By Neale McDevitt
Yesterday afternoon, Principal Suzanne Fortier stood in the square in front of the James Administration Building and surveyed a scene that made her smile. Hundreds of people – students, staff and faculty of McGill, and probably a few passersby – crowded the square, eating free sandwiches and bopping happily to Tonal Ecstasy’s a capella rendition of Some Kind of Wonderful. “This is our Piazza del Campo,” she said to the person standing beside her, referencing the famed public square in Sienna, Italy. “What a wonderful place we have here.”
For the second-straight year, Principal Fortier hosted a pan-McGill lunch to celebrate the beginning of the new academic year. With live music that included Tonal Ecstasy’s a capella stylings and a wonderful jazz quartet from the Schulich School of Music; a dance exhibition by the McGill Student Street Dancers, and a delicious and nutritious lunch, the square was transformed into one, big block party.
Like any good host, the Principal spent most of the two-hour long party greeting people and making sure they were having fun. One minute, she was chatting with people at the side of one of the two stations serving wraps and vegetable crudités, and the next she was at the top of the stairs posing for one of the dozens of pictures people asked to take with her. When the last wrap was handed out at the very end of the event, some 3,500 people had been served.
And while the day started off a little chilly and overcast, the weather gods smiled on the day as clouds gave way to a warm September sun partway through lunch. Either way, Principal Fortier knew people would turn up in force and have a good time. “When I got up this morning I heard the weather prediction and they said there was going to be a few clouds. I said ‘So what? No problem,’” she told the crowd sitting on the stairs and on the grass. “The McGill community knows how to survive a few clouds and will come out strong and full of joy. And that’s what you’ve done.”