The McGill Daily - - Commentary -

De­ter­mine why oc­cu­pa­tion would be the most ap­pro­pri­ate re­course.

• The 6Party mem­ber in­ter­viewed re­flected on whether oc­cu­pa­tion was the most ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion for this kind of space. She thinks oc­cu­pa­tions are more use­ful when they re­pur­pose or re­claim spa­ces. One ex­am­ple of this is protest­ing the clo­sure of a café by tak­ing it over and turn­ing it into a co­op­er­a­tive.


• Have a de­cent amount of peo­ple work­ing on it. Di­vest Mcgill had seven peo­ple do­ing the bulk of the plan­ning.

• Work on your team dy­nam­ics: the 6Party mem­ber in­ter­viewed told me that toxic dy­nam­ics killed the co­he­sion and drive of the oc­cu­pa­tion. Di­vest Mcgill, on the other hand, thought about the po­ten­tial phys­i­cal prob­lems that could arise dur­ing the oc­cu­pa­tion and worked on get­ting the team to know each other be­fore­hand. Make sure your group has an aware­ness of anti- op­pres­sive prac­tices, and a knowl­edge of group dy­nam­ics and col­lec­tive care.

• Plan for food and equip­ment: do a Costco run and get food, sleep­ing bags, men­strual prod­ucts, books, lap­tops, clothes, board games, any­thing to get you through the days of the oc­cu­pa­tion smoothly.

Things to keep in mind when or­ga­niz­ing.

• Use code names: Di­vest Mcgill al­ways re­ferred to the op­er­a­tion dur­ing plan­ning as the “pizza party” — noth­ing sus­pi­cious about a pizza party, is there?

• Use di­ver­sions: Dur­ing their oc­cu­pa­tion, Di­vest Mcgill pub­li­cized their up­com­ing diploma re­turn­ing cer­e­mony as a dis­trac­tion. They were able to mul­ti­task be­cause they had about 40 ac­tive work­ing mem­bers, which isn’t the case for most stu­dent groups.

• Don’t use your Mcgill email. As­sume that it can be ac­cessed by the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

• Use en­crypted mes­sag­ing ap­pli­ca­tions if nec­es­sary, like Sig­nal.

De­cide on your de­mands:

• Di­vest Mcgill de­cided their de­mands as a group be­fore­hand. The 6Party mem­ber in­ter­viewed re­gret­ted that 6Party came in with no clear de­mands, and there­fore had to think of them on the spot, which is not op­ti­mal for a pro­duc­tive dis­cus­sion.

• The hard­est part of set­tling on de­mands is find­ing a bal­ance be­tween what would be op­ti­mal, what stu­dents would rally be­hind, and what the ad­min­is­tra­tion might ac­cept. s The Di­vest Mcgill mem­ber in­ter­viewed re­gret­ted that 2 of their 3 de­mands were too easy for the ad­min­is­tra­tion to ac­cept (re­leas­ing tes­ti­monies from ex­perts claim­ing cli­mate change did not cause grave so­cial in­jury, and hold­ing com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tions on di­vest­ment). The ad­min­is­tra­tion was able to kill the mo­men­tum by grant­ing these two de­mands and ig­nor­ing the most im­por­tant one, which would have forced the ad­min­is­tra­tion to rec­og­nize that cli­mate change does cause “grave so­cial in­jury” and thus push them to di­vest. The mem­ber in­ter­viewed wished their de­mands were bolder, like ask­ing di­rectly for the univer­sity to di­vest from fos­sil fuel. s The 6Party’s de­mands were bold ( ask­ing for the ref­er­en­dum re­sults to be valid again and for the resignation of the DPSLL), and al­though none of them were granted, the mem­ber in­ter­viewed ex­pressed that the de­mands could have been even broader! In her opin­ion, the re­sult had more to do with the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s an­tag­o­nis­tic at­ti­tude of the time than the de­mands.

Plan for an exit routes and a worst case sce­nario.

• What will you do if none of your de­mands are met? How will you make sure this de­feat doesn’t kill the mo­men­tum of your move­ment but in­stead makes it stronger? How will you talk about your oc­cu­pa­tion?

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