Bre O’Handley Interview

 
 

Gender and Sexual Diversity Advisor

Bre O’Handley was interviewed by Addy Strickland on January 26, 2019.

O’Handley is a StFX graduate from Guysborough, Nova Scotia with a B.Sc. Honours in Psychology.

A paper based on her Honours thesis research was published online by Psychology and Sexuality on May 22, 2017. 

O’Handley is the Gender and Sexual Diversity Advisor at StFX. Her goal is to create a queer community that is celebrated.

***

AS: Can you give me a little bit of history on pride at StFX?

BO: Chris Frazer would probably be the person to go to when it comes to Pride at StFX! I started as a student at X in 2012, and while I remember Pride Week happening each year and there always being a Pride Week issue of the Xaverian, I actually wasn’t very involved as a student with the happenings of Pride during my undergrad! Chris Frazer has been at StFX since 2004 and has really been the person to spearhead much of what now happens as Pride Month at X, along with the help of the X Pride student society of course! Chris spent about 15 years working as the LGBTQ advisor on a volunteer basis, my position, of the Gender and Sexual Diversity Advisor at StFX, was just created in 2017. Before then, different faculty members, particularly Dr. Chris Frazer and Dr. Rachel Hurst, did the heavy lifting when it came to supporting LGBTQ+ issues and students at StFX!

AS: Have you noticed any changes in what pride month looks like since you started working here?

BO: Absolutely! As I mentioned above, before my position was created Pride happened every year, but often took the form of “Pride Week.” One of my main goals my first year on the job was to expand that into a Pride Month, so 2018 was the first time (to my knowledge) that StFX had a full month of Pride events! In the past, when it was Pride Week, many of the events were primarily student centred and happened at the Inn, which was a fantastic way to celebrate! But now that we have a whole month to jampack with events, X Pride and I have been able to organize quite a variety of events. We kick off the month with the Pride Flag Raising, as a way to think about how far the queer community here at X, and everywhere, has come but also to acknowledge how far we have to go. Then the month is peppered with engagements like lectures, panels, coffeehouses, film screenings, games nights, LGBTQ+ inclusive church services, Sex Toy Bingo and we always finish off with the always incredible Priscilla: Queen of the Highlands drag show.

Photo: X-Pride

Photo: X-Pride

 AS: Why is pride month so important? What does pride month do for the StFX and Antigonish community?

BO: Pride Month is important anywhere, but especially on the StFX campus because the campus climate here is so heteronormative and cis-normative. During my time as an undergrad, I found it really hard to find the LGBTQ+ community at StFX and really wish that I had had more of that support as a student. When you’re LGBTQ+ at StFX, a school that does still lack diversity and has a long history of homophobia, in part due to the rural context, it’s easy to feel like an outsider. While I met so many incredible people and learned so much during my time as an undergrad, it always felt like I was missing something when it came to engaging with and celebrating my queer identity. Having a month where we celebrate and actively engage in queer culture is so important for LGBTQ+ students, staff and faculty as it sends a signal that we’re here, we’re queer and everyone else is going to have to get used to it. I think Pride Month also offers a space to the Antigonish community of LGBTQ+ folks. While I will admit that our events are mostly catered towards StFX students, staff and faculty, community members are always very welcome at any of the events that X Pride and I host and we love to have community members come and engage with us! Again, the rural context of Antigonish can make for a difficult time as a queer person, as there is still homophobia, biphobia and transphobia on this campus and in this town, and not as many resources as you would find in a place like Halifax.

AS: There have been so many great events this month - do you have a favourite? Why?

BO: I think my favorite new event this Pride Month would have to be the What I Love About Being Queer film screening and panel discussion. I first discovered the What I Love About Being Queer book and film by Vivek Shraya last year when I was shopping for resources for my office at Venus Envy in Halifax. I had never seen a book like it before and instantly knew I needed to have it in my office. The purpose of What I Love About Being Queer is to focus on the positive narratives of being queer, something that too often we overlook as we still have many struggles and discrimination that we must focus on. The book and film contains answers from a diverse group of queer Canadians to the question, “what do you love about being queer?” The first time that I read the book was in a café in Halifax right after I bought it, my partner and I started reading and blew through the book within half an hour. I’m not a big public crier, but there was no way I could hold back the tears while reading this book, not because it’s sad but because it was so incredibly moving to see so many people celebrating being queer and it was content that I, like the author, can attest to having needed so many times before in my life. So being able to share this message and film with the StFX queer community and allies at the screening was really special for me, and to have the incredible panel of queer professors and community members was so refreshing and fascinating. Even at StFX, the queer community proves to be more diverse than you might think.

 But, I think my all-time favorite Pride Month event has to be Priscilla. I know I sing its praise every year but it’s true when Dr. Frazer says that it’s the best drag show east of Montreal and it is just such an engaging and wildly fun event every single year. We’ve already sold over a third of tickets for this year’s Priscilla, so if you want to make it to the show this year (and trust me, YOU DO) you’re going to want to snag a ticket ASAP! They are being sold in the third floor SUB Lobby 9am-3pm, Monday-Friday until Feb 1st!

AS: Pride month is, obviously, just one month. What suggestions do you have to help the StFX community celebrate pride all year round?

BO: There are lots of events that folks can go to celebrate pride all year round! My office and X-Pride organize events every month, like the X Pride Coffeehouses and Spill the Tea sessions! X Pride coffeehouses happen at the Tall and Small café and are a chance for folks to perform music, spoken word, whatever they want, Sadie Goering organizes those so if anyone ever wants to perform, they can contact them to get involved! Spill the Tea sessions happen monthly which I organize with X Pride, it’s an informal discussion group and we pick a topic each month, like coming out or gender identity, and just talk it out with each other. I run an annual lecture series: The Gender and Sexual Diversity lecture series, so there will be talks monthly for the rest of the year that folks can attend! February 26th, spoken word artist, Kavi Ade, will be performing on campus! X Pride releases a calendar of events each term, so if you want to stay up to date on ways to celebrate pride year-round, definitely get involved with them or join the Facebook group “X-Pride 2018-2019” to stay in the loop!

AS: Evidently, representation is really important - do you have any thoughts on what needs to be done to ensure that the queer community is fairly represented by student government?

BO: I believe there is a possibility that an LGBTQ+ Representative will be added to Council this upcoming academic year, although I’m not 100% sure, and I think that that would help to ensure the queer community is fairly represented by student government. We’ve been lucky the past two years to have a union that was fairly educated and cared about issues of equity, at least with regards to the LGBTQ+ community, and so I hope to see the same in coming years. I think that having members of student government complete training around LGBTQ+ issues and gender inclusivity is a fantastic way to move towards being more aware of how decisions may impact LGBTQ+ students, so I would certainly recommend members of student government to seek out Positive Space training and similar programs to stay informed.

 

Charging Stations on Campus for Electric Vehicles

 
 

Electric vehicles’ charging stations $1 per hour now functioning

Two electric vehicle charging stations in the Bloomfield Centre rear parking lot and one in the J. Bruce Brown Hall parking lot installed on November 20, 2018 are now functioning. 

Faculty Management’s Energy & Utilities Supervisor Kevin Latimer, leader of these installments, said the stations are part of the Mulroney Hall project. The charging stations earned Mulroney Hall points to qualify as a Gold building on the LEAD (Leadership Energy and Environmental Design) ranking. 

At the cost of $1 per hour, an electric vehicle hooked at a charging station on campus will get its battery charging and the payment is easily processed through the FLO app. 

When asked about profitability, Latimer commented “It isn’t profitable at a buck an hour. A buck an hour will recover our energy cost. Three units cost close to $25 000.”

“I was talking to Kevin Latimer about stations since I got the car. Some charging stations are free,” Frank Comeau said referring to the stations at Halifax Library, Dalhousie University and Saint Mary’s University. “I was arguing with Latimer to make them free.”

Comeau added, “There’s no point in charging my car here because it costs me two to three times more than it costs at home. For that reason, I don’t use them that much.”

Comeau was the first user of the charging station at J. Bruce Brown Hall. Comeau and I did the math to compare the charging and fueling costs between our vehicles. Comeau’s Volt travels 60 kilometers for $1.5 to $2.5 while my Grand Prix travels the same distance for $8 to $8.25. 

As part of the Maritime Link Project, Nova Scotia is shifting from 28% renewable energy to 40% renewable energy. Latimer notes, “Nova Scotia Power has promised to have 40% renewables by 2020. When that happens, electricity will be more environmentally friendly than gas. Right now, electricity in Nova Scotia is close to breaking even with gas in terms of carbon footprint.” 

Latimer started fidgeting with his safety glasses when he mentioned, “We could easily go to 50% renewable energy, but Nova Scotia is going to sell 10% for profit to the States where energy will go at a much higher rate.” 

Comeau, electrical engineer and professor at StFX, questioned the research that concludes electric vehicles have a similar carbon footprint as gas vehicles, “Studies have shown that electric vehicles in Nova Scotia emit the same carbon footprint as gas cars and other studies have shown that it’s about half of the carbon footprint. I can’t seem to get to the bottom of this. If we had 100% renewables, it’d be better.” 

Comeau has been fascinated with renewable energy since he was a youngster, “I’ve been interested in electric cars since the oil crisis in the 1970s. There were big, long, lineups at gas stations and people started thinking about renewables then is what I remember.”

