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2nd Arch Cafe rally outside Senate, working group formed

Miranda Whist

To the tune of drums and cymbals, students held a second protest for the Architecture Café during Wednesday’s senate meeting.

The protest took place near the entrance to the Leacock building, where senate meetings are held, and was led by Mobilization McGill, an ad-hoc group formed in response to the Café’s closure.

Students’ Society President Zach Newburgh had wanted to propose a resolution at senate to re-examine the Café’s closure, but the Senate steering committee dismissed it. There will, however be a new working group on student consultation, said Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson.  It will consist of administrators and student representatives, and will discuss a range of issues.

“It would aid to identify mechanisms of student consultation, to determine on what issues it is appropriate to have student consultation, and to recognize and set remedies that can be sought if there isn’t proper student consultation,” said  Newburgh.

The creation of a working group had been a part of the protestors’ agenda.

“We want a working group to be established to institutionalize student consultation,” said Jenna Gogan, a Midnight Kitchen volunteer and member of Mobilization McGill.

There was concern, however, that the group might not be effective.

“We need to make sure that whatever they create will have lasting influence on the campus,” said Jeremy Bunyaner, U1 Arts.

Though the café was the main issue at the protest, its leaders said they were protesting the underrepresentation of students in general.

“At the moment, there is no place on campus where student decisions have any weight,” Gogan said.

Some students were wearing white armbands, which they said was an expression of solidarity. Some also wore red squares with the bands, symbolizing debt.

“We might be in debt because of higher tuition, we might be in debt because of expensive food,” said former Daily Editor Sam Neylon to the crowd. Chants of “No more debt!” followed.

In order to attract students, he Midnight Kitchen moved from its ordinary location to the protest. Even so, the crowd of about 80 was much smaller than that at September’s rally, which was in the hundreds.

“There’s not as many as last time, but it’s midterm season, so I’m not surprised,” said Carol Fraser, U2 German and East Asian Studies and a member of Mobilization McGill. “But I’m happy, I think it’s going well.”

After about 20 minutes outside, the protestors moved into the Leacock building to a place within earshot of senate. Security guards did not stop them, but they did push out the group’s drummers. The hallway’s acoustics galvanized the protestors, making their chants of “Sol! Sol! Sol! Solidarité!” and “Students, united will never be defeated!” louder.  

Representatives from Free Education McGill, a Montreal-wide student-advocacy group, also attended.

“This is an issue of student control of campus space and that’s very important for our issue, which is free education,” said Concordia student Holly Nazar, a member of the group. “[This] means not just being free in terms of no fees, it means in terms of not being exploited.”

Some students were skeptical about how much the protest would achieve.

“It might raise some student awareness, but [it will not] get the Arch Café reinstated or [help us] see any financial documents,” said Chad Pinto, U3 Management.

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