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fpnhm@fatw;iy.u,illx‘itiua • tuesday. march 29.2011 


OPINION 


Communities 
deserve more 
from U of A 

THE COMMUNITIES SURROUNDING THE 
Universiiy of Alberta aren't happy — the past few 
years have seen one complaint after another. The 
Gameati community has raised concerns regarding 
the fraternity and sorority houses in their neigh¬ 
bourhood. More recently, serious issues have been 
raised about the new Go Centre, with residents in the 
Landsdowne area worrying about the planned South 
Campus expansion. As well, in Bonnie Doon, resi¬ 
dents are fighting the construction of a new parking 
lot to serve students at Campus Saint-Jean. 

But despite widespread discontent amongst its 
neighbours, the university has opted to lay off 
Community Relations Director Michael Phair. the 
man whose |ob it was to address these problems. 
According to Provost and Vice President (Academic) 
Carl Amrheim, Pliair was relieved of his duties due 
to budget constraints. While that may lx* true, the 
decision still raises some serious questions about the 
university's priorities. 

As students, we're often oblivious to the deal¬ 
ings the university has with the communities near 
campus. The complaints coming from residents 
surrounding the U of A tend to seem minor, or silly, 
especially when they may deny us parking or housing 
near campus. 

Until recently, however, it was Phair's job to 
smooth out such relations with these communities 
and hopefully find solutions that would allow the 
university to expand while not completely alienating 
residents living nearby. By all accounts, it was some¬ 
thing Phair was good at —while he served as a Ward 
4 city councillor for 15 years. Phair was incredibly 
popular with residents, and his appointment to die 
community relations position scored the university a 
lot of points with the locals back in 2008. Not surpris¬ 
ingly then, the lay-off lias raised the ire of many, who 
now’ have every reason to worry that the university 
has opted to completely dismiss their concerns. 

To compensate, the university is creating an execu¬ 
tive director position within the university relations 
department to deal with local, national, and inter¬ 
national relationships. According to the Edmonton 
Journal, Amrhein said this new position would be 
responsible for more than just relationships within 
Edmonton, and cited desires to connect with tile 
Chinese community and China itself as a source of 
research partnerships. Students have long complained 
that the university sacrifices quality of teaching in 
order to push a research agenda, but if Amrhein’s 
comments are anything to go by. the university is 
now also potentially putting local relationships on 
the chopping block in order to court foreign research 
interests, in what is yet another public relations hlighl 
on their record. 

As for Phair's position. Amrhein said his respon¬ 
sibilities would lie spread among other university 
employees. "There will still be people to go to.” he 
insisted. However, community members had been 
complaining for years before Phair’s appointment 
that they didn’t know who to contact at the university 
about their concerns, especially since the school isn’t 
subject to city planning bylaws and thus worries can't 
be directed to the City of Edmonton. Phair’s dismissal 
means that once again, residents have no clear indi¬ 
vidual to whom they can voice their complaints, but 
rather a vague subset of employees within the Office 
of External Relations. 

While the university's current budgetary woes may 
require them to cut some positions, residents have 
every reason to be worried when the school elimi¬ 
nates the person whose job was to hear their concerns 
about the institution’s continued expansion. The 
University of Alberta needs to take a good hard look at 
its priorities and determine whether or not sacrificing 
the goodwill of surrounding residents is worth what¬ 
ever money they may have saved. If they continue 
to ignore or brush off sudi issues, they risk further 
alienation ot the people they’re trying to negotiate 
with, and more damage to their public reputation. 

ALLY KEMP 

Opinion Editor 



E/lRTH hour.?' ^ 

HOLY CRAP, I'M MISSING 
v THE HOCKEY GAVE 


iedmow row' 


ROSS VINCENT 


letters. 

°™eds 


Facility of Engineering 
limits elective choices 


An open letter to the been of 
Engineering: 

I am just taking the time to write 
a brief letter to let you know of my 
extreme disappointment in the 
changes in complementary elec¬ 
tive requirements in the "acuity of 
Engineering. 

