Leadership by default

On a recent road trip across western Canada, my son and I had “chance” encounters with three different university students in Alberta. One was a hotel desk receptionist, two were restaurant servers. They work from two to five nights a week to support themselves going through university. One is in education, one in business administration, one in law. Interestingly enough, they are all working, they said, to avoid having a student loan. I suspect there are hundreds more like them with the same goal.
These young people contrast severely with the students we have seen across Canada involved with the “Occupy” movement. The “Occupy” movement involves a few students, but many seem to be part of a pack of professional protesters, perennial victims, making the most of their victimhood. As one commentator said, they are protesting that they don’t have all the privileges of the rich and famous. One particularly poignant comment was that some of the protesters who have been to university are upset that their $100,000 student loans that paid for their degree in bitterness studies was not generating them much income. Another commentator told them to “have a bath and get a job”. 
There is no doubt that universities have gotten off track in some cases. The sad thing is that most students are hard working and on track and want to stay that way. One of the students that we met said that they didn’t want to stay in university as what was being taught wasn’t relevant to a business career. That may have been a naive comment, but there’s plenty of evidence to show that some university courses and some university professors are way off track.
Brandon University gives us at least one case in point and that is the case of professor Joe Dolecki. Dolecki, and his life partner, are professional complainers and protesters. Call a demonstration or a public hearing and they will be there. They both participated heavily in defending the NDP government’s hog barn ban bill. They have been well known for years in many battles for left wing causes, often without much merit. As one person said upon hearing Dolecki’s testimony at a government committee meeting, “That, ladies and gentlemen, is who teaches your children economics. May God help them.”
That Dolecki is a professor who deals with economics issues seems to be lost in his role of head of the Brandon University Faculty Association (BUFA). The demands that have been put forward seem way out of line. Ironically, the president of Brandon University, Dr. Poff, comes from an NDP, left wing background as well so we have two old socialists dueling over money. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad for the students who have now lost 40 days of studies.
So how does a prairie university, with a fairly conservative student base and a very conservative surrounding community, end up with a socialist as president and a socialist as head of BUFA. Poff may have been chosen by a left-leaning Board of Governors or she may have been brought in as a person with a labour friendly background. But Dolecki was chosen because he was willing. Thus it is, in unions and even other organizations. The reluctant are lead by the willing. Dolecki was willing and with a huge majority of faculty not wanting to take the the time to attend meetings or even vote, an ambitious unionist can get into positions of leadership quite easily.
As it has been said, if you don’t get involved in politics, then you are doomed to be governed by those who do. Such is the case at BU and the rest of the faculty and all of the students are suffering for it.
A larger question is why has BU been on strike twice the past few years? Why are all the mouthpieces and leaders at BU, socialists? See the paragraph above for that answer; they were willing and they take extreme positions that only a few are willing to be associated with but, by default, they get into the leadership roles.
This strike will cripple BU in the short and the long term. Students who get squeezed out of this semester will transfer out. Future students, considering BU will steer away to places like Lethbridge or Saskatoon or others. Any talk of a pre-med school for Brandon is now sheer fantasy. And the prospect of there being 3,000 students again next year is severely diminished.
The students we met, and ones like them, will not only work for a living and for their degrees, however, it may not be in Brandon. Hopefully some people will begin the long hard task of restoring BU’s reputation. Don’t hold your breath for the socialists to do it.

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