All Posts Tagged With: "St. Francis Xavier University"
‘U4 League’ highlights benefits of eastern schools
If you’re a high school student in Alberta or Saskatchewan, I bet you can’t tell me where Bishop’s, Mount Allison, Acadia or St. Francis Xavier are located. That’s a shame considering they’re all ranked in the top half of their category in the Maclean’s University Rankings.
The presidents of all four institutions have just announced a new group they’ve formed, the U4 League, which will spread the word out about these lesser-known campuses located in rural New Brunswick (Mount A.), Nova Scotia (Acadia and St. FX) and Quebec (Bishop’s).
The U4 isn’t just about spreading the word. These presidents want to provide more opportunities to their students than are currently possible with populations of fewer than 4,500 students apiece. They also want to share information to cut costs.
The plan, though short on details, seems smart. Small enrollments are both the greatest assets and biggest curses of these schools. The U4 will show off the benefits and counteract the weaknesses.
When a university is as small as these four (a rarity in Canada, though more common in the U.S.), there are obvious benefits. The bread and butter of undergraduate education—communication skills, critical thinking skills and group work skills—appear to be better delivered in small classes on small campuses, at least according to the results of the National Survey of Student Engagement.
These are truly universities where professors know most of their students’ names. (They’re also universities where students are unable to avoid past romantic partners, but never mind that.) As Michael Goldbloom, principal of Bishop’s, points out, many Canadian students are “living on transit.” The U4 students, meanwhile, are living on campus seven days per week. Seven days sounds impressive. At the University of Guelph, a school bigger than the U4 combined, my younger brother says it’s so crowded that he only went to campus a couple days per week last semester.
Being small is a weakness too, however. It means limited course offerings, fewer potential dates and fewer choices in general. The U4 might overcome this somewhat with their combined population of 12,500. If one school has a field trip to Malawi, students from the other three campuses might tag along. If one has a course in American history, students from other campuses could take that class remotely. Purchasing power and marketing expenses can be shared too, keeping costs down.
Marketing is especially pressing for the U4. Although they’ve managed to grow in recent years, they’re in regions like Nova Scotia where the pool of applicants is small and expected to decline. Each campus already gets about half of its students from other provinces and that ratio will need to grow just to maintain current populations. The U4 also wants to become better known internationally since foreign students pay big bucks that can somewhat offset declining funding.
Most interesting is that the U4 project trumpets a “teaching focus.” Students might assume all universities are teaching-focused, but that’s not exactly true. U4 professors participate in research, but it’s less of a priority on their campuses than at McGill or Toronto, where 600-seat lecture halls can make undergraduates feel like low priorities compared to research and graduate students.
Of course, some undergraduates are fine with big classes so long as they’re near the action of a research-intensive school. That makes the U4 League a good reminder that there are trade-offs when choosing a university. It’s best to consider all the options and pick what’s right for you.
What students are talking about today (March 5th)
1. Carly Rae Jepsen, the 27-year-old Canadian singer, has cancelled a performance at the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree in July because the Scouts still ban gay members. In a series of Tweets she wrote: “As an artist who believes in equality for all people, I will not be participating in the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree this summer. I always have and will continue to support the LGBT community on a global level and stay informed on the ever changing landscape in the ongoing battle for gay rights in this country and across the globe.” This seems like a smart move.
2. It’s Israel Apartheid Week again and both Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney and Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned the annual hate-fest on Monday. So did at least one student op-ed, in Trent University’s Arthur, whose author argues the term apartheid is inaccurate. There was also a review of a film that compares Israel and apartheid South Africa in The Concordian. Here’s part of Kenney’s statement, which one might call overheated, even though he makes a valid point:
What students are talking about today (February 22nd)
1. Students at Brandon University were excited for some metal after KISS frontman Gene Simmons posted earlier this month on his website that the band would play July 18th in the Wheat City. Both The Quill and the Brandon Sun reported the news but now the date has now disappeared from Simmons’ website and it’s unclear whether they’re even coming. This may not seem like a big deal to most of us, but it shows how desperate students in small cities are for entertainment.
2. Here’s disturbing news. Daniel Younis, 24, was Recruiting Coordinator and Running Back coach for the York University Lions football team when he was arrested this month for luring a child under 18 and attempting to make child pornography following Internet chats with a 16-year-old boy.
What students are talking about today (February 19th)
1. Brandon University student Mason Kaluzniak left this weekend’s basketball game with free tuition to his Manitoba school. In the season’s final Shoot-out for Tuition contest he was drawn at random and asked to either take a half-court shot himself or assign it to someone else. He choose to give Bobcats Head Coach Gil Cheung a try, who sunk it and won the big prize for Kaluzniak. The video has been shared around the globe and has more than 1.3 million views on YouTube.
