Access Denied; Sense and Sensitivity; Rio Talk

Illustration by Jason Logan
Illustration by Jason Logan
Access Denied

Liz Beatty’s article (“Campus Confidential,” September) highlights an alarming trend. In my four decades of teaching in a major Canadian university’s faculty of education, I have seen the institution tie itself in knots to accommodate the silliest of so-called disabilities.

Frankly, certain accredited programs demand academic excellence and require abilities that may be beyond the capacities of some. Agreeing to unrealistic demands and lowering standards undermines the cardinal role of higher education in society.

Jon Bradley
Montreal, QC

I can’t understand why so many assume that disabled people are lying as part of some twisted plot to get ahead in life. Pretending to be disabled in order to get a few more minutes on a test—or for any other such accommodation—is just not a thing.

My husband uses a wheelchair and can’t sit up on his own. He is visibly disabled, yet any time he needs accommodation, he has to go to his doctor for a note that confirms he has a disability. He sees his doctor far more for this purpose than any other, and the only reason is society’s misguided belief that everyone is pretending to be disabled. I don’t understand it—and articles such as this one aren’t helping.

Natalie Rose
Toronto, ON

Sense and Sensitivity

Sensitivity training for judges and emergency responders is not a bad idea, but even Jessica Johnson’s frank article (“The Ghomeshi Effect,” September) doesn’t capture the magnitude of the problem at hand. Very few women feel completely safe going out alone at night. University campuses and other institutions have dismal reputations when it comes to dealing with rape and sexual assault.

It is time to examine the historical basis of rape and other forms of misogyny that persist to this day, and to acknowledge the parts played by religion and patriarchy. The denial and feigned indignation that this conversation elicits are just more evidence of how deeply embedded anti-female sentiments are.

Doris Wrench Eisler
St. Albert, AB

I read Jessica Johnson’s article with great interest. Having witnessed the effects of sexual assault and seen their lasting impact on victims, I am forever astonished that perpetrators can bargain with the system to have their charges reduced. For example, sexual assault can be bargained down to a common assault charge.

This not only allows the perpetrator to believe he or she did nothing “really” wrong—it also sends the message to the victims that their experiences were not really “that bad.” Until our legal system starts holding people accountable, this matter will not be resolved.

Kathleen Moran
Cambridge, ON

Jessica Johnson makes a good case for supporting victims of sexual assault. However, there is another side to the story. In this age of sexual freedom, the decision in such cases often revolves around the issue of consent—before the act, not afterwards, when feelings of remorse or guilt may have set in. In such cases, the accused has as much of a right to present his version of the event as the supposed victim. After all, his future is at stake, too.

Sudhir Jain
Calgary, AB

Rio Talk

Retired sprint canoeist and Olympic bronze medallist Thomas Hall (“The Wrong Track,” September) says Canada’s Own the Podium (OTP) program, a targeted approach to Olympic funding, should not define our country’s relationship with sport as one that prioritizes elite athletics at the expense of community-oriented organizations. As a colleague of his at AthletesCAN and a retired Paralympic bronze medallist in boccia, I agree.

OTP tries too hard to imitate the centralized funding systems of China and the former Soviet Union. In building our unique sporting future, we should instead look to countries such as the United Kingdom. The UK got it right in the years leading up to Rio 2016, implementing reasonable basic financial support for national team athletes alongside OTP-style targeted funding and a law that grants charitable status to grassroots sports organizations.

I hope the upcoming review of the OTP program concludes that the better a country’s sports policy mirrors its economic, cultural, and political realities, the more sporting its athletes and citizens will be.

Josh Vander Vies
Vancouver, BC

This appeared in the November 2016 issue.

“The time has come,” The Walrus said, “to talk of many things.” Send us a letter, an email (letters@thewalrus.ca), or a tweet, or post on this website. Comments may be published in any medium and edited for length, clarity, and accuracy. Mail correspondence to: 411 Richmond St. E., Suite B15, Toronto, Ontario, Canada  M5A 3S5

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