So, you think I write like shit, do ya?
Re: “There’s a new Daily in town, and it’s called The Trib” | Commentary | March 19
I cannot help but take personal offence to your article in March 19’s Daily. You begin strongly enough, suggesting that reviews of McGill theatre in The Daily often leave something to be desired. I myself am one of those “students involved and interested in theatre at McGill” who desired to “see better quality coverage” of what interests me, and I did start writing.
Choosing The Daily under the belief that you were more dedicated and inclusive of student body interests, I wholeheartedly dove into reviewing McGill theatre, reviewing four of the productions thus far this year. I did so with the very conscious intent to reduce synopses, increase analysis, and maintain a fair critical voice. For example, in my review of The Importance of Being Earnest which you mention, I dedicated one paragraph out of six to a terse, condensed synopsis of the plot, orienting the readership with regards to the play’s content and tone. One-sixth is quite evidently not the majority of the article, which leaves me with a sneaking suspicion that you did not even read it.
As for your most offensive and slanderous claim, that theatre reviews “do not reflect the overall quality of the Culture section,” my objection is twofold. First, if you are unfamiliar with the way Culture meetings are held, the person writing a book review one week could very well be the person volunteering to write a theatre review the next. Second, I can and will not vouch for the quality of my own writing nor claim its superiority – I am a student, as are we all, studying, learning, and improving with experience, and I hope to continue doing so my whole life. But to be publicly sideswept and assailed by a fellow co-writer is discouraging, to say the least. Since I do want to see better quality coverage of what interests me, I will start writing – for the Trib.
U3 English Literature
Arts Undergraduate Theatre Society – VP Sales
Salaries mean honesty
Re: “We’re spending $120,000 on that?” | Commentary | March 30
As the partner of a former SSMU executive, I’ll be the first to admit that I am jealous of the salary each exec receives. I, too, was dedicated to student government, to building student services, and to showing democratic leadership. I didn’t have a salary!
But Jake, you really misunderstand what SSMU execs do. They don’t get elected for fun and self-discovery. They sign up for over 60 hours a week of dealing with everyone’s B.S. and then some while taking classes. The Arts Undergraduate Society and the Science Undergraduate Society might find competent people to work for free, but only 20 hours a week tops. And if our history with AUS and SUS is indicative of what happens when you ask people to work hard jobs for nothing, we see that one or two bad apples will inevitably defraud our organizations. Salaries keep people honest.
And why do we need SSMU to be kept honest? Because without SSMU, there’s a good chance that we would not have study space in the libraries, a Sexual Assault Centre, McGill’s Sustainability Office, the Midnight Kitchen, the Bike Collective, relatively low tuition, and so on. Those SSMU execs who do a good job are building and protecting a vibrant student community. They deserve at least a living wage, if not also our grudging respect.
Why don’t you do it… for free?
Re: “We’re spending $120,000 on that?” |Commentary | March 30
Perhaps Jake Heller would like to offer his services to the 2010-2011 SSMU executive, free of charge? Most students are not so privileged as to forestall a real job in favour of an unpaid, year-long, largely thankless, 80-hours-a-week job. Suggesting that our executive work without a salary is tantamount to suggesting SSMU operate without an executive – if you want to see a REALLY low candidate turn-out, you’re on the right track.
U1 Political Science & Women’s Studies
Arts Rep to SSMU
World Tuberculosis Day forgotten
March 24 was World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, although looking around campus, you would never have known it. There were no vigils, no protests no ribbons, no speeches.
The same individuals who angrily condemned the deaths in Gaza at the General Assembly were strangely silent. I’m not downplaying what’s going on in Gaza, but this disease doesn’t differentiate between Israelis and Palestinians, and certainly doesn’t care about borders.
Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease that is responsible for nearly two million deaths per year. Another way to look at it is that the disease kills three people every minute; so even if we were able to stop TB tomorrow, it would still be too late for 480 people. For the few TB cases seen here in Canada, the outcome is good. We have a good health care system, a lifestyle that allows access to good nutrition, and drugs to treat the infection. However, the majority of people suffering from this disease are in parts of the world where there is little access to treatment, let alone nutrition, and good health care. We need to stop thinking that the problems in other parts of the world do not affect us. Air travel has made the spread of the disease easier (remember the infamous “TB traveler” who spread a drug resistant form of the disease to others on the plane on his way home from Europe?), and it isn’t as if Canadians aren’t travelling to places where TB is present (anyone reading ever taken a trip to the Dominican Republic?).
