universities in the West Bank due to the Israeli blockade, and are left with only one opportunity for higher education: the local university run by Hamas. When anti-boycott academics argue for the free transfer of education across borders, they do not take into account the reality that exists for most Palestinian students. As Di Stefano writes, “Palestinian academics are restricted from moving about freely, there is de facto segregation and underfunding of Palestinian schools in Israel, a deeply problematic vetting of Palestinian curriculum, and obvious limits to Palestinian students’ freedom of movement and ability to access education due to the system
of checkpoints.” Unfortunately, the question of ethics shall remain even after this article is published, though many like it continue to be written. Although a boycott might seem to be the worst way to solve the problem for many, it is only one of many solutions activists have for the conflict in light of the asymmetrical (U.S.-brokered) Israeli-Palestinian ‘peace’ talks. For Hartman, it remains a question of educating oneself and others about BDS and the conflict, which might lead to more support from the wider McGill community. As she writes, “A boycott is a powerful tool, and one which can be effective to bring international attention and pressure on Israel to end the occupation and colonization of Palestine, grant all people of the land equal rights, and respect and promote the right of return for Palestinian refugees.”
March 31, 2014 The McGill Daily | www.mcgilldaily.com
The dynamics of power Rape culture’s abuse of trust and (non)consent Victoria Mulburrow* Health&Ed Writer Trigger warning: this article contains discussions of rape, sexual assault, and eating disorders.
fter a couple of hours at a party at Sam’s* house, two weeks after Frosh, we all decided to go to a club. On the way, I talked with Sam, my Frosh leader – getting my foot in the door, as they say. He was cute, and in all my naiveté, I imagined that moment to be the beginning of a trusting relationship with someone I thought to be funny, charming, and honest. We flirted, and by the time we made it to the bar, he had asked to come home with me. My words slurred through the several drinks that I had, but I firmly told him “no.” He kept asking me, urging me to “get out of there” with him. I told him I didn’t want to have sex; I wanted something serious, and he was only looking for something casual. Finally, in agreement that we would not have sex, I obliged to let him come home with me. In my mind, I pictured a romantic night cuddling, and the next morning, he wouldn’t be able to resist taking me on a date. When we got home, my roommate was there, and I stumbled in the dark over her clothes to get to my bed. He got in with me, as planned, and we continued to kiss. All of a sudden, he became very passionate, taking our clothes off. He got a condom, and without me knowing what was happening, we both ended up being naked. I didn’t know how to say ‘no’ to him anymore. I was drunk – I trusted him. I figured if he, my Frosh leader, was telling me it was okay, I should trust him. I was drunk – what did I know? But a little voice in my head kept telling me, “Why are you letting this happen? This isn’t what you signed up for.” For months, I lied to myself and everyone else about what had really happened. I felt so ashamed, as if I had been weak. I had ‘let him’ do that to me, despite my own wishes. But how could that be rape? I trusted him, I knew him. My roommate was there, and I had flirted with him that very evening. None of these things added up to what, in my mind, was rape. But something was wrong; I got really depressed and anxious. I couldn’t trust anyone, and now more than ever, I was terrified of being too close to men. My self-esteem took
Joanna Wang | The McGill Daily a nose dive, and I developed body dysmorphism, which is an excessive preoccupation with a perceived defect of physical appearance. On too many occasions, I sat in front of my toilet wondering if I would really make myself throw up to be thin. I started hating my roommate, who I subconsciously blamed. She was there! Why didn’t she know that I was too drunk? Why didn’t anyone say anything? Why didn’t I say anything?
The truth is rape is not just something that happens in dark alleys, sometimes it happens in your own home with people you trust. The symptoms I experienced were only a few of the many ways
sexual assault can rob victims of their lives for months, or even years, after the incident. The aftermath manifests itself in both short-term and long-term mental disorders. Some of these include depression, anxiety, overeating, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for many survivors of sexual assault, according to the website of the Office on Women’s Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It wasn’t until January that I realized what had happened was wrong. I spent whole nights sobbing, wondering why this had happened to me. After four months of therapy, I admitted to myself that it was not my fault. I had said no, and he had overstepped a boundary, taking advantage of the fact that I was too drunk to notice what he was doing. I finally told someone what happened; at first I was terrified, though. I thought people would tell me I was lying or exaggerating. To this day, I’m mortified of what happened that night. No one should have to feel like they’ve been stripped of all self-control, that others are entitled to their body, or that the violation of that boundary is somehow their own fault.
