The sorry state of the university

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By Shane Dingman 

Sweet shimmying Jesus on a Texas dance floor! Boy, I said boy, there ain’t nothing more unsettling than a total reversal of fortunes. When the enemy is in your clutches and then whips on you like a rabid polar bear, well there’s nothing left to do but try to hammerjack your way out of it.

I’m referring of course to the teeth-grinding display of monkey-shines at the State of the University address on Monday. And let me preface this by saying that I generally don’t devote this space to making light of the ramming and jostling of the various protest actions on campus. But when you actually help captain Claude look witty and urbane, tolerant and fair, it’s time to sell yourselves to the glue factory.

It was like watching a car wreck, and for the first time I saw what Claude must have looked like in his boxing days as a youth in Quebec. As he stood there impassively pounding away at his message while the mixed bag of protest types exhausted themselves with a flurry of poorly phrased and foolish sounding jibes and questions, I knew it was all over.

When they mop the blood off themselves these passionate but woefully unprepared folks are going to realize that you have to actually train for this kind of competition, unless you want to get killed, that is.

The true legacy of corporal Claude is the reckless enrolment growth he has sponsored by accepting SuperBuild funds. We expand our physical plant and take more students, when we are already underfunded per student. This is a sure formula for further cuts to programs, and Claude’s only answer is that he’s been meeting with the government. Where was that argument on Monday?

No one has magic ideas for restoring tuition to decade-old levels, and neither do the protesters, but I do know a little bit about reading a crowd. And when even the students are turning bright red from embarrassment or rolling their eyes in frustration, odds are you aren’t making the point you want to.

Hey, we’d all like free tuition like they have in Germany and several Euro-zone countries. But this government doesn’t believe in education, nor does it trust educators or students not to blow any band-aid money it gives to keep the situation bearable.

So all of Claude’s promises are essentially for shit. Because as much as the students are (officially) powerless to alter his course, he is equally unable to get what he needs for Ryerson from those misers at Queen’s Park. If somebody had put a leash on those yappy dogs during Monday’s protest and instead hammered Claude about how ineffective he is, things would have been a lot different.

Can’t you see a broken and shattered Claude, pant legs rolled up to his knees, as he wades through the shallows of some lake in the Gaspé. Gibbering and laughing to himself he recounts to the loons and headhunters how he tried to save Ryerson.

Instead, there are people lining up to congratulate ol’ Claude. Meanwhile back at the ranch we have to clean out the stables. He sure rode us hard and put us away wet kids.

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