Letters to the Editor – Nov. 25, 2009

Re: Energy drinks: risky or rewarding (Nov. 11, 2009)

Perhaps it would be RESPONSIBLE to publish an article on this subject by someone with both the medical qualifications and research information necessary to truly inform your readership.

Shane Nestruck

Re: Date with UMSU (Nov. 18, 2009)

I have some concerns with the article published in the November 18th; edition of the Manitoban entitled “My Date with UMSU” that can be summed up in a few questions: How does feeding someone in a soup kitchen solve poverty? If a human being does not have access to food or shelter on a regular basis how does travelling to a soup kitchen line-up or to a shelter to spend the night fix their permanent situation?

To answer my own question, these programs do not address the issue of why people are living in poverty; they focus on reducing the harm of a symptom. In my mind it is similar to prescribing a pain-killer to deal with a gun wound. Without addressing the cause of the pain, the prescription can do little to change the problem.

What needs to occur is these programs need to be expanded to provide more than temporary relief, but rather to ensure that all residents of Manitoba have access to food and shelter. Until the Government of Manitoba addresses these issues, more rallies, protests and demonstrations will be needed.

Hopefully Mr. Cousins, his beaches, roses and wine can take this to heart and go beyond the soup kitchen to help those in poverty.

James Irvine

Addressing Adam Cousins’ date with UMSU

Hundreds of students on our campus live in poverty, thousands of students were caught scrambling for a place to live in August amidst the lowest vacancy rate in the last decade, and tens of thousands of students in this province work one, two, or three jobs just to pursue post-secondary education. How many of the 125,000 Manitobans who live in poverty do you think are students? How many of the one in five children living in poverty in this province do you think would like nothing more than to grow up with an opportunity to go to a university or college and break the cycle of poverty?

Poverty is a reality, with 42,000 Manitobans relying on food banks, and UMSU’s own food bank right here on campus seeing increases in usage each of the last 4 years, with record highs over the last term. However, when you are one of the largest lobby organizations in the province, you have to fight the root of the problem, and you do that by pushing your government to set targets for poverty reduction, by mobilizing numbers, by building awareness and support within the broader community, and by shifting government policy – that’s how you effect positive change, and that’s what this campaign is about.

Research shows that education is one of the best ways out of poverty, even more so today, where a post-secondary degree is now required in over 70% of jobs. Students at all ages are the future and our government can go a long way in building that future by increasing grants and bursaries to low-income students, by increasing support to marginalized communities, by ensuring affordable housing and additional jobs in our neighborhoods, and by funding our universities and colleges to ensure accessibility for all. How else do you expect those in poverty to break the cycle and contribute to our economy and our province?

On the Day of Action, we were greeted by 9 MLA’s, 5 of whom are provincial cabinet ministers, representatives from Aboriginal organizations, labour unions, persons living with disabilities, and housing coalitions, all of whom applauded the campaign. Thank you to everyone who came out on November 5, to the thousands of you who took the time to sign a postcard and to those of you who took part in the provincial Food Drive on Halloween, organized through the Canadian Federation of Students Manitoba, to help those in need.

Together, we have put students and poverty on our new Premier’s agenda, opened the eyes of many more, and made this campaign a success.

Sid Rashid enjoys dates with UMSU and correcting misleading articles.

Re: Give the art gallery to people who need and want it (Nov. 18, 2009)

Although the definition of art has always been debatable and open to interpretation, a quick search in Wikipedia presents this: “Artworks can be defined by purposeful, creative interpretations of limitless concepts or ideas in order to communicate something to another person. Artworks can be explicitly made for this purpose or interpreted based on images or objects. Art is something that stimulates an individual’s thoughts, emotions, beliefs, or ideas through the senses. It is also an expression of an idea and it can take many different forms and serve many different purposes.” Wikipedia continues, “However, even fine art often has goals beyond pure creativity and self-expression. The purpose of works of art may be to communicate ideas, such as in politically-, spiritually-, or philosophically-motivated art; to create a sense of beauty to explore the nature of perception; for pleasure; or to generate strong emotions. The purpose may also be seemingly nonexistent.”

Now that we have a fairly comprehensive definition of artwork, let’s do a review of the history and mandate of UMSU’s Gallery of Student Art. In September 2004, UMSU Council approved funding for the renovation of that space, Room 105B, previously used as a tax office for only three months a year and closed for the rest of the time. Plans were already in the works to turn that space into a sushi restaurant, but the UMSU Executive and Council at the time saw the need and for a visible space on campus to promote student artwork from all students from all faculties. The Council also agreed that it should be used to bring in various speakers and present new ideas on issues to the university community. The proposal to create and fund a student art gallery then went to UMSU’s Endowment Fund Board of Trustees, and as a registered charity, the Board is mandated (and legally required) to fund worthy projects that are seen as benefiting all students and improving the quality of student life on campus. The proposal submitted to the Board of Trustees included a clear outline of what the student operated gallery was to be used for: “to showcase student work, be it art or other related materials of interest to the members of the Union.”

So, there you have it. The gallery is a space for all students to use, not just for students in the Faculty of Fine Arts. That being said, it goes without saying that we have many talented students within that faculty and everyone is encouraged to submit an application to showcase their artwork! We are all students that need and want the Gallery of Student Art.

Heather Laube
UMSU Vice-President Student Services
Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours Degree