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SMC student union reviews finances, new student improvement fund at Annual General Meeting

SMCSU to create a list of ‘essential costs’ as mandated by provincial government’s Student Choice Initiative

SMC student union reviews finances, new student improvement fund at Annual General Meeting

Finance reviews took centre stage at the St. Michael’s College Student Union’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on March 15. The union gave an extensive review of its 2018–2019 annual budget, projected revenue for the upcoming academic year, and presented portfolios from each office.

Vice-President Finance Jason Gardner presented a budget report regarding finances for each office from last May to this April.

The projected 2018–2019 revenue of $120,571.90 was reported as an actual revenue of $65,155.30, constituting an over $50,000 shortfall.

There was also a large gap between projected and actual spending. Community life, for example, has only spent $10,342.28 of its $41,967 budget.

Gardner explained that the reasons for the difference lie in an overestimation when budgeting, as well as reimbursements that have not come in yet for upcoming and recent events.

The union also moved to change its reimbursement system from physical to digital in an effort to encourage sustainability. The motion passed.

The union projects an estimated $102,801.78 in spending for 2019–2020. Less money will be allotted to clubs at just $12,733.08 and formal at $27,606, compared to last year’s allotments of $20,905.80 and $31,250 respectively.

This year, both arts and community life had the largest budgeted amounts at $33,440 and $41,967 respectively, accounting for major events such as formal and the annual musical.

The union also introduced a new Student Improvement Fund, which would go toward physical changes on St. Michael’s campus to benefit campus life. Funds will be used to renovate common spaces, which in the past has included the ‘coop’ in Brennan Hall and the ice rink in the college quad.

Expenses are calculated at $330,000, with the skating rink costing roughly $30,000 and the Brennan Hall renovation estimated at $300,000.

On the Student Choice Initiative, the provincial government’s plan to mandate an opt-out option for certain incidental fees, the union is collectively working on a list of essential costs according to provincial guidelines highlighted by the initiative.

Thomas Rosica steps down from St. Michael’s College post amid extensive plagiarism allegations

Resignation of prominent priest from board of directors comes as evidence surfaces of plagiarism since 2008

Thomas Rosica steps down from St. Michael’s College post amid extensive plagiarism allegations

A prominent priest in Toronto’s Catholic community has stepped down from the University of St. Michael’s College’s (USMC) board of directors after extensive plagiarism allegations surfaced against him on February 15.

Thomas Rosica, CEO of Catholic media channel Salt + Light Television and a well-known spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Church, resigned from his board position after it was revealed that several columns and essays published under his name in news outlets such as the Toronto Sun, National Post, Windsor Star, and The Globe and Mail included copy plagiarized from other sources.

Many of the plagiarized sources can be traced back to other Catholic and secular journalists writing for publications such as The New York Times and America Magazine. The earliest of the articles dates back to 2008, when Rosica published a column for the Toronto Sun about Catholic martyrdom, which includes two unattributed paragraphs from the work of Associated Press reporter Brian Murphy. 

“I sincerely regret the situation that has arisen and the allegations of plagiarism. I can assure you these errors were never done intentionally,” said Rosica in a statement to The Varsity.

“Nevertheless such actions are wrong. I have recognized the errors and publicly acknowledged them. I am truly sorry for what has transpired. It is best that I step down from the governing board so that my mistakes do not detract from the mission of the University.”

The governing body at USMC, run by the Catholic community of priests known as the Congregation of St. Basil (CSB), have taken the situation seriously. USMC has not been involved beyond the acceptance of Rosica’s resignation.

Collegium chair Don McLeod tweeted on February 25, “Fr. [Father] Thomas Rosica, CSB made significant contributions while serving the St. Michael’s community as a member of its Collegium. Over the weekend, I received and have respectfully accepted his resignation from the Collegium.”

Martyn Jones, a spokesperson for USMC, issued a statement to Catholic and self-described “#1 pro-life news website” LifeSiteNews on February 19 in response to the greater university’s comment on the matter.

