Dear Mr. President: A Martlet welcome to Kevin Hall

Editorials Opinions
uvic michael williams building
File photo by Belle White.

Though we are not surprised, you aren’t exactly the Indigenous candidate we had in mind for the next president. But we remain hopeful for what you can do in the role. 

UVic needs a president that welcomes consultation with students, staff, and faculty and one that takes substantive action on issues that matter. We wish you all the best in trying to adjust to the wet cold of Victoria, B.C. as opposed to New South Wales in Australia. If you ever miss the ocean waves, you can always head up to Tofino for a surf. 

We’re looking forward to chatting with you about the issues that students care about the most. We are excited to get to know you over the course of your tenure. If you seek the views of university community members with an open mind, they will support you in leading the university in a representative way.

As the independent student newspaper on campus, we are uniquely situated both to raise issues with you that we’ve reported on and to provide you an opportunity to share your perspective on these topics with our readers.

One of UVic’s former presidents, Howard Petch, had an ongoing relationship with the Martlet. Petch aspired to be the Martlet’s best source of information. Even when he couldn’t take our calls and persistent interview requests, he would take the time to explain why he was unavailable. Petch also took out an ad in the paper to let students know when he was free to meet with them. 

You don’t have to take us out for lunch like Petch did in his first few weeks — campus food isn’t that great anyways. Although Cassels says he loves the pizza, our office avoids it. Try Prima Strada for Italian wood-fired pizza or the local student favorite, Oregano’s, if you want something actually digestible.

We’re hopeful that you will genuinely engage with and get to know the UVic community, beyond our favourite pizza joints. The students, faculty, and staff here are passionate and unafraid of raising issues that are important to them. In the past two years, students and faculty have asked the university administration to divest from fossil fuels, limit international tuition increases, and take concrete action on anti-racism

Last year, students barricaded the Michael Williams building in protest of the university’s fossil fuel investment. They also shut down Board of Governors meetings in January, and slept over in the senate. Maybe it’s the cold weather, or maybe it’s the determined commitment to saving the planet from environmental destruction. Either way, you’ll get to know Divest UVic well. 

Protesters gathered outside the Michael Williams Building on Dec. 3. Photo by Joshua Ngenda, Photo Editor
Protesters gathered outside the Michael Williams Building on Dec. 3. Photo by Joshua Ngenda, Photo Editor

We at the Martlet understand that you are entering this position during unprecedented times of crisis. During this crisis, UVic needs effective, representative, and compassionate leadership more than ever. But we know the university’s coffers aren’t doing too well. We’re curious how you’ll handle this financial burden and hope that your administration won’t resort to raise international student tuition, again.

We invite you to not only take a stance on Indigenous issues, but to take action as well. The university can bring in and support as many Indigenous students as it can, but this remains a half-measure if UVic continues to invest millions in fossil fuel companies that directly contribute to the ongoing invasion and destruction of Indigenous territory. We also hope you’ll work to address systemic racism in our university, and implement the demands of the multiple calls to action from students and staff. 

It’s already clear that university administration can release statements and priorities that align with many of the issues we’ve raised above: UVic values reconciliation, strives to support international students, prizes sustainability, and emphasizes the importance of anti-racism. We know the university recognizes these issues — we ask that you implement actionable steps towards these goals during your tenure.

Welcome to UVic, President Hall. Make sure you get yourself a pair of Blundstones.