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.
Socially conscious artists, Obama have helped the cause
Music preference on Canadian university campuses is traditionally as diverse as students themselves, but in the past year we all seemed to agree on one thing: Macklemore. The 29-year-old rapper, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, found international fame in late 2012 with his catchy-with-a-conscience song Thrift Shop, which asks why we don’t take the more environmentally friendly route to clothing. The song sparked theme parties at campus bars all across Canada and likely some thrift shopping.
Since then listeners have discovered Macklemore’s entire album of socially conscious songs. One that has particularly resonated with our generation is Same Love, a catchy and eloquent song about same-sex marriage equality.
Macklemore is based in Seattle, Washington, a state that legalized same-sex marriage in December 2012. Although this seems redundant to Canadians whose ‘gay marriage rights’ have simply been ‘marriage rights’ for nearly ten years now, the issue is ongoing for our southern neighbours. For those fighting for their rights in the U.S., Macklemore is a welcome voice, especially from the hip-hop industry which has been notoriously homophobic.
Same Love is about discrimination. The song condemns inappropriate use of the word gay and the perpetuation of stereotypes by “right-wing conservatives” who think a “predisposition is a choice.” Above all, it questions why people don’t stand up to fight for “humans that have had their rights stolen.”
If this province doesn’t grow up, I might leave
As a Montrealer of Greek origin who is fluent in Greek, French and English, I look at Quebec and all the incidents that have occurred in the past few months and I ask myself this one, simple, question: what the hell is going on?
But there’s another question Anglophones and Francophones should be asking themselves: why can’t we embrace bilingualism in this province? Why can’t we accept that Quebec is a province of two official languages and both will be equally represented from now on? Why do we insist on pointing fingers at each other and accusing the other side of undermining the other’s language?
Since the election of the PQ government, things have seriously worsened. The Office quebecois de la langue française found new life after receiving unnecessary funding from the provincial government and put it to absolutely no use by attacking restaurants like Buonanotte, ultimately making fools of themselves and of the PQ in the process. These are old-school techniques that the younger, more open-minded generation of Quebecers simply doesn’t appreciate.
How can this campus group claim to fight oppression?
A friend and I went to a movie night one Friday evening in January hosted by the Students of Colour Collective (SOCC), a campus group at the University of Victoria, where I am on a transfer from the University of Manitoba completing a double major in Criminology and Psychology.
It was a spur of the moment decision to go, but we were excited to get out and have a fun night. The movie being presented was Precious Knowledge, a film about the struggle of the Mexican American Studies Program to continue after it was banned by a school board in Arizona.
We arrived, sat down and waited for the movie to begin. My friend asked if he could help himself to a glass of the juice that was set out on the table. The host replied that the beverages were for movie night attendees. She then informed us that the event was for community building and not open to the public. We were specifically addressed in front of the room of people. There was no announcement that it was a closed event.
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’
There’s no shame in not having sex
Virginity seems to be one of the only taboos left on sexually liberated university campuses.
For many students, it’s long gone—that thing that they made a big deal of in grade school and can now barely remember why. For others, it is still very much a part of life and affects how they they feel about themselves, and unfortunately, how others feel about them. These outliers (and I do not mean to be derogatory) choose to hold on to it. As we move into the upper years of university, their number dwindles. The pressure is on.
There is ever-present pressure to have sex at university. We chat with friends about it, overhear people talk about ‘walks-of-shame’ at the library on Sunday mornings and see couples leaving the bars. Some of the pressure comes from friends. Some of it comes from the media. Eighteen year-old Dakota Fanning just did her first nude scene. MTV has a show called Losing It where people tell stories of their first time. Some of it comes from the person we dance with at the bar.
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?
Why I hope this venture goes ahead
When the Alma Mater Society here at the University of British Columbia revealed last year that the planned new Student Union Building (SUB) will house a brewery, students were overjoyed at the prospect of cheap, local craft beer.
