Let’s face it, our university’s reputation is slowly slipping through the cracks, and despite popular opinion, it’s not entirely the fault of our administration. We’re dropping in the rankings because, to put it bluntly, people don’t want to attend McGill as much anymore.
Each year, thousands of bright prospects apply, ready to put up with the soul-crushing grade deflation in the hopes of attaining two key words on their transcript and CV: “McGill University.” But what happens when those words no longer look as impressive, when graduates no longer feel the same beaming sense of pride to have passed through their time at McGill? Although there are other issues involved, it comes down to a campus culture that is seen as unpleasant, apathetic, and perpetually conflict-ridden.
While it’s true that we’ve never been particularly involved with our school because it has never been particularly involved with us, we should not sit by and let this become a defining characteristic of McGill. So, during this time of Facebook endorsements and election campaigns, we need to vote for a SSMU executive board that will be able to work together and continue to rebuild a community that was torn in half by last year’s protests.
At times it seems that the only things that McGill students universally support are the continued existence of OAP, getting rid of grade deflation, and the fact that the Tim Hortons line is too long. In reality, it seems as if the only thing holding us together is the fact that we go to McGill, one of the most diverse universities in the world. That being said, the large pool of polar opposites that forms the student body is occasionally a handicap.
The characteristic that makes McGill so different from other universities across North America is that our most vocal group on campus is a radical minority of students that focuses too much on drastic social change movements and not enough on how to make this campus a better place. While individuality is important, it is essential that we are able to establish a healthy environment for the future 17 and 18-year olds that come here to grow up, and this cannot happen in our current climate of political division where students are forced to pick a side and stick to it.
In times like these, we have to focus on the little improvements in order to enact a larger wave of change. Exam-time puppies, for instance, make me proud to go here. SSMU’s costly renovation of Gert’s has also improved campus life greatly. Even initiatives such as McGill Compliments are a step in the right direction for community rebuilding. The whole goal of the Facebook page is to bring our community together via anonymous compliments and an anonymous moderator.
On the other side of things, we have initiatives like McGill Memes’ “No Opinion Political Action Committee” that are just unoriginal, attention-grabbing jokes that inhibit the rejuvenation of McGill’s campus via attempts at pointing out the obvious flaws in our student community. Maintaining and encouraging an atmosphere of apathy on campus, even as a joke, is not the right way to fix things.
One legitimate way to remedy the situation is by electing a SSMU executive that is able to put their personal beliefs aside so they can instead focus on how to fix the rupture in the McGill community; a rupture that is mainly the result of alienating campus media articles and a divisive political climate. When campus media turns inward on itself and attacks various groups of students for their “prejudiced” behaviours, situations like the one we have found ourselves in tend to arise.
In the end, we can’t fix McGill by being apathetic. Student government isn’t about changing the world through boycotting practices of ethically ambiguous investment. Student government is about changing campus so that it’s a pleasant, intellectually stimulating place to be. We need to fix the mess so that future students of McGill University will be able to have pride in the university name that appears on their transcripts.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Bull & Bear.