All Posts Tagged With: "University of Prince Edward Island"
Where smoking is outlawed it does more harm than good
Students at the University of Prince Edward Island are pushing to ban smoking on campus. Cigarettes, they say, are not only deadly for the poor schmucks who choose to light up but also harmful to the non-smoking citizens forced to walk through their carcinogenic clouds. The student union, reasonably enough, wants a plebiscite.
I’m not a smoker. I think unwanted cigarette smoke is annoying and gross. Ontario’s government must have polling showing many people feel the same way or they wouldn’t have, just yesterday, banned smoking outside at restaurants and bars. I can think of more useful things for the province to do (for example, working on the deficit) but research has shown that smoke doesn’t easily dissipate outside on patios when people are sitting so at least there’s science behind the policy.
But that’s as far as it should go. Campus-wide bans are pointless, draconian and unnecessary.
Smaller budgets for arts and sciences aren’t inevitable
If you are my age or younger, you probably can’t remember many times when universities weren’t under financial pressure. When I was an undergraduate in Ontario, everyone was talking about underfunding and rising tuition fees. Today, my university in Nova Scotia continues to deal with annual government cuts. Residents of other provinces can, no doubt, fill in their own stories.
The news that the University of Alberta is suspending enrollment in twenty arts programs is, in a sense, no surprise.
There are plenty of complexities here to be sure. U of A keeps reminding people that not very many students will be directly affected by these cuts since most of the programs are small, and some students may be able to get what they need in similar programs. Besides, U of A is cutting science seats too.
Conversely, others have pointed out that some of these programs should be small (it’s unsafe to have large numbers of students in technical theatre classes, for instance), and cutting tiny, low-cost programs like classical languages can’t possibly save much money. Oh, and in science, they are only cutting enrollments, which is not the same as cutting programs.
Papers across Canada cut back on print editions
Canadian student newspapers have been hit hard by the same decline in print advertising that’s hurt many newspapers in recent years and that means big changes are coming this fall to how students will be able to access news and gossip on errant student unions, varsity sports and study drugs.
Queen’s University’s Journal said this week that it will cut down on print editions from two weekly to one, although it’s keeping the same number of staff and adding a weekly digital edition.
What students are talking about today (March 12th)
1. The headliners of Montreal’s much-anticipated Osheaga Music and Arts festival in August will be the Cure and Mumford & Sons. If those two bands don’t impress you, at least a couple of these other acts probably will: Beach House, Diamond Rings, Azealia Banks, New Order, the Lumineers, Phoenix, Kendrick Lamar, Vampire Weekend, Alt-J, Hot Chip, Tegan and Sara, Ellie Goulding, We Are Wolves, A Tribe Called Red and Wild Belle. That variety makes the $235 general admission pass look a lot more affordable. I highly recommend all students go to at least one big show at Parc Jean-Drapeau while they’re still young enough to get away with it. It’s a special place.
2. Some strange people in Toronto are paying $40 each to attend “cuddle parties,” a trend that has also been reported in Calgary. They’re just like they sound. Strangers get together in big groups and then cuddle, spoon and hold hands. Everyone wears pajamas and they all hang out together on pillows on the floor. Clothes stay on and it’s apparently non-sexual. Jessica Maxwell, a doctoral student at U of T who researches relationships, tells The Grid newspaper that cuddling stimulates production of the chemical oxytocin, a sort of love drug that relaxes us when it’s released.
What students are talking about today (March 1st)
1. Tom Flanagan, a soon-to-be former professor at the University of Calgary and a noted conservative strategist, has been lambasted for questioning the illegality of viewing child porn, which he originally did in an interview with The Manitoban in 2009 and again when asked about it at a lecture in Lethbridge on Wednesday. Practically every politician who ever worked with the guy was tripping over another to distance himself or herself from the comments on Thursday. Part of what he said was this: “I certainly have no sympathy for child molester, but I do have some grave doubts about putting people in jail for their taste in pictures.” On Thurday he apologized, but the damage was done. Still, one brave student columnist, Travis Gordon of The Cadre at the University of Prince Edward Island, wants people to calm down a bit and consider Flanagan’s academic freedom. “My question is this: Why was a professor retired for voicing an unpopular opinion in an academic setting? Further, why did students not challenge Flanagan’s thinking intelligently? Why instead did they boo him and call him disgusting? Has academic discourse in Canada rescinded into simple, guttural responses?”
