By Josh Dehaas - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - 0 Comments
For example, are gender-based ‘safe spaces’ needed?
Keenan Midgley played basketball, soccer, baseball and football. But it isn’t his athletic skill that has made him well-known on campus in Burnaby, B.C. It’s the budget he’s written as treasurer of the Simon Fraser Student Society. The fifth-year accounting student added funding that will carve out a special space on campus for guys. The men’s centre, assuming the budget passes a final vote, will get $30,000 next year. That’s the same amount that the women’s centre, started in 1974, will receive. The pending creation of the men-only space is the source of much discussion at Simon Fraser University. Since the news broke in April, many students have questioned whether the men deserve funding. Along with that, a debate has emerged over whether women—who make up 55 per cent of undergraduate students at SFU—still need their own women-only space.
The women’s centre is a 450-sq.-ft. space in a building near the centre of campus with couches, a kitchen and a library. It provides a place for students to discuss women’s issues, offers referrals to services like counselling and serves as a war room for campaigns, such as advocating for child care on campus. Marjorie Griffin Cohen, a professor in the department of gender, sexuality, and women’s studies (GSWS), says the centre was important to the women’s movement in the 1970s when women were a minority of the student body and even more rare as professors. Today it’s important, she says, for its work fighting violence against women.
Midgley says men could benefit from a similar “safe space.” He says his gender deals with more suicides, alcoholism and drug abuse, and suffers negative stereotypes just like women do. “As a student society, we’re supposed to represent all undergraduates. I don’t think we’re currently doing that.”
By Julia Belluz - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 3:45 PM - 20 Comments
We’re fatter than ever and efforts to reduce our ever-expanding waistlines are failing, according to a new report by the Community Foundations of Canada.
Our padded figures have left governments scrambling to address the chronic condition. Carrying extra weight increases the risk of a range of health conditions (from Type 2 diabetes to high total cholesterol and several cancers), meaning health-care costs balloon with our waistlines. (The Community Foundations of Canada put the price tag on health spending related to obesity at between $4.6 and $7.1 billion each year.) Continue…
By Josh Dehaas - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 9:20 AM - 8 Comments
A private Facebook group for lecturers allows them to vent about entitled students and their rude ways
June Madeley is annoyed with the increasingly rude demands she gets from students at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. Ten years ago, it was common for them to see her during office hours when they had a question. “Now there’s an expectation that we’ll answer their emails immediately and meet them whenever there’s a good time for them.” And as surely as the leaves pile up on campus each October, the communications professor knows her inbox will soon fill with complaints about mid-terms scheduled for the week after the Thanksgiving holiday. “There are a lot of people who feel they can’t make the exam because of travel arrangements,” she says. “And others who think it’s unfair that they have to study that weekend.”
But when Madeley gets frustrated, she doesn’t fire off a snotty email to the student. She logs on to “That’s ‘Professor’ Uptight to You, Johnny,” a Facebook group with 297 members, all of them teaching at universities and colleges. The members-only site is a place where university educators can vent in the form of steaming emails they wish they could write to their students but can’t because that would be, well, rude. Madeley, who says she hasn’t posted yet, enjoys reading the rants from her colleagues. The site is run by Khrystyne Keane, a Connecticut-based editor for a non-profit group, who took over its administration as a favour to a professor friend. The logo—a unicorn standing under a rainbow—is a jab at students, some of whom feel they are every bit as special as the fabled one-horned horse and the multicoloured arc.
The posts are all written to anonymous Janeys and Johnnies, but they share one trait: carefully crafted sarcasm. “Dear Johnny, I suspect that if you had spent as much time and effort on your last assignment as you did on the long flaming email you just sent me, this whole ‘conversation’ would never have happened,” reads one. “Dear Janey, I want to assure you that we didn’t do anything important in class. We just stared out the window for three hours in silence,” reads another.
