Though there are many happy effects of McGill’s prime downtown location, one of the perennial problems is a space crunch. As a result, the administration has been moving people around from office to office in an effort to free up space for other uses.
So some of the biggest conflicts between students and administration have been over space. The latest issue is the administration’s decision to evict the Sexual Assault Centre of McGill Students Society (SACOMSS) from their night office. The decision is both strange and wrongheaded. While administrators couch their decision in terms of institutional priorities, issues of liability and “proper channels” for funding, volunteers wonder where they will be able to continue their work.
I have never heard of a university campus where sexual assault — from harassment to date rape to stranger attacks — has not been a central issue for university students. SACOMSS is thus a valuable resource both for students and for the university community as a whole. I was impressed last fall when the administration cancelled the football season in response to a hazing incident. That was a high profile case, but the administration has the same obligation to students whose cases don’t make national headlines. Support for victims of sexual violence ought to be central to the University’s student services mission and SACOMSS ought to have a reliable and secure office space to carry out their work.
Tomorrow (Monday), there is a rally in support of SACOMSS that starts at the Roddick Gates at 2pm and moves to the James Administration Building.