Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Worth Linking To

Not that we usually do this, but this video is too funny not to post a link to.

In response to John McCain's recent attack ad against Barack Obama, Paris Hilton has accepted her nomination from McCain to run in the 2008 presidential election.

In dedication to our Editor In Chief, here's Paris Hilton, For President:

Could there ever be a Canadian equivalent to this?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sheldon Levy Visits Israel

The Ryerson Free Press blog recently took a bit of a vacation, and returned to find out that Sheldon Levy, that loveable poster-child of a perfect university president, has also been on vacation. He took a road trip, of sorts, with five other university presidents: David Johnston of the University of Waterloo, Luc Vinet of l’Université de Montréal, Peter MacKinnon of the University of Saskatchewan, Allan Rock of the University of Ottawa and William Barker of University of King’s College in Halifax.

Rather than facing Chinese security during the Olympic lead-up, from where the majority of Ryerson’s international student population hails, Levy and his peers vacationed in the occupying state of Israel.

The tour was co-hosted by University of Toronto law professor Ed Morgan and York University historian Irving Abella, both of whom have led previous missions, according to the Canadian Jewish News.

The purpose of the trip was “to introduce the Canadians to their Israeli counterparts, to allow them to see first hand the quality of education and research at Israeli universities, and to encourage the creation of joint research and exchange programs” Abella said. He is also the former national president of the Canadian Jewish Congress.

This quite the claim, considering it is normally academics themselves who create ties with universities. New international academic partners are not decided though presidential decree.

And somehow, the website has missed this story. The Free Press couldn’t find a link anywhere to a report about Levy’s trip. This is despite that the news feed has steadily published on other, somewhat less important issues than a president’s trip to a controversial state.

Perhaps that’s because Levy’s trip happened almost a year exactly to the day that he released this letter. Levy, and a number of other university presidents, were quick to condemn the British University and College Union’s (UCU) motion to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Many students disagreed with this approach and Levy was coerced into a panel on academic boycotts months after. He received a lot of flack on both sides for how the situation was handled.

Maybe the Ryerson publicity machine has learned from last year’s mistakes: from announcing support for the state of Israel without consulting students, staff or faculty, to siding with a professor over expelling a student in the infamous Facebook debacle. Maybe their approach this time was to not say anything at all.

There seems to only be one account of this trip, and it’s from the Jerusalem Post and the Canadian Jewish News.

Of course, Levy, and his jet setting colleagues, are free to travel where they please. But when Levy travels with Ryerson’s banner overhead, he has the responsibility to, at the very least, notify the community. When Levy joined others from Ontario on a trade mission to India, students were informed and the details were more public. Ryerson should at least announce that this trip occurred, and to justify it. If the University is afraid that they can’t justify the trip, then hiding the fact that Levy went isn’t the way forward; he simply should not have gone.

Maybe Levy’s quick condemnation last summer of the UCU boycott wasn’t triggered by a support for academic freedom as was previously stated. Maybe he was just looking for a free trip, to materialize a year later.

For his next trip, perhaps he should look towards Cuba, Scandinavia, Ireland or Sri Lanka. Levy and his buddies could at least get a snapshot of what free university education looks like. That’s the kind of diplomacy that all Ryerson students could get behind.