A satirical poster campaign has sprung up on the University of Alberta campus in reaction to comments made by the president, Indira Samarasekera, about the issue of attracting more men to universities.

About 400 posters were put up. One states: "Only White Men Can Save our University!" Another reads: "Women: Stop! Drop! Men: Enroll."


This is one of the posters that was put up at the University of Alberta last week by a group of students protesting comments made by university president Indira Samarasekera. ((Tina Faiz/CBC))

The posters are in response to comments made by Samarasekera in an interview on Oct. 21, when she said: "Presidents of the major universities are very concerned we are not attracting young men in the numbers we should."

"I'm going to be an advocate for young white men, because I can be. No one is going to question me when I say we have a problem," she said.

Samarasekera made the comments in response to new statistics that show  females make up about 58 per cent of the student body in Canada.

Samarasekera said her concern is that in 20 years, there will not be enough male talent at the heads of companies and elsewhere.

Men can be their own advocates

Derek Warwick, a women's studies major, spearheaded the poster campaign to protest Samarasekera's assertion that young white men need help.

"They don't need advocates, they can be their own advocates, it's a white man's world," he said Monday.

"White men are the most privileged group in the world, if we say they have problems then, well, other groups in the world have a whole heck of a lot more problems." Warwick said.

"Women CEOs aren't the issue ... because women are facing a plethora of other issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace. They're not making as much money as men ... those are the issues we should be looking at," he said.

Agricultural student Carly Huvenaares thinks Samarasekera has a point.

'Women had to work that much harder to get up to those positions, and to say that now it's a trend towards more women, I feel that's a good thing.' — Mehek Mather, student

"In our classes there's about 10 girls and one guy," she said.

There are also many scholarships available only to females, Huvenaares said.

Dietetic intern Mehek Mather views the comments as a throwback to the times when women were rarely seen on university campuses.

"Women had to work that much harder to get up to those positions, and to say that now it's a trend towards more women, I feel that's a good thing," she said.

If the university president feels the need to advocate for someone it should be women and people of colour, Warwick said.

Samarasekera was not available to comment on the poster campaign.