Letters to the Editor – Issue 14

Re: “The Strategic Mandate Agreement: A Misrepresentation of Trent’s True Identity?”

As a student Senator from Lady Eaton College, I have  been involved in the SMA process at Trent since 2012. I don’t pretend to represent the whole Trent community or its student body; rather I am writing to simply share with you some facts that I know and have experienced first-hand.

It is a fact that despite the tight timeframe given by MTCU, there had been a process of consultation; and many individuals and groups had taken advantage of that opportunity to engage in a dialogue that ultimately is about the future of Trent. The Green Paper, which was used to create the SMA, had received 71 responses, 19 of which are from students and alumni. These include official responses from the TGSA, TCSA, Trent Alumni Association and Undergraduate College Cabinets.

Taking a step back, the SMA process has been anticipated and became a dominant topic of discussion for many student governance bodies including College Cabinets and TCSA. Over the course of September – November 2013, student leaders had engaged in conversation with administration, faculty, staff and fellow students about the SMA. Established forums such as Senate and Board of Governor meetings had been employed by official student representatives to give a student perspective into the SMA process. While it is debatable how much impact students have had on the SMA document, it is undeniable that students have had the opportunity to actively participate in the process.  To say otherwise is to make a false statement.

Administrators writing the SMA and everyone who engages in the process are quite aware of the painful reality that Trent is under funding-cut threat from the provincial government. Our enrollment, especially in humanities courses, is not enough to be financially sustainable. For whichever reason, it is a fact that the provincial government prefers large-size university and science programs, and thus Trent is not well-positioned in this exercise.  The SMA is inspired to be the best response to those constraints. It means to be a document that will give Trent leverage in negotiating with MTCU, and thus it has to balance between representing the future of Trent identity, and meeting MTCU expectation.  It is the product of hard-work from people who care deeply about this university, including students and faculty members.

Enough about the situation that has precipitated this. How about some thoughts on what can be done? How about asking your friends to enroll in a language class? How about lobbying the Ontario government to understand the value of small-size university education and give us more funding? How about asking the private sectors to give fair appreciation to applicants with art-and-humanities background? And while we are at it, why don’t we try to change society’s attitude towards postsecondary education?
It is encouraging seeing other students care about the SMA as much as or even more than I do, but it would be even better to have an informed opinion that does not rely on fallacious ad hominem attacks against imaginary “corrupt, white-collar fat cats of Trent.”

Duc Hien Nguyen

Re: “Queen’s–Trent Program Slashed and What this will Mean”

The Queen’s Trent Program article is very misinformed and devalues teacher education at Trent. Trent does have an excellent teaching program that accepts students right out of high school. And during my undergrad I did have to participate in placements in the Peterborough community. I am so grateful for my Trent education, and I am getting kind of annoyed with people thinking people will not go to Trent because they cut the Queen’s-Trent Concurrent program. People that do not get accepted to Queens concurrent program will get accepted other places, and one of these places could be Trent! If people really want to go to two universities, they can always apply to whatever teacher college they would like following their undergrad. Thank you Trent for providing me with a great Bachelor of Education!

Krista Liebscher

Re: “Hungry for Food Justice”

It would appear not only to me, but to others that this letter suspiciously sounds like a cut and paste version of the article you published last year in Arthur under the title “Stand Up for Food Justice, Eat Free Food.” I decided that I can no longer continue to read articles about Aramark in Arthur without responding. I am speaking for myself; not representing anyone, but responding as a worker and an employee. I realize your article is not an attack on my person, but it some ways it is exactly that.

You certainly do not speak for all the students. You have not done your homework and your facts are not correct. This is just a cut and paste version of your last rant about food at Trent. I have read yours, so now please listen to mine.

1. So, where are your facts? If you are going to brazenly make statements in your article, as a good reporter, you must have facts that support the statement. I don’t see any in this article. We do buy local food. Have you not seen the board right outside LEC that states what local foods are being consumed. Have you eaten at Lady Eaton in the past year? Do you know who the people are who order or cook the food you are talking about? I don’t remember anyone coming to check facts or ask questions in our kitchen.

2. I think it is wonderful that Trent has so many young radical thinkers and people who are not afraid to stand up for justice. I was raised in the sixties and grew up with justice at my side. I support food justice and sustainability. I support healthy eating and healthy living. What I don’t support is your fact-less attack. Our food at LEC/Trent is about nutrition, eating healthy, and having meals that are cost effective for the students. You are only looking at this issue from the outside. You need to come and have dinner at LEC and talk to us, the cooks and people whom you say are failing at their jobs. Aramark is the workers and the cooks and the dishwashers and cashiers and cleaners and servers. We make up a huge part of the “corporation”. So when you slam the corporation you are slamming US!!! And I don’t like it.

3. If you could see in our storage rooms and our refrigerators at LEC you would see that we do have local/regional food. Our carrots, onions, potatoes, squash, and any winter friendly veggies all are at least regional. We are doing a great job at Lady Eaton giving meals that are not only nutritional, but [there is also] a special station dedicated to not just the vegetarians, but vegans, [too], and very healthy. Drop by sometime. You have no idea how much has changed even this year as Aramark works towards developing and cooking healthier food for the students. All of the cooks here at LEC are proud that we serve healthy food. We bring in gluten free products for the students all the time and have extended the list of availability to pizza shells, cookies and more. We have Halal too. All across campus, just ask us and we will provide!

