Senate talks Nov. 10 report

Members of the university senate gathered last Wednesday in order to discuss the investigation and recommendations regarding the events of Nov. 10. The investigation was conducted by Dean of Law Daniel Jutras, and was released Dec. 15. 

In her opening remarks, Principal Heather Munroe-Blum stated that she accepts all six recommendations proposed by the Jutras report. The details of the implementation of these recommendations will be developed and released by Munroe-Blum following a Board of Governors meeting on Jan. 31.

Introducing his report, Jutras restated his mandate and the process of his investigation. He noted that the focus of the investigation was on clarifying facts, and that the facts on the report were those that could be confirmed by a plurality of sources.

“I readily accept that, as written, the report does not provide a full account of the subjective feelings or emotions of those who were present on that day,” he said. “It is a narrative written from the point of view of an outside observer, not a collage of a subjective individual narratives or perceptions of the events of that day.”

After recapping his recommendations, which include a discussion on peaceful assembly on campus, the mandate of security services at McGill, and continued dialogue with the Montreal police, Jutras expressed his willingness to let the report spark dialogue in the McGill community.

“The recommendations are mine and mine alone, and in very clear sense, once the facts are laid out … as a consensual base for the discussion of the events of Nov.  10, I don’t have any privileged position to make recommendations,” Jutras said. “Any member of this community is equally well placed to make recommendations on this event and where we can go from here. I sincerely hope that this report is understood as the beginning of the conversation.”

The live-streamed session then continued, with senators expressing questions and comments on both the report and potential future courses of action. Art history and communication studies professor Darin Barney emphasized that the occupiers were not violent, that the only violence that occurred in the fifth floor of the James Administration Building was carried out by the McGill security team, and that police violence was “completely disproportionate and wholly unjustified.”

“While the report itself does not make such a recommendation, its substance certainly provides grounds for concern over the appropriateness and proportionality of the police response,” he said. “And so filing a complaint by the principal, on behalf of the university as a community, is certainly warranted.”

Science Senator Annie Ma expressed concern at the lack of emergency and medical assistance available to students hurt during the events of Nov. 10.

“Maybe we need to recognize the fact that we need to improve our services, especially in the emergency situation, that could potentially provide help to students and staff next time we have an emergency,” she said.

Following a question on what McGill could learn from other universities’ policies on demonstrations, Jutras explained that “our definition of peaceful assembly and its connection to the code of student conduct is perhaps the widest that exists in the province,” and suggested that it be developed further by the community.

Post-Graduate Students’ Society Senator Adam Bouchard emphasized the need for student participation in the execution of the report’s proposals.

“Students should be, and desire the ability to be, directly involved in the implementation of Dean Jutras’ recommendations to the community,” he said. “Consultations should not replace having students be a part of the final response.”

The discussion of the Jutras report finished with arts senator and fifth-floor occupier Matthew Crawford addressing the reasons for the occupiers’ course of action on Nov. 10.

“In order to destroy the figurative alienation that exists between [the administration and the student body], the occupiers saw fit to destroy a literal physical alienation that exits between students and administrators,” Crawford said.

“The message of our occupation was simple: either the student voice must be heeded, or governance at this university must change in order for our influence in the decision making process to be anything more than tokenistic.”

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