“We are troubled to hear of the allegations against Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB. The University of St. Michael’s College holds its students and its academic community to the highest standards of accountability and academic integrity, and as a federated university in the University of Toronto, we follow the U of T’s Office of Student Academic Integrity and its Code of Behavior on Academic Matters.”

Rosica has also played a significant role in other Canadian universities, having served as President and Vice-Chancellor of Assumption University in Windsor. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from St. Mark’s College at the University of British Columbia in May and an honorary degree from Regis College at U of T in November. Rosica also served as a media adviser for the Vatican in 2014 and played a significant role as a spokesperson during the St. Michael’s College School hazing incidents.

David Mulroney, former President of USMC from 2015–2018, tweeted on February 18, “Failure to investigate suggests that major Catholic universities in Canada value ideological compatibility over academic rigor.”

While it is unclear whether Rosica’s awards and degrees will be revoked, the Jesuits of Canada has withdrawn its bestowal of the Magis Award, given to an outstanding member of the Catholic community.

“Plagiarism is a grave offense against intellectual honesty and the community of scholarship. At the same time, many of us know Fr. Tom personally, and celebrate his genuine service to the Church in Canada and around the world,” reads a statement from the Jesuits of Canada.

“It is with great sorrow then that we have written to Father Rosica and withdrawn our invitation to him to receive the Magis Award on April 24, in the context of the Annual Provincial’s Dinner.”

Rosica continues to serve as CEO of Salt + Light Television. The Vatican has not released a statement on the matter.

Serbian royal claimants hold meet-and-greet at St. Michael’s College

Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine talk humanitarian aid, peace, compassion

Serbian royal claimants hold meet-and-greet at St. Michael’s College

Together with the humanitarian organization Lifeline Canada, the U of T Serbian Students’ Association hosted royal claimaints Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia at the Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, St. Michael’s College on October 19. Lifeline Canada is an organization that strives to improve public health services in Serbia and provide humanitarian aid.

The Serbian monarchy was abolished when Serbia became part of the communist state of Yugoslavia after World War II. The royal family was forced into exile, but was allowed to return to Serbia in 2000 after the revolution that removed former President Slobodan Milosevic from power. The monarchy has not been reinstated but Alexander believes himself to be Serbia’s rightful king.

“Canada has been very good to us,” said Alexander. “Lifeline works very hard here.”

Alexander also promoted his own organization, the Foundation for Education and Culture, which aims to provide support for bright students in Serbia through partnering Serbian schools with reputable institutions abroad.

The couple urged youth in the audience to take up altruistic missions of their own.

“I really think that the [sooner] younger people start helping others, the easier it is later in life,” said Katherine. “I don’t know if I could have done what I am doing today if I did not have parents who taught me the joy of giving from a very early age.”

Katherine spoke about the longtime exile of the Serbian royal family as a source of inspiration behind their humanitarian efforts. Alexander was born at Claridge’s Hotel in London, and at two years old, he was declared an “enemy of the state” of Yugoslavia.

“My husband always wanted us to be with the people,” said Katherine. “‘I’ve never been to our country,’ he told me, ‘but I always want to know that if we ever go, I can look at people in their eyes and know that we’ve been with them when they needed us the most.’”

Katherine founded Lifeline in 1993 after witnessing tragedies endured by people of the war-torn Balkans at the time. Starting with her efforts to bring medical and practical supplies to the region during the conflict, it has since expanded to become an international philanthropic organization with offices in Chicago, New York, London, Athens, and Toronto.

The message that Katherine hopes to spread through her humanitarian work is one of unity and kindness. “Happiness comes from helping others,” she said. “It’s like going to the bank and looking for interest when you never made a deposit. So we have to deposit goodwill. We have to deposit care. We have to go beyond ourselves and think of others.”

To commemorate their visit to campus, President Marija Petrović and Vice-President Stefan Ninković of the Serbian Students’ Association at U of T presented Alexander and Katherine with a copy of The University of Toronto: A History.

