All Posts Tagged With: "Campus Life"
Students connect through Potter clubs and classes
Two summers ago when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 arrived at the cinema in Ancaster, Ont., Stephanie Kesler took the day off work and lined up for 12 hours to make sure she got a good seat. Afterward, Kesler, now 23, says she felt “a little bit sad.” Growing up she had eagerly anticipated each of J.K. Rowling’s books and films. “That was my whole childhood.”
But last semester, the third-year English student at Western University in London, Ont., realized that the end of the series didn’t mean saying goodbye. In her children’s literature course, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban was on the syllabus.
For her class assignment, Kesler presented to her peers on the symbolism of Rowling’s Dementors, dark creatures that suck the life out of people, and the Patronus Charm, the only thing that can fight them off. She likened the Dementors to depression and the Patronas to overcoming it through positive thinking.
Not far away at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., dozens of wizarding fans had a similar idea. Emma Morrison, a third-year Medieval Studies and Religion major, had started a chapter of The Harry Potter Alliance, a global network of campus and community clubs where Potter fans jointly work for social justice. The Laurier chapter’s first big project focused on Dementors and depression. After a social media campaign promoting awareness of mental health services on campus, the group held a Yule Ball (a Hogwarts-inspired formal) during February mid-terms. “We wanted to have something fun to allow people to let loose in their time of stress,” she says. More than 220 showed up for butter beer and dancing.
Professor Gabrielle Ceraldi, who teaches children’s literature at Western, is unsurprised by the focus on the Dementors. “Emotional states in the series are always represented through magic,” she says. Hogwarts, the school for witches and wizards, is bewildering, much like university, she points out. “The staircases never stay in the same place from one period of class to the next.”
Ceraldi, who has only just heard about the Harry Potter Alliance, will soon teach what she believes is the first Canadian course fully dedicated to the books. She has also just learned about the Quidditch leagues where students use broomsticks and throw Quaffles, yet another of the ways today’s university students are connecting to each other and to school through Harry Potter.
Harry helps them connect to school by introducing academic themes. One obvious example is the classism Hermione Granger highlights with her Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare (SPEW), a group she starts to fight for the underclass toiling in Hogwarts’ kitchens. Harry and Ron first turn up their noses at Hermione, “but, in the end,” Ceraldi says, “grasping the value of house elves becomes pivotal to the triumph of good over evil.”
Morrison, the Laurier student, suggests that the theme of classism was inspired by Rowling’s own life. “Before she published Harry Potter, [Rowling] was a single mom who didn’t have a lot of money and relied on the government for a lot of what she was able to provide her children,” she points out.
Racism is exemplified in the mudbloods, people who come from muggle (non-magic) families and end up being capable of magic. At one point in the series, the mudbloods are accused of stealing wands from true witches and wizards, which leads to (ironically) a witch hunt.
Classism and racism were both considered by the Laurier chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance this year when they learned about child labour on African cocoa plantations and then collected signatures on a petition demanding Warner Bros. use fair trade chocolate in all their Potter treats.
But the Laurier chapter isn’t just for humanitarian work. Morrison says it’s also a place “where fans can get together and nerd out.” One just-for-fun meeting offered tea leaf readings.
Ceraldi says the Potter books offer more than social justice lessons. In her upcoming course they will provide an entry to other genres of fiction, including Gothic, dystopian and detective. Students may be asked to compare one book to a Sherlock Holmes novel and another to a story by Victorian writer Elizabeth Gaskell who, long before Rowling, used a mirror to symbolize self-reflection.
Though it’s not until January, Ceraldi is getting many e-mails from students wanting to sign up. They’re keen, she says, writing things like, ‘I am the person I am today because of those books.’
That, she says, is unsurprising. “They know these stories have incredible power and meaning.”
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?
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?
