Saturday, April 02, 2005

Paper Tigers and Ivory Towers

The Troglodytic Myopia at UVic’s Ivory Tower
Ingmar Lee - March 28/05
As Vancouver Island’s most voracious consumer of paper products, the University of Victoria is blatantly linked to the ongoing trashing destruction of the islands final ancient forests. As one of BC’s most thoughtless and gluttonous consumers of paper products, UVic is directly complicit in the crimes against nature being perpetrated by the giant trans-national logging corporations which rule this province.

Comox Valley-Slated for Developement

On a planet facing unmistakeable ecological catastrophe, the chief administrator of this so-called institution of higher learning should hang his head in shame with his pathetic paper-procurement announcement last week. And so should all the other myopic denizens of UVic who wantonly consume paper without a care for the world.

UVic is a humungous paper consumer and an evil paper waster. Day in, day out, semi-truckloads of paper stream through hundreds of copiers, printers and other paper processing machinery all over this campus. People stand in line-ups at the machines, staring blankly into space as they print off thousands of pages of bleached single-sided copy, to be read once, marked and then thrown away. Although some of the printers do double-sided copy, the instructions take several seconds to read and are ‘complicated,’ ~too complicated apparently for the mental calibre of people being ‘educated’ here.

Some say that certain Profs are demanding that paper submissions must be handed in single-sided. Let their names and photos be listed in this paper. What planet are these people living on? Such outrageous ignorance boggles the mind. Just look around, and everywhere, it’s clear, this campus is awash in a giant tsunami of paper. Extend your vision a bit further, and see the Vancouver Island stump-fields stretching off to the horizon.

Last week, President Turpin announced, without discussion, consultation, or any strategy for a complete ethical conversion, that UVic would now move to 30% post-consumer waste (PCW) recycled paper. Whoop-de-do. The week before, UVic’s Commerce Students Society out-classed the university and approved their conversion to 100% ethically-produced PCW paper. Two weeks ago the UVic Student Society unanimously approved the conversion of the SUB to 100% ethically-produced PCW paper.

UVic students are trying to lead, but the UVic administration just will not follow. All around the world, progressive universities have initiated sophisticated paper reform projects which include switching to ethically-produced 100% PCW. They are finding creative ways to do so, and often at a cost reduction to students. People are examining what the obstacles are and are figuring out how to get around them. But not here at UVic.

Steps to Re-use
Paper reform isn’t just about ethical procurement, it’s also about the shocking wastage going on at the machines. If Turpin gave a rat’s ass about forests, he could initiate paper consumption requirements that would significantly reduce paper wastage on campus, and cost virtually nothing to implement.

The President could decree that all paper submissions, correspondence, dockets, or anything else using paper at UVic would require double-side printing from this day forward. A simple edict from his office and all paper processing equipment purchased hereafter must do default double-siding, and be required to handle recycled and tree-free paper.

The President could have issued a challenge to industry: UVic is offering a substantial contractual incentive to whichever business can supply ethically-produced, 100% PCW paper at cost-reduction. He should loudly declare that this is where this university is headed. Other universities are finding ways to do paper reform. The technology is available; tragically, at UVic, the imagination and the will is not.

Within ten years, UVic students will explain to their children that there ‘used to be’ tigers, chimpanzees and gorillas in the world, as all these and many more forest-dwelling species will have gone extinct. We study all about the human-caused global disaster, but there is not a single course at UVic which examines what it takes to protect forests from this onslaught of destruction.

Bye, Bye Birdie
In a George Bush, Gordon Campbell and David Turpin world, there are insurmountable obstacles to the protection of ancient forests. What is it about paper that makes people refuse to relate the massive scale of impending extinctions to the paper spewing out of that machinery here at UVic? How is it that all around us in these halls of learning, we discuss and debate the dreadful fate of this planet, while ignoring our major contribution to its destruction?

In my 7 years at UVic, every year enthusiastic, imaginative and energetic students fan out around campus, hoping to forward their ideas to somehow drag this so obviously primitive university into the 21st century. And every year, their vision is dashed against a tired and obstinate good-old-boys bureaucracy which fights back and puts up obstacles to even the simplest suggestions for improvement. It is a totally frustrating and humiliating experience trying to forward environmental progress at UVic.
Bye, Bye Walkies
There is such a huge opportunity at UVic to set a powerful example for institutions of education around the world. A concerted effort from UVic could stop the destruction of Vancouver Island’s final ancient forests in its tracks. Such action would set a precedent for others to follow.

UVic should not continue to bear responsibility for the destruction of the planet’s final ancient forests. We need a concerted effort, using expertise from all departments on campus to find a way over the barricades of UVic’s Ivory Tower. Please wake up and get off your butt’s folks. It’s Now or Never for Earth’s final ancient forests.

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