Archive for Macleans.ca
Ghyslain Raza now a proud law school grad
Almost a billion viewers across the planet know him as the Star Wars Kid, but they’ve never heard him speak, until now.
Ghyslain Raza was a normal high-school student in small-town Quebec back in 2002, a shy 14-year-old who liked to make videos. In 2003, classmates posted one of those videos on the Internet without his knowledge–in it, Raza wields a makeshift light saber, clumsily imitating a Star Wars Jedi knight.
The video went viral, and the Trois-Rivières teen became one of the earliest and highest-profile victims of a massive cyberbullying attack, one that played out among classmates and strangers online.
“What I saw was mean. It was violent. People were telling me to commit suicide,” the now-25-year-old recalls.
Video interview spreads across social media
A McGill student who was raped has told her story publicly for the first time to TV McGill. The video interview is spreading fast on Facebook and has already been viewed more than 5,000 times.
Sarelle Sheldon says she was out with a couple of friends at a Montreal bar when a guy who she had been “trying to give the cold shoulder” started talking to her. Her friends went upstairs. After that, things got fuzzy. She woke up in the hospital with police, doctors and social workers who said she was raped and found in an alleyway with almost no clothing. She remembers the man from the bar holding her against a wall. She remembers scratching him. That was only the beginning of the pain. She alleges that the police didn’t take her case seriously enough. The rapist wasn’t caught.
Sheldon says McGill refunded her courses and a university counsellor helped her work through the trauma. “It’s not something you can handle on your own and you may not be comfortable speaking with your friends and family,” she advises, “but you need to get it out.” Watch Breaking the Silence.
(Video credit: Cedric Yarish, Spencer Macnaughton)
‘Only got a lil’ glucose in my pathway’
University of Ottawa student Wilson Lam’s chemistry-inspired rap video about turning carbohydrates into energy has been viewed more than 125,000 times on YouTube. The song is a parody of Thrift Shop by Macklemore with lyrics like “I’m gonna pop some carbs, only got a lil’ glucose in my pathway” replacing “I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket.” The video helps students remember the complex metabolic process glycolysis. Mary-Ellen Harper, Lam’s professor, told the Ottawa Citizen that she encourages musical devices among her students.
Addition to Vancouver campus a North American first
The University of British Columbia has unveiled the first campus skatepark in North America. “Key park features include an open snake-run bowl, a cantilevered quarterpipe, an angled slappy bank, and stair set, complete with handrail and ledge,” says the press release. The addition to the Vancouver campus gives new meaning to the words ‘hitting the books,’ since it’s built on a stack of metal and concrete tomes engraved with words from Vincent van Gogh. There’s also a gnarly sustainable stormwater management system to hydrate nearby plants. Click below for a closer look.
Young drinkers show worrisome cellular changes
You already know that binge drinking is bad for your brain and perhaps your reputation (if you’re prone to beer goggles), but here’s another reason to abstain. A new study shows immediate changes in blood circulation among binge drinkers aged 18 to 25 that resemble what older people with cardiovascular diseases experience, suggesting an increased risk of heart attacks or strokes later in life. U.S. researchers looked at two groups of healthy nonsmoking college students with mostly similar backgrounds. One group had a history of binge drinking (five or more standard drinks in the space of two hours) and the other group shunned alcohol altogether. The binge drinkers had impaired function in the endothelium and smooth muscle cells, which are needed for proper blood flow. The study is to be published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
‘Islam or Atheism?’ debate in London ends in uproar
At a University College London debate called “Islam or Atheism: What Makes More Sense?,” the events’ hosts segregated women, men and couples this weekend to please conservative Muslims, reports The Guardian. After three people were told to vacate their seats for not following the gendered seating plan, professor Lawrence Krauss, one of two men debating, threatened to leave. Organizers from the Islamic Education and Research Academy relented, but an uproar ensued after the world’s most famous atheist, Richard Dawkins, asked on Twitter, “who the hell do these Muslims think they are?” Dawkins was called racist. UCL says it will investigate. Here are Dawkins’ Tweets.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 10, 2013
Who the hell do these Muslims think they are? At UCL of all places, tried to segregate the sexes in debate between @lkrauss1 and a Muslim
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 10, 2013
Decent, nice, liberal people must stop being so terrified of being thought “Islamophobic” and stand up for decent, nice, liberal values. — Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 10, 2013
I don’t think Muslims should segregate sexes at University College London events. Oh NO, how very ISLAMOPHOBIC of me. How RACIST of me. — Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 10, 2013
Anarchists, arrests, riot police and plenty of red squares
Montreal freelance reporter Justin Ling snapped these photos of Tuesday’s anti-tuition protest in Montreal where 13 were arrested. To learn more about the debate in Quebec, check out this report from The Canadian Press and read Ling’s commentary on Premier Marois’ missed opportunity.
Scenes from the demonstration (#manifencours)
These 10 professors are best in class
Every year, 10 Canadian professors are recognized for their exceptional contributions to teaching and learning by the 3M National Teaching Fellowship, created by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and 3M Canada. All 10 will be profiled on Maclean’s On Campus in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back often. Here are this year’s 10 winners:
The food marketing professor, a highly sought-after chocolate expert, created the award-winning online course “Marketing yourself,” which teaches students how to manage their careers.
