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Interim President's Friday Message

Updated on Apr 30
Tags: students, all updates

Unreason in Regina, Saskatoon, and elsewhere: perspectives of a professor and an alumna

Two days following the January insurrection at the US Capitol, I wrote of “a growing tide of unreason and irrationality,” and of universities’ role in standing against that tide.

This past weekend, those topics again came to mind with events in both Regina and Saskatoon. The latter was cynically, and chillingly, portrayed as a “children's freedom rally fun day.”

Added to this disingenuousness is open defiance of public health directives by a few. Some promote dangerous falsehoods designed to sow fear, some find support from elected officials, and many use social media disinformation to sustain their anti-vaccination, anti-mask campaigns.

Earlier this week, U of R professor of psychology Dr Gord Asmundson was interviewed about the characteristics of anti-maskers. They include a phenomenon known as psychological reactance. Setting aside technical language, Gord succinctly describes reactance as the “you're not the boss of me approach.” With similar clarity, he reminds us that “in a free society, I'm not free to do whatever I want to do, especially if it puts others at risk.” You can hear the full interview with Gord here.

As variants of concern, including the P1 variant, continue their spread in our province, front-line healthcare workers are exhausted. U of R Nursing alumna Whitney Walker-Ross, currently working in the intensive care unit at Regina General, says that if she could show the wider community what healthcare workers are doing “to give these patients the care they need, you would be in complete shock .... [the situation] is a lot worse than you think it is.”

Meanwhile, the “freedom” rallies continue. Ideologues cite twisted notions of civil and religious liberty – “you’re not the boss of me” - to disregard the health of others, including those caring for the very ill. Research such as Gord’s, and front-line care like that provided by Whitney and hundreds of other U of R alumni now working in the healthcare system, bring into sharp focus the “tide of unreason and irrationality” in which some people choose to swim ... and remind us once again of the academy's crucial role in promoting reason, critical thought, and active commitment to the good of the whole community.

A thank-you from the Regina Pats

Many readers will know that for the past two months, the University has hosted the seven Western Hockey League (WHL) teams participating in the “East Division Hub” for the WHL’s abbreviated season. The teams stayed in residence at Luther College and the Paskwāw and Wakpá Towers, with meals supplied by the Luther College Cafeteria and the Owl.

With the season concluding on Wednesday and the hub coming to an end, alumnus Stacey Cattell, Chief Operating Officer of the Regina Pats, wrote to thank the University community for its support. He says:

Over the past 60 days, [members of the University community] have cared about and cared for the players, coaches and staff under what proved to be challenging circumstances. Your team went over and above the call of duty to ensure the food, accommodations, extra locker facilities for the Brandt Centre, recreation and meeting areas met and exceeded our needs.

I can admit in the beginning, there was a lot of angst and skepticism to whether we could pull this off. The challenge of keeping everyone safe at the University campus and the Brandt Centre especially while Regina was experiencing a significant rise in COVID cases was no small feat. This was accomplished in large part by your staff’s extraordinary efforts and commitment which today closes a historic chapter in the history of the WHL.

As an alumnus, I take great pride in the affirmation of my belief that the University of Regina could deliver on a project of this magnitude. I hope that the efforts of those involved are recognized across your organization and hopefully it opens the door to new opportunities that our organizations can collaborate on in the future.

Thanks again for the support of the WHL’s Eastern Division Hub, we wish the University nothing but success in the future and hope that academics and sports will return to your campus soon.

Thank you to the Pats and all the other teams who stayed in the hub – and thank you to everyone in our University community who helped ensure a safe and successful WHL season. It has helped boost the University’s profile in the wider community.

Quick notes

  • ... with the COVID-19 situation so fluid in our province, and with vaccine eligibility criteria expanding almost daily, please remember to visit the University’s COVID-19 resources and updates page regularly. It contains, among other things, links to the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s vaccination information ...
  • ... and finally, for those who enjoy a little jazz to close the week and mark International Jazz Day, here's a clip of the incomparable Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson (1925-2007) showing us just how it’s done.