The truth is rape is not just something that happens in dark alleys, sometimes it happens in your own home with people you trust. Rape Victims Support Network states that “80 per cent of assaults happen in the victim’s home,” and “70 per cent are committed by a perpetrator who knows the victim.” Additionally, approximately half of rapes occur on dates. Knowledge of facts like these can allow for sensitivity to the reality of rape culture and sexual assault that are frighteningly present in society today, as it makes people realize that sexual assault is not only the preconceived notion that many understand it to be. Assault happens when you scream no, and you kick and bite; and it happens when you’re too drunk, too shy, too embarrassed, or too disempowered to say anything at all. I would like to establish a norm of enthusiastic consent. Not begrudging or silent consent. A lack of a “no” does not mean “yes.” Rape culture is when society takes rape lightly, making jokes about it, mocking it, or even encouraging it. Rape culture is blaming victims, making them feel guilty and ashamed for things they aren’t responsible for. It’s when people like the Steuben-
ville rapists get sympathy in the media and online because their football careers are now over. It’s when McGill football players are accused of assaulting a girl and get to keep their varsity status. As an alternative, I’d like to suggest a culture where survivors’ voices are heard, and consent is enthusiastic. Where jokes about rape and the oppression of women and minority groups are not responded to by laughter, but by dismissal and acknowledgement of the real struggles people face. Although a reality of acceptance, enthusiastic consent, and support are perhaps far from the present, we can start to create such an environment by sharing our stories and giving people the space, comfort, and respect they need to be honest about their experiences. We can provide support and give hope to past, and regrettably future, victims. *Names have been changed SACOMSS is a confidential, non-judgemental, free organization, open to anybody, McGill student or not. They can be reached at (514) 398-8500 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to sacomss.org/#contact
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
“This is really the last stage of what has been an immensely long project, starting from the early 2000s and beating so many obstacles along the way [such as] lack of institutional support [and] lack of faculty support. It was really a big student push that catalyzed this.” Claire Stewart-Kanigan, Arts Senator After around a decade of advocacy and struggle, McGill finally approved the Indigenous Studies minor at a Senate meeting on February 19. The minor, which will start being offered in the 201415 academic year, will provide a chance for Indigenous and nonIndigenous students to learn about history, culture, and worldviews, and develop a broader understanding of contemporary issues. Student groups have supported the minor this year, such as when the
“It’s not about doing more with less. It’s about finding things we don’t need to do anymore.” Christopher Manfredi, Dean of Arts 2013-14 saw continued debate over the People, Processes & Partnerships initiative, the Arts faculty plan that would restructure Leacock and adjacent Arts buildings in order to consolidate administrative positions within the faculty. The discussion began in 2012-13 when the faculty unveiled plans to create administrative “hubs” within the Leacock building, though it has since backed down from its proposal to turn the third floor of Leacock into a reception area. This year has seen a continuation of question-andanswer periods and presentations to AUS Council, coming on the heels of last year’s complaints that the faculty had not done enough to elicit feedback from the Arts community. Critics of the plan, including students, faculty, and non-academic staff, have cited failed examples at other universities. They have also expressed doubt over the feasibility of increased workload for adminis-
trative staff, if they were to become responsible for several departments instead of a single department. The administration continues to cite the context of austerity and the Quebec provincial government’s imposed hiring freeze on administrative positions as reasons for moving ahead with the plan. As of November 2013, the plan includes creating two administrative hubs in the Leacock building. The proposed changes to the departmental structure and organization within the Leacock building are set against the backdrop of parallel changes made at the Ferrier building and 688 Sherbrooke. The Department of East Asian Studies was moved out of its rowhouse on McTavish last summer to 688 Sherbrooke, and the Department of Jewish Studies is expected to follow suit by moving into the Leacock building. —Anqi Zhang
Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) passed a motion regarding support for an Indigenous Studies program, but this is not the only support it has garnered. Since the early 2000s, advocates have been pressing for the establishment of an Indigenous Studies minor, but were constantly faced with hurdles, such as lack of support from both the University and the Faculty. Since many other universities around Canada have comparable programs, some estab-
lished as early as 1969, the creation of this minor is a long-overdue step at McGill. The University is complicit in colonialism, which is still ongoing: investment in resource exploitation plans in Northern Quebec is one example. Proponents see this minor as a first step toward a better relationship with Indigenous people, whose rights are still abused by the government and many institutions to this day. —Joelle Dahm
“A diagnosis can have a major impact on the way one lives, and yet here we have groups of people who can’t access resources if they don’t fit into the proper category.” Ethan Macdonald, Inclusive Mental Health Collective
The past decade has seen a dramatic major increase in students seeking help at the McGill Mental Health Services (MMHS), following the larger trend of increased mental health issues among university students. Attempts have been made in recent years to improve services at MMHS, with the implementation of non-medicinal anxiety treatment, mindfulness groups, and an eating disorder treatment program. Yet, MMHS’ shortage of staff and expedited care require additional funding and structural reconfiguration in order to address the needs of students who may require long-term care. Moreover, both Mental Health and Counselling Services, which receive funding from Student Services, have recently suffered a loss of almost $500,000 as a result of the university-wide budget cut. These cuts have put additional strain on an already struggling system. As a result of this, a $20 registration fee for
Mental Health and Counselling services was implemented in September 2013. It was removed later in the month after being brought forward to the Fee Advisory Committee in September, since the fee was not approved in a student referendum. Officials from the Mental Health Counselling Services, however, noted that this would not have an impact on the quality of mental health services within McGill. This February, a new mental health policy focused on creating a mental health network of student resources was adopted by the SSMU Legislative Council. The adopted policy includes a five-year plan, which aims to hire a SSMU mental health coordinator, improve student-accessible resources on mental health, and increase awareness and advocacy of mental health on campus. —Diana Kwon and Alice Shen
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
Seeing red The hockey Red-emption story that fell just short Sason Ross Sports Writer