2. University of British Columbia Athletics has mandated sensitivity training for 29 student athletes who participated in the @UBCDimeWatch Twitter account that surfaced in 2012, reports The Ubyssey. DimeWatch posted creepy photos of UBC women—a “dime” is slang for a female with looks that are ‘a perfect 10′—and disappeared after being linked to a hockey player in October. Eight of the 29 were deemed in breach of the Student Code of Conduct and some have been suspended from their teams. Athletics isn’t releasing names, however. Litsa Chatzivasileiou, a gender instructor, criticized that choice. “I don’t understand why there’s so much secrecy behind it,” she told The Ubyssey. “If you don’t publicize this, the broader community still feels unsafe.”
3. Here’s another creepy story. A hidden camera was discovered in a co-ed washroom at Queen’s University’s Victoria Hall on Feb. 13, reports the Queen’s Journal. The camera was disguised as a towel hook inside a shower. It was removed, all other residence washrooms were checked and Kingston Police are investigating. No Secure Digital card was found in the camera and an e-mail to staff said it would be “inappropriate” to disclose whether any images were found by police.
4. Students at St. Francis Xavier University are back in class today after a three-week strike that started on Jan. 28. The tentative deal for staff includes an eight per cent salary increase over four years and improvements to job security and health benefits for part-time contract workers and full-time employees, according to CTV News. The student union is already looking for some kind of compensation for missed time. The deal includes five teaching days added to the school year.
5. The University of Regina has opened 10 gender-neutral washrooms on campus by tacking signs on wheelchair accessible single-stall bathrooms that read: “This washroom may be used by any person regardless of gender identity or expression.” Mikayla Schultz, president of the TransSask Support Services, supported the partly symbolic change. Schultz is undergoing a gender transition and told CBC News that the women’s washroom was never comfortable. Other universities in Canada, including the University of Victoria, have a limited number of gender-neutral stalls.
Students pay the price for high compensation
As Canadian universities continue to pay the most generous compensation to their professors in the world, something is going to have to give. Mix this with pensions that are sometimes worth more than the paycheque of professors in the U.S. and U.K. and it’s a recipe for budgetary disaster.
St. Francis Xavier University is the most recent university staff to go on strike, cancelling classes for more than 4,000 students. Pay and the contracting of term professors are some of the justifications offered by the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT).
According to Statistics Canada’s 2011 report, assistant professors at St. FX made a median of $74,377 in 2010-11 while full professors earned a median of $123,673. The average assistant professor’s salary nationwide was $91,035 and the average full professor’s salary was $143,366. That’s far higher than most Canadians will ever earn.
As the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance reported in a 2011 study, new funds for teaching staff there are mostly going to current professors, so it’s not as if students are benefiting.
Classes cancelled as professors picket over pay
“We want to reclaim this university,” says St. Francis Xavier Association of University Teachers president Peter McInnis. That’s the message that faculty members carried as they took to the picket lines Monday commencing an unprecedented strike at the campus in Antigonish, N.S.
After eight months of talks, the administration and union failed to reach an agreement on pay and other issues. In the last round of bargaining faculty proposed a 9.3 per cent wage increase over three years, according to the AUT. The administration offered 6.2 per cent over four years.
According to Statistics Canada’s 2011 report, assistant professors at St. FX made a median of $74,377 in 2010-11 while full professors earned a median of $123,673. The average assistant professor’s salary nationwide was $91,035 and the average full professor’s salary was $143,366.
Professors, lab instructors, librarians and writing center workers all hit the pavement at 7:30 a.m. Monday forcing the postponement of classes for the foreseeable future and causing uncertainty for the school’s more than 4,000 students.
What students are talking about today (January 28th)
1. McGill University’s new president has already cost at least $178,690 and he or she hasn’t even been named. Headhunting firm Odgers Berndtson billed that much for four months of work in 2012, reports McGill Daily. Of that amount, $71,000 was for advertisements. The information came from an Access to Information request, the type of request McGill has recently tried to limit.
2. Carleton University’s Love of Liberty Society, a group that supports “free markets and free speech,” has launched a campaign encouraging students to opt out of a $6.84 levy that goes to the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) chapter on campus. Love of Liberty says students shouldn’t be funding such a politically-charged group. Students can opt out, but they only have a week to do so each year and Love of Liberty claims OPIRG makes it difficult. Yafa Jarrar, programming coordinator for OPIRG, told The Charlatan that the group is “non-partisan,” and that it does support students who wish to opt out. OPIRG has funded recent events like “On Turtle Island: Dialogue Between Black and First Nations Womyn” and Students Against Israeli Apartheid.
