CKUT has an agreement in principle with the McGill administration recognizing the existence portion of their controversial fall 2011 referendum question. They will submit a new question for the winter referendum period asking that their fee become non-opt-outable.
The announcement comes as a student occupation of Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson’s office – demanding, in part, that the administration recognize the results of both CKUT and QPIRG’s fall referenda – enters its third day.
The sixth floor “partyers” are also demanding Mendelson’s resignation.
Caitlin Manicom, funding and outreach coordinator for CKUT, confirmed that the campus radio station has reached an agreement in principle with the administration.
“[The administration] will not be recognizing, as it stands right now, the validity of the question in its entirety. We’re currently negotiating for existence to be recognized, and those negotiations are ongoing,” said Manicom.
“We won’t be releasing further information until the occupation is settled, and hopefully the students’ demands will be met,” she continued.
Manicom said that CKUT had been negotiating the agreement before the occupation started, and that they had no idea the occupation was going to take place. As a result, Manicom said, “There are a lot of different factors at play.”
Manicom said that the station informed the students on the sixth floor of the agreement in the interest of transparency.
“We wanted to be as transparent as possible to the people who are occupying, without jeopardizing their occupation and their demands,” she said.
“The reason that we were discussing getting the administration to – at the very least – acknowledge existence, was because that was the basic requirement that we need from them to negotiate our MoA [Memorandum of Agreement],” she continued.
The agreement would allow CKUT to negotiate and sign its MoA with McGill, while simultaneously trying to implement an alternative to the current online opt-out system that has resulted in increasingly lower revenue from student fees since the administration implemented the system in 2007.
Manicom spoke to what would happen to CKUT if they don’t change the opt-out system.
“That would leave us in the position that we’ve been in for the last few years, which is struggling to find financial stability, struggling to run a radio station when the costs of running a radio station increase every year, and we continue to lose increasing amounts of finances from the opt-outs,” she said.
In an email to all McGill staff and students on Wednesday, Provost Anthony Masi described the history and the administration’s rationale behind online opt-outs.
“In consultation with students, an easy-to-use on-line system was introduced for opting out of voluntary fees,” read the email. “We believe this process is more convenient for students.”
Masi’s email added that, “individual student groups do not have the right to change an opt-out system to a method less convenient for all students.”
The James Administration occupiers are demanding that the CKUT student fee be only opt-outable through CKUT, which was the request of CKUT’s fall referendum question, invalidated by the administration a month ago.
One of the sixth floor occupiers said that the recent agreement in principle is “something that CKUT was forced into.”
“That’s something that emerged in a coercive process, in which McGill held all the cards and could force an organization that should be autonomous to do what it wants,” he said.
“Clearly it’s in the direction of our demands, but our demands are the complete recognition of both the CKUT and QPIRG referenda results, and so until that happens, our demands haven’t been met,” the student continued.