By Andrew Potter - Friday, April 29, 2011 at 12:56 PM - 8 Comments
I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but the Higher Education Strategy…
I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but the Higher Education Strategy folks have released a new brief on the voting intentions of Canadian university students:
As Canadians head to the polls on Monday, survey data compiled during the past year by Higher Education Strategy Associates’ Canadian Education Project sheds light on the voting intentions and priorities of Canadian university students. According to a survey of 1,314 students conducted between April 21st and 27th, 2011, the New Democratic Party has edged ahead of the Liberals as the most popular party among students, with 27% and 25% planning to vote for each (respectively). Sixteen percent of students plan to vote Conservative, and 10% plan to vote green. More than one in five remain undecided with the election just days away.* Among the 1,314 respondents, 76% said they were very likely and another 10% said they were somewhat likely to vote
By From the editors - Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 9:40 AM - 26 Comments
Schools everywhere are stripping away the freedom of students, and parents, to make their own lunchtime decisions
What’s the difference between school and prison? Not much, if you listen to your kids.
Lately, however, it seems adults have been going out of their way to reinforce this grim connection. In the name of fighting obesity, schools everywhere are taking away the freedom of students, and parents, to make their own lunchtime decisions.
Last week, the Chicago Tribune documented the peculiar and controversial food policy of the Little Village Academy on Chicago’s west side. Bagged lunches have been banned: every student is required to eat lunch in the cafeteria. The reason? Principal Elsa Carmona doesn’t trust parents to pack a proper lunch. “Nutrition-wise, it is better for the children to eat at school,” she told the newspaper sternly. Exceptions are only made for allergies or similar medical reasons. Other Chicago-area schools apparently inspect their students’ lunches and confiscate food deemed unhealthy.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 18, 2011 at 2:05 PM - 23 Comments
Sarah Millar asks an important question: will vote mobs mean actual votes?
Small said part of the reason she doesn’t think the current online push will translate to more voters at the polls is because the Internet is fragmented — if you don’t want to see politics online, you won’t. “The relationship between technology and voter turnout is that there isn’t one.”
Jamie Biggar, co-founder of LeadNow an organization which is helping to facilitate the vote mobs, disagreed with Small, saying that social media is what is bringing in those who normally would not participate in politics. Through sites like Facebook and Twitter, they’re seeing their friends are involved, and they’re watching the videos, he said. “Vote mobs are a way to turn desire into action,” he said
By John Geddes - Saturday, April 16, 2011 at 10:20 AM - 48 Comments
Sure, apathy is up. But the numbers indicate it’s not all bad news.
Here’s an unrepresentative moment from the campaign trail. Michael Ignatieff emerges from a hotel ballroom in London, Ont., where he has just whipped up an overflow crowd of supporters. As he wades through the packed lobby toward his waiting bus, shaking hands and gripping shoulders, a breathless young women in a bright red coat presses up and asks to pose for a photo with him. It’s high school student Katie Miller, 18, who’s leaning toward casting her first ballot ever for Ignatieff’s Liberals, although she hasn’t quite made up her mind. “I really enjoyed it, how personal it was,” she says of the rally experience a moment later. “But I want to know what each party stands for.”
Expressions of responsible enthusiasm like Miller’s are almost enough to make discouraged old believers in democracy take heart. Unfortunately, they are fleeting. More durable are the hard statistics showing that her attitude is rare. Voter turnout has been falling for decades, and studies reveal that the decline is concentrated overwhelmingly among the youngest potential voters. A soon-to-be-published study by two Canadian academic researchers, André Blais and Daniel Rubenson, tracked the same long-term pattern across eight countries—from Canada and Britain, to Sweden and Spain. Differences among voting systems, party structures, and the flavours of national politics, it seems, don’t count for much against the tide of youth disengagement. “Young people nowadays are less likely to view voting as a civic duty,” says Rubenson of Ryerson University in Toronto. “They think you can choose to vote or choose not to vote, and a lot of them choose not to.”
Turnout in Canadian federal elections has slid from the high of 79.4 per cent of registered voters who cast ballots in 1958, when John Diefenbaker’s Conservatives won with a landslide majority, to the 58.8 per cent who voted in 2008, when Stephen Harper’s Tories won their second consecutive minority. By far the biggest drop-off has come among those in the 18 to 24 age group. More than two-thirds of potential new voters turned out at the polls in the 1960s; by the 1980s, only about half of those eligible for the first time were voting; in the 1990s, it was down to 40 per cent; and, by 2004, only a third of those who might have cast their first ballots bothered to do so.
