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McGill students who want to join the fight for greater university funding are free to do so, but they won't have the university's blessing to skip class or miss tests, Senate has ruled.
Senate, on Jan. 17, roundly defeated a motion by Finn Upham and her fellow student Senators requesting academic amnesty for anyone who wants to take part in the Pan-Canadian Day of Action on Post-Secondary Education in the afternoon of Feb. 7.
The Canadian Federation of Students, the coalition of student unions, claims more than 20 universities across the country have granted academic amnesty — meaning professors agree not to schedule tests or penalize students for missing class that day.
But Provost Tony Masi strongly urged Senate not to follow suit, warning that to do so would set a precedent that could open the floodgates to students demanding academic amnesty to take part in all sorts of political activities.
"This body should not be in the business of granting academic amnesty for the business of any political campaign," Masi told Senate.
Upham and her colleagues argued their intentions were simply to encourage student awareness and to demonstrate that students and the administration are on the same team when it comes to lobbying the Quebec government to correct the under-funding of post-secondary education.
Principal Heather Munroe-Blum last week appeared before the National Assembly to urge the government to lift the freeze on tuition fees and raise tuition in Quebec to match the Canadian average.
Senator Aaron Donny-Clark said the motion would give students the opportunity "to work as hard as the Principal to secure funding." The motion was defeated by a vote of 45-19 after several Senators spoke out against it.
Some Senators prefaced their objections by saying they support the cause but could not support the motion. Dean of Dentistry James Lund pointed out that students in his faculty have patients to care for.
"We have to balance the participation of students in worthwhile activities with their other responsibilities," Lund said.