The end of the decade is quickly approaching, and as we look back at how McGill has fared over the past 10 years, it’s clear that though students have come and gone, the big issues on campus have endured.
Tuition has been increasing at a faster pace than inflation for the past two decades, and headlines in issues of the two Daily Publications Society papers throughout the “aughts” bear witness to this trend.
There’s also a clear trend toward students being pushed out of the centre of the University. Initiatives run by students and catering to student needs have had to fight for their space, from SACOMSS to the Architecture Café to the Muslim Students’ Association’s ongoing battle to gain a permanent prayer space. In 2001, the Arts, Music, and Education students’ societies had to hand over control of their cafeterias to the University, part of a trend toward the centralization and corporatization of food services that’s continued since then.
McGill has also become increasingly concerned with liability, a pattern that’s manifested itself in more red tape limiting the ability of clubs to hold events on campus, and restrictions on which clubs can use the McGill name. More recently, this preoccupation with liability has extended into McGill residence culture.
At the end of the decade, Le Délit français and The McGill Daily are teaming up for this bilingual special issue. We’ve tried to track some trends of where McGill’s been going in its policies and relationship with students since the year 2000. More importantly, we’ve tried to provide a forum for student voices to articulate visions for a better University. We hope this will bring some things into focus, despite all that can get lost in the shuffle of student turnover. Among these voices, a lot of common themes emerge:
The University we want is truly student-centred, putting student wellbeing first rather than treating us as numbers to push through a system, as sources of cash, or as potential liabilities. The University we want recognizes that a student-run university is a perennial goal of the student body, despite the recycling of that body every four years.
The University we want is not-for-profit. The University we want researches responsibly and recognizes its role in a world facing the challenges of climate change and peak oil, moving toward sustainability in campus use of resources and in the ideas about consumption it disseminates to students within its lecture halls.
The University we want handles itself responsibly as an economic and political actor. The University we want treats workers fairly and does not see quality and accessibility of education as mutually exclusive goals.
The University we want acknowledges that it is still structurally complicit in perpetuating the power imbalances in our society, even though it can equip people to combat them.
The University we want assumes the responsibility that comes with the privilege of study, and will commit to producing research that addresses those power imbalances.
Here’s to another decade of students pushing for their stake in the University.