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Letters to the editor


New in the North

This is such a good story and outcome from so many different perspectives (“The shiny new university in Canada’s North,” July-August issue). The timing of this is special, given the turmoil of what is happening in the world today. Congratulations to Yukon University and all those who contributed to ensuring this could and did happen. I hope that the research plan is able to include new areas that have not been studied before.

Patricia Doyle-Baker
Dr. Doyle-Baker is a professor in the faculty of kinesiology at the University of Calgary.


The new normal is our normal

I read with interest the article, “Our pandemic moment” (University Affairs, July-August issue), which documented the responses of academics across the country who normally work in bricksand-mortar institutions as they grappled with being unable to deliver education in their usual manner. I was disappointed that no faculty from Athabasca University were interviewed. If you had asked me where I was when COVID hit, I would have said “in my home office, where I have been for the last 19 years.”

An Athabasca professor normally works from a home office and, speaking for myself, I have managed with little difficulty to publish, conduct research, move up the ranks, chair thesis and dissertation defenses, administrate, and participate in university committees and business. For us, COVID’s “new normal” is the same normal it has been for decades. Sometimes we do joke about wearing pyjamas, but normally I dress like I am going to work – because I am. For those of you who are new to video technology and do decide to work in pyjama bottoms, a friendly word of advice: don’t stand up until the meeting is over.

Paul Jerry
Dr. Jerry is associate dean, student services, and a professor in the faculty of health disciplines, Athabasca University.



Combatting toxic positivity with critical hope is a thoughtful and meaningful approach that can be used, as Jessica Riddell illustrates, in numerous contexts (Adventures in Academe, July-August issue). Critical hope can also be useful in sidelining that all too common stance in universities, “know-it-all cynicism.” Thanks, Jessica, for an enlightening comment.

Patrick McGrath
Dr. McGrath is a professor emeritus of psychiatry at Dalhousie University.


Experiencing racism

Thank you, Monica, for sharing your experience (“Of course I have experienced racism,” by Monica Maly, University Affairs online, June 9). As an Asian immigrant who grew up in Canada, I can relate. I also have three very young extended family members who are Black and my heart aches when I think about the likelihood they will experience racism in their own country as they grow up. Like you, I am encouraged by expressions of desire for change. I am committed – for each other and for our children.

Lili Liu
Dr. Liu is dean of applied health sciences, and a professor in public health and health systems, University of Waterloo.


The many forms of fear

Courageous post, Monica (“Of course I have experienced racism,” June 9). We need only read the word “fear” eight times in the last paragraph of your article to know the impact that this has on people’s lives. Fear of a present and immediate threat is acute and terrifying, but your post has shown us that fear of a looming threat can be even more pervasive and damaging. This is like a chronic disease in society that is invisible to so many of us with privilege. During this troubled time, it appears that we need not one but two vaccines. Until then, your little guy has a secret weapon – it’s you.

Todd Prior
Mr. Prior is research lab manager in the department of kinesiology, McMaster University.


I believe you

Thank you. This is so clear and so compelling and so beautifully written (“Of course I have experienced racism,” June 9). I hear you, I believe you, I honour your experience and pain. Thank you for staying on the playing field and giving your best to our shared collegial community.

Suzanne Kresta
Dr. Kresta is dean of the college of engineering at the University of Saskatchewan.