By Brian D. Johnson - Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 10:17 AM - 0 Comments
At this new competition, high-schoolers will compete for $10,000 in prizes
Lily MacLeod is an A student who loves fashion, has recorded her own songs, written a screenplay, acted in school dramas, and is eyeing the Olympics as a provincially ranked beach volleyball athlete. But these days what gets her really stoked is reciting dead poets. She’s especially fond of a 1922 sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay, especially the last wistful Twitter-length couplet, which she rhymes off by heart with a sigh: ” ‘A ghost in marble of a girl you knew / Who would have loved you in a day or two.’ I know I’m only 17, but every time I say that, it gives me shivers.”
Forget the urban scenesters who spar at poetry slams with volleys of self-styled spoken word. MacLeod belongs to a new breed of dead poets society, a group of teens who will compete for serious cash by reciting literary classics. A student at Toronto’s Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute, she is one of a dozen finalists drawn from contests at 12 Ontario secondary schools who will compete in the inaugural Poetry In Voice recitation contest on April 12 at Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto. They’ve each selected three poems to perform from an online list of 200 titles, and they’ll be vying for a total purse of $10,000, with $5,000 going to the winner.
By Josh Dehaas - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 11:36 AM - 2 Comments
Why so many students dream of working for the government
It can be lonely for recruiters manning the booths for big banks or retailers at Ryerson University’s student job fairs. “The government agencies get a lot more attention,” says Ian Ingles, the organizer of the Toronto events.
That’s no surprise, considering the statistics. In a recent survey for Studentawards.com, 30 per cent of university students picked the government of Canada as their employer of choice. Then came Health Canada. Provincial governments did well too, beating out all of the banks and the video game developers. Even the trendiest private sector companies, Apple and Google, couldn’t beat the federal agencies.The results echo another recent survey of nearly 10,000 Canadian students by research firm Universum. In it, arts graduates, for example, gave the government of Canada, the provincial governments and Health Canada gold, silver and bronze respectively.
The recession explains some of the zeal for the civil service. During the rough days of 2009, students got the message that private companies were shedding employees while government workers were relatively unaffected: there was a record-setting 4,000 applications for 106 Ontario government internships in early 2009.
But how to explain the post-recession jump in applications for the same internship program? Last March, even with many private sector employers hiring graduates again, applications to the annual program grew by more than 20 per cent to just over 5,000 for 76 spots.
Demographics—and the altruistic goals of new graduates—best explain the march toward public service, says Sandra Botha, a campus recruiter for the government of British Columbia. Modern immigrants to Canada are proud to work for the government, she says. “Many students perceive a government job as having a lot of prestige, because it did in their parents’ country of origin,” she explains. “We have many more Chinese-Canadians applying in B.C., and if you come from China, working for the government is considered the job.”
By Kate Lunau - Monday, February 28, 2011 at 9:54 AM - 51 Comments
Should schools be in the business of turning out employable grads?
Carlie Deneiko is from the tiny town of Watrous, Sask. (population 1,800), more than an hour’s drive southeast of Saskatoon. As a teen, she dreamed of travelling the world, but her priorities are shifting. “I’ve got a boyfriend, and I’m really settled,” says Deneiko, 20, a student in the faculty of education at the University of Regina. “It’s becoming more important to me to get a job.”
Deneiko’s not too worried: her education comes with a job guarantee. She’s one of 355 students enrolled in a new program at the University of Regina that promises students they’ll land a job—in their chosen field—within six months of graduation. If they don’t, the university gives them another year of tuition for free. The UR Guarantee has other bells and whistles (like internships and work programs), but for Deneiko, it’s that extra year of free tuition that pulled her in. “If I don’t get a job, I’m coming back to get my special education certificate,” she says.
Since it launched in September, the UR Guarantee has been incredibly popular. Enrolment in the program, which is open to all first-year students, has already jumped by 24 per cent, says president Vianne Timmons. “We looked at students’ motivation for attending university,” she says, “and realized they’re looking at a degree primarily as a launching pad for a career.”
