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Sarah Petrick: Taking a STAND Against Prison Justice

Sarah Petrick is the head of STAND, a social justice group at McGill which aims to promote discussion about prison justice and elicit change in the way in which prisoners are treated. The forum for such discussion at McGill is long overdue, and under Sarah’s stellar leadership and inspiring determination this space for discussion is now ever-expanding. Today she gives HerCampus the low-down on the organisation’s work and how you can get more involved.

Katya Conrad for Her Campus McGill: Can you give me an idea of what STAND is?

Sarah Petrick: Students Taking a New Direction (STAND) for Prison Justice is a QPIRG McGill Working-Group by and for McGill students interested in engaging in critique of the Canadian & American prison systems. We explore ideas such as prison abolition and transformative justice that are not regularly given space in McGill classrooms. STAND is a fairly new project as it began last semester in January of 2018 by a recent McGill graduate, Megan Shanklin, and a few of her friends. I have now taken over the project and am aiming to provide a space to facilitate discussion among students, as well as connect students to broader conversations and prison justice movements in Montreal and beyond.

HC McGill: What made you want to create this organisation?

SP: STAND is first and foremost a social justice group committed to transformative justice, specifically as it applies to Prison. Our aim is to encourage a dialogue in the McGill and Montreal community around the abusive and discriminatory reality of the practice of policing and incarceration. We want to work together and continue to build a mass movement around the horror that has become the Canadian and American Criminal Justice System. Through STAND, I have learned that it is incredibly important to humanize this effort and understand that what we are fighting against affects real people in torturous ways. That is why it is important to share stories, converse and deepen our knowledge in safe, accessible spaces that are open to all members of the McGill and Montreal communities.

HC McGill: What kind of activities have you done and what are you planning for the future?  

SP: Last year, we hosted a movie screening and organized a panel with a range of academic and social justice voices from around the country. Outside of STAND itself, the movie we screened and the speakers invited to our panel were all people who had been greatly affected by the Criminal Justice System in one way or another. The entirety of these events were comprised of them sharing their stories, respective views on the numerous ways in which our Carceral State is harmful to prisoners and society as a whole, and the active listeners asking daring questions. In other words, we learned from them. And to us, that is the most important part. This year, we hope to get many more students and community members interested and involved by promoting our committee and reaching out to different local organizations that our members could volunteer with. We also want to host numerous other events on campus and to develop a relationship with similar causes at McGill and in Montreal.

HC McGill: How can people get more involved with STAND?  

SP: If anyone reading this is interested we would love to have you! As of right now, we have bi-weekly meetings that often take place in McGill’s McLennan Library and anyone interested is welcome to come. In order to keep up to date with STAND and our meetings, feel free to like our Facebook page “STAND for Prison Justice” and request to join the “STAND Organizing Committee” page that is also on Facebook. For any questions, concerns or general thoughts feel free to contact me at sarah.petrick@mail.mcgill.ca. STAND looks forward to welcoming some new committee members.


Images obtained from interviewee.

Katya Conrad

McGill '20

Katya is a Art History and Philosophy Major at McGill University. She is a proud Libra and an ABBA superfan. She enjoys the great indoors and her dog Tally.
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