fter a 2012-13 season that saw the Redmen lose in the quarterfinals to Nipissing, changes were made to redeem the team and get back to its former championship glory in 2011-12. Even with the new players filling the squad, the Redmen fell short of their goal of a national title, as they lost to University of Alberta in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) University Cup Championship. Although they made it to nationals, beating out Concordia, Université du Québec à Trois Rivières (UQTR), and Carleton, the hope that their changes in the off-season would prove championship-worthy was not met. After clinching back-to-back sweeps against Concordia and UQTR to qualify for the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East finals, the Redmen faced their first test. The Redmen dropped their first game 5-2 to first-seeded Carleton. Game two, back on home ice, was a slim 3-2 victory for the Redmen. Finally, the Redmen claimed the East title in game 3 with a nailbiting 2-1 win. However, the Redmen eventually lost 3-2 to Windsor
in the OUA Queen’s Cup Championship Game. Before this season, players such as 6-feet-3-inch-tall Neal Prokop were brought in to give size and a scoring punch. Prokop finished with 28 points in 44 games. Coach Kelly Nobes also brought in goaltender Jacob Gervais-Chouinard to solidify the goaltending duo alongside incumbent Andrew Fleming. Gervais-Chouinard stole the job with a a marvelous season, posting a 20-8-1 record along with a 2.37 goals against average (GAA) and .923 save percentage. Ryan McKiernan lead the Redmen in points as a defenceman in the regular season, posting 37 points in 28 games. One of the big changes that paid off in tremendous fashion was the improvement of the offence. After a year that saw the Redmen score a mere 88 goals, this season the Redmen potted 126 in the back of the net. This was good enough to tie them for third in team scoring in the CIS. Leading scorer from last year Patrick Delisle-Houde improved on his totals from 24 points in 26 games at an over point-per-game pace to finish with 30 points in 28 games. Look for the second-year sniper to continue to improve in the following years as he gets acclimated to his surroundings. He has the potential to be a top-tier
Gervais-Chouinard fights screen to make save goal-scorer in this league. There are many positives to take from this year. Offensively, the Redmen were a dominating force to be reckoned with, as they were second in the league in team scoring. Goaltending was a wall, as Gervais-Chouinard led the way, backed up by
“The students were charged 15 months ago, and, to this date, McGill has taken no action. They have remained on the team despite their disclosure of the event to their coach and are still enrolled as students.” From the “Petition to Fight Rape Culture at McGill” by McGill’s Union for Gender Empowerment
n November 2013, a Montreal Gazette article revealed that three McGill Redmen football players had been charged with sexual assault in an incident that had reportedly occurred in September 2011. The University itself did not enact any disciplinary measures against the players once it became aware of the charges (far before November 2013). McGill’s Athletics Department also did not punish the players, and neither did their coach. In total, these players missed zero games; their status on the team remained unchanged until they quit the team, shortly after the charges became public. All decided to leave the matter up to the courts, and to wait until a guilty verdict before enacting punishment. When the preliminary hearing began, the three
players had already finished their final season on the team. The event brought into sharp focus McGill Athletics’ policy on athletes in trouble with the law. The current policy requires no disciplinary action against the players until a guilty verdict, unlike many colleges and universities in North America that impart at least small punishments on athletes upon the charge of any crime. Sexual assault, however, has been a problematic charge within athletic communities across North America in the past year, as there exists a bias in favour of the athlete, as opposed to the reporter of sexual assault. At Florida State University, much-lauded quarterback Jameis Winston was investigated for sexual assault, but charges were never filed, somewhat dubiously – Flor-
ida State has a policy in place that immediately suspends any player indefinitely if charged with any crime, and the team was on track to play in the national championship game. In communities such as Steubenville, Ohio, survivors of sexual assault by local athletes were pilloried by community members, many of whom sought to protect their local athletes over sexual assault victims. McGill Athletics’ response was one of inaction. There were no immediate consequences for those accused, privileging their presumed innocence over any type of punitive measure. McGill Athletics’ lack of action also displayed the pressing need for a new athletic disciplinary code. —Evan Dent
the formidable Fleming. The squad was defensively sound, even getting a good amount of offence from the defensive core, particularly McKiernan. Overall, the team improved drastically from the year before. However, at the end of the day, the glorious taste of redemption was
Daniel Kent | Photographer not to be found. As retired football coach Herm Edwards once emphatically said, “You play to win the game!” The Redmen will be looking to bring Edwards’ words to life as they search for that final redemption they so desperately desire in the 2014-15 season: a championship.
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
The thrill of defeat On tanking and teaching fans how to love losing Evan Dent The McGill Daily
eing a sports fan is not merely a capitalist relationship between a fan and the organization, although it is important to remember that the exchange of money is implicit in supporting any team – we buy the tickets, we buy the jerseys, and we watch on TV (therefore attracting advertisers). So, outside of the nebulous definition of what a team is – a community-based regional representative on the national stage – we are supporting a producer. Fundamental to any relationship with a producer is the expectation that the product itself will be good. If the product sucks, you stop buying it, right? Well, not quite. Today in sports, it has become perfectly acceptable to support a horrible product. I should know; I’m a fan of two teams (the Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Cubs) that are explicitly trying to be as bad as possible. And not just as a casual fan – I’m fully invested in these teams, yet do not care (or am pleased) if they lose. This phenomenon is known as “tanking,” and it has been around for quite some time, though coverage and acceptance of it has seemingly never been higher than it is today. The basic idea is that the simplest, cheapest way to build a team is through drafting young talent in the prospect draft. The easiest way to draft the best talent is to be the worst team in the league, which in all four major North American sports leagues gives a team the best chance to gain the first overall (or, at least, a top five) draft pick. With enough of these top picks, a team will be able to cheaply and dependably rise out of the basement and back to championship caliber. Tanking has been plausibly compared to the business tactics of Mitt Romney, who took failing businesses, gutted them to lower costs, and then eventually garnered profits off of them. In a way, a fan of a tanking team is being asked to root for Mitt fucking Romney. The fan is the pawn in a strategy that may eventually garner results, as the team guts its own roster Romney-style. In that case, I’m a dupe. I already fantasize about the lineup the Cubs will trot out onto the field in 2016 – with a bunch of top prospects! – and the group of players the Sabres could have by that same year. I fervently want the Sabres to be bad again next year so that they can draft Connor McDavid, a forward prospect so good he’s been nick-
Saad Salahuddin | The McGill Daily named “McJesus,” presumably for his franchise-redeeming qualities. They’ve got me hook, line, and sinker, dreaming of a not-guaranteed future while currently supporting a deliberately awful product.
