I transferred to McGill after second year, and was not upset about having missed out on Frosh. The university experience was not new to me; I had had my first year experiences at UBC and already knew people in Montreal. When I received the Frosh week package, however, the Rad Frosh program stuck out at me. Despite my curiosity, I didn’t sign up for it.
I really wish I had, as it has taken me nearly all of the past two years to meet the people and make the contacts that I have today. All of my favorite organizations – Midnight Kitchen, QPIRG, and CKUT – would have been introduced to me in my first week instead of over the subsequent two years. I am especially impressed with the range of events such as Rad Frosh, not to mention Social Justice Days, Culture Shock, and Study in Action, that are hosted by QPIRG.
QPIRG also plays a crucial role in funding and supporting community-based research. This provides a constructive alternative to the industry funded research that is the norm in some faculties at McGill. Notably their CURE database, their journal, Convergence, as well as their library, provide alternative resources apart from mainstream academia.
In retrospect, I am very glad Rad Frosh exists. I think a significant aspect of the Frosh experience does not represent a positive conception of gender relations or sociability. Some students’ first experiences at McGill are not conducive to critically analyzing forms of oppression that exist within their daily lives.
Also, QPIRG has an important role in tying disenfranchised communities to the students and faculty at McGill – communities that wouldn’t otherwise have a space or voice on a university campus. Recently, I have gotten more involved in community organizations in Montreal. I have started volunteering regularly with a community based restorative justice program as well as attending a community kitchen in Verdun.
We live in a time where community organizations are not protected by either the federal or provincial government. Stephen Harper and Jean Charest’s administrations are cutting support to these groups. The Native Friendship Center is the latest in the long line of organizations that has seen their financial resources continuing to decrease. Community groups effectively provide much needed services to marginalized individuals, but they will have to scale back the quality and quantity of the programs they are able to run.
Thankfully, the organizations we can call our own, like QPIRG, are not all directly under the purview of the Right Honourable Steve, Jean, or any of their axemen. This protection should be celebrated, and we should rally behind these organizations such that we have the knowledge and skills to take up the slack from the civic failure of our short sighted and seemingly misanthropic prime minister.
QPIRG – McGill facilitates incredible work in the Montreal community. The list of working groups covers many of the most important issues our society will have to deal with collectively over the course of the next several decades. It is paramount that we continue to address issues that have been championed by previous generations. The status of women, First Nations people, immigrants, and the environment will not simply be protected by past victories. It requires dynamic and engaged individuals who care about the situation and the people around them to continue their advocacy.
Mark Turcato is a U3 Art History Student. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org