All Posts Tagged With: "residence"
Financial planners suggest skipping student residences
TORONTO – Many university students recall the rambunctious pub nights, late-night cram sessions and laundry-strewn dorm rooms of campus life with nostalgic fondness. But this cultural rite of passage can be pricey.
Erin Andrews, 22, said living away from home — including three years in residence and one year in off-campus housing — has added almost $20,000 to her debt load.
But the fourth-year kineseology major at Memorial University in Newfoundland has no regrets.
“It was definitely worth it,” said Andrews, who describes the friends she met in residence as a “super big family.”
“If you like becoming independent and making new friends and want to have the full university experience, I think residence should definitely be included.”
Project will cost an estimated $70-million
Queen’s University announced today it will construct two new residences by fall 2015, adding 550 beds to accommodate a growing student body – and overflowing campus.
The university said in a release the new residences are needed to accommodate a “modest” increase in first-year admission for fall 2012. Queen’s previously expanded the Waldron Tower residence hall and currently leases rooms for graduate students at the downtown Confederation Place Hotel. The Queen’s Journal has reported over the last few years that common rooms have gone the way of the dinosaurs as enrollment at Queen’s has increased.
Construction on the new residences will start next year. Queen’s currently estimates the project will cost $70 million.
Bonus for future first-year students: The new space means about 20 common rooms in existing residences will be restored – and so will weekly Bachelor watching nights.
London shooting, Regina theft and Toronto mega-project
1. Students at Western University in London, Ont. had their homecoming weekend marred by the shooting death of 21-year-old Terrell Johnson off-campus early Sunday. A 28-year-old man was also taken to hospital. Joshua Carter, 22, is charged with second-degree murder.
2. Hannim Nur, the student who resigned from her post as president of the University of Regina’s Students’ Union (URSU), did so because she stole $700 of student money from the Canadian Federation of Students Saskatchewan by forging signatures on cheques when she was Chair. A statement from CFS-S says that the money was repaid and that they’ve updated procedures to reduce the chance of it happening again. Questions remain as to why Nur continued to work at URSU after she admitted the forgery to CFS.
3. A proposed mega-development on King Street in Toronto will house a whole lot of people in three 80-story condo towers. It will also include two museums and facilities for nearby OCAD University. The design is by Frank Gehry and the funding is from theatre king David Mirvish. Tweeters have compared the design to a tipped-over recycling bin, but Edward Keenan of The Grid points out that Gehry’s early sketch of the now-loved Art Gallery of Ontario once raised eyebrows too.
Moving to university or college? Here’s a shopping list.
Welcome to First Year Survivor. Each week, a graduate will give you tips to make it through what may be the toughest year of school.
The morning before I moved into residence, I put everything I owned into garbage bags and tossed them in the car. I forgot a few things. My sisters, on the other hand, made multiple trips to Wal-Mart and Ikea to curate their dorm accouterments and it stressed them right out. I think the best approach is somewhere in between: plan, but relax.
Now that I know better, here’s what I’d bring:
Flip-flops for the shower. If you’re sharing a shower with multiple strangers, this is a must. For health reasons.
Continue reading What you should (and shouldn’t) bring to residence
Will they catch on in Canada?
The New York Times reported Friday on these so-called “hacker hostels.” Here they describe the home of 23-year-old Steve El-Hage from Toronto:
It’s one of several in the Bay Area that offer short- or long-term stays for aspiring tech entrepreneurs on the bottom rung of the Silicon Valley ladder, those who haven’t yet achieved Facebook-level riches. These establishments put a twist on the long tradition of communal housing for tech types by turning it into a commercial enterprise.
How to deal with a roommate who’s the polar opposite
By Rosemary Counter.
A decade ago, which might as well be a century in technology years, Michelle Titus was like many ﬁrst-year university students: away from home, stuck in a “teeny tiny, horrible” room, and living with a complete stranger she couldn’t stand.
In her defence, it was a bad match from the start. Titus was popular and outgoing, the soon-to-be relationship columnist at the University of Waterloo’s student paper. Her roommate was an introvert who’d wishfully described herself on her application as a “social butterﬂy.” “On paper, we should have been the best of friends,” says Titus, now 30. In real life, following some drama worthy of Mean Girls, they were estranged by the end of the year.
How one mother coped when her daughter left for school
From the Maclean’s University Rankings—on newsstands now. Story by Ellen Vanstone.
I wasn’t actually planning to attend college with my daughter Eliza when her acceptance letter arrived in the mail last spring. That would be creepy—like the mother in that Robert Munsch book who stalked her grown-up son, breaking into his house to cuddle him while he slept. I am perfectly aware that the parentally appropriate, non-crazy thing to do when your child leaves home is to let them go and have their own life.
