On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Kevin Paul and Arabella Colombier talk about the past and present of student organizing to get military research off the campus of McGill University in Montreal.
The popular image of the university is as an institution that’s a little bit apart from the so-called “real” world. But universities are not separate from the world; they are very much a part of it. And even if undue attention sometimes goes to those few small corners of universities that have been carved out by struggle and used for critical or even radical knowledge production, much more common on almost every campus is work that contributes in massive and crucial ways to reproducing the oppressive status quo. That means a lot of different things at different institutions, but one is involvement in research that has horrific impacts on the world — research that serves environmentally destructive industries, for instance. Or research for military purposes, that supports the killing of civilians and the perpetuation of global injustice.
Kevin and Arabella are members of Demilitarize McGill. This group, founded in the aftermath of the massive student strike in Quebec in 2012, builds on a long tradition of students at Montreal’s largest anglophone university organizing against the significant levels of military research that have long been done on that campus. When this incarnation of the group began, few people at McGill even knew that such research was taking place, but now it is a regular topic of campus conversation. And to the regular work of wrestling information from the secretive university administration and publicizing what actually happens at this supposedly public institution, they have also been taking action to disrupt this research. They talk with me about exactly what kinds of military research are happening at McGill, about what that says about the social role of the university, and about the actions they’ve taken in response.
To learn more about Demilitarize McGill, click here.
Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit the recently revamped website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.
Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.