Questions for the Principal

Le français suit l’anglais.

What this site is for:

At 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29, Principal Heather Munroe-Blum will answer questions from the McGill community on a wide range of topics in a live webcast.

We’ve set up this site as a way for you to post those questions, to make sure that all students, staff and faculty can take part.  If you choose, you can include your name in your question — but you don’t have to.

To keep this site a safe space for everyone, we’ll be deleting any questions that are abusive, obscene or otherwise offensive — but all other questions will remain published here until the webcast is complete. The Principal will answer as many of them as she can on Nov. 29.

How to post a question:

To submit a question, post it in the “Leave a reply” section on this page.


Raison d’être de ce site :

La principale, Mme Heather Munroe-Blum, répondra aux questions de la collectivité de McGill à propos d’un vaste éventail de sujets durant une webdiffusion en direct, le mardi 29 novembre à midi.

Nous avons créé ce site Web pour vous permettre de soumettre vos questions. Nous voulons que tous les étudiants, professeurs et employés de l’Université participent. Notez que vous pouvez vous identifier si vous posez une question, mais que ce n’est pas obligatoire.

Par respect pour chacun, nous supprimerons toutes les questions injurieuses, obscènes ou blessantes éventuellement soumises. Toutes les autres questions resteront affichées ici jusqu’à la fin de la webdiffusion. La principale répondra au plus grand nombre possible de ces questions le 29 novembre.

Pour soumettre une question :

Pour soumettre une question, insérez-la à la section « Leave a reply » sur cette page.

163 Responses to “Questions for the Principal”

  1. Anon says:

    The principal made a good point that we should all be more involved, and I agree. I don’t think here is the place to do it for me, it seems the tone of conversation centers around administration and bureaucracy. I’d like to improve the core learning experience at McGill, so I set up an IRC channel at irc.freenode.net #mcgill_ideas for anyone else interested.

    P.S. Principal’s video has been transcoded to WebM and available for download at the following location. It should play on most browsers and operating systems now.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1569313/20111129_1145_52_64007E131558.VID.webm

    Vote up or down: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. Anonymous says:

    Dear Madam Principal,
    Why is it that you consider your support staff as second class citizens when they are the people who keep McGill together. Administristation and M’s always seem to take the credit of the work of the suuport staff. Are we not all equal. I know that I am very proud of my work . And why is it that the administration are the ones who get credited with the raise, when the support staff did the work….

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 10

  3. Anon says:

    For those who want to avoid installing silverlight, you can stream the video in VLC or similar player using the address below. I will be downloading and converting the file to VP8 + OGG (MKV) for those that want to keep a copy on their hard drive. Will post the link here when I’m done. Thumbs up if you’re fed up with the way McGill does IT on campus!

    mmsh://132.216.75.94:8000/Content/SpecialEvents/PrincipalComWebcast/20111129_1145_52_64007E131558/20111129_1145_52_64007E131558.VID.wmv

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. Anonymous says:

    May very interesting comments were made above.
    A small technical thing needs to be explained:
    Why do you set up a Webcast requiring proprietary plugins that are not available on all platforms?

    The use of proprietary software is common on campus, and the provided education often encourage you to learn/use that kind of software. Students become locked in these systems and obvious clients of these big companies.

    Vote up or down: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  5. Anonymous says:

    Arthur Porter recently resigned as Director of the McGill University Health Centre because of questionable activities he engaged in while carrying out other duties for other positions, in this case Canada’s Security and Intelligence Review Committee. Both yourself and the at-large members of the Board of Governors hold numerous positions outside of McGill. Does the University hold you and the at-large Board members accountable for your work in positions outside the University? How does the University track your activities outside of the University?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  6. Mariève Isabel says:

    First of all, thank you for organizing this blog. I think it’s a good way to reach out to students and the McGill community and to give us an opportunity to ask our questions directly to the Principal. It is a good tool, as long as the questions are answered. That’s why I hope that there will be more Webcast like the one we saw today in a near future. It could become a great habit for the McGill community and I encourage it.

