The party is over, and this is one hell of a hangover. The fallout from last week’s occupation of the James Administration building has been impressive. McGill students are surely everything but apathetic and disconnected with campus politics.
Controversy emerged over the philosophical matter of whether two questions were really asked in the referendum concerning CKUT and QPIRG. The referendum forced an extreme ultimatum on voters, making them chose: to strike the opt-out option or to cut all undergraduate funding to CKUT and QPIRG. With these two options alone it is no mystery that the referendum was passed. The referendum was nothing more than a suicide threat, an aggressive and greedy command issued to the student population.
In all fairness, CKUT and QPIRG do not deserve opt-out immunity. As organizations for the students, by the students, it is each student’s individual right to opt-out of the additional fees should they choose to. The option to physically go to the offices to opt-out is an inconvenience and sets CKUT and QPIRG apart from many other clubs, which are not so arrogant to claim their personal value above the rest.
Yet, the partiers have maintained that the administration’s reversal of the referendum was illegitimate. This was not their only contention or reason behind the occupation of the James Administration building, but it was the most powerful and direct of their demands.
Apart from unfairly phrasing the referendum question, CKUT and QPIRG had little to do with the protest itself. Rather, a small group of students chose to independently represent these organizations in order to make several lewd and stubborn demands, including recognition of the unreasonable referendum and the resignation of members of the administration.
The students forced their way into Deputy Provost Mendelson’s office on February 7th and immediately began their infantile occupation, disrespecting the administration, the University, the majority of the student population, and the political process itself. A self-proclaimed “party,” the occupation was little more than an excuse for students to vent their revolutionary steam. Several reasons could contribute to their need for occupation: the worldwide air of rebellion, feelings of inconsequentialism and inadequacy, or perhaps recently read texts for their political theory courses. Whatever the reasons the students failed to consider and recognize the absurdity of their tactics and demands. When contrasted with occupation movements in North America and revolutions in tyrannical states worldwide McGill’s particular breed of protestor is egotistical and unnecessary. Embarrassing the McGill community and disrupting administrative work is all that was achieved.
Alleged administrative abuse of the protestors is one more ridiculous contention held by supporters of the occupation. The rhetoric used paints a picture of neglect far out of proportion. The response to #6Party was in fact very peaceful and patient. While previous reactions have been violent this particular one was more than accommodating. Can it really be expected that illegal occupiers should be allowed access to food and bathrooms despite their presence being entirely unjustified and illegal? This cannot be overstated, the occupation WAS illegal and the students had no right to force their personal opinions and political beliefs upon the administration and entire student body.
Many students have voiced their personal distaste for the occupiers and the occupation itself. The silent majority recognizes that higher education is a privilege, especially at a world-class institution such as McGill. While participants have blindly dived into a childish tantrum, the rest of the student body believes that our studies come first, and issues such as the one sparking this recent round of protest are far from worthy of occupation. While many of us work towards degrees and futures that may involve work for the greater good, some are preoccupied with unnecessary and distracting protests.
The #6Party is finally over, but not soon enough. Participants embarrassed themselves: like a dog yet to be trained that soils its own carpet, they have dirtied their own school’s reputation. They should learn to take part in appropriate political discourse, to not overstep the boundaries of political opinions, and to respect and recognize that attendance at McGill, or any University, is a privilege and an opportunity. Occupy James Administration twice, shame on you. Occupy James Administration three times? I sincerely beg consideration of the reasons, the consequences, and the value in this sort of “political” action.
– Ari Salas