Nicholas Barber is a doctoral student at McGill University, where he has taught undergraduate courses in African Studies and Anthropology. He has worked on development projects in Ghana and Lesotho and for the Film and Video Center of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in New York City. He blogs for Africa is a Country (http://africasacountry.com/) and tweets @nccbarber.
As we all watch in awe as the human train wreck that is Toronto mayor Rob Ford continues to unfold, let us take a moment to reflect on the very ugly role that racism is playing in the Ford saga. I think that many of the people who claim to be disturbed by the fact that Rob Ford does drugs are, on some level, actually disturbed by the fact that Rob Ford (allegedly) smokes crack with Somalians in Little Mogadishu.
Several times per semester an article gets forwarded around amongst the students in my PhD program with a message that is some variation of the following: Doctoral studies are pointless. Needless to say, these are depressing, discouraging reads for those of us already pursuing advanced degrees. I enjoy being a PhD student.
Margaret Wente argued that Canadian universities were guilty of "infantilizing," rather than "challenging" students. Ken Coates said universities should function as a "proving ground." But universities were never meant to function as a sorting mechanism for the job market. We should devote the effort and resources necessary to change university education to better serve all students. University shouldn't be more demanding, it should be more engaging.