TRU’s adoption of a branding strategy linked to mining has sparked an institutional backlash, including an online petition urging the board of governors to abandon the strategy.
“Unearthing” is the institutional brand selected following a year-long exercise to strengthen the university’s identity and marketing.
The word could suggest “unearthing potential” through higher education, but some members of faculty are concerned that it could be interpreted much differently, particularly with a an environmental permit assessment underway for a contentious strip mine on the city’s boundary.
A consultant was hired to help develop the branding and extensive consultations were held with the university community. The choice of “Unearthing” had not yet been made public.
Arts Prof. Michael Mehta said some faculty learned of the choice through a Twitter feed.
“It may have pre-empted them since they were going to make it public,” he said.
He’s had encouragement from campus colleagues since posting a change.org petition on Friday that sharply criticizes the choice, calling it biased, and asks the board of governors to rethink its decision.
“A lot of people are surprised to hear that this was the brand adopted by the committee,” he said. “It certainly raises questions about sensitivity to First Nations.”
The committee could have taken advantage of expertise on faculty, he suggested.
“It’s a bit of a slap in the face that they would go around the community and have an outside consultant. They may be interested in positioning the university for future development based on the assumption that (Ajax) is a fait accompli.”
The university is exploring the potential for new funding through the addition of a mining engineering program, he noted.
In his petition, Mehta states that “the university's clear support of mining through this branding strategy is at odds with a stated objective toward increased indigenization and respect for our First Nations communities in the region.”
The mine would lie in Secwempec territory, where territorial rights have been claimed specifically in opposition to the mine, it goes on to state.
“The university's clear support of mining through this branding strategy is at odds with a stated objective toward increased indigenization and respect for our First Nations communities in the region.”
September 26, 2015 10:23pm
Did the writer check the make up of the committee providing input for the branding project? Did it include faculty, students, staff, and other interested stakeholders? How does the writer know that First Nations concerns and influence where not considered in the branding since the full strategy has yet to be revealed. Did the writer attend the many public meetings held requesting input to the brand?
It is incomplete and biased stories like this that make Kamloops look bad and provide no good information to the community. Please do your homework next time.