When I first entered the faculty. 
I was pleased to learn that I could 
take whatever history course I 
wanted for my first-year comple¬ 
mentary elective, so long as it 
satisfied an appropriate amount 
of credits and course time. Being 
an amateur historian of the Second 
World War. I took on a second level 
history course about the conflict 
(HIST 296). in which I scored an 
A- I did this well in the course due 
not only to my hard work and time 
invested in the required essays, 
but also due to my enjoyment of 
the material I valued the freedom 
given to me by the faculty to select 
a course that allowed me to learn 
about something that I enjoyed, 
that would diversify my education 
as an engineer 

When I learned that I would 
be taking a second complemen¬ 
tary elective in the first academic 
semester of my final year at the uni¬ 
versity. I was looking forward to it. 
After much deliberation, I decided 


to enroll in HIST 326: Topics in 
History at Hie Movies, a course 
that would teach me to analyze 
history as it is presented in movies. 
I subsequently learned that this 
year's topic was 'the Holocaust 
on film,' and was pleased to know 
that I would be taught the tools to 
investigate and explore the subject 
further. 

Unfortunately, after a number 
of inquiries with the -acuity of 
Engineering. I learned that I would 
not be permitted to take the 
course, due to a new restriction 
allowing engineering students to 
take only the complementary elec¬ 
tives listed in Section 84.6 of the 
University Calendar 

I am dissatisfied with the faculty's 
short-sightedness in limiting cur¬ 
rent and future students to a more 
narrow spectrum of courses After 
all. the calendar states that 'each 
program contains complementary 
studies electives so that students 
may explore areas of particular 
interest’ and that the Canadian 
Engineering Accreditation Board 
"requires that programs include 
exposure to the central thought 
processes of the humanities and 
social sciences.' 

In my humble opinion, ii a course 
satisfies the latter requirement and 
has the appropriate amount of 
credits, then an engineering stu¬ 
dent should be able to take said 
course I am jnhappy to know that 
the faculty has decided to neglect 
the former condition. Forcing 
every student to pass through the 
faculty to conform to someone's 


idea of proper’ complementary 
electives only narrows the scope of 
education for those students.. 

MYLES SAVOIE 

_ Engineering IV 

from; HE 

web 

Secular option not a 
good idea for Morimille 

RE: ( Catholic schools shouldn't be 
only option, " Jordan Ching. March 
24) 

Excellent |ob using isolated inci¬ 
dents onthe EastCoasttobadmourh 
theCatholic education system whilst 
simultaneously maintaining a ste¬ 
reotyped, simplified summation of 
Christian views on alternative sexu¬ 
alities that fully illuminates both your 
ignorance and bias. You've already 
done half the work in refuting your 
argument by damaging your credibil¬ 
ity, bur I'm going to continue by issu¬ 
ing a few fees (something Gateway 
opinion is particularly devoid of). 

Monnville. located in Alberta (I 
assume you have difficulty with 
geography as you cited education 
missteps in Ontario), has a popula¬ 
tion. as of 2009. of roughly 8.000. 
The last government statistics from 
2001, while being admittedly old, 
show a Catholic population of 46 
per cent, a Ororestenr population of 
32 per cent and a population of 17 
per cent without religious affiliation. 
Ten years is a long time for change. 


but it is doubtful there has been 
a major demographic shift in this 
small Albertan town. Establishing 
the idea of a Christian, albeit Catholic 
(I doubt you care to note the differ¬ 
ence) majority, the logistical work 
needed rase: up a secularsystem for 
a small cross-section of the popula¬ 
tion is simply not worth the cost. As 
Michele Dick, the superintendent 
of the area. says. "If you have 30. 
children whose parents would like 
-hem to have secular education, and 
they're dispersed from kindergarten 
to Grade 9. that becomes financially 
prohibitive" 

Combine this with the fact that the 
nearest secular schools are a mere 
20 minute drive away, and you find 
that establishing a secular school 
system in Monnville is, while princi¬ 
pally noble, pragmatically idiotic. 

JONATHON FREELY 

Via Internet 

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