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 3:40 PM - 0 Comments
How a small Toronto firm teamed up with Virgin to launch an online, video-game gambling industry
Virgin Gaming’s Toronto headquarters is filled with summer students, clad in shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops. They have been hired to test video games for the fledgling online service, which essentially allows gamers to bet money on the outcomes of popular console games like FIFA, Madden NFL and Halo, with Virgin Gaming taking a percentage of each jackpot. “Is this a dream job or what, guys?” bellows a beaming Zack Zeldin, 26, the company’s vice-president of gaming operations. He is met with a bunch of sheepish looks. “Look at those grins,” he says.
The truth is that the entire operation feels a bit like a dream come true for the people involved (although perhaps not for parents worried about the bank accounts of their college-aged sons and daughters). Virgin Gaming’s predecessor, Toronto-based World Gaming, had just 40,000 users and was still in a testing phase when a fortuitous personal connection—one of the company’s early investors, Rob Segal, now CEO, had previously helped launch the Virgin Mobile brand in Canada—placed it on the radar of Sir Richard Branson’s people.
By Tom Henheffer - Monday, February 22, 2010 at 11:21 AM - 5 Comments
Shipwrecked students survived on rainwater—and Disney songs
“I’m going to cover her in this blanket and I’m going to take her home, and give her a bath and feed her as much as I can possibly feed her.”
Elysha was one of 48 students on the S.V. Concordia, a sailing ship that doubled as a travelling high school and university. A microburst, a sudden massive gust of wind, toppled the three-masted boat off the coast of Brazil late last Thursday evening. It sank in minutes, leaving every soul on board to fight for survival in leaky life rafts for two days and nights.
“We’re just so happy that they’re all okay. It’s a miracle,” says Piller.
After pulling each other from flooded classrooms and cutting the life rafts free, the students and crew were forced to bail constantly to keep shin-deep water from sinking their small boats. As they fought to collect rainwater and survive on rations, many became sick from dehydration, but they managed to keep their spirits high by singing Disney songs.
“There were low points and high points,” says Mark Sinker, the ship’s history and English teacher. “When there was water in the rafts and people were shivering, morale was very low. But overall I think people kept their spirits up.”
Piller, her husband Tony, and three sons, Lucas, Sam and Trevor, stood waiting, wearing their scarves and winter coats, with sleepy grins and hands in their pockets. A few other families were scattered around the airport, holding coffee and sitting at shops with metal gates still drawn shut.
Brent Tripp waited for his brother Jamie, a world traveller who was working as a crewman on the Concordia. Early Friday morning Brent got a call from his mother—at first all he could make out was the word “sink.” He was always afraid something would happen to Jamie, and thought the worst might have finally happened. Eventually his mother told him everything was okay, and his brother called Sunday morning.
“I pick up the phone and there was a quick delay, then ‘hey brother’ came across” says Tripp, his voice quivering slightly. “Both of us had a huge little breakdown.” He added that although he knew his brother was safe physically, it was worrisome to think what psychological toll the accident might have taken. “The next thing we went into was Olympic men’s hockey. So it was kind of nice to know that my brother, the guy that I love so much, he was still there.”
He said he plans to take it easy once they’re reunited.
“I would just like nothing more then to cram in the back seat of our little four door car and just take him to a little restaurant, buy him some lunch and have a beer.”
As the minutes ticked by the concourse started to become a hub of activity. Alumni from previous voyages arrived, holding bristol board signs declaring “Welcome Home Floaties” and “S.V. Concordia Forever.” Dozens of reporters began rushing back and forth. The families were ushered into a secure area, and a mob of camera’s surrounded the door. Cheering could be heard from inside. Emboldened with the spirit their travelling school was meant to instill, the alumni sat in front of reporters, forcing them to back up about 10 steps so they would have room to greet their friends.
In the end, the parents and children decided not to meet with the media, and went out through side gates. But Nigel McCarthy, CEO of the Class Afloat program, did eventually address the crowd.
“Today is a day of celebration,” he said. “There’s been lots of tears and there’s been lots of joy. There have been children jumping up into their parents’ arms. It’s a beautiful day.”
By Rachel Mendleson - Thursday, February 11, 2010 at 1:00 PM - 5 Comments
As Wall Street tumbled, so did enrolment in business schools
There’s nothing like the near collapse of Wall Street to turn students off a career in business. According to a recent survey of U.S. freshmen, the global economic downturn, brought on by the misdeeds of some of the nation’s most well-established financial institutions, may be causing many to consider other options. UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) found that the percentage of students who planned to major in business dropped from 16.8 in 2008 to 14.4 in 2009—the lowest level in 35 years.