 “I have plans to put solar power on my house to charge my car,” Comeau asserted. Solutions to the carbon footprint issue seem to be generating electricity with renewable energy sources like solar panels, windmills, or hydropower instead of mining lithium. 

Comeau is one of two professors at StFX who have electric vehicles. Few students, if any, have electric vehicles. Latimer hopes that tourists visiting campus with electric vehicles this summer will increase the use of charging stations. 

Electric vehicles will have to be actively charging at the station on campus or they will get a ticket, and they can stay charging in the station for up to four hours per parking session. Electric vehicle charging symbols will be painted in the designated parking spots this spring. 

 

2019 Class Presidents Interview

 
 

Sarah Comandante and Carl Miller discuss the legacy project

Bowen Assman interviewed Sarah Comandante and Carl Miller on January 24, 2019.

***

BA: Can you explain to me what the bursary is and how much money is involved in it as of right now?

SC: The emergency mental health fund is essentially a bursary that can be accessible to students in every year concerning mental health problems or mental health difficulties. It’s going to be distributed under the purview of the Health and Counseling Center. This isn’t going to be a bursary that people apply for and we’re trying to eliminate that third party in there because one of the biggest problems with mental health is breaking down that stigma. For a lot of people just applying for something to say, “I’m having a hard time” is something that’s going to deter them from even wanting to go and get help. This is something that the psychologists, the doctors and the nurses can distribute as they see fit within the Health and Counseling Center. The bursary is intentionally very open-ended, and we purposefully did not put strict stipulations on it so that it has the potential to reach as many students as possible. We’re kind of using the same examples. They’re very arbitrary but it could range from someone who is having a really hard time and isn’t able to work so they’re having to take some time off of work and this money is giving them a grocery card because they’re not able to pay for their groceries right now or if someone experiences a death in the family and needs to fly home, it could potentially cover the cost of a flight. It’s something that we’re really trying to make very open-ended. We got off to a bit of a slow start around X Ring and the Day of Giving but just in the past week and a half we’ve gotten some pretty substantial private donors and we’re speaking to all of the local businesses in town, as well as Bell Alliant, so I don’t have a number right now because there’s so much in limbo.

BA: How will the Health and Counseling Center distribute money?

CM: Yeah, so it is tough because you say, “What is mental health?” With an emergency fund, people immediately think, oh it is for counselling or therapy sessions. What it is intended for is, let’s say you broke your leg, or something really serious happened physically, ok, we have resources for that. If somebody dies in your family or you get into a really tough situation which you know everybody does, this isn’t going to fix it but it could be one more support for people who find themselves in a situation where it’s just not going to work. If income is limited in a specific time span or something you know personal happens and they just need a hand, the councilors will have access to that funding.

SC: The money is going to go into an endowment fund, and it is going to be paid out on the interest rate. The money that’s going to be given to the Counseling Center every year is going to be the fixed amount from the interest coming out of that endowment fund, and that will be the money that they can work with for the year. Essentially, they can use it on one student or they can use it on ten. If there is a rollover from year to year, then maybe the next year will have some more money. The intent is that all the money going in right now is going to go into that  endowment fund and the money coming off annually is going to be from that interest rate so that the bursary is sustainable for itself.

BA: And you don’t have to specifically ask for it? Is it given out?

SC: It’s a tricky thing that when we were discussing the terms and conditions with the Health and Counselling Center, one of the hardest things was how do we assess who to give this money to and we kind of came to the conclusion that physicians and psychiatrists and psychologists are going to be the people that are going to be best able to assess the need of individuals and so we’re hoping that by people knowing that this is a potential support for them, it can also encourage people to go get some help and to go in there. We don’t know yet if it’s going to be people going in and saying that they think they need help, but a lot of times, things that get disclosed in counseling sessions can be a trigger for a counselor to say maybe this is something where I could help make this person’s life easier. It is tricky because you really have to be careful that people aren’t going to go in and ask for this money and take advantage of it. But because it’s not going to be done by an application basis, it’s not like anyone can write themselves up a story.

BA: It’s kind of tough to balance?

CM: Yes, it is broad enough but not enough to abuse it.

SC: Yeah, this was really the best way that we could find that it was going to be distributed appropriately under these professionals. If you had a committee for bursaries and scholarships where there’s a committee of people who decide who gets what, we didn’t think it would be appropriate to have people have to disclose personal details of their life and then who are those people on the committee to decide whether or not they deserve the money right?

BA: Yes, so why the focus on mental health, especially in 2019 today?

SC: Over our last four years at least here, I think we really spoke about how this campus has seen a lot of change. There’s been a lot of major events that have happened here, and we wanted this legacy project for the class of 2019 to be something that really encompassed what we’ve experienced. Breaking the stigma around mental health as well as sexual violence has been a huge thing that’s plagued our class. We wanted to find a way to kind of bring those two things together and really work towards it, because as much as there are a lot of efforts towards breaking down the stigma of mental health, it’s something that is constantly prevalent and no matter what everyone has mental health and everyone will experience a mental health problem in their life whether or not that be a mental illness but that is how statistics are shown. If it’s not you, it’s your roommate or it’s your best friend. It really can be applied to everyone.

CM: Yeah. I think the strong point is if you’re lucky enough to get to university without it happening to you directly, it is happening to one of your friends who have found themselves in a situation where there isn’t really a noticeable change in behavior so you just hope they can kind of tough it out. I think it resonates with a lot of people, if not on the personal scale then definitely somebody close to you.

SC: Yeah, we were talking about for X-Ring is that the idea of students contributing to this bursary is a way for students to directly give to other students and to show their support to other people. So, how much more positively we can affect others when they’re going through something like this is to show that our community is behind them and that money coming from the students is going directly back to the students. So, it’s a way to keep it within where it matters.

BA: Branching on that, the decision to start the mental health bursary was from whom?

SC: It was from us, we made the idea. There was a lot of just like trying to bounce off ideas and we had a couple ideas for the bursary. This was the way we could meld them all together. Then, we put out a poll and we put out a form asking, “this is an idea we have right now. Do you support it or not support it or do you have another idea?” So that was like our best way to grasp it and we had almost unanimously people support it. We probably got around ten responses of people that had other ideas, but it was like nine out of the ten other ideas were actually for this. It was just that we hadn’t explained the bursary well enough or we weren’t able to explain it well enough in those stages. So, it was kind of a common theme.

CM: Yeah, and I think one of the good things about me and Sarah’s presence is that we had the two perspectives of a student who lives far away and a student who comes from here. I think this was a good center point and something that everyone understands because if not, it’s kind of like focused towards one or the other, but I think this really applies for everybody

SC: We found that we wanted to make a bursary for literally everyone because a lot of the scholarships or the bursaries, there is such specific criteria that it’s almost like some groups are just always not able to access it. We were like, how do we make something that has the potential for everybody to actually access?

BA: Last year’s was for refugee students?

SC: Yeah, and that was with WUSC (World University Service of Canada).

BA: Does that one continue on and then this one will continue as well so there’ll be numerous bursaries?

SC: Yeah, so this is the fourth year of the legacy project and it’s basically like they’re all always there. So, the whole point of the endowment is that in 30 years there will be 30 bursaries for 30 different things. This got started by the class presidents I think four years ago and they had the idea of leaving a legacy project. The idea was that you could do a capital project or you can do like a bursary and it’s just happened that all of the classes have found that the bursaries are most successful. They’re still even fundraising for last year’s bursary. The amount of money that bursary is providing every year is going specifically to that bursary and then when people donate, they can direct their donation. When you go to the StFX website, you can direct it to a certain year’s bursary.

BA: How long are these bursaries expected to last for?

CM: If you take the interest year-by-year it’ll always be there.

SC: The whole goal is to have as much in that endowment fund as possible so that the yearly payout is as high as it possibly can be.

BA: What are your other roles as class presidents?

CM: Right now, that was kind of the big thing (bursary), that and X-Ring really had been the first semester of, “Whoa, okay let’s get these things under control.” But now, second semester we are really trying to plan some activities for the senior class to come together one last time and meet some new people.

SC: We are having a grad fair, it’s going to happen hopefully at the end of March. We’re working it out with Alumni Affairs right now. We are doing a grad fair that’s going to be just a little thing probably in the McKay room one afternoon and it’ll be things like getting fitted for your gowns, photos, selling tickets and stuff for all the events for the weekend. Another thing we’re working on is the time capsule. All of the classes have a time capsule. We’re going to put it out pretty soon, but we were going to enlist the help of hopefully some seniors to create the physical box because it is a cool artsy project, but we’re both science students so that’s not going to work (laughs). We need people to do that. 

We’re also working on developing a digital time capsule where every senior has a chance to put in a 30- second video or some pictures or something of themselves. We’re working on that and the time capsule is like a whole event during Xaverian farewell. We’ve raised some money from first semester from some different events like one-month raffle tickets and X-Ring tickets. We’re really trying to find ideas for stuff that people would be interested in doing and planning events, but essentially from here on out there will be new senior class presidents in like a month and we will have to help plan grad. Grad is pretty low key compared to X-Ring.

BA: I hear that it is not a big deal (grad).

SC: It’s just that it happens after the fact but there’s some really cool events happening. I had no idea there was like a lobster dinner. They put on a big lobster dinner, as it is hard to get dinner reservations. If we can put some money towards subsidizing the ticket, everyone can go to that and there’s like three nights at the Inn. The last night of grad you stay up all night at the Inn as the party doesn’t even start until late and then they serve breakfast at 4am there. There’s actually a lot of cool events. The hard thing is that it happens after we have all left. The only reason I know this stuff is because I work at the Inn, so we worked grad weekend and it has the potential for a lot of cool stuff.

