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Once again, I fail to solve a student's problems

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I had another one of those difficult calls from a student looking for my help.

She’s in Winnipeg, said the student, and wants to know how much trouble she could get in if she tells me stuff about a university administration interfering in a student council election.

I was somewhat interested, given that I remember back 15 years or so ago that university students wanted U of M to do just that, after yet another wave of allegations about student election improprieties, and university administrators couldn’t run far enough or fast enough to get away from having anything to do with that request. Same for the minister, I think it was Linda McIntosh at the time, who wisely wanted no part of it.

As far as I know, universities have no role in elections conducted by their students, nor should they.

I had asked the woman about her academic pursuits, and she told me she’s doing a PhD, in a faculty she hadn’t yet named. So, she's at U of M, I surmised. No, she responded, a university in a small town near Edmonton, her studies are by distance ed.

My parochial enthusiasm immediately took a hit.

But I nevertheless asked her how the university was supposedly interfering. By not letting her get involved in the election, said the student.

Rather than delve further, I suggested she call student services at that particular school, or call the university’s student council and ask for the person designated as student advocate. As for media, maybe she might call the Edmonton Journal — I know a journo there name of Margo who has a bit of clout.

Yes, but but but, said the student, how much trouble would she get in for doing that? I told her I had no idea, and simply seeking advice shouldn’t get her in trouble.

Then, seguing not altogether seamlessly, she told me that the registrar’s office had been closed on Saturday when she called (this was early on a Monday morning), and what was she supposed to do? About what, I inquired, as is my wont. About this letter she got from the university. What letter? The letter that said she was expelled.

Expelled? Howcum? The letter said because of objectionable behaviour, said the student.

At which point I told her she should probably seek legal advice.


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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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