James Administration Building Occupied Again

07 Feb, 2012

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Students protesting on the first floor of James Administration in support of the occupiers of Mendelson's office

A group of about 20 students are occupying the office of the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson on the 6th floor of the James Administration Building. This occupation is being staged over the issue of the QPIRG and CKUT referenda. Students are protesting on the first floor of James Administration in support of the occupiers of Mendelson’s office. “The occupation on the 6th floor is peaceful and McGill Security personnel are on the scene,” notes an email from Michael Di Grappa, VP (Administration and Finance).

There was a support rally for QPIRG at Roddick Gates at 10:30am, as supporters of the organization handed out banana bread. Mendelson made it clear to QPIRG that the results of their fall referendum that validated another five years of operation for QPIRG and removed the ability of students to opt-out online would not be upheld due to a lack of clarity in the question. The building was last occupied during the tumultuous November 10 province-wide tuition hike protests, when protestors in support of the occupiers were met with violent opposition from Montreal riot police.

Update (February 7th, 12:30pm) - Occupiers are seeking for Dr. Mendelson’s submission of a formal letter of resignation and the McGill administration’s full recognition of the fall 2011 QPIRG and CKUT referenda. The occupation of room 621 is being live-streamed here: Occupation of Mendelson’s Office

Update (February 7th, 1:30pm) – Employees in James Administration have been instructed to leave the building. McGill Security asserts that “as long as the protest remains peaceful as it is now, we will not feel the need to call the police.” McGill Security is blocking the entrance to the stairwell on the first floor to prevent more occupiers from travelling to the sixth floor. The protest remains peaceful as occupiers are sitting, talking, and listening to music on the first floor.

Update (February 7th, 4:00pm) – Provost Anthony Masi has advised the occupiers in a written statement that they are occupying the building without permission and are requested to leave the premises immediately. “Complaints will be filed against the occupiers under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures, and the standard protocols will be followed,” reads the most recent email from Di Grappa. In addition, the notice reads: “Your occupation of the premises may also be a violation of the law, and the University has not excluded any options regarding what actions it will take because of this.”

Sixth-floor occupiers were seen on the live-stream dancing to music, wearing funny hats, and chanting, “Whose office? Our office!” Protestor Amber Gross asserts, “It’s not an occupation, it’s a party!”

Update (February 7th, 10:00pm) – Students continue to occupy the lobby and sixth floor of the James Administration building. They are planning to stay there all night and open up a café in the lobby tomorrow morning at 9am.

Update (February 8th, 12:30am) – The sixth floor occupiers have decided to stay in the Mendelson’s office overnight. Around twenty protesters are seen camping outside the James Administration Building, with around twenty more on the ground floor. Seven McGill security personnel are standing outside to restrict entry inside the building, where two security personnel are manning the ground floor. The glass window on the exterior of the James Administration building appears to have been vandalized with markers. The message reads: “Keep it up! Stay strong! Non-violence is cute! Party on!”

Update (February 8th, 12:30 pm) - The occupation of the first floor lobby and sixth floor of James Admin has reached its 24th hour. The James Building remains closed today, and alternate work arrangements have been made for employees. Yesterday, Professor Jim Nicell negotiated with the occupiers in an attempt to get them to leave the building, but they are refusing to leave until their demands are met. These demands are for the Administration to recognize the results of the fall QPIRG and CKUT referenda and for Deputy Provost Mendelson to formally resign. “We hope for a rapid, peaceful end to this unacceptable situation,” reads the latest email from Michael Di Grappa, VP (Administration and Finance).

Update (February 9th, 1:00 pm) – Professors arrived at the James Administration Building, bringing food to the sixth floor occupiers. Professors Michelle Hartman (Islamic Studies), Ian Gold (Philosophy, Psychiatry), Jessica Ruglis (Education), Aziz Choudry (Integrated Studies, Education) brought bags of groceries to the door, only to be turned away by Campus Security who declared that the building is closed and that there is no access to it. Choudry explained that “Even in hostage situations, people get food to come in, so this is really unreasonable.”

Update (February 11th, 2:30pm) – The occupation of the sixth floor of the James Administration Building has reached its fifth day. Ten occupiers remain. They have modified their demand for Mendelson’s resignation. They are now demanding that, instead of resigning, Mendelson should work out of Service Point and dedicate 15 percent of his day at a minimum to holding office hours for students. In addition, they are demanding that Mendelson’s office be converted into a student space.

Their demand that the administration recognize the results of the fall QPIRG and CKUT referenda has been left unchanged. QPIRG has come out in support of the sixth floor occupiers. In a press release, the organization extended an offer to the McGill administration for negotiations between the sixth floor occupiers, the administration, and QPIRG McGill.

The administration is continuing their strategy of attrition in the hopes that the occupiers will leave on their own accord. On Friday, they shut off the washroom. “We are maintaining access to drinking water and, as you may have read on Twitter or in the student media, the protestors found a way to get in some food, cigarettes and supplies last night,” notes a Friday email from Di Grappa. Power has been cut to the sixth floor since Thursday.

The Milton Avenue Revolutionary Press removed their entire blog on Friday evening following a threat of a lawsuit from former SSMU President Zach Newburgh. “I consider these articles hateful and malicious, as they ridicule and defame my character and reputation,” read Newburgh’s email to the blog. Sixth floor occupiers used the blog to update the public on their status and demands, as well as to direct hateful speech towards members of the administration and members of the student body who disagreed with them.

Update (February 12th, 11:30am)The occupation of James Administration building has ended.

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