All Posts Tagged With: "Simon Fraser University"
Photos of disrepair on campus don’t tell the whole story
Every Monday I teach in a classroom that, I must admit, is not my favourite. It has a dusty old chalkboard (I know, chalk!), and several ceiling tiles are missing. A couple of the windows are caked with so much salty residue that one can barely see through them, and a fluorescent light is burnt out. There are two lecterns in the room and both are broken—though one has been hastily repaired with a piece of cardboard.
It’s just not a great room in which to teach.
So I get the motivations of a new generation of staff and students seeking to shame their universities into improving facilities. One prof at Hunter College in New York started tweeting pictures of holes she saw on campus and now has a blog called Holes at Hunter. A similar blog, Classrooms of Shame, seeks to draw attention to such “deplorable conditions.” In Canada, too, blogs like I heart SFU show similar pictures and a prof at Memorial University recently went public with complaints about mould and asbestos on his campus.
If students text too much, they don’t learn independence
On any given day, sociology professor Barbara Mitchell and her 22-year-old daughter, who lives at home while attending university, will trade multiple text messages. They may be “just checking in” with each other, says Mitchell, or confirming one another’s safe arrival someplace, arranging care for the family pets or sharing humorous bits of information. “We’re very, very close. And she encourages me to text her,” says Mitchell, who teaches at Simon Fraser University. “I remember when I first got my smartphone, I was texting her a couple of times a day, and I didn’t want to come across like I’m this controlling mother who has to be in her life all the time. And she was like, ‘No, text me more!’ I was so surprised. I think it gives [kids] a sense of security.”
Mitchell’s concern is understandable; moms have long had a reputation for hovering over their children—the very word “mothering” is synonymous with “keeping tabs on.” But as Mitchell’s story shows, the parent-child paradigm is shifting, with many kids in their late teens and 20s now actively engaging in, and even initiating, frequent contact with their folks about everything from new recipes and music to relationship and academic problems. It’s a phenomenon Barbara Hofer, a psychology professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, has coined “the digital tether.” The term came to her while observing many students on their cellphones: “I was eavesdropping on these conversations and realizing that they weren’t just talking to their friends, they were talking to their parents—on the way to class, on the way to the gym, [as] they’d walk out of the dorm,” she recalls. “And texting has just added an additional layer of conversation.”
Concern grows about English proficiency on campus
At 23, Dalhousie University student Ishika Sharma speaks with such self-assurance and optimism, it’s hard to imagine how lost she felt in September 2012, when she arrived in Halifax from New Delhi. She recalls those early weeks in the YMCA’s international-student residence as a bleak period of culture shock and loneliness. “Oh my god, the international student housing was a weepfest for the first two months,” she says. Gradually, the closed doors of her neighbours would open, if only to share late-night hot chocolate and a bit of sympathy.
Sharma was more fortunate than most. While she grew up speaking Hindi and Punjabi, she arrived with a solid command of English, the language she used in most of the undergraduate courses in physiotherapy she studied in India. “Many of the students who joined the university with me were not well-versed in English,” she says. “They had trouble getting along with people in English. They had trouble asking for help, and that was a big reason why they did not socialize enough.”
Former Simon Fraser criminology student butchered cat and dog
VANCOUVER – A 23-year-old woman who was described by a psychiatrist as an “affectionless psychopath” after she butchered two family pets and expressed a desire to murder a homeless person has lost an appeal of a lifetime ban on owning animals.
Kayla Bourque has also failed to have a series of strict probation conditions lifted that prevent her from being around children or using the Internet.
The gruesome details of Bourque’s case made headlines in January of this year, when the provincial Justice Ministry issued a public warning that a dangerous, high-risk offender had been released and planned to live in the Vancouver area.
Bourque had pleaded guilty two months earlier to charges of causing suffering and unlawfully killing animals, admitting to killing a family cat and dog between 2009 and 2010. She also pleaded guilty to possessing a knife for a dangerous purpose.
Court decisions related to the case describe Bourque as a sexual sadist with antisocial personality disorder who finds joy in torturing and killing animals. She is an “affectionless psychopath” who isn’t able to show affection or concern for others, according to those decisions, and she has expressed no remorse.