4. The chicken we serve to our students is organic AND local. The eggs we use are free-range eggs. We use lots of local products and have special meals where we PROMOTE local food.

5.Instead of boycotting … come and have dinner with us? Come and see for yourself.

6. We do not provide bad service as you say in your article. The workers care about what they serve and care about all the students as well. I think that instead of having pointless articles which scorn the practices and enterprises of food service providers you should do more research locally … in your own college. Talk to the cooks and cafeteria workers about food services in your college. If you feel that Aramark is violating your food rights then do the work and do the math. Find out what it would cost to provide organic, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free at a reasonable cost to the students. Try very hard. Be realistic, have achievable goals, and make sure you plan these meals for a few thousand students three times a day.

7. I am only one of many cooks across campus and only one of the cooks at Lady Eaton College and I think we do a pretty good job. I am proud of what I cook and what I serve and everything I cook is provided by Aramark. I am proud that we serve fair trade coffee and hot chocolate. Who buys those fair trade products for you to drink? Aramark.

8. Do you know that Aramark cooks food for seniors and that right here at Lady Eaton College from Monday to Friday, a hot lunch is prepared and packed and sent off to fifty or more seniors everyday?

9. Each college here is like a family. And, we all know that sometimes families do not get along. The same goes with the employees. Like any family, we all have our own opinions and we don’t always agree with each other. There is always more than one side to every story.

10. If you want to get down to brass tacks, boycott Pepsi and Coke, too. Stop drinking pop altogether and be careful what toothpaste goes on your brush. Have you heard about the Colgate company and what their conglomerates are supporting?
While checking my facts I also went online and read a fair bit of information concerning Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith Mc Henry and read his take concerning the history, principles and current actions of the movement. We all want to live in a world free of war, we all want peace and I want peace at my place of employment too. What you ask in food services is Utopian and idealistic.

There is such a negative spin being put on Aramark of late and like everything you read, it is NOT all true. It is not all cut-backs, job loss and corporations making all the money. The politics of food weighs heavy on everyone’s mind these days, but the corporations are not the problem. It is a myriad of things. The economy, the nature of growing crops and farms and businesses and exports and imports and restrictions and laws and a million other things that happen on this planet to make food cost more and more and more each day.

I support good food and I support the rights of all students. Please support my rights. The right to be proud of the company I work for. Aramark.

Lynette Stoutenburg, Aramark Employee, LEC, CUPE 3205

Re: “Trent Chancellor Don Tapscott Endorses US/Canada Merger”

“Merger of the Century” is my tenth book and describes the existential challenges facing Canada and the US. The two face an external threat from state capitalism, led by China and Russia, which disregards human rights, the rule of law, environmental constraints and democracy. The two face internal challenges and bi-national ones.

The two countries must coordinate and integrate further, economically and politically, to face the future. And the book, a thought experiment, describes economic and/or political merger models. These range from a full-on merger like Germany, a European Union construct, a joint venture to develop resources, a security perimeter and a customs-monetary union. The book ends with a chapter on what Canada must do if there is no merger or further integration soon.

This book was a four-year research project, with 30 pages of endnotes, designed to spark conversation in both countries. It has successfully done so and media and policy attention from influencers such as Hillary Clinton has been widespread. Don Tapscott, one of the world’s most important public intellectuals, endorsed the thought experiment for raising critical issues. Mission accomplished from my viewpoint.

But an opinion piece in your publication criticized Don Tapscott by falsely characterizing a review of my book by him as an endorsement of a Canada-US merger. As its author, I decided to correct the record as well as to correct misconceptions about the content of my book.

Anyone who reads Tapscott’s thoughtful review will see that he endorses nothing of the kind. He wrote: “if it [an idea] advances prosperity, sustainability and justice, then no proposal is too outrageous to consider.”

This is what’s known as an “idea book” and anyone who reads my thought experiment will realize that the metaphor of a takeover is simply that. This author misread the economic integration models in the book as though they were indications that I had some sort of profiteering, corporatist agenda. They were part of a thought experiment to describe relative valuations.

My book also provides the first reasonable solution to resolving legitimate First Nations land claims and bringing sustainable, inclusive prosperity and development to Canada’s neglected hinterland. It also addresses the future strategic issues concerning the Arctic, the Canada-U.S. border and Canada’s economic and military dependency on the United States.

Frankly, I was surprised that Trent would publish an article containing such cartoonish assertions based on someone’s obvious bias against prosperity, corporations or innovative ideas.

Trent University must uphold the tradition of universities as places for open and honest discussion of all kinds of ideas. That is the purpose of education in a democracy. That is why this anti-business screed, based on misconceptions about the ideas of others, is not only annoying but disappointing.

Diane Francis is a Distinguished Professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management, Editor at Large with the National Post, a Huffington Post contributor, columnist, and author of 10 books. She is a dual citizen.

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