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The Principal's remarks to Senate re: Nov. 10

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Published: 18 Nov 2011

Principal Heather Munroe-Blum's remarks to Senate re: the events of Nov. 10

I would like to further address to the events of last Thursday, November 10th.

It is fair to say that we are all deeply dismayed by what transpired on our campus, particularly coming as it did at the end of a day of extraordinarily well-planned and mostly peaceful student protests.

These were extremely troubling experiences for many members of the University community-the clash of protesters and police in front of the James building; the presence of riot police on our campus and the use of pepper spray; the occupation of the 5th and 2nd floors of the James Administration building; and the fact that people were hurt, intimidated, and threatened.

As Principal of McGill, I am deeply sorry that events so at odds with the culture and values of the university have happened here at McGill. I know that I am not alone in regarding these events as most regrettable and ones that we hope never to see repeated.

People are hurting because of the events of last week-students, faculty, staff, bystanders, and those who were caught in the protest and aggression  outside the James building, including the presence of riot police, as well as those staff members working in the James building who were caught up in the occupation.  I know that even people who were not present have been affected, not only members of our direct community, but also those connected to us-parents, families, alumni, volunteers, and those in general who care about McGill.

We share a desire to determine what happened and to find ways to move forward, so that all members feel safe, heard and represented, and, to the best of our ability, to prevent this from ever happening again.

There have been and will be a number of processes that people will engage in to come together, to share experiences, to offer support, to understand, and to strengthen our community.

I want to express here my thanks to the student groups, and others, staff and faculty, who quickly moved to offer such support.

As you know, I have asked Daniel Jutras, Professor and Dean of Law, to undertake an independent investigation of the events. You will have all seen his communication to the community yesterday. The mandate has been established and the process is underway. I am confident that Dean Jutras' report will contribute substantially to our understanding of what happened, and to what we can do in the future to avoid a recurrence of the events we experienced. I urge you to read his communiqué and to contribute to his investigation where you have experiences that will shed light on the events.

As I have stated in my earlier communication, Dean Jutras' report will be made public, there will be an opportunity for debate and comment,  and it will be placed on the agendas of our Senate and our Board for discussion.

The investigation is only one step in the process I foresee to address the unfortunate events of last week.

In the coming days and weeks I and other members of the academic leadership will be out and about meeting with groups, student councils, and holding and participating in other fora.  I will also be holding a webcast where members of the community will be invited to email to me questions of interest to the community, for my response.

Through these measures and other initiatives that may be taken, I am committed to providing an opportunity for all members of our university community to express their ideas and feelings about the events in question and to help us all regain our balance as a university community.

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