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Contest winners cut red tape

Ten students each received $100 Tuesday for offering the best suggestions to reduce red tape and bureaucracy at McGill – but the administration has made no promises to implement any changes.

Inviting the McGill community to conceive ways to streamline bureaucratic processes, Morton Mendelson, Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning), initiated the Cut the Red Tape contest, saying that the elimination of many useless policies is already underway.

“Ask the question and the problem is solved,” Mendelson said.

Mendelson did not promise to eliminate all grievances, but only to forward them to the appropriate units.

Jennie Ferris, a Master’s student in the School of Information Studies – who won for her suggestion to streamline the University’s treatment of federal student loan checks – commended the University’s efforts to improve.

“It’s validating to know that the administration is doing what they can to make things better,” Ferris said.

But many other contest winners were skeptical that McGill will actually change its ways.

Mahmoud Layouni, a graduate student in the school of Computer Science, said he was pessimistic about the University’s capability to reform.

“I’ll probably graduate before I see it,” he said of his winning suggestion that the University implement online electronic time sheets for casual employees rather than paper ones.

Most of the other winners noted problems of a similar nature – lengthy approval processes – and suggested only that the University implement simplified processes through Minerva.

Robyn Wiltshire, Director of the Deputy Provost’s office, said that the office will continue to accept students suggestions via email. Wiltshire or one of her colleagues will reply to suggestions and explain whether a solution is viable before forwarding the reasonable ones to the appropriate units.

It is unclear how Mendelson or Wiltshire will follow up with the various offices to make sure suggestions are being addressed, but Wiltshire said that she does not anticipate that departments will be neglectful.

“People have been generally receptive,” Wiltshire said. “Where a solution is possible, it will see its way through.”