Professors clog up clinic with students who may not be ill
Jane Collins is a very dedicated campus nurse. So dedicated, in fact, that she offers her cell phone number to students at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax so she can advise them after hours. She picked up on the first ring when Maclean’s On Campus called to find out whether she’d really stopped writing sick notes for those who show up to the campus health clinic, as reported by CBC.
She hasn’t entirely but says that, after 19 years on the job, she’s fed up that professors still ask students to get excuse notes for missed midterms, which is often a waste of time. The registrar has twice asked deans to pass that message along to professors but it’s not getting through.
How easy is it to hand in a paper you didn’t write?
I approached the shop on Yonge Street a little nervous, uncertain of what I’d find. Chain-smoking felons? Security dogs?
I found a clean store staffed by an intelligent, personable man named Mike. I told him I wanted a run-down. He said that master’s graduates write all the essays and they have a writer for each subject, from biology to philosophy. He showed me a database on his computer screen with at least 30 names. I asked how many customers he had and he showed me a weekly schedule that appeared to show more than 25 essays per week. The price was normally $30 per page but would only be $25 per page for me since there was a promotion that day and I was wiling to wait five days. Next-day service was still $35 per page.
Mike wouldn’t answer me about whether I would be cheating if I handed in the essay as my own.
“We don’t really have that conversation here,” he said. “It’s all original work; it’s not plagiarized.”
Universities help first-year students with mentors and more
Shari-Ann Baker, who was born and raised in Jamaica, moved to Toronto in 2010 to attend York University. Her first assignment was an essay for a Canadian studies course. Baker got a B, a mark she was able to improve after learning about the school’s Writing Centre: Her next assignment, for a sociology course, received an A. York’s various facilities, programs and clubs, such as the Community of United Jamaicans, were invaluable in helping her get settled. “People say you’ll get worse grades than in high school,” says Baker, now 22, in her fourth year of a linguistics degree. “If you take advantage of resources on campus, I don’t think it’s a problem.”
First year is a precarious time, fraught with new challenges and responsibilities—both academic and personal. Suddenly, “the world sees you as an adult,” says Barry Townshend, manager of the Centre for New Students at the University of Guelph. “A lot of responsibility comes with that,” from getting to class on time to paying rent, not to mention choosing an academic direction that will help with a future career. It’s a lot of pressure, all at once. Universities are increasingly finding a way to support students through this transition with writing centres, advisers, academic coaches and mentors.
Campus pubs suffer from costly servers and low prices
Ask a pub owner to describe a dream location and it would have to be where thousands of thirsty twentysomethings pass by each day. That’s why Noah Davis-Power is dumbfounded that the Breezeway, the bar run by his student union, has lost roughly $120,000 a year for two years. Its owner, the Memorial University of Newfoundland Student Union, has a total budget of $1.2 million, most of which comes from mandatory student fees. “If you worked it out real quick,” says Davis-Power, “each student’s losing $10 a year [at the bar]. That’s two beer poured down the drain.”
Campus pubs propped up by student fees are surprisingly common, due to bad management, high labour costs and pressure from students for artificially low prices. By the time the University of Windsor’s Thirsty Scholar pub shut down in April, it was more than $1 million in debt.
Universities are ground zero of the locavore movement
Students are leading a shift from greasy grub to gourmet fare. Here are scenes from the locavore movement on campus. See the full photo essay in the 2014 Maclean’s University Rankings issue.
Scholarly style from Acadia to SFU
Students aren’t only focused on classes. Neither is the 2014 Maclean’s University Rankings issue. It features a photo essay of scholarly style from Acadia to SFU. Here are some of the best shots.
The link between health and well-being and cellphone use
Madison Potter has a routine before bedtime. After she brushes her teeth and puts on her pyjamas, she’ll plug in her iPhone and put it right next to her pillow. Then she’ll turn off the lights and fall asleep with the phone six inches from her head. “It’s just habit now,” says the 20-year-old fine arts student at the Alberta College of Art and Design. “I’ve been doing it for four years.”
The vibration from incoming texts will occasionally wake her up, but her cellphone is there as an alarm clock. Also “in case there’s an important message in the middle of the night,” she says, “which is completely silly because there never has been.”
She’s not the only one snuggling up to her screen. Curt Wetmore, a 25-year-old grad student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, keeps his cell under his pillow because his small bedroom doesn’t allow for a bedside table and the outlet to recharge the battery is right by the head of the bed. “It’s more convenient, and maybe a little comforting to know that I have my phone by me,” he says. “I don’t why, but I definitely feel comfort for sure—which is sad.”
