This professor is troubled by a lack of resilience
A new report about the state of health among Canadian university students has prompted the usual hand-wringing in the media. The Montreal Gazette, for instance, calls the findings “troubling” and “grim” and notes that many university students feel overwhelmed, anxious, and in some cases, suicidal.
Even without seeing the report, one might be skeptical of such reactions. After all, take any large survey of people and you are going to find some who are having a rough go of it. And given that university students tend to be younger, experiencing big life transitions, and under pressure to perform at a high level, a certain number of cracks in the foundation are to be expected.
But when I looked at the statistics for myself, I too was troubled. Just not for the reasons that everyone else is. I was struck not by how many students are having difficulty, but, rather, by how many of them are not.
‘I must be a late bloomer’
A great-grandmother who has waited 56 years to get her high school diploma can finally cross that dream off her bucket list.
Maureen Baker has attended several high school reunions with her classmates from the 1950s but felt like an outsider because she never finished school.
On Wednesday, the 76-year-old Agassiz, B.C., resident will finally walk across a stage with two other seniors who enrolled at the same alternate school as part of a pilot project for seniors, alongside a group of at-risk teens.
“I’m thinking I must be a late bloomer,” Baker said before the grad ceremony. “It’s taken me 56 years to do it.”
Baker quit school in 1956, when she was in Grade 11, to work as a phone operator for BC Tel, which was later bought by Telus (TSX:T).
But going back to class at the Agassiz Centre for Education after more than five decades wasn’t all peachy for Baker, whose biggest challenge was “the dreaded math.”
Her husband, Leonard Baker, tried to encourage her — in his own unique way.
“When he saw me struggling with trigonometry and algebra he said, ‘ Moe, why are you doing this?’ And I said, ‘Because I can.’”
Baker got her kicks in English class though, because of her lifelong love of reading. And the other two grannies in the class inspired her to keep chugging along because they had a bit more patience under their belts — at ages 80 and 89.
Police in Kamloops, B.C. seek photos, videos
Mounties in Kamloops, B.C., are investigating the alleged sexual assault of a teenager at a bush party attended by as many as 1,000 high school graduates.
Police say the 17-year-old girl became separated from her friends, was approached by a male she didn’t know and was taken into a wooded area where she was sexually assaulted on Tuesday night.
When the teen arrived home from the party, she told her parents what happened and they took her to hospital and called police.
RCMP Cpl. Cheryl Bush said the event strongly resembled other recent sexual assault cases in Canada where witnesses have photographs or videos of the incident and then posted them online.
Analyzing the biggest-ever Canadian student health survey
The results of the biggest-ever survey of Canadian post-secondary student health show that most students are stressed, anxious and drink alcohol, but they’re not having nearly as much sex or doing as many drugs as one might expect.
Those are the conclusions that jump out from the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services report released today. A total of 34,039 students from 32 schools filled out the National College Health Assessment II Spring 2013, which is the basis of the report. The response rate was an impressive 20 per cent.
Drinking is students’ most common vice. In the previous 30 days, 71 per cent of students reported drinking alcohol at least once.
However, the vast majority avoided other drugs: only 12 per cent smoked a cigarette, 16 per cent used marijuana and 11 per cent consumed other drugs. That was despite eight in 10 students “perceiving” that the “typical student” at their school had used marijuana and cigarettes.
Costs of convocation should be factored in from the start
A post-secondary education may be the ticket to higher earning potential, but not before your institution bleeds you dry.
After you finished your last assignment, you feel free as you did the first time you coasted down a hill on your bike after getting your training wheels off. Then you apply for convocation and realize that, unless you’ve got over $100 just kickin’ it in the bank, you won’t be crossing any stage.
With the amount of student fees lumped together and tossed at us every September, you’d think the cost of convocation would be covered. Even if someone doesn’t want to cross the stage and rent regalia, my university—and most in Canada—charge students a fee to graduate.
I guess we shouldn’t be that surprised. Distance education students still have to pay gym membership fees. Health insurance is compulsory, too, unless you opt out, and even then you pay upfront and get a refund. What makes convocation any different?
Universities receive funds from alleged Iran government front
A foundation that American authorities say is a front for the Iranian government continues to fund McGill University and a Toronto Farsi school, years after U.S. federal prosecutors went to court to seize the group’s assets and alleged it was channelling money to an Iranian state-owned bank sanctioned by Canada.
The Alavi Foundation is a New York-based non-profit that has given more than $300,000 to Canadian universities, and more than $200,000 to the private Toronto Farsi School, since 2004.