Our silence in the face of this epidemic is nothing to be proud of. We need to realize that TB presents a global health threat to millions.
So the question is: what will it take for us to start doing more?
Robert Andrew Kozak
Research shouldn’t kill
Re: “Where do all the animal parts go?” | Science+Technology | March 30
About the question “Where do all the animal parts go?”: these “parts,” were sentient, feeling creatures at one time that we exploited and killed at McGill.
Each year, at McGill, thousands of non-human animals are killed in the name of research and science education. To me, this is totally immoral and is based on the traditional assumption that humans are the superior species and have the right to determine who shall live and who shall die among nonhumans (and even humans, of course, in the case of genocide). Research should not murder.
To put it in a seemingly absurd way, it is not the fault of a monkey or a mouse that each has its particular life form, which then falls prey to humans. Why do members of a species who have named themselves “Homo sapiens,” or “Wise Man,” not let them simply live out their lives in peace rather than keep them as slaves in McGill or other university laboratories, to be killed in the end?
At the very least, there should be mandatory alternatives to lab animal use for students who request it.
So far, the much publicized concern with the “McGill environment” has never included discussions or forums about the hundreds of thousands of nonhuman animals killed at McGill throughout its history. I suggest a memorial day in their memory.
Prayer isn’t healthy
Re: “Prayer: medicine or malarkey?” | Mind&Body | March 26
I question why Dr. Larry Dossey has written so many books about prayer healing instead of publishing in peer reviewed scientific journals like, you know, scientists. If prayer works at actively healing people, then it represents a fundamental shift in our understanding of medical science, but if the best he can do is a few studies of the mysterious beast that is AIDS, I remain skeptical.
Considering how many studies have shown zero, or even negative correlation between prayer and health, then I think our taxpayer dollars are better spent researching something that is more than wishful thinking. The man really shows his pseudoscientific cards when he invokes the magic word “quantum” to help explain his particular brand of B.S.
I suspect, however cynically, that this Dossey character is probably in it for the money, and that prayer doesn’t work any better than placebo. I’ll wait to buy his next book just to be sure.
U2 Civil Engineering
Senate is afraid of students
Re: “Senate delays student question on military” March 30
As a member of Demilitarize McGill, I was glad to see an article in The Daily about our current goals for McGill’s research policy. However, the article leaves out an essential point concerning the Senate’s consideration of our policy: the senators don’t “have to wait until May 20” to discuss our proposed changes. Rather, they have been delaying our policy’s appearance on the agenda for the last few months, and are finally allowing it to come up for discussion on May 20, when all student media will be out of commission for the summer, and thus unable to report on the outcome of the meeting.
The head of the Senate Steering Committee has told us that the policy discussion has been delayed because it had to be worked on more. We are now attempting to get the discussion postponed again, until mid-September, to make sure that students will be aware of the Senate’s actions on this. Above all, our policy calls for heightened transparency in McGill’s research policy, and we believe that it is contrary to our goals to have the Senate consider the policy at a time when student media is no longer running.
U1 Political Science and Literature
Demilitarize McGill member
Admin doesn’t care about undegrads
Re: “McGill’s $10-million deficit forces cuts” | News | March 26
In a recent News Brief, McGill Provost Anthony Masi was quoted as saying that because of rising costs outpacing revenue, McGill needs to cut expenditures – but that this will be done “without compromising our academic quality.” Encouraging, no?
Unfortunately, the same article states that at a recent Senate meeting, Masi suggested that money could be saved by overloading teaching assistants with more marking, and reducing the number of classes with conferences. Does Masi really not see the serious inconsistencies in this line of thinking, or is he just hoping we won’t?
Although I’m disheartened to hear that the administration thinks these types of cuts will not compromise academic quality, I can’t say I’m surprised. After four years at McGill, I’ve come to the conclusion that the university administration couldn’t care less about the educational experience of undergraduate students, despite their protests to the contrary.