Among the attendees who received the royal couple at the university were Vasilije Petković, the Consul General of the Republic of Serbia in Toronto, Professor Jaroslav Skira, the Acting Director of the Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, and members of the Serbian Students’ Association, the Greek Students’ Association, and the Orthodox Christian Fellowship on campus.

St. Michael’s College registrarial assistant has history of derogatory posts on social media

SMC administration aware of posts, “deplores” any derogatory language

St. Michael’s College registrarial assistant has history of derogatory posts on social media

Evidence has surfaced that St. Michael’s College (SMC) Registrarial Assistant Philip Hicks-Malloy’s social media have included derogatory posts that have targeted women, Muslims, and other marginalized groups.

Many of the postings targeted prominent female politicians, including former US Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, with a post calling her “a lying, satanic witch from hell.” The postings also shared a video about former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, above which he commented, “This Whore Bitch!!!!!!”

Screenshot taken from Facebook.

Among the content that has been shared on Hicks-Malloy’s social media was a post that called halal — a guideline that includes what foods are permissible in Islam — a “symbol of treason.” The post was a response to confectionary company Cadbury producing halal foods. On this shared post, Hicks-Malloy’s social media had added a comment saying, “Boycott this product!”

Also included was a shared post on Facebook that read, “People of European descent need to wake up and realize that our culture and identity is being strategically attacked by the Left,” as well as a post that claimed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was legalizing bestiality, which Trudeau has not.

Screenshot taken from Facebook.

Hicks-Malloy’s social media also shared posts from alt-right figures such as Faith Goldy and Milo Yiannopoulos. Goldy has been associated with white nationalists, is a former contributor at The Rebel Media, and is running for mayor of Toronto. Yiannopoulos, a former editor for far-right website Breitbart, has made derogatory comments toward marginalized groups in the past and collaborated with white nationalists.

Also on Hicks-Malloy’s Facebook timeline were many posts criticizing Toronto Pride, with one saying that Black Lives Matter had “infiltrated… [Toronto] Pride and have turned everyone against the police.”

Hicks-Malloy, who, according to his Facebook profile, is in a same-sex marriage, had described himself in a Facebook comment on his timeline as a “gay Homophobe,” and he had also shared a post saying that “the greatest threat to LGBT rights is the Liberal LGBT community.”

The Varsity reached out to Hicks-Malloy multiple times for comment but did not receive a reply. Soon after The Varsity’s attempts to reach him, many of his social media accounts, including Facebook and YouTube, were deleted.

In response to the discovery of Hicks-Malloy’s social media accounts in June 2018, then-SMC President David Mulroney told The Varsity in an email that “the University of St. Michael’s College deplores any use of language that fails to acknowledge the dignity, respect and worth of every person and that is inconsistent with the values of the University, which are rooted in the Gospel.”

Screenshot taken from Facebook.

According to then-SMC Director of Communications, Events, and Outreach Stefan Slovak, SMC had discovered the issue a few days prior to The Varsity’s request for comment in June 2018. Slovak said that they are “taking the issue seriously, but cannot comment further.”

SMC’s new president, David Sylvester, told The Varsity in an email, “I became aware of this situation when I began my term at the beginning of July, and am aware of a previous statement made at the time by President David Mulroney, which captures our current position perfectly.”

“We take this matter seriously, and are not in a position to offer any further comment at this time,” wrote Sylvester.

When asked about the situation this month, he responded, “St. Michael’s has addressed this situation in full accordance with the University’s policies.”

“St. Michael’s takes seriously its responsibilities to ensure that all USMC community members conduct themselves professionally at all times. We will not be commenting further regarding what is now an internal matter,” he continued.

According to Hicks-Malloy’s LinkedIn profile, which has also been deleted, he has worked for SMC for 29 years. As of press time, Hicks-Malloy is still listed as a registrarial assistant on SMC’s website.

