Max’s column (Maxed Out: Of educations and institutions, Pique Nov. 27)) is so off the mark I must reply.
First, a bias, as a parent who is proud his son has taken up the defence of his country through a career in the Canadian Army, I have some disdain for Max’s approach to escaping his own U.S. citizenship obligations.
That said, he is correct that, in his own words, “there are so many things I do not know,” particularly when it comes to universities.
First, he indicates that the university is a real estate play when it is a real attempt to bring a clean, viable and valuable industry to this town. The owner could make far more serious dollars with other ventures. Why do we need this? Have you seen the rain outside today? Have you looked at the dismal projections for tourism? Do we understand that Whistler-Blackcomb is laying off employees? We are a town in search of economic survival and WhistlerU as a comprehensive learning centre offers some hope. Max does not seem to get it!
Second he suggests that the school year calendar clashes with the ski calendar. Again, he does not get it. This is a non-traditional university that operates on a unique calendar and that would require one term of work in the community from its students. For some, this term could be the winter term when short-term employees are most needed.
Third, he questions where the students would be housed. He obviously has not read the information from this paper. They would be housed on campus, so we would be relieving the employee housing pressure, not exacerbating it. But what is more appealing is we would attract their parents and conference participants in the shoulder seasons to occupy the many empty rooms in our hotels and to partake in the fine activities we offer.
He does not get it regarding courses either. Our target audience is different from the universities he mentions and the UCW already has a very successful MBA program and the graduates to prove it.
When he suggests we have lots of talent like great chefs in town, he does not understand as potential instructors they need not just “infrastructure” to offer the courses but appropriate facilities. Yes, let’s use our local talent but not in some makeshift facility that does not enable either their or the students’ talent to be fully realized.
Finally, to say this town will never be in a position to support and absorb an educational institution belies a cynical and unfortunate view of the potential of Whistler. Perhaps he should look at Colorado or Heidelberg, where universities have become a vibrant part of tourist resorts, but to have such little faith in this town’s capacity is terribly sad.
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