And yet, I still felt there should be some kind of special dispensation in my case—since the school that accepted my child was the Savannah College of Art and Design, on the Savannah River, in Savannah, Ga.
Sues university for negligence
An American student who fell asleep drunk and woke up paralyzed after falling more than a metre from his dorm room bunk bed is now suing his school, Fordham University in the Bronx. Kei Usami, 20, smashed his head so hard that he fractured his spine, according to a the New York Post. His suit alleges the university was negligent for failing to put guardrails on the bed. The former tennis player is now in a wheelchair. He says his goal is to walk again by the time he graduates in 2013.
The perils of co-ed washrooms
From the 21st Maclean’s University Rankings. Get your copy today!
Some call it “the can,” others, the final frontier of gender equality: It’s the public washroom and it’s gone co-ed. Even though single-sex facilities are still the norm on the majority of Canadian university campuses, you’d be hard-pressed to find a school that doesn’t have at least one co-ed washroom—and it usually includes shower stalls. McGill, York University, the University of Toronto, Dalhousie, Mount Allison and the University of British Columbia are just a few of the “progressive” (or backwards, depending on your lavatorial leanings) co-ed washroom providers, earning the approval of campus feminists who view mixed facilities as a positive step towards full gender equality. Others, however, are not convinced. One 18-year-old Queen’s University psychology major says she was relieved to live in an all-girls dormitory solely because of the same- sex bathroom factor. Co-ed washrooms struck her as “grosser because boys used them,” says Jessica, now in her second year and living off-campus with a washroom of her own. “The girls’ ones were generally very clean.” Jessica would regularly make the five-minute walk back to her all-girls dorm from the co-ed dorm where many of her girlfriends lived, simply to avoid using the washrooms there. “It just smelled so much worse,” she says, before conceding, “maybe I just have bathroom phobia.”
Vindication for residence management at Alberta
There was high demand for alcohol-free and quiet floors at a University of Alberta residence that decided to offer them for the first time this year. That result seems to vindicate residence management, whose consultation process was criticized last year by the Lister Hall Student’s Association, reports The Gateway.
Among applicants to Lister Hall, 24 per cent requested an alcohol-free floor and 46 per cent requested a quiet floor. That’s similar to what Residence Services predicted using their consultation process, which included a survey that found 51 per cent of the 302 residents surveyed last year would opt for a quiet floor and 19 per cent would live on an alcohol-free floor. The process began after residence management noticed a great number of people were leaving Lister in the first semester and suspected it might be due to rowdy weekend nights. Then-LHSA-President Dustin Edwards suggested there were likely other reasons for the exodus.
Universities and parents have a duty to educate
From the editors of Maclean’s
Some predictions can be made with absolute certainty. The tides will shift. The sun will rise. And young university students will drink to excess.
From Tom Brown’s Schooldays to Animal House, exuberant drinking by underage students has long been a part of the experience of going away to school. Realistically, there is little society can do to change this fact of life. But what can we all do to cut down on the harm it may cause?
Last week, Canada’s university community was shocked by an orientation-week death at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. A first-year student from Calgary, just 19 years old, was found unconscious in a basement dorm room at the school suffering from severe alcohol poisoning. He later died in hospital. Fellow students told reporters he’d been playing a competitive drinking game called “flip cup” and had consumed an estimated 40 ounces of alcohol during the night.
This follows two student deaths at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., last year that the provincial coroner’s office attributed, in part, to a “culture of drinking on campus.” Both men, aged 18 and 19, fell to their deaths after drinking, one from a residence window, the other from the roof of a library.
The accidental death of a son or daughter is an unimaginable tragedy. But the death of a freshman student during their first few weeks away from home seems particularly difficult for any mother or father. While a university can never become a surrogate parent, it is nonetheless expected that campus residences will be a sufficiently safe place for teenaged students to live as they make their final strides to adulthood.
The recent deaths thus raise two difficult questions: who bears responsibility for instructing teenagers in the risks of alcohol abuse; and how should schools deal with students’ inevitable desire to party.
The obvious place to begin educating about alcohol is at home, as it is with most other topics. Someone needs to let every teenager know that drinking 40 ounces of alcohol in one night is reckless and dangerous behaviour, and parents are the obvious candidates. A full and frank discussion on drinking and its consequences is as necessary before heading off to school as packing sufficient underwear and pens.
