With a tone of urgency typically reserved for riots and floods, a message detailing McGill’s dire financial straits was circulated by departmental heads this week. According to the Provost, the Quebec government has presented a terrible ultimatum: McGill has 90 days to cut its costs to the demanded margin, or else. It’s the classic tale of David and the Goliath, assuming you can suspend your disbelief enough to cast our “beloved” university as the noble underdog. Blame it on the PQ, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, or Stephen Harper, but if my understanding of economics is sound— I took Paul Dickinson’s Microeconomics class once— this university basically hasn’t got a penny to its name. Unfortunately, that means things are about to get a whole lot worse around here. Thankfully, I’ve devised a list of potential nightmare scenarios and how to survive them.
NIGHTMARE SCENARIO #1: The Deep Freeze
Here’s a fun fact: Canadians use more energy per capita than almost anyone in the OECD, topped only by Iceland and Luxembourg. Most of that energy is spent on keeping us warm, as in enabling our continued existence in the never-ending frozen wasteland that is this beautiful country. That said, turning down the thermostat by even one single degree can save thousands of dollars a year in utility bills. As McGill discovers the steep cost associated with keeping classes and libraries a comfortable temperature, they opt to do the responsible thing, and cut heating to all buildings for the rest of the winter. Saving the planet, but more importantly the budget, one day at a time!
Survival Method: When I was in Grade 8, the heaters at my school broke down in the middle of a particularly bitter Edmonton winter. The solution? Everyone wore their winter coats indoors and huddled the desks together for warmth. You may have to snuggle up to your seatmate in Leacock 132. It’s the Canadian thing to do.
NIGHTMARE SCENARIO #2: The Program Purge
Latin American and Caribbean Studies seemed like such a good minor to register for at the end of U0, didn’t it? You’d be able to study the diversity of cultures in the region, read the history of Haiti, and maybe even “practice your Spanish” during a field semester on the beach in Costa Rica. Who says that Millennials are doomed to a life of menial work, middle management, and supporting the Baby Boomers into their old age? Not you! You are a free spirit. You are going to learn the hell out of Latin America and the Caribbean. Or, at least, you were —until the cuts arrived.
In an effort to make ends meet, McGill declares that it has to slash dozens of classes. The ones that they happen to cut are small niche social science and humanities classes in departments with limited enrollments When the official list of cuts is announced, your worst fears are concerned. It just so happens that the required seminar for Latin American and Caribbean studies for the final semester of your U3 was a casualty of the regime.
Survival Method: First, cry a lot. Those of you who speak Latin already know that McGill’s motto, Grandescunt Aucta Labore, translates literally to “only that which is showered in tears of frustration can grow.” Cry until your eyeballs feel like they’re going to fall out of your head, and then write an angry letter to your advisor, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Pauline Marois, the Queen, and Obama. This always works. Trust me.
NIGHTMARE SCENARIO #3: The Inevitable Emmy
In the unlikeliest of twists, the board takes a vote and decides that the high salaries of various McGill executives are simply untenable in this economic climate. They are forced to accept pay cuts. Subsequently, McGill’s highest up are suddenly unable to afford their lavish lifestyles and Westmount brownstones. Forced to live simply, the once-elite of McGill move into rented accommodations in the heart of the McGill Ghetto only to find themselves sharing an apartment building with a gang of zany undergraduate misfits! How will HMB (Heather Munroe-Blum) and her friends adapt to this wacky change of circumstance?
Survival Method: Join us Wednesdays at 8pm for You, Me, and HMB, the hit new comedy which is sure to have audiences shouting “HMB, enough with the house parties!”