From: Stanley Jeffers
Subject: "Why Did York Get Up Their Noses?"
This is the title of a commentary in toady's G @ M (page A 15) by
Rick Salutin. He rips into Ibbitson and Wente for their vicious and snide
attacks on York, CUPE etc. Here's a few snippets-the full story is at-
"The strike by teaching and graduate assistants, and contract faculty,
made them bilious. Margaret Wente called York "one of the last places
on Earth where grown men and women with good pay and job security
style themselves as champions of the oppressed masses." Style? She
lamented that they hadn't joined others "from the 60s" who have "sold
out and become lawyers or stockbrokers or right-wing journalists."
This was a criticism. John Ibbitson wrote three
columns on the strike ,which is a lot for one contemptible event. He
called it "foolish," "dumb, dumb," "pinkish"; told the strikers, "you have
compromised your honour" and predicted, "The dinosaurs will carry on.
. . . But their days are numbered."
They both got sloppy. They called the union, CUPE, "one of the most
militant" or "most militant" in Canada. But CUPE is so decentralized,
there's little you can say in general about it. The
Auto Workers are way more militant, as are, in the public sector,
Ontario's teachers or civil servants, not to mention the posties. They both
said strikers have a rosy future: Their "peonage is temporary" since
"Canada's universities are on the verge of the biggest hiring boom in 30
years." But grad students were told 10 years ago in a famous report
that they'd see a hiring boom that never happened; those authors later
said they'd made a mistake. The pattern now is to keep PhDs in
temporary teaching job with little money and no security. They camp
around universities and vie for jobs the way longshoremen used to at the
hiring hall. Besides,most York strikers don't plan to spend their lives
So, bilious and inaccurate. Why did the strike get up their nose?"
His last paragraph describes his own experience at York in its very
"I also happened to be at York in its first year, 1960. Many promises
about pursuing excellence had been made to students and profs; they
were almost immediately broken in favour of rapid expansion. By year
three, a revolt was on. Sociologist John Seeley, a long-time friend of
York president Murray Ross, joined it and was ever after barred from
teaching in Ontario. He says their last chat took place on the Glendon
campus, surrounded by construction. Murray Ross said, I may be a
liar and a bastard, I may be everything you people say I am. But
I'm here like these buildings are here and anybody
who doesn't like it can get out. York's main campus today is
dominated by the Ross building; chiselled on its front are some lugubrious
quotes about higher learning. I've always felt that line should have
gone on, instead. During the recent conflict, strikers held their main
rallies in its lobby. They were in a fine old tradition."