Editorial—Notwithstanding

This week, our feature interview is with the Acting Associate Vice President for Research at AU, Dr. Pamela Hawranik.  Scott Jacobsen talks to her about her background and about how AU might look at expanding research opportunities to undergraduate students.

I also want to draw your attention to Tara Panrucker’s piece this week, as she recently experienced the loss of her mother, and has used that to write a piece that could be of help to other AU students.  With the average AU student being somewhat older than those at traditional universities, this is no doubt a topic that far too many of us will have to face.  Tara’s article is both touching and provides some solid advice and information.

And Carla Knipe returns with her look at RateMyProfessor and the wider issue of how as AU students, while we have enormous freedom in how we take our courses, we have so little information or choice about who it is that will be advising or educating us through a specific course.

Getting away from The Voice for a moment however, the big news that is taking up all the air-time this week is Doug Ford’s use of the Notwithstanding Clause to push through changes to the composition of Toronto’s City Council during the current election.

Many seem to look at this through the lens of it being a good thing that someone is finally doing whatever it takes to just get things done, but I’m always leery of that approach.  It’s that kind of approach that leads, through the best of intentions, to corruption.  It’s always easier to govern a group of people if they don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t need to pay attention to various checks and safeguards that have been set up, but just because something is easier doesn’t make it better.

This applies whether we’re talking about the government of the province or simply the government of a students’ association.  Whenever I’ve heard somebody say, “It’s a good thing students don’t know,” my hackles rise.  Yes, students or people can be terribly uninformed about what their governing bodies are doing, and sometimes that causes a level of reaction that really isn’t warranted once the entire situation is known, but the moment we start thinking, “Oh, this makes our lives much easier,” that’s the time when we need to beware, because that’s the point where it should be clear to us that we’re putting our own judgement over that of those we are supposed to be representing.  Will it be difficult to explain the full context to them? Maybe.  But not giving them any opportunity to understand everything that’s going on does them a disservice and chips away at our own integrity.

That’s why other people are calling this action by Doug Ford the actions of a “tin-pot dictator”, even though perfectly legal.  Rather than doing things the hard way, appealing the judgement or delaying the change, Mr. Ford has decided that his own wisdom is simply superior to the laws that have been created for the province over generations.  And perhaps he’s even right about it, but the question must be asked, what if he’s not?

Enjoy the read!

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