All Posts Tagged With: "University of British Columbia"
Instead of drinking, focus on the sex predators next door
Last month, hundreds paraded through the campus of the University of British Columbia to protest sexual violence, speciﬁcally six unsolved late-night outdoor attacks on female students since April. A hooded predator prowling dark grounds in search of coeds is a familiar conceit, one that informs how we think of sexual violence on campuses. Recently it was given airing in a Toronto Life story that claimed increased safety measures at Toronto’s York University, where women receive “rape whistles” at orientation, haven’t prevented campus grounds from being “a hunting ground for sexual predators.” (The school has taken legal action, claiming the article “presents a wholly distorted picture of women’s safety on the campus.”) Yet the UBC march to “Take Back the Night”—a rallying cry since the ’70s—bristled with more nuanced references to the reality of campus sexual assault, the vast majority of which are never reported nor easily framed in black-and-white terms. Signs held high connected the current attacks with entrenched “rape culture”—sexual violence being ignored, condoned and normalized, witnessed in the “rape chant” on the UBC campus in September. Other placards decried the RCMP reporting some UBC victims were wearing short skirts: “My little black dress does not mean yes,” read one.
UBC administration responded to concerns and fear with predictable reassurances. President Stephen Toope described the university as “one of the safest campuses in North America” and announced “unprecedented police and security measures to make sure students feel safe.”
RCMP identify victims
VICTORIA – Two 19-year-old University of British Columbia students have been identified as the victims of a head on crash on the Sea-to-Sky Highway.
The BC Coroners Service says Olivia Robertson of Collingwood, Ont., and Valentine Leborgne of Los Altos, Calif., were in a vehicle that crossed the centre line and slammed into a pickup truck.
Robertson was driving and Leborgne was a passenger in the Jeep Cherokee that was heading north towards Whistler on Saturday morning.
Two other women in the back seat survived the crash, although one of the women was taken to hospital with serious injuries.
The driver of the truck suffered minor injuries.
The coroners service and the RCMP are both investigating.
Man, 18, recovering after campus attack
An 18-year-old male University of British Columbia student is recovering after being slashed in the back several times with a knife during an early morning attempted robbery, according to UBC RCMP. Police offered a written statement that says the attack is not connected to the recent series of late-night sexual assaults on campus. They warned students to be “constantly vigilant and aware of their potential vulnerability when walking alone on Campus in the very early hours of the morning.”
From the release:
The student was returning to his student residence complex in the 2500 block of West Mall just after 4 a.m. when he was suddenly confronted from behind by an unknown male brandishing a small knife and demanding his wallet and mobile phone. The attacker lunged towards the student slashing at him as the student attempted to run away. The student escaped from his attacker, foiling the robbery, however the student did sustain several superficial cuts to his back and shoulders requiring minor medical treatment. The attacker fled on foot in an unknown direction after the student escaped. The attacker is described as an Caucasian male approximately 40 years old. This male had a greying beard and short grey hair. He was of average build and was wearing a light coloured hoodie and black sweat pants.
Business school will make $200,000 contribution instead
VANCOUVER – The University of British Columbia’s business school is contributing $200,000 to expand sexual assault counselling and education for students after an undergraduate society at the centre of a pro-rape frosh chant voted not to provide those funds.
UBC President Stephen Toope had recommended in September that the Commerce Undergraduate Society make a $250,000 contribution to fund a new three-year councillor position after the society was implicated in a frosh week chant glorifying the abuse of underaged girls.
The society has already given $50,000. However, about 70 per cent of members who participated voted not to contribute the remaining $200,000 during a referendum, which the society says must be held whenever a large expenditure is involved.
Robert Helsley, dean of the Sauder School of Business, said he was “deeply disappointed” to hear of the voting results, especially in light of six reported incidents of sexual assault on campus which have resulted in heightened security around the school in recent weeks.
“I’m aware this will be very disappointing to our wider community,” he told reporters on Monday. “I’m not prepared to speculate on why the students chose not to support the referendum.”
Campus pubs suffer from costly servers and low prices
Ask a pub owner to describe a dream location and it would have to be where thousands of thirsty twentysomethings pass by each day. That’s why Noah Davis-Power is dumbfounded that the Breezeway, the bar run by his student union, has lost roughly $120,000 a year for two years. Its owner, the Memorial University of Newfoundland Student Union, has a total budget of $1.2 million, most of which comes from mandatory student fees. “If you worked it out real quick,” says Davis-Power, “each student’s losing $10 a year [at the bar]. That’s two beer poured down the drain.”
