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(March 23, 2000, Gazette)

Work for change

Dear Editor,
Some of us still expect universities to take leadership roles in improving society. And as the date of the last issue of the
Gazette, March 9, fell in International Women’s Week, we look for related content.

The good news is that on Page 8 there is a piece about retaining women in engineering programs, but this is more than cancelled out by the last page announcement of a new engineering Advisory Council made up of 30 names, only one of which is recognizable to me as feminine. The new council is said to represent “a change of culture” which will actively seek new solutions, and new questions to improve the curriculum, and be beneficial to the university, the faculty members and especially the students. Clearly they have neglected to look for the change in culture by adding a substantial proportion of women to the mix. This must be very discouraging to women in and aspiring to engineering and makes it hard for anyone to believe the effort towards retention of women in engineering are sincere.

Then we find that your editorial committee was satisfied to publish a book section where all of the authors showcased are male.

Lastly, and most seriously, the regular Student View column, titled Riding out the storm of changing times, begins with a horribly inappropriate commentary on the murder of Samantha Walsh. The column asserts that the details of the crime were not particularly appalling to us. The column urges women to “ride out” this and other such crimes in the province. Apparently we women should deal with these changes by clutching our wallets close to us and should follow advice such as “Make sure that if you drink, someone trustworthy – and relatively sober – is there to watch out for you.” Shame on the editorial committee for this, too.

Most of us, I imagine, are really appalled at this crime and believe that “riding out” such events is the same as accepting them as inevitable, and very wrong. We do have options. We can register our true feelings at such crimes, rather than denying them, and we can attempt to understand the dynamics of the crimes and make moves to reduce their likelihood in the future.

Premier Tobin is to be congratulated in this regard for excluding Newfoundland and Labrador from the group of provinces challenging the gun law, and for his recent funding of the provincial strategy against violence. Perhaps the Gazette editorial committee also could work for change.

Dr. Joan Scott
Biology and Women’s Studies

Editor’s note: Engineering recognizes that the purpose of the Advisory Council is to cultivate new perspectives, and that this goal would be well served by diversity, both in terms of gender and ethnicity. However, although the Faculty casts a wide net, diversity is impacted by the fact that the council is comprised of top-level executives from the local engineering community who serve in a volunteer capacity on a rotating basis. The faculty hopes that with the success of initiatives to increase retention, such as the upcoming New Frontiers, New Traditions conference (for more on this story click here), the situation will improve.

The Books at Memorial section features Memorial authors on a first-come, first-served basis. No women authors presented titles to the Gazette for this issue. However there are several books issues each year and we encourage all authors at Memorial to bring their recent publications to the Gazette office for future attention.

The Student View column is an opinion piece and represents the personal view of its author. The Gazette encourages opposing points of view.