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Interim President's Friday Message

Updated on Dec 11
Tags: community, all updates

An intensive care nurse … and the price of unreason

Since my last campus message, the pandemic’s effects have grown more grave. The United States is seeing intensive care wards nearing capacity. Alberta has gone into lockdown. Infection and hospitalization rates here in Saskatchewan are rising rapidly. City schools are moving to fully remote teaching. A few kilometres away from our main campus in Regina, a nursing home outbreak has infected nearly 200 residents and staff, and contributed to a number of deaths. The Saskatchewan Health Authority has assumed responsibility for operations at the home; paramedics and first responders from Regina Fire and Protective Services have been called in to assist.

None of this is what we want. And those caring for the very ill are speaking out. "We are tired. We are terrified. We need your help." So writes Andrea Kosloski, a nurse in a Saskatchewan intensive care unit. "This virus is spreading like wildfire," she says. "As healthcare workers, we are watching and we are scared."

As she ends her message, Ms Kosloski refers to the falsehoods and sheer irrationality now in wide circulation. Political opportunists, anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, religious-freedom ideologues, conspiracy theorists who claim the pandemic is a hoax ... though few in number, they are in full voice. Via social media and rallies, they spread nonsense. They sow confusion, anger, fear.

And while they do so, people like Ms Kosloski, working with the very ill, edge toward exhaustion.

So what do unreason and falsehoods have to do with us? Central to a university's mission is the pursuit of new knowledge, the discernment of truth, and - through painstaking research, critical analysis, and the application of the scientific method - the rejection of the false, the irrational, the nonsensical. It is one of our vital contributions to society, to making the world a better place. Indeed, as part of our vision and commitment to the community, we at the University of Regina aver that we "seek to reflect the world in which we want to live."

That world is one in which reason is prized, not irrationality; a world that values truth over falsehood, hope over fear; a world that insists on care for the broader community, not anti-social ignorance and tinfoil-hat nonsense.

As we near the holiday season, I want to say that I believe reason and hope, not unreason and fear, will prevail. I thank each of you again for your commitment to the University's vision and mission. Please continue to take care of yourselves, your families, and your communities. Please bear in mind what people like Andrea Kosloski are going through.

University community supports United Way in a time of great need

The pandemic is taking a severe toll on non-profit organizations that rely on public contributions to help those in need. For example, Regina’s Sofia House, a shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence, has seen increased demand for its services at precisely the time when donations from the public have decreased. The same is true for many other non-profits.

That is why there is added resonance to the University of Regina United Way campaign’s announcement on Wednesday that it has surpassed its 2020 fundraising target of $85,000. To date the campaign has raised more than $90,000, which will be distributed to the United Way’s funded partners including Sofia House and other transition houses. This support is especially important in such a challenging year, and it is a testament to faculty, staff, and students that you have once again risen to the occasion for the United Way and its partner organizations.

The campaign continues until 18 December, so you may still contribute via secure e-pledge here.

Thank you once again to campaign co-chairs Doug Moen of the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and Dr Chris Oriet of the Department of Psychology, and to the members of the campaign committee.

And thank you to everyone who has contributed to this year’s campaign! Your compassion and generosity will make a difference in the lives of others.

An astonishing new work of fiction … and a unique dialect

This year's Booker Prize winner is Shuggie Bain, a first novel by the Scottish-American writer Douglas Stuart. Set in post-industrial Glasgow during the Thatcher years, it is the story of a small boy struggling to make his way in life, alternately helped and hampered by a "glamorous, calamitous" mother who loves him, but who struggles with addiction, rejection, and poverty.

As one who lived in Glasgow at that time, I can attest to the accuracy with which Stuart depicts Glaswegian folk and captures the rhythms of their speech. Hear what the Booker judges say about Shuggie Bain, which will be "loved, admired, and remembered for a very long time." You can hear Douglas Stuart, himself a Glasgow native, reading from Shuggie Bain here, beginning at the 7’00” mark.

And for a lighthearted introduction to the wonders of Glaswegian English, try this. As the people of Glasgow would say, "belter"!

 

Thomas Chase

Interim President and Vice-Chancellor