Peaceful assembly on McGill’s campuses

Dear members of the McGill community,
A university must be a site for the free and respectful exchange of ideas, engagement with dialogue, and the pursuit of teaching and research. Fundamental to this mission is the ability to carry out academic activities in spaces that are welcoming and respectful of the pursuit and advancement of knowledge.
Last month, McGill saw a protest at the Desautels Faculty of Management that resulted in the movement of all classes there online for the day. As I have communicated earlier, this was unacceptable.  
I am aware of further calls and plans for groups to carry out protests that would ‘shut down’ academic activities at McGill in the weeks to come. Let me state in the clearest and most unambiguous of terms: we will not tolerate any interruption or interference with McGill’s operations as a result of protests, regardless of the cause concerned.
Our University will always be steadfast in its protection of civil liberties – including our freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly – within the limits of the law and our policies. Conversely, exercising these liberties outside of these bounds, such that our core activities are compromised, is not tolerable.
First and foremost, all members of our community have the right to learn, teach, and work in a peaceful environment without disruption. To ensure this, we will strictly and quickly apply the Operating Procedures Regarding Demonstrations, Protest and Occupations during any protest that would interfere with campus activities, including blocking access to buildings, rooms or classes.
These Procedures, which came out of extensive consultation with members of the McGill community in 2012-13, authorize Security Services to instruct demonstrators to reduce the level of noise, to identify themselves, to leave a particular location, to move to a more suitable location or to disperse. If they do not, as per the Operating Procedures, we will request police intervention.
I want to reassure the members of our McGill community that they will not be targeted for engaging in peaceful demonstrations that do not interfere with or obstruct University activities or otherwise violate the law or our policies.   
This campus belongs to all members of the McGill community. We must be open to the expression of views, even – perhaps especially – when these run against the grain or challenge established beliefs. What is not permissible, however, is the obstruction of entry or exit of any campus building or of any site where academic and research activities are meant to occur.
I appreciate that the last months have been incredibly difficult for many members of our community. It is my responsibility as President of McGill to ensure that, even in the face of tumultuous times, our University continues to move forward with its mission tied to teaching and learning, research, and service to society.
Deep Saini
President & Vice-Chancellor
McGill University



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