Simon Fraser Student Society promotes big campus show
Simon Fraser University, atop Burnaby Mountain in suburban Vancouver, “has a bit of a reputation as a commuter school where there’s not a lot of fun,” says Christina Guan, who does social media for the Simon Fraser Student Society. “A lot of students, especially new students, feel there’s not a lot of school spirit,” adds the third-year communications major. One reason it suffers, she says, is orientations without huge shows to cap them off, unlike at the nearby University of British Columbia, which has always had a big Firstweek finale (this year included; Kid Cudi’s on the bill). So when Guan heard the SFSS was planning its biggest-everFall Kickoff show and DJ contest, featuring Mat Zo, Dzeko & Torres and CLMD, she saw a chance to turn things around by getting as many students as possible to attend the show. Her approach was to create a YouTube video of people dressed as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers dancing around campus. The TV show, which first aired 20 years ago this week, is something she says most of 2013′s frosh can relate to. Go Go Guan!
Students programming at university level
When Robert Arkiletian heard Google was interested in interviewing him for a computer programming job, he wasn’t interested.
He told the Google recruiter, who found Arkiletian’s work posted in online forums, that he wasn’t the type of person the company was looking for and that he already had a job he loved.
He’s known as “Mr. Ark” to the students he teaches computer programming to at Eric Hamber Secondary School, where programming prodigies are winning national competitions and 17-year-old whiz kids are confused with graduate-level computer scientists.
“I’ve got the best job in the world,” Arkiletian said. “When I get up in the morning and come to work, I’m going to work to have fun. In some ways I’m not that different from the kids. I’m still a kid at heart.
Simon Fraser researchers part of team
A team of North American scientists has cracked a particularly-complex genetic code that reveals ethnicity may determine how well a person is able to fend off diseases such as HIV or the common flu.
Five scientists from Simon Fraser University were among those who found a link between race and antibodies, the culmination of years of research that may have implications in the way doctors treat patients.
The team found certain ethnicities have missing or added DNA links, a factor that could influence immunity to certain diseases, said Corey Watson, one of the team’s 14 researchers.
What students are talking about today (April 5th)
1. A new database from the Vancouver Sun shows the salaries of all public sector employees in British Columbia who earned more than $75,000 in 2011-12. The University of British Columbia dominates the first few pages of the post-secondary salaries section. Stephen Toope, president of the University of British Columbia, was the highest paid at $531,088. The University of Victoria’s David Turpin was the second-highest-paid president on the list (and fifth overall) at $430,760. Simon Fraser University’s Andrew Petter took home $396,837. The University of Northern British Columbia’s George Iwama made $273,488. Ontario’s public salary disclosure recently revealed that the highest paid president in that province is Amit Chakma of Western University, who earned $479,600 plus benefits in 2012.
2. Montreal police are defending the decision to charge a 20-year-old student protester with criminal harassment after she posted an image of graffiti on Instagram. The image Jennifer Pawluck shared showed police spokesperson Ian Lafreniere with bullet hole in his head. The arrest drew outrage along the lines of, “arrested for taking a photo!?” Police say there’s more to the story.
What students are talking about today (March 26th)
1. The Seattle rapper Macklemore, known for his mega-hit Thrift Shop, in which he rhymes about the deals at Value Village and raiding your grandparents’ closets, has made cheap clothing stores fashionable. In Calgary, local bars recently hosted a ‘Value Village’ formal and one graduate of SAIT who opened a consignment shop told The Weal student newspaper that it’s now a cool business to be in. The thrift shop phenomenon was also explored in The Athenaeum.
2. A Simon Fraser University sorority, Kappa Beta Gamma, has caused outrage by naming a pub night “G.I. Joes and Army Hoes.” Gloria Mellesmoen, writing in The Peak student newspaper isn’t happy that women are labelled “hoes.” She argues the theme is wrong too. “War should not be glorified or sexualized. I highly doubt anyone who has had to fight for their country would appreciate their work being represented as a sexy costume by a bunch of drunk university students.” She goes on to add, “I can say with the utmost confidence that I will never join a group that would call its membership and supporters ‘hoes.’”
