Legal Law

Graduating McGill Student Seen Spitting at President as Crowd Cheers – JONATHAN TURLEY

Various posters on social media have featured a video of a graduating McGill University student appearing to spit on the Dean and another faculty member. She then produced a sign demanding divestment from Israel. As she appeared to spit on the President Deep Saini and the other faculty member, the audience can be heard cheering. The school later reportedly edited out the ugly incident and would not confirm that it will be taking any action against the student.

In the video, the student can be seen making the spitting gestures while wearing a keffiyeh and holding a sign that reads “Divest from death.”

The university did not deny that the incident was edited out and simply stated that “multimedia staff often cut to different angles during the livestream to focus on different aspects of the ceremony, which allows students and their families to celebrate an important milestone.”

The incident is only the latest such protest at graduations. In another protest recently (by an animal activist), interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber was hit by green glitter. Brittany A. Drake, the activist, pleaded not guilty to three counts of felony criminal charges.

McGill has not committed to seeking any discipline, let alone such charges, for the student.

The incident captures the breakdown of civility and respect at our institutions of higher education. This conduct has been reinforced by professors and administrators for years in pushing activism over academics. McGill students have declared that “free speech does not exist outside of its social context” and sought to strip professors of academic titles due to their holding opposing views. There has also been a lack of discipline for students who have engaged in the disruption of events and even classes.

McGill is notorious for objecting to such misconduct without taking any immediate action to sanction the students, including the recent disruption of a human rights professor.

McGill is one of the world’s finest universities, but it has shown little principle or courage in facing disruptive and disgraceful conduct in the past. Simply deleting the scene of the student spitting at the President will do little to address this trend. As academics, we need to reassert control over our campuses and stand firmly against conduct to disrupt events or classes.



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