“You really have to write that!”
This enthusiastic exhortation — often exclaimed simultaneously by a chorus of voices — is a common refrain in the commentary writing workshops we lead. Although I’m clear about the benefits provided by the tips and strategies we teach, I’m also keenly aware of how much additional value participants derive from sharing their ideas with a room full of other women — women who invariably reinforce how important what they have to say is, and how eagerly it will be consumed by others.
So I wasn’t the only one thrilled to see Justice Studies professor Michelle Stewart being interviewed on CBC’s Power & Politics program last week. Earlier this spring in a workshop at the University of Regina everyone in the room was moved by the plight of the two students whose desperate situation she described.
Last week she published an op ed in the Ottawa Citizen (also picked up by the Edmonton Journal) laying out the situation faced by Victoria Ordu and Favour Amadi, two Nigerian students facing deportation for the crime of having worked briefly off campus while attending the University of Regina. You can read more about the unnecessarily punitive government response and buck passing in Michelle’s piece, or watch her calmly and decisively advocate for the students on the CBC link above.
Will the resulting media and public attention garnered for the situation by Michelle and her colleagues (including URegina President, Vianne Timmons, who has written to the prime minister) shame the government into acting?