The Mail

The Mail

December 8 1997
The Mail

The Mail

December 8 1997

The Mail

Rating the rankings

Notwithstanding the poor rating ascribed by Maclean’s to my university (“Universities 97,” Cover, Nov. 24), the University College of Cape Breton, such performance evaluations are necessary as incentives for institutions of higher learning to achieve the academic excellence that Canadians pay for, expect and deserve. Your survey penalizes UCCB right in its Achilles heel, that of having the lowest operating budget among universities in Canada. But at the same time, you may have done UCCB an enormous service by drawing national attention to the gross underfunding of the university in comparison with other universities. I hope, in your future annual surveys, you continue to highlight that the lowest-funded university inevitably produces some of the lowest competitive performance ratings in the country.

James H. Guy,

Professor of political science,

University College of Cape Breton,

Sydney, N.S.


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I was thoroughly amused by your university ratings. How do you do it? Sit a bunch of witches around a cauldron? Pull names out of a hat? I am indebted to my previous unwillingness to read the university rankings that I am at the school that is right for me, not right for you statisticians.

Michael Cole, Waterloo, Ont. HI

One of the most serious issues facing higher education is something that you virtually ignored: the increasing tendency of universities to turn to part-time labor to teach many, and sometimes the majority, of their courses. In most cases, this does not mean these courses are being taught by “professionals” or “realworld experts” for whom teaching is a secondary occupation, but by underemployed PhDs who are paid as little as $3,000 per course—which can, in some cases, work out to less than minimum wage—to do the same work as regular faculty. The separation of the academic labor pool into two highly unequal populations not only destroys the morale of teachers who find themselves on the bottom end, but also robs students of essential continuity of instruction. If three out of five of a student’s instructors are going to be gone by the time he or she is in the final year, that student is much less likely to write an honors thesis or do advanced research. As beneficial as this trend may be to the bottom line, its real costs may be too high.

JoAnne M. Mancini, Calgary ®

Thank you for acknowledging Simon Fraser University’s membership in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (“The brawn drain”). You did, however, neglect to mention that for more than 30 years, Simon Fraser has also granted First Party Athletic Scholarships, last year totalling more than $500,000. We are committed to keeping strong Canadian talent in Canada, and we are confident that it is working. In the spring of 1997, Simon Fraser was awarded the Sears Director’s Cup, presented to the top athletics program in the NAIA (over 350 American schools). Simon Fraser athletes have the opportunity to compete in the

Out-of-province fees

As an out-of-province student attending McGill University in Montreal, I was somewhat perplexed when I read that the tuition at my university was $1,668.30. That isn’t necessarily the case—as about 25 per cent of students at McGill can tell you. The tuition rate stated is only for Quebec residents. I, being a native of Nova Scotia, have to pay an extra $1,200, as does any other non-Quebec Canadian resident. Quebec has bilateral agreements with 50 countries that allow their students to pay $1,200 less to attend universities in Quebec than someone from Toronto or Halifax. The Students’ Society of McGill University is taking the university to court to have the legislation removed from the books and hopes to have McGill reimburse the money it has already collected from students for the fall semester under this discriminatory law.

Todd Williams, Montreal ®

NAIA, the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and we are competitive in all aspects. We are confident that our ability to provide financial scholarships is a major factor in our program’s success.

James Phillips, Public relations co-ordinator, Simon Fraser Athletics, Burnaby, B. C. ®

As an architecture student at Ryerson Polytechnic University, I find it odd that Ryerson ranks very low in overall ranking for undergraduate institutions, but ranks relatively high in its overall reputation. The reason we attend university is to get a job. If Ryerson is perceived to be one of the schools that is most likely to prepare us for that, how can it have an overall ranking that is very low? True, we may not have a faculty that has a high percentage of PhDs among its members, and our library certainly needs an upgrade, but I think any student would prefer to have a job upon graduation.

