By Marcy Slapcoff, Teaching and Learning Services
Congratulations to Principal Suzanne Fortier and the McGill administration for taking a stand in favour of pluralism and against the Quebec Charter of values. The statement published on the McGill website is a critical first step in supporting all members of our community and their right to dress in accordance to their convictions. This statement demonstrates that we care about our students and are committed to ensuring them equal access to the opportunities that await them upon graduation. It also communicates to society that we are engaged members of Quebec society – that we care about this province and are willing to take a stand when we feel things are not going well.
This statement is the first step but what comes next? How can faculty, students and staff continue to voice their opinions and make a difference in this province? Service to society is a central tenet of our mission and now is the time to take our efforts beyond the gates and demonstrate that our critical thinking, our scholarship, and our engagement can contribute to this debate and make a difference for society.
Thank you for this Marcy. You are right that the next step and the next and the next will matter deeply. I wonder if we would do any better at formulating “McGill Values” than the civil authority has done with “Quebec Values”? What values do we need to share in order to serve each other inside McGill and beyond McGill?
Thanks Ian for your comments. Your questions make me wonder whether we need a common statement of values. I think that one of the elements what makes a community strong is the space it gives to divergent opinions and values (as long as laws are upheld and mutual respect is a constant). However, last year’s efforts to develop a statement of undergraduate outcomes is something I think could still work at McGill. This statement could spell out our aspirations in terms of student life and learning. The many conversations going on about the charter make me think that maybe we need to expand the notion of outcomes beyond undergraduates, and consider what learning we want for all members of our community.
I am asking more and more whether a society (Quebec, Canada, McGill) is/should be held together by sharing some set of DEEP, foundational values OR are communities best held together by shared operational, in a sense rather SUPERFICIAL values? My neighbour and I had a great experience getting our shared chimney repaired: we didn’t need to agree about the meaning of life to agree to fix the brickwork. I think I want Quebec and McGill to focus on simple practical values, though I do also want to share my deepest values with my chosen spiritual community. Ian H.
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