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Back by popular demand...

(June 8, 2000, Gazette)

By Kelley Power

Well, well, well. Here we are again.

My apologies for the too-hasty goodbye I delivered at the end of the last semester, leaving you all with the impression that you had (thankfully?) heard the last of me and this particular student’s view.

Alas, old habits die hard and, since I’ll be prowling the hallways of this institution for one more semester, I figured I’d have one last kick at the cat – take a final opportunity to stir up enough trouble to get you writing letters to the editor. He likes that.

But the column would be wasted if it were used simply to push people’s buttons (although I admit that’s how I have the most fun). No, sometimes credit must be given where credit is due.

There are, at Memorial, some exceptional students, faculty and staff whose achievements are worthy of recognition. The freedom afforded by the editorial style of the Student View, as opposed to the unbiased quality of regular journalism, is sometimes better suited to telling their stories.

Around every corner there seems to be some new issue that presents itself for discussion – for praise or scorn – and, for me, it is intensely satisfying to have a public medium through which to comment.

Take, for example, the May convocation held in the gym of the phys ed building. I confess that when I first heard about that particular plan I wasn’t exactly enthusiastic. I wanted to write something really scathing, arguing that an event such as graduation was worthy of a much more glamourous location.

I’m glad, however, that I bit my tongue so many months ago – a rare occurrence, to be sure – because the final product was truly impressive. Instead of condemnation, I can now offer congratulations.

There must have been some long, hard work put into converting that facility from the concrete sweat pit it was into the classy, dignified venue it became. Hats off to those involved for making the best of a potentially bad situation.

Of course, there’s no ignoring the fact that the floor seats were a little hard on the derriere, but what’s one flaw in the midst of the greater success of this May’s convocation?

Or were there two flaws?

I do recall a certain someone from Ottawa receiving an honorary degree from Memorial during the course of the graduation ceremonies. Protesters at that event obviously considered it to be a shortcoming of convocation.

I don’t know; I’m not sure I can lend my support to their cause.
I mean, what’s the harm in giving ol’ Jean a degree? It’s not as if the bestowing of it could possibly be seen as a move by the provincial government to curry favour with certain members of the federal government. Nope. Absolutely not.

But – speaking strictly hypothetically – if it was discovered that some ulterior motive did exist, I wouldn’t get huffy over it. Political machinations, like good intentions, pave the roads to many places. That’s just the way the ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ political world works.

Sometimes we have to accept that it takes grease to make the gears turn.

And even if the presentation of an honorary degree to the Prime Minister is a thorn in the sides of some, at least the university benefits from the exposure arising from the event. See? A true silver lining to the cloud.

Let me just clarify that I am not belittling the demonstration or those who attended it. Their protest was based on issues such as cuts in governments spending for post-secondary education and tuition hikes and, as such, was legitimate and important.

Me making light of a political conspiracy theory shouldn’t take away from that.

At any rate, the first convocation of the millennium went rather well overall and the ingenuity of the university personnel involved in preparing the gym for the event is to be commended.

Still, for the sake of my delicate behind, I think I’d like to sit myself down in one of those cushy, red Arts & Culture Centre chairs when it comes time for me to wear the tassel. After five hard years I don’t think that’s too much ask for.