Sports fans are taught to value a win over all else, to live and die to see their team win as much as possible. For a team to get to get this awful usually involves the trading of any good players whose contracts are expiring (who might jeopardize the tanking, and are leaving soon anyway) and fielding the worst roster possible, often through phantom injuries that shelve good performers at critical times. In essence, the goal of tanking is to go as low as possible in order to gain from parity-promoting draft systems that reward the worst teams every year. What’s pernicious about this strategy is that it takes the typical idea
of a fan’s hope for the future and extends it for years. It also fundamentally reverses the way a fan watches the game – a fan is accepting of a bad product because it will eventually create a good one. In that case, a loss is as good as a win. Watching the Buffalo Sabres this year as a fan has been a radical experience. Sports fans are taught to value a win over all else, to live and die to see their team win as much as possible. In the context of the tank, though, every loss that secures our spot as the worst in the league is seen as good. This effectively creates an ambivalence for every game during the season – winning is fun, but losing is fine, if not better. Because if the Sabres can get the first pick this year or the next, they eventually will have the top-ranked talent necessary to win the Stanley Cup. That is what is being sold to fans – the suffering will all be worth it. Never mind that similar plans have not always worked out for other teams. One just needs to look at the current Edmonton Oilers or New York Islanders to see teams that bottomed out and have stayed there. What’s being capitalized on is a fan’s capacity for hope despite everything else. The Chicago Cubs’ haven’t won a World Series since 1908, and yet ownership can sell
fans and the media on the fact that the latest round of “rebuilding” (the euphemism du jour for tanking) will eventually bring the long soughtafter championship. The media has been complimentary of the plan; Rany Jazayerli, a baseball writer for Grantland, described the Cubs current strategy - outright tanking – as “going well as long as you don’t focus on the Cubs’ win-loss record […] The new front office made the conscious decision not to worry about wins and losses until there’s a chance […for a] playoff spot.” And fans, too, because of the natural predilection to hope against literally more than 100 years of contrary evidence, have mostly bought in. Teams are allowed to do this because it truly is the best way for a team to get better. Signing free agents on the open market has proven to be risky and cost inefficient; and since draft systems reward the worst teams, why not try to be the worst if you can’t conceivably win the championship? The owners of professional sports teams have a vested interest in keeping a draft system that rewards bad teams, because it keeps the opportunity for fan hope alive – the bad team is always one or two drafts away from becoming a contender. Although some proposed changes for the draft – including, in bas-
ketball, a system that would assign every team’s draft picks for the next 30 years – have been floated to remove the incentive to tank, none have gained widespread traction. There’s no reason for owners to accept any other system, because the current system allows them to be aggressively bad for years without a ton of fan discontent. For instance, the Philadelphia 76ers are mired in a 26-game losing streak as of writing this article, tied for the longest in the history of basketball, no one’s been fired, and the fans, while checked out of this season, haven’t shown much widespread ire. In the end, general managers who create bad teams and fans who support them are not to blame; what’s really to blame is the current system that incentivizes losing. Owners will not get rid of this system without a fight, though, as the current draft system keeps alive the idea of parity, in which any team can conceivably compete for the championship in any year. What’s being played upon at all times is fans’ optimism and hope, the propensity for fans to return en masse year, after year, after year. And now it’s even easier, as we’ve been sold a system that allows us to truly love the losses in order to be happier in some far-off future. After the pain, maybe then I can be happy.
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
IN THE SUMMERTIME Queer Tango Festival Montreal
his May, head to the Queer Tango Festival to perform the only dance that’s hotter than Montreal in the summer. According to the festival organizers, tango traditionally represents “patriarchal views on sexuality and gender relations, where the man is the decision-maker while the woman responds.” Queer Tango challenges this standard by “encouraging a fluid exchange of the leader and follower roles.” In practice, this means you will be free to switch between the roles of leader and follower as you and your partner desire. This beautiful Argentine dance may take some practice, but don’t worry, workshops and classes are open to all levels. As for the pros out there, day one is improvisation, so get to the evening session and show us how it’s done. Featuring international and local teachers, dancers, and performers, the Festival claims to be a unique combination of Montreal’s “effervescent queer community” and its renowned tango scene. Prices for events start at $10. Locations vary. Check out the Montreal Queer Tango site at queertangomontreal.com for more details. —Rachel Eban
Print may be dead (for the summer) but culture never stops. Keep up to date at mcgilldaily.com/category/culture
hile many of us have already heard of (if not actually been to) Marché Jean Talon and Atwater market, there are a variety of smaller markets where you can show your support for local growers. Montreal boasts over ten of these smaller markets, scattered across the city, often popping up next to a metro station. You can start by checking out the two local markets closest to McGill. Santropol Roulant’s market, at the corner of Roy and Coloniale, sells vegetables from its farm and two urban gardens, along with produce from local and organic growers. Low-income market goers can buy a $10 punch card that will get them $20 worth of fruits and vegetables. The Santropol Roulant market runs every Tuesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., beginning July 1. Marché Solidaire Frontenac, a Carrefour alimentaire Centre-Sud (CACS) project situated at 2349 Rouen, brings together members of the community and builds awareness about food justice, environmental politics, and social justice issues. Shop for local fruits and vegetables at this market from July to September. —Reba Wilson
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
The Plant Summer Workshop series
s young millennials increasingly devote their time and energy to environmental initiatives, projects such as the Plant Summer Workshop series emerge in order to meet the new demand. This year’s workshop series, which seeks to support self-expression in the area of urban agriculture, is bound to draw seasoned urban agriculturalists and newbies alike. Defined by its quirky, accepting atmosphere, the workshop series’ self-professed goal is “to provide non-judgemental space where people can share skills and learn together.” While specific information on this year’s festival has yet to be released, last year’s festival boasted activities such as a kimchi fermentation workshop and classes on how to make bread and beer. Many non-culinary activities were also offered, such as workshops on zine-making, and perfecting one’s CV in French. Another sub-group of the workshop on the “guerilla gardens” of the Plateau is dedicated to greening the urban spaces of the hip Montreal neighborhood. For unconventional, environmentally-conscious individuals in the city, this workshop series could become your go-to community this summer.
