All Posts Tagged With: "McGill University"
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.
Petition asks university to pull money from fossil fuels
McGill University’s Board of Governors has rejected a petition from the environmental activist group Divest McGill, which collected hundreds of signatures calling on the school to take money out of companies that develop, transport, refine or sell oilsands products, reports the McGill Daily.
The vote was likely a first in Canada and the rejection is a setback for a global movement.
Hundreds of campus groups across North America affiliated with 350.org have pressured schools to pull out of fossil fuels in an attempt to slow climate change by cutting off the cash.
On Judith Butler’s honourary degree from McGill
Every convocation season, some group somewhere in Canada protests an honoury degree recipient or commencement speaker. This year, the controversy is over the honourary doctor of letters that McGill University will bestow upon feminist scholar Judith Butler on Thursday.
Butler is well-respected by those who follow gender theory and perhaps equally despised by supporters of Israel because she calls the nation an “apartheid state” and seemed to sympathize with the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah when she called them anti-colonial and anti-imperialist forces. She later clarified that she doesn’t support “violent resistance,” but that’s not good enough for McGill Hillel and McGill Students for Israel who want the honour reconsidered.
The fact that these students are speaking out against her degree is a healthy sign. Nonetheless, the honourary degree should go ahead. I say bring on the controversial thinkers. That’s what university is all about. Or supposed to be about, anyway.
A grade 12 student’s five criteria for choosing a school
Every year since I was six years old, I’ve attended St. Francis Xavier University’s convocation ceremony in my hometown of Antigonish, N.S. I didn’t know the graduates and I wasn’t forced to go by my sentimental parents, who both work at the school. I went because I wanted to see the looks of triumph, happiness and success on the students’ faces as they crossed the stage.
I know my love of learning is not common among teenagers, but I am extra excited about university. For years I’ve read Maclean’s education issues and Guide to Canadian Universities, analyzing what schools best suit my personality and goals. Through five criteria, I’ve managed to create a shortlist. Here’s how I narrowed my search:
1. Program possibilities
I have a passion for curriculum design and education policy. Once I realized this passion, I decided to find a program where I could explore it to some degree. After long hours of soul-searching, I narrowed my major down to ethics, economics or educational psychology. This was by far the most difficult part of the process and it was only once this was done that institutions could be analyzed. I started searching for the best universities for those programs. The University of Toronto has a specialized first-year program in ethics, making it my current top choice. McGill University allows for a minor specifically in educational psychology, so I kept that on my shortlist too.
Ghyslain Raza now a proud law school grad
Almost a billion viewers across the planet know him as the Star Wars Kid, but they’ve never heard him speak, until now.
Ghyslain Raza was a normal high-school student in small-town Quebec back in 2002, a shy 14-year-old who liked to make videos. In 2003, classmates posted one of those videos on the Internet without his knowledge–in it, Raza wields a makeshift light saber, clumsily imitating a Star Wars Jedi knight.
The video went viral, and the Trois-Rivières teen became one of the earliest and highest-profile victims of a massive cyberbullying attack, one that played out among classmates and strangers online.
“What I saw was mean. It was violent. People were telling me to commit suicide,” the now-25-year-old recalls.
Eight universities’ departments among top 50 worldwide
The QS World University Subject Rankings 2013 are out now. The London-based company’s report offers a rare peek at how our school’s history, engineering and law programs—30 subjects in all—are viewed internationally.
Unsurprisingly, the top three universities from the Medical Doctoral category of the Maclean’s University Rankings—the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and McGill University—are also the top Canadian schools on the list. Those three are top five in Canada in 29 of 30 subjects and top 50 worldwide in many.
The highest ranked Canadian subject is geography at the University of British Columbia, which is tenth globally. There are also several subjects in the top 15: environmental science at UBC along with medicine, philosophy, linguistics, mathematics, sociology, geography, education, English and history at University of Toronto.
Video interview spreads across social media
A McGill student who was raped has told her story publicly for the first time to TV McGill. The video interview is spreading fast on Facebook and has already been viewed more than 5,000 times.
