Author speaks on scary campus crisis
By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos?
The McKellar Room was a platform of revolutionary ideas yesterday as author J.L. Granatstein eloquently spoke of issues which he and his colleagues believe to be an impediment to higher education.
Petrified Campus: The Crisis in Canadian Universities was written with co-authors David Bercuson and Robert Bothwell. The book attempts to address the issues of accessibility, tenure and the place of political correctness in the university system.
Written as a follow up to a previous 1984 novel, Granatstein said some issues have been resolved and some have become worse since 1984, adding where funding is out is one of the most important issues to be dealt with now.
"I conclude the problem of universities is not [the amount of] money. The fundamental issue is quality of education." The conflict between accessibility and quality has yet to be resolved, Granatstein said.
The answer lies in an elitist society where universities must be ranked in order to weed out the "dullards" and elevate the students who really deserve to be at a quality school, he said. "We must recognize a differentiation already exists in Ontario."
Granatstein also spoke about the place of political correctness and believes post-secondary institutions should take a student's closed mind and open it. This can only be done through uncensored discussion, he added.
Granatstein referred to a controversial Horovitz cartoon portraying God and Allah published in The Gazette last year which led to an apology by the paper as an example of the constraints imposed by political correctness. "The university should not be in the business of deciding the speech code," he said in reaction to the incident.
Finally, the issue of tenure was also broached by Granatstein who said it is not being used as was intended for academic protection. Rather, it is now a tool of job security which affects the quality of education by producing academics who do little in the university community, he said.
"We first have to look at what stops us from having a first-class university. Then we need to change the policy of tenure, accessibility, get rid of tenure and be willing to make changes."