In defending the outrageous salaries and severance packages paid to administrators, Principal Heather Munroe-Blum argued that the University has to pay “top wages to get top people,” and that this was not something for which she would apologize. If she won’t apologize for that, how about she apologizes for treating undergraduate students like a cash cow that can be squeezed ad infinitum?
Masi’s recent comments display a profound disregard for the quality of undergraduate education. If that’s the best the administration can come up with, they obviously need assistance. Why not save even more money by enforcing a minimum enrolment in all class sizes? Or reduce the need to pay markers by requiring all exams to be multiple-choice?
Hyperbole aside, these suggestions are ridiculous, and so are Masi’s. If the University wants to demonstrate any regard for the quality of its undergrad education, it needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with something better.
U3 International Development Studies
Why Gileadi ran away
Re: “Elections McGill staff resign” | News | March 23
Although this response comes late, I feel that it is necessary to clarify the position of SSMU Council with regard to the March 5 censure of Elections McGill.
In the midst of a prolonged Council meeting that night, it came to our Council’s attention that Chief Electoral Officer Nicole Gileadi was in Ottawa and had been participating in Women in House on March 4 and 5. She had gone without even informing the SSMU President. While I encourage Gileadi’s interest in Canadian parliamentary politics, this showed enormous disregard for her responsibilities as the chief overseer of the SSMU elections and referenda of this year.
There are two weeks in the entire academic year when the presence of the Elections McGill officials really counts: the two weeks of election period. Luckily for Gileadi, this election year was not fraught with the same feisty campaigns and electoral by-law breaches that have complicated the campaigns of the previous two years. Had these controversies occurred this year, Gileadi’s absence would have hugely undermined the success of the elections. Instead, with luck on her side, she oversaw a successful campaign period.
In the March 23 article, Gileadi stated, “[Council] went about it the wrong way, and they compromised the way we functioned.” This is an unfortunate response on the part of the ex-CEO. Gileadi had been informed multiple times about many other poor performances on the part of Elections McGill, including being absent from their office on the deadline for nomination kit submissions, and poor bilingualism and egregious errors in their campus news advertisements, among others.
After finding out that the CEO was out of the province during the election period, the only option that remained for Council on March 5 was to publicly censure Elections McGill officials. In no way can Gileadi reasonably claim that this censure “compromised the way [Elections McGill] functioned”. It was simply a reprimand for their negligence.
In addition, March 5 was the last Council meeting before the end of the election period and thus Council needed to act quickly to ensure that the period be completed successfully. The resignation/walk-out of Gileadi and her two colleagues was simply a way to avoid the deserved scrutiny from Council that they knew would be coming.
If the former Elections McGill staff was so confident in the integrity of the job they had performed, they would have stayed to argue their position during question period with Council, rather than running away.
Arts Representative to SSMU
SSMU VP External 2009/2010
Respect is all you need
Re: “Floor fellows clash with new boss” | News | March 30
It’s safe to say that Rez was one of the happiest years of my life, and that is due in no small part to the superb atmosphere that is propagated by the skilled Dons/Floor/MORE fellows. An atmosphere that promotes growth is one that must necessarily allow mistakes, and that was one of the things that I loved about the system the most – it allowed people to make mistakes in an environment that was forgiving and nourishing. If shit ever hit the fan, we had the expertly trained staff on hand to keep respect the top priority.
Even if it is only for a year, Rez is your home, and an integral part of feeling at home is not feeling like a criminal. However, it appears that the new Director of Residences strongly favours policy that “cracks down” on the behaviours that carry a slight risk of legal action. If we make it “illegal” to drink, the Residence culture will become extremely paranoid. When the floor fellow’s job is to make the environment safe, turning them into prison guards defeats their whole purpose, instituting an “us versus them” attitude that doesn’t build trust or respect for McGill or its Residences.
If we arrest the development of our first year students by making them criminals in their own home, then we have no right to complain when they don’t learn to behave responsibly, especially when they become a headache to Residences, McGill, and the city at large. The old Director of Residences understood the value of respect, and what I want from this new management is respect for our rights as adults! It’s not too much to ask for, and I think all students should call for the respect that they deserve from this management before they take it away from us.