Campus pubs propped up by student fees are surprisingly common, due to bad management, high labour costs and pressure from students for artificially low prices. By the time the University of Windsor’s Thirsty Scholar pub shut down in April, it was more than $1 million in debt.
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.”
McGill, UBC and Toronto hold their top three positions
The Maclean’s University Rankings place schools into one of three categories to recognize differences in levels of research funding, diversity of offerings and breadth and depth of graduate and professional programs. Universities in the Medical Doctoral category, ranked here, have a broad range of Ph.D. programs and research, as well as medical schools. Be sure to check out the other two ranking categories, Comprehensive and Primarily Undergraduate, and our methodology. For dozens of charts, our reputation survey, student satisfaction results and stories about what’s new on campuses, buy the 130-page Maclean’s University Rankings, on newsstands and iPads.
|2014 Ranking||University||Last Year|
* Indicates a tie
Hundreds expected at rally after sex assaults
VANCOUVER – Six sex assaults at the University of British Columbia have resulted in an unprecedented police presence on the campus where fear has spread among students, staff and the community, says the facility’s president.
Stephen Toope told a news conference that unlike many other inner-city universities, UBC is situated on a large amount of open space, requiring a different type of response to give people a sense of security.
“This is one of the safest campuses in North America. There is not normally a climate of fear or of insecurity on the campus,” he said.
RCMP’s major crimes section has taken over the investigation and say one man is believed to be responsible for three attacks this month and similar incidents in April, May and September.
RCMP step up patrols
VANCOUVER – RCMP say there has been another sex attack at UBC on the weekend and police have concluded the string of assaults are the work of the same man.
Sgt. Peter Thiessen says a woman who was walking alone on the campus at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday noticed a shadow walking behind her before she was grabbed from behind.
As in the previous cases, the victim flailed her arms and struggled and the suspect ran away.
There have now been six attacks on the campus over the previous weeks and Thiessen says police have put additional resources into solving the case.
UBC officials say they are treating the matter with the utmost urgency and are looking for anyone with tips about the suspect.
The man is described as a Caucasian in his late 20s or early 30s, of slim build and somewhere around six feet tall.
Report of racist Pocahontas chant
VANCOUVER – A controversial chant based on the Disney movie “Pocahontas” used by students at the University of B.C. has set off a series of measures to help students better understand First Nations.
The changes were announced in a report arising from frosh events sponsored by the Commerce Undergraduate Society last summer.
“The report released today shows us there is very little awareness of indigenous peoples and their concerns among the students we interviewed,” Louise Cowin, UBC’s vice president of students, said in a news release Monday.
“Clearly, UBC has a role to play in educating students to become more culturally competent.”
The report found that student leaders at the Sauder School of Business selected the “Pocahontas” theme and created the chant.
Testing out the safety service after multiple attacks
On Thursday night, I waited at the corner of Main Mall and Agricultural Road at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. It was dark and foggy. Any other night, I might have just braved the six minute walk to the Student Union Building, but after two assaults involving young women on campus earlier this month—a 19-year-old was groped under her skirt at 2:45 a.m. on Sept. 28 and a 20-year-old was attacked on Oct. 13— I wanted to test out Safewalk, the student-run program providing chaperones to those who feel unsafe walking alone at night.
Although I spent four years at UBC and knew about the service from day one, I’d never bothered to call. I’m not the only one.
Safewalk is a student service available across Canada, usually manned by volunteers, although the Alma Mater Society student group that runs it at UBC pays its walkers. After a string of assaults—there was at least one more reported over the weekend when a 17-year-old girl was dragged into the bushes late at night and left with a black eye—I knew there would be renewed discussion about the service, which is used to reassure students that measures are in place to protect them. Indeed, the RCMP recommended on Monday that women not walk alone at night and instead use Safewalk. Last week, I wanted to see: how useful is it?
I called at 8:03 p.m., a few minutes after Safewalk started taking requests for the night. They answered my call right away and said someone would be there in under 30 minutes. Perhaps due to the recent spike in assaults, the service was busier than usual. Regardless, it felt too long to wait.