Anyone interested in donating to this year’s bursary can visit the website stfx.ca/class0f2019.

 

Calling All Beer Connoisseurs

 
 

10.3% brew is local company’s first bottled beer

Half Cocked Brewing Company released its first bottled beer Tapped and Feathered on December 22, 2018 and it’s flavourful. With an alcohol by volume of 10.3%, the new maple batch is a warm buzz in a bottle with a hint of vanilla and chocolate flavour.

The beer is a maple sap imperial stout with quality ingredients sourced from North Grant in Antigonish County. After aging in a Glenora whiskey barrel for 6 months, the beer is bottled. Sap from Haveracre maple farm in Antigonish is slightly noticeable. The beer’s vanilla flavor comes from the oak wood of the barrel used for aging. 

On a shelf in the staff room sits a small jar of the whiskey that was absorbed in the wood of the barrel when the beer was aged. It smells powerful and smooth. Co-owner Greg Oicle commented on the beer’s high alcohol by volume, “The high gravity makes it safer to age. For barrel-aging beer, you want the gravity higher because you have less likelihood of bacteria and yeast or other contaminants over time. It went into the barrel at 8.5% and it came back from Glenora at 10.3%.”

The warm feeling one gets from drinking whiskey is a unique feature of Tapped and Feathered. 

A bottle of 650ml sells for $17. Of the 286 bottles made, half of them are already sold.

Photo: Facebook @Half Cocked Brewing Company

Photo: Facebook @Half Cocked Brewing Company

In addition to sourcing local ingredients, Half Cocked Brewing Company supports local business. Luc Boudreau is the artist from the Maritimes, creator of Maritime Grime, responsible for the top-notch label design on the Tapped and Feathered bottle. 

Boudreau is also the designer of the company’s logo symbolic of the family’s chicken farm that was built by Oicle’s grandfather and partners in the 1960s.

Oicle’s parents bought the farm in the 1980s. As the oldest boy growing up on a farm raising 24 000 chickens, Oicle is familiar with a strong work ethic. In the summer of 1999 before he started his Geology degree at StFX, Oicle worked on building an additional barn where Half Cocked Brewing Company is now located.

The bottling gear for Tapped and Feathered is provided by Big Spruce Brewing, a company from Nyanza, Nova Scotia. Big Spruce Brewing has been supporting Oicle since the early days when they delivered growlers to The Townhouse Brewpub & Eatery for sale. The business model quickly evolved and Oicle now does growler fillings and pints weekly on Thursday evenings at their location.

Oicle is the head brewer and majority shareholder of Half Cocked Brewing Company. His passion for home brewing started in 2014 when Oicle and his brother experimented with recipes. 

The inspiration came from walking into the NSLC and   noticing only a handful of beers were made in Nova Scotia. He remembered, “A year before we opened, we were refining our recipes by brewing for friends and family.”

Founded in August of 2017, Oicle is already looking at brewing equipment to expand the business, “In the course of a month I make 800 to 1000 litres of beer. With a new system, I can be making that much in a day.”

StFX students confirm that the Half Cocked Brewing Company honors its mission to brew delectable, yet down to earth beer. After tasting Tapped and Feathered, Joseph Goodwin wrote, “The variety of flavours create an experience unlike any other beer and despite its robustness and high alcohol content, it is unbelievably smooth.” 

Julia McKaig described Tapped and Feathered, “The first dark beer to ever perk my ears up. Perfect for an uplifting night. Heed warning, it may keep things lively until morning.”

Stop by the brewery on Thursdays from four to seven for excellent service and       quality products at 1290 off the old Highway 245 in Antigonish. 

 

Canadian Man Sentenced to Death in China

 
 

Feud sparked by Huawei CFO’s arrest in Canada continues to rage on

Tensions between Beijing and Ottawa continue to escalate, as a Canadian man was sentenced to death on Monday in China’s northeast province of Liaoning. In November, The Dalian Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to 15 years in prison on charges of mass drug smuggling. Earlier this month, prosecutors appealed the decision, stating that the sentence was too lenient due to evidence of Schellenberg’s involvement in international organized drug crime. Within 20 minutes of Schellenberg’s second appearance, the court decided to send the case to a retrial. 

In a blog post, George Washington University’s Chinese law expert Donald Clarke stated that the speed at which the court decided to retry the case was highly suspicious, and indicated that the decision had been made prior to Schellenberg’s court appearance. He also stated that the extraordinary speed with which the retrial was scheduled is indicative of the case being used as diplomatic retaliation. 

“Schellenberg’s retrial has been scheduled for January 14, a mere 16 days after the appeal decision. This is barely time for the minimum 10 days’ notice of trial required by China’s Criminal Procedure Law (Art. 187), and it is not clear that notice was in fact provided on or before January 4 as required. Given that the prosecution apparently plans to make new allegations that would justify the imposition of a death sentence, such a brief time is utterly inadequate for the preparation of a meaningful defence.”

All of this comes only a month after the Canadian arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Chinese telecom company Huawei Technologies Co. After the arrest, the Chinese Embassy in Canada issued the following statement, “At the request of the U.S. side, the Canadian side arrested a Chinese citizen not violating any American or Canadian law. The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim. 

The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the U.S. and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Wanzhou. We will closely follow the development of the issue and take all measures to resolutely protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.

The request from the U.S. to extradite Wanzhou came after the U.S. uncovered evidence that she purposefully buried Huawei’s connections to a firm that attempted to sell equipment to Iran, despite international sanctions. 

The original warrant was issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York; after the arrest, Canadian officials  confirmed Wanzhou was charged with “conspiracy to defraud multiple international institutions.” The charges of fraud include using a shell company over five years to avoid international American sanctions. Skycom, the company in question, was used to provide telecommunication services to Iran. While Wanzhou asserts that Skycom and Huawei are separate entities, U.S. officials disagree. In addition to the fraud charges, U.S. attorneys state that Wanzhou was actively attempting to avoid prosecution by the U.S., as she was found in possession of “no fewer than seven passports from both China and Hong Kong.” 

When questioned by reporters, Trudeau felt that the arrest would have little impact on diplomatic relations with Beijing, stating that the two countries had a very good relationship. The following day, the Chinese government issued a warning to Canadian ambassador John McCallum, stating that the arrest “severely violated the Chinese citizen’s legal and legitimate rights and interests, it is lawless, reasonless and ruthless, and it is extremely vicious.” The government also warned of “serious consequences” if the actions by North American officials were not remedied.  Shortly after the warning was issued, former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was detained in Beijing, for “endangered Chinese security.” The unspecific allegations were not followed with charges laid by the Chinese government, and Prime Minister Trudeau has referred to the detention as arbitrary and unacceptable. 

A second Canadian has also gone missing in China. Michael Spavor, a Canadian business consultant with ties to North Korea, shared his itinerary on December 10 over Facebook for a lecture series in Seoul. Spavor’s plane was set to depart from China that day; however, he never arrived in South Korea. 

In a statement referring to both Spavor and Kovrig, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang again accused the pair of being “suspected of engaging in activities endangering national security,” without specific charges being laid. Clarke also referred to the pair in his blog post regarding Schellenberg’s death sentence. 

“The case appears to reinforce the message, previously suggested by the detentions of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, that China views the holding of human hostages as an acceptable way to conduct diplomacy.” 

The diplomatic tensions between Canada and China show no signs of easing during the coming weeks, and several former foreign officials have predicted that it will take approximately a year to resolve. President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau have both appealed to the government of China to refrain from utilizing their judicial powers as weapons in the diplomatic spat, though their pleas remain unanswered. Meanwhile, Schellenberg has 10 days to appeal the court decision, although due process has notably been missing from many of the aforementioned court proceedings.

 

There’s a Hot New Bar in Town

 
 

Welcome to the Furnace

January 5 saw the opening of the newest nightclub in Antigonish, The Furnace Nightclub. After launching to great success (max capacity at 10:30pm) I caught up with the owner to discuss his plans and hopes for his business.

Timothy Peters is the 28-year-old entrepreneur at the helm of The Furnace. Growing up in Cape Breton, Tim lived around big fields and farmland all his life, which inspired his interest in creating incredible parties. The year he held his first annual field party titled “Beats in a Field,” a music festival including 5 DJs, a hay wagon for a stage, and a formidable 400 person attendance.

Fast forward to its third year and the event had an attendance of 1000 people who enjoyed food trucks, various entertainers, and a great party overall. The sheer size of the event became too much to handle for a one-man operation, so Tim rented the space previously occupied by the Oriental Lounge to begin his newest business endeavour. One year of preparation later, The Furnace is ready to go and things are just starting to heat up. 

After hearing a brief history, I asked Tim what his goals for The Furnace are, and what his plans are to differentiate himself from other bars in town. Tim elaborated on his target audience being you, the students, and what he thinks will attract students to the new spot. 

The building itself is rather small, but features a good mix of seating space and dance floor to appeal to all in attendance. The dance floor itself has the stage front and centre, where DJs and live bands will keep the nights going for all to see. Interestingly, there is a pool table in the seating area, further increasing the diversity in the environment and creating a unique vibe compared to other bars in town. Aside from the building layout, some key features to look out for are cheap drinks during happy hour (9pm-11pm), various live performers, and several female bouncers, which Tim attributes to creating the comforting and welcoming environment felt on opening night, a trend which will surely continue.

