Archive for Ravanne Lawday
Ravanne Lawday is a third-year year Undergraduate student majoring in English and minoring in Comparative Literature. She also works as a university writing tutor. Follow her on twitter at @RaviiZaharko, or like her on Facebook.
Why can we find money for execs but not foreign students?
International students at the University of Alberta are facing a possible five per cent tuition increase next year, equating to $900 to $1,600 per year, depending on the program. They already pay several times as much tuition as domestic students to make up for lack of taxpayer funding. Domestic tuition, meanwhile, is set to rise only one per cent. While many international students have cried out in protest, some domestic students support higher increases for non-Albertans.
I, however, have to side with my international colleagues that this tuition increase is unfair. I can’t imagine the sudden stress they’re under. Why is it that Alberta universities can find millions of dollars for things like $8.1-million executive office upgrades and 3.65% pay raises but can’t keep tuition down for these vulnerable students?
My empathy comes from the experiences I’ve had as a student on a diverse campus. For the past year, I’ve been a writing tutor working exclusively with students who are relatively new to Canada. I meet with an entire class of English as a Second Language students every week and so I know them not only on an academic level, but a personal level. Some say I’m their first Canadian friend.
How to cut down on bad behaviour like at Saint Mary’s
Though I couldn’t wait for orientation to end, I did learn a few valuable lessons about respecting the students around me at an optional short conference on campus culture and etiquette.
The key word is “optional.” If frosh week had a mandatory component that taught all students about what’s expected of them, instead of just how to get drunk in the beer gardens, I think universities could prevent incidents like Saint Mary’s rape-referencing orientation chant.
I thought there would be more maturity in university
When I got out of high school and enrolled at the University of Alberta, I was particularly excited for one thing: the end of the dreaded group project.
In high school a number of different things led me to hate working with others. We would prepare arbitrary presentations and our peers wouldn’t listen to them anyway. I thought that studying English and Comparative Literature in university would mean never having to collaborate for meaningless group assignments again.
Boy was I wrong. In fact, I seem to be doing more group projects than essays lately.
When I first saw all the group assignment descriptions on my syllabi at the beginning of the year, I decided to be as positive as possible. Perhaps the maturity level of my groups would be higher in university. Boy was I wrong again. Group work only seems to get worse in university, and I can safely say that the biggest source of my school stress has come from working with my peers.
But instead of letting it get me down any more, I’m going to relive the worst group project I have ever been a part of and hopefully my misfortune will at least brighten your day.
Roughly 100 show up despite snowstorm
A massive blizzard made Edmonton’s road conditions miserable, but University of Alberta students still managed to make it to campus on Thursday afternoon to protest Alberta’s recently announced cuts to post-secondary education.
A flash mob of approximately 100 students formed in the main quad and marched against the 7.3 per cent provincial government funding cut. The protest was organized by the Coalition for Action on Post-Secondary Education (CAPSE), a student-run organization formed to retaliate.
Several students from CAPSE led the large protest in and out of high-traffic buildings. In the midst of students chanting, “no ifs, no buts, no education cuts,” and “they say cutbacks, we say fight back,” several students quietly made small talk about how these cuts may affect their futures.
Many just pass by homelessness fundraiser at U. Alberta
Every night, around 33,000 homeless Canadians are forced to sleep on the streets, according to the non-profit Covenant House. For five days this week, students at the University of Alberta and other universities all over Canada are joining them to raise awareness of the issue.
A few years ago, a group of business students studying at the University of Alberta started 5 Days for the Homeless, a campaign whose name says it all. While sleeping outside on campus grounds with nothing more than sleeping bags on cardboard boxes, they accept charitable donations for non-profit organizations. Up to this year, they’ve raised nearly $100,000.
But what drives these volunteers to go without warm beds for almost a week, sleeping in temperatures that could dip as low as minus-20 in Edmonton?
I save money, get support and avoid rotten roommates
My friends tell me: “If you don’t move out before you graduate, you’re a failure”
Acquaintances ask: “How do you have a social life?”
Complete strangers inquire: “What are you doing with your life?”
These are some of the reactions I get when I tell people that I’m a 19 year old university student living with my mom. And you know what? Despite the criticism, I have no plans to move out just yet.
My parents divorced when I was very young, so I’ve pretty much always lived with my mom. Since I’m her only child, the two of us are nearly inseparable. She also helps pay my tuition and is supportive of my hectic school and work schedule.
I have this excellent support system at home. Why would I leave?
What I learned from Princess host Gail Vaz-Oxlade
After years of watching her TV shows Til Debt Do Us Part and Princess, I got the chance to listen in person to Gail Vaz-Oxlade discuss her Money Rules earlier this week on campus. Moneyaftergraduation.com and the University of Alberta’s Student Financial Aide Office hosted the free event. After an hour and a half, I felt less afraid of the sometimes ruthless world of money. I’d like to share five rules that stood out for me.
Rule 1: “Don’t pay the bullsh*t.”
By “bullsh*t,” Vaz-Oxlade means your monthly minimum credit card payments. Every credit card owner should pay more than the minimum. Those seemingly low payments required each month are meant to keep you in credit card debt for as long as possible, so you pay more interest overall. Oh, and the same go for student loans. “Aggressively pay down your debt”, says Vaz-Oxlade. She says students in debt should only worry about savings after they’ve paid off their loans.
Rule 2: Take on no more than one year of your future net income in student debt.
Vaz-Oxlade says this is a well-known rule of thumb, but I’d never heard it. Apparently every student should try to graduate with less student debt than their projected net income in their desired job. So if your career starts out paying $30,000-a-year after taxes, you shouldn’t have more student debt than that. (Law students, for example, can borrow more because they will make more.) Otherwise it eats up too much of your income, “and you won’t have a life for a very long time.”