#Movember is about more than just charity
I have never really been a guy. I’ve always been male but I’ve never been “one of the guys.”
I can’t help but yawn during prolonged football and soccer games. My eyes glaze over midway through feverish discussions about the newest Dodge Ram. When asked by a server what kind of beer I’d like, I usually wait for a friend to make his request before I add, “make that two.”
Though I find myself outside the realms of frat houses and basement lairs, there is one time of year when these distinctions seem to fade into the background. It doesn’t matter that I can’t manage a video game combo or bench press my weight. One month of the year, all that is secondary.
That month is Movember.
From Acadia to Victoria, students snap photos of fall
Campus architecture can be brutal and grey but with autumn leaves blooming in red, orange and gold, the walk to classes in Canada these days is nothing but uplifting. This being 2013, students from Acadia U. to U. Victoria are snapping photos of fall’s glory and sharing them on Instagram with captions like, “Autumn seems to make walking to classes a little easier.” Here are a few of the best.
Students discuss race-based Halloween attire
Every Halloween, student activists remind their peers that race-based costumes can offend. You may have seen the posters on campus. They say things like: “My culture is not a costume.”
The message appears to be getting through. At McMaster University, “Sexy Indian Princess” and “Eskimo Cutie” costumes were on sale at the campus bookstore last week but an editorial in The Silhouette student newspaper quickly condemned them. (For those who don’t see why dressing up this way offends, consider the amount of sexual violence Indigenous women endure.)
Another Halloween tradition students are told to stay away from is painting one’s face black. That offends folks who know the history of white racists caricaturing black Americans with black face paint at minstrel shows. After the traditional Halloween party weekend, no reports of racist costumes emerged from Canadian campuses. There was, however, a report of a Florida man dressed as Trayvon Martin. The real test is Thursday.
Some think the annual outcry goes too far. Klara Woldenga, writing in the University of Victoria’s Martlet, satirized the outrage with a group ghosts, warewolves and vampires called the Altered Living Alliance protesting stereotypes. Comments so far suggest some readers aren’t laughing.
Council relied on anti-fraternity stereotype
The Memorial University of Newfoundland Students’ Union has denied official recognition to the Greek Lettered Council, a group run by and for fraternities and sororities on campus. The recognition would have given them access to campus space and funding. When the council voted 10 to four against recognition in October, they cited an academic study that found sexual assault is higher in fraternities.
In other words, they are convicting our local Greek brothers and sisters of crime they haven’t committed. They made their decision based on a stereotype and despite the GLC’s promises not to be discriminatory. I am not a member of a fraternity or sorority but as a fee-paying Memorial student, I think this group should be recognized.
The surprising results of Canadian student sex surveys
When you see a sexual health study sponsored by a condom company you may be skeptical, especially when the headline is that 51 per cent of students who had sex last year didn’t use a condom. Half? Really? It sounds like a ploy by Trojan—which commissioned the survey of 1,500 undergraduates in partnership with the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada—to sell more rubbers. After all, this generation grew up with non-stop public health education on the risks of a sexually transmitted infections like HIV. Students couldn’t possibly be so careless, right?
Unfortunately, I’ve seen this number before. Canadian results from the National College Health Assessment, a survey filled out by 34,039 students at 32 Canadian schools earlier this year, also found that only half of students use condoms most or all of the times they have vaginal sex.
Testing out the safety service after multiple attacks
On Thursday night, I waited at the corner of Main Mall and Agricultural Road at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. It was dark and foggy. Any other night, I might have just braved the six minute walk to the Student Union Building, but after two assaults involving young women on campus earlier this month—a 19-year-old was groped under her skirt at 2:45 a.m. on Sept. 28 and a 20-year-old was attacked on Oct. 13— I wanted to test out Safewalk, the student-run program providing chaperones to those who feel unsafe walking alone at night.
Although I spent four years at UBC and knew about the service from day one, I’d never bothered to call. I’m not the only one.
Safewalk is a student service available across Canada, usually manned by volunteers, although the Alma Mater Society student group that runs it at UBC pays its walkers. After a string of assaults—there was at least one more reported over the weekend when a 17-year-old girl was dragged into the bushes late at night and left with a black eye—I knew there would be renewed discussion about the service, which is used to reassure students that measures are in place to protect them. Indeed, the RCMP recommended on Monday that women not walk alone at night and instead use Safewalk. Last week, I wanted to see: how useful is it?
I called at 8:03 p.m., a few minutes after Safewalk started taking requests for the night. They answered my call right away and said someone would be there in under 30 minutes. Perhaps due to the recent spike in assaults, the service was busier than usual. Regardless, it felt too long to wait.
