The Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) at McGill will ask students to support its continued existence in an upcoming special referendum period that will run from April 10 to 16. This vote comes after the McGill administration refused to acknowledge the results of last November’s referendum, in which 65.6 per cent of students voted in favour of supporting QPIRG with a non opt-outable online $3.75 fee. QPIRG requested a change to the opt-out method due to increased financial pressures after the McGill administration unilaterally imposed the online opt-out system on the organization in 2007. The administration’s actions contradicted the wishes of both QPIRG and students, who condemned the administration’s decision in a 2007 General Assembly. Despite this convoluted history, the simple fact remains that QPIRG plays an essential role on our campus and in our community.
QPIRG connects McGill to the surrounding community in a way that few groups on campus are able to, and supports people that are marginalized in our society. Through working groups, QPIRG raises awareness about social justice issues that too often are overlooked. Groups such as Climate Justice Montreal, the Filipino Solidarity Collective, the Temporary Worker’s Centre, and KANATA – which creates dialogue on issues facing Canada’s First Nations communities, and advocates for a Native Studies Minor at McGill – provide essential resources that exist nowhere else at McGill.
QPIRG also organizes events like Rad Frosh, an alternative orientation week with an emphasis on social justice, and Culture Shock, an event dedicated to raising awareness about immigrant, refugee, and minority issues. Alongside SSMU, QPIRG co-organizes Social Justice Days, an annual series of workshops on health, education, and human rights issues. QPIRG consistently innovates: getting recycling and daycare on campus are but two of its many accomplishments.
Moreover, in a large university such as McGill, undergraduates are often an afterthought. QPIRG research programs such as the Community University Research Exchange (CURE) and Study in Action connect student research with community groups in a productive way, providing students with opportunities that no other organization at McGill does. The results of this original research are far-reaching and tangible. In areas ranging from food security to gender and sexuality, QPIRG’s proactive research has made our community more conscientious and equitable. Through their alternative library, research journal Convergence, and online databases, QPIRG ensures that its resources and community research are readily available to all members of our campus and community.
QPIRG is an incredibly valuable organisation: it encourages us to question our decisions, invest in our community, and seek out ethical alternatives. Vote ‘yes’ to the existence of a more socially and environmentally conscious campus – vote ‘yes’ to QPIRG.