The suspension of 17 women from Dalhousie University because of the initiation rituals they arranged for the rookies on the women’s hockey team (Hazing Probe Left Players Feeling ‘Bullied’ – March 2) is merely the latest in a series of incidents in which a punitive measure taken by administrators at one university or another has generated bad publicity for the university in question. It is doubtful that the coverage indicates any actual rise in the frequency of bad behaviour by students; the evidence suggests rather that there is an increase in the autocratic tendencies of some senior administrators, as embodied in their embrace of that witless slogan: “zero tolerance.”
Inevitably, some students will occasionally overstep the boundaries of decorum. But in my more than two decades as a professor I have almost never seen a situation in which a calm discussion, assuming as an article of faith that students want to prove themselves reasonable and responsible, would not achieve the most effective remedy for problematic behaviour.
The hawkish administrative approach, which students quite rightly have labelled “bullying,” is not, as such administrators smugly believe, a victory for virtue on behalf of the university; it is, rather, a terrible admission of failure.
Professor Craig Walker, Head, Department of Drama, Queen’s University
Re Flanagan Ends Career On Sour Note (March 1): What was Tom Flanagan thinking when he said, with respect to viewing child pornography, that “we put people in jail for doing something in which they do not harm another person”?
In a January New York Times article – The Price of a Stolen Childhood – Emily Bazelon interviewed victims whose abuse had unknowingly been posted on child porn websites. When one victim, Nicole, found out that videos of her abuse were online, she said: “It was the worst moment of my life. … Knowing that other people, all over, had seen me like that, I just froze.”
Ms. Bazelon wrote: “For Nicole, knowing that so many men have witnessed and taken pleasure from her abuse has been excruciating.”
No surprise, the victims continue to be harmed every time someone downloads child pornography.
Lydia Vale, Toronto
Yikes! A right winger reflects on a criminal justice issue and we flush his career down the toilet in a day.
Yes, child pornography terrifies. But it’s still common, and it’s not going away. Tom Flanagan asks: What’s an appropriate punishment? “I certainly have no sympathy for child molesters,” he says, “but I do have some grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste in pictures.”
Mr. Flanagan should be debated, not flayed.
David Taylor, Toronto
My first visit to Carnaval de Québec last month reinforced Jacob Berkowitz’s contention that Canadians should quit whining about winter weather and enjoy it while we can (In Defence of Canadian Winter – Focus, March 2). We left Ontario “paralyzed” yet again by high winds and blowing snow, to emerge in a sparkling white world of ice sculptures, toboggan runs overlooking the majestic river, and drinks in carved ice cups around an open fire to warm up. People dressed for the weather, not only making eye contact but smiling as they passed in the snowy streets. And what could be more quintessentially Canadian than teams of Crazy Canucks racing their canoes across the ice and frigid waters of the St. Lawrence?
In the stirring words of Quebec composer Gilles Vigneault:
“Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver!”
Nancy Dorrance, Kingston, Ont.
Where’s the guts?
You ask why Canada doesn’t do a better job at creating our own myths through film (The Canadian Caper Goes Hollywood – editorial, Feb. 26). The answer isn’t lack of vision; it’s lack of political guts.
In the first Mulroney majority government (1984-88), Flora MacDonald was about to bring in a government bill to require cinemas to actually show Canadian-made movies. It was to be 15 per cent of the showings. This was the same formula brought in for Canada’s music industry, to outcries from the private sector. But look at how successful that policy was in the long run – a new generation of musical artists when Canadians could actually hear their music.
It would have been the same for films if Canadians could see them, but Ronald Reagan came to Ottawa. He had been lobbied by Jack Valenti in Hollywood, and Brian Mulroney backed down. I was the NDP’s culture critic at the time. I got a copy of Flora’s government bill and introduced it as a private member’s bill. Of course, it went nowhere.
Ian Waddell, Vancouver
Canadian Labour Congress president Ken Georgetti (Don’t Blame Unions – letter, March 1) says unionized workers are paid $5.11 an hour more than their non-unionized counterparts. Is that before or after union dues?
Ron Freedman, Toronto
Lisa Rochon should be commended for inspiring a new generation of young Canadians (How Architecture Students Would Shake Up Our Cities – Folio, March 1). But many of our urban centres – Toronto is a glaring example –desperately require something more fundamental.
We need repaired and restored expressways (the ones we have are falling apart); new water and sewage lines to replace infrastructure built in the 1950s and 1960s; and expanded and improved recreational facilities. A combination of population growth and funding shortfalls means shoddy cities.
Ideas are fine for the future, but we live in today’s world.
Gordon S. Findlay, Toronto
Re Purists Decry Famed Montreal Deli’s Decision To Offer Supermarket Version Of Its Smoked Meat (March 1): It was too good to be true. Reading that Sobeys would be selling vacuum-sealed bags of Schwartz’s terrific smoked meat, I was already licking my lips in anticipation.
Then I learn it will only be distributed in Quebec. You shouldn’t tease your readers like that.
Simon Rosenblum, Toronto
As a former Montrealer, I know people line up to relish the taste of the iconic Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich. The truth is, the very best Montreal smoked meat can be enjoyed at the Centre Street Deli in Thornhill, Ont.
Marty Cutler, Toronto
Follow us on Twitter: