Presenting “Speaking the Unspoken: A critical examination of McGill’s celebrated employment practices”

Photo: Jill Bachelder, The McGill Daily
Photo: Jill Bachelder, The McGill Daily

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In solidarity with the 84 people who got arrested at last week’s May Day anti-capitalist protest, 27 of whom were given criminal charges, CKUT presents to you a ~critical auditory adventure~ about McGill’s celebrated employment practices.

Though May Day is globally celebrated as International Workers Day, several countries, including Canada, do not recognize it as public holiday. As Professor Yves Winter stated at McGill’s May Day rally, “May Day is a good time to reflect on our struggles and the relation between various struggles… how what we’re facing, is more than just a set of economic policies and an ideology, but a process of neoliberalization of the university, [a process] that we should understand as a rationality. When I say rationality, I mean it as a way of thinking of the world and making sense of the world. [In McGill’s context, neoliberalization has positioned] the university as a big enterprise.” With this documentary, we spoke with community organizers, McGill staff, and members of the Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE) and McGill’s Teaching Support Union (AGSEM) to show the effects of commodifying a public good and treating our school as an enterprise.

One of the greatest symptoms of McGill University becoming an enterprise rests in the changing nature of its work force. Though McGill is celebrated as one of the top employers of Canada, many employees have been cheated out of job security, fair wages, and worker dignity because they are considered a “casual worker.” This documentary investigates the outcomes of this category of worker at McGill, how it strains the workplace, and how this subsequently has affected the quality of services provided to students. We also elaborate on how these tactics have supported McGill’s legacies of racism and how these legacies have manifested through McGill’s current employment practices. McGill University was built on an Haudenosaunee village and was founded by a slave owner, James McGill. These histories are hardly ever spoken about and are undoubtedly ignored when discussing issues of discrimination at McGill today. On a symbolic level, James McGill is still celebrated through the presence of his tomb and statue, whereas Indigenous territory is barely acknowledged through the almost hidden Hochelega Rock.

Hochelaga Rock at the corner of McGill’s downtown campus

There continues to be very few tenured professors of colour and zero tenured professors who are Indigenous. The Indigenous Studies program was only put into place last year and only after much student pressure. There are currently no Equity Studies, Diaspora Studies, Black Canadian Studies, nor any other discipline that centres the experiences and effects of colonialism and racism (unlike other Canadian universities, which have made efforts to create these disciplines of study).

Documentary by: Tiffany Lam & Carolin Huang. Music editing help from Jacob Spitzer.



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