Students warned not to walk alone at night
VANCOUVER – The RCMP’s Major Crimes Unit has taken over the investigation into a series of late-night assaults against female students at the University of British Columbia as officials work to increase safety measures at the Vancouver campus.
The third attack in three weeks involved a man grabbing the woman from behind, ripping her nylons and punching her in the face as she walked to her residence.
Sgt. Drew Grainger of the RCMP’s university detachment said the latest victim suffered a black eye and that the escalating violence has led police to focus more resources on finding the suspect who’s been described in each case as tall, thin, wearing a black hoodie and being in his late 20s.
Police met Monday with UBC administrators and officials from campus security and student housing to discuss the use of more lighting and video cameras to protect students and prevent other types of crimes.
Customers are always right. Students aren’t.
The University of British Columbia announced this week that they will be creating a giant focus group to help guide university decisions. “The results of the surveys,” we are told, ”will help UBC design new programs, make changes in courses, update communications and improve service to students and alumni.”
Clearly, the Canadian academy has crossed a line. It wasn’t very long ago that any university would blush at such shameless consumerism. Today, it seems, we are proud of it.
But wait, I hear you saying, what’s wrong with universities finding out what their students and alumni think? Why not take their views into account? To a certain extent such an objection is reasonable, but UBC is not just getting input on superficial matters like what flowers to plant or what their web site should look like; they are seeking input on courses and programs too.
Wait for better transit to campus keeps getting longer
In the Western Gazette this week, writer Mary Ann Ciosk describes a scene that plays out hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of times a year in university towns across Canada:
“I check the time again—the bus is now 20 minutes late, and I have three minutes remaining before my class starts… Finally, a low mechanical growl can be heard in the distance, and around the corner appears our salvation, the 2 Dundas! But as the bus approaches, a new horror sets in. The 2 does not slow as it draws near the stop, but speeds past us with its cargo of disgruntled students tightly packed together—the bus is full.”
The issue of full buses making students late has long captured the imagination of campus news editors and student leaders. This fall is no exception. University of Lethbridge students pushed for better transit at a recent mayoral candidates debate. The Carleton University Students’ Association recently met with Ottawa transit officials to tell them too many students are getting passed up. In Victoria, B.C., post-secondary students held up signs on a street corner protesting poor service.
Nonetheless, in some cities at least, the wait for a better ride to campus just keeps got longer.
Ski and Board club members divided over value
There’s a popular saying among members of the Ski and Board Club at the University of British Columbia, one such member reports: “If you can’t find a better solution, there’s always the lodge.”
In the future, there might not be. Whistler Lodge, in the famous resort town two hours up the coast from Vancouver, may be sold to help improve the financial situation of the Alma Mater Society, the undergraduate student group that owns it.
One might expect an uproar about losing the 42-bed chalet built in 1965 but even Ski and Board Club members are divided on whether it’s worth keeping.
Aging population means jobs in nursing, medicine and more
From the Future of Jobs report
As an ecological field researcher with British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests, Sonya Powell had a dependable, though segmented, career. Seasonal contracts put her in the woods each summer, surveying tree life for $20 to $25 an hour; in the winters, she taught geography classes at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Gaps between jobs were her vacation time, she chuckles.
That was before the global economic downturn led to the collapse of the forestry sector. In the summer of 2009, Powell couldn’t find her usual contracts. Remembering the health problems of the isolated communities she had passed through in the summers, she enrolled in an accelerated 20-month nursing program at UBC designed for students in their second careers. It paid off: She landed not one, but two nursing jobs when she graduated.
Allard Prize recognizes human rights champions
VANCOUVER – On Nov. 12, 1965, Anna Hazare survived an attack on his Indian army battalion by Pakistani forces, a bullet whizzing by his head.
His comrades were not as fortunate and that moment was a turning point in the young soldier’s life.
“It was at that particular moment that Hazare took an oath to dedicate his life in the service of humanity, at the age of 26,” says a biography on his website.
Almost five decades later, Hazare has been honoured with the inaugural Allard Prize for International Integrity, one of the largest awards in the world to recognize efforts to combat corruption and promote human rights.
“I have never been attracted to money and wealth, but the Allard Prize will help me and all those who are working towards the same cause to continue the fight,” he said through a translator.
“I am hopeful that this international recognition will promote a movement for change that will endure beyond my lifetime for generations to come.”
Hazare’s journey to the Wednesday night awards gala in Vancouver began after he left the Indian army, when he uncovered a scam by forest officers near his village home, where the officers collected state funds for nothing in return.
