Giving a damn

Mike Sholars

Illustrations by Keith Mclean

It is remarkably easy to not give a damn.

Your time at York can be a straight line from orientation to convocation, and no one would hold that against you. Thousands of you go through the year without picking up a single issue of Excalibur, and I can’t blame you. Trying to understand campus events and student politics apropos of nothing is similar to watching a TV show halfway through its run; too many things have happened for you to ever be able to catch up.

While that attitude may have a grain of truth nestled deep inside (I couldn’t tell you the decades-long history of this paper, and I run the thing), that way leads to apathy, and there are groups on and off campus who benefit from apathy on a daily basis.

Let’s take Blueberry Hill, for instance. If it wasn’t for an amazing outpouring of support from the York community last summer, our campus may have lost its premier family-owned burger joint. The location will be up for sale this spring. Will Blueberry survive to see the end of 2012? That depends on whether or not you give a damn.

The looming end of Blueberry Hill reflects a larger trend of independently-owned campus businesses facing unclear futures. The Orange Snail in Stong, Michaelangelo’s in Atkinson, and Mangia Mangia in York Lanes are all rumoured to be facing the possibility of losing their spaces to new restaurants. Will every food option on campus come from a major chain by the end of the year? Quite possibly, if you don’t give a damn.

We take it for granted that real-world politics are corrupt and slimy; it’s the name of the game. What’s depressing is that shady politics aren’t limited to the real thing—they can be found in our very own student government. The YFS didn’t really hold elections last spring, because no one ran against them. And who can blame them; if you go against the YFS, you go against their parent-group, the Canadian Federation of Students. The CFS will supply the incumbent party with money and personnel that very few challenging parties can compete with. Will there be elections this year that allow for a power shift? If you give a damn, get out and vote. Even better, put together your own political party and give the student population a second option.

On-campus robberies and assaults have gone from isolated events to facts-of-life for York students. Our campus security officers are being trained to use blunt weapons and handcuffs to hopefully reduce crime rates, while the thousands of students living in the York Village are pretty much left high and dry (it’s not recognized as a part of the York community despite the fact that it’s ostensibly student housing at this point). From December 5 to 18, 18 thefts of private property were reported to Security Services. One of the items, a laptop, was stolen from inside a residence room. Will students continue to lose their already-shaky sense of security on campus? If you give a damn, you can mobilize and demand more of the administration.

We’re entering the back end of the school year; for many of you this is your last semester at York, period. A rule of thumb I try to follow is to leave a situation better than when I entered it; hopefully, I’ve done that with this newspaper. Excalibur gives a damn, and we try to pay it forward to our readers. Will York be any better when you leave it?

More importantly, do you give a damn either way?

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By Excalibur Publications



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