The sixth floor of the James Administration building at McGill has now been “occupied" by students for over forty-eight hours continuously.
Around Tuesday, several students entered the administration building causing many administrators and staff to be relocated to other buildings on campus or to work from home, according to the administration.
Occupiers have made public their protest and it's purpose through statements released over the internet.
“We write from the office of Morton J. Mendelson — former Deputy Provost, Student Life & Learning at
“We decided to throw a surprise resignation party to wish him the best of luck in all future endeavors.”
Occupying students posted an accompanying list of demands to be met for them to cease their occupation of the building including, “1) The Administration recognizes the overwhelmingly clear results of the SSMU referenda, giving CKUT & QPIRG control over their own opt-out processes and continued existence. 2) Deputy Provost Mendelson formally resigns.”
Students selectively occupied the office of the Deputy Provost for Student Life and Learning, Morton Mendelson. The Provost was targeted because earlier in the semester, Mendelson overruled a student referendum which would have made it more difficult for students to opt-out of fees given to QPIRG, and organization that uses its money to support controversial causes, and CKUT, the campus radio station.
This same referendum was challenged by former student union president Zack Newburgh and Herald founder Brendan Steven at the student run judicial board Monday night, citing irregularities in the election and the referendum questions.
Students were alerted to the protest by emails sent out by the administration.
“Please be aware that a group of about 20 students are occupying the office of the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) on the 6th floor of the
“The occupation is being staged over the issue of the QPIRG and CKUT referenda,” he continued, noting that the occupation was peaceful.
In a later email, the Deputy Provost informed students that the protesters had been made aware that their occupation was illegal, and provided a text of the letter sent by the administration to protesters.
“Your occupation is preventing the normal activities of people who work in the James Administration building, as well as those of others, such as students and faculty, who have business there,” the letter stated.
The letter also contained a request that the protesters leave and written notification that protesters were in the building without permission and would be prosecuted under the student code of conduct and in court if it was determined that they had broken laws.
Outside, students lured by free food, being provided by the student union's Midnight Kitchen, and curiosity mingled with supporters and John Lennon was blasted through a megaphone towards the building.
Some came in support.
“I'm here because I certainly support the right of students to self govern through referenda, and I oppose any efforts by the administration to interfere with student referenda,” said Eli Freedman, a McGill student outside the James Administration building.
“I think the judicial board is the body that deals with the legality of our referenda questions,” he added.
Freedman also condemned the tactics used by the administration to compel protesters to leave the building by denying them access to food or bathrooms. He also said he thought the administration was getting the message.
Members of the McGill non academic staff union, MUNACA, who struck against the the university earlier in the school year, were also on hand outside the James Administration building in solidarity.
“[CKUT is] not pro-McGill, they're not pumped up for McGill in any way; they're independent, and McGill doesn't like that so now they're trying to slam the radio station down,” said one MUNACA member who declined to give his name.
“Silence the voices. That's what they want to do,” said another who also declined to give her name.
Many other students unwilling to give their names or make statements said that they sympathized with the cause of student democracy, but did not approve of the particular tactics being used by these protesters.
Some students chose to voice their displeasure with the protest over Facebook, where a group entitled “The James 6th Floor occupiers do NOT represent me ” The group gained over 1,300 members in under 24 hours.
As night fell, the occupiers reportedly attempted to get food into the building, but their efforts were stopped by McGill security. However, no direct effort has yet been made by the administration or
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