In fact, many parents believe monitored underage drinking at home is the best way to teach teens about learning your limits. Depending on the situation and teen involved, this may make considerable sense, and be entirely legal. Of course there are serious risks to this sort of parental permissiveness as well. This month, an Orillia, Ont., mother found herself facing criminal charges in New York for providing alcohol to her 14-year-old son. After being served a few beers by his mother while camping, he wandered off at night and drowned.
As for universities, most now recognize an important obligation to protect the youngest students from their wildest instincts, at least during those first few days away from home. The initial week of school was once a time of unremitting partying. Today many universities have banned alcohol entirely from campus during this time. Most have also changed the name from frosh week to orientation week to make this distinction clear.
Going further, some forward-thinking universities have declared first-year residences to be dry throughout orientation week. The University of Guelph has had such a policy in place for the past two years. Where kids once showed up at university residence with a case of beer among their luggage, Brenda Whiteside, assistant vice-president for student affairs at Guelph, says those days are now over. The new week-long regime “sends a strong message about creating a new culture in our residences,” she says. During orientation week at Acadia, on-campus activities were alcohol-free, but the residences were not, as the flip cup games attest.
It seems reasonable that every Canadian university should set an appropriate tone for the school year by eliminating alcohol from first-year residences during orientation week. And some schools should be encouraged to experiment with the more drastic step of banning alcohol entirely from all first-year residences—particularly given that a large number of those students will be underage. This might even become a marketing advantage, at least from the perspective of nervous parents.
University students will drink, and it is naive to ignore this fact. But parents and universities—and the students themselves, who have an equal responsibility to look out for one another—must find ways to make our campuses safer, regardless of life’s inevitabilities.
Residences are full. Courses are too. Welcome to first year.
On your first day of class, you could find yourself scanning the room for an empty seat.
The University of Regina has grown by 11 per cent this year. The University of British Columbia (Okanagan) has grown 12 per cent year-over-year. And Ontario welcomed its biggest first-year class ever this fall.
Are universities ready for the students?
Some schools have planned for the growth. Although they have 400 more students than they expected, McMaster University has added extra classes and created more study spaces to cope.
Thomas Chase, Provost and Vice-President (Academic) at University of Regina, told Maclean’s On Campus that Regina is ready too. He said that class sections are not expected to get any larger and that residences are expected to be nearly full, but no first-years have been turned away.
Things haven’t gone as smoothly elsewhere. The University of Guelph had to set up a deal with the local Best Western hotel to provide dozens of students with rooms after its residences filled up to capacity. And although Carleton University opened the doors to its new residence building on Monday, the building will be under construction until at least the end of October. Many students who were promised a single room will find themselves with a roommate until the building is complete.
At the University of Alberta, some students complain that they are unable to enrol in mandatory classes after 300 extra students signed-up this year. There aren’t enough teachers to meet the demand.
But at least one school has a potential solution to the increase. Eric Bercier, of the University of Ottawa’s registrar’s office, said that his school raised admissions standards to cut down on the overwhelming number of applications it received this year. Even after hiring 250 new teachers in the past five years, there may not have been enough resources to go around. And so, they didn’t risk it.
Rudayna Bahubeshi is a fourth-year humanities student at Carleton University.
You’ve moved into residence. Now what?
1. Go downtown. Then find your way back.
You’ll end up downtown at some point. You may not be sober the first time. Spend some daylight hours riding the bus along the essential routes, so that you can find your way back in the dark. Write down the numbers of the bus routes that take you to the entertainment areas and back. Find out when the last bus leaves from downtown for the school. Look for landmarks near stops. Store the info in your phone or on paper in your wallet.
2. Pick up a free agenda
Most student unions hand out free agendas with important dates already printed in them. If you loathe paper, get one anyway and transfer the dates into your web calendar or smartphone.
Crunch results from 10 per cent year-over-year growth
Sixty-four University of Guelph students will be staying at the Best Western hotel this year.
Residences are full because more students than usual have accepted admission offers — 10.1 per cent more than last year. The school guarantees residence to all first-year students.
Best Western will rename a wing of the hotel Brock House. Students will pay Guelph the standard double-room rate of $5,640 for the eight-month school year, reports the Guelph Mercury.
A warning to first-year students
Residence has its upsides. You have a built-in social life, easy access to parties and somebody in your dorm is bound to have an Xbox. But here’s what else you have to look forward to:
1) You and your roommate aren’t just sharing a room.
You’re also sharing your food. And your toilet paper. And your toothbrush. Maybe in theory you don’t mind sharing your sleeping quarters and bathrooms with a complete stranger. But here’s the question that you need to ask yourself: will it bother you that Mr. Toothbrush is right next to Mr. Toilet? Every time they flush, your brush is in the blast radius. The lesson? Guard it closely.
