Commentary | Let’s fight for our rights

Closing the Architecture Café was easy for the administration – a matter of subtracting the small profit from the student-run service from Aramark’s massive bid. But for students, the calculation is not so clear.

The Café was a sun-lit escape from looming masses of unfinished homework and unprepared-for exams, a place to enjoy some healthy food and warm company before stepping back out into the dark and stressful winter.

But somehow McGill does not hear our side, even though we pay thousands of dollars every semester. The last rally demonstrated this: the Café was taken off the table – without discussion – amid the cries of a large and diverse protest. We were shown we have no control over the place to which we devote so much of our lives. Unfortunately, it is Mendelson’s right to make such unilateral decisions over our objections.

It’s time for change.

A motion put to Senate will create an accountable and transparent committee to assess the Architecture Café closure, and will reassert our rights as students in a democratic institution – nullifying the closure until the committee has submitted its report. For the full motion, visit sites.google.com/site/mobilizationmcgill.

This motion must pass. Although its scope is limited to the closure of this single café, it will set an important precedent for the student body: that we will stand for what is right for us, and not be crammed into cost-effective boxes for the University’s bureaucracy to stack.

Next Monday, the boycott will begin in earnest. We hope that the student body will realize that this issue is far larger than tasty brownies and cheap food: it is about respect. We pay enough as is to attend this university. And the Aramark contract, which appears to give them exclusivity rights on campus, is an underhanded measure to make us pay even more – more money for worse food provided without accountability.

More information will be available on the picket lines. They will be set in front of the major cafeterias, with stands serving wraps provided by Midnight Kitchen as a working alternative to the corporate model. We hope that some of the student body will be moved to stand with us on these lines, as well as to wear white arm bands demanding their right to a democratic university.

Most of all, we need another rally – bigger, better, and louder. This time we will have a focus, we will know our purpose – and we will not stand to be ignored. We will gather outside of the Senate meeting at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, 20 October, and we will be heard. Whether or not you have ever stepped inside Architecture Café, we hope you will raise your voices and raise your fists to give us back some say in our lives.

Bring your lunch, bring your voices, and take back your rights.

Alex Briggs is a U2 Mechanical Engineering student and a member of Mobilization McGill. Write him at ajhbriggs@gmail.com. Want to help out? Email mobMcGill@gmail.com.


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