A new year at the University of Calgary means a new year of scandals, unfinished construction projects and corporate shenanigans. This can feel overwhelming, but we at the Gauntlet are here to help. This article is a quick guide with our best predictions for 2016 on campus.
The 50th anniversary of the U of C is April 29, 2016, a fact administration will be sure to shove in your face every chance they get. It’s a big public relations opportunity for the school, which means it’s a big fundraising opportunity as well.
We’ll likely see a slew of speeches, parties and catered dinners accompanied with a big PR surge as we approach the actual date. You can’t blame administration for trying to ride this high either — after this year, they’ll no longer be the best university in North America under 50 years old. They’ll just be the 59th best university, which doesn’t sound nearly as good to corporate investors.
The Students’ Union and administration have agreed to mediation over MacHall. After negotiations over the building’s ownership stalled in September, it’s great to finally see maturity from both sides.
This issue could easily have resulted in the kind of public pissing match that severely harms the reputations of everyone involved and the entire campus. If administrators were less sensible, they might have even tried to pry control of MacHall away from students. Heck, there was even the potential for a lawsuit and an ugly game of legal chicken that would have seen the fate of the most important student building on campus decided by a judge. This thing really could have gotten out of hand.
Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and we can look ahead to a mediated settlement that won’t make anybody happy.
2016 will mark the long-awaited completion of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning and the Canadian Natural Resources Limited Engineering Complex expansion to the Shulich School of Engineering.
For the past few years, the Taylor Institute has been shrouded in vague public relations buzzwords like “innovation” and “building communities.” Meanwhile, the completion of the new complex demonstrates the controversial corporate grip the oil industry has on our campus.
The U of C, though, is working on what they want campus to look like in the years to come — a heinous haphazard of glass, random colours and square angles.
University administration spent most of 2015 jumping from one scandal to another. First, the newly-elected NDP government put an end to the faculty-specific fee hikes known as market modifiers. Then there was a very public dispute with the Students’ Union over the ownership of MacHall, a hasty investigation into president Elizabeth Cannon’s role in setting up the Enbridge Centre of Corporate Sustainability and a heated town hall with frustrated students.
Administration will spend much of 2016 trying to convince students that every controversy of the past year was either an aberration or not really as bad as it seemed. This isn’t quite true, and a lot of these scandals aren’t over yet. While Cannon was technically cleared of any wrongdoing in the Enbridge affair, the investigation was about whether she violated university policy, which doesn’t include a comprehensive conflict of interest policy.
In the coming year, keep your eye on what upper-level administrators are up to — because you probably won’t like it.
Gauntlet Editorial Board