    I have three questions concerning the increase in tuition fees and McGill position on it.

    Was the decision of positioning McGill in favor of a raise in tuition fees taken through a democratic process? Who was consulted? Were students involved? If not, why?

    The total sums that will be collected through the increase in tuition fees will be $265 million, an important amount of money for students who earn in average, in Quebec, about $16 000 a year, bringing the amount paid for university fees (both tuition and ancillary fees) close to 25% of their yearly average income. Out of this $265 million, $116 million will be put to the provincial financial aid program. Do you think that the $149 million left, divided amongst all the universities in Quebec, will be a significant contribution to fix the problems of the university? What are the needs? Was an assessment of these needs made and if so, where can we consult it?

    Meanwhile, the private sector investments seem to be proportionally diminishing, according to the Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-économiques (IRIS), despite the fact that the private sector greatly benefits from universities, which are called “gold mines” in the Montreal business community. “The knowledge developed and transmitted by McGill contributed an estimated $3,2B to Quebec’s economy in 2008”, according to your report “McGill University: Driving Excellence and Prosperity” (2010). Instead of lobbying for an increase in student tuition fees, why not lobby for an increased contribution from the private sector (through a tax system), if the university values the interests of its students first?

    Vote up or down: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  7. Anonymous says:

    how will you be making Senate more accessible and transparent?

    Vote up or down: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. Anonymous says:

    How have you and the Board of Governors been handling the resignation of MUHC Director Arthur Porter and the months-long scandal concerning his leadership? How has it affected the University?

    Vote up or down: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. James McGoff says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

  10. Stef says:

    Why doesn’t McGill offer three full time semesters (3 months of class, 1 month break) per year instead of the current two plus several shorter terms via the summer school courses? Having three full time semesters should allow for more students to be enrolled at one time, thus increasing tuition income. It would also allow for students take a semester off when it best suits them, or take no breaks at all to graduate sooner.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

  11. Why was the agsem ta dispute settled so much faster than munaca strike?

    Vote up or down: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  12. YQL says:

    1. Make OPT-OUT of student organization possible. The student organizations (PGSS and SSMU) are not representing the student bodies at large, at all. They make aggressive movement and irresponsible comments in the name of all students, e.g. support the MUNACA where many students actually do NOT at all support them. They interrupt classes, and do not really serve the interests of students, yet they are charging large amount of fee on students.

    2. Increase the size-limit of student e-mail.

    3. Improve the university services efficiency — I support the university’s standing on “Competence over Seniority”.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 11

  13. John says:

    As per the TA strike question. From my understanding, during the TA strike, TA’s who held other positions (jobs) on campus were temporarily “fired” from their other positions on campus. Apparently, this is because certain labour laws prohibits organizations to employ striking workers. Individuals did get their jobs back when the strike was resolved.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  14. Justin says:

    The summation of the question period:

    Principal Heather Munroe-Blum: “I wasn’t there”

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 9

  15. Melanie says:

    will you ever consider developing on-line learning like other Universities?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 15

  17. Anonymous says:

    Without the Inter-Loan Library system, I have been contacting various academics and schools to beg for access to their materials. I know that both professors and students have been reduced to this. McGill’s first priority above students and staff is a good public image, so how pathetic do you think McGill looks in the eyes of the academic community when we come to them pleading on our knees?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

  18. Danny Jackson says:

    How do participants in this forum, which is administered by the administration, know that the posts, and thus the issues discusses, are not being manipulated by the administration so as to avoid questions or comments that the administration does not like? This is a legitimate question since comments disappear from this comment stream only is they are “disliked”. Couldn’t having comments “disliked” merely be a reflection of the views of those voting on the comments, not whether a comment is worthy of consideration? If a comment receives many “dislikes”, that make it a comment of “hot debate.” I can understand if comments which do not receive “likes” or “dislikes” are hidden in the stream, but not ones which receive numerous responses, be they positive or negative. It just appears that this forum, structured the way it is, is geared in the administration’s favour, which is not exactly the best way to have a healthy debate or discussion.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 7

