Archive for Jane Lytvynenko
Campus activists want to pull out of national group
More than 50 people gathered in Gatineau, Que. at noon on Saturday to protest the Canadian Federation of Students, a group hundreds of thousands of university students automatically pay money to each year to lobby on their behalf. They’re most famous for opposing tuition fees.
The protesters sang, danced and chanted outside the hotel hosting CFS’s Annual General Meeting to draw attention to the fact that unsatisfied student unions find it difficult to exit the organization and stop sending money to Ottawa each year, a process known as “defederation.”
It’s a perennial issue. At this spring’s national meeting, Brad Evoy of the University of Toronto was defeated after he tried to reform the organization by bringing the number student signatures required on a petition to start defederation back down to 10 per cent of the student body. The threshold had been raised to 20 per cent in 2009.
Q&A with a professor after his outburst
At a recent lecture on democracy at St. Thomas University in Fredericton N.B., Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson asked a room full of journalism and political science students why young people don’t vote. A journalism student raised her hand and said it’s because the political system is complicated and many don’t understand it. Shaun Narine, an associate professor and international relations researcher, blurted out that she should, “Read a book for God’s sake!” Some clapped. Some were angry. Jane Lytvynekno spoke to Narine over the phone from Ottawa.
You told [that student] to “read a book.” Why?
I was as surprised by my outburst as anybody else. I was listening to the student speak and I became increasingly frustrated with the fact that she seemed to be saying that she did not know anything about politics. It wasn’t the arcane facts [she didn't know]. It seemed to be the most basic things like what does it mean to vote? What is Parliament? All those sorts of things. My frustration was very great. I guess I felt that this was the sort of stuff that every responsible citizen should know. … Out of that frustration I ended up doing something which I sincerely regret doing. I apologized to the student. … I sincerely believe academia is a place where we should have rational and reasonable discussion. I don’t believe in heckling people and I don’t believe in embarrassing students and I don’t believe in screaming at people in frustration and in all of those respects I certainly did not live up to my own standards or expectations.
What happened to innocent until proven guilty?
Sam Tsega, 22, has been accused of a crime for more than three years but Carleton University, where he is a student and lacrosse player, only recently chose to suspend him from campus, classes and extra-curricular activities.
In a letter signed by the university’s president last week, Tsega was told he is banned from all activities and university grounds until he can provide satisfactory evidence he does not pose a threat to the safety of others. What type of evidence he might provide remains unclear.
The university is wrong to get involved in Tsega’s day-to-day life. Here’s why.
The shooting death of Ottawa man Michael Swan, 19, took place three years ago. Police said it was likely drug-related and arrested three men by tracking a cell phone stolen from Swan’s house. Tsega was originally accused of manslaughter, then second-degree murder, and, as of last week first-degree murder.
Students report rental fraud from Halifax to Calgary
When Adam Michaleski decided to move from Manitoba to Calgary after graduating from Brandon University this spring, he didn’t expect to lose $1,300 and a place to live. But a fake landlord he found on Kijiji who showed him around a nice place took his e-transfer for a damage deposit and then disappeared without a trace.
Rental fraud is a widespread problem for students. A landlord in Halifax recently made off with more than $10,000 after scamming at least 30 people out of their cash, reported CBC Nova Scotia. While the police caught that perpetrator, who pleaded guilty, many cases go unresolved.
Dana Drover, who investigates financial fraud for the Halifax Regional Police, says it’s important for renters to leave a paper trail. If the landlord is paid with a cheque instead of cash or e-transfer, “there’s solid evidence that the money left the account and landed in the account of the recipient.” The two peak periods for rental scams are when students come to university in the fall and when they leave in the spring, he says. A telltale sign of fraud is a landlord who seems rushed, he adds.
Neighbours worry about 16 students next door
A single-family dwelling in Ottawa is in the process of being converted to a three-storey monster house for 16 people. The home on Aylmer Ave., near Carleton University, will likely house students.
That project will go ahead, but in a surprise move on April 30, the city approved a temporary bylaw banning new applications for such conversions in the areas around Carleton and the University of Ottawa. The law could last up to a year, giving the city time to decide on new standards.
The sudden moratorium on new monster houses shows the tension between neighbours in single-family homes and the growing number of Ottawa post-secondary students looking for housing in their peaceful neighbourhoods.
Educators have bigger things to worry about
Students looking to spill secrets about crushes or amusing campus escapades have a new outlet on Facebook. “Confessions” pages that post anonymous messages have been popping up at universities, colleges and high schools from Lakehead University to the University of Regina to Western University and as far away as Australia’s University of Adelaide.
The pages are being criticized by educators, who see them potentially leading to cyberbullying if the anonymity is broken. I don’t think they should worry. I think they’re fun, harmless and the risk of names getting out seems low. For the most part, these pages are a much-needed outlet for those wanting to vent or laugh, rather than viciously attack each other. Officials shouldn’t be so worried.
Confessions pages are reminiscent of Post Secret, a popular website that does the same thing. Both allow students to say things they wouldn’t post on personal pages or Twitter. The difference is that confessions pages are specific to certain schools, which may be why they’re getting scrutiny.
More than 200 battle with lightsabres
Wielding hundreds of red, green and blue lightsabres, students at the University of Ottawa ran into battle Thursday night. The first official lightsabre battle brought out about 200 participants to just outside the university library. The event mimicked an annual battle in New York.
Jozef Spiteri, a vice-president at the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), said he met the organizers of the NYC event at the North by Northeast festival in Toronto and decided to bring the idea to Ottawa.
Spiteri’s term ends this month. He always wanted a Star Wars-themed party, so it was now or never. “I thought it was a cool closing statement,” he said.