Photos from the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings
Every university student’s day is different. Some spend their time in high-tech labs while others pore over books in the campus cafe. Some volunteer to fix bicycles between classes while their roommates rehearse for plays. With teams from basketball to rowing, athletes are in heaven.
To truly understand the smorgasbord of options, you need to visit multiple schools. Can’t make it to more than a few? Don’t fret. Photos galleries from the 24 campuses we visited for the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings will get you started. After clicking through them all, pick up the Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities for hundreds of pages of advice on your big decision, including profiles of 81 Canadian schools.
Northern British Columbia
St. Francis Xavier
Students are doing extraordinary things with video cameras
From the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings
Andrew Cohen sat near the window of a south Vancouver coffee house, scribbling notes on flashcards to study for an urban geography mid-term. The fourth-year University of British Columbia student grew restive, so, naturally, he took to watching YouTube videos.
Before long, he came upon a video made by students at the University of Victoria. It was a so-called lip dub, a style of video in which students dance and mouth the words to a popular song in an enthusiastic show of school pride. Cohen put his books away within seconds.
“I stopped studying,” recalls Cohen more than a year later. Now 22 and done school, what he saw that day inspired him to become a filmmaker in Vancouver. “That totally changed my life.” He immediately started planning his own lip dub for UBC.
Hundreds of students. Millions of views.
Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of students at Canadian universities have been singing and dancing their way through elaborate lip dub videos. Here are our favourite Top 10, from the most to least viewed.
1. I Gotta Feeling, Université du Québec à Montréal, 10,353,000 views.
This lip dub of the Black Eyed Peas dance hit made these communications students famous when it was picked up around the world.
2.The Worst Test, University of Toronto, 3,019,000 views.
In a first-year engineering test, the sounds of Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise start blasting through the lecture hall and a couple of students stand on desks, rapping a song called I’m an Engineering Failure. Skule Nite, an engineering musical revue, takes credit.
3. Raise Your Glass etc., University of British Columbia, 1,865,000 views.
It starts out with a nod to Old Spice Man and then hundreds of students mouth Pink’s party anthem and other songs. There’s a galloping horse, a cameo from Josh Ramsay of Marianas Trench, martial arts, ballet and an underwater scene in the school pool.
4. Carol of the Bells, Algonquin College, 543,000 views.
It’s December exam week and students are cramming when Darth Vader shows up and conducts a choir belting out Carol of the Bells. This best-ever study break was courtesy of broadcasting students.
5. Dynamite, McGill University, 466,000 views.
Students and researchers at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre show off their labs with this slick remake of Taio Cruz’s tune, with its fitting refrain, “I wanna celebrate and live my life.”
6. Gangnam Style, York University, 368,000 views.
David Kim dances his way through lecture halls, over a Tim Hortons counter and around a police cruiser in homage to Korean rapper Psy. Copycat videos emerged from McMaster to Carleton to the Royal Military College.
7. Haven’t Met You Yet, University of Victoria, 320,000 views.*
Almost 1,000 students at the University of Victoria got together and impersonated British Columbia warbler Michael Bublé. Spider-Man, Rick Astley and Billy Mays make appearances.
8. Save a Life, Be a Man Nurse, Laurentian University, 184,000 views.
First-year male nursing students in cowboy hats and scrubs remade Big & Rich’s Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy), replacing the “ride a cowboy” line with “be a man nurse.” They kept the references to “girls who are so pretty.”
9.Rebellion (Lies), University of Guelph, 78,000 views.
Students took over the engineering building for a rather literal interpretation of this Arcade Fire song, with its “every time I close my eyes” refrain. The video includes plenty of pyjamas and one big pillow fight.
10. California Gurls, Dalhousie University, 70,000 views.
The Halifax school got a makeover as the Golden Coast. The lipdub includes multiple Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg impersonators, a merman and fire juggling.
*This post has been updated because the original version incorrectly included a video from U.Vic. in Spain instead of U.Vic. in British Columbia, Canada. The author regrets this error.