Six students gathered to protest McGill’s samosa ban in front of Roddick Gates on Nov. 4. The Facebook group ‘Save Our Samosas’ organized the protest and received over 1,200 likes on their page as of press time, with 600 students expressing interest in attending the event. While most of those who showed interest did not show up, those who did were not deterred by the poor attendance. One student chanted “No samosas, no rights!” while performing a protest dance. Another student tried to get passers-by to join the rally, with mixed results.
City of Montreal inspectors shut down a samosa sale fundraiser on Oct. 22 due to sanitation violations, prompting the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) to ban all samosa sales on campus until a proper protocol regarding food sales can be developed. The decision was met with discontent by students who view samosas as a source of inexpensive food and a fundraising opportunity for student groups.
Michael Dickinson, U1 Arts, however, felt that the ban was unnecessary.
“We do not have to tolerate the tyrannical health department of this city telling our students at what temperature we can and cannot eat our samosas,” Dickinson said. “This is […] a massive example of government overreach. I came to Montreal thinking it was a liberal city in which I could live my life the way I wanted to.”
Avni Aghi, U0 Arts, expressed her disappointment with the new rules regarding samosa sales, saying that they demonstrate a lack of consideration for student life.
“Samosas are a source of cheap, nutritious, [and] fulfilling food for students on campus, and they’re taking that away from us,” Aghi said. “Student groups […] are doing a service [for] students on campus [.…] You get three samosas for [two] dollar[s]. And that’s a full meal […] which the university doesn’t seem to understand.”
SSMU Music Senator Sebastian Duckett also decried the ban.
“We see this as what might be the greatest threat to student wellbeing on campus all year and definitely in my time here at McGill,” Duckett said. “Samosas are a staple of our culture and this should be taken as a direct attack on that.”
During the protest, attendees also discussed their concerns about student life in light of the samosa ban. One student worried the university could ban the farmers’ market next.
By 1:12 p.m., a third of the crowd had to leave for a POLI 244 midterm. The rest of the protestors had disbanded by 1:27 p.m.