One woman reflects on her high school torment
When I read about Amanda Todd’s suicide, I was affected, not only because someone so young decided to take her life, but also because of how it reminded me of my own adolescence.
To the right is a photo of me at Todd’s age. By the time that picture was taken, I had been bullied practically every day for five years. It started with some older girls who thought my name, Ravanne, sounded funny. They would chase me, scream at me, and throw food at me. Although concerned classmates stood up for me, it never stopped.
As early as sixth grade, I was depressed and socially anxious. When I entered junior high school, I was afraid to talk to new people out of fear that they too would laugh at me. I did make some friends, but for every friend I made, at least two people would obsessively bully me.
Tips from a student who couldn’t wait for orientation to end
This time last year I was nervously anticipating orientation, also known as frosh week or “Week of Welcome” here at the University of Alberta.
I thought that the first week would be an accurate indication of how life would be over the next few years. I was wrong and I’m glad about that, because while there were parts of orientation I enjoyed, I honestly couldn’t wait for it to be over.
Here are five reasons my welcome week sucked and what I wish universities would do instead.
1: Quit it with the blaring house music!
Before my first day of school, I’d never heard Party Rock Anthem before. That changed fast. At first it wasn’t that bad, but after LMFAO announced that “Party Rock was in the house tonight” in almost every building I set foot in, I nearly lost it. Hearing that song over and over again was especially inconvenient when I was trying to talk to people I’d just met, or concentrate on academic stuff.
For the sake of we non-party-rockers, why not keep the club atmosphere all in one area?
March to legislature draws all kinds of supporters
Two weeks after University of Alberta student Chevi Rabbit fell victim to an apparent hate crime near campus, hundreds of Edmontonians supported him with a march against homophobia.
The NOH8 Edmonton March and Rally, which boasted over 300 confirmed attendees on Facebook, included a march from the university to the Alberta Legislature for the rally on Thursday.
Notable speakers were U of A Director of Community Relations Michael Phair, Progressive Conservative Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk and the leader of the Alberta Liberal Party, Dr. Raj Sherman. Many commended Rabbit for his bravery and offered words of encouragement to the GLBTQ community. Some shared personal stories of experiences with homophobia.
The assembly closed with Broadway singer and Tony award nominee Michelle Rios’s rendition of “True Colours” by Cyndi Lauper and some remarks from Rabbit himself. Despite the attack, he had positive words for Edmonton: “Here, it’s okay for you to be your own, unique self,” he said.
University says health and safety risks forced action
Students from the University of Alberta say they were blindsided by changes imposed on the largest residence on campus, Lister Hall, which include a ban on drinking in common areas.
The administration says it discussed the issues with concerned student groups but health and safety risks meant it could no longer wait to act.
“There was an interim review done and a lot of health and safety issues came up,” says Deborah Eerkes, Director of the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Acting Dean of Students. “They were alarming enough that some kind of change had to take place immediately.”
Students’ Union representatives and Lister Hall residents say that the banning of drinking in common areas is an overreaction and that there is no proof it will make students safer. “They’re using the veil of emergency,” said Petros Kusmu, Students’ Union VP External. “Every time we ask them to provide evidence that this is as severe as they say it is, they skirt around the issue.”
Three reasons I’ll avoid eating on campus from now on
I never used to be picky about where I ate, but after my last dining experience, that changed.
After an extremely difficult spring exam, I found myself starving with only 20 minutes to spare before an appointment. The first thing I found that looked even slightly appetizing was a ham and egg breakfast sandwich from an express food store on campus. I bought it and sat down to eat.
After a few bites, I felt something odd. Then I pulled a bread clip and two pieces of what I suspect were burnt plastic out of my mouth. It made me think hard about eating on the run.
Don’t make the same mistake I made
In my first year of university, I tried a lot of new things. Some of them worked. Some didn’t. Taking summer classes is among the big mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, I finished—barely. If I could travel back in time, I’d tell myself to skip them.
Here are three things I learned that all students should consider before taking summer classes:
#1. It is way too nice outside to be trapped in a classroom all day.
I would have appreciated a text message alert
Whenever I read news headlines that depict unpredictable or brutal violence, I think, that could never happen where I live… not to people I know… not in my community. Then, it happened.
I’m a second-year student at the University of Alberta. After midnight Friday morning, students found three people dead and one severely injured in the HUB Mall on campus where I eat lunch almost every day during the school year. Travis Baumgartner, 21, allegedly shot and robbed his fellow armed guards to steal ATM cash. He was arrested on Saturday in British Columbia.
We’re safe now. But I didn’t always feel that way.
What ever happened to meeting someone in person?
Only 15 per cent of married people met their spouses on campus, according to a 2004 study.
It wasn’t always like this. Before 1955, 40 per cent of female college graduates had met their husband at school. Think about that for a second. In a time without cell phones, text messaging, and e-mail—let alone dating websites—university students easily found love in person.
Now, campus dating websites are popping up at universities all across Canada—from UTODating at the University of Toronto, Connections on Campus at Alberta to McGill Date—and they’re supposed to make things easier.
Current policies do enough to protect non-smokers
Every student has some way of relieving stress during final exams. Just imagine for a moment that your relaxation method is suddenly prohibited.
That is the dilemma now faced by smokers at the University of Alberta if a new policy introduced by a select group of University of Alberta Students’ Union councillors goes ahead (it has already passed the first reading). The policy would restrict on-campus smoking to remote areas of university property called “health promoting areas.”