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Eric Mauser

Massive student demonstration passes by McGill

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Montreal Thursday 22 March for what has been this year's largest student demonstration against planned Quebec tuition hikes.The protest, coordinated by the Quebec student union CLASSE, was noted for its peacefulness and relative calm. Other demonstrations, such as those of 10 November 2011, were marked by violence from both protesters and police.The anti-tuition hike protesters came to Montreal from across the province. They assembled in Montreal's Place du Canada, then walked along its main streets in the financial district past both McGill University and Premier Jean Charest's office, and finally concluded their march in Montreal's Old Port district.At McGill, a group of student demonstrators began to gather on the lower field facing Sherbrooke street at about 11 am. Buses also dropped off students from other schools.Many students on campus noticed a much greater security presence prior to and during the demonstrations.At around 12:30 pm, the group on campus, which had grown to about four hundred hundred, marched from McGill to link up with marchers elsewhere in the downtown area. Many of the protesters wore red, carried signs, and chanted slogans denouncing the tuition increases.A second group of about the same size formed on campus at around 1:30 pm in anticipation of the main march down Sherbrooke.Around 1:45 pm, police officers in riot gear appeared near McGill's main entrance at Roddick Gates on Sherbrooke.The main group of over 50,000 marchers, lead by a large white truck with speakers mounted on the front, reached McGill at about 1:50 pm, and were joined by the new McGill contingent.The main group of protesters took over 40 minutes to file past the university.Marchers beat drums, chanted slogans, carried signs, blew whistles and vuvzelas, many protesters wearing red, also carried Quebec flags, red flags, and even… Read More

SSMU narrowly fails to censure VP Pedneault

The McGill Student Union (SSMU) executive council, in a move that surprised many, narrowly failed to censure their Vice-President External, Joël Pedneault this past Thursday, March 29.  Many attribute the vote’s failure to the presence of large members of Pedneault supports affiliated with the so called “Mob Squad” who packed the gallery during the vote.The measure barely failed to have a majority, with the final vote being 11 for, 11 against, and 1 abstention.The motion to censure Vice President Pedneault was based on numerous charges of abuse of power, and involvement in non SSMU endorsed protests. These included his five day suspension from campus by the Dean of Arts for taking part in an anti-tuition increase protest, allowing both McGill student groups and CLASSE, the anti tuition increase group in the province of Quebec, illegal access to SSMU facilities, and the printing of what was described as “propaganda” to attempt to influence McGill general assemblies.The decision to vote move to censure Vice President Pedneault was based on complaints received by student politicians.“I listened to concerns raised by my constituents in regards to the actions of VP External. I cannot speak for the other movers, but I believe that the negligence on the part of VP external warranted a motion to censure,” said Isabelle Bi, a SSMU Councillor and mover of the motion.VP Pedneault defended himself by saying that the charges were unfounded and lacked sufficient proof, and that the motion to censure was, in reality, an attack on his political beliefs.This claim was disputed by many supporters of the motion, including SSMU Councillor Raphael Uribe Arango.“SSMU council attempted to censure VP Pedneault due to concerns raised about his actions and funding of particular groups on and off campus,” Arango said.“ This was not an attack on him but his actions,”… Read More

McGill Student Union election results are in

After over a week of campaigning, students at McGill know who will comprise their student union (SSMU) executive, the highest student elected offices at McGill, and the results of several key student referenda. The results of the election, which was held from March 8 to March 14, were released this past Wednesday. The elections are the only ones at McGill in which the entire undergraduate student body is able to vote. Voter turn out was higher than it has been in years past, with 5979 students voting of the 20563 eligible to do so, for a voter turnout of 29.1 percent. The winning members were Michael Spzejda as Vice President Internal, Robin Reid-Fraser as Vice President External, Haley Dinel as Vice President of University Affairs, Allison Cooper as Vice President of Clubs and Services, J. P. Briggs as Vice President of Finances and Operation, and Josh Redel as President. Of the six elected, four (Spzejda, Dinel, Briggs, and Redel) were endorsed by the moderate political action committee or “ModPAC”. ModPAC was a group of students formed in direct response to the earlier occupation of the administration building at McGill to promote moderate politics and civil discourse on campus in response to increasing political tensions amongst students at McGill. One of the candidates elected, Robin Reid-Fraser, was a member of the group that occupied the administration building. The new executive will begin training to take office in May, and will begin serving in their respective positions over the summer prior to the start of the new school year. Perhaps the most surprising news of the night came with the rejection of the referendum on the support of the McGill campus radio station CKUT. Like other groups supported financially by SSMU, CKUT needs to periodically receive permission through a referendum to continue… Read More

McGill campus moderates mobilize to oppose violence, radicalism

In response to increasing radicalization on campus, concerned students at McGill met Thursday night to discuss how to mobilize moderate students to foster productive dialogue. The event, which was organized by McGill students Harmon Moon, McKenzie Kibler and Brendan Steven on Facebook, aimed to bring students from many different political persuasions together to act as a permanent, constructive force in university politics.The meeting was in response to what has been seen as a radicalization of politics on campus, such as the occupation of the James Administration building in February and its attempted occupation on November 10th, which both ended when Montreal police entered campus and intervened.           Students of different levels of involvement on campus, including elected representatives, media personnel, bloggers, former SSMU President Zack Newburgh, and students who admitted to not being very involved at all, attended.The meeting began with a discussion of common grievances and goals held by students.           “I'm not ok with a vocal minority deciding what happens on campus,” said one student taking part, whose name is being withheld to protect the integrity of the discussion.“I'm not here out of choice, but out of necessity,” said another student, who felt that if he did not become active in campus politics, radicalism would continue to dominate.   The meeting was attended by several campus politicians, including members of the McGill Student Union (SSMU) Council and members of faculty councils.“I'm here because I like hearing different viewpoints,” said Isabella Bie, and Arts SSMU Councilor, who also said she came as “an observer.”           After discussing the need for a less tense, more productive political dialogue on campus, the group began to focus on a variety of different causes.Signatures were collected for referendums to require some of the SSMU general… Read More

McGill rally highlights tensions

Invoking the memory of last Thursday’s bitter protests, nearly 1,000 students, faculty, staff and members of the Montreal community held a peaceful rally this Mon., 14 November to protest alleged police brutality and McGill University’s handling of the protest.The rally was called “We Are McGill,” in reference to a phrase used by McGill Principal Heather Munroe-Blum in a previous email communiqué to students.The demonstrators, who gathered on lower campus and marched towards the administration building, set up a tent, microphones, and a speaker system and renamed the square (from McGill Commons to “Community Square”) in an effort to “reclaim” the area from the administration.Rally-goers were addressed by both professors and students. Speeches ranged from condemnation of violence to condemnation of the University’s dealings with students on a host of issues.Some criticized the university administration for its seeming indifference to student life.“The university has changed into an educational institution … that desires rankings above all else, at the expense of student life and at the expense of education,” McGill student Tyler Lawson told the crowd.Lawson and other speakers encouraged students to help change McGill for the better.“The university is not just an institution that perpetuates the status quo but is something that sets an ideal for what society could be,” he added.“I’m happy to be here because all of you are here, but actually I’m really pissed,” Jonathan Sterne, professor of Art History and Communication, told the crowd.“I stand with you, and I especially stand with those of you who were hurt by the riot police.”Sterne explained that he too was unhappy with the violence at last Thursday’s rally, and also the “escalation tactics” he felt the university had used.“Neither the principal nor the provost has sent a letter of condolence to support the students or faculty brutalized by last week's… Read More
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