U2 Civil Engineering
Jesse’s ghost is spooooky
Re: “Afghanistan’s top Canadian soldier” | Commentary | March 26
Dear Daily Editors,
All year long I’ve been hoping I wouldn’t have to write this letter, contenting myself with mumbling under my breath and trying to ignore the consistent undermining of The Daily’s principles taking place in the news section. But this latest travesty is too much. Hey News Editors: the Canadian military already has every major mainstream media source propagandizing for it. You don’t need to do it.
In fact, those pesky principles expressly stipulate that you’re not supposed to. Shame on you, Daily. May the ghost of Jesse Rosenfeld haunt you forever.
Keep the ethos for the future
Re: “Floor fellows clash with new boss” | News | March 30
I would just like to briefly state that I believe the changes being brought forward regarding the level of personal discretion and administrative discipline in McGill residences, as recently reported in The Daily, are wrong.
The philosophy of leaving the application of the rule of respect to personal responsibility that I experienced in residence this year contributed substantially to my having a safe and enjoyable first year at McGill, and it would be wise to maintain that same ethos for future years.
Come on, Ricky, leave them Williams alone
Re: “What Matt Damon teaches us about education” | Commentary | March 30
Look, I understand if you want to bash our education system, but why’d you have to bring Robin Williams into it? He is, and I don’t think I’ll get much resistance for saying this, the most important actor of the late 20th century.
We’re talking about a triple threat who acts, sings, and grants wishes if you rub his magic lamp. Not to mention he’s Peter Pan, and the Hook food fight just may be the most emotional and inspiring scene in movie history. And come on – Dead Poets, Patch Adams, Mrs. Doubtfire, RV!? Please, lay on the critique of our society, but let the genius alone.
That “face time” was a nice idea, but instead I’ll write a letter
I walked out of FDA Wednesday to find a petite Asian girl wearing an oversized poster board that read “Problems with The Daily? Let’s talk.” She was being absolutely torn apart by a portly six-foot-tall Master’s student who had at the very least been on his high school debate team. I have no problems with how he was sharing his opinion – it was a warranted rant about The Daily’s obvious lack of impartiality. What is surprising, however, is that The Daily would have the gusto to leave this poor girl alone to fend for herself, especially without a mastery of verbal whit and banter. Up against the linguistic stylings of Master’s boy, Asian Girl had no chance. All it really did was make anyone loitering in the Adams foyer sorry for her, and for The Daily’s pathetic attempt at obtaining feedback.
So, let’s talk, Daily. What Master’s Boy said was admittedly, difficult to refute. The Daily does have its token writers who are actually serious about becoming journalists. Most of the time, however, it features myriad reviews of things that happened yesterday, a rant or two about McGill administration, and a promotion for a SSMU club event whose ongoing booth in McConnell Engineering is drawing a vast crowd averaging 25 visitors per day. I wish people would care, but really, they don’t. All they’re really worried about is the three papers due in the next five days.
Not to worry, Daily, I don’t blame you. After all, what else could one expect? This is McGill. One look at next year’s SSMU Council is enough for anyone to understand why The Daily is so inclined to promote a left-leaning, radical (as in Rad Frosh Radical, rather than Stalin Gulag Radical) opinion. Maybe that’s a good thing. We can’t pretend that even “great” news agencies like Fox aren’t leaning one way or another. Honestly, I’d rather have a left-leaning paper that is going to promote giving me free lunch from Midnight Kitchen and stopping the ridiculous tuition hikes than a right-leaning paper that tells me that exploiting third world labour is good for our economy. In the end, Daily, though I wish you would get some balls and try to be impartial, I’m still glad you exist.
U1 International Development Studies
[Ed Note: ‘Asian Girl’ is Daily Editor Braden Goyette. Come talk to her in Adams and see her verbal skills.]
Hey Morty, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
Re: “Floor fellows clash with new boss” | News | March 30
My name is Carly Boyce, and I spent four years living and working in the McGill residence system: one as a first-year student, and three more as a member of the floor fellow team in Gardner Hall (2003-2006). These years were incredibly formative for me and the innumerable students I worked with, and the skills I gained are put to use every day in my current job in a community organization, working collaboratively with young people facing discrimination based on their sexuality and/or gender presentation as a Coordinator at Project 10.
