Saturday, October 30, 2010

In Place of Death

Canadian university students are enslaved children

by Joseph Hickey
In Place of Death (blog)

In loco parentis was a Latin phrase used on campuses in the 1960’s. It means “in the place of parents”, and it meant the power to establish curfews over students, to impose academic sanctions for any kind of non-academic misbehaviour, and to wreak other elements of control over student lives. The in loco parentis concept was overthrown in the student movements of the time, like the Berkely Free Speech Movement and the Anti-War Movement, wherein students took first steps toward ownership of their education and the glimmering vision of an authentic learning experience that springs from one’s inside-out.

Over the past decades, universities have clawed back the power to determine many aspects of student life: where we can gather in number, which students are “accepted” by the administration as appointees to governance committees, when profs (even the tenured ones) can be sacked for political reasons with no regard to protest from the student body, and even which posters we can’t put up on streetlamps around campus. Meanwhile, non-democratic marketing campaigns and whole administrative offices and even foreign campuses are created to spread the university’s brand of ideology across the world. All against a background of incessant tuition fee increases, increased workload for students, and the continual massacring of small classes.

But our campus patriarchs are upping the ante even further: student codes of conduct are now the norm at Ontario universities and prohibit such dangerous and clearly learning-detrimental activity as criticizing the reputation of the university and sleeping on campus, among many other things. One student at the University of Ottawa – which does not even have a student code of non-academic conduct – was barred from registering last year with no reason given, without any formal procedure being followed, receiving only the unilateral assurance of the Vice-President Governance, Diane Davidson, that it was in “everyone’s best interest” that he pursue his studies at another institution. The student, Marc Kelly, is three courses away from graduating and has devoted seven years of his life as a student at the University of Ottawa. President Allan Rock’s Ms. Davidson has taken on the role of institutional wicked step-mother to a disturbingly accurate degree.

The resistance of the 60’s has long ago softened back into the spineless stance of the career-obsessed or self-ignorant student. Police come onto campus like brutal baby-sitters to handcuff and muscle away the few free-thinkers. The creepy uncles that are Crown attorneys are coming around more and more frequently to get-off on pressing bogus charges against student activists and watching them squirm. The rest of the student population keep their heads down, consume the shit they are forced to and regurgitate it on command, either cursing the entire process with each painful word or descending into a masochistic frenzy, gunning for the blue-ribbon vomit prize to show Daddy at the end of the semester. Students are weak and battered children, cowering in the corner until they are big enough to pick up the whip and start beating their siblings into an even darker submission.

In place of parents we have pathological masters of our minds and bodies. In this family, Mom and Pop’s main concerns are image production, globalization and political influence, and engineering the next crop of intellectually modified servants of the Canadian class hierarchy (that’s us). We don’t need parents at school and we don’t need professors excising our power to think and administrators bashing us for acting according to the principles of the University. We need honesty, growth from within ourselves, and control over our lives in place of domination and death.

Related articles can be found at:

1. (2010) Free Speech Movement Digital Archive.
2. (2010) U of O Watch Blog.
3. (2009) New York University Disorientation Guide.

Joseph Hickey is a physics graduate student and a member of university senate at the University of Ottawa, Canada.