Spirit of Why Not?

In 2007, the University of Waterloo celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. Congratulations U of W! That’s fifty years of taking advantage of gullible young idealists; fifty years of exploiting impoverished families, hoping for something better for their children, taking out student loans their child will be unable to repay for years – that’s years of growing debt, damaged credit rating, and abuse from debt collectors.

For the occasion, the University chose a slogan: “The spirit of ‘why not?’” What bothered me more than the simplicity of the slogan was the additional quotations on the ‘why not.’
The University sponsored an event, an unveiling of sorts, at which the President, David Johnston, explained:

    “The expression comes from one of my favourite aphorisms first expressed by the Irish dramatist George Bernard Shaw. ‘You see things; and you say, Why? But I dream things that never were; and I say, Why not?’”

Additional quotations are needed still, but I have spared the reader the agony of enduring more.

I wonder if David Johnston saw the irony in quoting George Bernard Shaw, an active socialist, who argued that early education is more inclined toward “breaking a child’s will.” Perhaps Johnston would have done better to quote from Shaw’s essay What Is Wrong With Education, in which Shaw argued, in the event all secondary schools and universities are destroyed by air raids, that “there would be an immediate and enormous increase in the number of really educated persons in England, and a quite blessed disappearance of a mass of corruptly inculcated error and obsolescence…” But that’s a bit long to fit on the posters.

After the event, I found David Johnston entertaining guests around a pyramid of champagne glasses – built with the same care as the Pharaohs, on the backs of hard working students.

“I have an answer to your question,” I said.

“What question?” David Johnston said, perplexed.

“The question of ‘why not’… but I don’t want to say in front of all these people.”

“Here,” he passed me a napkin, “write it down.”

I wrote this on the napkin:

For as long as a commercial barrier stands between the student and the essential knowledge to which they are entitled, there will always be a reason why not.

March 16, 2011 Blueprint Web Administrator No Comments

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