Tribune Explains: The Men’s Varsity Teams Naming Process Committee

Following years of activism by Indigenous students, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier announced her decision to rename McGill’s men’s varsity sports teams in an email on April 12. As part of the announcement, Fortier stated that a steering committee would be established to determine a new name that would better represent the school’s values of equity, academic freedom, and integrity. The McGill Tribune looked into how the committee will work and what it hopes to accomplish. 

What is the purpose of the committee? 

The steering committee was created to establish an open and transparent process and to facilitate community participation. The committee, composed of both students and staff, will gather input from the larger McGill community to make an informed decision on a name that they feel best represents the university’s values. 

Who will be a part of the committee? 

Currently, the committee is receiving student nominations, which are open until Nov. 6.  The administration has called on members of the McGill community to nominate potential student members through their website. Once the nominations have closed, four members of the voting committee, composed of McGill Athletics and Recreation’s acting executive director Phil Quintal, the director of the sports program Geoffrey Phillips, former varsity coach Mr. Hubert Lacroix, and Deputy Provost Student Life & Learning Fabrice Labeau will decide on 10 final nominees. To ensure the involvement of different parts of the sports community, these 10 positions will be filled by five current student athletes, three alumni from McGill sports teams, and two current varsity team coaches. The committee will also include non-voting representatives from the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) and the Post-Graduate Student’s Society of McGill (PGSS). 

How will the committee decide on a new team name?

Once formed, the committee will follow a six-step procedure to brainstorm and agree on a new name. The first step will be to gather input from the McGill community through an online submission system, focusing on groups that the committee feels will provide valuable input. This will include members of the sports community such as coaches, students, and alumni, as well as those outside of McGill athletics, such as #ChangeTheName campaign organizers. With this input, the committee will decide on the essential qualities for the name and create a shortlist. Finally, they will ensure each proposed name’s viability by making sure that none of the options are trademarked or overused by other athletic teams. Once a preferred name is decided upon, a vote will occur within the committee requiring a two-thirds majority to be passed, and a report including the recommendation for a new name will be presented to Fortier. 

When will the committee decide on a new name?  

While no set date has been determined for the announcement of a new name and logo, it is expected that they will be decided upon by the 2020-21 athletic season, which begins at the end of August 2020. Students interested in the progress of the committee will be able to keep up with their activities through their website

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