Commentary  Hyde Park: Yes to accountability, no to neverendums

Though some of you are still celebrating the resounding Yes vote The Daily got on our survival the other day, we’re already thinking about the next time around.

Under the guise of keeping the campus press accountable to the student body, the McGill administration wants to force The McGill Daily and its French sister paper, Le Délit, to put their existence to a student vote every five years. It also plans on doing the same to the Quebec Public Interest Research Group, CKUT-Radio, and the Legal Information Clinic. Turning survival referendums into “neverendums” is no way to gauge student support. It is, rather, a way to set the newspapers up for failure. No matter how many resounding victories the newspapers win, one No vote by the smallest margin at some point down the line would force them to close up shop.

The neverendum process ignores the channels that the newspapers already have in place to ensure student support, the most basic one being our open door. Though The Daily aims to do more than just mirror campus attitudes, a campus newspaper is inherently responsive to student views because its ranks are constantly renewed. If you didn’t like, say, this year’s News editors, you’re in luck. A new lot will take their place come the fall. And the same will happen a year later. You may even be part of that renewal.

Don’t have the time to become a full-fledged editor? Then come by one of our meetings and pick up a story in need of a writer. Run for a columnist position. Send in a strongly-worded letter.

Don’t have the writing skills to do any of the above? Then feel free to drop by the newspaper office and express your views. After all, it’s your office, too. Or express those views at our Annual General Meetings, where you can also run for a position on our Board of Directors. Or just contact the public editor and let him know how you feel.

Unlike a survival referendum, these mechanisms actually allow you to effect change at The Daily. Voting No simply shuts down the newspaper without giving you a chance to change the newspaper in the way you think it should change. If the administration was really serious about making The Daily more accountable, it wouldn’t force students into the all-or-nothing decision-making that constituted the question you overwhelmingly approved. These neverendums put one of this University’s oldest institutions on an extremely shaky foundation.

What’s more, neverendums would continuously distract editors and us board members from what we were elected to do: keep the newspapers pumping out some of the highest quality campus journalism in the country. That award-winning journalism is put into jeopardy when we don’t know if we’ll be around in a couple years’ time. The spectre of a No prevents us from investing in our future. More importantly, it compels editors to avoid the controversial, but critical, issues that might foment a backlash against the press.

Thanks again for your Yes. But please, keep in mind that there are more commonsensical ways for you to show your support and disapproval.

Jeremy Delman is a member of the Daily Publications Society Board of Directors. Etymologists will one day credit him with coining the word “neverendum.”