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Day 2 of occupation: sixth floor occupiers remain

The protesters staging a sit-in in the lobby of James Administration left the building at around 11:20 a.m today, following a night inside without access to washrooms, food, or Internet. Over 20 occupiers remain in the sixth floor of the building, and half a dozen students spent the night in sleeping bags outside James Admin to show support for those inside. At 2 p.m. at least 30 people, including one relocated seminar class, remain in solidarity outside of James Admin.

“We are doing just fine,” the sixth floor occupiers wrote in a press release. “A night of sleep after our multiple dance parties yesterday has us refreshed and ready for the rest of the day. We only wish that more of you were up here partying with us!”

Yesterday, after a rally to protest the administration’s rejection of the fall referendum results regarding QPIRG and CKUT Radio, twenty students entered the James Admin building, staging a “surprise resignation party” for Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson. The occupiers demand that the administration accept the referendum results, which would enable QPIRG and CKUT to continue to exist, and would allow opt outs to go offline, and that Mendelson resign.

“Yesterday, Professor Jim Nicell talked several times with designated representatives of the occupiers in an attempt to get the protestors (sic) to leave the building.  The protestors (sic) are refusing to leave unless their demands are met,” wrote Michael Di Grappa, VP (Administration and Finance), in an email to students at 9:30 a.m.

Libby Bouchard, U1 arts, who stayed with the lobby protesters until 1 a.m., commented on the negotiations.[pullquote]”Yesterday we were allowed to come in and out and the vibe was beautiful … [but it became] a stifling place, it was a place of intimidation.”[/pullquote]

“They’ve had negotiations but the negotiations are just a joke because the negotiator [Jim Nicell] has no power to grant the demands they’re making, so what’s come out is that the negotiator has just basically insulted them and not made an earnest effort at negotiating. It’s just a public relations move on the part of the administration, so there’s been no real negotiations.”

Galen Macdonald, a U3 arts student who stayed in the lobby overnight, said that the lobby protesters came out of the building this morning because the space had become “unsafe.”

“It was no longer a space from which we could have the kind of conversations that we want to have with all of the different kinds of people that we want to talk to,” he said. “Yesterday we were allowed to come in and out and the vibe was beautiful … [but it became] a stifling place, it was a place of intimidation.”

During the night, security guards filmed students sleeping. Additionally, a student who was seeking access to medication encountered resistance from security guards.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fgMkot1SE0&feature=youtu.be

Amber Gross, the student who was sent to represent the lobby protesters during negotiations with Nicell yesterday afternoon, said that the people rallying outside James Admin intended to stay there throughout the day.

“We need to make sure that we don’t lose our presence out here because its extremely important that there’s constantly a body of people outside for those inside,” Gross said as she organized a shift schedule.

In response to the events, some students created a Facebook event last night titled “The James 6th Floor occupiers do NOT represent me.” About 12 hours after the event’s creation, over 700 students were “attending.”

“Since last November, a very small – yet very vocal and radical – minority has been monopolizing the political discourse of our campus at the expense of all of us: the overwhelming but silent majority,” the event description reads.

QPIRG also released a press statement, which stated that QPIRG had been unaware of the planning of the “surprise resignation party” but supported the students inside James Admin.

“We are dismayed by the response to these students and their supporters thus far – their demands have been entirely ignored, and there have been no earnest attempts to discuss or address those demands,” the QPIRG press release stated. “While QPIRG and the Administration are continuing to engage in their own negotiations to have the student vote upheld, we urge the Administration to also meet with those students currently at the James Administration Building.”

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