I had some concern over the location of the bar, being above a local restaurant, however Tim easily cleared any doubts I had. He explained that he rents the room from the restaurant owner, and that their businesses work parallel to each other to operate as smoothly as possible. For instance, The Furnace opens just as the restaurant closes, avoiding any noise issues that may be had. Also, with the stairway to access the building being rather narrow, the line begins at the door, allowing for easy access both in and out of bar. Lastly, the bar is inherently not accessible to persons with physical disabilities due to it being on the second floor, and there is no official means to alleviate this issue as of now. 

Each bar in town creates its own unique atmosphere which largely attracts or alienates certain people. Being the new club in town, The Furnace is in the position to create a name for itself and establish a unique atmosphere when compared to its competitors. Tim wants The Furnace to be an inclusive, welcoming, and modern nightclub for all people to come and enjoy. A great example of getting off to the right foot is an event taking place February 2, X-Pride’s “Rainbow Party.” This event concludes the month’s events put on by X-Pride. By hosting this event, The Furnace already cements itself as the welcoming and inclusive location it strives to be. But of course, we can’t forget about the entertainment. From his experience in hosting “Beats in a Field” Tim has many connections which will inevitably lead to talented DJs and live bands to rival some of the best entertainment in town.

Being the new bar in town, there is considerable competition to attract an audience when the competitors have such established experiences. So, here’s the kicker for all us students to enjoy: no cover. That’s right, well, at least most of the time. 

Tim went on to explain that most often there will be no cover to enter the bar as he feels everyone should be able to enjoy the night without paying for admittance. With that said though, of course there will be a cover charge to help pay for a particular entertainer for special events. But Tim wants his customers to receive value for their cover charge, and from the cheap drinks, diverse environment, and great entertainment, it will certainly be worth the price. 

From the environment, to the atmosphere, and entertainment, The Furnace’s future looks bright and is sure to be an interesting new place to visit and enjoy.

Lastly, Tim has a quick message for the students: “Come out and try something new at The Furnace!” 

 

“Is it worth it to be a stereotypical man?”

 
 

Dr. Murray Knutilla speaks about his 2016 book Paying for Masculinity

Dr. Murray Knutilla was interviewed in the evening of June 27, 2018 by Douglass Hook.

Dr. Murray Knutilla is a professor of sociology at Brock University and an adjunct professor at the University of Regina. The book referred to in this interview is Dr. Knutilla’s 2016 work, Paying for Masculinity: Boys, Men, and the Patriarchal Dividend.

***

DH: In simplified terms, what is “Hegemonic Masculinity” and what is Patriarchy?

MK: Patriarchy is a form of organizing human social relations in which males are dominant, males are more privileged, maleness is more highly esteemed than femaleness. An example of patriarchy at work is I’m a golfer, not a good one, unfortunately, but when I’m golfing with my male friends if someone leaves a put five feet short it’s not uncommon to hear someone say “Nice putt, Sally. You did that like an old woman. Are your panties too tight?” That’s humour, but underneath that humour is the notion that girls couldn’t putt well. That old women are useless.

Hegemonic masculinity is just the dominant way in performing masculinity as a man or boy in the world. So, what I argue happens is coming to understand how, in the last 300 to 400 years, a particular form of masculinity became hegemonic because during feudal society, for example, there was much greater equality in men and women’s relationships. Something happened with the emergence of the industrial revolution and capitalism that codified a particular way of “being men” and that emphasized power, control, and domination. 

DH: You talked about how approximately 350 years ago there were more egalitarian modes of being for families, what did this look like?

MK: It was an era that the family was also the productive unit. So, if I were a cobbler or if the history of family was  cobblers, we all worked in the home and the kids were in the home and I might be cutting the leather or my partner, or my wife, might be cutting the eyes in the shoe and sewing the soles, children underfoot, and so the production happened literally in the household. It was still a patriarchal society, so when we went to church on Sunday we might have heard a sermon that emphasized the nature of patriarchy but when we got home on Monday, the truth of the matter was that in order to make the shoes, we worked together.

DH: So, what changed?

MK: That system eroded during the 1600s, 1700s, and the 19th century Victorian period, when the production moved from the home to the factory, when the mechanization of production happened these factories could make shoes at a fraction of the cost of the artisan-produced home shoes and so we were all driven into the factory. Myself, my female partner, my children, and for a period of time the entire family worked together. They liked small children working in mines (and factories) because children could get into small spaces. But a variety of social forces led to change. Men, unions, people of good conscience and, social reformers were important in this; “No we can’t do this to our children, this is not right.” Men increasingly began to realize that if they restricted the work of women and children and if they could get the government or state to do that, they could demand higher wages. In the transition from the feudal family to what became, three centuries later, the traditional western nuclear family, the woman stayed at home raising children and the man brought home the family wage.

DH: How important was the income that women earned to the family household?

MK: In the pre-industrial era, it was absolutely essential. 

DH: How did this change become entrenched if household production was so important?

MK: The notion of domestic labour as a labour of love was really interesting because, on the other hand, “I’m this poor working class man in Manchester, I work long hours in a textile factory, work is nasty, it’s dirty and dangerous. When I come home from my ten or 12-hour shift, it’s really sweet if there’s a meal ready, I don’t have to start doing the laundry, if the kids, whom I love, have been properly taken care of. All of those are really sweet benefits to me.” As patriarchy takes on a new form in the era of industrial capitalism, we begin to understand the benefit that accrues to men from this new division of labour, it’s an element of the patriarchal dividend.

DH: Even though there was this dividend for men, it was reinforced with this kind of Victorian chivalry where the women were expected to be dainty, delicate, and fragile and they needed to be protected from this new industrial world?

MK: The interesting thing about the Victorian middle class, the emerging entrepreneurial capitalist class, they wanted to emanate certain things and imitate the aristocracy, and how they lived. Think of Downtown Abbey, though it was in decline, it was still a lifestyle that many in the middle class and many in the upper echelons of the working class sought to emulate. 

DH: In the book, you talk about the patriarchal dividend, and the benefits that men enjoy because of their status, but there are some significant downsides to this dividend. Can you talk more about that?

MK:  Unequal social orders bear up some of the most lonely and alienated people in the world, which often are men who are unable to establish human relations with other people. One of my favourite movies is Stand by Me, about four boys looking for a dead body. Those boys have not yet gone through the process of “manning up,” but if you know the movie, there are two groups of boys, eleven and twelve, and the older boys who have “manned up,” one played by Keifer Sutherland, and he’s basically a psychopath. What happened between twelve and sixteen? At the end of the movie it’s narrated by Richard Dreyfuss, and he says “I’ve never had friends like I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anybody?” In a totally non-erotic and non-carnal way these boys love each other, they genuinely love each other, they’re genuinely capable of expressing love and affection. In my chapter on boys, I use Niobe Way’s work a lot, where she has done twenty years of cross-cultural work [on boys] and the profound need for connection in love and friendship and that gets drubbed out of us and that’s a tragedy.

Let me tell you about the corporate executives I interviewed about masculinity. I had a number of cases that, by an hour into the interview, the man cancels his other appointments because he hasn’t talked about himself for a long time. One question in which I asked them was “Tell me about your relationship with your children,” so you hear me on the tape say that, and you’re listening to the tape — let me imitate the sound on my tape: “[deep sigh and silence].” You hear this silence because they don’t have memories of the first six to eight years of their child’s life. 

DH: How does this happen?

MK: It’s back to that cost, it’s not just about us, in terms of unhappiness and so, I think men are lonely. In the chapter on boys, I talk about how, as we move from our best friend to our good friend to our acquaintance. In your life, ask yourself, did you have best friends with whom you shared intimate secrets? Then you had good friends, and then you had acquaintances to talk to about stuff, but the corporate executives I talked to, they had no one to talk to about this stuff. They couldn’t talk to their wife, or their competitors in the office or the guys at their golf club, or the people that worked for them. If you have people working for you, you can’t display any weaknesses. Certainly can’t do this with your “good friends,” you’re going to talk about sports and other things, not about your masculinity or sexual frustrations.

DH: Even within that bottling up, there are compartmentalizations that happen, where men display different masculinity to different people based on context, which creates further issues within one’s own concept of their masculinity. 

MK: A really common comment from young girls, when talking about their boyfriends is that, “they’re so nice when we get together, but when he’s with his friends he’s just an asshole.” 

DH: Some of the chapters in your book talk about the rules for men, like, no sissy stuff, don’t be gay, etc. I wondered, that when it comes to masculinity and gay men, do they get a kind of “pass” on masculinity or the competitive aspects of hegemonic masculinity? 

MK: Well, there are multiple masculinities. One of the weaknesses of my book, I think, is the treatment of the whole community of LGBTQ+ and so on. And a part of that is that there is material out there about gay masculinities. I know some gay men who practice hegemonic masculinity. In some ways he acts towards his same-sex partner very much in the way a dominant heterosexual man would act towards his female partner. So, he’s very comfortable in his skin as a gay man practicing hegemonic masculinity. The other point is that there are a range of gay masculinities, just as there are a range of heterosexual masculinities. One of the particular challenges for gay men in our society is the phenomenon of homophobia, which is commonly associated with hegemonic masculinity.