The labour minister on ’80s hair and staying close to home
The 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings asked some of Canada’s most successful writers, politicians and scientists what they wish they’d known in university. Their answers are perfect additions to our First Year Survivor blog. Here, Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt offers her advice.
I graduated from an all-girls Catholic school and I decided to do a year—before I moved away—at University College of Cape Breton, now called CBU. At the time they were not allowed to give full science degrees in what I wanted to study, which was chemistry, so I knew I would do one or two years there then transfer.
My first year, I worked at our local Dairy Queen and I lived at home so it was very much like being in high school but the academics were a lot more difficult. One embarrassing thing: first-year university, here I’m going to be in class with boys for the first time and I get the worst haircut and perm you can imagine. It was absolutely horrendous. In the ’80s we did the perm thing and I was like Olivia Newton John on steroids. It took me a long time with that bad hair to get a boyfriend in university and I’ve been terrified of getting my hair cut ever since.
The (surprisingly) most-read stories of 2011
Each year, we offer Maclean’s On Campus readers a look back at the Top 10 most-read higher education news stories of the year. There were two big themes in 2011. First, the many scandals over universities’ reputations, from Alberta to Queen’s to St. FX. Second, uncertainty about the job market for grads.
1. Time for this year’s edition of X-ring Idol
Our blogging English professor, Todd Pettigrew, dared to compare the obsession of St. Francis Xavier students with their beloved X-ring to Gollum’s unhealthy quest for the precious. We knew St. FX students would defend their tradition vociferously—and they did, with more than 250 comments over three days. Most were from alumni and students who thought Pettigrew missed the point. They argued that the ring symbolizes their hard work and the family-like bond they instantly glean whenever a fellow X-grad catches a glimpse of their band. Then again, dozens of readers agreed with Pettigrew—some even suggested the flood of emotional reactions reinforced his point.
A coast-to-coast round-up of remembrance
On this date in 1989, a young man named Marc Lepine rounded up women at the Ecole Polytechnique engineering school in Montreal and opened fire, killing 14 females and injuring 14 others before turning the gun on himself. In his suicide note, he blamed women for his problems.
Since 1991, Dec. 6 has been The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Across Quebec today, survivors of the shooting will gather with activists and ask the Quebec government to sue the Canadian government over Bill C-19, which will abolish the long-gun registry and—they say— allow more violence against women to occur.
Here are a few of the ways universities across the country are marking the sombre occasion.
A fine university deserves better than this: Pettigrew
There’s a lot I like about St. Francis Xavier University. Its pleasant campus, the small town charm of Antigonish, its rich history. But the ridiculous obsession that the university and its alumni have with their university ring…
Yes, it’s December again, and that means it’s time for the annual X-ring ceremony at the storied Nova Scotia campus. If you don’t live in the Maritimes, it’s hard to imagine how crazy people are for this ring. The University has multiple web pages devoted to it, complete with close-up glamour shots that look like they were taken for a Mercedes-Benz advertisement. Graduates await the ceremony like kids awaiting Christmas, and like so many Gollums out of Tolkein, they count the days til they can get their hands on the precious, the precious.
That mysterious substance guidance counsellors call ‘fit’ is not so mysterious anymore.
Deanna Jarvis, the 19-year-old first-year student on our cover, says she knows the University of Guelph is the right place for her. She’s just not sure why. Maybe it’s the gold and red leaves that litter the campus in the fall. She could never live in a concrete jungle, she says. Perhaps it’s that Guelph offers a rare major (adult development, families and wellbeing) that will teach her how to help people. “I just like to listen to friends and help them,” she says. Or maybe it’s that Guelph is a big enough school to keep famous playwrights like Judith Thompson on staff. Jarvis, a parttime actor, is a huge Thompson fan. Whatever the reason, Guelph just seems to fit.
Parents, students, university presidents and even education marketers are trying to nail down exactly what makes a school fit. Traditionally, school size and city size were the shorthand for determining where a particular student should go. Big schools offer more cultural opportunities; tiny schools offer more personal interaction, or so the theory goes. Those rules still apply, but sociologist James Côté, of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont., has found another predictor for what he calls the “goodness of fit.” His research found students do best when their inner motivations match what the environment has to offer.
