University of Lethbridge President Shrugs Off Student Issues as Normal Collateral Damage

That’s right. For New Year’s Eve, U of L students didn’t get a cheery message, good will, or even an awkward kiss. President Mike Mahon informed Lethbridge that all the issues students faced this past year were nothing more than collateral damage. Specifically, he said:

“Mahon said parking woes are often a byproduct of change…”

Thank you. Glad you care and could brush it off so easily. The students you’ve affected in life-changing ways thank you, too, I’m sure.

To be honest, I’m horrified by the idea that he can normalize it. There was not a single ounce of compassion for any of the students, faculty, area businesses, or west side residents affected by his and his administration’s poor leadership. He didn’t even tell area residents he was sorry for any inconvenience students may have caused.

The December 31, 2016 Herald article, was filled with many golden moments from the U of L’s wise, exalted, and seriously over-paid academic king. In fact, I was so inspired by this inspirational message of hope and promises of an even better year ahead, I’ve decided to break it down in a series of posts to the university — one for each of the issues covered in the article, and a few extras that seem to have been missed by the media. (Perfectly understandable. I mean, there’s only so much space in a local newspaper and so many issues.)

Since it’s New Year’s Eve, let’s start with my favourite topic…ULeth Parking Fiasco

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The U of L’s Handling of the Parking Fiasco

“U of L president Mike Mahon said the issues come hand-in-hand with a university that continues to grow and evolve”

Sure, growth always comes with its share of problems and kinks to work out, but let’s be honest. The construction of the science building wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. They failed to plan or do absolutely anything to negate the effects of losing well over 200 parking spots along with an increase in enrolment. They thought students would just grumble and get used to it like they usually do. After all, they did the same thing when faculty lost some of their parking, so why wouldn’t it work again, right?

In my opinion, it wasn’t just a screw up. It was complete and utter disregard and disrespect. They were so concerned about students that they had absolutely nothing in place. They had a “slight” increase pass sales (no numbers released). No Lot Q prior to the start of the semester. No transit system improvements. Nothing.

They still don’t have anything sorted. They’re still “looking” into it despite warnings prior to 2012 (See Campus Planning Study 2012 for an example). Or, it could be yet another tragedy of their poor communication strategy.

Mr. Mahon? You treated students like crap, and they deserve an honest apology. I’d suggest you start those who had to drop out or quit their jobs, as well as those with disability passes that you regularly fail to provide parking to. I would also like an apology issued to those who have experienced increased financial hardships due to the incompetency of you and your administration in this matter.

But…But…The Environment!

“The solution to parking is not always building more parking lots. It’s how you make better use of your existing parking lots and promote other means of travel.”

(You’re welcome, Mr. President.)

Pretty darn rich for someone with a 24hr reserved spot that is even closer to the door than the disability parking spots, don’t you think? ADMINISTRATION DRIVE, BY THEMSELVES, IN GAS GUZZLERS, TO THE UNIVERSITY. THEY PARK IN SPOTS, CLOSE TO THE DOOR, WHICH ARE RESERVED FOR THEM 24/7. THE INSTITUTION THEN TELLS THOSE WITH DISABILITIES “IT’S NOT OUR PROBLEM” WHEN THEIR SPOTS ARE FULL!

The University tells people who have mobility issues they should walk farther and pay a third time for parking while its leaders saunter directly to their offices in expensive suits.

What kind of a jerk move is that? And they want to preach about the environment? (For the record, as a former business owner, I would have fired any employee who spoke to a customer that way. On the spot.)

I take the bus, as do many other students and faculty. It’s a great opportunity to visit or catch up on email. You know who I NEVER see on the bus? Take a guess.

U of L Admin Parks Before Disabled

Dear Administration: Had you bothered to take the bus, or carpool with students and faculty, you would have known about the issues. You could have collected a wealth of ideas and been aware of the issues early enough to deal with them. Lastly, you wouldn’t have made a PR snafu of epic proportions that reflected so poorly on our institution.

Why can’t you take the bus? I want an explanation. Your students want an explanation. (I want to discuss transit, too, but in another post. You know, so you have something to look forward to.)

Administration reports upwards to its president and meet with small groups of individuals, all of whom are paid to be there. Faculty must be on time as it must report not only to administration, and their respective deans, but also to hundreds of students spending thousands of dollars to be there. The faculty are then forced to fight for parking spots like the rest of us lowly students. Does that make any sense to you?

No, more parking lots aren’t currently an option. However, there are a considerable number of unused spaces and options available to make sure these lots are used far more efficiently. You simply aren’t doing it. Any of it.

The University of Lethbridge must consider parkades or some other option, at some point particularly if they continue to increase enrolment. But they know that. Mahon’s predecessor knew that. (We’ll cover THAT in an upcoming post. I promise.) Or, is the idea to simply keep everyone’s money regardless of whether they’re actually supplying students with the education they’ve paid for? My money is on the latter since that’s what has happened up to this point. Free money and no expenses for the university. How perfect is that?

UofL Greenwashes Issues

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Let’s talk about students and the environment, shall we?

“How do we think about parking and ridership versus our commitment to the environment and sustainability?” he asked.”

Sure, we have some students that drive to the university despite living two blocks away. However, a good many of us take the bus at least once a week. I’ve spoken to many who catch rides when they can from friends even if it means several extra hours spent at the university. Of these individuals, many are parents who shuffle their kids off to a daycare provider, go to school, get a few groceries, go to the bank, pick up their kids, and still manage to study.

I drive when I absolutely need to, but take the bus most of the time. I recycle, pick up litter on the way into the building, and use those crappy hand blowers in the washrooms when I can. I use a travel mug every day instead of disposable coffee cups, etextbooks in all the classes that offer them…shall I continue? School administration doesn’t even have to walk up and down the hill or across Lot N.

Meanwhile, the university’s green initiatives have been a disaster at best. Many started out as a great idea, but they were morphed into a bastardized version completed purely for political reasons after the typical bureaucracy and bullshit.

Let’s take the idea for multiple recycle bins instead of garbage cans. It’s a good concept, but there are serious issues:

  • No paper towel for food, spills, bleeding wounds, child poop explosions, etc.
  • No consistency (usability 101) – You get 2 cans in one spot, and 5 in another. All different, so you wander aimlessly looking for the right one before you finally give up and toss it in the garbage
  • No classroom bins, or even in some locations on campus – Exploding pens are a great example. You get ink all over the chair, desk, door handles, floor, and other items until you finally get it all over a very unsanitary garbage lid and into the garbage. This mess then stays on these surfaces to be spread around by other students until a maintenance staff member can attend to the mess.
  • New students and visitors to the building have absolutely no clue how the system works. And it can be intimidating.

You and I both know that wasn’t the original concept. Shame really.

How about that fancy new building? The environmentally-friendly power generation was nixed in favour of items that make good photo ops. How many other green concepts were eliminated due to costs? I have more, but I don’t think I need to continue.

Greenwash the issue all you want Mr. Mahon. Doesn’t change facts. You’re pointing a finger at students when it’s administration that can’t practice what it preaches. You were caught making crap decisions. And not only were you caught, you continue to do nothing about parking, transit, or anything else in terms of helping students get to and from the university. You then have the nerve to tell students it’s their fault. That’s earned a walk of shame in my books.

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