St. Mike’s faculty, administration negotiating collective agreement as strike deadline looms

Faculty filed for a no-board in January, triggering a countdown for strike action

St. Mike’s faculty, administration negotiating collective agreement as strike deadline looms

After eight months of negotiations, the University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) faculty and administration are heading back to the bargaining table on February 9 in pursuit of a collective agreement before the February 11 no-board deadline. A strike is imminent after 86 per cent of unit members voted in favour of job action at the college.

A no-board triggers a 17-day timer for an agreement, after which either side can legally take job action, either by striking or locking out. USMC faculty filed for a no-board with the Ontario Ministry of Labour after they were dissatisfied with negotiations during a January 19 meeting between the two sides. University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA)-USMC Chief Negotiator Michael O’Connor said that the faculty filed for the no-board as a way to increase pressure on the administration, which they felt was “not up to speed.”

If a strike should happen, undergraduate students in Book & Media Studies, Medieval Studies, Christianity and Culture, and Celtic Studies would be affected. Graduate students in the Faculty of Theology, and by extension the Toronto School of Theology, would also be affected, along with some services at the John M. Kelly Library.

“We’re hopeful that if the employer comes to the table prepared to bargain and ready with a serious effort to reach an agreement, then an agreement should be possible,” said O’Connor. “We don’t think a strike is necessary; we think it’s avoidable if the college administration is serious about reaching a deal.”

Negotiations have been ongoing since the last collective agreement expired on June 30, 2017. The two sides did not meet until August 8 and 9, after which the administration filed for conciliation to bring in an individual to mediate negotiations. Since then, they have met in September, October, December, and at the January 19 meeting.

USMC Director of Communications Stefan Slovak wrote that the administration will continue to work to secure an agreement.

“We’ve been negotiating in good faith for many months to reach an agreement with our colleagues who are members of UTFA,” reads a statement to The Varsity from USMC President David Mulroney. “We’ve tabled a comprehensive offer that tracks closely with the agreement that UTFA reached with the University of Toronto some months ago, that respects our autonomy as an institution, and that contributes to the long-term viability of our university and the community it sustains.”

Faculty and administration are at odds on four key issues, according to O’Connor. The first is greater job security. The administration has proposed a new category of limited-term contract faculty at the college. The faculty, however, believes this is “precarious employment,” and it does not motivate participation in college life.

The second is that the administration is asking for a one-year agreement, which O’Connor attributes to changes facing the college with Mulroney’s exit. This means that a new agreement would be backdated to July 1, 2017 and would send the two sides back to negotiations next summer.

“To drag things on for eight months in a way that’s felt just very frustrating, and then say we want to do this right away again just seems impractical and unreasonable to us,” said O’Connor. “So we’re looking for a multi-year agreement that would give us much more stability.”

Third, faculty are also asking for “equity and diversity in hiring,” requesting that those on hiring committees receive training and that language in USMC job ads mirror U of T’s.

Fourth, they are requesting compensation that mirrors the one per cent plus the $1,150 lump sum that U of T faculty received last June.

O’Connor said that the administration has rejected all of these proposals.

Editor’s Note (February 5): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the lump sum that U of T faculty received last June was $11.50. It was actually $1,150. 

St. Mike’s President criticizes new Canada Summer Jobs funding requirement

Blog post says requiring groups to support abortion rights “unacceptable to a Catholic university”

St. Mike’s President criticizes new Canada Summer Jobs funding requirement

University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) President David Mulroney has criticized the federal government’s cuts to Canada Summer Jobs funding for groups that oppose abortion rights.

In a blog post published on February 1 titled “Catholic Social Teaching: A pre-Lenten Reflection,” Mulroney wrote, “Canada’s federal government seems intent on making support for its pro-abortion policies a litmus test for entry into the public square. The latest affront is the requirement that institutions applying for funding under the Canada Summer Jobs Grant program attest that their core beliefs align with government policies that include support for abortion.”

The Canada Summer Jobs Grant program provides wage subsidies to help employ secondary and post-secondary students throughout the summer. The program welcomes applicants from small businesses, non-profit employers, public sector, and faith-based employers, according to Employment and Social Development Canada.