2) 24-7 parties aren’t always a good thing.
American schools allow transitioning students to pick dorms
Ashley Gunn, the president of the University of South Florida’s (USF) gay student alliance, is applauding her school’s decision to allow transgender students to choose whether to live in a single room, with a friend of their choice, or be assigned randomly to a dorm room with a man or a woman.
But other students aren’t happy about the idea of sleeping next to someone who is physically the opposite sex, or whose gender is otherwise ambiguous. “I can’t imagine going into a room where I think that there is a woman, but it’s actually a man,” student Mohammad Noore told Miami TV station WTSP. “I’d be freaked out by it, creeped out by, maybe even a little disgusted.”
USF is not the first American school to make special provisions for GLBTTQ students who feel uncomfortable living with roommates of the same sex. Rutgers University in New Jersey began allowing students to live with the opposite sex if they so choose after Tyler Clementi, a gay student, committed suicide after repeated taunting from male roommates who exposed his homosexuality. Genderblind, an organization that advocates for gender-neutral campuses, lists 14 American universities with similar policies.
BC Human Rights Court says there was no discrimination
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has decided that the University of Victoria was right to evict Alkis Gerd’son, a 43-year-old man who lived on campus for more than two decades, but who left six months ago.* Gerd’son started at the school in 1988 and earned two bachelor’s degrees by the time he stopped taking classes in 1997. He then continued to live in residence until B.C. Supreme Court court ruled in late 2010 that he must leave his his one-bedroom apartment —- for which he had paid $655 a month until he stopped paying his rent altogether. The university told the tribunal that they allowed him to stay after graduation in 1997 “out of compassion,” because he has a mental disability, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and allergies. But they changed their minds and asked him to leave multiple times before taking him to court. Last week, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal heard his argument that he was discriminated against because of his disabilities. Barbara Humphreys, a tribunal member, concluded simply that his complaint “is not justified.” Either way, Gerd’son should have been able to afford to pay his rent — he has received disability and housing support cheques since 2004.
This article has been updated from an earlier version that incorrectly stated that Gerd’son was still living in residence at the time of the Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling.
Universities facing bedbug infestations
Dorms face a ‘major problem’ and when kids come home, you could too
Imagine you’re a bedbug—a creepy nocturnal creature, maybe no bigger than an apple seed, that craves human blood. Times are good for you right now in North America. DDT once rendered your species a distant memory, a revolting relic found only in children’s rhymes. But you’ve evolved immunity to the short-lived, environmentally friendly insecticides of today, and you’re on the march. So where would you prefer to nest and spread your progeny? You’d look for a communal setting, one where people are frequently moving and swapping furniture. Tidiness is a minus; substance-induced inertia a plus. The ideal host population would include sheltered young people who have never seen a bedbug or learned to recognize its excreta.
“Universities are in the line of fire,” declares Don McCarthy, president of Braemar Pest Control in Bedford, N.S., and board member of the Canadian Pest Management Association. “You’ve got transient populations. You’ve got a lot of the social aspects that come with being at university—your buddies come over and sleep over; everybody’s going back and forth to parties and study sessions. There is not a major university anywhere in North America that does not know this is a major problem, whether or not they have it.”
There is no evidence bedbugs can transmit disease, and their whole modus operandi is to be noticed as little as possible. But news of their presence can ward off visitors and clients as effectively as any plague—as retailers are discovering in New York City, where flagship stores for franchises such as Niketown and Victoria’s Secret have had to close temporarily to address infestations, and as Toronto learned in August when a mere Internet whisper had Toronto International Film Festival organizers double-checking venues.
News of on-campus infestations occasionally slips through to public notice. Ryerson University in Toronto has had intermittent problems dating back to at least 2006. The same is true of the University of Alberta, which had to evacuate and treat the entire 20-storey Newton Place residence in 2008. McGill was hit tornado-fashion in 2007 and 2008, with New Residence Hall, MORE House, and Solin Hall all affected. The University of Calgary admits to a steady “one or two cases per year,” according to spokesman Grady Semmens. Humber College in Toronto is following up a positive finding last month with a campus-wide sweep of residences using bedbug-detecting dogs.
At Simon Fraser University, bug-sniffer dogs have become a familiar sight; the school uses them pre-emptively, checking every residence once a year shortly after the start of classes. “SFU has not been immune to the bedbug problem,” says Chris Rogerson, associate director of residence life. “No multi-unit housing provider is.”
