Time to do more than just talk, Harvey

The president’s job at an institution like the University of Calgary is undoubtedly a busy one. Representing the U of C at events in the community, sitting on numerous committees like the Board of Governors and campaigning the government to keep the bills paid, U of C President Dr. Harvey Weingarten hasn’t got a lot of free time to devote to students. However, in an interview with the Gauntlet this summer, that’s exactly what Weingarten promised to do, and he hasn’t yet.

While there’s been no indication Weingarten will completely abandon his pledge to make himself available to students for brown-bag lunch discussions, there’s been no indication he will go ahead with them either. Yet, with Weingarten holding a seat on the prestigious 14-member steering committee currently examining Alberta’s advanced education system, this is the most important year to date for him and students to spark a real dialogue. U of C students have a chance to catch the ear of the steering committee through our president, and Weingarten will have a chance to listen directly to some of the positive and negative experiences of students at his university. You’d think information like that would be valuable in everyday operating decisions at the U of C and for a steering committee looking at Alberta’s post-secondary system.

While the Gauntlet wishes to remain cautiously optimistic Weingarten will fulfill his end of the bargain, it’s harder for students to feel the same way. Similar events have been cancelled in the past. U of C administration and the Students’ Union attempted an open town hall last year to discuss budget proposals, including a massive 20 per cent budget cut over four years. No one came.

The lessons from this sad, cancelled event speak for themselves. If Weingarten’s talks are going to succeed, he’ll have to bring them to students. Why not set up a microphone and table in That Empty Space off of the MacEwan Student Centre Food Court? Certainly the SU would be willing to help facilitate. Students rushing between work and classes, preoccupied with mid-terms and looming papers are hard pressed to show up in an obscure classroom or conference space, but would likely be willing to stop and listen during their lunch break. The Gauntlet is more than willing to cover these events and we’d bet other Calgary media would too. Ultimately, the onus is on Weingarten to hold the lunchtime sessions he promised to try, but students have a responsibility as well: show up.

If you would like U of C President Dr. Harvey Weingarten to organize the lunch time discussions he promised, why not drop him a short line at president@ucalgary.ca.

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