QPIRG announced details of its offer to enter into tripartite negotiations with the McGill administration concerning the validity of the results of its fall 2011 referendum.
If accepted, the offer would mean that QPIRG, the McGill administration, and the group of students who occupied the office of Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson in the James Administration building – who are known as “#6party” – would sit at the bargaining table.
QPIRG has been in discussions with McGill concerning the referendum results, however, member of the QPIRG Board of Directors Kira Page said the organization had not been meeting frequently over the past week.
“They offered us the same thing they offered to CKUT on Monday, and we asked them for time to consider that decision given the context of the occupation, and that was until Friday,” she explained.
CKUT announced on Wednesday that they had accepted McGill’s offer: submitting a new question concerning the online opt-out system in exchange for recognition of the existence portion of the question.
Page spoke to the reasoning behind QPIRG’s offer to include the occupiers.
“Given that their primary demand is the same as our primary demand, namely the full recognition of the referendum results, we felt like particularly for that reason, the best thing to do moving forward would be to try to get everybody at the same table,” she said.
A QPIRG press release stated, “In light of the administration’s refusal to negotiate with the students of #6party and their increasingly inhumane treatment of these students (including but not limited to denying them access to food, bathrooms, and electricity), we hope to resolve this dispute as soon as possible.”
“We believe that in-person negotiations between representatives of the three parties will be the most expedient way to achieve this,” the statement read.
Ethan Feldman, a student on the sixth floor and Daily staffer, said that the students learned of QPIRG’s offer “moments before the press release was sent out.”
“[QPIRG] chose to do this, and without a doubt we have their back, and we’re glad that they have ours. It’s important to have allies,” Feldman said.
Both Feldman and Page stated that QPIRG was not involved in planning the occupation.
“We very much stand in solidarity with students being able to take these sorts of actions and we totally understand the place that it’s coming from, the anger and frustration with the way that the administration is disregarding student democracy and student democratic processes,” said Page.
However, Page noted that the two groups do not share all the same demands.
“We’ll be negotiating on the goals that we share, namely, the full recognition of the referendum results,” she added.
The sixth floor occupiers are also calling for Mendelson to work out of Service Point for the remainder of his term, devote at least 15 per cent of his workday to holding office hours for students, and reconfigure his former office into a student space.
QPIRG negotiations are held with representatives from Mendelson’s office. Director of Media Relations at McGill Doug Sweet told The Daily that Mendelson was unavailable to comment on QPIRG’s offer.
Since occupying Mendelson’s office on Tuesday, the only administrator that students on the sixth floor have negotiated with is Associate Vice-Principal (University Services) Jim Nicell.
Page said she hopes to resume negotiations over the weekend. “None of us like working weekends, but in the context of people being denied access to food and bathrooms and electricity, and having been in [the James building] since Tuesday, we really want to move forward as quickly as possible,” she said.