In response to yesterday’s MRO sent by Jim Nicell, « Message re blocking of classes – Accès aux salles de cours bloqué », we would like to challenge the McGill University Administration’s characterization of events on campus and the responses to them, in particular the summary banning of students from the McGill campus.
There were several incidents on the McGill campus on 26 March in which a number of students who were peacefully expressing their views were singled out and barred from campus for 5 days under article 21a of the Code of Student Conduct. Yesterday’s MRO states that: « Everyone in our community has the right to express peacefully their views about issues. » We believe that this selection and punishment of certain students for exclusion from our campus and community is especially draconian and a completely inappropriate response to their actions. This further harassment of students by the administration is in addition to other allegations of Code violations which have been made against a now growing number of students.
These actions by the administration are totally unacceptable if it is indeed true that, as stated in the MRO, « we owe it to our students to allow them to continue their studies unimpeded and to protect their semester. » At this time in the semester, students need to complete papers and other course assignments and prepare for final exams; the charges they are facing, and the stress these create, make meeting their academic commitments quite impossible.
In the MRO Dr Nicell asks « that members of our community treat each other with respect and conduct themselves in a manner that allows the open sharing of views. » As professors, we demand that the senior administration of the university ceases interfering with McGill’s commitment, which is also our commitment, to the education of our students. Those who are protesting fee increases and other policies that contribute to making education inaccessible are actually among our finest: their critical analyses and mutual support are what many of us hope our students will get from their time at McGill. They warrant respect for what they are learning and how they are putting their education into practice, not retributions for their peaceful assembly and the expression of their views.
We believe that these heavy-handed actions constitute an abuse of the Student Code of Conduct, misusing it to persecute students at will. We wish to file a complaint against the administration for its escalation of responses to peaceful dissent on campus. Moreover, we want to vigorously protest the suggestion that « security services » be called when students are demonstrating, protesting, handing out flyers or speaking to other students and professors about issues that concern them. These forces only make all of us feel insecure.
We all must work to make our campus a safe environment. The students banned from campus have not been treated with either respect or tolerance. To live up to Dr Nicell’s statement in yesterday’s MRO: « A safe campus requires that we all treat each other with respect and tolerance, » the administration must play its part. We are appalled at the poor example that McGill’s senior administration is setting for our campus community.
Professor Abby Lippman
Professor Adrienne Hurley
Professor Anthony Paré
Professor Ian Gold
Professor Malek Abisaab
Professor Mela Sarkar Professor Michelle Hartman
Professor Sam Noumoff
Professor Steven Jordan