All Posts Tagged With: "Massey College"
Julie Payette on why she chose engineering over music
The 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings asked some of Canada’s most successful writers, politicians and scientists what they wish they’d known in university. Their answers are perfect additions to our First Year Survivor blog. Here’s advice from Julie Payette, Canadian Astronaut and Quebec’s Scientific Representative to the U.S.
I did my first degree at McGill University. I started in 1982. At the time, I was very clear I was going to become an engineer. Actually, I did have a bit of hesitation. I wanted to also study music. But it dawned on me that even though I loved music, I was not good enough to make a decent living at it, whereas I would become a fine engineer and could still do music. So I ended up choosing electrical engineering, which was perfect for me.
Update: G20 protest turns violent
With G20 protests just ramping up in Toronto it’s worth remembering one thing. Whatever may happen on University of Toronto campus grounds, the university sure didn’t ask for this.
Update: G20 protest turns violent
Also see: On the front lines at the G20
Although it’s still uncertain just how much action to expect in and around the “designated” protest site at Queen’s Park North, what is certain is that the university isn’t taking any chances. The decision to essentially shut down the main campus for the duration of the G20 was swift and, for many stakeholders in the university, quite sudden. But then this sort of decision making has been a hallmark of the G20 from the start. With little warning the summit was suddenly in Toronto. Then the protest site was relocated from Trinity-Bellwoods Park (far from U of T) to the virtual centre of the university. And then the university announced it was closing shop. This will extend from the evening of June 23rd through the weekend, with the university resuming business as usual on Monday the 28th.
Two days of classes and numerous events on campus have been canceled. This period also includes summer exams, so some students will face difficult rescheduling while others may simply be glad for the extra time to cram. Those living in residence–an eclectic group of resident summer students, visitors from other institutions, guests and tourists–have been required to move out and either stay away for the duration or relocate to other housing provided for them. Graduate students have lost access to their laboratories and research facilities. Thousands of students have been affected, to varying degrees.
Dr. Cheryl Misak, Vice-President and Provost of U of T, describes this process as “a very complex and difficult set of decisions” forced on the university. When the residents around Trinity-Bellwoods complained about damage and disruption in their community, summit officials dropped the problem unceremoniously on the university, with buildings and facilities on three sides of the park and the provincial legislature to the south. If protesters end up spilling over in any direction they aren’t likely to overrun the legislature, so the alternative consequence is obvious. In anticipation of this, campus residences have moved their students elsewhere and every door that can be shut will be. But then universities aren’t well designed to go on lock down.
What the university should have done may be a moot point, now, but it presents an interesting problem to groups on campus who simultaneously sympathize with the goals of protesters but also have their own members to think of. Leslie Jermyn, Chair of CUPE local 3902 (representing university employees) defines the problem in terms of conflicting responsibilities. “I think there are motivations (for closure) that I can comprehend. On the other hand, I feel that the university is a public institution and as such has a greater responsibility to the public and to the community.” Meanwhile the University of Toronto Faculty Association, in debating the issue, was only able to arrive at a motion stating that the university should have consulted them first. Professor George Luste, President of UTFA, expresses concern for faculty research and dangers associated with it. “We have buildings with chemicals, radioactive material, animals, etc. I don’t think they could have kept it open with business as usual.”
Student groups, meanwhile, seem less restrained in their opinions and have gladly launched a No Campus Closure movement. They are simultaneously calling on the university to reverse its decision (not remotely possible now, if it ever was) and vowing to maintain their own operations as much as possible. They were also surprisingly hard to interview for this story. The Graduate Students’ Union referred only to their press release for information, while the University of Toronto Students’ Union, which represents undergraduates, missed three separate invitations to air their views. Presumably they are all too caught up in the event at this stage. But Jermyn, on behalf of CUPE, took up the challenge of offering a more nuanced view in dissent.
“The panic around where we’re going to locate the protesters suggests that the protesters are the problem. There are always people who want to do property damage, or want to make a statement that we may not agree with, but the bulk of people are there to make a peaceful statement and to stand in solidarity.” For Jermyn, it isn’t so much the university’s decision that is objectionable as the terms in which it is presented. “It feeds into the kinds of images that the mass media wants people to see–rioting and violence.” Unfortunate though it may be, coverage of the event thus far bears out this theory. And the expectation of violent confrontation only builds tension and makes it that much more likely.
Amid all of this cynicism around campus, and the expectation of violence, one small island within the university has defied the general trend and intends to remain open. Massey College is an independent graduate and professional residence on campus and therefore not beholden to the university’s orders. Though it has a reputation as a conservative institution it appears less concerned about the idea of unruly protesters than most. John Fraser, as resident Master of Massey College, promotes a more laissez faire approach.