By Dale Miller
Dr. Harvey Weingarten and University of Calgary’s administration have rec- eived some pretty harsh criticism from faculty and students over the past year.
Not only were last year’s planned budget cuts and reallocation pool roundly and almost universally panned, but Weingarten’s ability to lead this university was also called into question by the Faculty Association in a recent newsletter.
If one were to listen to Wein- garten’s critics–and they are admitedly some of the most outspoken individuals at the university–it would seem the president has perpetually moved from one disappointment to another.
Recently however, it appears Weingarten is making an honest effort to address some of these concerns, both through his recent Report to the Community and this week’s Gauntlet interview. The addition of tangible internal relations to the university’s already sub- stantial external portfolio is a very positive development. It’s up to us to ensure the university community stays on administration’s ‘make happy’ list.
Effective communication is a mutual obligation. Weingarten needs to make himself available, and we need to be there when he does. Up until now this has been a problem.
Aside from a handful of student journalists, there were virtually no students present for Weingarten’s Report to the Community. If you look at it from Weingarten’s perspective this student apathy and lack of interest is a grave concern. Why should the university care if students are unhappy with their university’s direction if students can’t be bothered to show up and do something about it?
Rather than make this a pointless rant against student apathy, here is a tangible goal we can meet: Weingarten has offered to hold informal and as yet undefined ‘brown bag lunches’ starting in September to connect directly with the campus community. Students need to show up.
Not only will we be able to shoot the shit with the president over tuna salad and express our concerns on classroom overcrowding, but it won’t cost the university anything. Compare the good that could come out of this simple gesture for the university’s students and staff to the benefit we receive from the U of C’s colossal external budget aimed at the outside community.
This may not be the ultimate answer students have been waiting for, but it’s a beginning to what could be a very important dialogue.
I for one will be attending these lunches, tuna salad and all.