In my work at Project 10, McGill Residences, and the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) National Leadership Center (KUTZ camp) among others, I have seen the same principle demonstrated over and over again: treating young adults like children brings rebellion and disaster, while treating them like adults provides immense opportunities for growth, learning, and rising to the many challenges that independent living has to offer. The flexibility of one-rule-respect as a disciplinary system allows the staff in residences to treat each other and the students they serve like individuals, instead of cases. Leaving room for open discussion about alcohol, drugs, food, coping mechanisms, mental health, sex, etc. fosters an environment of dialogue and harm/risk reduction, where people feel safe seeking help if something goes wrong. The fact that my students had nothing to hide from me, and nothing to fear – no exaggeration – saved lives in Gardner Hall over the years I worked there. Watching students gain skills in taking care of themselves (and each other) in a supportive (not restrictive) environment was an experience that cemented the goals and approach of the rez system for me. Please treat incoming staff and students like humans with hearts and brains, not like potential liabilities. They deserve better. We deserve better.
I urge the administrators to see the current team of academic staff and building directors as an indispensable resource, and to take a close look at the incredibly progressive, responsible, and responsive manner that McGill residences have been run over the last number of years. Changes to the system should be made in careful consultation with the people who know the system best: those who work in it now. There is a huge community of current and former staff who have wisdom to share as you look into making changes to this system. Please know that we are not inflexible, nor opposed to change, but we care deeply about the values that make McGill rez what it is, and we will defend them fiercely.
BA 2006, BSW 2008
Gardner alumna 2002-2006
Keep your personal information to yourself
I got ripped off the other day for $20 from a really genuine-sounding weiner in a fancy car. He told me his wallet was stolen and he desperately needed gas money to get home and cancel his credit cards, and I guess I looked like an easy target. When he hadn’t paid me back two days later, I finally resigned to the fact that I obviously don’t have the slightest clue when someone is lying directly to my face, nor apparently am I a very good judge of character. It seems like everyone here has a scam-story to commiserate about, and my $20 loss is actually pretty insignificant compared to others.
The scariest story I heard is from someone who was ripped off to the tune of 16 grand. The student was approached by a stranger who said that he needed to borrow a few hundred dollars and would pay back $5,000 in return the next day; all he needed was her bank account information to wire the money to her. Sure enough, the next day $5,000 showed up in her account and she’d made a new friend. Fast-forward a few weeks and she’s being questioned by police about $16,000 in fraudulent cheques being passed through her account and subsequently used for criminal purposes. She was able to clear herself of criminal charges but she says, “I wouldn’t wish that situation on my worst enemy.”
After hearing her story, I couldn’t care less about my gas money anymore, and I think it highlights an important fact: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Keep your personal information to yourself, and if you just have to give your money away, the homeless are probably your best bet.
U3 English Literature and Political Science
The Revolution of the Lambs
“Il n’est pas de sauveurs suprêmes. Ni Dieu, ni César, ni tribun. Producteurs, sauvons-nous nous-mêmes. Décrétons le salut commun.” – L’Internationale
During each of the last three months, the U.S. has lost more than 600,000 jobs, putting the unemployment rate at 8.1 per cent. However, if we also count part-time workers who can’t find full-time jobs and those who have simply given up looking, the rate would be 14.8 per cent. Let this number sink in: almost 15 out of 100 people can’t find full-time jobs, and those who still have their jobs are clinging to them desperately and are forced to accept wage cuts.
Economists and politicians repeatedly tell us that it is our excessive consumption that causes this crisis. Is it greed if a couple wants to buy a house to put a roof over the heads of their children? Is it greed to desire a better life for oneself and our loved ones? The problem is not greed. The problem is that we have a system that kicks people out of their homes when they need one, that lays people off when they need a job, that produces goods that people cannot even buy because their wages are too small. This system is called capitalism, a system that is dying but refuses to give up the ghost.
