More Buildings in Manitoba
The Manitoba Provincial Government is pleased to announce (http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/press/top/2003/09/2003-09-19-03.html) the opening of a new Health Studies Complex at Brandon University. Costing the government five million dollars, this building will house multiple programs including the bachelor of nursing program which is being transferred from the University of Manitoba, a psychiatric nursing program, an aboriginal counselling program and two post-diploma programs.
This investment is just part of over 70 million dollars that the Manitoba government has devoted to “university capital projects,” or in other words, buildings and renovations. While it is wonderful to see governments devoting any extra money to post-secondary education, it seems that it still is not understood that a university building is not an education.
Even more maddening from my point of view is that the designers can’t even claim to be unaware of the alternatives, as Manitoba’s Family Services and Housing Minister Drew Caldwell pointed out that the facility has a distance education classroom with audio and video links. Just to be clear on this, this means they’ve built a specific room that has connections for receiving and broadcasting audio and video over a distance – somewhat like the computer you’re reading this on now has connections that allow it to, at the very least, receive audio and video signals. There are also a number of other technologies you may have that allow this, such as your television, telephone, and radio, all of which can be used to great effect as shown by Athabasca University’s own relationship with Canadian Learning Television and Alberta’s Access channel.
So a portion of that five million dollars the Manitoba government spent went on creating a space where students can do the exact same type of things they could easily do from home or the public library. What I can not understand is why Athabasca University is not out there drumming its cause to every Provincial Government across the land. AU can teach any number of students much more cheaply than a traditional brick and mortar institution, in addition to not requiring students to actually move to the locale of the institution, thus allowing them to continue living and working their normal lives.
You’d think that governments looking to save money would be falling all over themselves to encourage post-secondary students to attend AU rather than forcing them to fund yet another building.
First BSE, Now Hoof-In-Mouth
It seems hard times continue to plague Alberta’s Premier Ralph Klein. As you’ve no doubt already heard on the news, Premier Klein was speaking at a meeting of governors in Montana regarding the single Alberta cow who was found to have mad cow disease when he claimed (http://news.tradingcharts.com/futures/6/3/40336136.html) that “any self-respecting rancher would have shot, shovelled, and shut-up.” This is the same Premier who got into a drunken shouting match (http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_474487.html?menu=) with a man at a homeless shelter, telling him to “get a job.” As the story unfolded we learned that the man actually did have a job, and was one of the “working poor” that do not seem to exist in Klein’s world.
You would think that Premier Klein might regret speaking in haste, then, at a governors meeting when so many ranchers in Alberta desperately need the borders to be fully opened. However, in a recent press release (http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200309/15136.html) Klein not only expresses no regrets, he does not even apologize to Alberta ranchers for any harm that his out of context remarks might cause.
In fact, Premier Klein isn’t even worried about it. At a recent question and answer session at the University of Montana, Klein confidently asserted that “They aren’t going to fire me,” (http://www.mytelus.com/news/article.do?articleID=1413002&pageID=ab_archive) when questioned about his constituents reaction to his remark.
Sadly, he’s probably right. Even though a politician’s primary job is to ensure the best possible outcome for his constituents – a job done entirely through the power of his words – Klein’s continual demonstrations of foot-in-mouth never seem to earn him that boot-in-ass from Albertans that he so richly deserves.
Maybe it’s something in the meat..
A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.