Laughing Matters, Opinion

McGill must bring back the backpack

As summer comes to a close and fall finally settles over Montreal, the cool weather blesses students with colourful leaves, crisp air, and of course, an onslaught of germs. McGill students face colds and the frosh flu––not to mention COVID-19. Yet, in this whirlwind of poor health, we have failed to notice the real epidemic: Terrible posture. The Tribune staff knew they had to get to the bottom of this mysterious plague. Through weeks of tireless investigation that involved camping outside McLennan library, conducting experiments, interviewing sources, and tracking students on their walks up McGill’s aggressively steep hills, we came to the conclusion that there was only one suspect to blame: The tote bag. 

McGill is obsessed with trendy bags. We all know that we attend a fashionable school: The Y-intersection is practically a catwalk. In such conditions, why even come to campus if you’re not wearing your best fit? No outfit is good enough without the perfect bag to tie it all together. Most McGill fashionistas would rather transfer to Queen’s than trade out their vintage pleather, deceptively capacious Diesel purse for a backpack. But the perfect style comes with a cost—lopsidedness. 

So if you’re asking yourself, “Am I the only one whose back is more knotted than a climbing rope? Am I the only one whose left shoulder is now permanently lower than the right from favoring a tote over a backpack?” The answer is no, you’re not. A degree from McGill is more likely to send you to the chiropractor than to grad school. 

The tendency of McGill’s best dressed to lean rightwards to compensate for the weight of their computer, three textbooks, water bottle, packed lunch, and sweater, all dangling precariously from one shoulder––a shoulder that, let’s face it, is probably bare, thanks to the tasteful off-the-shoulder top they just thrifted last weekend––has led to a sideways student body. Not only does this asymmetry, propagated by the desire to embody the style of someone not headed to three back-to-back-to-back classes in Stewart Bio, McConnell, and the Education Building, form a permanent knot on one side of your back ensuring future health issues, but it looks ridiculous! If only backpacks would come back into fashion, McGill’s student body might stand a chance. 

Why is no one talking about this issue threatening the student body? Maybe it’s because we’re all too distracted by the physical damages inflicted on us by our classes and the work itself. Nothing screams future Spondylolisthesis like spending twelve hours bent over a computer in McLennan. Or an all-nighter spent scribbling over an iPad, body bent at a near ninety-degree angle, while trying to maintain blood flow to your brain. 

Despite our best intentions, no amount of impromptu desk yoga will ever reverse the damages of even one finals season at McGill. But you know what will? Wearing a backpack! Imagine the relief of having the crushing weight of your academic responsibility distributed evenly between your two shoulders. Or the joy of Bixi-ing to campus without the threat of toppling over into the road in the attempt to keep your tote stable on your shoulder. The solution is so simple and yet, McGill doesn’t seem ready to sacrifice fashion for the sake of physical health. 

Overwhelmed by unbearable course loads, tyrannical professors, and the stimulating social pressures of student life, we’ve neglected to address the obvious solution to the physical toll McGill is reaping on our spinal cords. Proposed solutions such as mandatory spinal fusion surgery, or requiring the purchase of a posture corrector when paying student fees seem so far-fetched when you remember that all can be solved by simply wearing a backpack. 

You might be thinking, “How could I even consider myself  a McGill student without my beloved Goyard purse?” But remember, it only takes a few hundred students to turn the tide, so the next time you find yourself reaching for your trendy tote bag, take a stand and go for the backpack. 

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One Comment

  1. Very good article. However, students carrying backpacks have another issue with their posture and shoulders. They tend to slouch and their shoulders turn outwards because of the weight of the backpack. Perhaps, the answer is for students to carry less. No need to carry textbooks and other heavy items.

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