Not only would a SUB brewery add some flavour to UBC’s decidedly drab cuisine, it would also significantly up the ante of our campus culture. Right now, our coolness factor is suffering. Our version of the Harlem Shake has only 156,000 views on YouTube. The University of Toronto’s has more than 2.2 million views, even beating out that legendary Lip Dub we made last year (remember that?) with its mere two million views.
The truth is more complicated than the stereotype
She’s the picture of privilege, the epitome of entitlement. She’s the girl you love to hate. She’s the “typical Western girl,” or TWG for short.
When I asked friends and fellow Twitter users to describe her, it seemed that everyone knew what I was talking about. They rattled off physical descriptions: blonde, pretty, and fond of Ugg boots, Lululemon yoga pants or Ray Bans.
Aside from the look, they told me what makes a TWG is her personality, behaviour and, most importantly, her financial background. She’s well-off to the point of being spoiled. She doesn’t care much about school. Primping and partying are her priorities. She’s everything a good teen movie villainess should be. She’s Regina George, the Queen Bee from Tina Fey’s flick Mean Girls and living in London, Ontario.
Emma Teitel on the educational side of casual sex
In 1925, when American anthropologist Margaret Mead was 23 years old, she travelled to the volcanic island of Tau, in eastern Samoa, to study a group of “primitive” teenage girls. Her findings—namely that Samoan adolescents were unusually free with their bodies and their hearts—would make their way into her most famous book, Coming of Age in Samoa, three years later. Mead didn’t fetishize Tau as a modern-day Eden. Rape was frequent. Entertainment was scarce (unless you like weaving fish baskets, I wouldn’t recommend it). But she did laud something on the island: casual sex. “The Samoans,” she writes, “laugh at stories of romantic love, scoff at fidelity to a long-absent wife or mistress, believe explicitly that one love will quickly cure another.” In other words, if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. She suggests that the cloistered West—prudish and purity-obsessed—could learn a thing or two about sex from teenagers on a remote island thousands of miles away.
Students are staying longer for a variety of reasons
When Michael Prior came to the University of British Columbia in 2008, he expected to spend the standard four years at the school.
Now in his fifth year, he realizes his original plan was unrealistic. The 22-year-old English Literature major has funded most of his own education, so he works for pay about 20 hours a week. That requires a lighter course load.
Prior is hardly alone. In fact, graduating more than four years after starting may be the new standard. A recent study from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario reports that less than half of Ontario university students finish in four years.
Hannah Talbot, a first year Arts student at UBC, was surprised. “I always thought that it was a four-year deal until I came to university and realized a lot of people were in their fifth or sixth year.”
Injuries could be reduced with barriers, regulated speeds
Some simple changes to the infrastructure of Canadian cities could go a long way towards keeping the country’s biking enthusiasts safe from harm, a team of researchers suggested Wednesday.
Erecting physical barriers between traffic and bicycle lanes, ensuring relatively flat commuting surfaces and regulating vehicle speeds all have the potential to curtail cycling injuries on city streets, they said.
The findings came from a cross-country team of researchers and was published in the Journal Injury Prevention.
The team’s objective was to explore the factors that contribute to Canada’s strikingly high rate of cycling-related injuries, according to the study’s lead author.
Joshua Beharry works to improve mental health on campus
Moments before he jumped off Vancouver’s Oak Street Bridge, Joshua Beharry texted his brother. He was hoping the message would be delayed—his brother had notoriously bad cell reception—but he wanted his family to know what had happened. Then, after waiting for a break in traffic, he leaped over the railing and into the Fraser River. “It was terrifying,” says Beharry, now 25. But even after jumping, he didn’t regret it. “I was thinking ‘this is the right thing to do.’ There was no chance of me ever getting better.”
Just over three years later, Beharry is speaking out about his suicide attempt in hopes that people like him will get help without feeling stigmatized.
Gap years now happen before and after university
University of Guelph undergrad Casey Panning, now 24, was sitting in a Southeast Asian geography class when it occurred to her that she might never see Asia. With vague plans to teach geography, and inspired by a friend who’d spent a semester in Singapore, Panning knew it was now or never.
