Lift up thine what?

By Robert Granger

Who would have thought those inspiring Gaelic words on the University of Calgary’s coat of arms, "Mo shuile togam suas" (I will lift up my eyes) would so truly and ironically reflect the events of U of C 101 last Wednesday.

In the middle of the Community Welcome at the Jack Simpson Gymnasium, during U of C President Terry White’s speech, part of the coat of arms banner fell from its fasteners and crashed to the ground. Fortunately, it was a cloth banner. Unfortunately, the cloth banner contained a heavy metal rod in a sleeve at the bottom, intended to keep it from waving about. Fortunately, no one was near enough to be hurt.

"It appears that what happened was that it was tied with a string or cord that wasn’t strong enough. The cord broke," said U of C 101

Coordinator Allison Heal. "Dr. White did an awesome job. He made a short comment about it and carried on."

There were a number of eerily coincidental factors that prevented a more serious accident from occurring.

"We were very fortunate that the stage was at the back of the wall this year," said Heal. "In addition, last year we had students seated on the floor, and this year no one was close. We’ll call it a fluke."

"The stage was half the height and half the depth it usually is at convocation," said White. "I got up to do my welcoming speech, and I was in full flight when the pipe slipped out of the bottom of the banner. It came to a crash about 12-15 feet in front of me. I said,’I just want to assure everyone that we have a safety officer’ and continued."

The banner was hung by an outside company that helps with much of the set-up and preparation for large gatherings such as U of C 101 and expositions such as the Academic Resource Expo due to the lack of manpower on campus, explained Heal.

The incident has been written up in a safety report and submitted to Risk Manager Janet Stein, who will take it up with Campus Security and the company who put up the coat of arms.

Heal says that incidents such as these are rare and that students should not be alarmed.

"No one I talked to said that something like this has happened before," said Heal. "It is, without a doubt, an accident. It’s a lesson learned for all of us."

"It certainly won’t happen again. I see it as just a fluke," said White. "I don’t think safety is a major issue, but it is always a big concern if you’re going to have a safe campus like ours. Our safety people do an excellent job."

Director of Risk Management, Safety, and Security Jennifer Yip Choi agreed, saying that the U of C is very safe compared to campuses of similar size.

"We have, considering the size and complexity of the institution, a relatively safe campus, but wherever you have people, you have accidents," said Yip Choi. "We are in compliance with safety codes, we have annual fire inspections to make sure we adhere to fire codes on a regular basis, and we have a variety of safety services. Most of our complaints come from people slipping and falling when it’s winter or wet."

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