Shakespeare in the Park
he organizers of the Shakespeare in the Park festival decided to get their creative juices flowing this year, with their new production Harry the King: The Famous Victories of Henry V. Whereas productions in the past have mostly consisted of a Shakespeare play performed in its entirety, this year’s is a hybrid of the Bard’s historical plays Henry IV, parts one and two, and Henry V. A tale of “fighting for what you believe in, despite impossible odds,” according to the festival’s website, the production is the mastermind of Repercussion Theatre, a nonprofit organization that has been hosting the festival in parks around the greater Montreal area for 25 years. Like many summer theatre festivals of its kind, the tickets for shows are completely free, but must be obtained in advance. Harry the King runs in parks all over the city from July 4 to August 2.
—Lily Chapnik —Lily Chapnik
his isn’t your Bubbie’s summer festival! From August 18 to 24, lovers of Eastern European Jewish music, or Klezmer music, will gather at Camp B’nai Brith in the Laurentians for the 18th edition of the annual KlezKanada Laurentian Retreat, a week of music, dancing, and learning. With a huge number of classes in all aspects of Klezmer and Yiddish music offered, as well as theatre, dance, song, and poetry, the seven days of the festival are an invaluable opportunity to learn from the world-renowned experts in the field. The evenings are comprised of performances from some of the world’s preeminent Klezmer musicians, and dance ses-
sions and cabarets which last late into the night. The festival’s extensive scholarship program ensures that at least half of the participants at the festival are young adults. McGill students can receive credit through the Jewish Studies department by participating in the festival (by registering for JWST 354, the McGill/KlezKanada Course). The fun continues after the week is over with the Montreal Jewish Music Festival, which is sponsored by KlezKanada. —Lily Chapnik
Suoni Per Il Popolo
f your music taste tends toward the eclectic and experimental, be sure to check out the Suoni Per Il Popolo festival. The Montreal-based non-profit Société des Arts Libres et Actuels (SALA) has organized this three-week concert series to promote experimental and avant-garde music from Canadian and international artists. SALA’s mandate as a non-profit features goals such as introducing “new music to new audiences,” building “links between Montreal artists and the public,” and showcasing “the relationship between music [...] and political movements,” all of which is nicely summarized by the English translation of the festival’s name: “sounds for the people.” Accordingly, Suoni Per Il Popolo will feature musicians from around the world, both newcomers and veterans, in a wide variety of genres and styles. The festival runs from June 4 to 22, beginning at Casa del Popolo with a concert by Americana musicians Richard Bruckner and James Irwin. Other featured concerts include the free jazz group Die Like a Dog Trio (Peter Brötzmann, William Parker, and Hamid Drake); psychedelic, droning electronic duo Fuck Buttons; indietronica band Notwist; ambient pop musician d’Eon; and Syrian dance-pop star Omar Souleyman. Many more acts will be announced as the festival approaches. Tickets, which range from $10 to $28, can be purchased on the festival’s website, or at Atom Heart, Aux 33 tours, Cheap Thrills, L’Oblique, and Phonopolis. For more information, go to suoniperilpopolo.org. —Timothy Bill
Tanjiha Mahmud | The McGill Daily
March 31, 2014 The McGill Daily | www.mcgilldaily.com
Festival of Anarchy
ontreal’s Festival of Anarchy, a month-long coming-together of politics, art, music, protest, and entertainment, is the largest anarchist event in North America. Organized around the Anarchist Bookfair, which runs from May 25 to 26, the Festival features a huge range of activities, from dance party demonstrations to Montreal bike tours. The events are as cultural as they are political, situating anarchism within Montreal’s art, literature, and music scenes through anarchist art exhibitions, theatre festivals, and cabarets. The politics also tackle a wide range of issues, including decolonization, gentrification, and the Quebec student strike.
“The startup companies put grand opera on a much smaller scale, [which makes it] more accessible.”
For those less familiar with anarchism, the workshop Anarchy 101 will provide basic history and modern movements. The diversity of artistic and political topics also provides many accessible entry-points into the world of anarchism. But if all you want to do is dance, events like Glamarchist Lookfest Queer Dance Party have got you covered. With over 25 events located around Montreal throughout the month of May, the Festival of Anarchy is the perfect way to shake off the school year and the status quo. —Rosie Long Decter
“The music industry is very male-dominated, and to show female-identified youth that there are women out there making music is important.”
Stuart Martin, co-founder of Stu&Jess Productions Last November, Stu&Jess Productions, a new opera company founded by Jessica Derventzis, recent graduate of Queen’s University, and Stuart Martin, recent graduate of the University of British Columbia, put on its first production, Gian Carlo Menotti’s short two-act opera The Medium. Harvey Lev, an artist who turned an old Verdun church into his residence and private gallery, offered his home as a venue, making Stu&Jess Productions’ The Medium truly one of a kind. They went on to present Le Docteur Miracle in late February in, of all places, the upper floor warehouse of the Techno-Lith paper company in Montreal.
Heather Hardie, coordinator of Rock Camp for Girls Montreal (RCGM) Rock Camp for Girls Montreal (RCGM) was co-founded in 2009 by two graduates of Concordia’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute, which studies feminisms and questions of social justice. Every summer, RCGM hosts a five-day session where girls aged 10 to 17 practice and play music while learning about anti-oppression and acquiring critical thinking tools to negotiate a male-dominated industry. The Camp reserves leadership positions for female, trans*, and gender non-conforming people. Registration is currently open for the 2014 session, which will take place at La Sala
“I can try to do as many interviews as possible — as humanly possible — to document these issues.” Stefan Christoff, programmer of “Free City Radio” show at CKUT 90.3 FM Last January, the “Free City Radio” show on CKUT 90.3 FM launched its latest project, the Free City Radio zine. The new zine series, created by Stefan Christoff, features transcripts of radio interviews, artwork, and photography. The zine is free from any corporate or state funding and publishes an issue every season. The first issue, produced in collaboration with Mostafa Henaway, a community organizer who works with the Immigrant Workers Centre in Montreal, looked at local gentrification and displacement as well as massive international political movements. For Free City Radio II, Christoff is partnering with Dru Oja Jay, co-founder of independent news network The Media Co-op, to explore cooperative economic and social systems.