Five things students are talking about today (February 20th)
1. Elisa Lam, a University of British Columbia student reported missing Jan. 31st, has been found dead inside a water tank atop a Los Angeles skid row hotel. A hotel worker discovered the body while investigating complaints of low water pressure, reports to The Canadian Press. Guests told reporters gathered outside that they were disgusted by the idea they were possibly drinking water from the tank, reports CBC News. Lam, who was vacationing alone in California, was last seen on Jan. 31st in the hotel elevator. There were reports she was acting strangely.
2. The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ list of ways to deter a sexual assault includes the following tips: “Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating,” and “Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.” The list was widely criticized by conservative and liberals pundits alike (finally—they agree!) on Twitter before the university took it down. The university says the list, which was first published in 2006 and provided to women who took a self-defense class, was taken out of context.
What students are talking about today (February 4th)
1. It’s not just teacher’s college where the number of applicants is falling. Law schools in the United States are in crisis mode after statistics from the Law School Admission Council show that the number of applicants dropped 20 per cent from last year after falling 14 per cent the year before. In Canada the number of applicants is down four per cent, which is certainly not a crisis and may even be good news considering there is a small shortage of articling positions. Bill Flanagan, president of the Canadian Council of Law Deans, offered Canadian Lawyer Magazine his assessment. “On average, tuition at Canadian law schools is much more affordable than many U.S. law schools,” he said, adding, “the job market for Canadian law grads is better in many Canadian legal markets than it is for U.S. law grads in many U.S. legal markets.”
What students are talking about today (January 9th)
1. A student newspaper blog has taken a swipe at a video parody of the MTV stunt show Jackass made by the University of British Columbia’s Chinese Varsity Club.”It’s mostly some dudes standing on a dock performing tame hijinks. Cinnamon eating! Purple Nerples! Syrup chugging! HILARIOUS. (The part where they shoot bare asses with a B.B. gun is a little less tame, I guess.),” wrote Andrew Bates of The Ubyssey. That might be a little unfair to these guys, who are trying hard to walk the fine line between funny and irresponsible. Then again, they deserve any criticism they get after uploading it to YouTube.
2. Sam Minniti, executive director of the McMaster Association of Part-time Students, was paid $126,151 in 2011, according to the provincial public salary disclosure list. (McMaster University included him on their submission to the Ontario government because they process his pay). The Hamilton Spectator newspaper notes that many of his counterparts are paid much less. Sandy Hudson, executive director at the much larger University of Toronto’s student union, told The Spectator she makes “less than half” as much. The university has withheld part-time student fees this year while it looks into MAPS more closely.
SFU researchers use high-speed cameras to observe mating
Biologists have discovered that a species of fast-flying male wasp uses some smooth moves to build harems of female lovers.
A team of biologists from Simon Fraser University used high-speed cameras to record and observe the mating rituals of the tiny parasitic wasps, Ooencyrtus kuvanae.
Lead researcher Kelly Ablard says the female wasps emerge from their eggs sexually mature and looking for love. Lusty little buzzers are at the ready.
Female wasps mate just once in their four- to six-week lifetimes, Ablard says, and so it is that the wasps’ mating ritual bares a striking resemblance to a nightclub at midnight.
“Females of this species only mate once and they mate when they emerge… and the males at this point only really have one opportunity to get a female and mate with her,” says Ablard, whose research appears in the latest edition of the journal Behavioural Processes.
Simon Fraser film student learns plenty from his quest
Ian MacDougall’s cross-border odyssey to track down one of Hollywood’s premier heavyweights may have turned him into a short-term online sensation, but continues to prove that brushes with true stardom are far more fleeting.
Months after the 22-year-old film student teamed up with a friend to convince Morgan Freeman to narrate a class project, he’s still chasing the goal that sent him on his madcap adventure in the first place.
MacDougall plans to devote part of the upcoming year to sifting through the hours of footage he gathered last April on his quest to track Freeman down. He and collaborator MacKenzie Warner are ultimately hoping the 20-minute short film they cobbled together in less than a day can be turned into a full-length documentary, ideally featuring a voiceover from the film industry’s consummate narrator.
From the turmoil of Quebec to the rise of the West
It was a record year for Maclean’s On Campus with more readers than ever, but perhaps that’s unsurprising considering how much there was to talk about. Based on clicks and comments, here are the top five campus news stories of 2012.