Women in business

After reading Allan Fotheringham’s column “How Washington fell to the women of Canada” (Nov. 24) at least three times to be sure I hadn’t missed something, I could only come to the disheartening conclusion that humor wasn’t his goal. His

shocking lack of propriety would have even the most rabid anti-feminist gasp in dismay at his frivolous and mean-spirited treatment of his subject matter. There is an upside, however. It confirms the research from the U.S. National Foundation for Women Business Owners, which finds that the number 1 concern of women entrepreneurs is not access to capital; it is, in fact, being taken seriously. The bulk of my professional life is spent teaching corporate Canada how to reach and, more important, keep the rapidly growing female entrepreneurial market. People like Fotheringham will ensure a long and healthy business lifespan for this woman entrepreneur.

Joanne Thomas Yaccato, President, Women and Money Inc., Toronto

Loved Allan Fotheringham’s witty exposure of Canadian women entrepreneurs as the flaky broads they so clearly are. Especially liked the references to cleavage, Lycra pink pants and Tom Selleck, must-haves in any piece about women. Your readers might enjoy a mirror piece about Canadian male entrepreneurs, with references to those with large penises and stories that underscore the silliness of their businesses and ambitions. How about expanding this concept to other groups, say aboriginals and Roman Catholics? Yet at the risk of appearing bigoted, I suspect they may not have women’s capacity to tolerate being jabbed so vigorously by Mr. Fotheringham’s short, little stick.

Katherine Gay, Toronto

Latimer's conundrum

My son was born 23 years ago with the same condition that Tracy Latimer lived with (“Should Latimer go free?” Cover, Nov. 17). He has undergone several orthopedic surgeries, and I cried myself to sleep many a night because of the pain I was putting him through, wondering if I had

done the right thing. Today, he is happy, pain-free and probably better adjusted than I am. One thing I am certain of, although he’s nonverbal and can’t tell me himself, is that he’s glad to be alive. Over the years, I have had many discussions about quality of life and what I have come to believe is that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of kids with disabilities. If Robert Latimer had trouble dealing with the great

responsibilities of raising a disabled child and the emotional pain that goes along with it, no one would have thought less of him if he had given his child up to those who are able to do so. Many people think a great deal less of him because he decided that if he couldn’t raise Tracy then no one could, so he would put her down like we do our cats and dogs. Tracy was a human being whose life was snuffed out by someone who made that

decision for her—a large difference from someone who makes the conscious decision to die and asks for help. In addition, people who comment at length on Tracy’s medical condition ought to be sure they understand what the needs of persons living with cere bral palsy really are. I can’t think of any of my son’s needs that couldn’t be met without resorting to murdering him.

Donna Whitman, Halifax Hi

Thank you very much for the informative and disturbing article concerning the judge’s refusal to tell the Latimer jury what the sentence might be (“Judicial fallout”). Perhaps a national debate on jury rights will now begin. I believe that juries have the right to be given all the information they need. They should be told about the punishment the law provides. They should also be told they are allowed to put aside the facts of the case and bring in a charge of not guilty if they feel the law and/or the punishment is unjust. Juries are supposed to have veto power over bad laws, because it provides a critical check and balance on excessive government. Once judges start reading juries their rights, ordinary Canadians will once again have a real voice in government.

Alan Rondell, Victoria H

Favorite Coppola

In listing the films Francis Ford Coppola has directed (“Godfather in court,” Films, Nov. 24), you inexplicably left out Peggy Sue Got Married, a delightful 1986 dream comedy starring Kathleen Turner and Nicolas Cage. It also happens to be one of my all-time favorite movies.

Peter Reynolds, Toronto H

All-round discount

I would like to respond to the letter from Chris Dooie (‘Turning a page,” Nov. 17). In his comments, he referred to your previous article “Mega-bookstores, megabucks” (Special Report, Nov. 3) and the alleged favoritism shown to the larger chains by publishers. McClelland & Stewart offers a 45per-cent discount across the board to both the small independent stores and the larger chains. We are proud that M&S has created a level playing field in this country for all booksellers and, in fact, do what we can to encourage the growth and success of our independent customers.

Ken Thomson, Vice-president, sales and marketing, McClelland & Stewart, Toronto