The Biomedical Ethics Unit at McGill

This is the building for the Biomedical Ethics Unit at McGill
This is the building for the Biomedical Ethics Unit at McGill

Here is the building for the Biomedical Ethics Unit. It is an extremely impressive structure. Just look at it! On the first floor, there are seminar rooms, and a fancy-looking foyer, and there are offices all through the other floors.

After my meeting with the philosophy department, it was recommended to me that I speak with the Biomedical Ethics Unit, to discuss my course choices, and to see what courses they could offer me for the autumn term.

When I arrived, I was greeted by the unit’s administrative coordinator, asking if I was their long-lost bioethicist.

“I might be …” I answered, not entirely sure. Apparently they were wondering when I was going to drop by or contact them. I had been doing most of my communication with the Department of Philosophy, but my programme is very much inter-disciplinary, and so I had neglected to communicate much with the Bioethics side.

We figured everything out and chose the remaining course that I will take this term, and I wandered off and took some pictures of the interior of the building, which is beautiful.

This is the interior of the Biomedical Ethics Unit Building
This is the interior of the Biomedical Ethics Unit Building

Here is a photograph of the sitting area that you’ll see when you first enter the building. Doesn’t it just look warm and inviting? Of course it does.

When I was talking to the director of the Bioethics programme, I finally got to ask about how big my class is. Ready for this? It turns out that there’s four new students in Bioethics this year. Four. Usually it’s a two-year degree, but of course there’s always a few hangers-on, and so there’s about 16 people in the programme, in total.

That’s a small class!

I remember back at Western, in second year, my professor proudly announced that at the time, my Orgo class was the single largest chemistry course ever taught at the undergraduate level, at 1600 students.

Mind you, I’m sure that there will be more than four people in my classes, but still: Four.

Here is a photograph of the door to the Unit, which is also beautiful. I’m going to enjoy studying here. :)

This is the front door to the Biomedical Ethics Unit Building
This is the front door to the Biomedical Ethics Unit Building

The Leacock Building

Here is the Leacock Building. The Department of Philosophy is on the 9th floor.
Here is the Leacock Building. The Department of Philosophy is on the 9th floor.

The Leacock Building is not very beautiful to look at, admittedly, but that is where I had my advising appointment with three faculty members in the philosophy department, which is on the 9th floor. Finally, I got some concrete answers with regard to what my courses would be, how to choose them and what to expect for the next two years.

I was given a sheet at this meeting that outlined the requirements for graduation. It was the first time I had ever seen it. When I brought it to the Bioethics Unit office, it was the first time they had seen it, too.

There, I met the prof for whom I will be a TA this year. I also met another Bioethics student, who will be the other TA. Also, the view of the city from the 9th floor was pretty good, but I was busy having a meeting, so I didn’t take any photographs. I’ll try to do that later.

Skill-testing question: In what short work of Stephen Leacock’s is the punch line, “It was a toothpick” ? If you can answer, I will give you 3 points, plus an extra 4 points because it is mine and my mother’s birthday today, and because it’s a pretty hard question, too. Unless you’ve read much Leacock, in which case you’ll probably love that short story as much as I do, and possibly have it memorised.

Thomson house

This is Thomson House, the grad students' building
This is Thomson House, the grad students' building

As a graduate student at McGill, I have access to Thomson House, a building set aside for the use of grad students. You can go there and get relatively cheap meals. Also there is a pub, a ballroom and offices for the Graduate Students society at McGill. It’s pretty nifty. I went there for lunch with a professor yesterday, to talk about details regarding my TA-ship.

I’m really looking forward to being TA this year. The prof has given me a lot of freedom in the way that I run my “conferences,” which is what they call “tutorials” here at McGill. It looks like I’ll have two sections and I won’t be required to go to the class, except for the days on which the essays are assigned.

The prof said that he has had uniformly good experiences with bioethics students as TA’s in the past, which is good – it just means that I have to live up to his expectations, now! :|

Downtown church

A church in downtown Montréal where you can see its steeple reflected in a nearby glass skyscraper
A church in downtown Montréal where you can see its steeple reflected in a nearby glass skyscraper

Here’s a cool-looking church in downtown Montréal. I like the way that the steeple reflects in the glass building behind it. The first time I walked past, there was an airplane flying such that I could see it reflected as well, but I was too slow on the trigger to catch it.

McGill O-Week

O-Week at McGill
O-Week at McGill

It’s O-Week here at McGill, and I’m reminded of that every time I pass through campus. There are a few tell-tale signs:

  • Students are wearing matching t-shirts, and the girls have cut their shirts up so that you can see more of their skin.
  • Students are drunk in the middle of the day.
  • Students are walking around in groups based on their faculties and yelling at each other.

Student fees

My student fees have been calculated. :| Fortunately, I don’t have to pay until I receive my OSAP.

There are a few interesting charges on my bill:

  • QPIRG – McGill: This apparently is the Quebec Public Interest Research Group. I’m paying $3 to fund their research this year.
  • Transcript and Diploma Charge: I’m paying $19.20 for this. I wonder what this pays for. I’m pretty sure I have to pay the school whenever I order a transcript. I guess it pays for the printing of my degree when I graduate. But then I won’t graduate this year, so what does it pay for?
  • Athletics and Recreation Fee: $114 – not a bad deal, really. I haven’t found any other gyms for $114 a year. Well for 8 months, really.
  • PGSS Dental Plan: I should really make use of this, considering I’m paying $189.75 for it.

Those were the most interesting ones.

Why is that there?

This is the James Administration Building at McGill University
This is the James Administration Building at McGill University

Here is the James Administration Building at McGill. It is a big stone building just to the right of the Arts Building, and that’s where I went to get my student card. I expect that I’ll spend many long hours there in line-ups, just like I did at the Stevenson-Lawson Building at UWO.

But did you notice something strange? Look closely at the photograph and tell me if you see what I see.

Look just above the McGill crest, between the two swirlies over the “ADMINISTRATION” doorway. There’s a frog. Why is there a frog? Below is a close-up. I’ll give you 4 whole points if you can tell me why there’s a frog, and why it’s a slightly different colour than the rest of the stonework above the door.

Why is there a frog?
Why is there a frog?