News  No one wants to reclaim their campus

Student interest in SSMU activist initiative continues to steadily decline

Only four people attended the re-launch of Reclaim Your Campus (RYC) this Monday – three were representatives from McGill unions, and the last was from CKUT, a campus -community radio station.

SSMU VP External Devin Alfaro and coordinator of RYC, attributed the low turnout at the meeting to general student apathy.

“I would like to see this turn into a strong group, but people are not willing to put in enough time and effort to make it work,” he said.

“If a student organization loses its space on campus, it’s easy to bring people together and turn their anger into a campaign for change, but when there isn’t a specific issue that unites students, it becomes difficult to motivate them.”

But with such a low turnout at the meeting, little progress could be made on the group’s mandate.

Alfaro launched RYC last semester to give a voice back to students, in response to concern that their interests are being ignored by McGill administration. But, after holding a demonstration in September against McGill’s union relations, a Board of Governors staffed by appointed members, and undemocratic administrative decision-making processes, interest in the group dwindled and the campaign collapsed. A meeting later that month was attended by only 20 people, a small fraction of the approximately 100 people at the demonstration.

Attendees at this week’s meeting aired grievances against McGill and discussed ways of using the media to put pressure on McGill administration and push for change.

Maria Ruocco, President of McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA), that represents lab technicians, librarians, and porters, shared her experience of working with the media.

“Bad press does work; you have to hit the Principal and you have to hit key dates. By using the local and national media, your discontent will be registered. McGill has a great reputation worldwide, and the administration does not want it to be tarnished,” Ruocco said.

Dan Pujdak, a representative from Association of McGill Undergraduate Student Employees (AMUSE), discussed plans to launch a “Screwed by McGill” essay contest later this semester that would give students a venue to express their issues with McGill and to increase awareness about the widespread discontent among the student body.

While a second meeting for this semester was not scheduled, and advertising remains minimal, Alfaro remains committed to the concept of RYC.

“The problems that sparked the campaign last semester are still very pressing. The whole idea of the group is to draw the links between different organizations at McGill so they can work together to overcome difficulties they share with the McGill administration,” Alfaro said.