What students are talking about today (February 5th)
1. Canadian university and college students are abusing the prescription drug Adderall—a pill form of amphetamine that is prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Disorder—to stay focused on schoolwork, reports CTV News, who have dubbed it “campus crack.” Researchers in the United States estimate that as many as 30 per cent of students there are abusing Adderall. As for Canada? “It has quite the presence around campus here, and I hear about it all the time,” one anonymous University of British Columbia student told CTV. Although I’m sure some quantity is available on Canadian campuses, I doubt that it’s as common as it is in America. One anonymous student does not make a “campus crack” trend.
2. Memorial University’s student union won’t allow a fraternity and a sorority to become official groups because they say the groups discriminate by gender. Maxwell Page, a director at large with MUNSU, told CBC News they “will not ratify any group that the council considers to be of homophobic, racist, ageist, sexist or otherwise discriminatory nature.” What makes this especially silly is that both the sorority, Nu Delta Mu, and the fraternity, Sigma Theta Pi, say they are open to anyone joining.
3. The University of Toronto is planning to build a $9.5-million field hockey pitch to be used in the 2015 Pan Am Games and that has caused controversy because it would require replacing real grass with artificial turf, reports the Toronto Star. The University College Council voted nearly unanimously last fall to to register “strong concerns.” Those who oppose artificial fields say real grass is a cooling surface that combats climate change, soaks up rainfall and isn’t made with certain chemicals. The turf is, however, a requirement of the International Field Hockey Federation.
4. The federal Liberals requested an emergency debate in the House of Commons Monday over the loss of an external hard drive containing the personal information of 583,000 Canada Student Loan borrowers. They wanted Human Resources Minister Diane Finley to answer questions including when the device was last seen and why the RCMP have been called, reports Canada.com. Speaker Andrew Scheer ruled that the request didn’t meet the requirements for emergency debate. Finley has ordered stricter data handling protocols for her department, including the collection and destruction of unapproved USB memory sticks. Credit monitoring firm Equifax is flagging affected accounts for students who contact them. A class action lawsuit has been filed.
5. The University of Prince Edward Island waited too long to close after a snowstorm Monday, say some students. Dianne Rogers went to school for a midterm. “One and a half pages into the exam, someone arrives at the door to say, ‘School’s closed, go home’,” she told CBC News. “I was thoroughly frustrated because the conditions weren’t safe for me to be out there in the first place.” Dozens of students took to Facebook angry at the university for waiting until about 8:20 a.m.. Nearby Holland College’s was closed around 7 a.m. Jackie Podger, a UPEI vice-president, told CBC staff were monitoring the weather and didn’t shut down until they felt conditions warranted it.
What students are talking about today (February 1st)
1. Nothing gets students more riled up than when you try to curb unhealthy binge drinking. The University of Ottawa proposed banning shots and limiting beer pitchers to groups of three people or more, but is reconsidering after a backlash from students. Anne-Marie Roy, spokesperson of the Student Federation at the University, told CBC News that the bars they run on campus are safe for students and that such restrictions would hurt revenues. (Not to mention the fact that students would probably just go somewhere else if they wanted shots or pitchers anyway.) Speaking of drinking, a new study shows that too much alcohol leads to Type 2 diabetes in rats. Just saying.
2. The federal Liberal leadership candidates are touring campuses. Justin Trudeau spoke at Brandon University in Manitoba on Thursday where he talked about broadening the party’s support and creating jobs. Marc Garneau was at the University of Prince Edward Island earlier this week where he told The Cadre he would help solve joblessness through a tax credit to employers who hire young people and capital gains exemptions for angel investors who invest in a start-ups.
Movember jewelery, discovery at McMaster & Instagram
1. Four Kwantlen University students are fulfilling their business degree requirements and raising money for prostate cancer research by selling Movember-themed jewelery. Their mo necklaces, sold online, are so popular that they ran out at one point, reports the Vancouver Sun. Movember is an annual mustache-growing fundraiser.
2. Just in time for Remembrance Day on Sunday, librarians in McMaster University’s special collections discovered several poppies preserved in the travel diary of a soldier’s wife. Librarian Wade Wyckoff told Metro that he believes the petals originated from Flanders fields, that famous World War One graveyard where the poppies grow, between the crosses, row on row.
3. If you’re on Instagram, there’s a new reason to be concerned about your privacy. The social photo sharing site has done you the favour of putting all of your photos on the web. They’re at Instagram.com/your username. Users can turn off the profiles through their mobile devices.
Freshman 15, politics in the classroom & anger at OCAD U.
