Sunday, 9 March 2014

Systemic ( endemic, pandemic) power politics, who controls what

Last week I was dismayed to hear of 2 reports from my old Alma Mater, the University of Ottawa on a matter relating to a chatline described as sexually aggressive speech and another one a few days later to allegations that some weeks ago the Male Hockey team had been involved (it is alleged) in a gang rape of one unnamed female student at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay after a game with the other Varsity Team. The Ottawa U team was staying outside town and this is where the alleged incident is said to have occurred. Upon learning of the incident from an anonymous source and then from the Police, the Rector of Ottawa U. suspended the entire team for the time being. Though no one appears to know exactly what happened and who was involved, police investigation is on-going.
The CBC sent reporters to Lakehead U. no one had heard about the alleged rape by the Ottawa U. team.

The first incident of a private conversation on a social chat line involving 4 male members of the Student Federation of Ottawa U. all in various positions on the board where they discussed in graphic details having sex with the Student Federation President Ms. Roy. She became aware of this private conversation because someone anonymously sent her copy of the conversation. She then published the graphic conversation twice on FB to shame her male colleagues. They apologized to her, some resigned their position on the Student Federation Board but two refused and made threats of legal action against her for publishing what was essentially a private conversation which was leaked to her by a source.

Now all the parties involved are young adults, 18-25 years of age. The media became aware of the incident and it was widely reported on radio and television news. Ms.Roy spoke to the media and made a statement along the lines that the University had a systemic rape culture, in other words the Campus which is across the canal from where I live is not safe for any women, it is a inner-city neighbourhood campus.

This attracted even more attention, the media correctly pointed out that several universities in Canada have problems with drugs, alcohol, vandalism and violence, usually during the first weeks of a new semester around August-September, loud parties and raucous behaviour, people living in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood can attest to that. At this point the University felt it had to say something about what was going on, trying to reassure that procedures and policies were in place to ensure the safety of all on campus and especially women student. The University of Ottawa like most Canadian Universities has a larger proportion of women student than male student, this is a growing trend in Canada, it appears that males simply are no longer interested in higher learning, many drop-out before high school graduation. There are many reasons for this situation in our society which in the long run will have a very negative impact on society at large. Social-Engineering as it is practice currently in our society is never a good thing because humans in general are so unpredictable.

The University administration remained above the fray, there are difficult relations between the Student Federation its members and University administration, this is reflected in the hectoring and confrontational tone of the Student Newspaper on Campus towards teachers, administrators anyone in authority.

Then a second incident involving the Varsity Hockey Team became news. The Rector Alan Rock announced immediately the suspension of the Varsity Male Hockey team and then called a press conference with the Chancellor of the University the Right Honourable Michaele Jean, former Commander in Chief and Governor General of Canada. The team suspension announcement was made without any knowledge of who if anyone is involved. The knee jerk mentality of let's punish everyone pro-actively than do nothing for the sake of image.

Rock explained that he was setting up a committee to study the problem of sexual violence against women on Campus and that the committee would present suggestions and proposals in 6 months to deal with this question. He repeated that the University has a good security system and a program to accompany female students on campus if they so wish, the campus is well lighted and surveillance cameras are everywhere, so is Campus Police Unit.

He also announced that in the meantime the male students who had the private conversation on a chatline about Ms. Roy had all resigned from the Student Federation and dropped any threat of legal action against her. No further action would be taken against them, since the conversation involved adults, had not taken place on Campus and it was private and on personal computer equipment belonging to the male students involved.  Needless to say I do not think any of the 4 students involve will remain at Ottawa U now that their identity has been revealed, everyone on Campus knows who they are and have now been stigmatize. Feminism score one male zero.

As for the second incident it is still sketchy and the police are still gathering information. It was not clear if they had spoken with the victim yet the incident had taken place a month ago.

The Chancellor Ms. Jean then spoke and she launched into a speech about systemic violence against women on Campus and in our society at large, in the board rooms and in all level of our society. The media just lapped it up, words like systemic make for good copy. It simply re-enforces the stereotypes that all men are dangerous rapists and must be controlled. I found her speech totally un-helpful and frankly un-balanced and full of histrionics about changing the world, attitudes, etc. What was interesting also is who was at the Press conference, the room was full of women all nodding to every word of the Chancellor. There were a handful of men mostly reporters. Who sent out the invitation to this event and what was the image the University was trying to convey.

These two incidents are sad and disturbing and the treatment it received under the cover of the ever elusive Equity debate.  What is also interesting is the amount of anonymous persons who leaked information. In the first incident, someone unknown sent the text of the private conversation to Ms. Roy. Why, for what purpose? Is there an agenda here? Why did Ms. Roy not bring the matter to the attention of the University Security and Administration in the first place? Why did she try to resolve it herself by publishing the contents twice. Could it be that there is a lot of tension and power politics at the U of O Student Federation?  Also being a University Campus full of young adults there is a lot of irresponsible and immature (childish) behaviour. Many young adults are on their own for the very first time in their lives, away from Mom and Dad's supervision, full of the arrogance of youth and pretty naive in general.

It was childish and silly, straight jocks talk, pretty adolescent behaviour, it was also a private conversation and did not lead anywhere. Such talk probably takes place fairly frequently in male circles. However what was implied in the various comments coming from the University and Ms.Roy was that such behaviour should be stamped out and not tolerated, typical PC thinking which is all to frequent in our society. Hopefully the University will not be so foolish as to try to control thoughts to conform to PC standards, though it might in the wording of message it sends out. What the Rector and the Chancellor and many others do not seem to acknowledge, though they must know it, you simply cannot legislate, nor control the way people think nor can you change attitudes or the world.
No committee can bring about this change, we live in a very imperfect world.

As for the other incident involving the Varsity Hockey Team, so little is known, most of it at this time is innuendos, based on another anonymous tip and what one coach said he heard. Hopefully the police will be able to get to the bottom of this matter quickly and find out who the culprits are.

Again the Rector in speaking of this incident said that the image of a University is to foster higher learning and is a place to teach important values to students we want to see in our society. A bit late really when we are speaking of young adults their formative years are behind them at this point and if they have not learned from their parents and family at home values like respect towards others by the time they are 19, it is really too late now.  A comment was made that young male athletes in competitive sports are usually aggressive and that comes from the mentality fostered in the male sporting world. Well yes, as anyone read the Sun Newspaper lately or listened to Don Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada. Young male athletes are admired by their peers for their proficiency, this is very empowering and dangerous, it goes to their head, inflates egos and should be curbed. Again we return to the Feminist speech of men are bad and need correction, very political B&D speech.

The University and the Student Federation would do well to drop language and words like systemic which are meaningless histrionics to attract media attention. A systemic culture of rape on Canadian University campus has not been demonstrated and there is no factual proof that all women are at risk, all the time in a systemic fashion while attending university or in the workplace.

Teaching the value of respect towards others would be more valuable than some committee looking for solution to a non-existent systemic problem.

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