Laroque teaches harmony with nature—which he learned from parents and elders—though it is his work with dendrochronology (tree rings and dating objects) that lands him on TV.
Results from the National Survey of Student Engagement
The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) asks first- and senior-year students dozens of specific questions about how they spend their time in and out of the classroom. NSSE is a study of best educational practices and an assessment of the degree to which each university follows those practices.
The NSSE results are headlined by the Benchmarks of Effective Educational Practice, created by NSSE to compare performance across all universities—Canadian and American. These benchmarks focus on five key areas: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experience, and supportive campus environment. The higher a school’s scores from student responses on the five benchmark topics, the better the chance, according to NSSE, that its undergrads are learning and getting the most out of their university experience.
The following charts show the NSSE benchmark results for 2012. We have listed the universities in descending order of achievement, according to their senior-year scores. Note: a broken bar indicates that the results for that university exceeded the scale used in our chart.
Select a chart below. On the next screen, place your cursor over the chart and click to enlarge.
Student satisfaction at 37 schools
The annual CUSC survey focuses on student satisfaction. In 2012, 37 institutions took part, administering an online questionnaire to a sample of graduating students at each school. More than 15,000 students responded to questions about everything from academics to support services.
MOST OF MY PROFESSORS ENCOURAGED STUDENTS TO PARTICIPATE IN CLASS DISCUSSIONS.
|School||Agree Strongly (%)||Agree (%)|
|St. Francis Xavier||45||46|
|UNB (Saint John)||32||62|
MOST OF MY PROFESSORS WERE REASONABLY ACCESSIBLE OUTSIDE OF CLASS TO HELP STUDENTS.
|School||Agree Strongly (%)||Agree (%)|
|St. Francis Xavier||53||45|
|UNB (Saint John)||37||56|
SATISFACTION WITH CONCERN SHOWN BY THE UNIVERSITY FOR YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL
|School||Very Satisfied (%)||Satisfied (%)|
|UNB (Saint John)||16||54|
|St. Francis Xavier||12||59|
SATISFACTION WITH THE OVERALL QUALITY OF THE EDUCATION RECEIVED AT THIS UNIVERSITY
|School||Very Satisfied (%)||Satisfied (%)|
|St. Francis Xavier||29||65|
|UNB (Saint John)||25||64|
SATISFACTION WITH OPPORTUNITIES TO ENHANCE EDUCATION THROUGH ACTIVITIES BEYOND THE CLASSROOM (E.G., UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH, SERVICE-LEARNING, STUDENTS EXCHANGE)
|School||Very Satisfied (%)||Satisfied (%)|
|St. Francis Xavier||26||64|
|UNB (Saint John)||13||64|
See the 20 occupations with projected worker shortages
Much has been written about the plight of the recent university graduate. She is over-educated, underemployed, and staring down an uncertain job market; the promise of a stable position was the last generation’s reality, not hers.
A newly-released report from the American non-profit Center for College Affordability and Productivity suggests almost half of all graduates work in jobs for which they are overqualified.
In Canada, the situation doesn’t seem quite as dire, but during the last year for which there are numbers, 2006, about one in four university-educated workers was in a position that didn’t require a degree. As Chris Sorensen and Charlie Gillis pointed out in “The New Underclass”, this proportion is believed to be even higher now.
But there must be jobs somewhere, right? In 2011, The Canadian Occupational Projection System (administered by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada) developed a detailed, 10-year labour market projections report that focuses on the estimated trends in labour supply and demand between 2011 and 2020.
Broken into occupational groups, the report determines which jobs are projected to have an excess of positions and which will have an excess of workers. The chart below details 20 of the occupations expected to see the greatest worker shortages between now and 2020. Note: They are not the positions where there are the most jobs, but the areas in which the chances of getting a job (due to the number of job openings exceeding the number of job seekers) are greater. Interestingly, only three require university-level education.
While the projections provide hope for some, they also reveal occupations for which the number of job seekers far outweigh the number of positions. To those seeking employment in the following fields (just to name a few): consider becoming a tailor.
- Management in communication.
- Managers in art, culture, recreation and sport.
- Physical science professionals.
- Athletes, coaches, etc.
- Machine operators and related works in pulp and paper production, wood processing, and workers in fabric, fur and leather.
- Machining, metalworking, woodworking and related machine operators.
Remembering the good times one tweet at a time
Video shows person swept down street
All evening classes at the downtown campus of McGill University are cancelled on Monday due to a huge flood that originated near the McTavish Reservoir. City officials told The Canadian Press that a water main broke at a construction site near downtown causing the slope of Mount Royal to turn into a stream. Parts of Rene-Levesque Boulevard and Sherbrooke Street are closed and the area is dangerous due to fast-moving water and ice. Observers have posted many photos on Twitter and YouTube user Sly005 posted this video that shows a person swept down the street:
Readers react to assertion that graduates have no future
Last week’s Maclean’s cover story declared that a generation of well-educated, ambitious, smart young Canadians has no future. Many Canadians agree with that assertion, others don’t. Yesterday we offered a sampling of letters we received. Of the more than 200 responses that have flooded in online so far, here are some of the most interesting.
