MAIL BAG

April 16 2007

MAIL BAG

April 16 2007

MAIL BAG

I JUST BEGAN reading the first article in your latest university package (“What can 70,000 students teach you?” University Student Issue, April 2) and it is reaffirming my belief that we are making a soft generation. This article shows that if university kids complain loudly enough, schools will change to their liking. I disagree with your statement that universities need to change to accommodate students’ special needs and desires. University students have to understand they are the privileged few and they should have some gratitude about the education they (and their parents) are paying for. What’s the problem—students are not getting the same marks they got in high school? Here is a bit of advice: get off your lazy butts and work for what you want. Andrew Modray, Ottawa

‘Men like Black run over people in il their dash to the top, but they do build things that endure’

GRADING UNIVERSITY

I WOULD LIKE to know how employers view the different schools and whether job skill requirements are being met. It would also be interesting to pose some of the same questions asked in this survey to the alumni, two years after graduation. Then they would be in a position to tell us how their university experience prepared them to launch into life and land their first job.

Margaret Strobel, Cambridge, Ont.

I AM A THIRD-YEAR student at Concordia University, but after reading your student satisfaction survey issue, I would like to change schools. I would like to attend whatever school the young lady on your cover goes to. She is what we college boys would call “smokin’.” Taylor Lambert, Montreal

I AM SO GLAD to see the issue of good parttime instructors who can’t get hired at universities finally getting some attention outside of the campus papers (“It hurts when you call me professor”). I, along with roughly 100 other often tired or hungover undergrads at the University of Calgary, had the absolute pleasure of learning the basics of political philosophy from Allison Dube in ’05-’06.1 wasn’t always a model student, but Dube had the ability to make me want to do better. I think that he is suffering from a problem that stretches into other sectors of our society. People whose main responsibility it is to help their fellow citizens get little respect and less pay. Whether it’s our nurses, our firefighters, our social workers or our educators, at any level, most of them get more emotional fulfillment out of their jobs than money. We don’t deserve you, Mr. Dube. Clarke Olsen, Montreal

I AM A FIRST-YEAR student at the University of Calgary, and coming from a high school where I had as few as six students in my classes, I have been having a difficult time getting used to classes with 400 others where nobody knows your name or even seems to care about the quality of education you receive. I have

been privileged to be in Dube’s political science class. Dube is an animated lecturer who really knows his stuff and cares about his students. He is helpful and friendly and knows most of our names by the first mid-term. Already, I have had tenured professors who don’t share his passion for teaching.

Paula Russel, Calgary

ON THE LAST DAY of class, I recall the tearful goodbye speech Dube gave us and the standing ovation that followed. If David Stewart, the University of Calgary’s political science department head, is reading, I am still kindly awaiting his response to my letter regarding Dube’s situation.

Justin Meyers, London, England

ANDREW POTTER advises students who wish to make themselves known to their instructors to enroll in relatively small thirdand fourth-year classes, even if they are not particularly interested in the topic (“How to get a reference letter”). That would be a foolish strategy for a student who wants to eventually solicit a strong letter of reference. Professors, like most people, quickly recognize feigned interest. My suggestion: take courses you are interested in, get involved, ask questions and work hard. That is what will get you the kind of letter of reference you will need to further your academic or professional career.

Jim Rupert, Assistant Professor, School of Human Kinetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

PURE MAPLE SYRUP

AS A MAPLE PRODUCER and supplier of equipment to the maple industry, I am acutely aware of current trends in the industry and the role government agencies play to ensure consumers get a pure food product (“The less sweet side of maple syrup,” Taste, March 26). As in all industries, there is no such thing as perfection. The maple industry in Ontario works very hard to eliminate food safety concerns such as lead. If the Canadian Food Inspection Agency only reports one case per year of lead contamination, I say that’s great news relative to the number of producers and volume of syrup produced. Furthermore, to clarify information about the value of the syrup, that is only partially determined by its grade. There is a very small, specialized market for the lighter grades. Most consumers prefer the darker grades of medium or amber because of their more robust maple flavour. Louis Gyori, Cardiff, Ont.

BLACK AND WHITE

THANK YOU FOR having Mark Steyn cover Conrad Black’s trial (“Big man, tight spot,” Justice April 2). You couldn’t have picked a better person.

Herman Dost, Ignace, Ont.

