Letters to the editors

Draft investment policy thoroughly researched

Dear Editors,

Re: “Perfunctory ethics disappoint” (Journal, Oct.28, 2008)

We would like to clarify a few points related to the Draft Statement on Responsible Investing. In the opinion piece published in the Journal on Oct. 28, the author commented, “by not publishing a list of companies in which it invests, the University all but guarantees that no one will be able to find out who they are investing in.” In fact, the University has been providing lists of holdings on a timely basis to members of the community who request the information. Faculty, students and staff members of the University who are interested in obtaining the list should contact Queen’s Investment Services office directly at investment.services@queensu.ca.

In addition, the Oct. 24 Journal article mentioned that “the University should have looked further at other universities’ policies to get a better sense of what to include in the rest of the statement.” Much work was done internally to look at the policies of other universities not only in Canada, but in the U.S. to get a sense of what others were doing in this field. These comprehensive analyses and findings were presented to the senior leadership of the University, the Investment Committee and the Pension Committee. Institutions evaluated include the University of Toronto, McGill, McMaster, Harvard, Stanford, Yale and Princeton, to name a few. The University also looked at the practices of large pension plans in North America as well, including the Caisse, Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan, Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, Ontario Public Services Employees Union (OPSEU), College of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT) and the California Public Employee’s Retirement System (CalPERS). This provided a good sample for the basis of our draft Statement which is now available for the University community to comment before it is finalized.

Charlotte Liu
Director, Office of the Vice-Principal (Operations & Finance) on behalf of the Office of the Vice-Principal (Operations & Finance)

Mantle’s decision reflects poorly on Queen’s

Dear Editors,

Re: “‘I will not be stepping down’” (Journal, Nov. 7, 2008)

Part of being a good leader is the ability to understand what is best for the people you represent. In this case, it would be best for the student body to have a representative in whom they can trust. Unfortunately, Jacob Mantle’s remarks have resulted in an irrevocable breach of trust from the student body. From now on, any attempts made by Mantle to fight discrimination on campus and further educate himself on issues of intolerance will be undermined by doubts surrounding his sincerity. Mantle’s decision to remain in power reflects his inability to understand the consequences of his actions, casting further doubt over his character as a whole, regardless of his true intentions. As well, Mantle’s decision to not step down casts doubts not only on Mantle, but on the institution of Queen’s as a whole. As a representative of the largest student faculty on campus, Mantle’s decision to stay on board reflects his belief that he best represents Queen’s students. In turn, his actions are seen as a reflection of Queen’s from an outsider’s point of view. It is disappointing that Mantle has made his decision to serve his own interests, as opposed to taking into consideration those of the students or the University. After all, isn’t that what a good leader’s supposed to do?

Michelle Seetner
ArtSci ’10

Anonymous graffiti ‘cowardly’

Dear Editors,

Re: “Subversive Graffiti Found on Campus” (Journal, Nov.7, 2008)

It seems that just by virtue of my attendance at this educational institution I’ve become embroiled in an ongoing racial debate, whether I like it or not. I suppose that I’m all for social activism, but the recent slew of contentious graffiti found around campus takes such a cowardly approach to its subject matter that it undercuts its original intention. Subversive graffiti is an apt categorization.

Whatever happened to the days when pissed off students went to the dollar store to buy Bristol board and sharpies, made signs and picketed to express their discontent? I could dig that. That kind of social protest doesn’t affect anyone on campus without his or her direct engagement. And if one does decide to engage oneself, at least picketing is a little bit personal. If I’m going to have a cause shoved down my throat, I’d much rather see the face of the person from whom I’m to “expect resistance” than to be pelted by sub-par spray painted slogans as I walk to class­—slogans that my tuition will probably help pay to remove, no less. I think that if one wants to involve oneself in a contentious issue, one should at least have the testicular fortitude to publicly stand by one’s opinion. Anonymity is for cowards.

All of this aside, I think everyone’s making way to big a deal out of this racism thing. We’re all people when it comes down to it, aren’t we? We all need to stand up, stretch, take a couple of deep breaths, smile and shrug our shoulders. If everyone weren’t so prone to agitation maybe we wouldn’t be offending each other all the time. I’m of half a mind to start a Queen’s Chill the (Insert Expletive Here) Out Campaign. We’ll hang out in front of Stauffer on beanbag chairs. “What do we want?! For everyone to just relax, man! When do we want it?! Whenever they get around to it, I guess!”

Brendan Ward
ArtSci ’10

Support for pro-union piece

Dear Editors,

Re: “For the union makes us strong” (Journal, Nov. 7, 2008)

For almost a year now TAFA has been active in some capacity at Queen’s. During that time the organizers have been able to reflect upon the successes and shortcomings of previous campaigns, develop new strategies and, increasingly as the drive unfolds, respond to opposing arguments. Through personal discussions, departmental meet and greets and Journal commentaries, many of us have heard it all. From fears of strikes to the misconception that unionism is only necessary for the “blue-collars,” most of those who are quick to attack the case for organizing ground their position on misunderstandings and consistently fail to provide any real solutions to the existing problems facing teaching assistants and fellows, be it related to training, the complete absence of policies and protections for TFs, to securing existing wage levels and working for superior benefits that are already enjoyed by our peers across Ontario campuses. Amanda Wilson’s article superbly pointed to the widespread support TAFA organizers have encountered over the past months and responded to the usual complaints about unionization. Most importantly, Wilson strengthened the point that as a democratic and member-driven organization, the local will reflect the interests of its members by creating a representative and legally binding relationship with the University’s many administrative levels. This is the best means of ensuring effective change. As educators and as students, unionization, as she suggests, is about “creating a space of empowerment and using our collective power to build a more just and equitable community.” With the pending formation of a union local, graduate TAs and TFs are presented with an opportunity to improve both the educational environment and working conditions at Queen’s.

Andrew Stevens
PhD ’09

Corps Correction

Dear Editors,

Re: Changing from scholar to soldier and back: Queen’s in wartime” (Journal, Nov. 7, 2008)

I was pleased to be interviewed by Angela Hickman early this month and generally pleased with the reporting on the interview, but there was a misinterpretation of something that I said which deserves comment.

The “Signal Corps,” i.e. the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, in which I became a junior officer, was not a part of the organization called the Canadian Officer Training Corps. The “low-morale outfit” was emphatically not the Signal Corps. I was proud to be, and remain proud of having been, a member of the Signal Corps.

Charles Campling,
Sci ’44 and ArtSci ’90

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