Employment Minister Patty Hajdu released a statement in April 2017 saying that anti-abortion groups would no longer receive funding in constituencies represented by Liberal MPs. Hajdu’s statement followed a report published by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada that detailed the extent to which federal funding was going toward anti-abortion groups. MPs determine where funding goes in their constituency, including the Canada Summer Jobs grant.

After Hajdu’s statement, the federal government added a mandatory attestation that applicants of the grant in all constituencies must sign. “Both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada… These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”

Mulroney praised the strong reaction from faith groups, including USMC Chancellor Thomas Collins who, during a meeting of multi-faith leaders at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church on January 25, highlighted the value of faith-based organizations in their contributions to their communities through summer jobs. The Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto could see as many 150 summer jobs affected by the new attestation requirement.

According to Mulroney, USMC hasn’t used the Canada Summer Jobs program since 2015, and he remarked that given the new requirement to sign the attestation, it “will almost certainly not be able to use it in the future.”

“The government’s suggested work-around, that institutions simply assume that the requirement for attestation doesn’t apply to them, is unacceptable to a Catholic university on a number of counts,” wrote Mulroney. “First, this sends a terrible message to our students, whom we daily counsel to live their values to the fullest. Second, holding our noses and signing makes us both complicit and foolish, particularly if we comfort ourselves that this is a rare and not-to-be repeated assault on our values. There is a pattern developing here.”

During a town hall in Winnipeg on January 31, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about the summer jobs funding issue. “There are certain groups that are specifically dedicated to fighting abortion rights for women and rights for LGBT communities and that is wrong,” said Trudeau. “That is certainly not something the federal government should be funding: to roll back the clock on women’s rights.”

Athens is burning at St. Michael’s College

The administration’s involvement in SMCSU’s ‘re-imagining’ raises serious concerns about student democracy

Athens is burning at St. Michael’s College

Students at St. Michael’s College (SMC) have been through their fair share of political turmoil in the past few years. A recently concluded financial investigation into the operations of the St. Michael’s College Student Union (SMCSU) revealed evidence of kickbacks, poor record-keeping, and unidentified expenditures and cash deposits. In December 2016, Snapchat videos depicting then-current and former members of SMCSU joking about Islam were leaked onto social media. Disagreements over the appropriate role of Catholicism at SMC have created hostility and mistrust between students, staff, and SMC President David Mulroney.

In light of everything that has happened, the elections for this year’s SMCSU representatives are currently taking place under the watchful eye of the SMC administration. We acknowledge that changes to SMCSU’s operations are necessary in light of past events, but the administration is treading a path to ‘reform’ that is deeply undemocratic — and its constituents will ultimately suffer the consequences.

There is considerable evidence to suggest that the SMC administration is slowly but surely assuming control of student government at the college. After SMCSU prorogued its activities late last year, the administration appointed a ‘re-imagining committee’  of six students to establish guidelines for SMCSU’s new directions. According to committee member Haseeb Hassaan, many of the suggestions made by these students, including the proposition to add a Vice-President Equity to the SMCSU executive, were not taken into account by the administration.

In exchange, the new Student Society Leadership Policy drafted by the committee now requires leaders to “accept their ethical obligation to act in accordance to USMC’s mission as a Catholic university.” All SMCSU expenses that exceed $500 will have to be co-signed by the SMC Administrative Advisor, who will also attend all scheduled meetings as an ex-officio member once the student union begins its term.

The administration’s attempts to ‘reform’ the college have been underway for some time. Mulroney has made his disapproval of SMCSU and SMC student culture clear throughout his tenure, and he has repeatedly expressed a desire to reconnect the college with its Catholic roots. After Mulroney condemned the financial mismanagement of SMCSU’s frequent club nights last fall, SMCSU opted for a trip to a pumpkin patch while other student societies hosted successful Halloween parties.

