Thursday, November 20, 2008

Giving up the fight

I had a much longer rant written about the new appointments to the Board of Regents, especially on St. John's lawyer Bob Simmonds being appointed as the Regents new Chair.

But then I deleted the whole works of it. Why? Because it was one of those rare cases where it sounded too bitter even for me. Look, the provincial government has won. And maybe that's a good thing for the university in the long run, I don't know. But if the students are upset about the government having that much control over the university, they don't seem to care. And if the faculty is upset with it, then they're only making the smallest of noises. And I strongly suspect the general public simply does not give a shit what happens at the university anymore.

The fact of the matter is, the government is going to get who they want to be president of the university. The recent alumni election (Alumni Affairs still refuses to release the results) and these most recent appointments assures that. I don't know why the government is all fired up to control the university, but they seem to be and they have. Williams will get who he wants as president. And if you think he wasn't the one pulling the strings all along, you weren't paying much attention to who did, and didn't, get shuffled in cabinet recently.

People might have mocked and called Joan Burke incompetent, but she's still running Education. And there's a reason for that.

At this point, it's kind of hard for me to get worked up about it when no one really appears to give a shit. I believe in a good fight as much as the next person. Hell, I'll even fight the occasional noble lost cause. But this...this is something else entirely.

(I put that ellipse in there just to annoy Megan. You're welcome.)

But the thing is, I really wish the new Chair of the Board gave a shit. I wished he would at least make the pretense of being happy to be appointed to that position, to talk about what a great honour it is, and what a tremendous responsibility it is to Chair an organization charged with creating a learning institute vital to the future of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Instead, we get this.

"It's a position that I don't get paid for...It's a position that where no doubt there has been some difficulties and, you could say, acrimony that's become so public. And believe me, I can pick enough fights in my profession that I don't have to step outside it to do it...And I'm going to be away from my office for significant periods of time, so I'm going to lose revenue. If that's the definition of a patronage appointment, so be it."

If that's the definition of enthusiasm and commitment to an important cause, well colour me a little depressed. He might be an appointed crony of the Williams's government, but it would be nice if they had appointed one who actually sounded like he wanted to do the job as opposed to someone whining about the burden of it.

Last Five
1. You can't always get what you want - The Rolling Stones*
2. Not about to lose - Ron Sexsmith
3. Lakes of Pontchartain - The Be Good Tanyas
4. Hell's ditch - The Pogues
5. Born to be a dancer - Kaiser Chiefs


WJM said...

They — by that, I mean He — want people like you to give up.

Don't give them — Him — the satisfaction.

Geoff Meeker said...

Well said, Craig.

Simmonds made his point about this not being patronage, in the usual sense, but that's not the story here anyway. (Whether he receives his reward at some other time, in some other way, is another question.) The story is the palace coup that has taken place, and what this means for the future of the university. As you know, it's pretty bleak at this point.

Let's make a deal. I won't give up on this if you don't either...

Kerri said...

Students do care... I think anyway.

I ran an editorial about these appointments yesterday (that's another story, see blog). I also criticized gov for not getting rid of Burke in the cabinet shuffle. I think I've written three editorials this term alone about the situation.

It's just the students' union that doesn't care (for reasons that are obvious).

I haven't given up on it.

towniebastard said...

I won't drag out the old excuse of student apathy because I think you're seeing something different - an active attempt by the government to buy off students. They've had a long tuition freeze and now the government is talking about low interest rates on student loans.

Which, don't get me wrong, is great. But at some point it would be nice to ask why the government is doing that. And it's not solely out of the goodness of their hearts or an attempt to keep more graduates at home. There's always a price with these things, and it would be nice if we knew what it was.

Maybe students are perfectly fine with the idea of a unversity under a lot more direct control of the government if it means cheaper tuition and low interest loans. but I can't help but think it's short term gain for long term pain.

I've been trying to compose a letter to the editor for the Muse on this, but everything I've tried makes me sound crazy or bitter. But if I nail it, I'll send it along. In the meantime, keep after them on it.