Volume 92, Issue 42

Wednesday, November 18, 1998



Campus under microscope

David Bercusen, Robert Bothwell and J.L. Granastein
$18.95/208 pgs.

In 1984, three Canadian history professors published The Great Brain Robbery: Canadian Universities and the Road to Ruin, in which they claimed Canada's universities were deteriorating from not very good to… well, worse. Now, the trio are back with a new book.

Robert Bercusen, Robert Bothwell and J.L. Granastein write that Canadian universities have improved since 1984, but they still have a lot of criticisms to make. For instance, too many tax dollars were poured into universities in the past and tuition is skyrocketing from the inability and/or refusal to continue this level of funding.

Some older professors whose teaching and research are poor or nonexistent are costing taxpayers thousands of dollars and impeding the hiring of a new generation of professors. Pressure to publish has resulted in an explosion in the quantity but a plummet in the quality of academic writing.

Everyone knows it's easy to be a critic. But to their credit, Bercusen, Bothwell and Granastein also have suggestions for improvement. These include creating a tiered funding system for Canadian universities, eliminating tenure and upholding academic freedom over political correctness.

Petrified Campus is guaranteed to be an interesting and thought-provoking read for students who are in the midst of university and all its troubles. The authors present intelligent and clearly-written arguments, backed up by interesting anecdotes and credible sources.

Particularly intriguing are the numerous direct references to Western, including almost an entire chapter on the notorious J. Philippe Rushton case. Many may also find the second last chapter, "How to Choose a University," helpful when considering a post secondary education.

Bercusen, Bothwell and Granastein should be commended for bravely and eloquently calling attention to serious issues concerning universities. While not everyone may agree with the authors' points of view, the issues deserve a closer look.


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