Wait for better transit to campus keeps getting longer
In the Western Gazette this week, writer Mary Ann Ciosk describes a scene that plays out hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of times a year in university towns across Canada:
“I check the time again—the bus is now 20 minutes late, and I have three minutes remaining before my class starts… Finally, a low mechanical growl can be heard in the distance, and around the corner appears our salvation, the 2 Dundas! But as the bus approaches, a new horror sets in. The 2 does not slow as it draws near the stop, but speeds past us with its cargo of disgruntled students tightly packed together—the bus is full.”
The issue of full buses making students late has long captured the imagination of campus news editors and student leaders. This fall is no exception. University of Lethbridge students pushed for better transit at a recent mayoral candidates debate. The Carleton University Students’ Association recently met with Ottawa transit officials to tell them too many students are getting passed up. In Victoria, B.C., post-secondary students held up signs on a street corner protesting poor service.
Nonetheless, in some cities at least, the wait for a better ride to campus just keeps got longer.
What students are wearing in Hamilton, Ont.
McMaster University’s students look like they’re too busy studying to put much effort into their outfits. Or maybe they just manage to make it look effortless. Either way, this is a school with some serious global clout, ranked 26th in the world in Clinical, Pre-Clinical and Health and 92nd overall by Times Higher Education. Photographer Jessica Darmanin captured this Campus Style gallery at the Hamilton, Ont. school while working on the 2014 Maclean’s University Rankings, out soon.
Ski and Board club members divided over value
There’s a popular saying among members of the Ski and Board Club at the University of British Columbia, one such member reports: “If you can’t find a better solution, there’s always the lodge.”
In the future, there might not be. Whistler Lodge, in the famous resort town two hours up the coast from Vancouver, may be sold to help improve the financial situation of the Alma Mater Society, the undergraduate student group that owns it.
One might expect an uproar about losing the 42-bed chalet built in 1965 but even Ski and Board Club members are divided on whether it’s worth keeping.
Campus Style in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
Atlantic Canada doesn’t have a single Urban Outfitters so visitors may be surprised to see the hipster aesthetic alive and well in Wolfville, N.S. and Sackville, N.B. Unless, that is, they realize at least half of students at Acadia and Mount Allison are from out-of-province. Still, as you can see from this Campus Style gallery, many east coasters prefer comfort to conformity. Photographer Andrew Tolson shot these while working on the upcoming 2014 Maclean’s University Rankings.
Cheerleader ticketed for cheering on homecoming weekend
When members of Western’s cheerleading team launched a member into the air on their way to the football game this weekend against Queen’s, their attempt to boost school spirit during homecoming was rewarded with a $140 fine. London Police deemed the demonstration “a nuisance” and ticketed head cheerleader Max Gow.
The team’s coach told the London Free Press he and Gow plan to fight the ticket. That won’t surprise anyone. What will is that this fine was just one of 270 issued during Saturday’s celebration. The number might seem high to outsiders but students here are used to the annual ticketing blitz know as “Project LEARN” (Liquor Enforcement and Reduction of Noise), when party, noise and litter bylaws are strictly enforced for the first month of classes. Many students, myself included, think the campaign targets us unfairly.
Stylish students on Canada’s biggest campus
You won’t catch the University of Toronto’s most fashionable students in blue jeans. That’s not say they’re overdressed but it does take colourful leggings or slacks and to stand out from the crowd. This is, after all, Canada’s biggest campus (pop. 58,000). Photographer Jessica Darmanin spotted these sartorial standouts while shooting for the 2014 Maclean’s University Rankings, out this fall.
Advice from a woman who couldn’t find help on campus
I dropped out of McGill University because of depression. It was the type that begins as a barely perceptible malaise but quickly penetrates your mind and renders you nearly unable to speak, think, or even walk. Perhaps the most common misunderstanding of depression is that it’s simply an overarching sadness permeating your positive thoughts. In its most serious form, the illness may actually leave you unable to feel anything—comfort or happiness, fear or rage. It wasn’t until I’d reached this level that I finally decided to take time off from my routine and accept help. If you find any aspect of this story relatable, I hope that you seek help immediately.
I vividly remember the first (and last) time I used McGill Mental Health Services. My parents had been asking me to get in touch with someone for months. I’d always responded to these requests by saying no, I wouldn’t see anyone because I was “fine” and “therapists are for people who need attention.” But after two years of growing increasingly despondent, I knew I had to do something. So I temporarily abandoned my mask of confidence and called.