DH: What is it about manhood, or masculinity, that makes it so fragile or difficult to maintain status?

MK: The interesting thing about masculinity as opposed to femininity, is that it has to be earned and granted. You’re not automatically a man, you have to prove you’re a man. For different cultures there are different rites of passage and the interesting thing for advanced western society is that we don’t really have a right of passage. We need others to tell us that we’re men, and recognize we’re men and sometimes we do stupid things to do that...

DH: I thoroughly enjoyed the book and it’s something I will be thinking about for some time to come. This was a pleasure, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me.

MK: You’re very welcome.

 

Sister of Viola Desmond spends first issued $10 notes

 

10 things you need to know about Canada’s new vertical $10

As you may have heard, a new $10 note will soon be making its way into your wallet. Its vertical orientation and portrait of social justice defender Viola Desmond likely caught your attention. 

Here’s a quick and easy list of the top 10 things to know about Canada’s new $10 bill as it gradually enters circulation:

1) It’s the first time a Canadian woman appears on a regular bank note

Portrait subject Viola Desmond, a successful Black Nova Scotia businesswoman who fought against racial discrimination, is the first Canadian woman to appear on a regular bank note. She was chosen for her courageous stand for equality and social justice.

2) It features an icon of human rights and freedoms

In November 1946, she defiantly refused to leave a whites-only area of a movie theatre and was subsequently jailed, convicted and fined. Her court case was one of the first known legal challenges against racial segregation brought forth by a Black woman in Canada. 

3) It’s vertical

This is the first vertical note issued by the Bank of Canada. In keeping with the Bank’s innovative approach to design, this sets it apart from current polymer notes and allows for a more prominent image of the portrait subject.

4) It’s the first time Canadians decided who should be featured on a bank note

Viola Desmond was selected after the Bank launched an extensive public consultation to nominate an iconic woman for a new bank note. She is the first portrait subject nominated by Canadians.

5) It was a successful consultation

We received A LOT of nominations. Canadians definitely wanted to have their say on who should appear on the next bank note. The six-week consultation produced more than 26,000 nominations and 461 eligible nominees. These choices were then whittled down by an independent advisory council to a short list of five Canadian women. The Finance Minister ultimately made the final decision. 

6) It has a theme: human rights and social justice

The back of the new $10 note features the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba—the first museum in the world dedicated solely to human rights. The note also includes a depiction of an eagle feather, a symbol of truth, power and freedom for many First Nations peoples in Canada. It’s intended to represent the ongoing journey toward recognizing rights and freedoms for Indigenous peoples in Canada. 

7) It has some bold new security features

As with all Bank of Canada notes, security is paramount, and the vertical $10 includes several enhanced security features. These include transparent areas, raised ink on the front of the note, detailed metallic images and symbols, and the colour-shifting eagle feather. The bold features on this note are easy to check and difficult to counterfeit. 

8) Yes, it’s a polymer note

The vertical $10 is printed on a polymer substrate, as all Canadian bank notes have been since 2011. Polymer notes are more secure, last longer (about 3.5 times) and they’re even recyclable! 

9) It doesn’t mean you need a vertical wallet

This may be the first vertical bank note in Canada, but you won’t have to handle it differently. It’s the same size as other bank notes and you can use it in the same way.   

10) It’s going to be around for a while

This is the new regular $10 note you’ll see in circulation for years to come. The Bank issues new notes to stay ahead of counterfeiting threats and keep pace with advances in technology. 

Follow the Bank on Twitter (@bankofcanada) for the latest news about Canadian bank notes.

The Bank of Canada Museum is on Facebook! Follow, like and share the latest information about Canada’s upcoming $10 bank note and much more: @BoCMuseum.

 
 

Social Credit and China

 

Social credit system plans for enactment by 2020

China has certainly not been a shining beacon of freedom in the world for a long time. But even for China, this is shockingly dystopian.

Credit is not a new concept to anybody in Canada. We’re all aware that the probability of a bank loan application being accepted, or a desired mortgage rate being approved depends on our credit rating. Our past ability to pay credit card bills, car payments and other regular fees on time is translated into a three-digit number, our credit score. Creditors use this number to determine what payment plan we qualify for or whether we qualify at all.

But what if this credit system was applied to everything, from business to private life? We need not imagine the circumstance. It exists in China today.

Known as “social credit”, the system works in much the same way as financial credit. Citizens are provided with a three-digit score based on observance of their ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behaviour. Going far beyond the scope of financial credit, social credit is based on judgement of all parts of a citizen’s life, from where they spend their money to who they have relationships with. The system was originally presented in 2014, and China has recently begun proof of concept trials for the systems implementation.

Utilizing China’s enormous spy grid of more than 20 million surveillance cameras, nearly every move a citizen makes is analyzed. The raw data of surveillance footage and online activities is overseen by an advanced artificial intelligence program, which uses complex facial recognition software to assign names to actions. A clean, calculating system for handling China’s population of 1.4 billion. The issue comes down to the matter of deciding what constitutes right and wrong action. This is, of course, up to the discretion of the so-called ‘Central People’s Party’.

The specifics of what makes good and bad behaviour remain mostly enigmatic. With that said however, we do have a few examples of offences, including: smoking in non-smoking areas, buying too many video games or playing them for too many hours, bad-driving, attempting to ride a train without paying, jaywalking, and disseminating ‘fake-news’ online.

A citizen’s social credit score can move up, or down. Consequently, there are rewards for high scores, and punishments for low ones.

Punishments are not few. A citizen with a poor score could have restrictions on their ability to travel. Many in test areas have been barred from taking business class rides on trains, and many more are blocked from purchasing domestic flight tickets altogether. Other punishments include: throttled internet speed, impeded access to luxury hotels, and restriction from certain high-status jobs for citizens marked as “trust-breaking.” Worse yet, those with a low social credit score may not be able to attend higher education or send their children to high-cost private schools. One final punishment that we’re aware of is the possibility for citizens to be publicly blacklisted as ‘bad citizens’, encouraging employers not to hire them. Supposedly, citizens will receive a notice before being added to the list and will be granted 10 days to appeal.

A few examples of rewards can also be estimated, based on what has been observed in areas that have begun experimenting with the system. The magazine Foreign Policy did a profile in the tester-city, Rongcheng, and found a list of benefits for ‘good citizens’. They included: Savings on energy bills, the ability to rent without a deposit, and improved interest rates with financial institutions. Other zones have reported that high scorers received special treatment at airports, fast-tracks to the best universities, and the ability to rent or purchase property in the nicest neighbourhoods.

The social credit system sounds outlandish to most of us in the western world. It brings to mind stories like George Orwell’s 1984, or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. So, it may be hard for some to believe that many in China are actually praising the system. Foreign Policy interviewed a denizen of Daxunjiangjia village, Mu Linming, who said that “Life in our village has always been good,” and “After introducing the system, it’s gotten even better.” It’s worth noting though, that in his village the social credit system mostly monitors how well one treats their neighbours and family members. But, in other cities, those who praise the social credit system have similarly cited that it improves public behaviour and rewards good citizens.

The obvious problem with the system is one of freedom. It is certainly the largest social engineering project ever undertaken in the world. It places immense power in the hands of a government that is already not well trusted globally, and it marks a major development in surveillance network and artificial intelligence technologies. It is conceivable that the system could be used to good effect, but the temptation to use it for evil would be present even in the best of hands. Time will tell if the system be used for good, or if it proves to be a nefarious tool for the Communist Party of China to tighten its control over the Chinese people.

Perhaps the social credit system’s aim is truly the establishment of a perfect society; however, utopia and dystopia are often just a perspective apart. Paradise for one, can be hell for another. Although human civilizations have strove for perfection for almost as long as they have existed, the tools now at the fingertips of the powerful capable of making dreams a reality, are nightmarish.

The social credit system will continue to be tested, with plans for full enactment by 2020. To our friends in China, be careful. In the words of George Orwell, “Big Brother is watching you.”

 
 

The Failed Covert Killing of Jamal Khashoggi

 

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation cuts most of its $5 million pledge to Saudi Arabian charity

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a charitable organization based in the United States. It is by all accounts, the biggest private foundation in the United States, with an endowment of roughly $50.7 billion. Recently The Gates Foundation has made headlines after making a decision to cut most of its $5 million pledge to the Saudi Arabian charity, The Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Philanthropic Foundation, or, the MiSK foundation for short.

The decision was not without cause, of course. It comes in the wake of the October 2 murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi was a columnist for the Washington Post, and had been a harsh critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Just this past week, Turkey called for an international investigation into the murder which occurred in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where Khashoggi had gone to get the required documents for his upcoming marriage.

In a statement to Fortune magazine, The Gates Foundation said, “Jamal Khashoggi’s abduction and murder is extremely troubling. We are observing current events with concern, and we do not plan to fund any subsequent rounds of the Misk Grand Challenges program.”

On October 19, after many prior denials, the Saudi Arabian state finally addressed the incident. They claimed that the reporter had died in an altercation with 15 rogue operators. Spokesmen for the kingdom denied that the crown prince had any involvement in the murder.

Turkish government officials have remained vigilant in the case. The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claims that Turkey has audio recordings of the killing and has shared them with other governments, “We gave the recordings, we gave them to Saudi Arabia, we gave them to Washington, to the Germans, to the French, to the English.” On November 12, our own Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed that although he hasn’t, members of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service have listened to the tape.

