On Sept. 24, 92 per cent of McGill law students voted to strike on Sept. 27 to support the global march for climate justice. Held by the McGill Law Students Association (LSA), the general assembly saw a turnout of 63.6 per cent of all eligible members. Larissa Parker, L2 Law and a leader of the student movement to call for a strike, was shocked at the resounding outcome.
“When we saw the result of the vote, we were absolutely floored,” Parker said. “We never imagined that we would have such a resounding victory.”
Though the Faculty of Law is not bound to follow the decisions made by the LSA, Dean of Law Robert Leckey said that, in light of the high turnout, classes could not continue as usual.
“As we learned last week, McGill University has decided not to cancel classes on Friday 27 September,” Leckey wrote in an email to Law students. “It asked teaching staff to accommodate students who wished to accommodate students who wished to participate in the march. All our instructors who teach on Friday were preparing to do so. The immense majority [who voted to strike] indicates that classes could not proceed as usual.”
Gab van Walsum, L2 Law and Parker’s colleague, expressed appreciation towards the Dean’s actions.
“We are very grateful that the Dean decided to respect our vote. We know that it [must not] have been an easy decision given that McGill decided to keep the university open and no other dean has cancelled classes yet,” Walsum said. “But I guess we didn’t leave him much choice with such a resounding ‘yes’ vote.”
The LSA represents all students in McGill’s Faculty of Law. According to the LSA constitution, a referendum is required for students to hold a strike. Parker that the overwhelming success was the product of both student and faculty support.
“Things couldn’t have gone better,” Parker said. “From the very start, we had so much support from our fellow students. We were a team of over 30 students who ran the campaign, [….] We have to highlight the crucial support of some of our profs.”
Following Senate’s Sept. 18 decision not to cancel classes in support of the strike, numerous student associations, including the Arts Undergraduate Society, have decided to hold votes to strike. Many other Montreal schools, including Concordia University, Université de Montréal, and Dawson College, have already cancelled classes.