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AMUSE condemns McGill’s decision to abolish Floor Fellow position as of Fall 2024 semester

On Feb. 15, McGill called Floor Fellows to a Zoom meeting during which the university informed them that the Floor Fellow position was going to be abolished, effective next semester. While McGill claims that the decision was made with the best interest of students in mind, the union that represents Floor Fellows—the Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE)—has spoken out against McGill’s decision to remove the position, arguing that Floor Fellows serve a critical and irreplaceable role at the university.

McGill’s 65 Floor Fellows are upper-year students who serve as a live-in support system for first-year students living in McGill’s residences. Graeme Scott, Vice-President Floor Fellows for AMUSE, told The Tribune that Floor Fellows are trained to help students navigate acclimating to university, as well as a variety of difficulties and emergencies that students may face, such as recognizing and responding to self-harm signs and mental illness, administering naloxone, and knowing how to recognize signs of overdose and intoxication. 

“Beyond that, we’re also trained in […] supporting students who are racialized, supporting students who are dealing with any manner of discrimination or difficulty living in this residence system,” Scott said.

Scott also explained that Floor Fellows help first-year students navigate McGill’s and Quebec’s resources and systems. They check in with their residents at least every two weeks, either by conversation or text, to make sure they are doing well and feel supported.

In a statement to The Tribune, McGill Media Relations Officer Frédérique Mazerolle explained that McGill came to the decision to get rid of the Floor Fellow position after conducting a “departmental review” of services provided by Student Housing and Hospitality Services (SHHS). Mazerolle went on to state that the university will be increasing the number of Residence Life Facilitators—a position that is also held by students but is not live-in—to compensate for the lack of Floor Fellows. Residence Life Facilitators are currently responsible for organizing events and supporting residence councils, among other duties. Finally, she shared that security will be “enhanced […] with additional roaming patrols during the night and weekend hours.”

Scott stressed, however, that the peer support role Floor Fellows play cannot be filled by increased security, especially when it comes to situations where students may be breaking certain building rules or regulations.

“Floor Fellows, approaching that situation as peers, actually have a lot of very constructive ways to go about dealing with those situations that are unfortunately, not available to protection patrollers or security, who are not peers and who do not live in [residences],” Scott said. “That’s not to denigrate those services, but it’s just to do with the nature of our position.”

The end of the Floor Fellow position will not only impact students living in residence, but also those who rely on being a Floor Fellow as a way to afford university. As part of the job, Floor Fellows are provided lodging in residences and a meal plan.

“I have multiple friends who are probably going to have to go into debt to pursue their degree now,” AMUSE President Harlan Hutt said. “Not to mention, because of the timing of this announcement, they’re probably going to have to take on debt in terms of their housing, because a lot of the housing […] that’s available [now] is going to be on the more expensive end, because a lot of the cheaper […] housing has already been scooped up.”

Scott explained that AMUSE has received testimonies from many current and former McGill students in the week following the announcement.

“People saying, ‘My Floor Fellow stopped me from dropping out,’ ‘My Floor Fellow provided this tremendous difference in my life.’ And in some cases, people saying, ‘My Floor Fellow’s actions saved my life or a friend’s life,’” Scott said.

Sam* is one of the students who has been profoundly impacted by their experience with their Floor Fellow.

“I’ve played the violin almost my entire life and brought my violin with me here, and [my Floor Fellow] happened to also be a violin player,” they detailed. “She encouraged me to audition for student orchestras [….] On top of that, when [it was] time for me to choose my major program […], [she was] the one who suggested to me the physiology and mathematics program which I am now part of, after listening to my interest area of math and biomedical sciences. In my honest opinion, I don’t think I would be where I am in my undergraduate journey without [my Floor Fellow].”

*Sam’s name has been changed to preserve their confidentiality.

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