From the United States, mixed signals. Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a conversation with Mohammed Bin Salman “emphasized that the United States will hold all of those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi accountable, and that Saudi Arabia must do the same.”

In a seemingly contradictory fashion though, U. S. National Security Advisor John Bolton has stated that the tapes do not implicate the Crown Prince’s involvement in the murder.

For an interview with NPR, Mary Louise Kelly spoke with Shadi Hamid, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Hamid noted some curiosities about the case, “So the interesting thing about him is that he wasn’t always a dissident, and he was actually a consummate insider with close connections to the Saudi royal court. That’s what makes this different.”

Further in the interview, Hamid added some speculation as to possible cause for the killing, “I think we can say that he had become the most prominent Saudi dissident... I think he was the one person who could credibly and effectively cast doubt on Mohammed bin Salman’s vision for Saudi Arabia at a time when Mohammed bin Salman, or MbS, as he’s called, was really trying to portray himself as this young reformer and the young reformer that America should hitch its wagon to… You know, if I criticize Saudi Arabia for something, that’s one thing. But if Jamal Khashoggi did that, then it’s different because he’s speaking from within the family.”

Though European nations have been highly critical of the Saudi regime, not all world leaders have shared their view. In the Middle East, leaders including Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have recently been urging the White House to continue its support for MbS.

Israel’s support of Saudi Arabia comes as a surprise to many, Saudi Arabia has yet to give diplomatic recognition to the state of Israel. Nonetheless, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said to the White House in a phone call that although, “what happened in the Istanbul consulate was horrendous, and should be duly dealt with... it’s very important for the stability of the world... that Saudi Arabia remain stable.” Likely, Netanyahu has decided to support the Saudi Arabian crown prince, in light of their shared enemy, Iran.

Despite the appeals from Egypt and Israel, and the differing perspectives of certain officials of the United States, The Trump Administration recently made their stance clear. On November 15, the U. S. placed sanctions on the 17 Saudi officials accused of involvement in the murder. The sanctions pertain to freezing all the assets of the suspects and blocking American citizens from doing business with them.

In the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the story has changed again since the original October 19 statement. Now, their official story is that a team dispatched to Istanbul to retrieve Khashoggi made an impromptu decision to kill him. Of the 17 Saudi officials accused of involvement, the kingdom has threatened five with the death penalty.

Although more than one month has passed since Khashoggi was last seen alive, his body has not been recovered. After admitting to the involvement of at least some state officials in the murder of Khashoggi, Saudi Arabian officials confirmed that his body was dismembered by the killers. Turkish officials believe that the murderers then dissolved Khashoggi’s body in acid and poured the remains down the drain of the Saudi consulate.

U. S. President Donald Trump called the incident, “The worst cover-up ever.”

 
 

The Migrant Caravan

 

A political tactic in the lead to elections

The notion of a group of migrants walking their way from Central America north to Mexico, and the United States is true. However, this is not necessarily a new phenomenon. For decades, people from Central America have been migrating north to the United States in search of security and prosperity. Questions remain regarding the nature of their origin and the reasons for their travelling, and why, if this has been going on for decades, is so important now.

First, their origins. The current caravan of migrants began in Honduras, a nation that has been experiencing turmoil since a coup d’état in 2009, but more on this below. What, most recently, began as a collection of approximately 160 people from a town in western Honduras, had grown through October to include more than 4 000 people, though numbers are estimated to be lower, as some migrants are becoming disillusioned with the trek or they find other opportunities. Due to the unofficial nature of the caravan, the numbers are hard to make out and are difficult to maintain as they move from town to town and across the national borders of Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. Some outlets have reported that the numbers have swelled with the rise of media awareness of the caravan, no doubt buoyed by the breathless alarmist pre-election warnings of President Trump.

Hondurans have been moving out of their home country since 2009, when the nation underwent a coup d’état which deposed democratically elected President Manuel Zalaya. Zelaya, largely seen as a progressive and reformist politician, oversaw modest economic reforms in Honduras and was charged with violating the constitution of Honduras by calling for a referendum over the constitution (the nature of the change is somewhat contested). Instead, the Supreme Court of Honduras issued a secret warrant for his arrest and had the army jail the president. The interim president, previously the head of the Honduran Congress, Roberto Micheletti exiled Manuel Zelaya. A new and widely derided election was held, electing a right-wing president, Pepe Lobo Sosa, who would take office and usher in waves of pro-business policy amid crackdowns of protests by community, union, and grassroots organizers. 

Between 2009 and 2015, 118 people were murdered and Honduras became the most dangerous country for environmental activists, according to Global Witness. Since 2009, 30 LGBTQ people have been murdered a year, compared to two a year from 1994 to 2008. The breakdown of a competent government has also seen the growth and expansion of organized crime and led to Honduras becoming the most violent country outside of a war zone in the world since the removal of Zelaya. 

Trends of poverty reduction and increasing prosperity also quickly reversed following the coup; poverty rising 13.2%, extreme poverty 26%, and unemployment rising from 6% to 14% between 2008 and 2012.

Zelaya has been allowed to return to Honduras, but some observers have pointed to the fact that during his exile, his attempts to garner international recognition of his ousting as a military coup were frustrated by then Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton. Secretary Clinton supported the military coup by refusing to acknowledge the ousting of Zelaya as a coup. Clinton is also known to have worked behind the scenes to expedite a new election without the participation of ousted President Zelaya, as found in a leaked correspondence between Secretary Clinton and US Embassies internationally. As in many cases of political and economic upheaval in Central and South America, American foreign policy has played a role.

The migrant caravan itself became a news item largely due to Fox News reporting of it on October 15, which was then retweeted by President Donald Trump, who, for a myriad of reasons, believed it would bolster support for his border wall. President Trump has made many claims about the migrant caravans, many outright lies as fact checked by a number of sources, not the least of which is that the caravan is populated by terrorists from the Middle East and members of ISIS. 

It has also been pointed out that the mass-coverage of the migrant caravan has corresponded with the midterm elections on November 6, and with the midterms completed, the coverage and Trump remarking on it have fallen off, revealing it to have been a political tactic in the lead to elections.

 
 

Japanese Minister of Cybersecurity Does Not Use a Computer

 

Japanese parliamentarians outraged after minister admits he has no technological competency

The Japanese cybersecurity minister has come under scrutiny during the past two weeks, for details relating to his use of a computer - or lack thereof.

Yoshitaka Sakurada, 68, admitted during question period in a lower house session that he doesn’t use a computer.

“I’ve been independent since I was 25 and have always directed my staff and secretaries to do that kind of thing,” Sakurada replied. “I’ve never used a computer!”, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper quoted him saying.

The minister also appeared confused when asked about very basic technologies, such as a USB. When parliamentarians asked whether USB drives were used in Japan’s nuclear plants.

“I don’t know details well... So how about having an expert answer your question if necessary, how’s that?”

While his comments were largely criticized by parliamentarians, many citizens took to Twitter to poke fun at Sakurada’s lack of basic technological know-how.

“If a hacker targets this Minister Sakurada, they wouldn’t be able to steal any information. Indeed, it might be the strongest kind of security!”

Sakurada appears to be aware of the public’s interest in his computer habits. In a house meeting on November 21, Sakura responded to his recent viral notoriety: “My name is known by people around the world to that extent? So I’m famous now, whether that’s good or bad.”

During the meeting, many ministers inquired whether he possessed the necessary skills to act as minister of cyber security. In response, Sakurada said, “I believe my ability to make decisions is excellent,” although he did admit that he lacked a rudimentary understanding of cyber security.

“I myself am not that familiar with cybersecurity matters,” he told the committee, as reported by the Japan Times. “My biggest job (as Cabinet minister) is to read out written replies (prepared by bureaucrats) without making any mistakes,” he said.

When bureaucrats commented on the fact that his lack of technological understanding could cause economic loss to Japan, Sakurada said, “I’m here because a Cabinet minister is needed.”

Sakurada also expanded on his use of technology in general. 

“I use a smartphone many times a day because it’s very useful... I’ve never felt any inconvenience from not being able to type by myself.”

“It’s incredible that a person who has never used a computer is in charge of cybersecurity policies,” a member of the opposition said in response to Sakurada’s remarks.

This is not the first time the minister has come under fire. Mr Sakurada is also a board member of the Tokyo Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, in charge of organizing Tokyo 2020. When questioned as to the total economic burden the Olympic games would place on Japan’s central government, Sakurada responded, “1 500 yen” - equaling just over $17. While members of the public could be excused for missing a decimal place or two, Sakurada was off by a factor of 100 million as the actual budgeted allocation was $150 billion yen. 

In responding to criticism regarding his response to Olympic questioning, Sakurada explained that the questions had not been given to him beforehand, causing confusion upon receiving them.

“Since there was no prior notice about the questions, I had no idea what would be asked at the session,” quoted The Asahi Shimbun.

It should be noted that questions in the lower house do not require submission before session, although the parliamentarian who inquired about Olympic funding confirmed they had been.

While Sakurada’s commentary could be viewed as simple naivety, his remarks have often wandered into the field of insult and offence. In 2016, he was scrutinized for describing “comfort women” (who were women and girls forced into sexual slavery by occupying Japanese troops during World War II)  as “professional prostitutes”. South Koreans were understandably enraged by the remarks.