Sarelle Sheldon says she was out with a couple of friends at a Montreal bar when a guy who she had been “trying to give the cold shoulder” started talking to her. Her friends went upstairs. After that, things got fuzzy. She woke up in the hospital with police, doctors and social workers who said she was raped and found in an alleyway with almost no clothing. She remembers the man from the bar holding her against a wall. She remembers scratching him. That was only the beginning of the pain. She alleges that the police didn’t take her case seriously enough. The rapist wasn’t caught.
Sheldon says McGill refunded her courses and a university counsellor helped her work through the trauma. “It’s not something you can handle on your own and you may not be comfortable speaking with your friends and family,” she advises, “but you need to get it out.” Watch Breaking the Silence.
(Video credit: Cedric Yarish, Spencer Macnaughton)
As more students ask for extensions, profs ask: is this real?
I met Anna Drake, a University of Waterloo assistant professor, at recent event in Toronto and asked: what are professors talking about these days? She said they’re discussing how many students are presenting with notes from counsellors or doctors saying they’ve been mentally unwell or extremely stressed and are in need of extensions or exam deferrals.
Drake, a political scientist, doesn’t recall this being an issue when she was an undergraduate or when she started teaching as a master’s student in 2001. But a few years ago, a professor warned her and other teaching assistants at Queen’s University that, “it seemed to be fairly easy for students to get notes of this kind.” Too easy, perhaps.
Later, teaching her own course at the University of Victoria, she was surprised when four students out of roughly 40 presented with notes near the end of the term asking to defer their semesters.
What students are talking about today (April 16th)
1. Canadian Business has published its annual 50 Best Jobs list, which is based on 2012 median pay, past growth and projected growth. The list includes some obvious titles—number one is ‘oil & gas drilling supervisor” and there are also three types of engineers in the top 10 alone. But there are also some less obvious jobs in the top 50, like dental hygienists, 18th on the list and with an average salary of $70,000 last year. In addition to the best jobs, CB also offers lists of worst jobs and the top 10 jobs by projected demand in 2020.
2. McGill University is considering shutting two libraries to deal with budget cuts. The Faculty of Education’s Library and the Life Sciences Library, used by medical students, could be merged with another library. “We have to consider everything,” Dean of Libraries Colleen Cook told CBC. A Facebook page titled Save the McGill Life Sciences Library from closure has 1,487 likes.
What students are talking about today (April 12th)
1. The city council of Kingston, Ont. has been accused of disregarding university students as it redraws electoral boundaries. Council voted that three of the 13 municipal electoral districts near Queen’s University will be merged into two, which means students will be represented by fewer councilors. This is despite a staff report that recommended taking into account the student population, which the city knows exists, even though they’re unlikely to be counted in official tallies that require voters to register themselves. Queen’s Alma Mater Society has expressed disappointment. “The AMS is dismayed by the attitudes that many of the Councillors expressed at the meeting, which reflected an aggressively anti-student attitude that is all too familiar—one which the AMS has been working for a decade to eradicate.”
2. A McGill University professor allegedly harassed a Muslim student from Cairo, an accusation that spread on social media and resulted in protesters chanting, “Hey, hey. Ho, Ho. Racist professors have to go,” outside of his lecture, reports the Gazette. The protest followed a Global News report that included an audio recording student Amr El-Orabi secretly made during a conversation with professor Gary Dunphy before El-Orabi quit school and returned to Egypt. In the recording, Dunphy accuses El-Orabi of cyber-stalking, refers to both the student’s God and his own God in unkind terms, and says, “don’t think for a minute that your culture is the be all and end all.” When El-Orabi asks,”is there anything else that you want from me now?,” Dunphy responds, “your death.”