But Rogerson emphasizes that universities enjoy advantages that private apartments or social housing don’t. “Universities have departments like mine whose job is to educate tenants, dispel myths and misconceptions, and organize quick reactions to problems,” he observes. “We encourage early reporting, and our attitude is, address the bug, not the person.” That’s why the dogs are brought in after the students arrive. “We don’t get into saying, ‘Well, the unit was clean before you got here.’ The best defence is to make sure there’s no stigma attached, so students don’t decide to suffer in silence.”
Routine pre-emptive inspections are becoming part of the arsenal for many schools, according to Mike Goldman, owner of Toronto’s Purity Pest Control and a pioneer of bedbug training for dogs. “Universities have to deal with students, but ultimately they also have to deal with parents,” says Goldman. (Some of those parents may be worried about secondary infestations acquired on home visits; bedbugs aren’t avid travellers, but they can be transmitted in laundry or other personal effects, a potential worry as thousands head back home for Thanksgiving weekend.) “Nobody wants to get the ‘What kind of school are you running over there?’ call.” Dogs can detect live bedbugs super-accurately, but Goldman says they work better when students are given advance notice to tidy up and minimize distraction. “They’re bedbugs,” he says. “The dog and I have to be able to get to the bed.”
Campus residences are overflowing with crush of first-year students
Incoming students at Dalhousie University that were guaranteed a room in residence are out of luck as the school year starts. At least 75 students will have to sleep in common areas while the university finds a solution to an apparent overflow. It is a direct result of rising enrolment numbers, says Heather Sutherland, assistant vice-president ancillary services. “Dalhousie is thriving,” she said.
Many universities intentionally oversubscribe their residences, and temporary housing is common, as there are always a handful of students who change their minds, or simply don’t show up. What is notable at Dalhousie this year, is that the university is having difficulty accommodating first-year students who are guaranteed a room if they apply before August 1. It may take until Thanksgiving before the housing situation is sorted out. “Past practice has shown us they’re not sure where they want to live,” Sutherland said.
Dalhousie is just one of several universities across Canada that is experiencing a crush of first-year students wanting to live on campus. While final enrolment numbers are not yet available, universities are preparing for what could be a record year.
Similar to Dalhousie, the University of Western Ontario guarantees a room to all first-year students who apply, but has avoided having to resort to temporary housing, or a waiting list. With an extra 270 first-year students wanting a bed, a little over 100 will be housed in on campus apartments, normally reserved for upper-years students. The displaced older students are being moved to an apartment building just off campus that the university leased in anticipation of increased demand. “We know that first-year students want to be on campus,” Susan Grindrod, associate vice-president of housing, said.
At McGill University, the residence normally operates at 105 per cent capacity at the beginning of the year. This year they are running at 110 per cent. To accommodate for the overflow, and a general rise in demand in recent years, McGill has converted other areas, such as small study areas, into rooms. Additionally, the university has acquired three hotels, adding at least 800 rooms, to be converted to residences by September 2011.
Mike Porritt, executive director of student housing for McGill, says that while higher enrolment can partially explain the increase in demand for residence, it is the proximity to campus services that is attracting students. Students are closer to their classes and libraries, and can more easily form study groups. “We’re a part of the academic mission of the university,” he said. To back up that claim, he cites internal numbers that show first-year students living in residence boast grade point averages six per cent higher than their peers who live off campus. The retention rate, students who stay on for second year, is eight per cent higher for those who live on campus.
At the University of British Columbia, where demand has been straining the school’s resources for much of the past decade, a survey of 6,000 students last year revealed that 82 per cent recognize that it is profitable to live at school. “There seems to be a heightened understanding of the benefits of living on campus,” Andrew Parr, UBC’s managing director of student housing, said.
Across the city from UBC, Simon Fraser University takes a unique approach to campus housing. “We don’t oversubscribe,” says Chris Rogerson, associate director of residence. Instead, SFU only sends out as many offers as there are rooms available. Any offers that are declined are then sent to the next students on the list. In previous years, about 55 per cent accepted the first offer. This year the yield was closer to 65 per cent.
Not every university is experiencing rising demand for on campus living, however. York University has seen a steady decline, being unable to even fill existing rooms. In 2008, there were around 50 vacancies. Last year, there was approximately 150. This fall, Debbie Kee, director of housing, expects there to be 250 unfilled rooms. The decline is a combination of new housing developments around the campus, and the fact that York is a commuter school. Many students, who live in the Greater Toronto Area, who might have previously lived in residence, are choosing to stay home because of financial restraints. “Unfortunately it has left us a little shy,” Kee said.