One of the most important functions of democratic student government is to meet students’ needs in ways that a university administration cannot. This sentiment is codified in the “Aims and Purposes” section of the most up-to-date and publicly available version of SMCSU’s constitution, which states “the Union shall effectively represent the interests of its members” at the college and within the U of T community. Hired by the university, and often insulated from the more minute realities of student life, university administrations are not always in the best position to gauge what students want, or they may be more concerned with other priorities. In step student representatives as liaisons and lobbyists.

In order for relationships between student governments and administrations to be truly successful, both parties must maintain independence and mutual respect. Student representatives cannot be dissolved into figureheads.

Of course, student societies should be subject to checks and balances to avoid abuses of power. Provisions within student society constitutions exist for this very purpose. Additionally, external mechanisms such as the Policy on Open, Accessible and Democratic Autonomous Student Organizations, approved by Governing Council in June 2016, demonstrate that accountability mechanisms can be implemented while making efforts to respect the autonomy of student organizations. SMCSU and all other student societies should undoubtedly remain accountable to their constituents, but maneuvering on the part of the administration is not the way to achieve this goal.

In an editorial last year, we expressed concern that Mulroney’s attitude toward students at the college was infantilizing, and we continue to stand by that position. The actions of a few grossly reckless individuals are not representative of the vast majority of students and student leaders at SMC, who are capable of making responsible decisions — suggesting that the administration needs to babysit all SMC students is insulting.

In July, an open letter from SMC faculty and staff condemned Mulroney for criticizing SMC at the SIGNIS World Conference. Signatories expressed that Mulroney’s remarks about SMC students — which included concerns about objectification of women, excessive drinking, and a dearth of Catholic values — were disappointing and did not reflect the behaviour of all students at the college.

As conflicts persist and changes unfold, it is crucial that SMC students retain their right to freely select their own leaders. It is a mistake to assume that a heavier hand on the part of the administration will necessarily improve life at the college. Though issues of financial responsibility may be more effectively policed, if students are not respected, other problems may arise in their place. Not the least of these is the lingering resentment that undoubtedly comes from being treated like toddlers.

Also concerning is the quest to expand Catholic influence at SMC, which could have a marginalizing impact on students of other faiths. Keep in mind that many, if not most, SMC students are not Catholic, yet Hassaan was the only Muslim and non-Catholic member of the re-imagining committee. In a prior interview with The Varsity, Hassaan expressed concern that the administration was using him as a “showpiece,” and that he was selected for the committee due to the Snapchat incident that targeted his religion.

The issues that plagued the ‘old’ SMCSU were in serious need of redress, and it is understandable that the administration seeks to avoid future disasters. That does not, however, make it appropriate for university officials to set up shop in student government offices. And to non-SMC students who question the relevancy of these events to their own colleges and faculties, think of the precedent being set. Many student societies have had long and thorny relationships with administrations, which at times have led to struggles for independence. If it can happen to SMCSU, it can happen to you.

We’ll be following the SMCSU elections closely to see how the union will navigate its role within these newfound constraints. In the name of democracy and student autonomy, we suggest you do the same.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the administration’s Director of Student Life planned SMC’s orientation and that the orientation lip-sync contest was supervised to ensure the songs were appropriate. The article has been updated to reflect that neither of these instances occurred. 

Read the letter, heed its warnings

Given emerging signs of opposition from the SMC administration, President Mulroney needs to reassess his approach to governance

Read the letter, heed its warnings

In October 2016, The Varsity’s Editorial Board wrote an article concerning St. Michael’s College (SMC) President David Mulroney’s ongoing efforts to revamp the college. The Editorial Board urged Mulroney to “be careful not to lose touch with students,” as this would represent “a loss for everyone involved; students, faculty, and alumni.”

This foreshadowing came to fruition in July 2017, when disgruntled current and former members of the college administration penned an open letter condemning Mulroney’s leadership. The letter came in response to Mulroney’s speech at the SIGNIS World Conference at the Université Laval, in which Mulroney levelled numerous criticisms at the college and the St. Michael’s College Student Union (SMCSU).