  19. What was the contents of your meeting with SPVM Commissioner Marc Parent after November 10?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  20. What is the University doing to review it’s student disciplinary processes after the false accusations leveled against two undergraduate students earlier this semester?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  21. Mary Finlay says:

    Do you see that there is a connection between the University administration’s actions to restrict the academic freedom of librarians – where a complaint to the CAUT was upheld, to unilaterally changes to the benefits and pension plans of all staff, to retricting the use of the McGill name used by student and other groups for many years, to seeking extremely strict injunctions against (legally) striking staff and to having someone call the riot police into campus?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  22. Alice Walker says:

    Dear Principal,
    As a U3 student preparing to apply to graduate school, this year is critical for writing papers that I can get published in journals and use in graduate school applications. Without the Inter-Loan Library system, the scope of my research has been severely limited and as a result, I can no longer pursue several areas of study that I had had wanted to in graduate school.

    How are you planning to help students who have had to change the focus of their future academic careers because of the strike?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  23. Anonymous says:

    What is the University doing to review it’s student disciplinary processes after the false accusations leveled against two undergraduate students earlier this semester?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  24. Justin says:

    I have been at McGill for a total of two years.

    I feel as though I am simply a number – the value of my tuition fees.
    I came to this university because of its reputation and because of the previous generations of my family who have studied and taught at McGill.
    I am saddened by the fact that McGill has become a corporation. The Undergraduate education that I am receiving is worse than the education I received in CEGEP. Most professors are seemingly clueless, the grading and testing methods are despicable.
    I see this institution as being nothing more than a profit hungry machine, run by a woman who’s time is spread too thin for anything meaningful to happen.
    I guess that it is too much to ask for morality and compassion to come before capitalism.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 6

  25. Anonymous says:

    What have been the contents of your discussions with McGill Security Service since November 10?

    Vote up or down: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  26. Anonymous says:

    What are your career plans after you finish your term at McGill?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7

  27. Anonymous says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  28. Anonymous says:

    Principle Blum,

    Why in four years have I never seen you around campus? Do you think it would improve student-administration relations if you were present at student events?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  29. Anonymous says:

    What was the contents of your meeting with SPVM Commissioner Marc Parent after November 10?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  30. Anonymous says:

    Why are you having this webcast now? Will you be holding them regularly?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  31. Anonymous says:

    Have you heard from ANY staff member that security employees got violent with students in your office? You keep saying that you have no evidence, is that sufficient to justify your inaction?
    (the investigation is not a valid answer because it will not point any individual responsibility)

    Vote up or down: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  32. Anonymous says:

    You said you received updates about on-campus events on November 10 while you were off-campus. Who was giving you these updates and what did they say?

    Vote up or down: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  33. Anonymous says:

    Dear Principal Munroe-Blum,
    I am have been a staff member at McGill University for the last 26 years. While I am very proud to work at a world renowned univerisy such as ours, I must say that I am overwhelmed by the activities that have transcended upon us during the last few months. The sense of community seems to be forever gone. While I can appreciate everyone pointing the finger at you, I beleive it is important that everyone understand that you are not alone in making decisions that affect this great institution and that ultimately you too report to a governing body who has the power to impose certain important rulings. As such, my question to you is: What does the Board of Governors represent and what are steps are they taking in directing you to make the necessary changes that will restore a sense of community and trust back to the McGill Family?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1

  34. Anonymous says:

    It is very late to ask an additional question, but still…
    In the Daybreak interview, Principal Blum does not want to speculate on what happened on Nov. 10 before receiving the official report from Dean Jutras, acting as if she has no idea of what happened. However the question as to what caused the presence of the riot police , and whether or not it is up to the University to approve the arrival of the police on campus seems fairly simple to me. The Principle is supposed to be a highly capable person, surely she could answer this question based on current security policies. Or maybe she does not have a tight grip on the administration either, and whoever was in charge that day messed up? Simple questions do not need complicated answers.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 5

