They just keep topping themselves

A truly mean-spirited editorial at the Gleaner in a month notable for vinegar. Called, I kid you not, “Nose to the Grindstone” (link for subscribers). Or perhaps it is a brilliant satire of Gradgrindian educational attitudes. Though as the main evidence of such attitudes these days is in the NB papers themselves, that is surely wishful thinking. As in, I wish I didn’t live in a world where mature adults actually call for “hard knocks” to make young people “tough.” At any rate, I gave in to impulse and wrote a comment on the website. Pithy, biting, and doomed to obscurity by the paywall, so I thought I would share:

I’d say it has been quite a while since the editorial board of this paper was in school. I am also guessing that most of them did not need to juggle a part-time job or two during their studies. In the REAL “real world,” students and their families work extremely hard to pay for higher education and a lot depends on being successful. The last three weeks were not a vacation for anyone and the coming term will be particularly difficult for both teachers and students. Rather than trying to sound like a villain in a novel by Charles Dickens, perhaps the editors could listen to the students. (These same students that they have been beating faculty over the heads with for the past month). Or at the very least, let them sort it out themselves as they are clearly capable of doing. The last time I looked, being self-directed and actively working toward goals were better “real-world” skills than bowing down to “hard knocks.”

Well. Got that out of my system. Who needs castor oil?

Any cooler and they’d freeze

martians attack

Striking UNBSJ professors in Saint John Harbour.

Just read the Daily Gleaner editorial of Nov. 25 called “A call for cool heads.” Apologies to non-subscribers (and a pledge! To never implement a paywall on ANY blogs, past, present, or future). Whoever wrote it seems strangely removed from the realities of unionized labour relations: here we are on the eve of a strike vote yet we are being advised to “choose [our] negotiators wisely.” Well for AUNBT’s part I am confident we did. More than a year ago. I am not mentioning this merely to quibble, but to illustrate a general lack of understanding, in the N.B. commercial media, of the purpose and value of unions, or even how they work. How else to explain the alarming language sprinkled throughout the editorial: “nervous”, “outrage”‘ “threat”, “anxious”, “lost”, “hotbed”, “animosity”, “hot tempers”, “inflexible mindsets”, “hammering”, “complications”, and “damaged.” I mean, the piece opens with “One headline has struck fear into the hearts of thousands of students and many others in this city: ‘UNB profs to consider strike.'”


What would they say if the Martians invaded?

Don’t know about you, dear reader, but my blood pressure spiked just reading it.

Never mind the negotiating table, let’s have cooler heads around editorial tables. Let’s all sit back with a cold compress and look at the facts. No Canadian student has ever lost a term because of a faculty strike or lockout. (With student strikes, your mileage may vary). Twelve of the last thirteen strike votes at Ontario post-secondary institutions preceded a settlement before strike or lockout action was taken. Those are good odds. Strikes and lockouts in the academic sector do not tend to last as long as they can in many other sectors. I don’t want to minimize the potential inconvenience, but let’s keep the apocalyptic language at a minimum. The world would not end. Every university in N.B. except UNB has had a strike or lockout, and they all weathered the storm. UNB would too. In fact it would probably come out better than ever, as the character of the university itself is what is at issue. Many of us think that is worth a risk.