He handed over the evidence to officials, but the scam involved a minister of the ruling party and nothing was done. Hazare’s campaign began, first locally and then nationally.
Frustrated that corruption was standing in the way of development, in 1991 Hazare launched the People’s Movement Against Corruption, which eventually led him to start a hunger strike in 2003 that launched a countrywide movement for change.
Then in 2011, he launched India Against Corruption, which grew into a popular movement for legislative reform and government accountability. Tens of thousands took to the streets and Hazare again undertook a hunger strike to press for change.
Eventually, the Indian Parliament was forced to pass a resolution with key reforms, and Hazare’s movement was named one of the top 10 news stories of the year by Time magazine.
Hazare credits Indian philosophers like Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Ghandi for inspiring his decades-long work.
“While doing this work for past several years, the response and support which I got from the entire society has given me enormous inspiration,” he said.
Hazare said the problem of corruption is not limited to India, but is a global issue.
“My dream is a corruption-free India and then the world,” he said.
The Allard Prize was established last October, with funding from UBC law school alumnus Peter Allard, to recognize those who work to fight abuses of power and suppression of human rights.
More than 100 people and groups were nominated from around the world.
Among three finalists announced last month was the group Global Witness, which has worked to raise awareness about conflict driven by natural resource exploitation, such as the blood diamond trade in Africa and the industries that funded the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.
The group was co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its work on conflict diamonds.
The third finalist was Dr. Sima Samar, chairwoman of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and women’s rights campaigner.
A refugee who fled to Pakistan in 1979 during the Soviet invasion of the country, Samar returned to Afghanistan after the Taliban government was toppled in 2002 and served as deputy president and minister of women’s affairs until she was forced to resign due to death threats.
Commerce Society sorry for rape chant
VANCOUVER – A University of British Columbia undergraduate society involved in a frosh week chant glorifying the abuse of underage girls has pledged to contribute $250,000 for sexual abuse counselling and education for students.
The university released a report Wednesday about the incident, saying student leaders of the Commerce Undergraduate Society will be held accountable because they did nothing to stop the offensive chant heard by most first-year business students.
However, the report found no evidence that any of the student leaders involved planned or directed students to use the chant, though four of them resigned over the scandal last week. The report called the chant an “oral tradition.”
The song students sang on buses going back and forth to the university from a hotel in Richmond, B.C., spelled out the word ‘young’ with the lyrics, “Y is for your sister … U is for underage, N is for no consent.”
Robert Helsley, dean at the Sauder School of Business, said he will ensure such inappropriate events never happen again so all students can feel safe and welcome.
The entire UBC community must embark on complete and lasting change that will make such chants unacceptable, said university president Stephen Toope.
University wants participation in Truth and Reconciliation
Daniel Bourghardt, a third-year arts student, was overjoyed when he got an email from the University of British Columbia on Sept. 9 saying classes will be cancelled on Sept. 18.
In a grand gesture of solidarity with First Nations communities, the university has called off classes to encourage students to participate in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) national event at the Pacific National Exhibition across town from the Vancouver campus. It’s part of a Reconciliation Week that includes performances, survivor gatherings and a downtown march on Sunday with a keynote speech by Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King. Trinity Western University, a Christian school, is also suspending classes.
Saint Mary’s frosh chanted about non-consensual sex
HALIFAX – About 200 students rallied on the campus of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax today, saying it’s time for young people to talk openly about consent, sex and gender equality.
The rally comes a week after the university made headlines for a chant that promoted non-consensual sex with young girls, prompting the president of the student union to resign from his post.
The chant, captured on video and posted on social media, was sung at a frosh-week event for about 400 new students at the school.
Lewis Rendell, a student who helped organize the rally, says rape culture and victim-blaming is a societal problem that extends beyond the university.
Saint Mary’s University isn’t the only Canadian school to come under fire for offensive activities and events.
Two student executives with the University of British Columbia’s commerce undergraduate society quit Wednesday after a chant similar to the one sung in Halifax was recited at a frosh-week event.
On Tuesday, the engineering society at the Memorial University of Newfoundland apologized for handing out beer mugs with a sexually suggestive message at an off-campus student party.
In response to the outcry over the chant, Saint Mary’s University announced a special panel this week that will look at ways to prevent sexual harassment on campus.