September 07, 2006

Dim Bulb University

"Oh well, there's always Lakehead."

That was a running gag with some of my engineering classmates in my first year of school at Waterloo. Faced with difficult homework assignments that late-night collaborations couldn't crack, the mock defeatism usually elicited a chuckle. A variation on the same theme, "Oh well, there's always Arts," didn't seem so funny to me by 1992. And now, 17 years later, life imitates mockery again.

Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, recently ran an advertising campaign that justifies that old derision:titled "Yale Shmale." Its posters featured a picture of George Bush and the text "Just because you go to an Ivy League school doesn't necessarily mean you're smart."

The president of Lakehead's student union described her reaction to the campaign as "repugnance" and embarrassment on the school's behalf. In fact, the ad campaign drew such a negative backlash that the school pulled it soon after. The Web site YaleShmale now reads, "You can get a great education at Yale. You might even become President of the United States."

Apparently this ad campaign was aimed at prospective students in the Greater Toronto Area - I'm guessing, in particular, the smug liberal Bush-is-a-moron type, and probably the ones who were already turned down at Canada's other top contenders for Last Chance U., Laurentian and Carleton.

Despite the pullback of the campaign, Lakehead University president Fred Gilbert claims it was a resounding success. This is, incidentally, the same genius that instituted a campus-wide ban on Wi-Fi networking this February, based on the dubious claim that wireless Internet causes cancer. Maybe before looking like a woo-woo, he should have asked his science faculty whether the microwave frequencies used for wireless networking are ionizing (they aren't). And does the ban include cordless phones and microwave ovens, which operate at the same frequencies?

Going to an Ivy League school doesn't mean you're smart. Apparently, neither does administering a Canadian university. For his tireless campaign to make Lakehead U. look like @#$%head U., Dr. Fred Gilbert is hereby awarded the DIM BULB du jour. Congratulations!