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Letters: Talbot Theatre renovation – count me in!

By Douglass St.Christian
Thursday, March 12, 2009
While it may strike some as odd, I would like to congratulate Dr. Paul Davenport for his efforts in support of the restoration of Talbot Theatre.
This is a good and honourable project to which I will proudly contribute.

That it comes at the same time the Arts and Humanities are to be asked to absorb a budget cut disproportionately larger than that to be imposed on some other faculties is at the least ironic, but more to the point, is disturbing evidence of the further degradation of the critical mission that should be our most fundamental goal, rather than the pursuit of misguided “mission critical” priorities. That these priorities include “5 international squash courts with wood unfinished floors with composite material walls and lining” suggests just how complex a concept misguided is.

The justification for support of the Arts and Humanities is just that, the Arts and Humanities. Unlike other “commercializable” faculties, the Arts and Humanities are the foundation of the university’s core, perhaps sole, justification – critically informed and thoughtful citizenship. Without a strong, healthy, vibrant Arts and Humanities core, the university becomes little more than a training camp for “deference to prescribed doctrine”.

I have a suggestion which might ameliorate what has been a decades-long erosion of the real critical substance of learning. Other faculties should agree to absorb the proposed cuts to the Arts and Humanities, beginning with Ivey, whose main contribution has been to train the cadre of facilitators of the very mess which is degrading the lives of people everywhere. That said, each of us in our various faculties, including the Social Sciences, of which I am an always skeptical member, should be willing to stand up and support the crucial contribution the Arts and Humanities have made and must continue to make. This doesn’t diminish our own contributions, it enhances them.

The Gabra of Kenya have a saying: “A poor man shames us all.”

Pusillanimous participation in that impoverishment is shame of an even higher order.

Douglass St.Christian,