October 7 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 22  

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Office politics caused delay

Normally, the creation of a new department at Western would be received by students and the media (i.e. The Gazette) with the quiet, reserved interest such a rather mundane story deserves.

But a potential new film department is in the works, and following a summer where three out of four of the program's full-time professors departed amid accusations of poor treatment from the English department (which currently runs film studies), this is a significant story.

When The Gazette first reported the exodus of professors from film studies on Sep. 26, a few members of the Western Film Undergraduate Society were upset, in part because the word "scandal" was used in the story's headline. These students were worried and rightfully so, that the story gives the perception the film program is falling apart.

The fact of the matter is this story is a scandal. The departed film professors fought for years for an independent department and claim they met resistance. It seems odd that now that the problems between the English department and the film studies program have come to light, they are planning to create a new department.

Why wasn't this put into motion before the loss of a core group of faculty members?

It is clear the department of English, the faculty of arts and even the upper-echelon of Western administration are attempting to save face.

The dean of arts refused to speak to The Gazette regarding today's story and the chair of the English department did not return our calls. Western's VP-academic Greg Moran declined to comment on the controversy, only saying a film department has been in the works "for a while."

But it was a joint letter from the three departed professors to Moran following our original story that seems to have gotten the ball rolling on the new department. Now, according to those professors, the English department is taking credit for the decision.

Interestingly, last week Gazette reporters were told the creation of a new department would happen when "the time was right." Now it is a week later and administration seems to think the time is right.

Sadly, the time has long passed. We can't speculate as to the details of the friction between the English department and film studies professors, but it's likely simple office politics has greatly damaged a solid and promising program. The new department may be a positive move, but in many ways it is a futile one now that quality professors are already gone.

Although it is arguably still a growing and promising program, film studies at Western is also now in a rebuilding phase. The establishment of an independent department is a good start - now film students just need new faculty to fill it.




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