What students are talking about today (April 4th)
1. Queen’s University instructed security officers to rip down a free speech wall in a student centre because it “allegedly included language that constituted hate speech,” according to an official press release. A video of a blonde-haired officer removing the banner has been widely-viewed on YouTube. The wall, little more than paper with words scribbled on it, was encouraged by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms and erected by the local group Queen’s Students for Liberty. What exactly was so offensive is unclear, but it was bad enough that the administration chose to act. “Queen’s recognizes the right of free speech, but appreciates too the limits on free speech. Hate speech and racial slurs have no place on our campus,” wrote Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) in the statement. The Alma Mater Society, which owns the space, put out a statement too. “Queen’s Students for Liberty was given an opportunity to remove these two denigrating comments, and return the space to one of inclusive, free dialogue for all,” wrote president Doug Johnson. “When the club failed to act, the offensive material was removed.” A free speech wall erected at Carleton University in January was torn down by a student who claimed it was anti-gay.
2. Speaking of free speech and hate speech, students at Towson University in Maryland are fighting back against a white supremacist group’s declaration that it will start “night patrols” on campus. At a student-organized rally, the university’s president praised efforts to peacefully oppose the White Student Union. Matt Heimbach, spokesman of white group, told ABC News he believes multiculturalism is being forced on America. Yes, this is really happening in 2013.
3. Stephen Toope, president of the University of British Columbia, annouced Wednesday that he will step down in 2014 and then he gave an interview to The Ubyssey student newspaper. Heather Munroe-Blum, principal of the equally well-respected McGill University, who is also stepping down, did an exit interview of sorts with campus media too. The differences between the questions student reporters asked are a reminder of the contrast between generally sunny UBC students and the almost endlessly antagonistic McGill crowd. McGill student reporters asked questions like, “How can McGill say that it’s part of Quebec, and, at the same time, call tuition fees sacred?” and “Do you think [the police] could have had different tactics?” Meanwhile, at UBC, The Ubyssey reporter asked Toope questions like, “Do you think raising UBC to a global level is one of your core achievements?” For the record, I think it’s obvious that both Toope and Munroe-Blum have been strong leaders.
4. Bill Clinton told reporters ahead of a meeting with student leaders that he sees the cost of college as a major problem. “We can’t continue to see the cost of education go up every decade when wages are flat,” he told Inside Higher Education. “I think the only sustainable answer is to find a less expensive delivery system,” he added, saying the next step is, “for someone to certify what you need to know and then figure out some way of validating the merits of these online courses.”
5. The University of Calgary Dinos sports teams have unveiled a new logo, which is, obviously, a dinosaur. More interesting is that Calgary also announced a five-year partnership that will put Nike swooshes on uniforms. Speaking of corporate sponsorship deals, the Petro Canada Hall at Memorial University in Newfoundland has been renamed for Suncor Energy, which donated $50,000, reports The Muse student newspaper. There once was a time when there would be major outcries against corporate sponsorship deals on campus. Apparently that’s no longer the case.
Prospective students worry about disruptions
Almost a year ago, I was a prospective student touring McGill University for the first time. I remember the excitement, the nerves and the shock of seeing more than 100 people protesting on campus. For the dozen or so students on my tour, it was our first impression of McGill and, to be honest, it was a bit of a deterrent.
I recall a parent on the tour asking how disruptive the protestors were for classes. It was a serious concern of his and many others. Of course, we were assured that it was not disruptive at all and that the protests had very little to do with McGill. That alleviated the concern in my mind, but I’m sure that it was not the case for others.
In the past few months, I’ve been receiving emails from friends back home in Vancouver who are currently in their graduating year of high school and are now attempting to navigate the confusion of choosing a university. While I’ve gotten the classic questions—“How are the professors?” and “What’s the nightlife like?”—the one theme that keeps coming up is Quebec’s student movement. My friends’ concerns include not only how protests affect classes, but whether they are violent or too intense. I have assured everyone asking these questions that the protests are not an issue; they stay out of McGill’s way, they are not violent and they do not affect the classrooms.
Why Meric Gertler and Suzanne Fortier matter
Between them, the University of Toronto and McGill University have 100,000 students, $596 million in total accumulated funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, one Charles Taylor and a perhaps disproportionate amount of the spotlight on higher education in Canada’s two largest provinces. They also have two new presidents: Meric Gertler at UofT and Suzanne Fortier at McGill. Together the two changes are probably more significant than most federal cabinet shuffles.
