Green College press coverage

Posted in Canadian life, University life at 7:50 pm by ducky

Today, an article ran in the Globe and Mail about various woes at Green College. Much of it is about a harassment lawsuit that I don’t know anything about, but then part was about the recent contract issues and the tensions between the Principal, Keith Benson, and the residents.

According to the article, Prof. Benson “paints a picture of drinking and partying so wild that it forced two serious scholars to leave the college last year because they couldn’t work.”

My immediate reaction was, “Where were these parties and why wasn’t I invited?!?” 😉

In all seriousness, however, Prof. Benson’s perception of reality is very, very different from mine. I’ll put things that the reporter said he said (which are direct quotes from the article, but frequently paraphrases (not direct quotes) from Prof. Benson) in bold, and my model of the universe in italics.

  • Prof. Benson attributes the conflicts to a few residents” – 59 of the roughly 100 residents attached a statement to their contract stating that the didn’t like it. Out of about 100 residents, about 75 cast ballots to form a Green College Resident Association, 70 voted for, 4 abstained, and 1 voted against. This is more than fits comfortably into my definition of “few”.
  • whom he describes as disrespectful and so abusive to college staff that equity complaints have been made against them.” – That’s the first I’ve heard of complaints from the staff, and I am surprised. In the contract dispute, I thought that the residents behaved with admirable composure given the sudden threat to their housing.
  • [Benson] also describes the residents as very young” – That’s the nicest thing anybody has said to me all day! I’m 43, my husband is 44, and we are not the oldest residents at the college. I haven’t really investigated this year, but last year there were (at least) two people who were in their 50s, us in our early 40s, and then about three people (out of 100) who were in their late thirties. After that, it got harder for me to tell age, but many of the residents are older. I’d guess that the average age is probably around 27, and that doesn’t fit with my mental model of “very young”.
  • Benson “paints a picture of drinking and partying so wild that it forced two serious scholars to leave the college last year because they couldn’t work” – This was the first I’d heard of any issue. I can think of two in-room parties (not counting the time when we had about ten guests sitting in our room drinking approximately one glass of wine with no music and minimal noise) in the two years I’ve been here, and both were on non-school nights. There have been a few Green College parties run by the Social Committee, but the official parties and both in-room parties were on non-school nights.
  • it forced two serious scholars” – implies that not all the scholars are serious. I’ve thought hard about the people I’ve known here, and I can only think of one — a postdoc — who perhaps was not very serious about his scholarship. (He might have been, but his research didn’t come up in conversation much.)
  • ‘They don’t understand academic civility,’ Prof. Benson said, calling their behaviour inappropriate. ‘For example, at a welcoming dinner [for residents and alumni], they did the wave. And an emcee made jokes about [the housing contract] in front of the dean.'”While I can’t swear that the dean also did the wave, she was at one of the tables that did do the wave. All the tables except for Dr. Benson’s did the wave. My table was almost completely alumni, and they expressed disappointment that Prof. Benson’s table did not do the wave. And my mental model of emcees is that they are supposed to make jokes.

Now, I understand that journalists are not able to provide absolutely all context for absolutely all quotes, so perhaps he didn’t really mean what the article indicated. I hope so.

Finally, according to the article, “Ann Rose, acting dean of graduate studies, said she is solving problems as they arise.” I have no disagreement here. I been impressed at how helpful Dean Rose has been.


  1. Best Webfoot Forward » Blog Archive » Update on Globe and Mail Green College article said,

    October 16, 2006 at 9:27 am

    […] Update:  As I mentioned in my response to the Globe and Mail article about Green College, it reported that the Principal, Keith Benson, said that there was lots of drinking and partying.   I’ve asked around, and my sources report that there was a problem with one pair of roommates in the spring of 2005 (the semester before I got here), and that some people moved out because of it.  It was not a generalized problem. […]