Editorial: This month at Laurentian

By Kayla Perry, Editor-in-Chief

This month has been a rather controversial one at Laurentian University.

To begin, many students began the semester and their new courses without knowing their marks from the previous semester.

Well into the first week of classes, some were still left without grades, and, as is typical, the angry posts from students who were left in the dark flooded UMentioned Laurentian’s Facebook page.

Then, the national news coverage of Dr. Michael Persinger’s removal as the instructor from one section of the first year psychology course (PSYC 1105 EL 04) caught like wildfire.

The CBC, National Post, Toronto Star, and many more publications were quick to cover the story of how Persinger was removed as the instructor of the course by the university.

The university maintained that the ‘Statement of Understanding’ which Persinger had issued to students at the start of the course (two months prior to his removal as instructor) was the reason for his removal, as it was not in accordance with university policy.

However, the Statement was basically a waiver notifying students that the course would employ ‘techniques intended to challenge’ students beliefs and to ‘develop’ their ‘skills’ – techniques which included ‘frank expressions and creative metaphors’, also known as the frequent employment of profanity and sexual slang, both during lectures and on class tests.

While the news coverage seems to have quieted a bit, the stories which were published sparked several important discussions surrounding free speech in an academic setting, what is and is not appropriate for students to be taught by their superiors, and university policy (mainly surrounding the ‘Statement of Understanding’).

While Persinger maintained in many interviews that he had done nothing wrong, the university reiterated that his removal as instructor from the single course was indeed due to the Statement not being ‘in compliance’ with university policy (and of course, posts on the topic engulfed UMentioned’s page).

Furthermore, an online petition to reinstate Persinger as the instructor of the course reached over 500 supporters, at the time of writing.

And, finally, students and faculty became more and more aware of the glaringly disappointing fact that the Pub Downunder has not yet opened since it’s closure over the summer (find Lambda’s coverage of this story, and pictures of what the pub looked like as of Jan. 19, online).

Currently, the pub is essentially closed so that it may act as storage for Aramark, and so that the washrooms, which are currently under construction, may be completed.

As you can see from the photos on page 6 (and on this issues cover), little to any noticeable changes have actually been made during the time the Pub was supposedly under construction.

Of course, these are only three of the stories which have been discussed at length this month. The annual model parliament was marked as a success by the university, and many of the sports teams have found success this month.

For coverage of February’s events, be sure to follow Lambda on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates.