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Farewell texts can be tedious affairs, limp with self-conscious earnestness and a spate of political niceties. Be that as it may, here is my own goodbye to McGill, a place that I have grown fond of as an undergrad, a law student and a staff member.
If someone asked me to describe what I will miss about McGill, the reply would be long indeed. It would describe the saucy insouciance of undergraduates plotting poetry on the Arts steps and slugs of cold beer at intramural hockey. It would talk of fine autumn sunshine falling on Thomson House or the view from the reservoir field on a snow-spangled January night. And it would recall a place that brings together historians and physicists, jurists and neurosurgeons.
More than anything, though, I will miss the ethos of tolerance and intellectual diversity that prevails at McGill. At its best, the university provides a sense of belonging to the brilliant, the unconventional and the eccentric. It is a place where the independent can enjoy an intellectual respite from conformity and the gnawing drone of power and the market. McGill is not just a community, but many communities, in which like-minded individuals can find recognition, inspiration and friendship.
It is this spirit of intellectual pluralism that has led McGill to produce world famous doctors, writers and scientists, and to be regarded as one of Canada's flagship institutions. The richness of its academic and social community has also allowed the school to remain pre-eminent in the face of political tension and underfunding.
In many respects, McGill's diverse intellectual culture is stronger than ever. The entering student body is accomplished and cosmopolitan and our professors have arrived from around the world to pursue a wide variety of research interests. Better yet, a renaissance of interdisciplinary learning on campus is helping to ensure that ideas do not stay bottled in academic silos.
In leaving, I hope that McGill can preserve the social and intellectual diversity that made my stay here such a rich one. To do so, the school must assure that those with the capacity to attend the university enjoy the means to do so. Unlike some of its Ivy League counterparts to the south, McGill is composed of a heterogeneous population whose rich mix of backgrounds serves to augment both the academic and the social mission of the school.
Thanks to all of you who have made this place a home to me.
Jeff Roberts arrived at McGill as an Arts student in 1996 and is leaving his current role as URO communications officer and Reporter scribe for a clerkship with the Federal Court of Canada in Ottawa.