E-Coli 1.3 (January 2001)

Rumblings from the Okanagan

Okay, it's a slim issue this time.  Too much to do and not enough volunteers shipping in their vitriol.  Where have all the writers gone?  Maybe they're too preoccupied churning out academic busy work to attend to the more important duties of keeping the gossip pot stirred up and recycling ancient scandals, old-fart reminiscences, and young-Turk (are there any of those left?) polemics.  Or maybe they're just too worried about paying for parking to think about anything else.  Too bad.

Anyway, as a follow up to the last issue's treatment of academic research and publishing, readers might be interested in consulting a report commissioned by Okanagan University-College as part of its ongoing debate about whether to create a new university, split the existing institution into a university and a college, or maintain the status quo.  The report, a sturdy demonstration of intelligent reasoning in the light of the facts, drives another stake or two into traditional academic hypocrisy and ambitious small-town boosterism, both of which see a new university as equivalent to the New Jerusalem.  The report is available on-line at the following URL: http://www.ouc.bc.ca/irp/postsecond.htm (warning: this document needs Adobe Reader)

What adds considerable weight to the report is the fact that its author, Geoffrey Young, has no personal stake in the outcome.  He's an economic consultant from out of town hired to provide a rational analysis, and his firm conclusions in a contentious dispute are about as disinterested as one can hope for.  Not that his efforts will do much to stop the traditional momentum at Malaspina, of course, where the ambition to dress ourselves up in expensive research robes goes on apace.

The response of the president of Okanagan U-C to Mr. Young's report (also available on-line at the above URL) is  fascinating, a wonderful example of an instant administrative scuttling back from a self-generated flash point, the quick reflex desire to put some distance between an intelligent analysis with unwelcome news and an administration with a strong survival instinct and thus sensitive to the self-interest of faculty and of local civic worthies who sprout a chubby at the very thought of all the capital construction involved in a new university (the Prince George syndrome writ large).  Then again, the president's words may reflect a politically astute sense of the need for a breathing space so that the compelling logic of Mr. Young's argument can sink in (not that I'd count on that happening very quickly).

Yes, yes, this is all flogging a horse which is very much alive and very unlikely to keel over anytime soon.  It's just a matter of "Say not the struggle naught availeth. . . ." and so on, and so forth.

Proctaglia Fugax
Editor in Chief

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