A referendum is on its way

The McGill Daily and Le Délit face a referendum that will determine the continued existence of their publications this week, in order to negotiate a contract with the university.
Graphic courtesy of The McGill Daily and Le Délit
Graphic courtesy of The McGill Daily and Le Délit

The McGill Daily and Le Délit face a referendum that will determine the continued existence of their publications this week, in order to negotiate a contract with the university.

In accordance with the policy of McGill University’s administration, a new Memoranda of Agreement is arranged with independent student associations every five years.

However, in order for a newly negotiated MoA to move forward, a referendum is being held from Jan. 23 to 31. The Daily Publication Society, The Daily and Le Délit’s umbrella association, must prove it has continued support from the university’s student body before arranging a contract with administration.

These renewed agreements enable the DPS to collect student fees that allow for allotted leases, printing costs and distribution of the two papers.

Therefore, both newspapers require a majority of students to vote in support of their continued publication or else they will cease to exist. If the referendum fails, then McGill will terminate the fee-levy of $6 paid by undergraduate students per semester and the $3.35 contributed by graduate students. As part of the agreement, the current fee is binding.

In 2011, McGill’s campus radio station CKUT held its referendum in conjunction with the Quebec Public Interest Research Group at the university where approximately 5,245 students participated with overwhelming support in favour of continued existence. McGill invalidated the results however, forcing the associations to conduct another election. CKUT also recently held a referendum in November 2012 to increase its fee-levy and won.

These set votes can be a source of stress for student associations on campus.

“It takes months of planning and so much time,” said Queen Arsem-O’Malley, the co-ordinating editor of The Daily. “It’s not like it’s really necessary, there are other ways for students to keep us accountable.”

Concordia University does not have the same terms of agreement with its student media associations and CJLO, Concordia University Television, The Concordian and The Link are not required to hold referendums.

Individuals who are eligible to vote must be undergraduate or graduate students at the downtown campus with the exception of continuing education students, non-resident graduate students and graduate students who are enrolled in medicine or dentistry.

McGill undergraduate student Eric Pagé, who does not read either publication on a regular basis, said he was not aware of the referendum until he checked Facebook. Pagé said that his classes are not in the heavily trafficked buildings at the university but that if he has time to vote, he will.

“I’ll be voting in favour of The McGill Daily if I do go because I’m sure it benefits students,” said Pagé. “As well as gives the authors good practice for prospective future employment.”

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