Tom Traves, president of Dalhousie University, agrees that students should look inward to determine the best school for them. “For some students it will be a small, intimate, collegial environment,” says Traves. “For other students, their personalities will be sufficiently expansive and their strength of purpose and needs will be such that going to a small environment will be too much like an extension of high school.”
Côté would agree, but says university officials are not the only people to ask. “You’ll have to do the digging yourself,” he says. Some “universities don’t want to alienate prospective students who aren’t the right fit,” he explains. “Because they’re funded by tuition and the number of bums in seats.”
Assuming they’re not going to university because of parental pressure, most students have one of three motivations, according to Côté: the “personal and intellectual” motivation, the “career and materialism” motivation, or the “humanitarian” motivation.
For the student whose goal is to develop personally and intellectually, a small liberalarts oriented school is best, he says. “A good liberal arts education really requires smaller class sizes, so you can have seminars and contact with faculty,” he explains. “You’ll also be required to do more public speaking and writing. A large school simply can’t do this.” St. Francis Xavier in Antigonish, N.S., and Quest University in Squamish, B.C., are examples of schools where students seeking personal and intellectual growth will find it, he says.
Large, reputable schools like McGill and the University of Toronto fit students who are personally and intellectually motivated, says Côté, but be sure “you’re outgoing or able to work on your own.” Students who choose the school primarily for its reputation, says Côté, need to remember that “they may never see any of the profs that make those schools famous.”
The second type of student, the “careeristmaterialist,” is someone who wants a degree mainly for the job and prestige. “The careeristmaterialist might fit at schools that are vocationally oriented,” says Côté. “We’re going that direction at Western,” he says, giving the example of the increasing popularity of degrees like the bachelor of management and organizational studies over the traditional broad B.A.
The third (and more rare) motivation to study is altruism. Côté offers King’s University College (a Western affiliate) as a good fit for the “humanitarianism-motivated” student, because of its social justice focus.
Ken Steele, an education marketing expert, agrees with Côté that universities themselves are unlikely to help you determine fit. Most universities are still trying to be “everything to everyone,” he says. However, he has seen a few encouraging examples of schools that are marketing with “goodness of fit” in mind. “Acadia [in Wolfville, N.S.] actually says it’s not for everyone,” explains Steele. “They want students to know they’re coming to a small town and that’s going to be a shock for some of them.”
William Barker, president of the University of King’s College in Halifax (an even smaller school than Acadia), suggests visiting as many schools as possible, sitting in on lectures, and staying overnight with a friend.
That’s advice Côté wants parents to hear. He says more parents should encourage their offspring to explore far and wide; too often they encourage offspring to choose the closest school to home in order to save money. “You may save a lot financially in the short run, but you will have lost in the long run,” he says. If a person fails at university because it’s the wrong fit, they risk losing millions of dollars in lifetime earnings, he explains—and it’s not a cheap investment. “If parents were forking out this kind of money in the stock market or real estate, they’d look at it much more carefully,” says Côté.
Of course, not everyone can afford to fly around the country to research each school. That’s why Maclean’s asked successful students from four schools exactly what makes their university the right fit for them. Their answers prove just how important it is for future students to ask themselves who they are and why they want a degree. Why? Just ask Côté. “If you don’t develop goals of what you want to get out of university, you potentially squander the most transformative experience of your life.”
With Cameron Ainsworth-Vincze
Student council wants to repeal automatic naming of bishops as chancellor of St. FX
Student council at St. Francis Xavier University is expressing opposition to the automatic appointment of the Bishop of Antigonish as chancellor of the Nova Scotia school. Members of the council voted 14-1 this week against the practice.
The process for appointing the chancellor, the honorary head of the school, is enshrined in the university’s bylaws. Council president Sam Mason will present the student position at the upcoming board of governors meeting. The board of governors is the only body capable of repealing or amending the bylaws. Such changes require a majority vote of the members present at any annual meeting of the board. The next general meeting is Oct. 8.
A group called the Movement to Stop the Automatic Appointment of the Chancellor has been active in the university community over the past year.
“Our movement has used informal and formal internal processes to inform the administration that the relevant bylaws contravene the university’s own discrimination policy as well as the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act,” says the group’s Cam Fleming. “That the board of governors has not taken action to amend this process is a shame given the values of equality, social justice and inclusion at this university.”
The Canadian press
Riiny Ngot’s incredible journey from war-torn Sudan to St. FX
Where are we going? Riiny Ngot admits thinking to himself about 45 minutes into the two-hour drive from the Halifax airport to St. Francis Xavier University, his rural Nova Scotia home for the next three years. We’re in the middle of nowhere.
