AMS asks Mercier for retraction

Adèle Mercier continued to draw fire at the Oct. 7 AMS Assembly meeting for her letter published in the Sept. 28 edition of the Toronto Star.

Members of Assembly approved a motion to take a stance against comments made by the Queen’s philosophy professor in a letter she penned regarding the Aberdeen Street party.

The motion, which was brought forth by Alex Loubert, ArtSci ’07, and seconded by AMS president Ethan Rabidoux, was passed with 25 votes for the approval, six abstentions and one vote against.

“If we are going to be a progressive student government, it is our responsibility to deal with this,” AMS Social Issues Commissioner Jennifer Holub told Assembly. “Racism is generally something we are not going to stand for.” In her letter, Mercier commented on the activities of partiers on Aberdeen writing, “[I was disgusted] at the thought that I devote my life to teaching students who turn into numbskulls worthy of the Hitler youth at the drop of a beer keg … .

“Virtually all of them [are] white privileged middle class whose parents never believed their little angels capable of such behavior.”

After the letter was published, Queen’s Hillel responded by issuing a statement condemning Mercier’s comments. In an earlier interview, Mercier told the Journal she also received e-mails after the letter was published, ranging from students asking for her resignation to students interested in meeting her.

Loubert, the evening’s guest speaker, said Mercier’s comments about Queen’s students were inappropriate.

“Every paragraph in her tasteless letter raised racial issues,” he told Assembly. “How could she expect anyone who reads it to interpret it any other way?”

Loubert said Mercier’s specific comparison to “Hitler youth” was inaccurate.

“The Hitler youth did not represent spontaneity [as seen on Aberdeen], but rather systematic, orderly [behaviour] and [were] known for obedience,” he said.

Loubert said Mercier’s comparison instead showed impulsiveness and poor judgment, adding that he believed she wrote the letter in an emotionally-

charged state.

“I do believe Mercier has a true love for the school, which is why she is so emotional over the matter,” he said. “I believe she did cry herself to sleep that night, which is precisely why she acted impulsively … [by writing the letter] to hurt the student body in the most rapid way possible.”

Loubert said he wanted an immediate retraction and apology for Mercier’s comments in the Toronto Star.

“I want the administration to know how outraged the students are, not only for her generalizing and inflammatory words, not only that she decided to use one of the largest newspapers in Canada, but the fact that she refuses to admit that she made a mistake,” he said.

An hour-long discussion followed Loubert’s speech before the vote on the motion took place.

Rabidoux said Loubert accurately portrayed student’s frustrations and feelings of alienation with Mercier’s letter.

Rabidoux said the motion called for the retraction of two specific comments in the letter. The first was Mercier’s reference to “Hitler youth,” and the second was her description of students as a “white, privileged middle class,” he said.

“Again, we want a retraction and apology, as it is stereotyping Queen’s students,” he said.

He said the comments were offensive to students.

Rabidoux said the motion doesn’t call for Mercier to be disciplined, but instead for the University to dissociate itself from her letter.

“She has a right to her opinion but she has attached the Queen’s name to it,” he said.

“I believe the University and administration has an obligation to distance itself from her comments.”

Adèle Mercier’s statement on the AMS Assembly motion

Adèle Mercier declined to be interviewed by the Journal for its news article. Instead, Mercier was offered a 300-word space to state her reaction to the Assembly motion. What follows is the unedited text of her statement.

“On Sept 30, citing insufficient space, the Journal failed to print my reply to Hillel’s concerns. On Oct 4, citing insufficient space, the Journal relegated my reply, as well as letters from students supportive of me, to the online version which students don’t read—though it found plenty of space in the paper edition for opinions critical of me.

Again, the Journal today refuses to print my 480-word response to the AMS motion, insisting that I reduce my statement to a maximum of 300 words, citing insufficient space due to its journalistic “responsibility” to other “news.”

Since the online version appears to be where the Journal buries views its editors do not support, I have asked the Journal to publish my integral reaction to the AMS motion there. Readers interested in alternative views concerning civic and moral responsibility, mob behaviour and its relationship to the fascist personality, and AMS action around the call for the expulsion of an elderly Chinese couple from their home of 35 years by inconvenienced students, are invited to read my response to the AMS motion with regards to me on the online version. It begins with the question :

What kind of a person demands an apology for speaking the truth?

Adèle Mercier
Dept. of Philosophy”

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