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McGill Reporter
February 24, 2000 - Volume 32 Number 11
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Letters

To the editor:

It is to my dismay that I read in the latest issue of the Reporter two articles that greatly disturbed me. First, I find it shocking that your newspaper, the official voice of the University, discussed the issue of the breach of confidentiality that occurred at Senate recently. In fact, by doing so, you are promoting the very behaviour that led to the breach of confidentiality. Even worse, your column extensively quoted an article published in The Montreal Gazette which, I can tell you as a senator who took part in the confidential session of Senate, contained many errors and very misleading information.

Another article titled "Longing for Leo" would perhaps have been appropriate for a teenage magazine, but certainly not for the Reporter. I thought the article was both sexist and homophobic, and presented only a narrow-minded view of the impact of Mr. DiCaprio on today's youth (both female AND male). I sincerely hope the Reporter will improve the quality of its journalism in the future, or else it will lose its credibility as an official voice of McGill University.

Stephen Déry
University and academic affairs coordinator
Post Graduate Students' Society

Regarding the Senate breach of confidentiality: We only got around to mentioning it after stories had already appeared in The Gazette, The Globe and Mail, the National Post, The Toronto Star, The London Free Press, The McGill Daily, The McGill Tribune and on the radio station CIQC.

The Tribune piece was picked up by U-Wire, a news syndicate that circulates stories to university papers across North America and in parts of Europe. Principal Bernard Shapiro issued a statement on a nationally distributed newswire, outlining his views on the matter. Trust me, Mr. Déry, that cat was out of the bag a long time ago.

As for the quote from The Gazette, another senator, who was also on hand for the deliberations about honorary degrees, indicated that some senators voted against awarding the proposed degree for the reasons outlined in the Gazette article.

In relation to the DiCaprio piece, I don't think the accusation of sexism holds water. The main thrust of our article dealt with how movies like Titanic and shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer are popular, in large part, because of young girls. These girls don't necessarily have bad taste — the piece mentions that DiCaprio, before the Titanic craze, was a well-regarded actor and that Buffy is a show that TV critics favour.

Homophobic? Why? Because we didn't mention that some boys think DiCaprio is hot stuff, too? If that's our sin, it's a paltry one. If you're accusing us of something else, take the time to explain yourself before you start carelessly hurling around loaded terms like homophobic.

To the editor,

At its May 1999 meeting, the Faculty of Arts passed a motion requesting an elective dimension be added to the process by which our deans are selected.

The motion allows the individual members of the arts faculty to play a greater role in the appointment of our dean, but it does not diminish the importance of any other decision-maker, and it especially does not diminish the role of the principal. All existing committees and processes now in place for selecting a dean remain in place. The elective element we requested is the following: After the selection committee reports to the principal, sending him a list of the names of their favoured candidates, and after he has sifted and winnowed that list down to a minimum of two names, he should submit at least two names (these candidates, of course, being acceptable to him as well as to the selection committee) to the Faculty of Arts professoriate for a vote.

The principal would be expected to respect the outcome of that vote, and recommend the name of the winner to the Board of Governors for their approval.

The Arts faculty asked for this change because we believe the University is, or ought to be, a self-governing community of scholars. The principal did not respond to our request in a timely or direct manner. Instead, he waited until after Dean Miller was reappointed by the unamended process, at which time he wrote to Dean Miller of his unwillingness to comply with the Arts Faculty's request.

Perhaps Professor Shapiro is unaware of McGill's tradition of self-governance, or perhaps he disputes it. But many in the faculty believe his proper role is as a first among equals, the agent of the community, not its principal. The function of the administration of any great university should be to lead, not govern.

At a minimum, if an entire faculty makes a direct, mannerly request to a specific university officer for a reasonable change in procedures, that officer should respond in a constructive, cooperative manner, so as to accommodate, or at least compromise with, and not merely frustrate, the express wishes of the faculty.

McGill has always been a cooperative organization, organized from the bottom up. We are not a factory or a bureaucracy: the topdown mode of operation is foreign to us, and we are profoundly uncomfortable with it.

Professor Tom Velk
Department of Economics

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