It comes as no surprise that Mulroney is not happy with the college. SMC’s reputation as a ‘party college’ and past instances of financial mismanagement by SMCSU executives are legitimate concerns. However, Mulroney’s overbearing attempts to address these issues have been misguided, resulting in a leadership style that’s been considered borderline authoritarian, not just by students but also by members of the college administration.

The letter expresses the opinion that Mulroney’s speech is detrimental to SMC’s legacy. As the signatories write to Mulroney, “By choosing to offer an exclusively negative portrayal… you effectively reduced the ‘hope’ of our university to your leadership as President.” It would serve Mulroney well to heed the letter’s warnings and reconsider his approach to governance at the college.

Since he took office in the Fall of 2015, Mulroney has pushed for many changes that have had mixed results instilling the sense of ‘community’ he argues the college lacks. During his tenure, Brennan Lounge and the Coop, spaces that are central to the SMC student community, have both been renovated. At the same time, much of the SMC student community views his insistence on instilling Catholic values into the college’s student body as an unnecessary intrusion. For example, by the USMC Campus Ministry subsidizing a trip to a pro-life rally in Ottawa, students feel that Mulroney is forcing his ideology on them.

Mulroney’s policies were based on the popular mandate that SMC, as it stands today, is a shadow of its former self, and that the president’s actions are necessary to prevent the college’s secularization. The release of the open letter, which comes after a lengthy period of tension and conflict at the college, demonstrates that Mulroney is not meeting the needs of the people he is supposed to be representing. The popular mandate has disintegrated.

For all of the attempts he has made to rectify the college’s moral compass, Mulroney is not infallible. He constantly mentions that SMC is a “party college,” even presenting the SMCSU’s tacky “Cowboys and Schoolgirls” promotional event video from years past at the SIGNIS World Conference. Moreover, by constantly criticizing the SMCSU as a means to earn support for his policies, Mulroney has inflamed opposition from alumni and faculty, who cited SMCSU controversies as “irregularities” that “represent a fraction of the 5,000 students we have at the college.”

Mulroney has levelled criticisms toward college administration members for their reluctance to adapt to his changes, as well as to the non-Catholic-influenced hirings SMC has made. These actions make Mulroney seem like a dictatorial leader, unwilling to tolerate the voices of others.

Not helping matters are the power struggles taking place between the Basilian Fathers and Thomas Collins, the Catholic archbishop, for control of the college. According to the Toronto Star, Collins, who is the college’s chancellor, has asked three times that the college be turned over to him by the Basilians. Collins’ interventionist attitude has been interpreted by many faculty members to be a step too far.

Investigations conducted by the Toronto Star have revealed more troubling signs of internal upheaval. Angelo Minardi, “fired several months ago as the college’s lay chaplain” claimed that a “Golden Rule” poster, which declared that major religions of the world “adhere to the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated,” was taken down at the college on Mulroney’s orders. Minardi alleges that Mulroney told him that Catholics are not equal to other faiths. Should this allegation be true, Mulroney will find himself in further trouble, especially concerning previous allegations from his former aides about his prejudices towards LGBTQ+ students and those with different religious beliefs.

Maintaining a good image is important for a college; Mulroney is being perceived as arrogant and out of touch by those around him, and this may have significant reach. Instabilities at the college will erode the public’s trust in Mulroney’s leadership and undoubtedly affect how applicants and incoming students view the college as well. Although Mulroney has some accomplishments under his belt as President of SMC, his mishandling of public relations is damaging not only to his personal reputation but to the reputation of the college as a whole.

With less than a year until his retirement from office, Mulroney needs to demonstrate that he is listening to the college community’s criticisms of his actions. While the open letter was penned by only a few members of this community, the college as a whole has made it clear that it cannot afford to chase Mulroney’s imagination of the past.

 

Arnold Yung is a fourth-year student at St. Michael’s College studying History and Political Science. Previously, he served as a Communications Councillor on the SMC Residence Council and as a Leader and Marshal for SMC Orientation Week.