@UBC time to lay down the mace in graduation and governance #ubcnews #ubc #bced #highered

by Stephen Petrina on May 24, 2019

*Apologies to the medievalists once again. Customized below is our semi-annual appeal to UBC managers to Lay Down the Mace:

As we count down to and roll through graduation, can we please remove the mace from convocation and governance at the University of British Columbia? The mace may have had its day in the first 100 years of this esteemed University but that day has gone.

The “ceremonial mace used at convocation ceremonies is out of step with contemporary values.” Dalhousie University now uses what it designed and calls the New Dawn Staff instead of a mace.

Indigenous peoples and advocates have said plenty about this already but the managers, well…

Currently, for instance, #UBC managers gleefully delight in the gravity and weight of their mace, entirely remiss that in addition to blunt power and violence, UBC’s mace signifies greed– the chainsaw and excavator– real estate development— digging for gold– as the University feverishly exploits its Endowment Lands (esp. Areas A, B, & D). Some traditions just aren’t worth maintaining…

Remember this bedlam in December, when a lawmaker grabbed the mace in Britain’s House of Commons? “When he hoisted it up, a clamor erupted: “Disgrace,” “Expel him,” “No!”

Oh, and at the Nexo Knights’ Graduation Day,

Jestro grabbed a sword, a mace, and a spear and began to juggle them… The unimpressed crowd started to boo… Sweat broke out on his forehead…. He let go of the mace, and it flew across the arena. The crowd gasped and ducked… Then … bam! It hit the power grid on the arena wall. The area lights flickered, then turned off. Soon the power outage surged throughout the city.

Meanwhile again in England, Bradford College faculty members called the admin’s decision to spend £24,000 on a new mace for graduation ceremonies a “crass bit of judgement.”

The days of the mace in Convocation and governance are of the past and that part of the past is no longer worth reenacting.

It’s difficult to know where this University now stands or what it stands for.

It is time to retire the mace, symbol of aggression, authority, and war. It’s time to march to graduation ceremonies in late May and November with open and empty hands as symbolic of peace and reconciliation of controversies and roles of the President’s Office.

UBC’s mace is a relic but a relic of what? The mace is symbolic speech but what is it saying about us now?

From ancient times, this club, this weapon of assault and offence, the mace was gradually adorned until the late twelfth century when it doubled as a symbol of civil office. Queen Elizabeth I granted her royal mace to Oxford in 1589. From military and civil power derives academic authority. The rest is history and it is not all good.

Stephen Heatley wields the mace at the 2018 convocation.

It is time to retire the macebearer, whose importance is inflated every year by the image’s presence on UBC’s graduation pages leading to Convocation. In pragmatic terms, if the mace falls into the hands of the wrong macebearer or manager at this point, someone’s liable to get clocked with it.

Is UBC’s mace still a respectable appendage to Convocation?

Remember, since that fateful November day in 1997, just five months into Martha Piper’s Presidency, when student activists put their bodies and minds on the line at the APEC protest, Tuum Est adorns both the can of mace sprayed in their eyes and the ceremonial mace that the President’s Office is eager to carry across campus every November and May.

Is it not time to retire the mace and mace bearer?