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To the editor:
Recently, some students have come to the Macdonald Campus Students' Society (MCSS) and complained about the decision-making process regarding programs in the Food Science and the Agricultural Economics Department.
Apparently, admission to the Food Science program was closed in the beginning of the winter semester. Again, similar to last winter, this was done without much consultation and open discussion with the parties involved, including the students. Only after the faculty intervened at the last faculty meeting was the program reopened. If the proper procedure had been followed, this situation would not have happened.
The Department of Agricultural Economics is facing a comparable situation to that of the Department of Food Science. This time, it involves a major reorganization of space and support staff, which is likely to have a negative effect (both academic and non-academic) on the students of the department. The decision was also taken without proper consultation with the involved parties, especially the students.
MCSS feels that, in both of the above cases, the proper procedure was not followed. Since it is the purpose of the MCSS to "unite and represent all students of Macdonald Campus and promote their welfare and interest," we feel that the decision process should be reviewed and revised.
Indeed, we would like to emphasize that the suspension of a program, as well as major space and resources reorganization in the faculty with the sole input of the executive committee -- without consulting with the faculty and students -- sets a very dangerous precedent. MCSS feels that the welfare of the students cannot be ensured with the process in place for these decisions. It is detrimental to all students and faculty if the input of only a few people are considered when making crucial decisions such as program suspension and major space and resource reorganization.
Many students are upset and confused. Why were those decisions made in such a hurry? Have alternatives been considered? Have the proper parties been consulted? Are the decisions based on solid facts and reasoning? These are the questions that must be answered before such critical decisions are implemented.
MCSS is worried about the value -- or lack thereof -- that has been placed on students, both current and future ones. Indeed, we have real examples for how these decisions are already affecting our students. Some are reconsidering their programs and are strongly considering transferring to competing universities. How does this reflect on the reputation and perception of the university for the students and the public in general? As part of this prestigious university, we feel deeply concerned and disappointed with the present situation. We will not argue that something needs to be done regarding these concerns; however, it is felt that whatever needs to be done should have student involvement before any action is taken.
MCSS would like the administration to reconsider their position on the major space and resources reorganization presently occurring in the faculty, based on the lack of consultation in the process. We also urge the administration to provide pertinent information so that the process can be a transparent one.
Additionally, the members of the MCSS council would like to offer their input concerning any revision process with regard to the Food Science and Agricultural Economics Departments. We hope that in the future, decisions of such importance will follow the proper procedure, in which students are consulted to the benefit of both the university and the students. We hope that McGill will take the necessary actions based on the above recommendations.
2004-2005 President, MCSS
2005-2006 President, MCSS