Though the year-over-year decline isn’t staggering, “it is significant,” according to Linda DeAngelo, one of the report’s authors. There have been several recessions since the institute did its first survey more than 40 years ago, but “this is the first time we’ve seen this type of drop,” says DeAngelo. (Interest peaked in 1987—the year of Oliver Stone’s Wall Street—when more than a quarter of respondents were eyeing a business major.) Of all the areas of focus in the survey under the umbrella of business, the most significant drop was in general business administration—an indication, says DeAngelo, “that business is not looking generally as appealing as it once did.”
While comparable data isn’t available for Canada, there is some indication of a similar trend: by September 2009, the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre had received 9.8 per cent fewer applications to business programs from high school graduates than the same time the previous year. Though interest in the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario hasn’t waned, faculty director Darren Meister says students are now more conscious of keeping doors open. These days, he says, those who pursue business do so because it’s what they truly want, with the understanding that “business school is not a guarantee of riches.”
By W.D. Smith - Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 1:10 PM - 14 Comments
Tuition rises, class size grows, and the bureaucracy gets big
The annual tuition fee debate has begun. This is the war dance that takes place every winter, when senior university administrators announce that students yet again face substantial hikes. Those administrators roll out the rationale they use every year: the increases are necessary to protect educational quality, top faculty costs top dollar, and the only alternatives are declining quality and staff layoffs or increased government funding. Students get angry. They claim that university is becoming a place for only the wealthy, that quality has suffered enough, and that debt loads are becoming unmanageable. Boards of governors—the guardians of public interest when it comes to the operation of universities—wring their hands and voice genuine empathy. They hope for solutions but find none. And then, as they always do, they approve the increases proposed by senior administration.
Here’s the thing: the students have a point—at least according to a detailed analysis of the finances of Canada’s largest 25 universities. A study of 21 years of data compiled annually by StatsCan for the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) reveals some startling trends. In 1987-88, the top 25 universities spent $6 billion across all their activities; by 2007-08, that had increased by almost four times inflation, to $21 billion. That equates to about 13 per cent of Canada’s health care budget, or more than the entire defence budget. And that’s only the top 25 schools.
By Andrew Potter - Thursday, July 31, 2008 at 11:31 PM - 0 Comments
Here’s one for the ages: A high school in Gonzales, Texas has come up…
Here’s one for the ages: A high school in Gonzales, Texas has come up with a unique — and uniquely stupid — plan to deal with students who violate the school’s dress code. Get this: They’re going to force students to wear “prison-style” jumpsuits, as seen in the video here.
What planet are these school officials on? Pretty much every male student in America is going to show up for school on September second dressed like someone who is either about to go to, or just got out of, prison. And now they’re going to punish non-conformists by making them look gangsta?
I am frigging giddy. I can’t wait to see how this turns out.
By Kate Lunau - Friday, May 9, 2008 at 11:05 AM - 0 Comments
If your kid is lying about his or her grades, it might not be…
If your kid is lying about his or her grades, it might not be a bad thing.
Lying isn’t generally good for your health. It can be exhausting—when someone tells a lie, their mannerisms will reveal stress (that’s what lie detector tests are meant to pick up on), and keeping a longterm secret can be mentally exhausting. Turns out, though, that in some circumstances lying can actually be good for you, The New York Times reports.
Interestingly, students who inflate their grade point average seem free of the anxiety that generally accompanies other tall tales. In one study, while it was shown almost half of those surveyed had exaggerated their grades by as much as six-tenths of a point, they appeared calm and relaxed when fibbing. What’s more, students who exaggerate their grades will often live up to the lie—raising their marks to the very amount they claimed them to be. In that way, these lies may less an attempt to deceive, than an expression of the student’s own aspirations, researchers note.
“It’s important to emphasize that the motives driving academic exaggeration seem to be personal and ‘intrapsychic’ rather than public or interpersonal,” Richard H. Gramzow, a psychologist at the University of Southampton in England who worked on these studies, told the paper. “Basically, exaggeration here reflects positive goals for the future, and we have found that those goals tend to be realized.”