Commentary  Letters

Letters from our readers.

Budding politico completely misses point

No, I am not an engineering student, and no, I was not offended by Frosh. But I was offended by Sean Coleman’s “Grow a thicker cowhide” (Commentary, September 13, page 5).

The continual Frosh debate has lost its way, and Coleman’s taking of Frosh themes and gleaning the “deepest” most “profound” and absurd implications for them doesn’t make him funny or good with artifice – it means he lacks perspective.

The overarching point here is that people are feeling victimized on campus, and, regardless of whether or not someone may be arguing something seemingly contrived, the point is that if people feel offended about a practice, it doesn’t mean they’re over-sensitive. It means they’re offended. Sensitivity to an issue might be buried deeper in some people than others, but it does not mean that it does not exist or that it should not be accounted for.

One is perfectly entitled to say they don’t care about something because it’s not an issue of personal significance, but one cannot say that another person should not care about it. If Coleman has become so jaded as to think that people are overreacting, he’s completely misappropriated the situation, and its setting on our campus.

Pertinent social concerns should invoke a common humanity, not arrogant backlash. To assume that one can comment on another’s expressions or belittle another’s experience highlights not a tougher-hide or laid-back attitude but bigotry and ignorance, and casually twisting another’s reactions as null or dramatic is disgusting. Who are you to decide whether or not someone is exercising their basic right to an opinion in a causal fashion? Who are you to reduce a political debate as dynamic as gender equality to “over-sensitivity”?

Also, while we’re at it, the point of an opinion piece is to express opinions, and berating a newspaper’s editors for publishing a piece you do not agree with is completely uncalled for and a blatant display of arrogance.

Maybe next time try to be a little more politically correct and a little less egocentric when you sit down to write something other people will probably read.

—Emily Saul

U1 International Development


Shove it yourself

I would like to address several of the comments on the online version of the article, “Don’t make excuses for rape culture” (Commentary, September 13, page 5), specifically ones relating to sexism and Frosh.

As a woman in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) program, Physics, I think a lot of the behaviour at Frosh is sexist. I think those songs are sexist. I think the way that the language and power structures and the songs bleed into everyday conversation around the physics lounge, or the classroom, or anywhere on campus, is sexist. Frosh feels like a boy’s club. School feels like a boy’s club, sometimes, too.

When I was a froshie at McGill, I took the option of trying to join that boy’s club. My Frosh shirt read “shove it in me Shannon,” and I didn’t really want anything shoved in me in those moments of existence, but, here I was in this new place, and it seemed like the best thing to do for my well-being was to disavow whatever allegiance I had to my own gender/general wishes. It wasn’t even that bad of a three days on the whole – I met one of my best friends at McGill there, and have a bunch of pictures of me passed out on a comfortable-looking couch. But as far as the sexist t-shirt writing, and chanting –  what was I accomplishing? Half-heartedly allowing other people to treat me like an object so I could fit in? Women are perfectly capable of upholding patriarchy. It’s this thing that we all participate in! But unlike, and I think we can mostly agree here, the ideal orientation week – Frosh upholds cultural benefits for certain groups of people, and is probably not as omg-fun-for-everyone as some would like to think.

—Shannon Palus

U3 Physics

DPS Board member

Daily Sci+Tech Fall 2010, Winter 2012 and Web Editor Fall 2011


Buzz buzz buzz

I read with considerable concern Evan Henry’s Commentary (“Beeware,” September 10, Page 7), particularly its bald assertion (with the help of a headline) that a pesticide used on corn seed at the Macdonald Campus Farm caused the McGill Apiculture Association’s (MAA) loss of hives in the winter of 2011-12.

This conclusion is dubious at best. We have used seed corn treated with neonicotinoid pesticide for seven years, with no demonstrated effect on the bee population. A local beekeeper has maintained hives during this period surrounded by our cornfields, and he reports no loss of bees. We have also had hives next to our cornfields for a research project with no adverse effect on bees. The chance of bees being contaminated by coated corn seeds is negligible. Seed goes directly from planting equipment into the ground, preventing direct contact with bees or other flying insects. Treated corn seed protects young plants from insect pests in the soil, and is currently the safest method available. Bees have little contact with corn plants, as corn is usually pollinated by wind and doesn’t have flowers producing nectar.

This suggests the losses could result from a management issue. Improper over-wintering of bees, including removal of too much honey and overuse of sucrose for feed, can lead to heavy losses, as can mites, which at least one expert has found in MAA hives.

There are many reasons for colony collapse disorder and it is a serious problem. At Macdonald Campus we are keenly aware of the importance of bees to food production, and we support the efforts of our local beekeeper and the MAA. To spotlight our limited use of one pesticide and assume this is the sole cause of the MAA’s difficulties is not only unrealistic, but poor science and poor journalism.

—Paul Meldrum

General Manager

Macdonald Campus Farm

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