Jean Portugais August 28, 2012
Original French text: http://www.sgpum.org/content/uploads/files/28082012/JPortugais%20-%20lettre%20au%20recteur%2028aout%202012.pdf
The union has become aware of incidents relating to the presence of police on the University of Montreal campus, both yesterday and in the course of the last few hours today. We have learned that yesterday, 27 August, the presence of police officers was requested by the University of Montreal’s administration.
This situation is inadmissible and intolerable for the professors of the University. Moreover, the public image of the University has certainly been tarnished.
I was present at the Jean-Brillant Building in the last few hours, and I can testify that the massive and prolonged presence of police creates, particularly among the professors whom I represent, significant tensions and anxieties in their workplace. The recourse to police presence, even of the anti-riot squad—without which there can be no riot, properly speaking—causes a serious deterioration in the academic climate, and can undermine the relations of trust that form the basis of relations between members of the university community, notably between professors and students. These working conditions are painful, anxiety-producing, and abnormal, and the university community as a whole is thus placed in an intolerable situation. I personally am worried about the health of the professors concerned.
I suggest that you take inspiration from the position taken by the administration of UQAM [the University of Quebec at Montreal], who have chosen to ask the police to remain outside the campus limits, to carry out surveillance. This approach seems preferable, in order to maintain a peaceful climate for work.
We have received testimonies from professors who are extremely worried, even in tears, and this situation is inadmissible.
On behalf of the members of the Union (the SGPUM), I request that you withdraw your request for police intervention within the buildings of our institution, in order to reestablish a normal climate for work and study at the University of Montreal.
Moreover, we demand that the Committee for health and safety at work [called for by the union’s collective agreement] be mandated to visit professors who fear for their safety or their health. This committee will be empowered to take the necessary measures to process complaints.
In the absence of an agreement on your part on the matter of this Committee, we ask for authorization for our representatives to present themselves at any site in order to evaluate situations where health or safety complaints might occur.
The urgency of this situation requires that we ask you to respond in the course of the next few hours.
President of the SGPUM
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
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