transgender archives in the world ( www.trans-
While we all need to continue our work to
make the world a safe and hospitable place for
trans people, I am proud to say that the University of Victoria is among the most trans-affirming
Aaron H. Devor
Dr. Devor is founder and academic director, The Transgender
Archives, and professor in the sociology department at the
University of Victoria.
Animals have some rights in Quebec
i question the accuracy of the following sentence in the online article “Animals are not
objects”: “From a legal standpoint [Quebec Civil
Code], animals have no more rights than a pair
of shoes, and this opens the door to inhumane
practices ranging from abandonment to cock
fighting.” (The original French article, “Un animal n’est pas une chose,” was published in the
October 2014 issue.)
Clearly, animals are afforded more legal protection in our society than inanimate objects.
People who are convicted of animal cruelty are
subject to legal sanctions. I don’t think I need to
list examples here as to what constitutes “cruelty.”
That said, of course there is room for great
improvement, and I would support significant
moves in that direction. I certainly agree with
most of the sentiments expressed in the article.
When I was an undergraduate in biology (1960s),
the things we were allowed to do in biology laboratories (nay, encouraged to do) would never
be permitted today. Movement in the current
direction may have been slow, but it was steady.
I spent several sabbatical leaves in England
over the years, and there the regulations surrounding care for research animals are significantly
more rigorous than ours. Those regulations cover
not only all vertebrate animals (fishes, amphibians,
reptiles and birds, in addition to mammals), but
also some “advanced” invertebrates (octopuses
and relatives) that are used in research.
Having legal protection is one thing; the
degree of enforcement is another. I’m not in a
position to evaluate how strictly our laws are
enforced. At my university, we observed the
guidelines of the Canadian Council on Animal
Care. Although these guidelines are observed
voluntarily and so may not have the force of
legislation behind them, I was impressed at how
seriously the guidelines were (and I assume still
Dr. Kaufman is professor emeritus of the University of Alberta,
where he formerly taught and researched in the department of
Hiring postdocs would ease pressure on the pipeline
martha crago asks why and how universities
and their researchers are encouraged to accept
so many graduate students in the sciences and
says the issue requires analysis, reflection and
solutions from everyone involved (“The training
pipeline is overflowing,” October 2014).
Government support needs to be shifted
away from graduate students and towards postdoctoral positions. The problem is that one postdoctoral fellow costs as much as three or more
graduate students. Therefore, government has
been cutting this kind of support. For example,
the institutes of the National Research Council
of Canada have been gutted.
Even with a large-scale reallocation of federal
training support, the lack of self-regulation in the
sciences has led to too many graduate students.
Looking at professional fields such as medicine
and engineering, with regulated inputs that sustain demand for their graduates, job prospects are
much better and as a result the quality of the students interested in these programs is very high.
Dr. Tomberli is an instructor and convenor in the department
of physics and astronomy at Capilano University in North
Vancouver, B.C., who recently served on an NSERC scholarship
committee (2010 to 2012).
Not everyone is happy with campus renovations
the redesign of the University of British
Columbia’s Main Mall might look good on paper
and in aerial photographs, but for the people
who actually use the space, it’s a design fail
(“Unpaving paradise,” August-September issue).
Restricting vehicular traffic on university
campuses is a good idea. This could have been
achieved at UBC by blocking entrances to Main
Mall. But this isn’t what UBC’s planning unit
did. The redesign removed a separation between
two paths – a narrow one for pedestrians on one
side of the mall and a wide path for bikes and
service vehicles on the other – and replaced them
with a single wide path (no wider than the origi-
nal) on each side. Pedestrians, cyclists and service
vehicles now share the same space, and it isn’t
working. As a cyclist, I must bike on the grass
medians because there isn’t enough space on the
pathways. Recognizing the increased pedestrian-
cyclist conflicts, the planning unit suggests that
cyclists use parallel roads east and west of Main
Mall, but both are currently intense construction
zones. And while this might not seem like much
of a detour to planners, when students and instruc-
tors have only 10 minutes between classes, they
will take the shortest route possible. It appears
that planning didn’t have the end user in mind
during this redesign.
Also, the claim by Dean Gregory, the landscape
architect, that to see people taking pictures of the
UBC campus “wasn’t the case before” is absurd.
Main Mall is a wide, tree-lined boulevard with a
mix of old limestone and modern glass buildings.
At one end are garden, water, island and mountain
views. There are outdoor art installations, an art
gallery and even two museums. Photography on
this part of campus isn’t new.
Another aspect of the redesign was establishing a common “look” to Main Mall. In one case this
meant removing perfectly functional covered bike
racks for aesthetic reasons and replacing them
with new racks. But the new ones aren’t covered
(it rains a lot in Vancouver) and they hold fewer
bikes. So, a project that was supposed to enhance
the campus core has actually made it worse for
those who actually study, work and live here.
Mr. Jandciu is strategist, teaching and learning initiatives, with
the Science Centre for Learning and Teaching in the faculty of
science at the University of British Columbia.
Brent Zettl is president and chief executive officer
of Prairie Plant Systems Inc. of Saskatoon, a producer of medical marijuana through its subsidiary
CanniMed. Mr. Zettl’s name was incorrect in the
October 2014 issue.