1. Quebec student groups helped toss a government and won a tuition freeze.
In March, Quebec student groups declared war on a planned tuition hike of roughly $2,000 over five years. By April, students at 11 of Quebec’s 18 universities and 14 of its 48 CEGEPs had declared “strikes” and were skipping classes. There were nightly marches in Montreal that made life miserable for many who lived and worked downtown. Students who dared go to classes, even after judges orders allowing them to return, were stopped by masked protesters. The nightly marches started turning violent and threatened the tourism industry. Something had to be done.
Maple Batalia, 20 years of txts & another fraternity offends
1. Two men have been arrested in connection with last year’s shooting death of 19-year-old Simon Fraser University student and aspiring actress Maple Batalia. Gurjinder Dhaliwal, Batalia’s ex boyfriend, faces first degree murder charges. More here.
2. Iman Siwalem was in the basement of her house near the University of Windsor on Saturday when she heard the footsteps of an intruder above. She locked herself in her basement room, but the man barged in, lunged and chased her up the stairs. She fled in bare feet and got her neighbours’ attention. More here.
3. It was 20 years ago today that the world’s first text message—Merry Christmas—travelled from a computer to a phone. Its inventor, Neil Papworth, was a 22-year-old Montreal man working for British telecom company Vodafone. To read more about how texts changed the world, see Maclean’s.
Maple Batalia was killed last year
The sister of a 19-year-old student who was shot in a university parkade in Surrey, B.C., last year says her family can finally start to grieve now that two men have been charged with the crime.
“This isn’t an easy day for us,” Rosie Batalia told a news conference Saturday, when charges were laid in the death of Maple Batalia.
“We’re just hoping that Maple will finally be at peace,” said Batalia, who called the arrest bittersweet.
Twenty-year-old Gurjinder Dhaliwal, known as Gary, was charged with first-degree murder and his 22-year-old associate Gursimar Bedi was charged with manslaughter, using a firearm and being an accessory after the fact.
Police would not comment on whether Dhaliwal was Batalia’s ex-boyfriend, only that investigators knew about both men from the beginning of their 14-month investigation.
Elizabeth May, Black Friday, possible hate crime in The Soo
1. Tomorrow is Black Friday, the annual sporting event during which Americans violently trample and pepper spray each other at Best Buy and Target, all for the thrill of scoring a cheap flatscreen TV. As a Canadian, I thought this was a day to look down on those south of the border with smug indignation, but, as Edward Keenan points out, 650,000 people from Ontario alone—more than the total number who watched Hockey Night in Canada during the 2010 playoffs—will head south looking for deals. And it turns out our own lust for bargains may be hurting our economy.
3. Someone poured water on an international student from Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. and shouted “Go back to your own country,” reports the Sault Star. Police are investigating it as a hate crime. It happened, ironically, near a sign boasting of The Soo’s friendliness.
SAIT’s two-drink limit, bedbugs & Transgender Day
1. In case you needed more evidence that binge drinking is a pervasive problem on Canadian campuses consider this: SAIT in Calgary is imposing a new rule on the student-owned pub that limits patrons to two drinks before 3 p.m. and outlaws mid-day shooters, reports CBC.
2. Ryerson is the latest school to deal with a bedbug epidemic in student residences. The university has eight confirmed cases so far this year, reports The Ryersonian. As Maclean’s discovered two years ago, the problem is fairly common across Canada. Here are five things you should know about these biting beasts.
3. Despite the fact that Hamas, the terrorist group that runs Gaza, celebrated the bombing of a city bus in Tel Aviv that injured 22 people, a cease-fire with Israel was announced Wednesday in Cairo.
Millions could be generated by taxing marijuana
It’s a bounty that almost does grow on trees.
A new study has rung in British Columbians’ pot purchases at about half a billion dollars each year, leading its pro-legalization researchers to argue current laws mean the province is missing an opportunity to harvest tax revenues.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University have quantified the retail value of black market marijuana sold only to British Columbians for the first time, pegging its value at between $443 million and $564 million annually.
“What’s important is to get a sense of how many people are using marijuana in B.C., and how much they’re using, and how much that’s worth,” said Dan Werb, the study’s lead author and co-founder of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy. “That data drives policy.”