1. Yesterday there was a flash sale from Chartwells at the University of Prince Edward Island during which poutine was 50 per cent off for a few hours. Cadre reporter Josh Coles took on the breaking news assignment: “This poutine was weighty. Heavy. Thick. I would compare its weight to that of a litre of chocolate milk,” he wrote.
2. The poutine and chocolate milk diet seems like evidence for that legendary Freshman 15 weight gain, but another study suggests the weight gain isn’t really 15 pounds. Researchers from Auburn University in Alabama showed that the Freshman 15 is really more like the Four-Year 12. After four years at the college, students in the study had gained an average of 11.7 pounds.
3. Homecoming will likely make a homecoming next year at Queen’s University after students finally behaved in public with just 12 arrests over the weekend compared to 124 in 2008. In an email sent Monday to the Queen’s community, Principal Daniel Woolf wrote that he’s working with “various members of our community, including alumni, to plan for the potential safe return of fall reunions in 2013.” The University Council asked Woolf to reinstate the tradition, which was barred after many years of alcohol-related arrests. See The Perils of Drinking on Canadian Campuses for more.
Skateboarding, Shell, eSports, Indian booze and 1812
1. The University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus may be the first big campus in Canada with a skateboard and BMX bike park. The final park designs are here.
2. Citing printing difficulties and a monthly schedule that turned it stale, The Cadre, one of Canada’s funniest student newspapers, has gone online-only. Arshy Mann of the Canadian University Press worries that ink-and-paper expertise will dry up, that the paper will lose most advertising revenue and that students read it less since they can’t take it on the bus.
3. A Conservative MP says Canada’s largest union of federal public servants, which represents people who work for the Canadian government in Canada shouldn’t have endorsed the separatist Parti Quebecois that wants to leave Canada. Pierre Poilievre is calling for new rules to allow members to opt out of paying union dues.
Prof. Fiona Walton employs more than just empathy
“People aren’t fond of saying Aboriginal Education is going well,” says the University of Prince Edward Island’s Fiona Walton, “but there are many many pockets where marvelous things are happening.”
Walton’s CV is too long to recount, but there’s one central theme. This 3M National Teaching Fellowship recipient is dedicated to building leaders in Indigenous Education by focusing on doing more of the things that are going right.
Walton has taught students from many backgrounds in the Bachelor of Education Specialization in Indigenous Education at the University of Prince Edward Island, which she helped develop after years teaching in the Arctic. More recently, she’s guided the curriculum of the groundbreaking Master of Education Leadership in Nunavut.
University students connect with their childhood entertainer
Emily Slofstra, 24, is one-fourth of the Tra La Las, a band of Wilfrid Laurier University graduates who sing about the environment, income inequality and police brutality. “One of our songs is called Harper is the Root of All Evil, if that gives you any indication,” says the Occupy supporter, who grows her own veggies on an urban farm.
The Tra La Las attend plenty of shows in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont. But without exaggeration, Slofstra says 65-year-old children’s entertainer Fred Penner gave one of the best.
Like so many twentysomething Canadians, she grew up singing along to hits like Sandwiches and The Cat Came Back. Now the man who crawled through the log on CBC’s Fred Penner’s Place each weekday from 1985 to 1997 has made a comeback by playing for people who heartily embrace his messages of sharing and environmental respect.
Recruiters didn’t show
Here’s more evidence that newly-minted teachers face a rough job market. The University of Prince Edward Island cancelled their education job fair this year due to lack of interest from recruiters, reports CBC News. But there is hope, they note, if students willing to travel to Nunavut. (Yes, seriously!) Last week we noted that the University of Manitoba’s teaching job fair attracted no local school boards, but the Royal Canadian Mounted Police showed up, suggesting that while teachers aren’t in high demand in schools right now, their skills continue to be valued by other employers.
Student union says “it doesn’t make sense”
Students at Thompson Rivers University are joining their peers at schools like the University of Prince Edward Island in demanding that their student union’s budget be published online.
It would seem like a given that students who are forced to pay substantial fees—$150 per year at TRU—would have easy access to the projected spending of their money. Indeed, they do at some schools like the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta.
But many student unions like TRU’s have bylaws that only require executives to share their budgets at annual general meetings or when students make appointments to sit down with executives to go over the numbers.
Prof. Pettigrew ranks our campus cartoonists
One fond memory of my undergraduate days is of reading the comics in the student newspaper. They lacked the artistry of professional comics in the big dailies but they had a certain joie de vivre that came with, presumably, not getting paid very much (if anything at all).
