Students refuse to leave when BoG goes "in camera"

By McGill Reporter Staff

A protest disrupted part of the Board of Governors meeting Tuesday when about 20 student observers, some of whom had taken part in the occupation of the Principal’s and Provost’s office area on Nov. 10, refused to leave when the Board attempted to begin a closed session.

After explaining that non-Board members must leave when closed session begins, including senior members of the administration who are not members of the Board, Board Chair Stuart “Kip” Cobbett declared a recess.

Board members then moved from the third-floor conference room in the James Building to the Principal’s office, where they continued the closed session and then held their annual pre-holiday reception, as this was the last Board meeting before the holiday break.

Meanwhile, the students stayed around the Board table and discussed their concerns with Morton Mendelson, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) and Jim Nicell, Associate Vice-Principal (University Services) listening and, occasionally, answering questions. Issues included a new policy on the use of the McGill name by student organizations and the student initiative to reform governance at McGill.

Eventually, the students decided to leave “in solidarity” en masse.

Disruptions during the open portion were minimal. When Principal Heather Munroe-Blum tried to answer two questions from SSMU President Maggie Knight, who is a member of the Board, students twice began singing Solidarity Forever, and giggled loudly during other presentations.

Those presentations included an overview of genomic research by Mark Lathrop, who joined McGill last year to lead the University’s effort in that burgeoning field, as well as an update on the state of Campaign McGill, by Marc Weinstein, Vice-Principal (Development and Alumni Relations).

To date, the campaign has raised $657 million of its $750-million goal, he said, noting that donations in fiscal year 2011 were up 22 per cent over the year previous, at $65.1 million.