Letters to the editor: November 27

RE: Castle’s future in question

I’ve spent four terms at the castle, it was a second home. Family includes best friends, mentors and special people of all walks of life, so the article on the castle’s future was disheartening to read. Every name I know — among them the sharpest and most intellectual minds that made the castle what it was: a magical place of learning and discovery. You know what else? They got the castle; they cared for the place; they loved the students.

The castle gave me the best education I ever had. There, we weren’t just Tricolour, we were international. We were educated with a different mindset — the epitome of a liberal arts experience. The castle is a gift — everyone wants to play with it, but its operations are an enigma — not everyone knows how to solve it. Something so magical needs to be handled accordingly — currently, it doesn’t seem to be the case. 

There will always be narratives that will never see the light of day; there will always be cases never made public, because of “privacy”, because that’s just proper HR practices, or “higher diplomacy”. We keep it in house; we keep it hush-hush. I’ve gotten nearly fired from my Foreign Affairs job for being vocal, so I know the risks. But secrecy doesn’t breed trust. You don’t need higher education to get that. My questions are, is there a way to defend and strengthen the BISC without breaking confidentiality? Could we please not leave leadership in the hands of those “very confused about what to do with the castle”? Where are you looking for talent? Is there a committee in place to carry out the necessary tasks? If not, could there be one? 

I recently worked in Jimi Hendrix’s old apartment in New York. He once said, “when the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace.” It’s true for the state of world affairs today, and it is true for the state of affairs at our Alma Mater. 

Xiren Wang
BISC alumna, ‘06-07, ‘08, ‘09
ArtSci ’11, BAH + INTS
Music. Chancellor’s Scholar

RE: Castle’s future in question

The “Castle’s future in question” piece raised a crucial point about a management structure that needs further examination.

The Executive Director’s removal left a managerial triumvirate overseeing all academic and operational matters at the BISC, resulting in at least the impression of a lack of overall, unified direction on that campus. This, combined with the whittling down of faculty and staff, also leads to a more incidious problem: conflicts of interest.

Without an Executive Director or anything resembling a Human Resources or Personnel department, the Academic Director is de facto overseer of academic and non-academic management. If any staff or faculty has any issue — managerial or otherwise — they wish to raise with upper management, they essentially bring it to a final arbiter. 

If that arbiter’s handling of the matter is alleged as unfair, there is no higher level at the BISC to move the complaint to. The complainant must either remain silent or bring that issue of unfair treatment back to the manager or arbiter that allegedly treated them unfairly. 

Take into account that this final arbiter is best friends with one of the department managers, even serving as best man in the latter’s wedding party, and illusions of bias and favouritism towards certain factions quickly arise.

On the academic side, students challenging the appropriateness of a grade received in one department face a similar structure. Their primary option is to resubmit the work to the spouse of the professor that may have given the student the original mark. This is not to suggest that these academics have acted with impropriety, or anything less than the highest degree of integrity; however, the optics of this process are an issue. 

In any university setting, the illusion of bias can be as harmful to the community as the real thing. No student should feel that their grades are being affected by external bias, just as no faculty or staff member should feel that decisions affecting them are reached through skewed deliberation. 

An institution that promises in its own Charter to maintain responsible leadership must do a better job of not fostering such illusions.

Nick Papageorge, 
ArtSci ’14

 

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