2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Samantha Lucy

Elizabeth Cannon must resign

It’s time for Elizabeth Cannon to resign. Her five-year tenure as university president has been marred by a series of controversies, including a lawsuit with the Students’ Union, inappropriate relationships with oil companies and excessive administrative spending. Cannon needs to take responsibility for this misconduct by stepping down.

Her resignation may not solve the larger problems with university administration. It likely won’t stop the University of Calgary from cozying up to corporations, spending too much money on their offices or treating the Students’ Union unfairly. But it will send a message.

University administration makes bad decisions because there are no consequences when they do. There were no repercussions for 2013’s widely criticized $4.6-million office renovations. There’s no knowing whether the investigation into Cannon’s involvement with the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability will result in any meaningful change, due to the university’s lack of a comprehensive conflict of interest policy. And it took a historic provincial election and hasty legislation to repeal market modifiers, despite months of outrage from students when they were first proposed.

Cannon’s resignation won’t solve all of the U of C’s problems, but it is a tangible way to prove there are consequences for disregarding students and faculty. As students, we don’t have the power to stop university administration once they’ve settled on a course. But that doesn’t mean our only option is to wait until administration decides to take advantage of us.

Enough is enough. We’re tired of this administration. We’re exhausted by the condescension, the backdoor efforts to take money and space from students and the flimsy state of academic integrity on campus. And we’re tired of knowing that the people in charge of our education aren’t all that interested in our education.

It is true that Cannon has done good things for the U of C. It’s also true that past U of C presidents have done worse. In fact, there’s a good chance whoever we get next will be forced to make some of the same decisions she has. But just because something is systemic doesn’t mean no one is at fault.

We should ask ourselves — has Cannon’s administration given our campus the leadership it deserves? And if it hasn’t, whose responsibility is that?

Changing the culture of a university is a long process, and many of the U of C’s recent controversies could have happened if another upper-level administrator was president. But part of managing an organization is assuming responsibility for it, in both good times and bad. Cannon is the president of the U of C. She is responsible for the decisions made by university administration and its public image.

Both of these things have suffered for years, and Cannon hasn’t made steps to change that. A pipeline company like Enbridge can buy influence over academic research. The board of governors is stacked with corporate executives. Provost Dru Marshall’s tone-deaf handling of both market modifiers and the MacHall lease negotiations have irritated undergraduates and created a rift with the SU.

Cannon isn’t the only problem with the U of C’s administration. But she is its public face and one of its highest authorities, and she has done her job poorly. Under her leadership, university administration has spent $4.6 million on their own offices, forged dubiously ethical relationships with oil companies and tried to seize control of our student centre. If Cannon resigns, the problems we’re facing likely won’t disappear — but there will be consequences for them.

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