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(Amanda Fiore / McGill Tribune)

‘Hey, can you watch my stuff for a sec?’ now legally binding verbal agreement

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In an updated version of its Charter of Student Rights, McGill has amended that, “Hey, can you watch my stuff for a sec?”, “I’m just going to get coffee, will you be here for the next ten minutes,” and “Sorry, could you…” are all legitimate, legally binding contracts. 

The clause amends "Part I: Fundamental Rights and Freedoms," Section 8 of McGill’s Charter. Section 8 originally reads, “The University has an obligation to ensure that adequate measures are taken to protect security of students on University property.” Section 8.1, effective as of Fall 2017, will add, “such ‘adequate measures’ include, but are not limited to, ample security guards, security cameras, a student judicial system, and casual but nonetheless legally binding verbal conversations between students who before coincidentally choosing seats next to one another were total strangers.” 

Ivan Dubé, McGill’s procurement legal counsel, explains the purpose of this amendment. “McGill is an academically rigorous institution, but social interaction plays a tremendous role in the University’s educational mandate. With section I.8.1, the University administration seeks to instill in its students a sense of collective responsibility.” 

One financial analyst suggested that the provision might be related to the recent slash in McGill’s operational expenses budget; however, Dubé was unavailable for comment. 

Amendment I.8.1 was procured after years of legal battle, following 2013’s “Morrison vs. Schulich Floor 5”. On Oct. 17, amidst the Fall midterm season, Claire Morrison, U2 Sociology, alleged that she requested that students around her keep an eye on her laptop while she left to get coffee, yet when she returned, her Macbook Pro was missing. 

While three of the students involved are legally prohibited from commenting, exonerated defendants Iman Azzari, U1 Chemistry, and Jason Klein, U0 Science, agreed to speak to the Tribune. Azzari, who left the library before Morrison returned, renounces any responsibility. 

“She said she’d be back in five minutes, but like, four hours later, she’s still gone. I’m supposed to watch her stuff because she didn’t feel like bringing a backpack with her?” Azzari said.

“How was I supposed to know the guy who picked up her shit wasn’t like a friend or her boyfriend or something?” asked Klein, echoing Azzari’s comments. 

McGill hopes that in securing provision I.8.1, the University will be able to provide a legal framework to support students like Morrison. 

For students with similar concerns to those of Azzari and Klein, Dubé offers a list of what constitutes a valid legal agreement. 

“Agreements to such a request need not be verbally explicit. Vague head nods, irritated shrugs, and weak half smiles are all legally binding.” 

As Fall 2017 approaches, McGill is preparing an administrative council to review the success of the implementation of provision I.8.1. The motion will be voted upon at Senate at the Sept. 20 meeting. 

In the interim, McGill’s legal counsel prepares to tackle “Silent vs. Talking: What is the Appropriate Level of Volume in the Ambiguously Labelled First Floor Redpath?”

This article is a work of satire and is part of the Joke Issue. 

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