Ottawa student leader harassed ex-girlfriends
Calls for Cody Boast’s resignation from the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) Board of Administration poured in after students learned this week that he pleaded guilty to criminal harassment. A Facebook group called Cody Boast doesn’t represent me has gained 140 likes already. I’m one of those who clicked ‘like.’
Boast’s case goes back to 2008, when he first got charged with harassment. Since then he’s breached the terms of his probation and repeated the offense twice. According to the Ottawa Citizen’s report, the victims were Boast’s ex-girlfriends. They were subjected to constant calls, text messages and confrontations. One of the girls had nude photos of her posted on Facebook.
In February, Boast ran to sit on the Board of Administration and won his position as a representative of social science students on campus. He became increasingly visible when he wore pink to a gay pride event at a university bar. He was asked to change, his outfit deemed that offensive.
To really reduce drinking, hit students where it hurts
The City of Ottawa has decided to tackle binge drinking among young adults, but I think their campaign is unlikely to be effective.
Indeed, drinking is a problem in the city. Binge drinking rose by nine per cent between 2000 and 2011 and causes 110 deaths and 970 hospitalizations per year among Ottawa adults, according to Ottawa Public Health. Three quarters of young adult males reported binge drinking, defined as more than five drinks in one sitting.
All this isn’t surprising. During frosh week, for example, drinking culture is celebrated among a fresh crop of students. University of Ottawa student organizers send willing first-years to Hull, Quebec where the drinking age is 18 and they can toast their new found freedom. While there are also non-drinking frosh events, turnout is low.
Continue reading City of Ottawa to promote ‘culture of moderation’
Science Guy’s talk sells out at University of Ottawa
Bill Nye the Science Guy, star of the eponymous children’s television show that aired from 1993 to 1998, drew what organizers say was the biggest crowd for an event held by University of Ottawa students in nearly four decades.
Elementary school kids, university students and others packed the Ottawa Convention Centre’s biggest room on Thursday evening and listened to the 57-year-old man tell science jokes, personal stories and plead with them to fight climate change and make a difference in the world.
Nye began with the story of his father, who was a prisoner of war in China during World War Two. To tell how much time he spent in the camp, Nye’s dad used a shovel as a sundial. That story was passed down from father to son, and so the science guy became obsessed with sundials, developing what he jokingly called SOD (Sundial Obsessive Disorder). Because of this fascination, he started two projects. MarsDial created three sundials for rovers that were flown to the red planet. The second project, EarthDial, is a program that allows people all over the world to make sundials and learn about astronomy, the scientific method, “and our place among the stars.”
University of Ottawa hosts a “hackathon”
Fuelled by energy drinks and pizza, future engineers from the University of Ottawa spent 24 hours one recent Saturday hunched over keyboards for the campus’ first-ever ‘hackathon.’
Student Antoine Grondin organized what he said was the first event of its kind at U of O.“I was frustrated that people in my class don’t tend to code on their own,” he said, adding that he wanted to make people who enjoy coding realize “they don’t have to wait for an assignment.”
More than 20 students participated in the contest during which teams of up to four tried to out-code the others. Each team got a programmable tank, an animated robot that drove around the computer screen. The tank could be customized by adding more code to do things like dodge bullets, drive in patterns or change colours. After the 24 hour period was up, the tanks competed on a virtual battlefield. The last one standing was the winner. Students had to predict opponents’ moves and tell their tanks how to react.
Ottawa student lost bid to have student fee returned
I don’t like my student union’s Education is a Right campaign and I don’t go to social events on campus like the Winter Challenge. I don’t need the transit pass and don’t generally associate myself with the politics of my student union at the University of Ottawa, where I study part-time. So why should I have to pay to be a member?
Edward Inch didn’t think he should have to pay and so he tried suing the Student Federation at the University of Ottawa (SFUO) in small claims court for the $92.60 they charged him one semester after he opted out of the union in 2012.
In a court decision yesterday, deputy judge Lyon Gilbert decided Inch must pay up anyway. “As a student, Mr. Inch is bound to the terms and conditions of enrollment,” Gilbert said, according to The Fulcrum student newspaper.
Student Aubrey Ireland won a restraining order
Despite my needle phobia and uneasiness in hospitals, my grandma always insisted on bringing me up to be a doctor. The first book she gave me was on the human anatomy and I regularly took field trips to the medical centre where my grandpa worked— regardless of my protests.
Thankfully, my mom didn’t force medicine down my throat or tell me to avoid journalism. The reason? My grandparents had hovered over her, which she didn’t much enjoy, and that meant a hands-off parenting approach for me. Hallelujah.
Aubrey Ireland, a University of Cincinnati Student, wasn’t so lucky. After her parents followed her on campus and tracked everything she did with specialized software, the 21-year-old music theatre student got a restraining order that prevents her parents from coming within 150 metres.
Student group seems distracted and afraid of transparency
What do the War of 1812, the Israel-Gaza conflict and bottled water have in common? They are causes the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) decided, on the closing evening of the semi-annual general meeting (AGM), to campaign about. How odd for organization that’s supposed to be focused on student issues.
During that Nov. 30 meeting in Ottawa, the CFS voted to organize letter-writing campaigns against the Harper government’s representation of 1812 and its opposition to Palestine’s observer status at the United Nations. This came after hours of debate on transparency and openness—two areas the CFS would do well to improve on. Some of the measures that would improve openness and transparency were, unfortunately, rejected.
The Canadian Federation of Students, funded by mandatory student fees from dozens of universities and colleges, is meant to represent students on issues like tuition. The fact that these non-student (albeit important) issues take up so much of their time shows the CFS may have lost its way. Worse, students may have no idea what the CFS is up to because it seems to fear transparency.