Winter 2015
Letters to the Editor

The impact of cyberbullying, remembering the First World War and the pros and cons of university differentiation


Outstanding Journalism

I just spent an enjoyable half-hour with the Autumn issue (I’m a fast reader) – and I’m not even a U of T grad. Much of that time was with “Changed by War.” U of T has a rich heritage, andyou made the most of it. Particularly captivating was “Forgotten Warriors” and “Farmerettes Help at Home” with those so-true Toronto Star stories. And imagine having the shrapnel-scarred notebook of Harold Innis as a visual draw. I’ll show the piece about cyberbullying to my grandnieces and grandnephews – if I can get them to put down their electronic devices long enough! Keep up the outstanding journalism.

Peter Calamai

The Wired World of Teens

“The Bully Who Is Everywhere” (Autumn 2014) by Cynthia Macdonald is a timely, thoughtful, well-researched and thorough treatment of cyberbullying, and I plan to share it with a number of family members and friends. I like to think of myself as pretty aware of social issues and reasonably tech-savvy. I see to a certain extent how my children and grandchildren make use of all forms of technology, but I was struck by the sentence, “Kids also think parents don’t understand how wired their world truly is, and they are right.” Macdonald, quoting Faye Mishna, goes on to say: “Parents and adults in general often overlook the Internet’s positive effects.” This too is true. Thank you for including this excellent article and know that its contents continue to spread in ever widening circles.

Beverley Agolini-veitch
MSW 1962, Mullendorf, Luxembourg

Cyberbullying’s Impact

As a U of T graduate, and as someone who has taught education law at OISE since January 1982, I found Cynthia Macdonald’s article on bullying and cyberbullying right on (“The Bully Who Is Everywhere,” Autumn 2014). Beyond Bill C-13, many of the provinces have passed legislation to address this issue, primarily within the context of education laws. For those interested in this subject, the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the fall of 2012 – AB v. Bragg Communications Inc. – is imperative reading. Justice Abella rightly addresses the impact of cyberbullying on young people.

Justice Marvin A. Zuker
BA 1963 UC, MEd 1973, Toronto

The Cost of Diversification
Diversification may be a great idea for U of T and a few other large research-intensive universities in Canada (“A Big Step Forward,” Summer 2014). But it’s bad news for smaller universities in each province, for the PhD students who teach in them and for the students who attend them. I teach in a small, primarily undergraduate university that is ranked third in Canada in its category. In 2012, Research Infosource named it “Research University of the Year” in its category. But there is a larger research-intensive university in my province. If diversification were instituted here, most of the research money would go to the larger university. Funding cuts to my university would strangle our research and graduate programs. If our research suffers, so will the quality of the education we provide. Is boosting the reputations of a few research universities worth a diminished quality of education for most Canadians?

Maureen S. G. Hawkins
PhD 1994, Lethbridge, Alberta

President Meric Gertler responds:
Professor Hawkins raises important concerns. But to clarify, I wrote of public policies supporting differentiation among post-secondary institutions, not diversification. As stated in Ontario’s new policy, differentiation is intended, among other things, to “help focus the well-established strengths of institutions.” It would build on our existing diversity, by allowing each institution to play to its strengths, thereby offering students a more clearly articulated range of strong options. It remains to be seen how the new policy will affect funding, but in general the policy and its resulting Strategic Mandate Agreements have been well received across the spectrum of Ontario’s universities.

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