  35. Danny Jackson says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 12

  36. Mary Ann says:

    With the recent stepping down of the former Vice-Principal and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Richard I. Levin, I would like to know the steps that you personally took to try to retain this extraordinary individual, whose leadership and vision were admired by so many? Secondly, what does his departure say about your inabilty to retain the best and the brightest at McGill University?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

  37. Ron Jelaco says:

    The Architecture Cafe: the actions taken and the explained motivation of the Administration related to closing of the Architecture Cafe frankly seemed to many of us to be too counter-intuitive to be believed. So, with all due respect, will we ever be told the truth behind why the Architecture Cafe was forced to be closed?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 6

  38. Anonymous says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 11

  39. Anonymous says:

    Do you think the current proliferation of unions and unionization drives on campus are an indication of discontent and insecurity among staff members?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  40. Mohsin says:

    A significant proportion of McGill’s student body is made up of international students from all over the world. Although they pay more than twice the average fees paid by Canadian/Quebec students, McGill is still far cheaper for them than its US/Canadian counterparts/competitors. Also, the standard of education imparted here is generally accepted to be equivalent/superior to its contemporaries worldwide, especially in developing countries. Yet, I feel that international students are not actively involved in the McGill community as much as others student groups. Considering the much higher fees they pay, the current Quebec tuition fee hike must logically have infuriated them more than any other student group. However, I don’t see them doing anything about it. I do not know whether it is appropriate to place the blame on anyone, but it is clear that there seems to be a gap. Even on this forum, a quick glance reveals that only 2 questions were posted by/about international students. Although as an international student myself, I have always felt welcome at McGill, I would like to know what the McGill community (administration, students and staff alike) should be doing to have more involvement/engagement from international students in its activities.
    Thanks.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 9

  41. Anonymous says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  42. M says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8

  43. Anonymous says:

    The impression amongst many of us is that senior administration does not appreciate the seriousness of the pressures middle managers have been contending with for the last three months. I would like to know at what level is senior administration truly aware of the demands being put on us, and how much longer are we expected to “hold the fort” as they say.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  44. Ace says:

    I have two questions:

    1. Why did McGill decide to discontinue the usage of MIDA in order to attract international doctoral students to its research programs? Why was the decision made to allow the faculties control of this money, and not GPSO?

    2. Have your negotiators ever stopped to think of what would happen to Engineering Undergraduate students who are graduating next semester? They will not be eligible of an engineering degree, since they don’t have the practicals required. These labs are run by technical staff, and without them, you are allowing “unfinished” engineers enter the workforce. What should these students do? Pay another year of tuition to get their proper degree?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  45. Matt says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 16

  46. Anonymous says:

    As someone has already mentionned, you are on the board of the following institutions/companies:
    Royal Bank of Canada, Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital, the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, the Conférence de Montréal, Yellow Media Inc., the Canada Forum of Rio Tinto Alcan, the Trudeau Foundation, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and la Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec
    How, then, do you justify your salary and its perks at McGill, when you claim that McGill is under huge deficit? Do you believe you spend sufficient hours on McGill duties to deserve such a salary?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 13

  47. Alex says:

    When can we finally hope to see wide availability of compositing around campus? Instead of constantly throwing away our organic wastes in the garbage, why not make something useful out of them. Let’s make McGill a leader in composting!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 15

  48. Nadiene says:

    I don’t understand why McGill spend millions of money with constructions that goes on forever, an example Strathcona Building in Dentistry. While McGill is claiming being off budged!!!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 17

