McGill students occupy Deputy Provost office in "surprise resignation party"

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McGill students occupy Deputy Provost office in "surprise resignation party"

Breaking news.


This is happening right now - McGill won't say whether they will call security or city cops:

[url= McGill Daily:[/url]


Following a rally this morning in support of CKUT and QPIRG, twenty students occupied the office of Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson. The students occupying Mendelson’s office are holding a “suprise resignation party” for him in protest of the administration’s decision to invalidate the results of the fall 2011 existence referenda for CKUT and QPIRG.

Students have outlined two demands: that the McGill administration recognize the referenda and that Mendelson submit a formal letter of resignation. Mendelson was with occupiers in his office for a brief period of time, but reports from the 6th floor say he is no longer with the occupiers.

The group on the sixth floor released a statement, stating that, “We stand in solidarity with CKUT & QPIRG. We are a group of Students acting independently to defend these community organizations we love.”

A second group of students and faculty moved to protest outside of James, and gained entry to the front door despite attempts by security guards to secure the entrance.



Lots of live and internet MSM coverage:

[url= University student occupation demands resignation of Morton Mendelson, deputy provost [/url]


Here's a livestream of the "surprise party" occupation - maximum 50 viewers, so you may not get on right away:


Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Thanks for this, Unionist. Looks like they're just on the ground floor, though. Did they ever make it inside the office, I wonder?


It's not just the ground floor: the "party"—still ongoing—is happening on the sixth floor, where the deputy provost's office is located. A number of people also assembled on the ground floor in support of the sixth floor "party".


Catchfire wrote:

Thanks for this, Unionist. Looks like they're just on the ground floor, though. Did they ever make it inside the office, I wonder?

Yeah, sorry I didn't make it clear - they've been in his office right from the start. They even met with him briefly yesterday in his office. I guess to cut him a slice of resignation cake?



Without going into details, this issue has been brewing for years. McGill's administration doesn't like CKUT and QPIRG, for political reasons. Both are funded by voluntary student fees. So, McGill unilaterally made it easier for students to just check a box online to decline payment, whereas before, CKUT and QPIRG controlled the opt-out process. After months of fruitless negotiations, the students' union ran a referendum to get rid of the easy online opt-out and return to the status quo. The referendum passed - but McGill refused to recognize it, saying the question wasn't clear (yeah, right, sound familiar?) - which they had forgotten to mention until after the results were counted. The current action is born of frustration and desperation, but reflects the strong support for these two vital student institutions.

Students called in today to Montréal CBC Radio Noon - I'll post the audio when it becomes available - worth listening to.



There actually was resignation cake!

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Politicians learn to sell out activists early

February 8, 2012.

Dear Fellow Students,

We are writing with regards to the current atmosphere on campus, specifically the occupation of the sixth floor of the James Administration Building. We are writing to you as four Presidents of the largest Faculty Associations, as people who work on a daily basis with members of the McGill Administration.

We acknowledge that the actions of the McGill Administration over the past two years have not been conducive to enhancing student life on our campus. The administration’s approach to issues affecting students has resulted in a failure to foster a positive campus community at our University. There are many ways in which a student can voice dissent on our campus, and we acknowledge the reasoning and effectiveness behind direct action. The occupation of the sixth floor, however, hinders the work of not only those who work in the James Building, but also our work as your student representatives.

The students currently occupying the James Administration Building have put forward the rhetoric of a peaceful occupation. We, however, as student leaders would like to note that the current tactics alienate the majority of students at McGill, many of whom agree with the final goals of the occupiers, but who disagree with the means currently in use. We believe that there are more effective ways in which to engage in dissent that encourage student participation at large, and lead to more proactive and popularly recognised student movements.

We encourage the students occupying the James Building to engage in discussion with the Administration. We believe that denying their attempts to come to a resolution mimics the tactic used by the Administration – one for which we have so heavily criticised them.

We would like to finish by extending ourselves to you, our constituents, and as your fellow students, to come and discuss any of these issues with us. We wish to let you know that we all have and will continue to strive in our daily work to improve the student experience for all on campus.

Yours Sincerely,

Josh Redel, The Engineering Undergraduate Society

Dave Fortin, The Management Undergraduate Society

Jade Calver, The Arts Undergraduate Society

Akshay Rajaram, The Science Undergraduate Society

But actvists are ever resilient (warning: FB link)

Dear fellow members of the McGill community,


Tremendous disappointment has led us to respond to an “Open Letter” authored by the presidents of four undergraduate student societies, published on 9 February 2012. We are all concerned, inspired, and hopeful McGill alumni. During our time at McGill, we were active in student life through clubs and services, campus media, and student associations. In these varying roles, we negotiated with the administration on many issues that remain relevant today: student space, the function of student referenda, autonomy over opt-out procedures, the right for student groups to use McGill's name, and much more.


