Halide light shines superior


This is in support of a letter by Ian Fisher (UBC Reports, Feb. 22). He
argues that sodium lighting is vastly inferior to halide. We (the Dept. of
Anthropology and Sociology) have been trying for years to get adequate lighting
around our building and particularly along the bush-lined path between us and
the Museum of Anthropology. In one of the discussions by the departmental
safety committee of the various options, the question of the relative safety of
sodium against incandescent was raised but not answered. Since, in addition to
lower illumination, sodium distorts colour, we decided that one is less likely
to see someone hiding in the bushes than if lighting is incandescent or halide.
We have been unable to find any research that would refute this expectation.
The problems in our area are exacerbated by a historic aesthetic principle that
specified lighting at waist height rather than having an elevated source.
Incandescent lighting at waist height is worse, i.e., less safe, than elevated
sodium lights; but neither of these is acceptable against the alternative of
elevated incandescent or halide.

Braxton M. Alfred
Associate Professor
Anthropology and Sociology

BA good, but skills better


I read with deep amusement Prof. Robert Allen’s “The Economic Benefits of
Post-Secondary Training and Education.” (UBC Reports supplement, May

In spite of Allen’s ivory tower statistics, those of us with university degrees
who are living in the real world have arrived at very different conclusions
than he has, based on real life experience. University liberal arts graduates
rarely find employment in their fields, usually find themselves under- employed
and under-paid, and are usually rejected for many positions because they are
considered over-educated and less flexible than non-graduates. (I base my
findings upon the countless hundreds of graduates with whom I’ve spoken over
the last few years).

Conversely, a very significant number of students who have attended university
either pursue a professional diploma after graduation, or drop out of
university to pursue a professional program, because they discover that the
benefit of a university education is badly overrated, and next to useless in an
ever-shrinking job market. The reality is that the job market is becoming more
and more super-specialized and technological. And if Prof. Allen is not
convinced of this, he should try beating the pavement in search of a job in
today’s working world without specialized high-tech skills.

Most employers may view a degree as an added plus when they hire new people,
but they are going to look at one’s practical experience and skills first. The
bottom line for them is always going to be productivity and dollar signs.

In short, a degree is nice to have, but it is like a sugar-coated candy that is
becoming too impractical and cost-prohibitive to pursue in today’s high-tech

Brian McGregor-Foxcroft, BA

GSS Executive raises concerns


On June 3, the GSS Executive suspended with pay Dale Reid, manager of the
graduate lounge (Koerner’s), and hired a forensic auditing firm (estimated
cost: $5-7,000) to investigate certain questions in relation to its

While responsibility for staff relationships normally rests with the Lounge
Committee, on this occasion the Executive assumed emergency powers. They then
called an extraordinary meeting of the GSS Council for June 6, 1996. Entering
the meeting with absolutely no background material, councillors were told that
the meeting was to be in camera, that they were not allowed to have copies of
any materials relevant to the issue, and that they were prohibited from
divulging to outsiders any information proffered at the meeting. Faced with the
prospect of Executive resignation, councillors were asked to retroactively
ratify Executive actions. After two hours of discussion, the motion was

As a councillor, I have a number of concerns with these actions. First, whether
action by Executive decree was necessary given that the GSS Lounge Committee
has authority over staff, including the manager. Second, whether the request
for an audit should have been made at a regular meeting, upon recommendation of
the Lounge Committee. Third, whether the refusal to provide councillors with
copies of any materials pertinent to the Executive’s actions was appropriate in
circumstances where informed debate and decision-making are desirable. Fourth,
whether the restriction on disclosure by councillors was compatible with their
representative function.

The last action extended to the staff at Koerner’s who were told verbally and
in writing by Executive members on June 3 that if they communicated in any way
with Dale Reid they could be subject to dismissal. In light of this, all of the
staff signed a petition urging council to insist upon the resignation of those
members of the Executive who initiated the investigation of Reid if no
significant wrongdoing on his part is revealed.

It seems strangely coincidental that this costly investigation comes at a time
when the Executive has come under criticism for the running deficit and
mounting debt ($120,000) that has not been addressed. Whether or not anything
is revealed, the Executive will have at least diverted attention away from
their own poor performance with respect to overall budgeting, GSS management of
Koerner’s and use of GSS resources. Meanwhile the increasing alienation of the
graduate student body from the GSS goes unabated.

David G. Murphy
Graduate Student Society Councillor-Political Science

UBC Reports welcomes letters to the editor on topics relevant to the university community. Letters must be signed and include an address and phone number for verification. Please limit letters, which may be edited for length, style and clarity, to 300 words. Deadline is 10 days before publication date.