The launch will take place on April 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the Concordia Community Solidarity Co-op Bookstore (2150 Bishop).
Rossa from July 21 to 25, with a showcase concert on July 26, and a recording on July 27. No prior musical experience is required.
“Our vision is to close the gap between the hearing and Deaf world, with the use of theatre as a common medium.” Seeing Voices Montréal Seeing Voices Montréal, a McGill club founded in the fall of 2012, is Montreal’s first American Sign Language (ASL) theatre, and the only Deaf theatre company in the country. In early March, they presented their version of the Brothers Grimm’s classic, Deaf Snow White, combining spoken English and ASL. Seeing Voices went on to perform Deaf Snow White at Carleton University in Ottawa. Their “Introduction to ASL (with theatrical focus)” class, taught by Jack Volpe, a Montreal native who was born deaf, just began on March 27 (registration remains open until all spots are filled). —all blurbs by Nathalie O’Neill
March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
Thank you to all our contributors this year! Erinn Acland, Shaina Agbayani, Zapaer Alip, Cécile Amiot, Malcolm Araos-Egan, Art History and Communication Studies Graduate Students Association, Jill Bachelder, Laurent Bastien Corbeil, Amina Batyreva, Gelila Bedada, Madison Bentley, Timothy Bill, Nadia Boachie, Julia Boshyk, Kaiva Brammanis, Jacqueline Brandon, Alisa Brandt, Jonathan Brosseau, Janna Bryson, Danji Buck-Moore, Celine Caira, Alexander Calderone, Frances Calingo, Lindsay Cameron, Juan Camilo Velásquez Buriticá, Natasha Carruthers, Christopher Cayen-Cyr, CC, Camille Chabrol, Ak Ch, Lily Chapnik, Kai Cheng Thom, Trevor Chinnick, Ben Cohen-Murison, Nicole Coon, Li Cornfeld, Joelle Dahm, Antu Das, Tara David, Arithra C. Debnath, Ben Demers, Louis Denizet, Isabel Dickens, Khoa Doan, Sabrina Dobroszek, Rosemary Dobson, Haidan Dong, Lola Duffort, Philippe Dumais, Rachel Eban, Euan EK, Benjamin Elgie, Naomi Endicott, Cem Ertekin, Naomi Eterman, Christian Favreau, Susannah Feinstein, Carmen Fenech, Adam Finley, Sarah Fortin, Menachem Freedman, Christy Frost, Lauria Galbraith, Melanie Gedeon, Georgia Gleason, Kateryna Gordichuk, Katia Gosselin, Julia Grandfield, David Gray-Donald, Jacob Greenspon, Lucy Gripper, Camille Gris Roy, Jennifer Guan, Rochelle Guillou, Sarina Gupta, Ralph Haddad, Sylvan Hamburger, rosalind hampton, Nathaniel Hanula-James, Grace Harris, Kiera Harrison, Sam Harris, Lilya Hassall, Ahmad Hassan, Juliana Hayden, Lily Hoffman, Robin Holloway, Angela Hsieh, Adrienne Hurley, The Inter Union Council at McGill, Claire Iroudayassamy, Nina Jaffe-Geffner, Sarah Jameel, Cody Kane, Fedor Karmanov, Wong Kar Tsai, Z.J. Kauffman, Shivan Kaul, Lindsey KendrickKoch, Daniel Kent, Klara Keutel, Vareesha Khan, Khoa, Gretchen King, Isaiah King, Lillian King, Magdalene Klassen, Molly Korab, KP, Lewis Krashinsky, Anvita Kulkarni, Diana Kwon, Rassin Lababidi, Gersande La Flèche, Clara Lagace, Mohamed Laila, Olivia Larson, Jill Laurin, Mohamed Leila, Fin Lemaitre, Claire Leslie, Annie Liang, Ariel Lieberman, Megan Lindy, Marianne Liu, Daniel Lombroso, Rosie Long Decter, Leanne Louie, Catherine Lu, Kira Ludmer-Kott, Mona Luxion, Sarah MacArthur, Graham MacVannel, Zoma Maduekwe, Tanjiha Mahmud, Karine Makhijani, Christopher Manfredi, William Manning, Anna Marchese, Emily Martin, James Mayers, Matthew Mayers, Liam Mayes, Will Mazurek, William Mazurek, Sasha Mbabazi, Ethan McDonald, Demilitarize McGill, Kate McGillivray, Tyler Michaels, Mathilde Michaud, Henji Milius, Chris Mills, Eleanor Milman, Dan Moczula, Jonathan Mooney, Victoria Mulburrow, Shane Murphy, Sivakami Mylvaganam, Faisal Naqib, Vikram Natarajan, Sam Nazer, Wyatt Negrini, Chloe Nevitt, Midori Nishioka, Sarah Nogues, Emma NoLee Park, Emma Noradounkian, Kai O’Doherty, Leyla Omeragic, Anushe Parekh, Lee Park, Hillary Pasternak, Ki-eun Peck, Zoe Pepper-Cunningham, Sonya Peres, Fernanda Pérez Gay Juárez, Samara Perez, Sean Phipps, Kristian Picon, Ben Poirier, Gabrielle Polce, Catherine Polcz, Tom Portsmouth, Annie Preston, Nicolas Quiazua, Tanbin Rafee, Thomas Raissi, Trevor Rajchgot, Jahanara Rajwani, Vasanth Ramamurthy, Nida Razack, Hannah Reardon, Maggie Rebalski, Matthew Redmond, Robin Reid-Fraser, Joseph Renshaw, Haider Riaz, Sason Ross, Daphne Rustow, Omar Saadeh, Jennifer Said, Saad Salahuddin, Errol Salamon, Andrea Saliba, Emily Saul, Jeremy Schembri, Heaven Sent, Lily Shaddick, Kyle Shaw-Müller, Mimmy Shen, Samantha Shier, Matt Shi, Peter Shyba, Enbal Singer, Valina Sintal, Jack Sladden, Robert Smith, Sillon Stanger, Claire Stewart-Kanigan, Bipasha Sultana, Support our Staff at McGill, Michael Szymkowiak, Bianca Taberna, Christine Tam, Irmak Taner, Darren Tang, Victor Tangermann, Nirali Tanna, Inna Tarabukhina, Susan Tardiff, Mark Tartamella, Stephanne Taylor, Alexander Teaspoon, Julia Tsybina, Zoey Tung, Saelen Twerdy, Isobel van Hagen, Arielle Vaniderstine, Aaron Vansintjan, Juan Velásquez-Buriticá, Daniel Vosberg, Vivienne Walz, Arianee Wang, Jasmine Wang, Joanna Wang, Wei Wei Lin, Emma Wen, Eric White, Susannah White, Alex Williams, Rory Williamson, Reba Wilson, Drew Wolfson Bell, Daniel Woodhouse, Keat Yang Koay, Hannah Yoken, Allan Youster, Jane Zhang, Angela Zheng, Brian Zhu, Anna Zisa, Camille Zolopa
We couldn’t have done it without you!