Since then I have followed university comics mainly when they get involved in controversies, as when the UPEI student newspaper was confiscated by university officials after it published the notorious Danish Mohammed cartoons, or when a community college ran a comic in which Barack Obama looked a bit like a monkey, or when the Saskatchewan student paper ran a comic, reportedly by mistake, showing Jesus in, shall we say, a sexually compromising position.
But browsing student news sites the other day, I became curious as to the state of university comics, so I went looking and found that the tradition was alive and well, and even better than I remember. In fact, I was so impressed that I am inspired to provide my entirely subjective, online-only list of the top five university comics in Canada. Here are my picks.
5. The Daily Snooze, by Jacob Samuel, Simon Fraser
Samuel provides us with quite charming one-off panel cartoons, of the sort one finds in The New Yorker—and provides fewer head scratchers than that redoubtable mag.
4. Ski Ninjas, by Kyle Lees, Lakehead
Ski Ninjas feels like it could have been called Little Orphan Anime. I admire the strong lines and the simple off-beat humour, as in this strip where the joke is essentially that “booze” is a funny word. Which it is.
3. Too Fancy Gents, by Mike Hayes and Amani Elrofaie*, Western
Too Fancy Gents gives us the dialogue of two Oscar Wilde-esque fellows called Monocle and Bowler (perversely, Monocle wears a bowler, and Bowler wears a monocle). Typically our gents (who really are too fancy) sound awfully posh but quickly veer off into accounts of their sexual escapades or drug-fuelled misadventures.
2. Caveman Agent, by Evan Eshelman, York
I must admit, I don’t think I always understand Eshelman’s Caveman Agent (which feels a bit like Ziggy if Gary Larson had drawn it, with a dash of Krazy Kat for flavour), but the drawing is fantastic and the artist manages to catch his main character (is Cavemen his name?) in oddly human moments, as in this panel where he tries to keep his dinosaur from being traumatized.
This one makes me slightly regret my one-winner-per-university rule, though, since York provides several other worthy candidates, including Adventuresome by Keith Maclean, and the very clever Sent from the Moon, by Alison Wight. Let’s call those very honourable mentions.
1. Glamour Pig, by Katherine Johnson, Dalhousie
Glamour Pig is a largely text-based comic with admittedly sketchy drawing, but has just the sort of skewed viewpoint that gives us a new perspective on life (as in one comic where Johnson lists some of the downsides of eye glasses: “Impossibility of repair should damage occur in post-apocalyptic future.”). This is the kind of comic that makes you feel like you have a cool new friend.
If I have missed any worthy candidates, please feel free to link to them below. Meantime, campus cartoon artists: don’t stop now!
*We initially failed to give credit to Amani Elrofaiem, the illustrator behind Too Fancy Gents. We regret the error. Additionally we initially listed Ski Ninjas as Sky Ninjas. This post was updated Jan. 14, 2011.
Stole $4,200 from school
A former University of Prince Edward Island student was sentenced Tuesday to one week in jail for stealing $4,200, reports CBC News. Steven Mitchell Colp worked as a room booker for the school. After he graduated, he still had access to the computerized booking system and he used it to request fake refunds that were credited to his own card. Colp is now a graduate student in psychology at the University of Calgary. He wept in court as he apologized for his crime.
Students currently need to meet with the VP Finance to see details
The University of Prince Edward Island Student Union says it will continue to keep the details of its budgets “for members only.” In other words, these pie charts with no figures attached are all that will remain posted on their website—the place where the public would normally expect to find details.
This comes after students demanded at a meeting last week that the union make their plans for spending easier to find, reports The Cadre.
That meeting resulted from a Facebook post that made the rounds. It said: “$700 of your dollars will go to the UPEISU over four years. Do you think that the SU budget should be accessible to the students and be able to see how they’re spending your money? Post this if you are concerned…”
Why study when you can kill goblins?
A few months ago, I was having dinner with a group of colleagues from a hiring committee, including the student representative. This student happened to be one I know fairly well. At one point during the meal she looked at me a little bashfully and said, “You know there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you for a while.” It made me nervous. I could tell something personal was coming.
“What kind of character do you play in D&D?” she asked. It turned out she had just started playing and had learned that I played in a game with other faculty members, so she became curious (answer at the time: Gnomish Paladin; answer now: Half-Orc Monk; oh, and, strictly speaking, its Pathfinder, not D&D).
