Letters to the Editors

Patricia Rae should be thanked for Greenblatt lecture

Dear Editors:
Re: “A meeting of the minds” (Journal, March 16, 2007).

I was very gratified by your report of Katherine Laidlaw’s interview of Professor Stephen Greenblatt and me, but I want to correct one small error in it.

It’s inaccurate to say that “After retiring this year, Logan asked Greenblatt to come and speak at Queen’s in his honour.” In addition to making me sound pretty vain, this sentence takes the credit for
Professor Greenblatt’s wonderful visit to Queen’s away from the person to whom the credit really belongs: Professor Patricia Rae, head of the English department.

After learning of my intention to retire, Professor Rae suggested that it would be appropriate to bring in a visiting speaker to mark the occasion, and asked me to recommend someone for her consideration. I recommended Professor Greenblatt, who would, I thought, be the person of greatest interest to the students and faculty of the department, to Queen’s as a whole, and to the Kingston community.

Professor Rae proceeded to invite him—and I’m delighted (as I think everyone else who came into contact with him must be) that he accepted her invitation.

George M. Logan
Cappon Professor of English

Journal’s editorial part of ‘general trend of anti-activism’

Dear Editors:
Re: “May as well say nothing” (Journal, March 16, 2007).

First of all, in no way did I agree with those making unsubstantiated and anonymous claims against the hiring of the new social issues commissioner. In that sense, I agreed with the spirit of the Journal’s recent unsigned editorial. However, it seemed that as the article progressed into the larger scheme of things, there were a few things that stuck out as tangential to the matter at hand.

On the whole, some pretty dangerous assertions were made in the editorial. I’m not really sure what to make of the lashing out at all forms of anonymous expression that was articulated at the end.

It’s unfair of the Journal to paint with broad strokes labelling all those, including the Other Campaign group, as “irresponsible,” “lack[ing] integrity,” and “do[ing] nothing for constructive debate.” Maybe the actions of those who sent the anonymous petition seems out of line, but it’s unfair to have anyone else who wants to identify themselves anonymous or pursue some of other form of activism outside the existing structures lumped in with them. This editorial, and its corresponding cartoon seem to be a part of a general trend of anti-activism, including the notably harsh denouncement of students government leaders protesting at a Toronto high school, from the Journal lately.

To me, that seems dangerous, considering the great achievements that have come through activist means in our history: wars ending, the civil rights movement, and of course, tuition freezes. Also, isn’t a little rich to be criticizing anonymity in an unsigned editorial?


Chris Horkins
ArtSci ’08

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Editors’ note:
The Journal’s editorials are written by the editorials page editor and are unsigned because they reflect the collective opinion of the Journal’s masthead, whose names are listed below the unsigned editorials in each issue.

The previous editorial mentioned in this letter, which was published on Mar. 2 and criticized students
protesting at a Toronto high school, took issue with their specific method of protest (impersonating journalists) and not what or why they were protesting.

AMS hiring policies and editorial authority not mutually exclusive

Dear Editors:
Re: “Studio Q’s stability” (Journal, March 9, 2007).

I won’t say much about the obvious lack of research with which the Journal formed their opinion, except that there is no excuse for it. Even though the piece was an editorial, the opinion therein must be supported in fact—it wasn’t. Anyone who bothers to look up Studio Q will note the many discrepancies between the opinion expressed and reality.

The Journal shouldn’t forget that it is a part of the AMS, too. More importantly, as a service to students first and foremost, the Journal exists to deliver regular and accurate news to students, within the “normal standards of good journalism,” according to the AMS constitution. On March 9, the Journal performed a huge disservice to proper practices in journalism, and especially to the students who rely on the Journal as their primary source of campus news.

The Journal’s unease of a loss of editorial autonomy in Studio Q is unfounded. Studio Q adopted a hiring process similar to what CFRC already has, and editorial autonomyhas not been undermined there. In fact, in at least 20 years, there has been no known evidence of AMS tampering in campus media.

It will not happen. AMS hiring policies and editorially autonomy are simply not mutually exclusive.

The Journal would do well to look at its own practices before criticizing others’. Of course, free speech means they can say whatever they want, but abusing the power of editorial autonomy with manipulative phrasing and poorly informed opinions is simply irresponsible. Editorial autonomy is nothing unless backed by journalistic integrity.

Jess Lindal
ArtSci ’08 and outgoing Studio Q business manager

Tea Room responds to coffee op-ed

Dear Editors:
Re: “Looking Beyond Coffee” (Journal, March 2, 2007).

Kirby suggests that even if fair trade products are more expensive, “remedying the social justice concern surrounding the production of coffee should be enough to justify any small decrease in profit margin.” The problem is, the coffee industry thrives on high volumes at small margins to stay afloat.

As a business, even a 10 per centincrease in the cost of a product could eliminate its profit altogether. It is the Tea Room’s goal to show that environmentally sustainable businesses are possible; if the Tea
Room is not fiscally responsible and fails as a business, it runs the danger of reinforcing the common belief that this idea is a fallacy.

The Tea Room also has had to focus on its direct environmental impact. Significant initiatives that are unique to the industry have been started at the Tea Room, including a vermi-composting system for our waste, exclusively compostable or recyclable packaging (nearly three times the cost of traditional
packaging), an energy monitoring system, and a significant travel mug discount.

Although environmental sustainability ultimately involves social sustainability, the Tea Room elected to start with our own immediate ecological footprint. It is important to carefully examine the economics of fair trade. If the low price of coffee is due to overproduction, it ought to be a signal to producers to switch to growing other crops. Paying a guaranteed fair trade premium both prevents this signal from getting through and, by raising the average price paid for coffee, encourages more producers to enter the market. This drives down the price of non-fair trade coffee even further, making non-fair trade farmers poorer. Fair trade certification has a controversial focus on certifying only those farms that are defined as co-operatives, making it impossible for a family farm to be fair trade certified.

This doesn’t mean that the intentions of fair trade are bad or that its ideals should not be pursued; it simply means that the system has flaws that we should examine completely before jumping on board with its benefits. The Tea Room is excited to be a partner in this process, and will continue to invest in products that contribute to our environmental and social philosophy while concurrently dissecting their
performance and success. It’s this strategy that will allow the Tea Room to make the most impact.

Michele Romanow
Tea Room Head Manager

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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