Archive for Alex Ballingall
Students are doing extraordinary things with video cameras
From the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings
Andrew Cohen sat near the window of a south Vancouver coffee house, scribbling notes on flashcards to study for an urban geography mid-term. The fourth-year University of British Columbia student grew restive, so, naturally, he took to watching YouTube videos.
Before long, he came upon a video made by students at the University of Victoria. It was a so-called lip dub, a style of video in which students dance and mouth the words to a popular song in an enthusiastic show of school pride. Cohen put his books away within seconds.
“I stopped studying,” recalls Cohen more than a year later. Now 22 and done school, what he saw that day inspired him to become a filmmaker in Vancouver. “That totally changed my life.” He immediately started planning his own lip dub for UBC.
Student trio sets off fracas in effort to support protesting Quebeckers
At the University of Oxford, it is customary for students to wear red flowers on the lapels of their (decidedly Hogwartzian) exam robes during the final stretch of testing season. But this year, for Shozab Raza, a flower wouldn’t cut it. The 23-year-old originally from Saudi Arabia opted instead to pin a square of red fabric to his breast—un carré rouge, as it is known in Quebec, where it is recognized as the symbol of the province’s recently tepid but ongoing student protest movement, now in its fifth straight month.
Just days before exams, Raza helped foment a debate amongst his peers at Oxford’s St. Antony’s College, one that has erupted into a divisive squabble over the very identity of student councils at the fabled British university. The fracas flared from a motion put forward by Raza and his friends at a council meeting on May 31, requesting the college send £750 (nearly $1200) to the CLASSE, Quebec’s most numerous and radical striking student union. The money was meant to help pay the legal fees of protesters arrested under Quebec’s controversial protest crackdown law, Bill 78.
Some say Beijing-funded language and culture schools fly in the face of academic freedom
Admittedly, it does seem worrisome. Within the past decade, a dozen Confucius Institutes, Chinese language and culture schools funded by the Communist government in Beijing, have popped up on Canadian college and university campuses, trumpeting programs to “improve understanding” of China, and to teach Mandarin.
Then, in 2011, as the Globe and Mail reported recently, a teacher dispatched from China to teach at the Confucius Institute at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. quit her post and filed for refugee status. The newspaper reported that the teacher, a follower of China’s repressed Falun Gong movement named Sonia Zhao, was unable to express her political or religious beliefs as a Confucius Institute teacher—it was prohibited in her job contract, which outlaws teachers with Falun Gong affiliations. In her formal complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, Zhao accused McMaster of “giving legitimization to discrimination.”
Thousands march against tuition hike and Bill 78
Quebec student group CLASSE expects between 10,000 and 20,000 people to take to the streets of Montreal and Quebec City on Friday to protest the provincial government’s plans to raise tuition.
“We think it’s important to remind the Charest government the crisis is not over, and we’ll continue to be in the streets, because we are still against the tuition hike and this is still our fight,” interim CLASSE spokesperson Hugo Bonin told the CBC. The nightly protests in the province have recently dwindled in size, something the CLASSE blames on students taking summer jobs and fatigue after months of demonstrations, some of which turned violent.
The CBC is reporting that CLASSE organizers in Montreal have not shared the route of their demonstration with police, contravening Bill 78 (recently criticized by the UN), which makes mandatory the sharing of protest plans with security forces. The demonstration route in Quebec City, however, has been given to police. The protests in Montreal are slated to commence at 2 p.m.
Update (4 p.m.): Thousands of people are marching through the streets of Montreal. According to the Gazette, initial projections being passed around—not totally reliable—put the number at around 100,000.
GE program in jeopardy after failed funding search
The University of Guelph quietly culled its 10 last genetically modified “Enviropigs” late last month, pushing the controversial GE initiative closer to extinction.
The program, which aims to reduce the waste from factory farms by producing pigs with low-phosphorus feces, kicked off in 1999. The recently euthanized pigs were the 10th generation of swine at the Ontario university that had mouse DNA introduced to their chromosomes.
Earlier this spring, Ontario Pork pulled its financial support of the program, and the University of Guelph decided to cull the pigs after failing to find another source of funding, Postmedia News reports.
New York-based animal advocacy group Farm Sanctuary had launched a campaign to find homes for the last Enviropigs, but University of Guelph spokesperson Lori Bona Hunt told Postmedia that was impossible.”Releasing the Enviropigs would have violated Canadian regulations for the containment and use of transgenic animals, and possibly compromised consumer safety and market protection,” she said.