In November 2009, U.S. federal prosecutors filed an amended civil complaint seeking the forfeiture of the foundation’s interest in a lucrative Manhattan office tower, from where it derives most of its income. The property was built in the 1970s by the Pahlavi Foundation, which was controlled by the shah of Iran to run the country’s charitable activities in America.
The claim, which is not resolved, alleges that, following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran’s new government took control of the property and the foundation, which it renamed, running them through Iran’s ambassadors to the United Nations.
British Columbia diploma offered at 41 off-shore schools
It’s a muggy afternoon in June and high school students wearing T-shirts stamped with the image of Terry Fox stride past towering high-rises and scooters with honking horns in this small Chinese city that’s been coated in haze from the local fiberglass factory for several days.
For most, it’s their first time making the fundraising trek that’s annual tradition half-a-world away in a country where they yearn to attend university.
Teachers at Grand Canadian Academy, a private school certified to award British Columbia diplomas, hope the early Terry Fox run will ease cultural integration for students who have perhaps only visited Canada once before.
Yet the teenagers don’t hesitate to draw contrast between how the hero from their prospective new country might have fared in their rapidly-developing homeland.
Toronto, Montreal make Fashionista ranking
The U.S.-based website Fashionista has published its third annual ranking of the Top 50 Fashion Schools in the World.
London, New York and Paris dominate, but there are three Canadian schools on the list.
Central Saint Martins in London—where Stella McCartney, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen once studied—tops the chart.
London’s Royal College of Art is second.
Parsons, at The New School for Design in New York, is third.
Toronto’s George Brown College is tops in Canada at 24th on the list.
Ontario has similar employment rules
A federal court in New York has ruled that “interns” who worked for Fox Searchlight Pictures on the film Black Swan should have been paid employees because their work didn’t have an educational component. NPR news says, “the decision may have broad implications for students.”
Eric Glatt and Alexander Footman did things like filing, tracking purchase orders and making copies. The judge’s ruling is notable because it says the educational requirement must be independent of school credits or job experience.
The judge considered the U.S. Department of Labor’s position on what may constitute a legal unpaid internship in the private sector. All six of the following criteria must be met for it to be legal:
Actress talks mental health at Queen’s University
Recognized with an honorary degree from Queen’s University for her work in mental health, a humble Glenn Close used her time in the spotlight to pay tribute to others affected by mental illness — including members of her own family.
The award-winning actress was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Laws on Thursday during a convocation for graduates of the faculty of arts and science.
Prior to her speech, Close told reporters that the honorary degree meant “a great deal” because she was receiving it on behalf of her whole family.
It was a sentiment she echoed in her impassioned address to the Class of 2013, when Close spoke lovingly of her sister Jessie Close, who has bipolar disorder, and nephew Calen Pick, who lives with schizoaffective disorder (a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder).
“I really wouldn’t be here today without them,” Close told the assembled gathering at Grant Hall. “We have learned that mental illness is a family affair.”
Money for skills training, education, counselling
Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt says new funding will help aboriginals get off welfare.
Valcourt was in Saskatoon on Wednesday where he announced $241 million to help aboriginals achieve the same job opportunities as all Canadians.
Saskatchewan Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas says the money will help get welfare numbers down for aboriginals, a major issue for all First Nations across Canada.
He also says it will help improve quality of life for everyone in the province.
Ontario statistics show what’s popular this fall
Areas of study generally considered more practical will welcome many more students this fall in Ontario according to new statistics from the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre.
The total number of students who have graduated from Ontario secondary schools and confirmed that they will enroll full-time at Ontario universities this fall is up 3.2 per cent year over year.
Arts is still the top choice with 24,982 confirmations, but that’s down 1.6 per cent.
Actress will address convocation assembly
Glenn Close will be celebrated today for her work in the area of mental health as she receives an honorary degree from Queen’s University.
The award-winning actress will be conferred with an honorary Doctor of Laws.
Close is also slated to address the convocation assembly in Grant Hall.
The six-time Oscar nominee is co-founder of Bring Change 2 Mind, which is dedicated to ending the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.
York professor and Waterloo student deserve a closer look
A men’s issues event I reported on in March at the University of Toronto drew masked protesters who were there to intimidate people, city police there to keep things in order and it was, inevitably, delayed by a fire alarm. What followed was a rather lightweight critique of women’s studies from University of Ottawa professor Janice Fiamengo.
I was pleased that free speech prevailed, as it was by no means assured. A lecture a few months earlier hosted by the same men’s issues group, The Canadian Association for Equality, was almost shut down. Protesters accused professor Warren Farrell of “hate speech” for, among other things, his controversial views on date rape.
