Volume 95, Issue 40

Tuesday, November 13, 2001
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Confidentiality called into question

Sixth? Maclean's screws us again

Peaceniks get rowdy

Western remembers violent century of warfare

Walkerton doc issues warning

Sixth? Maclean's screws us again

By Jessica Leeder
Gazette Staff

Western, never the bride, not even the bridesmaid. Heck, we're barely in the wedding party this year.

With the release of Maclean's magazine's annual university rankings, Western officials were disappointed to learn the university has slipped to sixth, after a fifth place finish last year.

Still, most officials were quick to point out the survey's inability to judge Western's greatest qualities.

"The main benefits of the Maclean's survey is to put the universities front and centre in the media for a week or two and that is a good thing," said Western president Paul Davenport.

"However, we do not believe the rankings measure the quality of education we offer our students, and we believe students understand that," he added.

Western was ranked sixth in the country in the medical/doctoral category, while the University of Toronto maintained its stranglehold on the number one spot for the eighth year in a row.

The top four schools in the country – U of T, University of British Columbia, Queen's and McGill – were ranked in the same positions in last year's survey. The University of Alberta moved up one spot from last year's sixth place ranking, displacing Western.

"The quality of our university cannot and will not be based upon our ranking in a magazine," said University Students' Council president Mike Lawless. "Western measures its value by the success of its students, the depth of its programs and the continuing support of its alumni."

This year's rankings are accompanied by a ten-page "Campus Confidential" section, meant to give the issue a "little hipper, less Ivey League, more in your face" look, according to Maclean's editor Ann Dowsett-Johnston.

Dowsett-Johnson explained the rankings are divided by medical/ doctoral, comprehensive and primarily undergraduate categories, but such categories do not mean a school like Western is judged solely on its medical school. Rather, the categories are used to place similar schools in the appropriate category for fair assessment.

"Some people think we are only ranking the medical schools and even this year I was tempted to change the names of the categories," Dowsett-Johnston said. "The problem is that if you go out into the university community, many have begun to define their university by the categories."

Dowsett-Johnston said the importance of the Maclean's rankings is not so much to allot bragging rights, but to keep public education on the public agenda.

"Somebody has to be keeping their finger on the pulse of what is going on – since Sept. 11, it could get bullied out of the spotlight without much effort whatsoever," she added.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001