The gap year—taking a year off school to work, travel or volunteer—has been a pre-university rite of passage in Europe, where it began in Britain in the ’60s and spread to other Commonwealth countries—including Canada. A Statistics Canada survey of about 8,500 high school graduates from 2000 to 2008 found that just 50 per cent had started college or university within the usual three months; 73 per cent had begun in a year’s time; and by 28 months after graduation, 81 per cent of students were attending a post-secondary school.
Canadian university students go crazy for dance meme
The Harlem Shake, a dance move popularized by New York DJ Baauer, may be the fastest-spreading meme on Canadian campuses… ever? The copycat YouTube videos have been made by everyone from a father-and-son duo to Norwegian soldiers, but few groups have moved for the cameras more than our own university students. Canadian students’ videos are racking up tens of thousands of views per day. The jig is simpler than Gangnam Style: one person, usually wearing a mask, flails around unnoticed until suddenly, through the miracle of editing, everyone joins in. So far Western University is leading in the competition for clicks at 170,000. But they’re about to face some challengers. More than 1,000 have signed up on Facebook for Wednesday’s taping at Brock University. More than 450 say they’ll attend at the University of British Columbia on Friday. At Queen’s University 1,200 have accepted the invitation. At the University of Toronto 700 have. At McGill it’s 500.
Western University’s, posted on Sunday, had 170,000 views by Monday.
The University of Guelph’s, posted Saturday, had 160,000 views.
This one, from Wilfrid Laurier University, has 100,000 views.
This response, from the nearby University of Waterloo, has 88,000.
McMaster University’s Deadmau5-featuring version was at 30,000 and climbing.
Former user says study drug wasn’t worth it
Like many before him, John* took what he was told was the drug Adderall without recognizing its potential side effects. “I had been studying at the library for days, my concentration was diminishing and my friend was like, ‘there’s this guy that has Adderall,’” the University of British Columbia student says. He bought some.
He’s not the only one. The illegal use of the amphetamine-based prescription drugs, which can improve concentration, may be an epidemic on campuses across North America. It’s the equivalent of steroids in baseball. The student who can study longer has an edge over peers.
Legally prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), many university students without the disorder have found ways to obtain the medication, either through campus hustlers or by faking ADHD symptoms. According to one estimate, a staggering 30 per cent of students at the University of Kentucky had abused Adderall. Though extensive research has not been undertaken in Canada, it is estimated that up to 11 percent of post-secondary students have used the drug.
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?
Artist Deanna Bowen says work is meant to be provocative
Three Ku Klux Klan banners prominently displayed in the vitrines overlooking York University’s Accolade East colonnade are causing people who pass by everyday to literally trip over themselves.
These pieces are part of a daring art exhibition at the Art Gallery of York University entitled Invisible Empires, which presents a collection of archival material that shows how the violent white supremacist organization had a role in 20th century Canadian history—not just American history as many Canadians likely believe.
Hanging such banners on campus seemed likely to cause an uproar among people of colour, and some were indeed initially upset. However, it seems to have sparked a conversation.
“They’re not put up to be harmful,” says Deanna Bowen, the black Toronto artist behind the exhibit. The banners are “meant to get you inside to hear more about this history.”
Ryerson University has most memberships
The founder of a dating website that connects men and women looking for “mutually beneficial relationships” says more and more Canadian university students are looking for what he calls “a sugar daddy.”
Brandon Wade of seekingarrangement.com defines a sugar daddy as a man who has the financial means to “spoil and pamper” a female.
His American-based website also represents several sugar mommies offering money or gifts “in return for friendship and companionship.”
When the service launched in 2006, roughly 30 per cent of his clients were university students clients looking for someone to pay their tuition and living costs.
Wade says that number is now at 50 per cent.
He says the University of Saskatchewan placed 11th on his list of top sugar baby universities in Canada with 63 new sign ups in 2012, while Ryerson University in Toronto was No. 1 with 183 memberships.
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.”