CAFE will host another provocative professor, Lionel Tiger, tonight in Toronto. That event will be at a private venue off campus where the group will raise funds for a men’s centre.
Artificial turf to be revisited in 10 years
After debating all day, Toronto’s city council voted 31 to 12 against designating a natural grass field at the University of Toronto as a cultural heritage landscape. That means the installation of artificial turf will go ahead in July.
However, a small compromise was reached. There will be a formal assessment of the project in 10 years.
The decision to install the turf was made in 2012 after two years of debate at the University of Toronto’s Council of Athletics and Recreation (CAR).
The plan for an artificial field was mentioned as early as 2009 when the province put forward its bid for the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, which require fake grass for field hockey and para soccer.
UBC-O student died after taking pills
The popular birth-control pills Yaz and Yasmin have been linked to the deaths of at least 23 Canadian women —the youngest just age 14, Health Canada documents say.
The deaths are among about 600 adverse reactions reported among women taking the contraceptives between 2007 and Feb. 28 of this year, Health Canada confirmed Tuesday.
Doctors and pharmacists who submitted the reports to the Canada Vigilance Program said Yaz and Yasmin are suspected in the 23 deaths. The reports say most of the women died suddenly after developing blood clots, a known risk with the pills.
Since 2007, Health Canada said the program has received reports of adverse reactions among 333 women taking Yasmin and 267 women prescribed Yaz.
Aboriginals report racism and discomfort but also support
New journalism school graduate Frank Molley, of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation in Quebec, recalls a humiliating experience while studying at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B.
“There were two Native journalists in the class [and] one of them did a story about a Native woman who was beaten up,” he says. When someone explained that the Native woman had been called a squaw, some students in the back of the class started laughing. He walked out.
He was also offended when a professor told him First Nation stories weren’t “newsy” enough.
Another time, he asked peers to help cover a story about the Assembly of First Nation Chiefs in New Brunswick’s plan to address poverty. No one showed up, he says, “as breaking and important as it was.” Molley says he felt ostracized, but he hasn’t given up on his chosen profession.
Despite challenges like accessibility and racism, Indigenous students are graduating and working as journalists. Exactly how many is unknown, but mediaINDIGENA.com, an online magazine, recently counted more than 60 working Indigenous journalists in Canada.
Why this new graduate isn’t intimidated
Stanford University recently announced that it will fully fund PhD graduates who go on to education degrees. While the traditional route for PhDs is academia, the reality of the job market in the U.S. means they might not find jobs in higher eduction, so they’re being encouraged to help alleviate a shortage of high school teachers instead.
As we know, the job market in Canada is very different. Here, new teachers struggle to find work.
Last week Ontario announced that it will halve the number of people admitted to teacher’s colleges in 2015. The province also added another year to the program. That means most new teachers in Canada will have four-year bachelor’s degrees and two-year bachelor of education (B.Ed.) degrees, for a total of six years. Some will also have master’s degrees and a few will have PhDs.
Some say rules will hurt recruitment
The groups in charge of college and university sport in Canada are increasing restrictions on how many non-Canadians are allowed to play.
And civil rights advocates, as well as one college from Prince Edward Island, say those quotas amount to discrimination.
Both the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association and the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Association have long had rules restricting the number of non-Canadians who can play basketball.
The university group recently extended those quotas to volleyball, and the collegiate association says it is exploring expanding its rules as well.
Both say some restrictions are necessary to keep Canadian sports Canadian and prevent schools from getting an unfair advantage by going out and recruiting the best athletes from around the world.
But Holland College in P.E.I. says keeping international students off sports fields hurts recruiting efforts and runs counter to the federal government’s goal of increasing foreign student enrolment.
Canadian comedian discusses his feature directing debut
In This is the End, Canadian actor Seth Rogen leads a troupe of actors who play themselves in a profane farce about the the apocalypse arriving during a wild party at James Franco’s house in Los Angeles. Rogen co-wrote the movie with former Vancouver schoolmate Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express), and together they also make their feature directing debut. Rogen spoke to me by phone from Los Angeles. Her is an edited transcript of our conversation:
Q: This is the End lands at a time when there’s glut of more serious apocalyptic blockbusters. Oblivion, The Host, After Earth, World War Z. What’s up with that?
A: It’s just kind of been in the ether. I think it’s probably just because people think the world is going to end soon. For us it was purely coincidental that this is how long it took us to get the movie made. We made the short in 2006.
Q: It seems the end of the world is always closer at hand in Hollywood.
A: If it’s going to start somewhere, it’s going to start there.