Commentary | The Daily must tackle elephant-sized issues

Public editor

One of The Daily’s major roles is to depict and analyze power relations and other issues typically not covered in the mainstream or corporate media. In the last few months, The Daily has reported on many such topics affecting the McGill community, but has failed to tie them together adequately and provide a clear and concise analysis.

Last semester, the News section of The Daily offered its readers a steady and detailed coverage of several McGill-related news items. Two campus unions – representing graduate students (AGSEM) and non-academic staff (MUNACA) – have recently clashed with the McGill administration over wages. A third one, assembling undergraduates employed at McGill (AMUSE), seems poised to begin operations soon. The administration is currently grappling with the McGill Senate in determining who has authority to ban study-related travel to countries deemed risky. Principal Munroe-Blum recently explained why she thinks deregulating tuition – or in her words, re-regulating it – is a good idea. In addition, one reader recently reminded us how last year the McGill administration closed the Architecture Café, one of the few remaining student-run food services on campus, only to reopen it under the umbrella of McGill Food Services.These events are all symptoms of the fact that McGill is strapped for cash and that the administration is doing everything it can to raise funds and cut costs. But not once, be it an editorial or a commentary piece, were these issues properly linked.

It’s not that The Daily has ignored the proverbial elephant – the News section has admirably covered the issues. My concern is that The Daily resembles the three blind people each describing an isolated part of the other proverbial elephant. I can understand that The Daily did not receive any submissions critically assessing the situation (read my last column for my thoughts on that subject). However, the fact that The Daily has so far failed to critically address the problem is unacceptable.

What The Daily should be doing is exactly what its Statement of Principles mandates: to initiate and provide a forum for discussion. Our University is strapped for cash. What do we think about this? What can we do to counter the problem? More importantly, how can we create dialogue between the various actors involved in order to understand and solve the problem?

The Daily would have benefited from an economics student explaining how the monopoly McGill holds over food services results in a massive transfer of wealth from the student to the University. Similarly, I would have liked to see an analysis by a law student or professor as to how a lawsuit against McGill could be instigated if a student on a research trip or internship abroad were to be injured or worse and just how expensive that would be for our University. Further, The Daily would have benefited the most from an editorial explaining how all these issues are related and calling on readers to share their thoughts and opinions as to how to address the situation.

The Public Editor serves as the readers’ representative. His opinions and conclusions are his own, and his column appears every other Thursday. Send him your thoughts to publiceditor@mcgilldaily.com.


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