Editorial

Looking at our Campus Freedom Index rating

Editorial_FreeSpeech_CC_BrettTatman_ONLINE

While the methodology has been questioned, the conclusions are worth a second look. For the second year in a row, the University of Ottawa scored in the bottom 10 of the student unions and university administrations evaluated for freedom of speech by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

What the index brings up for discussion is the extent to which students feel repressed and unable to express themselves on campus. As the English-language press on campus, we have had students approach us wanting to cover stories or post comments on our website critical of the SFUO, but fearful of what the repercussions will be for the clubs and associations they are involved with if they do so.

We feel that our role is to report on what the SFUO are doing, and to be critical when we are concerned that they are not meeting the needs of the student body. We also want our contributors to be as accountable to our readers as we expect our student politicians to be accountable to campus, and so we insist on using real names in reporting, not pseudonyms.

But we are concerned that students feel they will jeopardize funding and support from the SFUO if they report for us. We don’t expect student government to agree with all perspectives. However, we expect that students, especially students who want to get involved in various campus initiatives and activities, will have the freedom to be honest about their beliefs and use the critical thinking skills university is supposed to be teaching them.

Questionable fashion choices

Editorial_KentStateSweatshirtTweet_ONLINE

Holocaust chic should not be a thing. Period.

In August, clothing retailer Zara was selling a striped children’s shirt with a six-point star on the left side, reminiscent of the uniforms worn in World War Two concentration camps. In September, Urban Outfitters was selling a Kent State sweater with faux blood splatters in reference to the student protesters shot by the National Guard in 1970. This month, H&M was selling a jumpsuit modeled after uniforms worn by female Kurdish soldiers fighting against ISIS. Fashion can be artistic and that sometimes means making a bold statement. Using tragedy and death as a style inspiration however, is taking things too far. Aside from being in the poorest of taste, it trivializes conflicts that deserve to be treated with respect and thoughtful discourse.

Retailers being willing to carry these products suggests that they believe there is a market for them. What does that say about us as consumers? Possibly that we’re so far removed from what’s happening in the rest of the world that we see the struggles of others as potential for fashion.

With Halloween coming, and the inevitable poor choices made by those who confuse cultural appropriation with appreciation, it might be in everyone’s best interest to hold off on turning political deaths into an edgy style statements. There’s a significant difference between dressing up as the undead and making light of displaced and oppressed people.

Making group work worse than it already is

Editorial_Groupwork_NovartisAG_CC_ONLINE

We’ve all had to rely on the inefficient, the lazy, the useless, and the people who have never once shown up for a group meeting but are somehow going to share a grade with you. Group work sucks.

But York University MBA grad Stefano Cerone’s idea of rating other classmates as group work partners isn’t necessarily a good one.

Some aspects of group work are really difficult to evaluate fairly. Who decides objectively what the correct amount of effort is to put into a project? Some students are comfortable with getting Bs or Cs and will work to a lower standard than others may feel is necessary.

Interpersonal problems are also a source of conflict in group work and may have nothing to do with the actual assignment or anyone’s work ethic.

The biggest problem though, is the longevity of information on the Internet. Once someone’s name goes on the Internet as a poor group member, it’s there not just for other students to see, but for future employers as well. Should the fact that you were a terrible group member one semester when you were 19 affect whether you are employable at 25? University is a time to develop a work ethic and make mistakes that you hopefully won’t replicate upon entering the workforce on a full-time basis. Posting full names on this website will only impede that process and defeat the purpose of an assignment you likely won’t even remember being a part of five years from now.