I haven’t been a supporter of MUNACA since the strike started. I am unaware of what dire economic situation each of them are in, and I have not received any unbiased information about how similar workers are compensated throughout Quebec and Canada (nor have I bothered to check). However, I do support their right to protest, and thank them for showing the McGill community how unaccommodating the McGill administration can be to its staff and undergraduate students. The University administration’s insistence on silencing their student’s voices and sending periodic one-sided messages to the student community makes me question Principal Heather Munroe-Blum’s statement that “We are all McGill” in a recent e-mail we found in our student inboxes.
Unfortunately, Principal Munroe-Blum, the McGill community does not seem to be as cohesive as you hoped it would be when you wrote your email. Not only has there been a growing divide between students and the administration, but the MUNACA strike has the student body itself between those who care, those who don’t care, and those who are simply fed up. I understand that McGill is a large bureaucratic organization incapable of giving personal attention to each and every student. But can’t at least place more importance on the voice of the student body as a whole?
We cannot ignore the blatant injustices the McGill administration has committed against its students over the past few months. Consequently, the administration cannot ignore how badly this is tarnishing the University’s reputation. Are undergraduate students going to praise the University to prospective students and academic surveyors? Will current students feel any sense of community or want to give back to McGill once they graduate? The answer to both these questions is a resounding no. Undergraduate students will not care that McGill rises through the Times Higher Education or QS World University Rankings due to its excellence in research if they also no longer feel that they have a voice in this community.
The undergraduate student population should see this MUNACA experience as an example of how diminished our role has become in a university that is supposed to educate us. We should lament the fact that we are simply cogs in a giant machine whose simple task is to churn out academic degrees at the end of the day.
Especially if that machine is one that silences our voices and discourages critical thought. Actions will ultimately have to be taken by the administration to make real changes. The students can protest, write articles, and give their feedback. If McGill really wants to grow as a university, the administration needs to make sure their large undergraduate student population feels involved.
Murtaza Shambhoora is a U2 Political Science student. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org