volume 103 number 25
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March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
Rape culture is real and it needs your attention
n February 26, McGill hosted a Forum on Consent where a number of campus groups, including the Union for Gender Empowerment (UGE), the Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS), and Queer McGill, put forward a proposal for a Sexual Assault Policy for the University. The proposed policy aims to fill the gap in how the University deals with sexual assault on campus – an issue that has consistently been neglected. McGill currently has an assault policy in place, but the University has yet to recognize the need for a separate sexual assault policy. The proposed policy seeks to define consent, and outlines procedures to deal with sexual assault, including the hiring of a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, among other recommendations. The Daily supports the proposed policy and efforts from campus groups such as SACOMSS to combat rape culture on campus. This is a step toward making our campus a safer space for all those who are a part of it. By actively supporting this policy, members of the McGill community can show their support of dismantling rape culture in a concrete way. On campus, rape culture reveals itself in insidious ways, from Frosh chants to the tacit acceptance of rape jokes. What’s more, there is a lack of concrete support for or acknowledgement of voices of survivors from the McGill community. The largest obstacle to addressing rape culture at McGill is the culture of denial that we live in. Earlier in the school year, the Montreal Gazette revealed that three members of the Redmen football team were charged in April 2012 with sexual assault and confinement of a Concordia student, yet were allowed to continue playing on the team. The University responded that it couldn’t act because the assault had happened off-campus, abdicating itself of responsibility. When asked about the sexual assault case in a recent interview with campus media, principal Suzanne Fortier was hesitant to address the case or speak in concrete terms about rape culture.
Hera Chan | The McGill Daily Initiatives on campus to combat rape culture have so far been predominantly student-led, which speaks to the administration’s denial that rape culture is a problem at McGill. While the work that has been done so far by students is extremely important, it needs to be supported by the administration in order to create institutional change at McGill. The University’s stance is reactionary; the only time it makes an effort is when it receives so much external criticism that it has no choice but to react. A letter from Ollivier Dyens, the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning), outlining that the University does not tolerate sexual assault on campus, was sent in response to the open letter published by the campus groups last week. While it is valuable that the University is willing to engage with these groups, its engagement is ultimately limited. Acknowledgment is different than action; the University needs to be proactive about instituting policies and procedures that will create an environment of acceptance for the voices of survivors. We can only smash rape culture when everyone, including those in power, tackles it head-on. —The McGill Daily Editorial Board
Errata In the article “University releases heavily redacted access to information requests” (News, March 24, page 5), The Daily stated that Lockheed Martin and the Aerospace Mechatronic Laboratory were involved in research. In fact, Lockheed Martin’s contract is with the Computational Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. In an earlier version of the article “Flushing down blue gold” (Sci+Tech, March 24, page 16), The Daily mistakenly named a source who stated they wished to be anonymous. The name has been changed to a pseudonym. The article had also previously had a quote from Maggie* stating “Canadians will have a big problem with water soon. We have one of the weakest legislations in protecting water. We don’t prioritize drinking water as a human right.” In fact, Maggie* said that “We have weak legislation protecting water.” In the article “McGill and the Charter,” (Health&Ed, March 24, page 18) The Daily incorrectly stated that, according to Kira Page, the Charter would have a negative effect on Quebec’s international image. In fact, Page said that the Charter has negative effects on people of colour and migrant communities in Quebec. The Daily regrets the errors.
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dps board of directors Queen Arsem-O’Malley, Amina Batyreva, Jacqueline Brandon, Théo Bourgery, Hera Chan, Benjamin Elgie, Camille Gris Roy, Boris Shedov, Samantha Shier, Juan Camilo Velásquez Buriticá, Anqi Zhang All contents © 2013 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.
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March 31, 2014 www.mcgilldaily.com | The McGill Daily
Lies, half-truths, and fuck this place
FUCK THIS: A fuckoff to arms Fuck slow walkers
Fuck unpaid internships
To you dawdling fucks who get in everyone’s way on the pavement. Fuck you, you are the fucking scum of the earth. How fucking inconsiderate is it that you amble along without a care in the world, zigzagging from left to right along the pavement like you’re a fucking drunk, so that people with things to do can’t get past? It takes every fibre of will power I possess to not knock you the fuck down. Why the fuck can’t you and your stupid gaggle of friends not keep to one side of the fucking pavement if you’re gonna insist on crawling
along just slow enough to piss me off. Fuck the giant assholes who know that they’re walking slower than everyone else on the pavement, but still choose to walk along the only part of the pavement that isn’t covered with snow and ice. If we want to overtake you, we have to shlep through all that shit. I swear to almighty God, one day I’m gonna flip and fulfill my dream of tripping you up and seeing your stupid, oblivious face covered in that snow and ice, while I pride myself on a job well done. People have got places to be. You fucks.
