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The Tribune: McGill University student newspaper drops 'McGill' from its name

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McGill University's student newspaper has dropped "McGill" from its name after the editorial board said it's part of a move to create a safe and welcoming environment for Black, Indigenous, and racialized students and faculty.

"We're changing our name, McGill should too," read the headline on April 12, which was followed by an editorial explaining the decision.

When McGill entered its 3rd century in 2021, a fundraising campaign "illustrated the university's indifference toward its violent, colonial and racist origins," the editorial board wrote, highlighting a research document released in 2020 entitled "Slavery and McGill University: Bicentenary Recommendations."

Its author, former McGill art history professor Charmaine Nelson, and her students, had scrutinized university founder James McGill’s history "as a brutal enslaver and profiteer of the transatlantic slave trade."

The researchers also recommended that the university confront its origins and the ongoing systemic racism in its institution.

The paper prompted frequent discussions during the past year about its findings and the university's history. Several editorials examined "what it means to be a paper that actually critiques power structures and doesn't just reinforce them," Madison McLauchlan, the editor-in-chief told, CTV News in an interview.

After all that reflection, the editorial board voted unanimously on Tuesday to end its season this year by dropping the name McGill from its paper. The student newspaper said it has always strived to speak truth to power and just couldn't do this while at the same time honouring James McGill.

"We decided that we were no longer comfortable having McGill at the top of our newspaper, especially [thinking about] our Black writers, our Indigenous contributors, the community at McGill — it's not just about the institution, it's about the people who make our paper possible," said McLauchlan.

There is some precedence for a name change at McGill. In 2019, the university announced a new name for its men's varsity athletic teams: The McGill Redbirds.

The move came after a long-fought battle to change the name "Redmen" because of its negative connotations in Indigenous communities.

In Toronto, Ryerson University changed its name in 2022 to Toronto Metropolitan University so as not to celebrate Egerton Ryerson who is known as an architect of Canada's residential school system.

While the editorial board of The Tribune doesn't expect everyone to agree with its decision, it said it does hope it will start a discussion.

CTV has reached out to McGill University for comment, but has yet to receive a reply. 

LISTEN ON CJAD 800 RADIO: McGill professor speaks out against student newspaper dropping 'McGill' from its name

 

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