Peaceful protest by students is a right that must be protected

May 14, 2019 at 11:53 am

This past weekend, a group of students came to May at Mac to protest rising admissions rates, the prevalence of sexual violence on campus, and lack of sufficient mental health resources. Three students who took part in the protest were given fines for trespassing. In the opinion of the MSU, the protest was peaceful and appeared to be a textbook example of an acceptable protest under the guidelines set forth in  the University’s Freedom of Expression, Protest and Dissent documentAs such, students should not have been penalized for peacefully protesting. The MSU stands in solidarity with our students and does not agree with how the situation was handled. The MSU will continue to advocate to the University for active discussion, consultation, and open dialogue with McMaster students, particularly student groups representing marginalized groups on campus. 

As an update to the MSU’s efforts to combat sexual violence within the organization, the MSU announced a systematic reviewof both the Maroons and the MSU as a whole last March. That investigation is being led by an independent consultant, Karen Bridgman-Acker of HRProactive. Karen is an expert in workplace harassment and human rights investigations, holding a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Sociology, a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and a Master of Social Work (MSW). The review is ongoing and the MSU is committed to addressing the systemic and societal issue of sexual violence within our organization and on our campus. If any member of the public wishes to give input, share concerns or provide information about the Maroons or the MSU in general, please email karen@hrproactive.com or phone (905) 483-7876. All participation will be anonymous. Recommendations gathered as a result of contacting Karen will not include names of individuals and will be aggregate in nature.

In addition, on April 8, the Student Representative Assembly (SRA) passed a motion placing The Maroons on probation for the 2019-2020 school year. The SRA has outlined several guidelines for the service to follow in order to operate, including restructuring the size of the team and prohibiting all non-approved events held off campus.

The Board of Directors continues to prioritize the systematic review of the policies, practices, and procedures of the Maroons, as well as the MSU as a whole, as they relate to sexual violence. Questions about the review, incidents that took place this weekend, or about support options available can be directed to Josh Marando, MSU President via president@msu.mcmaster.ca, or contact any member of the Board of Directors.

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