Last Wednesday, the administration announced that it recognizes, in principle, the existence of CKUT Radio. The administration had previously rejected the results of the fall referendum, in which CKUT and QPIRG each posed a question calling students to support the organizations’ existence and a move to make opt-outs available offline.
Following negotiations, the administration offered to recognize CKUT and QPIRG’s existence on the condition that they ran two separate questions on the winter referendum, one regarding the organizations’ existence, and one making the organizations’ fees non-opt-outable.
CKUT agreed to this compromise on Tuesday morning at around 10 a.m., just an hour and a half before students occupied the sixth floor of the James Administration Building, explained Caitlin Manicom, outreach and funding co-ordinator for CKUT.
“The agreement was just before the occupation started, which the occupiers didn’t know,” Manicom said. “We told them on the first night, we made it clear that we were negotiating and were still negotiating.”
The sixth floor occupiers did not leave that night.
“QPIRG was still in negotiations and we wanted to support them as well,” one of the occupiers, who withheld her identity, said.
Manicom noted that having a non-opt-outable fee is crucial for the financial sustenance of the radio station.
“The overhead costs of producing radio increase every year, and we have a lot of costs that we can’t get rid of in terms of licensing, general production costs, maintaining equipment to produce radio … that puts such a strain on running a radio station.”
Although the occupation did not directly affect CKUT’s negotiating process, Manicom noted that it had an effect on campus dialogue.
“We had already reached an agreement prior to the occupation, but I think that what the #6party occupation did was open up a lot of dialogue, be it negative or positive,” she said. “I think what was very useful about the occupation was that people were forced to think about the fact that the McGill administration had not recognized the student democratic vote.”
QPIRG still in negotiations
On Friday evening, QPIRG proposed three-way negotiations between the administration, the sixth floor occupiers, and QPIRG. Kira Page, member of the QPIRG Board of Directors and McGill alumni, explained the rationale of the decision.
“We really wanted a speedy resolution to the occupation. We feel that the #6party students were being treated cruelly and being [denied] bathroom and water access, and we thought that needed to end quickly,” Page said. “As one of the organizations who was affected by their primary demands, it might be helpful to be part of that process to speed it up.”
In an email to students, Michael Di Grappa, Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) wrote that the administration would not negotiate the fall referendum with the sixth floor occupiers.
“As the administration has said from the beginning of the occupation, we will not enter into negotiations on the specific demands of the occupiers, as we will not negotiate with anyone disrupting university activities in this manner; we will continue to work with QPIRG to try to come to an agreement on the referendum issue,” Di Grappa wrote.
Page noted that QPIRG will not keep asking for the sixth floor occupiers to participate in negotiations, now that the occupation is over.
“We’re not affiliated with #6party and they existed mostly for the purposes of the occupation,” she said. “I don’t think students who are occupying a building have any negotiating power after they stop occupying the building.”
QPIRG will continue to negotiate with the McGill administration this week. The organization has until Feb. 17 to submit a question for the winter referendum.
“I imagine that everyone is feeling tired and tense given the past week,” Page said. “I hope that we can keep negotiating in good faith and coming to the table to come to a good resolution to this ongoing dispute.”