Letters to the Editors

AMS, SGPS should charge Aberdeen ‘activity fee’

Dear Editors,

Re: “Queen’s shouldn’t pay for Aberdeen” (Journal, Oct. 19, 2007)

First, I agree with Eddie Ho’s conclusion that the administration of this university is not responsible for policing costs associated with the Aberdeen Street party. However, I take issue with most of the rest of his assertions. If he thinks it is a fact that Queen’s attracts “the top students and researchers from around the world,” I fear he has swallowed a little too much of the Frosh Week Kool-Aid. Queen’s is a great university, but it’s a large-ish fish in a pretty small pond. He goes on to suggest that paying for the policing, an amount that reflects less than 0.2 per cent of Queen’s annual operating budget, would turn this institution into a mediocre school. Further, he reckons that the average university employee costs the school around $45,000 annually, meaning either he’s grossly underestimating the salary and benefits of Queen’s employees, or this institution isn’t providing a living wage to those it employs.

To get to the point, the administration of this university has, it seems to me, done a fair amount to discourage the Aberdeen Street party and should be absolved from the costs of policing it. Those responsible for the party and therefore the cost are, of course, the students of this university, past and present. Whether or not a majority of this year’s participants were Queen’s students is hardly relevant: no students, no Homecoming, no party. Although there is no legal obligation on the part of the AMS and the SGPS to pay for the policing, I think that the moral and ethical obligation is clear. I call on these two organizations to support a mandatory student “activity” fee to cover the bill, which should come to something like $20 per student. While some might argue against a fee on the basis that students would then feel entitled to get their “money’s worth” next year and poison the relationship between students and the community, I would suggest that the respect accorded the Kingston community by the majority of partygoers is not something that could be easily reduced further.

Alan Brown
Ph.D. candidate, Biology

Professors, not technology, at fault for inadequate education

Dear Editors,

Re: “Technology diluting classroom learning” (Journal, Oct. 19, 2007)

Dean Carson’s letter on Ms. Jemison’s editorial has failed to mention a significant point: “... it seems that rather than being used to supplement course material, [technology is] being used as a replacement for actual teaching.”

I don’t think it’s controversial to claim that technology has its place in the classroom if a professor can use it effectively. Good teachers are effective without technology, and using technology does not indicate an incapable professor.

However, using remote-control clickers in class to ensure “active learning” should not reflect poorly on technology; instead, this is a signal of a professor who can neither use technology effectively nor engage his or her students.

Rather than placing the blame of the ongoing decline of undergraduate education at Queen’s squarely on the shoulders of technology, Carson should also be critical of the faculty members who use technology as a replacement for actual teaching.

Before I’m attacked by academics at Queen’s, I would like to add that there is a further source of the decline in undergraduate education: the students. Though we are the ones paying the professors’ salaries, we are equally responsible for our own education. Indeed, I will not claim to have been interested (or awake) for all my undergraduate classes. Disinterested students beget disenchanted professors. These professors exacerbate the problem. This vicious cycle is the source of what has undermined the personal connections that once made university classes special places to be.

Perhaps the challenge should be to both students and faculty to take a more active interest in learning and teaching.

Brennan Leong
ArtSci ’07

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