Using student job funding to silence critics

The Liberals’ latest decision means summer employment is now a testing ground for ideological adhesion, obedience and purity

Using student job funding to silence criticsIt’s tough work to imagine two groups more radically different than the Canadian Council of Christian Charities and the gays rights network LGBTory. So when both join the rising chorus opposing changes to what should be among Ottawa’s most innocuous programs, it’s a signal something significant is going on. The Four Cs, as the council…

Free speech: Be open to debate or become irrelevant

The danger arises when we become too attached to ideas and are no longer open to healthy discourse

Free speech: Be open to debate or become irrelevantHanna Holborn Gray, former president of the University of Chicago, said, “Universities should be expected to provide the conditions within which hard thought, and therefore strong disagreement, independent judgment, and the questioning of stubborn assumptions, can flourish in an environment of the greatest freedom.” So it’s quite ironic that issues of freedom of speech have…

Looking back to gain perspective on higher education

Time to abandon the factory-model, cheap-labour practices of colleges; time to push back against thoughtcrime; and to celebrate Precilla Veigas

Looking back to gain perspective on higher educationThe new year asks us to look back before we can move forward. For post-secondary educators in Ontario, two problems of the last year deserve careful reflection as we enter 2018. The disastrous college strike sits at the top of the list. In October, part-time instructors at Ontario’s 24 public colleges went on strike to…

Stop treating universities like they’re retail outlets

Universities should bring young people into the disciplines and rigours of an examined life, into the habits of careful thinking

Stop treating universities like they’re retail outletsWhile at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), I got to know a history teacher who was a passionate and self-proclaimed Marxist. She loved to talk about the inequality and injustices that plagued the city, the province, the country and, well, the cosmos. I asked her one morning if she wouldn’t mind splitting…

Free speech is central to intellectual life, even at university

A report for Yale back in 1975 was clear about how to deal with people who interfere with free speech: suspend them or expel them

Free speech is central to intellectual life, even at universityExpression on university campuses is not as free and as open as it should and must be. Over the past year, universities have cancelled controversial talks before they’ve begun, mobs have shouted down provocative speakers after they’ve started, and students have faced disciplinary actions for speaking rudely or stupidly. Culture police have examined artworks for…

When speech isn’t free, society pays a high price

A recent incident at the University provides a glimpse of what the future may hold for Canadian post-secondary education – and it ain’t pretty

When speech isn’t free, society pays a high priceAt one time, universities respected free speech and the exchange of different ideas. Intellectual discourse and thought-provoking debates were viewed as healthy, vibrant and treasured. Unfortunately, speech isn’t nearly as free on today’s university campuses. Intolerance of opposing philosophies, and hurt feelings among the hordes of special interest groups, have come to define modern institutions…

When an academic debate goes off the rails

Sharing nonconformist ideas shouldn't be cause for censure, but at Wilfrid Laurier University, that seems to be the case

When an academic debate goes off the railsA new episode of The Twilight Zone is playing at Wilfrid Laurier University. It features a young woman charged with spreading sedition. It’s a cliffhanger. Will our heroine genuflect and apologize or will her inquisitors execute her? This little summary of the drama at Laurier isn’t a stretch. The longer version, for those who missed…

Protect the integrity of the Internet, protect free thought

The disruption initiated by the web was always going to result in some chaos. But now the barbarians may be the gatekeepers

Protect the integrity of the Internet, protect free thoughtMany of my generation wring their hands, dab the sweat off their upper lips and otherwise fuss – in the manner older generations do – about millennials. They live at home until 30, ooze entitlement, have the attention span of a housefly and, because their parents’ generation mortgaged their future, are more focused on fun…

Why Payette was right – and dead wrong

At the core of both science and religion is the human desire to understand that which eludes us, and to make sense of life

Why Payette was right – and dead wrongCanadian Gov. Gen. Julie Payette recently pitted science and religion against each other when she implied that science is rational and religion irrational. While many share this view, I find it narrow and simplistic. Both science and religion shed meaning on human experience, and both play a role in shaping the world. Both are tools…

Julie Payette crossed the line

Payette’s disrespectful comments tarnish her position as Queen Elizabeth II’s federal viceregal representative

Julie Payette crossed the lineIt only took one speech for new Canadian Gov. Gen. Julie Payette to confirm why some columnists and pundits (including me) were lukewarm about her nomination in the first place. “Oh, but she’s an astronaut and a scientist,” crowed her enthusiastic support base during the dog days of summer. “She’ll bring a fresh new outlook…
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