Less than three weeks prior to the remarks, South Korea and Japan had held a historic meeting on the issue. During the meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered an apology, and the Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kashida admitted its military was guilty of sex trafficking and slavery during war times. Japan also promised to provide $11.2 million to provide support to the 46 surviving Korean victims.

When questioned about Sakurada’s remarks, South Korean officials stated there was no need for a response to “reckless remarks by a lawmaker who is shameless in front of history.”

All tallied, Sakurada’s ineptitudes and remarks over the years have not only become an annoyance to local parliamentarians, but have also caused animosity within the international community. At this point, Japan’s central government has released no statement on Sakurada’s latest remarks, signalling acceptance and compliance with the minister’s Luddism by one of the world’s most technologically advanced societies.

 
 

Marijuana Packaging Sparks Outrage

 

Customers disappointed in overuse of plastic

In the nearly one month since prohibition ended across Canada, long-term users and curious first-timers alike have been taking advantage of the opportunity to head into their local cannabis distributor and snap up the leafy green buds by the handful. Stores across Canada have reported shortages, with some provincial distributors having to shut down three days a week to manage supply and demand – a situation which plagued Québec recently. While it is not hard to see why Canadians by the crowd are keen to try the newly legal substance, many Canadians are balking at something completely unexpected – the packaging.

 
 
Caleb MacIsaac

Caleb MacIsaac

Unlike the packaging debacles surrounding cigarettes of the 90s and early 2000s, the packaging issues related to marijuana isn’t one laden with bleeding hearts, cataracts, or wheelchair bound smokers. Instead, the problem lies in sheer amount of packaging. In purchasing a single gram of marijuana from the NSLC, a customer can expect the packaging to weigh many multiples of the product itself - clocking in at 22.7 grams of plastic. For the 3.5-gram choice, the package weighs a hefty 34.0 grams; a slightly more appropriate weight to weight ratio, if only slightly. The containers for the marijuana do not label volume, but it visually clear they are significantly larger than they need to be. The size of the packaging may not have been such an oddity, had it not been for the fact that marijuana users have, for decades, used more quantity-appropriate packaging.

Each brand version of marijuana comes in as small a quantity as one gram. If a customer purchases five grams across five different brands, each one comes in its own 22.7-gram plastic container. For five different brands of one-gram amounts of marijuana, a buyer can expect to bring home 114 grams of plastic. At a time when people are becoming more aware of the amount of plastic that ends up as pollution in the environment, the oceans, and even our bodies, this seems like a deep miscalculation attributable to federal packaging mandates, and producers of marijuana. Due to the secure nature of marijuana sales, the relatively large plastic containers cannot be used like a jam jar at a bulk food store or a reusable coffee cup – they must be thrown out or recycled. 

Given that the legal sale of marijuana is still in infancy stages, it may very well be that the packaging will improve over time. Understandably, some critics may contend that the large size and safety lids are a necessary measure to prevent children from accessing marijuana. Indeed, the federal government has mandated all packing be “child-proof.” In comparison, pill-containers, which come in much smaller sizes, are just as effective (if not more so) at keeping pills out of the hands of children, and there is no discernible reason the same container could not be reused for marijuana. 

Hopefully, the amount of plastic in containers will decrease to a reasonable point. Another viable option may be for distributors to incorporate some kind of container that can be reused or repurposed. In the end, the reasoning behind producers’ rejection of pill container-like vessels will probably never be known. Until such a time that the packaging is reconsidered, customers will have to endure their 22.7 grams of plastic with every single-serve gram of marijuana.

 
 

Cyber-attack Harnesses StFX Network Power

 

Bitcoin business temporarily shuts down StFX services

StFX services such as Wi-Fi, Moodle, MesAmis, printing and student email accounts were down for the count starting the morning of November 1. These services and others gradually returned on Sunday following a 4-day hiatus. 

The university’s Facebook @stfxuniversity posted on November 2 that the “IT Services Team worked through the night making progress testing and analyzing the 150 servers within our network.” Each server is being evaluated rebooted after a thorough assessment that accounts for the time-consuming process. 

Kendra MacDonald, a Service & Support Administrator of IT Services notes the cause of this issue to be an organization harnessing power from the school’s network to mine bitcoin. 

MacDonald assured The Xaverian Weekly that the person, or people, doing ‘cryptocoin mining.’  behind this operation on StFX’s high-powered network did not access personal information from students’ accounts. 

StFX News details the act of ‘mining’ as “The malicious software attempted to utilize StFX’s collective computing power in order to create or discover bitcoin for monetary gain.”

Xaverian News Editor Evan Davison-Kotler worked in the corporate finance industry this past summer as a blockchain consultant. He expands on StFX’s announcement, “There’s essentially a set number of bitcoins that have can ever come into circulation. Mining is simply the process of releasing a new bitcoin into circulation. It’s a competition between lots of people on the network to solve a really hard cryptographic problem using computational power. The function of mining is essentially two-fold – it creates a resource-based method of obtaining Bitcoin, putting a bottleneck on the supply and a cost (power) associated with the procurement of the currency. The second element is security – the more individuals attempting to release a coin into circulation, the more secure the bitcoin network becomes; this is through really impressive and complex cryptography. The more bitcoins in circulation, the higher the mining difficulty for the next bitcoin, meaning the more power necessary to mine. In theory, increased power demands match increased price of bitcoin, meaning there is always a monetary incentive to expend the power necessary to release a new coin into circulation. We can obviously see the issue with this, where bad actors could attempt to infiltrate and repurpose existing servers and processors that they do not own, re-routing them to expend processing power on bitcoin mining.”  

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency created by Satoshi Nakamoto. The idea for the cryptocurrency was first posted by Nakamoto in “Bitcoin P2P e-cash paper” dated November 1, 2008. 

The paper by Nakamoto, originally published in full on bitcoin.org, is the first trace of Nakamoto’s mysterious identity. To this day, documentaries and other sources speculate on whether Nakamoto is an individual or a group of people.  

An article titled “What is Bitcoin?” posted on the University of Toronto website March 17, 2014 defines in some detail what is Bitcoin and how it works. Jenny Hall interviews Yuri Takhteyev who was a status-only professor in the Faculty of Information about cryptocurrency. Takhteyev concludes that, “cryptocurrencies are probably here to stay.” 

Takhteyev correctly predicted the evolution of “cryptocurrencies” from the underground black-market into mainstream. The University of Toronto added three new courses this year. Portfolio Management Praxis Under Real Market Constraints, Blockchain Technologies and Cryptocurrencies, and Inventrepreneurship: Invention + Entrepreneurship are now courses taught to graduate students in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.

The objective of Blockchain Technologies and Cryptocurrencies as an academic course of study is described by the University of Toronto in the U of T News, “This course will provide students with the concepts and mechanics of the blockchain technologies starting with Bitcoin, allowing them to identify business-relevant benchmarking criteria for blockchain technologies in accordance with their current and future impact on business processes.” 

Cryptocurrency has come a long way since Bitcoin was introduced ten years ago by Nakamoto. The study of blockchain technology by international universities in Qatar, Stanford, and Edinburgh validate Nakamoto’s global influence at the post-secondary education level.

The recent cyber-attack on StFX’s network is a reminder for our readers to remain critical and inform themselves before investing in cryptocurrency.

Enterprise systems professor David Mattie, who has over twenty years of experience in the IT services industry commented on the breach, “All it takes is one guy penetrating one server, out of our 500, to have all of StFXs data compromised. We spend the same amount of money as the University of Toronto does in our IT department, but we are always susceptible to being hacked. It does not matter how much money you spend on IT, you will never be able to be 100% secure unfortunately.”

StFX continues to investigate the matter and have yet to identify the culprit responsible for the cyber- attack.

 
 

WUSC & StFX for SAFE on Refugee Awareness Day

 

Partnered organizations hope to shed light on worldwide refugee crisis

WUSC StFX and StFX for SAFE have partnered with the Students’ Union and Office of the President to host a StFX Refugee Awareness Day on November 20th. The event aims to shed light on the scope of the global crisis and the struggle of living day-to-day as a refugee. We are also celebrating the refugee resettlement efforts taking place in Antigonish and at StFX over the years. On November 20th, a mock ‘refugee camp tent’ will be set up in the Xavier Gardens courtyard to highlight the tenuous living conditions of refugees worldwide. Lectures, film, and activities will take place in or near the tent. The evening event, called Salam Neighbor - Hello Neighbour, tells the story of the Al Hariri family coming to Antigonish. The Al Hariri family was sponsored by SAFE using the money raised by StFX for SAFE in the first year of the campaign. We will meet Mr. Al Hariri whose family lived in the Za’atari Camp in Jordan for six years prior to arriving in Antigonish this summer, thanks to the many efforts of many, many volunteers.

Both societies contribute to the resettlement of refugees in different ways. StFX WUSC has existed for over 30 years. It is one of several programs offered by the national World University Service of Canada (WUSC). At our university, the Society sponsors a refugee and when the individual arrives in Canada, the WUSC program covers their first year of study at the university. WUSC’s operations at StFX are funded by a multi-partner system: each year, students pay a $4.00 annual contribution. The funding allows the StFX WUSC Student Refugee Program (SRP) to sponsor the student’s cost of coming to Canada and the student’s first year in Canada. The university contribution includes the waiving tuition, residence costs and dining hall fees for the WUSC students’ first year of study. While the university’s support certainly offsets a significant proportion of the costs incurred by WUSC-sponsored students, expenses such as summertime living, travel, textbooks, and technology are all expense covered by the WUSC fund. WUSC’s support also extends beyond financing, as they are responsible for the overall well-being of the sponsored student. In a video promoting the society, StFX graduate Sierra Bergman described the society’s role:

wusc.ca

wusc.ca

“During the students’ first year at StFX, our WUSC society is entirely responsible for the welcome and well-being of the student. We select the student, register them for classes, pick them up from the airport, provide them with bedding, winter coats, and all of the necessities related to school.” 