ENOUGH OF CONRAD. He and Barbara deserve each other.

Walter Hadden, Windsor, Ont.

WITHOUT THE far-reaching ideals of such people as Conrad Black, we would have no high-rise office towers, no massive business empires, no cars, no space program. Yes, they may run over people in their mad dash to the top, but they do build and create things that endure, and if

society’s progress was left to you and me, we’d still be doing our laundry on the banks of the river. My thoughts parallel Mark Steyn’s in assessing the situation. There’s no doubt that Black was too flashy and extravagant, but he made his shareholders a pot full of money. I think he might well walk away from this, albeit with his emperor’s dream lost, because in the financier’s world, greed and excess go hand in hand with the pursuit of the prize. His lawyers are well-versed in the rules of corporate legerdemain. It looks as though they will give the U.S. prosecutors a good licking.

GIVE ME MONEY

IN HIS COLUMN, Scott Feschuk says, “you’ve probably heard that money is the root of all evil,” (Comment, April 2). The scripture is from 1 Timothy 6:10 and it states, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” The aspect of wealth in itself is not evil, it is your stewardship of wealth that counts.

Marj Lawrence, Moose Jaw, Sask.

EVERY DOG HAS ITS DAY

I AM ASHAMED to read the article relating to border collies (“Dogfight: ‘Barbie collie’ or herder?” Nature, April 9). The petty bickering demonstrates only how narrow-minded a view the Canadian Border Collie Association is presenting. I own five border collies. All but one is a herding dog. The CBCA’s reports of the demise of the breed if it is allowed to be sullied by appearing in, and to some degree being bred for, show, obedience or whatever, is grossly exaggerated. Britain produces some of the best herding dogs in the world and some pretty cute show dogs— all border collies. I have found in my brief

experience with herding in Canada that there are numerous excellent herding dogs and their handlers who work hard to breed and train quality animals. However, if I have a pretty little dog that shows little or no herding instinct, I would be happy to sell it to a family where it might well enjoy attending shows or performing in agility competition and live a happy life. No one has the right to hold the rest of us to ransom as to what we do with our dogs. Let’s revel in the joy of a border collie no matter what it’s doing. Kelvin G. Broad, Calgary

THE CBCA HAS never stood in the way of border collie fanciers participating in non-conformation events. It is the Canadian Kennel Club that would not allow border collies to participate after the CBCA was formed. Before that, border collies did participate in non-conformation events in the CKC and there was actually a clause in the CKC rules that prohibited the border collie from competing in conformation events. This clause was eliminated from the CKC’s regulations last year and the board of the CKC now insists that the border collie, if allowed to participate in any event, would also be allowed to compete in conformation. The border collie is a performance dog, not a “beauty” dog. All we are asking is that conformation shows and breeding for a capricious look be closed to border collies.

Werner Reitboeck, Winchester, 0?it.

WHO’S TORY NOW?

IT HAS BEEN EVIDENT for some time that Maclean’s has become the official organ of the Conservative Party of Canada. Your editorial on the federal budget is a case in point (“Next time, perhaps a vision for the future,”

From the editors, April 2). However, you seem oblivious to the fact that the budget is, in the main, antithetical to Stephen Harper’s so-called conservative principles. This irony was not lost on your columnist Paul Wells, who at least maintains a modicum of bipartisan cynicism. Lest Wells’s contrarian scribblings begin to undermine the message, might I suggest the recruitment of American conservative commentator Ann Coulter to support Barbara Amiel and Mark Steyn? Gordon Kosakoski, Ka?nloops, B.C.

WHO DESERVES SYMPATHY?

I’M A MODERN MOTHER of a fourand a twoyear old, and I subscribe to Maclean’s to read columnists like Barbara Amiel, Mark Steyn and Paul Wells. How did this excerpt of a whining mother land in your magazine (“Life with a pint-sized dictator,” Society, April 2)? Hilary Carter, Aurora, Ont.

REBECCA ECKLER is a stay-at-home mom who, despite having a supportive, well-to-do partner and a nanny, freaks out when her baby comes down with a bad cold. I don’t know who to feel sorrier for: the child of this self-absorbed woman of privilege or the people who plunked down the money to buy her book. By way of comparison, Barbara Amiel’s self-pitying column in the same issue (“What’s not to love about Chicago,” Opinion) is almost deserving of sympathy.

David Martin, Ottawa