Sebastian Murdoch-Gibson hasn’t left the university for a week since the sit-in began.
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It’s been a week since a group of Lakehead University students began a sit-in protest and they don’t plan getting up until their issue is resolved.
Students set up camp near president Brian Stevenson’s office last Monday to protest the university’s decision to change a course in the faculty of law.
Originally a full-credit course called Native Canadian Worldviews taught through the faculty of Indigenous Learning, the course was reduced to a half-credit on Feb. 15 and renamed Native Canadian Worldviews and the Law.
“The names are similar but the objectives of the course are fundamentally different,” sit-in spokesman Sebastian Murdoch-Gibson said Monday morning.
Students argue that instead of using Aboriginal moral philosophy to analyze institutions like the country’s justice and economic systems, the course will now look at the legal system and try to find Aboriginal perspectives within it.
When the university made its application for a law school, part of why it was accepted was because of the emphasis on Aboriginal philosophy and how it could be applied to the legal system.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which was a big part of getting the law school application approved, supports the student protest.
“We feel there’s a great deal of legitimacy added to our movement,” Murdoch-Gibson said of NAN’s support.
The lens shift was enough to have at least three students occupying a lounge area at the university full-time. Murdoc-Gibson hasn’t left since the protest began. The students even have an air mattress to sleep on.
“We’d all like to get this resolved but we have no intention of leaving,” Murdoch-Gibson said.
The students say relations with administration have been good. Their intention is not to interrupt the work day but get attention and raise public awareness. The university has even been providing the students with coffee several times a day.
Lakehead media relations director Toby Goodfellow said the university is actively pursuing means to resolve the situation but couldn’t elaborate on what that meant.
“I can’t speak to that except that the provost is working with the dean and the president to try and resolve the situation,” he said.
The students are holding a rally outside of the university library on Thursday morning.
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