So far in this school-year cycle, The Daily’s news section has struggled to burst the McGill ‘bubble’ and relate issues at home with the greater context of Montreal, and in some cases, Quebec. The Daily, as written for its readership by members of its readership, is not fulfilling its mandate of reporting genuinely on issues of social justice and alternative views on politics.
There has been strong and – dare I say – nuanced coverage of the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS), the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), the progression of the Indigenous Studies program at McGill, the Redmen sexual assault case, and so forth. Coverage of McGill issues has been strong, but could benefit from a greater scope. The news articles this year have a focus on what happened, not on what those events mean. Many of the political underpinnings of policies and motions passed during those PGSS and SSMU meetings could benefit from greater analysis, and a drawing of the bigger picture.
The articles that do extend beyond the McGill bubble tend to be more social justice-oriented (I write that positively), and the political news has mostly been relegated to the discussion on the provincial budget cuts. The cuts are hitting the Arts Internship Office. The cuts are creating a hiring freeze. We, the students, are all disappointed with the administration’s reaction. Yet beyond coverage of widespread and general disappointment, another possible direction to take while discussing austerity measures should be actual actions being taken against them that are not mere expressions of a vague insular emotion.
Talk of strikes doesn’t just happen at McGill; the discussion must be brought forth.
In the article “Thousands in the streets against austerity,” dated November 1, 2014, The Daily reported that at least 82,000 CEGEP and university students had gone on a one-day strike. Yet, talk on our campus of a potential strike and the Comité Large Printemps 2015 has been limited to instances where groups outside of McGill organize demonstrations. Any form of direct political action, sanctioned (such as a vote to strike) or not, is an option incubated by small, committed groups of people, and by The Daily. Talk of strikes doesn’t just happen at McGill; the discussion must be brought forth.
The Daily editorial board is made up of McGill students, and its pages are filled with writers, photographers, illustrators, and designers who are McGill students. The voices of The Daily hold the ultimate privilege in being able to have a platform to articulate grievances, beliefs, and ideologies, in a way that is legible to the public, yet they do little to address the position of being a member of a purportedly elite institution of higher learning.
At McGill and at The Daily, it is easy not to participate in Montreal and Quebec affairs. It is easy not to learn about anti-oppressive practices and other forms of social organization, because why search for an alternative when the McGill hierarchy prioritizes your voice anyway? Why check your own privilege when you have so much of it? In writing news, why take action beyond writing about disappointment, a passive approach, if you don’t feel personally affected by the austerity measures?
To be more frank, I am suggesting that The Daily’s editors, news writers, and contributors make more of an effort to question their own positionality and privilege, to contextualize news events and McGill happenings in the greater context of Montreal, and to bring in Quebec politics. McGill students are also members of the Montreal community and it is time that The Daily’s news coverage reflected that. This spring, we might be witness to another printemps érable, another #ggi, and maybe, The Daily doesn’t have to just play witness, but it can play participant.
Readers’ Advocate is a twice-monthly column written by Hera Chan addressing the performance, relevance, and quality of The Daily. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.