One of two ways potential students from China are recruited includes “…shapely models in tiny silver dresses who paraded back and forth along a lit catwalk, waving scarves covered in red maple leaves and the word “Canada””, as reported by Mark MacKinnon in his article in yesterday’s Globe and Mail article. While Recruiting Chinese Students: A Work In Progress, and readers’ comments take voice many concerns, there are two that have received little or no attention: a) globalization of ideas (e.g. race, citizenship, modernity, etc.) according to neoliberal market schemes for education, and b) accountability of actors like Jin Jielie Group, that is “specializes in matching Chinese students with foreign schools”. The former is far too lengthy and complicated for me to think through and present here. The latter does not preclude responsibility of schools, governments, communities that support services of recruiters, and do not follow-through with products that can be likened to those flashed to would-be buyers, by Jin Jielie Group.

Someone must be paying Jin Jielie Group. Someone is not paying or saving from the incredible international tuition fees that Chinese and other foreign students must pay to attend school in Canada.

And while we’re at it… How about the “multicultural” ads for universities that are just not much (of anything) more than a bunch of local residents’ “next step” after high school. If universities are in the game of business (and they are), where and with whom can customers (misled as they [likely] may be) able to seek counsel? Who is accountable?!

Generally speaking, private high schools and larger universities provide excellent “customer service”. Positive student/parent experiences provide long-term outcomes and branding… here and abroad. It is the quick and dirty practices of smaller, financially insecure, reputably weaker institutions that are disconcerting. They grant admission to just about any foreign student (e.g. required LSAT score is very low, encourage non-degree status with empty promises, discriminate against them for on-campus job opportunities). These smaller schools push the photo of token multiculturalism, but after first installments of international student tuition is banked, students are left to fail and go home in shame.

In consideration of school reputations worldwide, small & weak Canadian schools have sought low levels to compete. It’s a sexy sham.

My advice: small or large university, stick to those with better research reputations. They are less likely to cheaply sell themselves (unfortunately, it’s because they need good students in their puppy-mills to support research outputs, but hey! at least there’s something in it for students too).

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sorry, i didn’t mean to startle you. please please!, don’t get mad and send someone out to get me, i know that in many places such utterances would signal troops for my arrest. continue reading please to see where i’m headed with this one…

the above statement was told to an audience of approximately 45 undergraduate students (including myself) during a lecture on the morning of 9/11. the professor rationalized, “if you really want to shake a country, you hit’em where it’ll hurt most – [in canada,] their kids, future leaders. and for greatest impact,” he continued, “it would be right here or x”. 

since x was only miles away, and in the same city, you can imagine the horror this professor incited upon students who were already awestruck by the morning’s news.

thereafter, academic institutions across canada and in the u.s. announced implementation of security measures. this was surely also affected by columbine shootings and other violence covered in the media.

nonetheless, i believe that in canada, we continued to believe nothing so sensational could happen. the shootings, injuries, and deaths at montreal’s dawson college changed that.

the flurry of media attention was, for the most part, deserved and well-communicated. in recent years, pre-cautions have been taken to avoid mongering unwarranted fear amongst the public, exploiting victims, and raising the status of criminals.

HOWEVER!

i have observed over the years many, MANY incidents and threats of violence to the university community that never hit major news outlets. of course, i am especially keen on university security since i have been involved as a student since 1999. during my attendance at various major universities in canada and the u.s., including living on campus or very near it, i have become aware of a significant divide between: a) mass media about university safety affairs; b) affliate-oriented security briefings, c) what really happened.

sure, this gloss of the news occurs in the coverage of many events (although, the press tends to be quite thorough when i comes reporting certain things like restaurant reviews). but how does one assert the ‘truth’, or more specifically, how do i know we’re getting told the whole story, if at all? the presence of “added” security measures is an instant indicator, since in my experience it’s always been “added” retroactively. but i have personally witnessed such unannounced occurences and threats of violence in the hall, gym locker room, dining hall, etc.

for instance, a few years ago, my friend was tearfully shocked after having been nearly pulled into a passing car as she returned from skating practice. i went with her to report the event to campus security but never saw any press about it at all. i’ve heard many stories about sexual assault that never hit the news either.  campus rape tends not to make news unless in multiple numbers. what about the first, or the second…

interestingly, of all campuses t which i have spent longer durations of time, they are all located in (or just on the cusp) of neighbourhoods considered to be very dangerous relative to the rest of the city. the populations are often black, which has, in my opinion played out in many ways. one of the most important is tendencies toward hostile othering based sheerly on first impressions of race. while i cannot be sure, (even my nosiness and sleuth-skills won’t allow me to), but i suspect the murder of graduate student Amadou Cisse was racially influenced. i suspect the thugs did not identify him as a student because of his darker skin tone. sadly, if he had been white, i think he would be alive today. the irony of a predominately white-populated school coming in to a black neighbourhood to “revitalize” it, makes its white students seem “untouchable”. very unfortunately, Cisse’s black appearance did not provide this university-affiliated glow and thus shield of protection.

i’ve said so much and yet there is much more. mid-terms are this week and i really must get on to wrapping up here…

in a roundabout way, i just started thinking about all of the above in relation to the tightlipped “news release” about the University of British Columbia’s lockdown. read the article if you wish, but basically the RCMP can’t and won’t say or deny what happened on campus at the Biological Sciences Building.

for now, i ask that you question the intent behind secrecy of these and other campus related events. who is really benefitting in campus-community partnerships? what root problems have been superficially covered with the pretty academic landscape? 

how many threats are necessary before the university puts it’s reputation on the line to admit it’s not just admission requirements and tuition rates that are scary?

oh, canada…

January 31, 2008

oh canada!

what’s been going on since i’ve left? yes, i’ve been being skimming the headlines. but i never thought that some of the outlandishly proposed or cautioned would actually materialize.

in the news today:

afrocentric (black-focus) schools have been approved in Toronto, starting 2009 – news articles HERE! and HERE TOO!

  • personally, i’m worried about the consequences. living in chicago now, i can only think of greater neighbour segregation, racism, and all that bad stuff down the road. admittedly, i haven’t read all of the literature, but for now: oh dear…

lockdown at UBC – cbc report HERE!

  • i haven’t been able to find an update, but i’ll prolly post it RIGHT HERE since i want to write a separate post about it anyhow.