I stopped in at Simon Fraser University’s downtown campus in passing yesterday, just to see what it felt like. The neighbourhood was appealing: cafes, people with computers, bookshops, hole-in-the-wall eateries … there was an energy and an urgency that interested me.
Inside the building itself, though, the feeling was sterile. Businesslike. Not the fecund warmth i’d be looking for in a school, the hotbed of ideas. Possibly the mountaintop campus holds that atmosphere; the downtown campus was more like a business training centre — NOT what i’m looking for. Though i did take several classes there, years ago, in the Writing & Pub program, and enjoyed them.
Tonight, over daquiris, i talked to Devon, a friend of Rob’s who’s doing a masters in architecture at Dalhousie. Did it sound appealing? Not really. What i’m seeking is a riveting subject, i suppose. But i’m also pining for the university surroundings — the ideas, the sense of nascent becoming…. But i’m also suspicious of the arrogance and false sense of entitlement a university seems to encourage. As David Orr, environmental studies professor at Oberlin College , said some years ago:
“The product of a university degree is a population trained in hypocrisy.”
Off to University of BC tomorrow — the institution that lost my faith years ago, the day it sold its student body to Coca Cola, by way of the cafeteria and vending machines.