Gaming of various sorts—board, video, role-playing—seems to have always been popular on campus. I remember hearing about gaming groups at the University of Waterloo when I was still in high school. It’s not surprising, given the number of nerds (I use the term affectionately) who tend to end up in higher education—including advanced nerds like me who end up in the faculty. Indeed, a quick survey of university websites finds gaming groups across the country. At the University of Victoria it’s merged with “tech.” Clubs are active at the University of Guelph and Trent too. Not surprisingly, given the imaginations of game enthusiasts, some clubs play games with their names. The Club at the University Regina—the Gaming Fellowship—gives a nod to Tolkien. Others revel in playful acronyms like the Association of Ryerson Role-Players and Gamers (ARRG!).
Mandatory retirement against human rights law
The University of Prince Edward Island was recently ordered to reinstate three employees who were forced to retire under a mandatory retirement policy that was found in contravention of the Human Rights Act. Mandatory retirement was once common in Canadian universities, but it has been largely phased out through a combination of provincial legislation and university amendments to their own retirement provisions. UPEI was one of the last institutions to have such a policy.
Psychology professor Thomy Nillson, sociology professor Richard Willis and receiving clerk Yogi Fell will be returning to work complete with back pay minus retirement benefits already paid out. The UPEI Human Rights Commission ruled in favour of the three employees, who were forced to retire between 2005 and 2007, back in February but only recently issued orders for the university to reinstate them. The university must also “Refrain in the future from committing the same or similar contravention, namely,
University officials are not pleased with the order and estimate that compliance will cost more than $1 million in addition to $325,000 required to respect the order on an annual basis. “For comparison purposes, this is double the increase to our government operating grant for Main Campus in 2010-11,” Gary Bradshaw, vice-president finance, said in a statement. Bradshaw further warned that “Restrictions on hiring and on discretionary expenditures are anticipated.” UPEI is also on the hook for $52,000 in legal costs that the UPEI Faculty Association incurred in arguing the case.
The university maintains that their mandatory retirement policy was justified under a provision of the Human Rights Act that states that prohibitions against age based restrictions “do not affect the operation of any genuine retirement or pension plan.” The university has also cited a 1990 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that concluded mandatory retirement policies were exempt when there exists a “genuine retirement or pension plan.”
The Human Rights Commission disagreed with those arguments, concluding that the university ” had failed to establish that the discrimination was justified.” UPEI is appealing the decision to the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island.
The Faculty Association is satisfied with the result and in its own statement said it would provide a check on the university to ensure it respects the rights of the reinstated employees. “Moving forward, the Association will work to ensure that the collective agreement rights of those being reinstated, of the departments involved, and of other members in those departments are all respected,” the statement read.
The association also expressed concerns over the university’s response. “It is unfortunate, though, that the Vice-President’s memo also seems to threaten the entire University community in response to the Commission’s Decision and Order . . . This is especially concerning given that we are now in negotiations.”
UPEI graduate program in education aims to train educators locally
Meeka Kakudluk is still struggling to relearn the Inuit culture she lost a half-century ago in schools where southern ways and the English language dominated.
This week, when she and her 20 classmates receive the first Master of Education degrees ever granted in Nunavut, she’ll do her part to ensure that in the future, Inuit schools – and students – are led by Inuit educators.
“The more they see Inuit leading, the more encouraged (students) will be to do the same,” said Kakudluk.
Kakudluk, 56, has been a teacher in Nunavut for 31 years, but that career will turn a whole page on Wednesday when she graduates with a brand-new Master of Education degree.
Offered through the University of Prince Edward Island, the program is designed to begin filling principal’s offices throughout the territory with educators who are members of the same community that they serve.
“There’s a need for Inuit leadership in the school system,” said Fiona Walton, the UPEI faculty member who set up and oversaw the three-year program.
Although there are more than 100 Inuit teachers with undergraduate degrees now teaching in Nunavut, the great majority of vice-principals and principals still come from the south. The UPEI program — the first graduate-level program of any kind offered in Nunavut – is intended to eventually change that.
It’s easier for an Inuk to understand community needs, said Dinah Kavik, who teaches in Sanikiluaq. As well, parents may feel more comfortable speaking with a principal in Inuktitut.
“The Inuit know their people,” said Kavik, a newly minted MEd.
The graduates enter the system at a crucial time for Nunavut.
Although Premier Eva Aariak has identified education as a top priority for her government, the territory’s graduation rate is dismal 25 per cent and a recent report concluded the system produces too many graduates fluent neither in English nor Inuktitut.