For two years now, I have actively participated in the McGill “Opt-Out Campaign” which aimed to make students on campus aware of the radical organizations that are funded by QPIRG with their tuition dollars. I hoped that students would react to our campaign—and they did, with QPIRG’s budget having been seriously reduced over the last few years. I had also hoped that as a result of this loss of revenue ($29,000 in 2010), QPIRG would begin cutting funding to its most radical groups, but that did not happen. All that changed was that its directors allowed it to run a larger deficit and piled it on top of the debt from 2009 (though it remains unclear who will have to repay these debts in the future). From my understanding, that will fall on “us” (all McGill students), who will have to bail it out.
Partisan bickering aside, I can appreciate QPIRG’s determination. As much as I disagree with QPIRG’s vision of the society we live in, I respect their resolve to constantly fight for what they believe in. They are so stubborn in fact that they will never stop fighting “the oppressors,” even if they lose their offices on University St. and are forced to work out of a cockroach infested apartment in Côte-des-Neiges. The bickering that we are engaged in will undoubtedly last for many, many years to come. But to what end? For what gain? The average student is unaware that either QPIRG or the Opt-Out Campaign even exist and those who do only see two organizations in constant battle without any tangible benefit.
Both QPIRG and Conservative McGill (the club leading the Opt-Out Campaign alongside other clubs) have absolutely brilliant young intellectuals in their ranks who can contribute to the future development of McGill’s growing community. It is time this potential is realized by putting an end to the battle. Both sides should sit down together over the summer and resolve their differences before thousands of new students arrive in September. A comprehensive peace deal will have to be signed, which reasonably satisfies both parties and enshrines certain punishments for those who violate the agreement. It will be important to keep in mind that both sides will have to make tough compromises if this deal will have any chance of succeeding.
“The purpose of all wars is peace,” said Saint-Augustine. It is time to put our differences aside and move on to more productive ventures that will make McGill a better institution and allow us to fulfill our personal aspirations.