The McGill administration has submitted a demand for some student services to remove the McGill name from their titles, sparking an outcry from the groups affected by the decision.
The most recently affected student services, TVMcGill and McGill First Aid Service (MFAS), have expressed consternation over the impending name change. The University maintains that such changes have to be made to avoid liability.
In an interview with The Daily, Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning) Morton Mendelson said that because TVMcGill never requested permission from the administration to use the McGill name, it is therefore illegal for the service to continue doing so. He said that individual clubs and services have to make their justification and reasoning for using the McGill name in their titles clear in their Memorandums of Agreement (MoA) with the University. Mendelson went on to explain the administration’s perspective on the use of the McGill name and brand.
“The University has the copyright of its name and it holds the brand on the name and the logo. The University has to protect the brand and the logo very vigorously so that it has true meaning, in the same way that Nike would do everything possible to protect its swoosh,” he said.
However, student services having the McGill name severed from their group titles do not understand exactly what sort of liability their services entail, and feel marginalized by the administration. Nicole Edwards, the director of MFAS, stressed the inconvenience such a change would have on the quality of their service, and explained her opinion on the matter.
“We think that changing our name is an unnecessary and unreasonable request,” she said. “Setting aside the costs associated with changing our name, we feel that they are trying to discredit us entirely. Asking us to change our name implies they do not trust us as students and as the much-needed service that we are providing to the University. We have been well-established as MFAS for ten years. A name change would not be inconsequential.”
Mendelson maintained that despite accusations to the contrary, the McGill administration is predominantly focused on student life and welfare, citing numerous administrative initiatives to provide SSMU and PGSS with more funding in regards to their building occupancy.
Mendelson insisted that the removal of the McGill name from multiple student services’ titles has nothing to do with the administration’s opinion of said services, and has more to do with preventing confusion regarding whether or not the University is directly affiliated with the organizations.
“Over the past couple of years, we [the administration] have let students know that student groups can use the McGill name. We want student groups to see themselves as associated with the University, as so many of the groups do such good activities. It gives the University its pride to be associated with a student group, but we want the [McGill] name to be used in a way that doesn’t create confusion about the group or McGill’s role in the group.”
In order for TVMcGill to retain its current title, the service would have to make a disclaimer clarifying its independence from the administration more readily available on the station and on its website.
TVMcGill President Carter Li declined comment regarding the station’s impending name change “due to the delicate nature of the situation.”
“We do not want to jeopardize our standing concerning this situation,” he added.