Opinion

How to Get Rid of a Campus Group

McGill Tribune

1) Chose a group with an opt-outable funding system (these groups are usually “progressive”, e.g. QPIRG)

2) Coordinate a mass-flyer campaign with a catchy slogan like “save some money” detailing how to opt-out of their fee.

3)  Don’t provide any info about the organization (if you do, it must be misleading and/or exaggerating the “extremist” elements of the organization.)

By the time you read this, QPIRG McGill has already lost a big chunk of funding thanks to the misleading and manipulative campaign led by Conservative McGill and other groups. If you opted-out of QPIRG’s $3.75 per semester fee knowing what QPIRG does, then I can’t debate your decision (and your right to choose what student groups you fund). But if you didn’t know what QPIRG does, I invite you to visit the website (qpirgmcgill.org) so that next year you can make an informed decision.

The funny (or sad) thing about the QPIRG Opt-Out Campaign is that the same arguments they use could be used against them. Not everyone agrees with Conservative McGill’s activities or ideals. They don’t represent “most” McGillians, and they are still receiving funding from our student fees. And you know what, dear reader? We don’t have the option to opt-out from Conservative McGill. If QPIRG is on the “extreme left” (according to Conservative McGill), then it would be logical to assume that they are on the “extreme right.” Both groups are equally non-representative of the student body.

Conservative McGill is not alone. Last week’s front cover of the Tribune showed a photo with the instructions of how to opt-out from QPIRG, not a very neutral action from an “objective” paper during such a sensitive “campaign.” But wait! The Tribune is known to be the conservative paper on campus, my bad! On that same issue, the article reporting on the “altercations” between the QPIRG Opt-Out Campaign and QPIRG members and allies was not accurate. I was there: Students were never obstructed from accessing Opt-Out’s table and the only thing we did was to talk, one-on-one, with the people that had received a flyer from them—we were not giving flyers. The article doesn’t mention the intimidation we received from McGill Security, but that’s another story.

This is not a matter of money or ideology, but a matter of the diversity of voices at our university. Even though I don’t agree with conservative ideals, I’m glad they’re around. As Voltaire reportedly said: “I might not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Sadly, Conservative McGill doesn’t think the same way.

Congratulations, Conservative McGill: your campaign successfully provided a false image of QPIRG, inciting students to opt-out en masse. You have provided an excellent case study in manipulative campaigning. I also congratulate the people that opted-out without knowing what our organization does: your ignorance has debilitated QPIRG, a very creative and active student organization on campus. I don’t know how saving $3.75 per term alone will make up for the lost conferences, student-research projects (some with stipends), Rad Frosh, movie screenings, urban gardening, environmentalist events, and so on.

Christian Scott Martone is a U3 Sociology and IDS student, [email protected].

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