  49. casual employee says:

    as mentioned before in another post, the university is capable of functioning fairly well without all those 1,000+ MUNACA employees, begging the question: how useful are they really? i have had temporary positions around the university, and had MUNACA employees as my colleagues, and I can safely say that many of them are extremely complacent in their positions, and also blatantly rude to students (to the point where some graduate students are even reluctant to seek advisers’ help for fear of being disgustingly sent away, because said adviser is not on his/her advising hours), while others are just redundant in their positions, moving at 2 speeds: slow and very slow. one has to ask: how productive are some of these employees, some who have had the same job for 20 years and now barely know how to do a print screen or insert page numbers (?!). and they’re asking for 6 weeks-vacation per year?! seriously? isn’t that a bit much? and McGill needs increasing funding – well, get rid of 50% of MUNACA and there you go, you have enough money to delay the hike in student fees for a couple of years at least.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 25 Thumb down 23

  50. Anonymous says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 15

  51. Anonymous says:

    Could we not ask the groundskeepers to use rakes instead of loud, gas-powered leafblowers? We’re trying to study and work.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 44 Thumb down 16

  52. Robert Lamarche says:

    Madam Principal,
    For decades now, the relationship between McGill and it’s non-academic support staff has appeared fruitful and harmonious. The recent strike of the MUNACA members shows us a very different picture: could you please tell us when & what went wrong and what is your plan to solve this now 3-month old situation?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 7

  53. Robert Lamarche says:

    If there comes a time when you do not have the confidence of the McGill community, when the views and actions of the administration regarding critical issues do not accord with the opinions of the rest of McGill, will you step down from your position as McGill principal?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 18

  54. Anonymous says:

    Dear Principal,

    it has been really cathartic reading these questions from others in the McGill community. I wish from the bottom of my heart that you take the time to address them in an honest and responsible fashion, without being so evasive as in your CBC Daybreak interview. Some of these problems may be harder to solve than others, but if we all pull together we can make it.

    May I suggest to have this “Questions to the Principal” feature regularly, maybe even once a month during the semester? If we see that you take our concerns seriously, we might also be willing to have fewer anonymous comments and begin considering ourselves again an essential part of McGill.

    Thanks for starting this, now please show us the leadership and guts to follow through with it.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 59 Thumb down 2

  55. Anonymous says:

    I am struck by the similarities of the events at McGill and UC Davis.

    Given that you are an advisor or Chancellor Katehi, I am wondering what dialogue you two have had regarding the role of security and of dissent on university colleges?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 8

  56. Anonymous says:

    Will residents from Laird Hall have a monetary compensation for the services they do not have (ALL kitchens cleaned up EVERYDAY, ALL bathrooms cleaned up 5X/WEEK, linen change TO THEIR ROOM, etc)? We are paying too much for what we have, even though I know people are trying to make it work… It is not enough.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 6

  57. Nadav Slovin says:

    Whether the police were allowed onto campus by your administration or by the security personnel who you have given responsibility over the safety of students on campus, the events of November 10 clearly expose a mistake in security, administration, and police relations on campus. As the person responsible for creating the structure of these clearly flawed relationships, why have you yet to personally apologize for the brutal reaction to student protest on this campus on November 10th? In light of our society’s value of justice, how will you and your administration face justice for the actions of November 10?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 8

  58. Nadav Slovin says:

    What has inspired you to give precedence to corporate interests over the public good of students, workers, and professors at our University? It is widely understood on campus that the governing structure of this University disables students, faculty, and staff from influencing important ethical and practical decisions that affect each of us as individuals and both our community and society as a whole. Trusting that you have the ability and courage to do so, how do you plan to drastically change the unethicality and lack of democracy embedded in the structure of this University, immediately?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 6

  59. Anonymous says:

    For those who will be commuting or in class during the live broadcast, there will be a link to a downloadable video file, right?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 4

  60. Fed Up says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 32

  61. A. says:

    When/how did you hear about the events of Nov 10, and what was your initial reaction?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 4

  62. Alex says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 28

  63. As you are aware, the Independent Student Inquiry is a parallel investigation to Dean Jutras’, with a mandate of public accountability and community inclusivity. Would you be willing to give an interview for our report, and encourage your fellow administrators and staff to participate as well?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 47 Thumb down 5

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