Talking Tuesdays – The Why

Talking Tuesdays – The Why

Where do students and staff informally gather and talk about what is happening on campus, what they are excited about, what they can collaborate on, and, ultimately, discuss why they are here? Sometimes it happens in the classroom, but there are rarely any non-academic staff members there, and rarely more than a couple academic staff. Students often bring up these questions in conversation, but rarely with academic staff. Last year, there was some conversation between regular students (those not in student government) and McGill’s administrative staff but sometimes it got very tense and uncomfortable. Conversations don’t have to be comfortable to be productive, but it seemed like comfortable student-staff conversations were very hard to come by, especially regarding administrative staff.

But there are always exceptions. The SSMU-McGill organized “Consultation Fair”s and “Forum on Undergraduate Education” had some happy-feeling conversations and a healthy dose of tense ones. “Sustainability Fridays” a monthly event thought up and organized by a few professors in the Chemistry department, was open to the whole community, and people came! Staff, professors (lecturers, tenure-track, tenured,etc.), and students showed up each time, in growing numbers over the course of the year. The last one had about 100 people in attendance. The lack of facilitation of these monthly Friday events meant that some people mingled more than others, which was not inherently bad, but valuable to keep in mind.

Now, we all know (or will know soon) that Montreal is too cold after Halloween to comfortably lounge outside for long without a heat lamp or an igloo. But while it is nice out, where can we informally gather and talk about this university? There are a few spots, namely:

· The hill on lower field beside Redpath
· The courtyard of Stewart Bio
· The lawn and benches in front of the law buildings
· McTavish Street by Service Point & the Bookstore & Bronfman
· The giant amphitheatre outside of James Admin, the building in which many of McGill’s administrators work, that has been used as a community gathering space a handful of times and was designed for whatever the community wanted to do: lectures, plays, music, dance, panel conversations, limbo competitions, anything we want!

And so, starting in the spring on 2012, I started bothering the Vision 2020 team about hosting events outdoors, with a particular obsession on the community gathering space by James Admin. “Why not have a regularly occurring event in that space for students and staff to interact informally, and we can also get some of our Vision 2020 content out at the same time!” was the idea that was formulated by mid-summer. It gelled perfectly with what we had been hearing all over campus through our engagement, that there is a desire for hubs for people to gather, to meet new people, to share ideas, and together do the work to make a better future. The Vision 2020 team became very excited when we realized how there was no absolute right or wrong way to host these sorts of gatherings and that we could experiment with all kinds of formats. Just like Vision 2020 overall, the Talking Tuesdays are meant to be from the community and for the community, and so we are trying to make a welcoming hub for the community. $2 ice cream at EUS Frostbite just a step away makes it that much easier.

We hope you’ll join us sometime. 12 – 1 pm, every Tuesday until it’s too cold, in the community gathering space in front of James Admin.

(You can check out what’s been happening at the Talking Tuesdays gatherings in this “Talking Tuesdays – The What” blog post.)

-Dave Gray-Donald

See the McGill Vision2020 Blog