Dramatic change, however, has long been a fact of life for the towering 21-year-old basketball centre, who begins his career in the CIS, the Canadian university league, this fall. Riiny, who is seven foot two—a foot taller than the team average, and the tallest player in the league—is also part of a remarkable group of refugees. They are known as the Lost Boys of Sudan. Starting in the late 1980s, some 25,000 children who had been orphaned or separated from their parents crossed the country seeking refuge from Sudan’s raging civil war. That conflict—one of the last century’s most brutal—pitted the northern Muslim government against the mostly Christian south, and ultimately claimed two million lives.
Psychologists who documented the Lost Boys’ exposure to death and violence place them among the most badly war-traumatized children ever examined. For Riiny, who is gentle and soft-spoken, lily-white scars on his legs and arms are only the physical reminders of the war. He aches, all the time, for the family it took from him.
When Riiny was 11, fighting exploded in the southern city of Wau, where he grew up. He was nearby, at his grandparents’ farm tending to a newborn calf, and he ran home, passing scores of dead and wounded, to find his house in flames. Amid the crackle of gunfire, he could hear Akuol, his eight-year-old sister, screaming from inside. Tearing through the house, he found her hidden in a closet. They escaped just before their home collapsed.
There was no sign of their parents, so they left Wau, crossing the country’s war-ravaged southern flank and joining other children who were fleeing the fighting. They travelled under cover of darkness—and not just to escape the 40-degree heat. Almost anyone they encountered—government troops, rebel soldiers or rival tribes—was a likely threat: Akuol could have been enslaved or forced to become a rebel wife, while Riiny, who already stood six foot three, was ripe for recruitment by the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army. (Thousands of children also died from starvation, dehydration, animal attacks and disease.)
For most of the month-long journey, Riiny carried Akuol, who was frightened and tired. When it came to crossing the rain-swollen Gilo River to safety in Ethiopia, he tied her to his back using a T-shirt, and dove deep to avoid the river’s strong top currents. As they surfaced, Riiny heard his best friend, who had been travelling with them, screaming in terror: he was being attacked by a crocodile. Hundreds died that day, lost to animal attack and drowning, says Riiny. Others remember the river streaked with red, the blood of lost friends.
Three members of university basketball team will be tried together in court Nov. 26
Three members of a Nova Scotia university men’s basketball team will be tried together on all charges stemming from an altercation.
The charges against the players from St. Francis Xavier University were laid after an incident in Antigonish in February that sent a man to hospital.
In court Monday, Judge John Embree ordered that an additional charge against Tyler Richards, 23, of Dartmouth, N.S., will be heard at a trial tentatively scheduled for Nov. 26.
That’s the same date when all three players will be tried on one count each of assault causing bodily harm.
Richards’ second charge is one count of threatening to use a knife while committing an assault.
Also charged in the case are Eamon Morrissy, 19, of Halifax and William Dunkoh, 19, of Nepean, Ont.
The matter will come back to court July 13, when Morrissy will enter a plea to the charge and the trial date will be confirmed.
Dunkoh and Richards earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges.
- The Canadian Press
Two more elections to note. Voter turnout at UBC was only 1214.4 per cent. The winner of the presidential race, Blake Frederick, was disqualified by the Elections Committee for “slate-like” behaviour. The Alma Mater Society at UBC banned slates a few years ago, a good background article on the ban was published in The Ubyssey [...]
Two more elections to note.
Voter turnout at UBC was only
1214.4 per cent.
The winner of the presidential race, Blake Frederick, was disqualified by the Elections Committee for “slate-like” behaviour. The Alma Mater Society at UBC banned slates a few years ago, a good background article on the ban was published in The Ubyssey this week. (I’m planning to write on the slate-ban this weekend)
Turnout at Ryerson was up, but still very low by national standards at 14 per cent. (Thanks to Cassandra Jowett for noting this in a comment on my blog)
Voter turnout at St. Francis Xavier remains the envy of every campus in Canada with an amazing 60.
24 per cent.
Sanctions imposed against ten St. Francis Xavier University have been lifted after court settlement was reached between them and the university. The student allegedly engaged in a hazing incident and plead guilty during an internal hearing in the fall. The students were punished with a fine, banned from the campus pub and not allowed to [...]
Sanctions imposed against ten St. Francis Xavier University have been lifted after court settlement was reached between them and the university.
The student allegedly engaged in a hazing incident and plead guilty during an internal hearing in the fall. The students were punished with a fine, banned from the campus pub and not allowed to participate in students clubs.
The students took the case to court and the settlement lifting restrictions was reached.