Mercier speaks to AMS Assembly

Requests public apology, retraction of motion

Last night, Adèle Mercier told Assembly the motion they passed last week was tantamount to censorship.
Last night, Adèle Mercier told Assembly the motion they passed last week was tantamount to censorship.

Philosophy professor Adèle Mercier asked members of AMS Assembly to prove their integrity by resigning at last night’s meeting.

Attending as a guest speaker, Mercier spoke to the group about a motion passed at their Oct. 6 meeting regarding a letter she wrote that was printed in the Sept. 28 edition of the Toronto Star following Homecoming.

Along with a range of other comments, she wrote: “[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.”

Mercier said Assembly’s motion—which called her to apologize and retract statements made in her letter—was “censorship.”

In response to the motion, Mercier read from a prepared statement.

“If you cannot state clearly what offensive activity you are accusing me of—other than the activity of causing offence—or if you cannot back up your charges with arguments showing that I have engaged in just such an offensive activity, then you must withdraw this motion immediately, and apologize to me publicly and in good faith,” she said. She told members they made two mistakes by allowing it to be passed.

First, Mercier said, the AMS allowed students to deflect responsibility from the events that took place on Aberdeen Street the night of Sept. 24, and even encouraged it by deflecting responsibility themselves.

Second, she said, the AMS made “serious, damaging, reckless and gratuitous accusations” against her.

“Both of these mistakes together or separately constitute such an indictment of egregious incompetence against this council, that anyone on it with any integrity at all will prove it by resigning,” she said, closing her speech.

Earlier in the meeting, Speaker Mike Urban read the written response of the Queen’s Human Rights Office to a letter the AMS sent with their concerns to the office after the motion was passed.

“It is clear that a motion at the AMS Assembly is not the appropriate manner in which to initiate either an informal or formal complaint of harassment or discrimination at Queen’s University by virtue of the Senate procedure,” the letter states. “And thus, the office cannot give an opinionated response to your letter because to do so would be a breach of Senate procedures as well as the Principal’s natural justice.”

Urban said as a result, he considered the matter closed.

“If there’s any further actions wished to be undertaken, that will require additional acts on our part, at which point I do not have the authority or authorization to undertake,” he said.

Mercier drew both fire and praise after her letter about her experience with Aberdeen was published in the Star. AMS Assembly passed their motion with 25 votes in favour, six abstentions and one vote against, after it was brought forward by Alex Loubert, ArtSci ’07, and seconded by AMS President Ethan Rabidoux.

Neither was in attendance at yesterday’s meeting.

Separately, a small group of graduate students attended the meeting in her support. One female law student stood in the corner of the room with masking tape across her lips, upon which was written “AMS” in large black letters.

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