James Knight, President & CEO of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges published this letter:
The Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) disagrees with Maclean’s case that an entire generation of talented young Canadians have no employment future.
By working with industry, Canada’s public colleges, institutes and polytechnics are innovating, engaging in applied research and bridging skills gaps so that students gain employment in well-paying careers. College graduates find positions in everything from health care to engineering, from information and communications technology to business and entrepreneurship, and from construction to green technologies. Virtually every employment opportunity is supported by a college program.
College graduates find jobs. Depending on the region, 83 to 95 percent of Canadian college grads can look forward to working in their field within six months of graduation.
Does an entire generation of young people have no future?
Last week’s cover story, “The New Underclass: Why so many smart, educated, ambitious young people have no future” hit a nerve with readers. Some thought it was dead on, others through it was exaggerated, arguing that there are jobs out there. Here are some of the best responses sent in by mail, email and through social media:
Thank you for shedding some light on the way our education system has failed Canadian students (“The new underclass”, Society, Jan. 21). When I retired from the skilled trades a few years ago, the average age of tradesmen in Ontario was approaching 58 years of age. Yet still the education system was promoting a university degree as the best path forward. Skilled trades in Canada have been stigmatized by our education system, and it really came to a peak when special needs students came into the public education system and they were channelled into the “technical stream” and called something like “life skills.” That ended any interest normal students might have developed in following the technical stream as a path to the skilled trades.
Dave Bradley, Cargill, Ontario
During my 20-year career as a college professor, I observed the steady obsession by community colleges to become second-rate universities in staffing requirements, course content and political posturing. As well, my exposure to universities’ academic practices allowed me to learn of a fatal flaw in their philosophies of management. As an invited participant in committee processes at university, I was told what the students did with their education upon graduation was not a concern of the university, and that my recommendation of a “needs assessment” for a proposed new degree was not relevant or required. So now today’s students are processed by factory-like institutions that focus mainly on their own marketing-driven management mandarins. We must better define the specific roles, behaviours and outcomes of these publicly funded institutions. A structural and philosophical paridigm shift of the utmost magnitude is in order.
Neil O. Foster, Algonquin Highlands, Ont.
Scientists also reveal insights on brain training and aging
Today there’s fascinating news from Western University, where some of the world’s leading brain researchers say the largest-ever study of its kind has discredited the idea of measuring intelligence by standardized IQ tests. From the release:
The findings from the landmark study, which included more than 100,000 participants, were published today in the journal Neuron. The article, “Fractionating human intelligence,” was written by Adrian M. Owen and Adam Hampshire from Western’s Brain and Mind Institute (London, Canada) and Roger Highfield, Director of External Affairs, Science Museum Group (London, U.K).
Utilizing an online study open to anyone, anywhere in the world, the researchers asked respondents to complete 12 cognitive tests tapping memory, reasoning, attention and planning abilities, as well as a survey about their background and lifestyle habits.
Study shows increased risk of sexual assault
Studying overseas is an overwhelmingly positive experience for most students, but it comes with some risks. A new study showed an increased incidence of sexual assaults, including rape, among undergraduate women from a U.S. school who studied in non-English-speaking countries.
It’s a shocking—although small—study. Out of 218 undergraduates surveyed, 60 (that’s 27.5 per cent) reported at least one experience of unwanted touching while abroad, 13 (6 per cent) reported an attempted sexual assault (anal, oral or vaginal) and 10 (4.6 per cent) reported rape. That risk of rape was five times higher during the semesters abroad than semesters in the U.S.
One of the study’s authors told Inside Higher Education he suspects “legal access to alcohol, lack of familiarity with the culture, maybe weaknesses in the language, and potentially even being seen as somewhat vulnerable within the country” may contribute to the higher incidence of assaults.
Robert Weladji studies calves orphaned by hunters
For Concordia University biology professor Robert Weladji, reindeer are more than a Christmas mascot; they’ve been his research focus for the past decade. Nadia Kherif of Concordia explains:
His recent co-authored paper, published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research, examines how young orphaned reindeer fare in the wild and shows that hunting new reindeer mothers may have negative consequences for the herd.
As human appetite for reindeer meat and pelts grows, young calves are increasingly being separated from their mothers. Explains Weladji, “a common by-product of hunting is orphaning of calves in autumn. Despite this, there are few studies that evaluate the fate of orphaned calves.”
Dalhousie takes kinder approach if students are arrested
University offers most students their first real taste of freedom from home and family, including the freedom to do stupid and illegal things. Even good students can become drunken criminals.
This year, Dalhousie University unveiled a restorative justice program for students charged with relatively minor criminal offences. The university hopes to address crime without large fines or the prospect of a criminal record. It is Canada’s most ambitious effort by a university to get involved in criminal justice for its students. Other schools seem less keen to follow. Should universities act when students commit crimes off campus?