Fuck SSMU Fuck SSMU and fuck year after year of shitty SSMU executives. Fuck the people who get paid almost $30,000 a year to sit around and answer emails and not give a shit about actual student problems and student lives. Fuck the way they waffle about every decision that comes their way, and fuck the fact that they seem completely incapable of taking a stance on anything. Fuck their snide comments and their complete abdication of responsibility in favour of finger-pointing. Fuck their self-important grandstanding. Fuck their inability to recognize legitimate criticism, and fuck their rejection of any kind of suggestion to their
shitty work. Fuck their useless hours-long meetings where they debate the wording of pointless motions instead of how they can actually change shit and help people at this university. Fuck the useless, labrythrine bureaucracy of SSMU that no one can wade through. Fuck the fact that this organization lost $21,000 on something as useless as fucking Frosh and only a handful of people even blinked. Fuck the fact that these people are our “student leaders” and don’t seem to care about anything. Why don’t you just fucking care about the shit that goes on in this fucking place? Then maybe I wouldn’t have to write this fuck this.
Fuck ‘striving’ Fuck the word strive. Fuck that it rhymes with chive, the second-worst fucking word in the English language. Fuck its fucking awkward-ass spelling. Fuck its stupid noble connotations and all the fucking political science students who spew it every other
sentence. Fuck reading a paper that uses strive 20 times per page because they’re too fucking uncreative to come up with a less fucking awkward word. Fuck striving for shit. Fuck your striving and not your doing. Fuck you, strive, my mortal enemy.
Fuck unpaid internships. Fuck working for 40 fucking hours a week for nothing but the hope that your shitbag boss wasn’t lying when they said it would be your “way into a good job.” Fuck that most of the times they lie. Fuck the fact that even if they don’t, only rich people will benefit, because who else can afford not to
get paid? Fuck the bosses who try to play it off like they’re doing you a fucking favour. Fuck it! Fuck that I still doubt my decision not to do one this summer. Fuck the journalism industry for letting unpaid internships happen. But fuck capitalism too, because capitalism is everything wrong with unpaid internships times 47468.
Fuck clothes Fuck clothing, man. Fuck jeans that dig into me and leave marks on my skin, fuck bras that make me my tits feel like a blobfish in gladiator sandals. Fuck boots for people who walk around with toothpick calves. Fuck sausage-casing sleeves. Fuck friends who ask me to go shopping because, “It’ll be fun.” Fuck the people in dressing rooms and behind counters who look at me, look at the clothes I’m holding, and smile like they’re talking to their senile grandmother, “Oh, you’re so cute and clueless, that’ll never happen, sweetie.” Fuck them in particular. Fuck the fact that I’m 19 fucking years old and I have to dress either like someone’s 14-year-old brother or their dad, because
the only option for ‘stylish’ fat girls is the 50s pin-up thing, which takes a LOT OF FUCKING WORK AND CASH between the makeup, and the hair, and the stockings, and I don’t wanna do that shit, okay? FUCK THAT. Fuck people who treat me like a kid because my only option is to dress like one. Fuck the sizing systems for women’s clothing, which aren’t so much based on body measurements as the alignment of the planets and last year’s lotto numbers and someone’s dog’s birthday. Fuck fashion advice that’s all about how to look smaller. Fuck anyone who wants me to look smaller. FUCK SMALL IN GENERAL. I want to take up space, and I’m going to.
Fuck residences Fuck Rez Life. Fuck trying to engage me in your lame definition of "fun" with stupid theme parties. Fuck the people who become best friends with their neighbours because it's easier than finding people you actually share a connection with. Fuck people believing that their year in Rez will be the best year of your life. Fuck people who judge others because they have no interests in befriending rezmates simply because
they live in proximity. Fuck going to your generic clubs where ‘a good time’ means a girl you don't know violently rubs her ass on your dick to generic music you won't remember the next day. Finally, fuck me for somehow buying in to the idea, even for a moment, that Rez Life would be enriching. It wasn't. And if you found it meaningful in any way, fuck you. Rez is just a building. Don't let it take on a deeper meaning.
Campus stunned to discover Daily editors hate The Daily more than they do “I hate everyone in this bar” E.k. EK The McGall Weekly
he last issue of The McGill Daily hit stands last week, printed as nothing but a 48page stream of consciousness rant from editors past and present. Many students were surprised to find that they were not the paper’s biggest haters.
“I thought I hated that rag, but to be honest I think we all pale in comparison,” on anonymous hater offered, shaking their head in wonderment after picking up a copy in the SHMU building. Inanity and vitriol were offered in equal amounts by editors of all sections over several generations. At least seven Coordinating editors wrote in for something labelled
an ‘intro,’ which largely consisted of seething diatribes about their respective years’ worth of co-editors. “Why doesn’t anybody at this goddamn university know how to write a grammatical sentence?” one Copy editor griped. “I swear to god none of you should have graduated from high school.” News editors’ complaints were sprinkled throughout, largely to do
with their high workload and lack of recognition amongst the editorial board. “Hello, it’s a NEWSpaper,” was repeated numerous times as a response to other editors’ rants. “I’m genuinely impressed,” said Rash Inall, who made a name for himself two years ago as one of McGall’s foremost Daily haters. “And I’m never impressed with The Daily.”
A recurring theme among the tirades was the number of opportunities lost to the bowels of the SHMU basement, from Friday night concerts to more gainful employment to a healthy social life free of severe caffeine addiction. “Do you know how many years I’ve shaved off my life in cigarette breaks and chugged coffee alone?” wrote one former Culture editor. “Fuck this place.”
coming this fall
THE SSMU BUILDING