(This blog post will be lousy with Laurentian Consensus nostalgia; sorry. Perhaps only for today though, the less said about the University of Calgary, the better.)
In hiring close to home, both universities can be taken to be demonstrating either quiet confidence in the maturity of Canadian academe, or a chastened realization that in a time of limited resources, even the biggest schools are wise to stick to their knitting. Both schools instituted global searches and wound up bypassing candidates from afar in favour of local produce. Gertler was Toronto’s dean of Arts and Science. Fortier is president of the National Science and Engineering Research Council — indeed her start as principal of McGill will be delayed so she can cool off from that job for six months before taking a position with a major NSERC grant recipient — but her BSc and PhD were from McGill.
Anti-tuition argument never made sense to me
Canada and the United States are broadly similar nations mostly separated by public policy. Last year’s tuition debate in Quebec shined a spotlight on not only the difference in education policy between the two countries, but also on the “Two Solitudes” cultural gap between English Canada and Quebec.
As an American studying at McGill University, I have a unique perspective on the tuition debate, which is sure to flare up again next week during a provincial summit on higher education.
The average price of an American college education has continued to rise, with tuition at four-year private universities now averages $29,056. Ancillary fees like room and board add about an extra $10,000. Similar increases have occurred at public universities. In Canada, the average tuition is $5,581 a year. In Quebec it’s $2,168.
That difference may create sticker shock for Canadians, but in the U.S., unlike Canada, most students receive substantial needs-based subsides that reduce the ‘actual’ average tuition at private universities to just under $13,000. A great redistribution of money from richer to poorer students in the U.S. leads to average student debts that are surprisingly comparable in the two countries.
I had the misfortune of encountering the Quebec tuition debate very quickly after the start of my first year. Still acclimating to the new and somewhat colder environment, I read of the controversy in the campus papers. The sticking point was the former Liberal government’s planned increase of $1,625 over five years for an eventual total of over $3,000. Despite the hike being only $325 each year, the proposal stirred passions. A general strike was called and, at its height, protests numbering in the thousands were a near-nightly occurrence, especially after the passage of the highly controversial Law 78, which restricted demonstrations.
As an American used to far more expensive university tuition—even international rates at McGill were substantially lower than those at several of the universities I considered in the States—the anti-hike argument did not speak to me on either an individual or ideological level.
Liberal candidate weighs in on language bill and free tuition
Liberal leadership favourite Justin Trudeau waded Tuesday into two areas of provincial policy, at one point even taking shots at the Parti Quebecois government, while visiting Quebec.
Trudeau offered his opinions on Quebec language legislation and on tuition fees, while also reiterating his promise to increase federal involvement in education.
He delivered speeches and answered student questions at three schools on Tuesday, two of them English institutions and one French.
The crowds were similarly large at every stop — but the level of warmth of the reception varied from one official language to the next.
At the English-language Dawson College students asked him to sign autographs and pose for photos after the event. At the French-language Universite de Montreal later in the day, he was grilled on the Constitution and one student approached him afterward to debate the subject.
His first stop of the day took him to his alma mater, McGill University, where he offered indications that a Trudeau prime ministership would be a marked departure from a Harper era defined by a hands-off approach to provincial issues.
What students are talking about today (February 11th)
1. After Drake won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album on Sunday night he released a video for his new single, Started From the Bottom. Much of the video was filmed at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Binbrook, Ont, according to the Hamilton Spectator, and it also features his mom standing outside his childhood home in Toronto, reports Canada.com. Why do we care? My guess is because Canadians love to see Canadian things in videos they think Americans will watch. For more Grammy coverage see Macleans.ca.
2. City of Toronto inspectors have found what they say is an illegal rooming house near U of T Scarborough and Centennial College. Officials told the Toronto Star it was probably full of foreign students. Eleven people were living in rooms in the majorly renovated house. Real estate agent Yixuan (Jessica) Wang has been accused of arranging the leases. The city says there are 120 active files stemming from complaints over suspected illegal properties in Scarborough where there is just one 765-bed student residence (at UTSC) for nearly 15,000 post-secondary students.
