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Access denied: It’s not us McGill, it’s you

The people in the ivory towers over at McGill University must think they are pretty special. According to an article published Jan. 19 by The McGill Daily, McGill’s administration is seeking a motion to be exempt from answering access to information requests filed by select student journalists.

Publically-funded, government-run institutions are required by Canadian Law to release documents like reports, budgeting information and much more. McGill has no right to pick and choose which requests to honour and which to reject.

Now, student journalists who are using this resource as it was meant to be used are being targeted for allegedly overloading McGill with “systematic” requests in “retaliation” against the university. What’s more, not only have 14 respondents been named in the motion filed with the Commission d’accès à l’information, it goes on to claim that The Daily and The Link have been abusing the system, perhaps for some nefarious purposes of their own.

If we weren’t up in arms about that, imagine our reaction to the news that The Concordian is also being named as a source which provides evidence to support the university’s case.

Contrary to whatever the authors of the motion believe, The Concordian has never indicated in any way that ATI requests were being made “as a retaliation measure against McGill in the aftermath of the 2011-2012 student protests.”

The very idea that the university is requesting the right to deny legal ATIs filed by certain individuals and accept others is astonishing.

What’s laughable about this whole situation is that if, and this is a big if, the motion is allowed and the people and organizations mentioned are no longer allowed to make requests, what stops anyone from filing under a different name or having the request filed for them?

How dare the university even consider putting journalists in a position where they have to intentionally misrepresent themselves in order to gain the same access to documents that any person off the street is entitled to?

Without a doubt, McGill is behaving like a spoiled child and we only wish to offer our most sincere condolences to the public relations department. This is a vastly unfair move by the university, it’s illogical and based primarily off of conspiracy theories.

From here, it looks like McGill is scrambling for any excuse to avoid releasing sensitive documents they would rather not see made public.

And what of the university’s claims that the amount of requests received are straining their “limited resources?” If McGill can’t logistically handle the incoming ATIs, fine. We accept that this type of paperwork takes time and money. So hire another person to do the work. We’ve seen your landscaping, McGill, we’re pretty sure you can afford it. 

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