Last Tuesday, an open session Board of Governors (BoG) meeting scheduled to discuss the Jutras report was adjourned after five minutes due to disruptions from students. The meeting was rescheduled for Feb. 6 and held in a closed session.
Following the chair’s opening address, a group of about 20 students dressed as pirates interrupted with a song. Members of the board started leaving a few minutes into the song, and soon after, the meeting was adjourned.
“Guys, you just silenced 35,000 members,” Roland Nassim, PGSS president, said as he walked out of the room.
One of the student protestors, who declined to identify herself, explained the reason for the actions.
“We wanted to mutiny against the BoG. We recognize that as captains of our ship, they’re at best ineffectual and unrepresentative, and at worst, figureheads for a bunch of companies that are committing atrocities worldwide,” she said. “We don’t want them or need them representing us. We can represent ourselves, we can take care of our interests.”
SSMU President Maggie Knight said that she was disappointed that there was no discussion, and that other students expressed similar sentiments.
“I’ve spoken with a lot of students about [the protest], and the overwhelming majority didn’t understand why the disruption occurred, or felt that it was an ineffective way of critiquing decision-making at McGill,” Knight said. “Such protests can also alienate fellow students and cause backlash against all those advocating for changes in governance at McGill.”
Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning), Morton Mendelson, expressed his disappointment at the situation.
“I think it’s a shame that a discussion with a governing body about a very important topic that is of interest to the entire community … was disrupted by a small group of students,” he said. “I don’t see what kind of point this protest has, except to close down open discussion in this university.”
Mendelson added that the administration will remain open to dialogue with students.
“The administration is open for civil conversation with students who want to have a conversation,” he said. “What we saw today was not a conversation and was not students who are even willing to listen to what others have to say about something as important as the Jutras report.”