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.
Injuries reported due to ice
A river raged through a section of downtown Montreal as a water main break Monday flooded a section of the city core.
The water barrelled down the slope of Mount Royal, with some people struggling to avoid being swept away by the mighty current.
The flood began spreading near McGill University just before rush hour, prompting traffic jams as police rerouted cars and people struggled to escape the area.
Some people wrapped themselves in garbage bags to protect their lower body from the ice-cold water as they crossed submerged streets.
At one intersection, where the flooded area was narrow, people moved a sidewalk bench and used it as a bridge to get to the middle of the street.
Philippe Whitford, a 38-year-old program analyst, gave new meaning to the term double-bagging: he wrapped himself in two layers of green plastic bags and made his way through the knee-deep water outside his building.
While he felt cold — the temperature was -9 C — he was grateful that he managed to stay dry.
His concerns quickly shifted to Tuesday morning. As the break was contained by mid-evening, and the water was largely cleared away, an emerging problem was ice buildup.
With a slippery film quickly forming across the area, parts of Ste-Catherine Street risk being temporarily transformed into an urban skating rink.
“It’s going to be a mess when this all freezes,” Whitford, who works for a finance company, said of Tuesday’s commute.
The streets thickened with ice as firemen stabbed at drain openings with pike poles to get the water to go in. There were also large road graders pushing the water around trying to get it to disperse.
City officials said the flood was caused by a 90-centimetre water main that broke at a construction site near downtown, and said they were working to fix the problem.
Police rerouted traffic because the cascade of water made the area extremely slippery as it turned to ice. Parts of two of Montreal’s main east-west arteries were closed to traffic — Rene-Levesque Boulevard and Sherbrooke Street.
Staff at McGill University were warned that several of the university’s buildings were flooded and evening classes were cancelled.
Water also trickled into a number of commercial establishments on Ste-Catherine Street.
City officials said the incident had not affected the quality of drinking water.
Mayor Michael Applebaum went to survey the cleanup operation.
He said the damage occurred mostly below street level.
A steady stream of water poured into underground parking garages, and Applebaum said water had to be pumped out of the Place Ville Marie, a major office complex.
“The damage is mostly damage where we have basements where there’s underground parking lots,” he said as he stood near a water-logged intersection, as firefighters cleared clogged sewers and front-end loaders scooped up water.
Two minor injuries were reported, as of 7 p.m. The local ambulance service said the injuries occurred when people slipped and fell.
One man who was rushing to catch a bus said he saw the cascading water push people along as they waded through.
Another man, Faz Khan, said he watched the spectacle from his office window.
“McTavish (Street) was completely flooded and nobody could cross past Sherbrooke,” Khan said. “People had water up to their knees at one point…. It was pretty bad.”
—Peter Rakobowchuk and Nelson Wyatt
Video shows person swept down street
All evening classes at the downtown campus of McGill University are cancelled on Monday due to a huge flood that originated near the McTavish Reservoir. City officials told The Canadian Press that a water main broke at a construction site near downtown causing the slope of Mount Royal to turn into a stream. Parts of Rene-Levesque Boulevard and Sherbrooke Street are closed and the area is dangerous due to fast-moving water and ice. Observers have posted many photos on Twitter and YouTube user Sly005 posted this video that shows a person swept down the street:
Research could help solve mystery of universe’s origin
Construction has begun on a new radio telescope in British Columbia’s south Okanagan that will act like a type of time machine and help astrophysicists travel back to better understand the composition of our expanding universe.
The $11-million project is being built at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory southwest of Penticton, B.C., and will use components from the cellphone industry to capture and turn radio waves emitted six to 11 billion years ago into a three-dimensional map.
It’s the first research telescope built in Canada in more than three decades and includes scientists from the observatory, the University of British Columbia, McGill University and the University of Toronto.
“It’s almost like time travel,” said Kris Sigurdson, an astrophysicist from UBC and co-investigator on the project. “It’s looking back into the past and how the universe was at that time and it’s just amazing.”