Letters: Lamenting is Not Enough
17 Dec, 2013
Guest submission by Tom Zheng
This piece is a response to the December 6th article in The Bull and Bear, “McGill University: Can I Get a Refund?”
Adam Banks is right; McGill isn’t perfect. I hate the fact that we have to walk all the way around campus to enter the McLennan Library, and that I still haven’t figured out how to successfully use uPrint from my computer despite three years of trying. And don’t even get me started on the difficulty of navigating campus when half of it has been under some sort of construction for the past decade (If anyone knows what exactly they are building in front of Redpath, please let me know).
But beyond the petty gripes, let’s also not forget this: according to the most recent QS World University Rankings, we are no longer No. 1 in Canada! Sure, no one wants to admit it or talk about it, but it is true. My grandparents can no longer proudly tell their old comrades that their grandson is attending the most prestigious university in Canada; they will have to say that it’s now ranked among the top 3.
It sure sounds like the university is in decline, but do we as the students, have to decline with it?
I applaud Banks for bringing up the frustration that many of us face on a daily basis. As a close friend of mine (and one whom I will sincerely miss in June), I understand how much courage and resolve it takes to do so. But our legacy should be more than just words of frustration.
Even though we might have dropped in rankings, we have not dropped in our creativity and intelligence. Yes, this school has its share of problems, but we are in a position to change it. We cannot absolve ourselves of this responsibility and simply assume that someday, someone is going to wave a magic wand and it will all be better. If we can ask for a refund, why can’t we also demand better service?
I don’t want a refund; I want to make sure that every dollar my parents worked hard for to pay for my education is not spent in vain. It would be a lie to tell you that somehow I have figured out the solution to improving McGill – on the contrary, I am truly humbled by the enormity of this institution and the complexity of its problems. But why can’t we at least try? It is possible that we may fail, I don’t deny that, but at least we can tell the next generation of McGillians where we went wrong and where not to make same mistakes again.
McGill is not a divided institution, where the interests of students lie on one side and the interests of the administration lie on the other, though it may certainly seem like that at times. McGill is the sum of our collective individual aspirations, and every opportunity we seize will turn the wheel of history towards a promising direction, no matter how big or small.
Here is how you can help: join a club, speak to your professors, reach out to your student representatives, email the dean and ask your advisors. It really doesn’t matter what you do, as long as we can take our frustrations and confusions and turn them into a positive force toward what we want McGill to be.
So let’s get started.
Tom Zheng is a U3 Arts student. He is the former Vice President Academic Affairs of the Arts Undergraduate Society of McGill and a co-founder of Wildcard. The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Bull & Bear.