Let us state clearly that we fully support the Sixth Floor Party (also referred to as the Sixth Floor Occupation). After many years of involvement at McGill, we feel that such actions are the logical last resort for students who have exhausted all other avenues of negotiation. Disruptions like the Sixth Floor Party may be the only way to communicate with McGill’s intransigent, unrepresentative, and stubborn administration. We are outraged—but in no way surprised—by the university administration’s continued disrespect for students, their initiatives, and the basic principles of democracy.


Many of us did not always feel this way. Like the students who authored the “Open Letter,” we believed that it was possible to work constructively with this administration. We believed that through dialogue and compromise we could work toward common goals. We acted in good faith and expected the same in return. Some of us felt that “radical” tactics such as occupations and sit-ins were obsolete and counter-productive.


Needless to say, after years of fruitless attempts to engage meaningfully with the McGill administration, we realized that we were wrong. The four authors of the “Open Letter” argue that there are “more effective ways in which to engage in dissent that encourage student participation at large” and call on “the students occupying the James Building to engage in discussion with the Administration.” This sentiment is well-meaning but terribly naive. It neglects the generations of students who have attempted to engage in discussion with this administration, only to be met with indifference or open hostility. Students have few legitimate opportunities to participate other than our bi-annual referenda. And yet, the administration currently refuses to fully acknowledge the referendum results affirming support for CKUT and QPIRG McGill.


Members of the McGill Administration remain in office for many years after student leaders graduate. This results in frequent loss of institutional memory. The administration can patiently wait for active students to graduate and a new set of inexperienced students to replace them. We've seen this happen with the privatization of student food services, the loss of student space on campus, and many other issues. That is why, sometimes, direct actions like the Sixth Floor Party are the only ways to initiate change.


When students stand up for themselves, we expect the presidents of McGill's student societies to show strong leadership. It is your duty to represent your constituents and their interests. Claiming that the majority of students “disagree with the means currently in use” by the Sixth Floor Partiers is unwisely divisive. Condemning the very peers you represent is not the way to foster student participation or build a united movement.


Moreover, were it not for the more confrontational tactics of students in the past—including demonstrations, occupations, and more—your own student associations would have no meaningful role or power. The positive results of disruptive student action include: student representation on the Board of Governors and Senate; student-controlled newspapers with editorial autonomy from the university; the Green Book of Student Rights and Responsibilities; more affordable tuition. The list goes on.


As McGill alumni, we too are stakeholders in this debate. We write with the assumption that the four authors of the “Open Letter” are well-intentioned and have students’ best interests at heart. If only we could say the same of McGill’s administration.


In hope and solidarity,

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Fantastic Bärlüer! Thanks.


As some of you might have heard, McGill security is denying people from bringing food to the occupiers/partyers on the 6th floor.

At some point, a bucket was lowered from the 6th floor using a rope so that supporters could load food in it. In order to thwart this dangerous terrawrist action, McGill security actually cut off the rope (I am not making this shit up)! This is reaching incredible levels of absurdity.

The students were not to be deterred, though. Several pieces of fruit were successfully thrown through the window.

And then... well, just watch this.

EDIT: And check out the letters of support and essays on the #6party Tumblr page.


The occupation continues!

From Abby Lippman, Professor Emerita (and well-known women's health activist), to Michael Di Grappa:

Your latest moves (e.g., cutting power; refusing food supplies) against those peacefully protesting on the 6th floor of the James Building leave me ashamed to be a faculty member at McGill.  And with each daily (or more frequent) update you send out through the McGill e-mail lists, my shame grows and my outrage increases.

Students have every right to use all peaceful means to demonstrate their positions on issues that affect us all; the administration has the responsibility to respond to these with thoughtfulness and care. Instead, the administration’s punitive responses to this demonstration have been uncalled for — especially in an academic institution..




The remaining nine occupiers were evicted (peacefully) by police this morning at 9 am. No arrests, but they may still face disciplinary proceedings. They were met by supporters who took them off to have their first hot meal in days. There's a support rally planned for tomorrow at noon in front of the administration building.

Bravo, well done - continuons le combat!