MUNACA, McGill and Misconduct

I am writing to express my distress at the way that McGill University has treated the membership of the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association since they started their strike on Sept. 1, 2011.

I was prompted to write this letter by the arrest of Ms. Joan O’Malley, a 63-year-old strike captain—and my mother—on Oct. 14 during a peaceful demonstration.

While I cannot comment on the legality of her arrest, what troubles me most is that she was not detained in any confrontation with the Montreal police, but handcuffed and forcibly removed from the premises at the behest of McGill security staff.

As her daughter, I am shocked that my mother was slandered by McGill security, physically intimidated by the police and abandoned by her employer.

I believe that my mother’s arrest is indicative of McGill’s heavy-handed tactics throughout this strike: using injunctions to keep its staff silent and isolated; being vague and dismissive in official communiqués; setting an adversarial tone in dialogue with the union.

A university, by its very definition, is meant to be a community. I feel profoundly embarrassed that McGill has taken the heart out of this collegiality, rather than promoting it. I can no longer support my cherished alma mater.

Instead, I am writing to support my mother and others on strike and encourage all other alumni to join me in withdrawing support from the university—financial and otherwise—until this conflict is resolved.

We must hold the university to account for its misconduct during this labour dispute. Universities are supposed to be about dialogue and challenge. Let us return to those values.

—Emily Claire Poupart
BA McGill 2001
MA University of Victoria 2003
LLM, Oxford Brookes 2004