Commentary | Letters

The importance of QPIRG

Sometime during the last year of my PhD, during a clean-up in my (former) department, I came across a wooden paper holder which was intended, many years ago, as a repository for paper to be collected for recycling.  On a yellowing label, attached to one side, were listed the types of paper which could and couldn’t be recycled, and at the bottom, a tag from the organization running the program – “QPIRG McGill”.
The paper holder (which I still have) reminded of something often left unsaid in all the current discussions over QPIRG’s future: that QPIRG not only supported, but initiated,  many services and programs at McGill which have since become institutionalized and which we now consider so basic that we essentially take them for granted.  These include recycling at McGill and the McGill daycare.
During my time at McGill, I saw QPIRG support and fund all manner of student and community initiatives in the areas of social justice, environment, human rights, sustainable transportation, anti-racism, community health, and many others. Not all of these were equally successful, or equally widely supported (although many were both successful and widely supported), but all deserved the resources for people to at least attempt them.  Is this not within the spirit of research, free inquiry, and innovation which should characterize a university?
If QPIRG is not supported by students, as it has been for thirty years, who knows what programs and services we may be sacrificing in the future, because the structures to help them get off the ground were undermined?


Ed Hudson
PhD, 2010

The Plate Club supports QPIRG

The Plate Club, SSMU’s celebrated and decidedly nonpolitical reusable dishware rental service, has collectively decided to put in a strong word of support and undying love for QPIRG, of which Greening McGill, the original founders of the Plate Club, are a working group.
The Plate Club would not exist if not for QPIRG. From our humble beginnings of legendary hand-washing in 2007 – 2008 to today’s strong collective complete with a low-impact and incredibly hygienic dishwasher (SSMU Best New Club 2008, now a full-fledged SSMU service!), we have maintained the original mandate of QPIRG/Greening McGill’s reusable plate initiative to reduce styrofoam waste through our daily lunch service, lending out reusable plates in the SSMU caf, and through event rentals, which gives students organizing events free access to our inventory.
But our QPIRG-funded history is not the only reason why the Plate Club wholeheartedly supports QPIRG McGill’s referendum. This referendum’s proposed opt-out system represents a healthier future for this powerful engine of social change. It is sad that the current system has allowed small groups of students to spread misinformation to the point that misled students are surprised to learn that QPIRG is responsible for the creation of such an unarguably awesome initiative as the Plate Club. QPIRG’s consistent support for environmental justice initiatives has been a source of inspiration and support for us as we put in long hours at the dishwasher. Plus, we can thank Rad Frosh for leading many members and supporters to involvement in sustainability at McGill at all, and QPIRG events always remember to green their events by using our service!
We are excited to see what other innovative and successful seeds future working group initiatives will plant. Voting ‘YES’ ensures new voices can be heard, powerful lasting initiatives can start, essential student services can grow, a whole world of ideas can inspire – and your community – from the Plate Club to all of McGill, Montreal and beyond – will be stronger because of it.

Vote Thursday before 5 pm!!

The Plate Club Executive 2011-2012
SSMU Service

We want more than to stay alive

Re: “Keep CKUT and QPIRG alive” | Commentary | November 3

QPIRG and CKUT are appreciative of The Daily’s editorial “Vote ‘yes’ – keep CKUT and QPIRG alive” (Editorial, November 3). There were, however, a few misleading and factually inaccurate statements made in this editorial that we feel need correcting.
To clarify, QPIRG and CKUT are running existence referenda: we are asking students to support our continued existence by renewing our fee-levies, which would no longer be opt-outable on the Minerva system, but instead fully refundable through QPIRG and CKUT. Going back to a refund system under student control is integral to our long-term survival, both in terms of having a steady and predictable source of funding, as well as by ensuring a fair, informed system that remains accountable to students. Of note, the McGill Tribune successfully passed a similar question in 2010.
The editorial stated that the proposed changes to the opt-out system were made “without adequate student consultation.” False. Students have consistently demonstrated their opposition to the Minerva opt-out system via the two most democratic means at their disposal: in a 2007 SSMU General Assembly and a 2008 referendum. Furthermore, both questions involved active consultation with students, per SSMU’s recognized process for approving referendum questions. In running these referenda questions, we are following through with students’ demands to protect the financial and organizational autonomy of student organizations from the McGill administration.
The editorial also stated that “taking the opt-out system offline would force students with gravely limited financial resources, who seriously need their fees refunded, to make this a public declaration.” False. Students have never and shall never be asked to provide any explanation as to why they want their fees refunded.
Both organizations remain committed to an open and accessible refund system (see our policies on our websites), and look forward to student feedback and consultation with respect to this process.

QPIRG-McGill Board and staff
CKUT Board and staff


Support the Filipino Solidarity Collective

The Filipino Solidarity Collective strongly encourages students to support both QPIRG and CKUT in the ongoing referendum.  As one of Canada’s growing ‘visible-minority’ groups, the Filipino community is largely shaped by the immigration-labor nexus. While it is clear that these policies have and will continue to structure our past, present, and future experiences as Canadians, there remains an unspoken discussion of how they shape our everyday lives. For instance, high school drop out rates among Filipino-Canadian youth are among the highest in Canada, and the economic marginalization of Filipinas under the Live-in-caregiver program continues to constitute a form of modern day slavery. Despite the pervasive issues that we face, there is a paucity of time and space to educate the broader community of our everyday realities. As such, local community organizations have been instrumental in providing a voice for the marginalized Filipino-Canadian community.  The Filipino Solidarity Collective has made significant links with grassroots organizations such as Kabataang Montreal and the Kapit Bisig Centre, where we have been able to educate and organize university and high school students on the political, economic, and cultural struggles of Filipino-Canadians through various workshops, conferences, cultural events, and a weekly radio show (‘Sigaw ng Bayan’ on CKUT).  More specifically, we discuss the systemic barriers that affect our community – be it racism/discrimination, transnational migrant work, women’s oppression, and/or low educational achievement among our youth. Our more recent project involves a participatory documentary film that highlights the experience of Filipino-Canadian high school youth as they encounter difficulties of family reunification, high school pressures, and adapting to Canadian society. This empowering initiative was supported and funded by QPIRG’s summer stipend project. As such, the Filipino Solidarity Collective is grateful for allies like QPIRG and CKUT, who give provide us with resources and venues to critically engage and unravel the issues that impact our community.

By supporting them, you support us.

Filipino Solidarity Collective
QPIRG-McGill Working Group

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