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Five-day protest over student fees for radio station, QPIRG
A five-day occupation of the James Administration Building at McGill ended Sunday when city police gave the remaining nine protesters five minutes to collect their belongings before they were read an eviction notice and then booted from campus.
Then, the university released a new protocol for “demonstrations, protests and occupations.”
In a release, Provost Anthony Masi noted that McGill is already “embarking on a comprehensive consultation process and dialogue into the ways in which freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and peaceful assembly can be protected as appropriate means of protest and dissent.”
Protesters want radio station and QPIRG fees reinstated
It’s day three of an occupation of the sixth floor of the James Administration building at McGill.
It appears protesters didn’t plan for it to last so long. On Wednesday night, occupiers sent down a bucket on a rope to try and haul up food from supporters below. Security guards cut the rope.
Doug Sweet, Director of Media Relations for McGill, told the Montreal Gazette that, “hauling stuff up by rope to the sixth floor is potentially dangerous,” and could potentially “break windows.”
Students took over the building on Tuesday when about 60 showed up to protest the administration’s decision to not honour a referendum over the continuation of funding for two campus groups. Most protesters were in the lobby of the building and have since left.
The Quebec Public Interest Research Group, a social justice organization, and CKUT, a campus radio station, were funded mainly by student fees. Two-thirds of voters appeared to support continued student funding of QPIRG in the Fall 2011 vote, but the university’s deputy provost for student life and learning, Morton Mendelson, invalidated the question due to confusing wording.
In addition to reinstating student funding to both groups, protesters want Mendelson to be fired or to resign. They’re calling their protest Mendelson’s “surprise resignation party.” Twitter is abuzz about the “party” with the hashtag #6party. A blog claims to offer “communiques from the sixth floor.”
McGill Daily published a letter today from QPIRG that thanks protesters and demands that their funding continue. However, they will not run a question about funding in the upcoming referendum.
CKUT, on the other hand, will not only seek affirmation of funding, but will ask students to make their fee mandatory. If passed, students who don’t support the station will not be able to opt-out.
Public Interest Research Groups have been controversial lately. Conservative students don’t want their student fees funding causes of the left, such as Israel Apartheid Week and anti-capitalism initiatives. Queen’s University students recently voted to stop collecting fees for a PIRG.