We are the sacrificial lambs when capitalism enters a crisis. The hungry wolves are lining up and our shepherds are doing nothing to save us. Instead, they are leading us to the slaughterhouse en masse where our blood will be spilled to rejuvenate this rotten system. The last time they did this was in the forties, when 70 million of us perished in one of the darkest chapters in the history of human kind.
There is hope, however. We have learned that we can only trust our own power. We are starting to kick down the fence and trample both the shepherds and the wolves. There is a vast green pasture that belongs to us and we are taking it back. The revolution of the lambs is on the order of the day and those who sneer at it will be swept aside by the tide of history into irrelevance.
Master’s II Chemistry
I expected more from a student of religion
Re: “Terrified without reason” | Commentary | March 9
I might have hoped that Stephen Davis, a student at the Faculty of Religious Studies, would not resort to the same homogenization of the Christian faith that we are now so accustomed to seeing in the media.
Indignation at the description of Jesus and the Apostles, the objects of the faith of a billion people, in terms of the impotent ex-President Bush and his cabinet wouldn’t be very productive. But that faulty description can tell us a lot about the conflict that we perpetuate by maintaining a mental association between American neo-conservativism and the whole of Christianity, an association that has ensured the stagnation of the debate over gay marriage over the last decade. Policy victories mask the sore of a bilateral furor that is increasingly entrenched, and shows less and less hope for mutual understanding.
If the Brazilian excommunication scandal of Bishop Giovanni Battista Re is any indication, the opinions of the Christian faithful and the instructions handed down by those deemed to be the authoritative voices of the Church are increasingly disjointed. Douglas Farrow is one of these mouthpieces. But he is a Christian, he talks to Christians about gay marriage, and he does so in terms of faith. For all of Mr. Davis’s counterpoints and Danish evidence, he never once makes an argument in these terms – rather than writing on homosexuality as a student of religion, he treats the issue atheistically and ultra-secularly. There is nothing wrong with this, of course. But if universal acceptance of gay rights through discourse is the goal (and I hope it is), then this sort of argument is hopelessly futile when applied to Christianity.
By now, the people who have been bothered enough to leave the Church by what is outrageously marketed to them as the “Christian stance” on homosexuality have left the Church. But the Church, Christians, and the disagreement surrounding gay marriage all remain. What is the use of criticizing Farrow’s “two-decades-old” rhetoric if the rhetoric used to criticize him is two-decades-old itself? It would be foolish to expect today’s self-proclaimed gay rights activists to change their tune, to achieve their aims by respect and not disdain. It is left to the modern students of religion, then, who know the distinct values of both personal freedom and personal faith, to meet the stubborn Church on its terms, and to convince it of the worth of the former without assailing the latter.
We’re SSMU and we like you
Re: “We’re spending $120,000 on that?” | Commentary | March 30
As avid Daily readers, we, the future SSMU executive, always take the student opinions represented there to heart and try to figure out how to best incorporate it into SSMU. We felt Monday’s Hyde Park was a good opportunity for us to say hello and share some thoughts.
First, the numbers used in this article were a bit off – McGill has 19,853 full-time undergraduate students. We strongly agree that student apathy as represented in the lower voter turnout is a huge issue and one we will be struggling with next year. However the numbers are not quite as bad as stated in the Hyde Park.
Second, yes, being a SSMU executive is a full-time, salaried position. Execs work more than 40 hours per week most weeks, and must take one or two courses to remain students, and accordingly, members of the Society, but do not have any more time than that. The position is not just an extracurricular – it is a job that pays barely over minimum wage.
Lastly, and most importantly, we want to take this opportunity to open up a dialogue with students. As is clear from this article, there is still a lot of confusion over exactly what the SSMU executive and SSMU itself does. We are trying to be more accessible and transparent, and hope this letter is a good start. We would love more input into what projects and issues are important to you, so we can work on them to the best of our abilities. To discuss specific projects this year’s execs are working on, you can always contact them via email or phone, available at ssmu.mcgill.ca.
They also present a report of their activities every Council. These are open meetings where anyone can ask questions, make suggestions, or just listen. The last Council meetings are April 2 and April 16, at 6 p.m. in the Lev Buchman room. Please feel welcome to come by and hear more about what the SSMU executive (and Council) does, and to make your opinion heard.
The 2009-2010 SSMU Executive