Commentary  Conservative McGill doth protest too much

QPIRG opt-out campaign is hypocritical

The QPIRG opt-out campaign led by Conservative McGill and other campus organizations premises itself on a load of BS. It’s motivated by a disingenuous and vindictive logic and lacks the self-awareness to realize its own contradiction.

If only the pro-opt-outers weren’t too thick to realize that QPIRG is in fact a lot like SSMU. (Full disclosure: I am a SSMU executive.) QPIRG levies a fee from students, much like SSMU does, and then QPIRG allocates the money, in line with its policies, to different groups according to their needs and in the interest of diversifying student expression. SSMU does exactly the same thing.

Many people argue that QPIRG funds a number of fringe groups that people don’t know about and that are too radical for their moderate or right-wing tastes. Again, through the Club Fund, the Campus Life Fund, and other means, SSMU (read: student money) funds a wide variety of groups, many of which are also seen, by some, as fringe and radical. The fact is that SSMU and QPIRG fund both uncontentious groups (although Campus Crops has always raised my ire) and groups that are both contentious and don’t appeal to everyone. What more do you want out of student life? A university is a venue for diverse expression, as long as it is safe.

Brendan Steven’s ignorant column (“Opting out of QPIRG,” McGill Tribune, January 26) suggested that student groups should only receive money from students if they fundraise it themselves in hallways and on the streets. Now let’s apply that argument to his own Conservative McGill. This holier-than-thou club has been granted $750 of student money this academic year alone. They should give themselves a dose of their own medicine: they should spend days running around campus canvassing disinterested McGillians to give them a buck here and there. In order for Steven to avoid contradiction, I’d like to see cadres of blue-in-the face Harperites scampering around campus with buckets asking for money. What about bake sales with blue cookies that say “tax cuts” on them? How much time would their club members waste trying to raise money instead of engaging in activities that actually accentuate student life? Too bad all they seem to do with their time and their money is undermine groups like the Global AIDS Coalition’s access to funding.

If Conservative McGill and their allies are so damn incensed by the fact that students pay relatively small amounts of money to organizations that, later, redistribute smaller fractions of that sum to some groups that may not appeal to all students, then maybe they should put more effort into an “Opt-out of SSMU” campaign. Too bad you can’t opt-out of SSMU. After all, full-time students pay approximately $40 per semester to SSMU, money that is spread out to a diversity of groups. Or maybe Conservative McGill has enjoyed the $750 SSMU (read: your student fees) granted it to finance its campaign against student life, among other activities. (By the way, they’ve also flagrantly violated SSMU Council’s supermajority decision to suspend Choose Life’s club privileges by providing a table for the group at the Y intersection.)
I wish none of my money went to Conservative McGill, but it just so happens that in the interest of student life, pluralism, and their club’s budget, I pay my fees. Shame on you, Conservative McGill!
Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan is SSMU VP (External), but the views expressed here are his own. Bash Conservatives with him at