Letters to the Editors

Hitchcock paper out of touch with real issues

Dear Editors,

RE: “Hitchcock ‘engages’ first town hall meeting” (Journal, Oct. 21, 2005).

I am writing this letter to the Journal in order to express my level of disgust and disappointment with Principal Karen Hitchcock’s discussion paper entitled “Engaging the World.” During her time at Queen’s, she has been so concerned with Queen’s reputation on a national and international scale that she has lost sight of the real issues that affect this beloved institution.

A good education isn’t defined by a university’s ranking in a magazine or the opinion of a scholar on the other side of the Atlantic.

It is defined by student participation and debate in class, student culture, relationships within the community, extra-curricular activities, and countless other factors that cannot be fostered by skyrocketing tuition fees or pompous discussion papers.

I cannot help but wonder if Hitchcock’s discussion paper will be the least bit successful or carry any significance one year from now.

Those who take the time to read this discussion paper will quickly realize that it is based on the same paradigm propagated by western governments and multinational corporations: a paradigm that views globalization as an all-powerful force and should therefore be our top priority, regardless of local circumstances and concerns.

Furthermore, her town hall meetings to discuss this paper will no doubt be abysmal failures because they have been poorly advertised and take place during the middle of the day, a time when all members of the community are teaching, attending class or working.

If Principal Hitchcock is truly sincere about the state of Queen’s education, she should make a better effort to listen to the Queen’s community instead of dictating what she believes the future of Queen’s should hold.

Aaron Lemkow
ArtSci ’07

Homecoming revenue outweighs police costs

Dear Editors,

I am appalled at the Kingston Police, who have sent a bill for $84,000 to Queen’s for Homecoming. Why? Because an article printed in the Kingston Whig-Standard on Sept. 24 stated that Homecoming would bring an estimated $2.3 million of income into Kingston businesses.

I’m sure if Kingston sent a cheque to Queen’s for the $2.3 million of Homecoming revenues, Queen’s would gladly reimburse the $84,000 expense.

Karlis Vasarais
Comm ’06

Mercier has right to free speech, but analogy inappropriate

Dear Editors,

RE: “Gratitude for Mercier’s critical reflection,” “An open letter to Adèle Mercier” (Journal, Oct.

18, 2005).

To all who are defending Adèle Mercier’s remarks, let me offer a clarification. Those of us who are upset with her are not taking issue with her message regarding Homecoming. She is perfectly entitled to express the opinion she did. What we are unhappy with, however, is the way in which her message was relayed.

Her inappropriate use of the Hitler analogy, as well as her stubborn refusal to admit her wrongdoing in the weeks afterwards, are both displays of her lack of sensitivity and respect to all those who perished at the hands of that heinous man, and to all their families. Being the grandson of Holocaust survivors, I take special exception to her remarks and to her lack of remorse.

Queen’s is a school that prides itself on its inclusive, culturally sensitive environment, something that is especially emphasized in Orientation Week. As such, I am quite shocked and offended that the University itself has not initiated any action to denounce her remarks.

Daniel Braverman
ArtSci ’07

Technological innovation will prevent fossil fuel crisis

Dear Editors,

RE: “Fossil fuels going the way of the dinosaurs” (Journal, Oct. 18, 2005).

As an economist, a mathematician, and a former contributing columnist of the British Columbian newspaper, The Province, I must express my deep disappointment in the Journal’s decision to publish Jason Zakaib’s op-ed. It is one of my deepest beliefs that a credible newspaper should present a wide range of opinions. However, I also believe that the editors have a responsibility to ensure that the editorials they decide to publish are not lacking of intelligent reasoning. The appalling absence of basic economic knowledge was disturbingly evident in his conclusion that the diminishing supply of fossil fuels and natural gas “... is absolutely our generation’s crisis.” Since Mr. Zakaib was so keen on discussing the economic implications of this “crisis” on growth and our livelihoods, I felt compelled to inform fellow readers that his apocalyptic hypothesis has been presented before. In 1798, Robert Malthus published “An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1st edition,” describing the horrors of an increasing population and finite supply of resources. His prediction was that one day the world’s population would outstrip the supply of food leading to mass starvation. Now, 207 years later, I can verify that I am alive, and if you’re reading this, so are you. Not only did the population not fall to the effects of mass starvation, it has been increasing ever since. The reason for this, said Robert Solow, is that people innovate and have been doing so for thousands of years. If his name rings a bell, it is probably because he won the Nobel Prize in Economics for recognizing the overwhelming influence of technological innovation on economic growth, effectively disproving Mathus’ hypothesis. With that said, I hope the readers who actually believed Mr. Zakaib can sleep better after reading this response, knowing that they won’t have to one day plow their own fields with a mule in order to survive in a basic subsistence economy. After all, as an engineer, he doesn’t study steam and coal power technologies like his predecessors did, what’s to say that our descendants are going to study petroleum-based technologies like he did?

Samuel Mok
ArtSci ’07

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