Commentary  Put your money where your mouth is, McGill

Re: “Defending diversity, excellence, community engagement” | Commentary | February 8

It is heartening that our administration cares about the concerns raised in The Daily about McGill policies. However, the response by our senior policy advisor, Victoria Meikle, in her Hyde Park is narrowly focused on convincing the readers that the Principal’s Task Force on Diversity, Excellence, and Community Engagement was extensively publicized. In this way, she sidesteps the silence of the official media in the last 20-30 days before the first deadline for written submissions to the task force (January 8, 2010). Meikle also fails to address in her reply the whole concept of expanding the principal’s town halls into local communities and involving lower level administrators.

This approach reminds me of the antics of top party leaders that I previously witnessed in communist Poland. They would organize big and noisy campaigns in the media which were construed as constructive consultations with the whole nation. People were asked to share their concerns and suggest some changes and improvements for specially organized committees. A select few and possibly naïve people participated in these actions. Nobody with common sense expected to hear something truly new or revolutionary following these “consultations” and nothing better emerged from the corrupted power until the total collapse of this political system.

The situation at McGill can develop differently if we “exploit” some of the key details revealed in Meikle’s response. She informed us that “the Principal’s Task Force on Diversity, Excellence, and Community Engagement has now received 50 submissions.” She also mentioned that “25 talented members of the McGill community have undertaken to work with the principal” on this project. They will analyze these submissions and provide their report after consultations with other McGill’s governing bodies at the end of 2011.

That our administration recently “agreed to all requests to submit beyond the deadline date [and] not refuse a submission from a member of the McGill community whenever it is received” is a positive step forward. With this spirit of openness, I propose that all 50 submissions be immediately published in a link on the McGill web site. It would take the McGill network specialist no longer than 30 minutes to post these submissions after receiving them from Meikle. At stake isn’t only speeding up this whole process, but also mobilizing our whole community. We shouldn’t passively wait for the next two years for the final report. The availability to read online all the submissions will not only push us for deeper reflections, but also further motivate our “25 talented members of the McGill community.” Their awareness that the whole community can read the provided submissions and compare the conclusions from both sides (25 chosen talented members vs. community) is really essential for a fruitful and meaningful final report.

Slawomir Poplawski
Technician in the mining and materials engineering department