Dismantling Maclean's


By Ashliegh Gehl


If not read carefully, it’s an article easily taken out of context. It’s almost disclaimer worthy. 


Having followed the controversy before reading the piece, I made sure to check my biases at the door; at least the obvious ones.


The Maclean’s article, “The enrollment controversy,” formerly titled, “Too Asian?” is stirring a lot of pots lately and receiving negative reactions for suspected racist content.


Let’s break it down from a journalistic perspective. 


The article opens up with an introduction to Alexandra and her friend Rachel, two graduates who were once vying for spots in Canadian post-secondary institutions. 


As any post-secondary applicant knows, the higher the GPA the better. It’s an attitude many universities subscribe to; it has little to do with race. At the same time, if those with higher GPA’s happen to be Asian, it’s not a racist statement, it’s a reality.


What Alexandra expressed is an observation. If she is saying the “too Asian” mindset exists among university potentials, it’s certainly worthy of investigating. 


Maclean’s is simply trying to bring the unwanted conversation to the dinner table.


Take note. The article starts off with a graduate who doesn’t want her name to be revealed because she knows what she expresses is societally unacceptable. In order to strengthen Alexandra’s convictions, Maclean’s backs it up. Every source following Alexandra’s statement acknowledges this academic divide. 


“That Asian students work harder is a fact born out by hard data. They tend to be strivers, high achievers and single-minded in their approach to university,” Maclean’s reports. 


Such a statement should be backed with the hard data Maclean’s alludes to. If not to educate the reader, than to save itself from racial profiling. Especially since the content of the article is taboo. 


Public Funding


Maclean’s is funded by the public, but it doesn’t deserve to lose its funding over this article. If anything, Maclean’s is doing what it’s supposed to do; inquire into trends affecting Canadians. It’s generating discussion about a topic some would rather see brushed under the rug. 

“In a letter to Heritage Minister James Moore, Senator Vivienne Poy says the public outcry over the article is enough to justify axing $1.5-million in funds for the national news weekly. She said periodicals that contain offensive content, “defined as material that is denigrating to an identifiable group,” can be deemed ineligible for federal support,” reports The Globe and Mail.

It’s easy to see who may be offended by this piece. As a graduate from Lakehead University, an institution unofficially renamed ‘Bakehead’ for its pot smoking reputation, I’m not offended by Alexandra’s overgeneralization of white academics, despite disagreeing with it. But I can see where it comes from. Stepping into an Asian perspective, I can also see where the offenses are.

There’s always going to be outliers and individuals who do not fall into the overgeneralization presented in the piece.

If anything, the article alludes to cultural differences and not the idea of putting a cap on the number of Asian academics admitted to Canadian schools.

If Maclean’s is going to lose its funding over this article, than there better be a lot more evidence stacked against. As it stands, the argument for it is not that strong.