Daily Publications Society narrowly passes $1 fee increase

The Daily Publications Society, which publishes The McGill Daily and Le Délit, passed its $1 fee increase on Thursday, with 51.3 per cent of students voting to increase the DPS’s non-opt-outable fee to $6 per semester.

Approximately 2,500 students, or 12.8 per cent of the undergraduate student body, voted in the election. According to Mike Vallo, the chief electoral officer of Elections McGill, the turnout was higher than that of the general elections in Fall 2008.

“Both [the Yes and the No] committees were really passionate,” Vallo said. “Everyone who voted was clearly on one side or the other, so I’m not surprised it was that close.”

Though the fee hike passed, the DPS’s slim margin of victory has focussed attention on students’ attitudes toward the Daily.

“I’m happy that the DPS is going to be financially sustainable for the future,” said Stephen Davis, the Daily’s coordinating editor. “But, at the same time, this brought to our attention a lot of work that needs to be done, and a lot of things we need to address in our coverage.”

Stéphanie Dufresne, the coordinating editor of Le Délit, echoed Davis’s comments on the DPS’s future.

“Of course, the DPS will have to take [the narrow margin] into consideration and find ways to address the criticisms that were voiced by the No committee,” Dufresne said. “[Now], we’re going to be able to use these resources to make the Daily and Le Délit more responsive to students, more open, and also to develop our web component.”

Allan Cyril, the No committee chairman, said that the committee raised several issues that the Daily needs to address, such as the lack of engineering- and science-related stories in the paper.

“I think we did inform people about what going on,” said Cyril, who was recently elected as next year’s vice-president internal of the Engineering Undergraduate Society. “I hope that the Daily takes this as a sign that some stuff that they’re doing doesn’t make the campus happy, and we’d like to see them reform.”

Max Halparin, the chairman of the DPS’s Board of Directors, expressed concern with the narrow margin of victory and the issues raised by the No committee. He argued that the No committee had inflamed an intolerant “anti-Daily sentiment” on campus.

“I think the No committee raised a lot of legitimate concerns, and then, unfortunately, raised a lot of offensive sentiment that was anti-Daily for not the greatest reasons,” Halparin said.

During the campaign, slogans such as “Say NO to Daily propaganda” appeared scrawled in chalk across campus walkways. Cyril maintained, however, that the No committee harboured no “anti-Daily” feelings.

“We aren’t trying to be oppositional to the Daily; we’re stakeholders in it as well,” Cyril said. “We’re part owners of the DPS. We just want to see a good campus newspaper. [But] for any type of fee increase, I think there should always be a No committee formed.”

For his part, Davis said that the Daily is already taking steps to address the concerns of the 48.5 per cent of students who voted against the fee increase.

“Truthfully, I don’t think we cover enough stories relating to engineers or science students,” he said. “We’ve already got four or five pitches that are going out on some of our listservs for writers to pick up that are stories specifically related to the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Science.”

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