In the same video, student Stephanie MacAulay elaborated, “we provide financial and emotional support for students throughout their first year, and continue to serve as a resource for them throughout their four years at X.”

Farhiyo Salah is one of WUSC’s sponsored students, and a supporter of the SRP program. In describing the impact that WUSC has had on her, she said, “The SRP program changed my life in many ways. Since I was young, I had dreamed to do a degree and become a nurse. It’s kind of a light that shined on my future, and in my life.”

While the fund has been instrumental in ensuring the WUSC students’ success, the dated funding model is lacking, as it has not kept pace with rising costs. When established, the $4.00 contribution had buying power of approximately $5.50 today. While inflation has kept ticking forwards, the student contribution remains frozen in time, leading to a progressive reduction in WUSC’s capacity to support refugee students. Last year, the society held a referendum to increase the student contribution from $4.00 to $6.00 - this would have provided an additional $8,000 in funds for WUSC. Unfortunately, though the referendum was supported, it failed to meet quorum (low voter turnout) and did not pass. In spite of the defeat, WUSC has continued to provide their crucial support to refugee students, and a second referendum is being planned.

StFX for SAFE was created in response to the ongoing crisis in Syria. In May of 2015, Syria-Antigonish Families Embrace (SAFE) was established as a private sponsorship group. Their mission was simple: gather funds and community support, with the hopes of eventually resettling a Syrian refugee family in Antigonish. The response was nothing short of incredible. The town, steeped in a tradition of humanitarian response dating back to the days of Moses Coady, was instantly galvanized. Fundraising events and awareness campaigns began occurring on a weekly basis, organized by individuals of all backgrounds, levels of education and professions. In speaking with SAFE members, they describe it as beyond anything they could have ever imagined. 

Within StFX, the community was eager to directly participate in the humanitarian effort. At a special meeting in November of 2015, StFX faculty members, representatives of the StFX Students’ Union, three employee unions, the Association of University Teachers and senior administration members voted on a motion to create StFX for SAFE. The goal of this newly founded initiative was to raise $100 000 in sponsorship money for SAFE, to aid in their resettlement efforts. 

Many readers will balk at the idea of a $100 000 goal - if it seems like a steep target, it’s because it was. In a town of only 20 000 people and a school of under 5 000 students, many saw this goal as nothing short of casually optimistic. With fundraising events such as the Peace for Syrian Walk, two Pause for the Cause campaigns, “Hair Today/Gone Tomorrow”, and the benefit-based theatrical performances of StFX for Safe Vice-President Majd Al-Zhouri, StFX for SAFE reached their fundraising goal of $100 000 within 18 months. 

Together with other private sponsorship groups such as the Tri-Heart Society and C.A.R.E. Foundation based out of St. Ninian’s Parish, a total of eight Syrian families have resettled in Antigonish, with a ninth in the works. 

StFX for SAFE and WUSC are both examples of the importance of participating in the community as a global citizen. It reflects the sheer magnitude of change that can happen when individuals come together focused on promoting refugee justice. Both societies invite you to attend StFX Refugee Awareness Day and demonstrate your support for refugees around the world. Regardless of the size of your contribution, whether you give your time or donate funds, you can make a difference - the small ripples of the few create waves of change at their intersect.

To find out more, search StFX for SAFE and StFX WUSC on Facebook.

 
 

Marijuana Demand Way Higher Than Supply

 

Canada officially becomes the second nation in the world to fully legalize marijuana

On October 17, Canada officially become the second nation in the world to fully legalize marijuana. 

However, the much-anticipated legalization day has proven to be more than a bit anti-climactic. Supply of legal cannabis across Canada has not been able to catch up with the demand. In a press- release, a spokesperson for the NSLC said “The supply challenges are being experienced nationwide and are not exclusive to Nova Scotia.” British Columbia, long notorious for its unauthorized dispensaries and illicit supply of marijuana, has only one sanctioned storefront. Government run cannabis retailers in Quebec shut down for three days this week due to a lack of product. In the other provinces, the situation is more-or-less the same. 

The supply issue can be traced to bureaucracy. Red tape and legal hurdles are making the processing of marijuana producers and dispensaries painstakingly slow. All would-be producers and sellers of cannabis, whether government owned or private, must apply for registration with Health Canada. As of Friday, November 2, only 132 producers and 78 retailers have been approved. In addition, many of the currently licensed retailers are small storefronts. In an attempt to keep up with the applications, Health Canada has hired 300 additional staff members for evaluating producers. 

In one example of the process, CTV News found that a producer in Ontario, FSD Pharma Inc, was approved to grow marijuana one year ago, but they are still waiting for a license to sell today. 

In Ontario, physical locations will not be open until April at the earliest, meaning sales of cannabis are being handled online by the Ontario Cannabis Store website. In addition to a supply shortage, the current strike by workers at Canada Post is making even delivery problematic. 

Perhaps, some shortages are reasonable to expect. A spokeswoman for Health Canada, Tammy Jarbeau added to the discussion, “As with any new industry where there is considerable consumer demand, we expect there may be periods where inventories of some products run low or, in some cases, run out,” Certainly though, a simplification of the process would help ensure inventories don’t run out as often. The federal government is reportedly working on doing that. 

In Nova Scotia, it’s worth noting too that the packaging of marijuana sales in the NSLC’s Cannabis section is excessive. Cannabis is sold in plastic jars inside cardboard boxes, and often the plastic containers are have more than ample space. For example, a sale of three and a half grams is given out with enough space in the container to comfortably fit seven or more grams. Shoppers looking for a green solution would probably like to see a dispensary that allows customers to use reusable containers. However, Health Canada has the final say, requiring marijuana “be packaged in an immediate container that is tamper-evident, child-resistant, prevents contamination and keeps cannabis dry.” As per regulation, cannabis sales must also include Health Canada produced health and safety documents. So, it seems the NSLC’s hands may be tied here. 

While we can all respect the need to keep drugs out of the hands of children and assurances that users of a drug are well informed, the regulations seem inconsistent. Why would cannabis need to be so heavily protected, when even hard liquor is not held to the same standards? No one was ever given health and safety information with a 40-ounce sale of vodka, nor does the government require it be sold in a child proof container. As Canadian society adapts to the new laws, perhaps this is liable to change. 

Either way, since the new legal infrastructure has made it impossible for many consumers to satisfy their desires, it should come as no surprise that many are returning to black-market sources. Included in the new legislation is the ability to grow up to 4 plants per household. Those with the right setting to do so may take to growing their own, but that’s not likely to help anyone in the short term. 

Hopefully, as Health Canada approves more producers, the short supply proves short lived - only time will tell. 

 
 

The Logic & Danger of Trump’s latest Political Move

 

U.S. President threatens to pull out of Cold War nuclear treaty

President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last month, on October 20. The president has decided to abandon the treaty due to purported violations by Russia, the second signatory to the bilateral agreement. While a withdrawal from the treaty may seem logical to counter the reported nuclear development by Russia, Trump’s decision may put global security at risk.

The INF treaty was signed in 1987, between former presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. It eliminated Soviet and American short and intermediate range land-based nuclear and conventional missiles in Europe, essentially eliminating an entire category of nuclear weapons. Along with other treaties like the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the INF treaty helped bring an end to the arms race between the two countries and signalled the end of the Cold War.

The very reason why Trump wants to scrap the INF is similar to the reason why it was signed in the first place – the threat of nuclear strikes in Europe. Trump has accused Russia of violating the treaty by developing a ground-launched nuclear system that could reach continental Europe without much warning. Similarly, in 1987, the INF treaty was signed after the Soviets deployed short-range ballistic missiles that could target NATO alliance members with little notice. In a sense, Trump’s decision to pull out of the treaty is a logical move to confront, once again, a perceived threat of a Russian nuclear presence in Europe.

Beyond expanded ground-based launch systems, Trump’s move to withdraw from the treaty may have been spurred by Russia’s increasing interest in upgrading their nuclear arsenal. Earlier this year, Putin announced the development of two new nuclear delivery systems, one of which is a hypersonic system that could evade existing missile defense systems. Since Russia seems to be expanding its nuclear capabilities, although its claims have not been verified yet, it is only rational for Trump to turn towards the time-tested nuclear deterrent.  

Withdrawing from the INF treaty could have other benefits for the United States, such as signing new treaties between Russia, China, and other emerging nuclear powers that regulate what types of nuclear weapons are acceptable. One of Trump’s reasons for scrapping the treaty is to attempt to coerce China into signing a similar agreement, since it too has been expanding its nuclear capabilities. Unfortunately, the suggestion of a multilateral nuclear treaty may be a fool’s errand; China has condemned Trump’s decision to unilaterally leave the INF treaty, which does not bode well for the chances of a treaty between the United States and China.

Critics of Trump’s announcement to leave the INF treaty say that his actions could lead to another arms race and further destabilization in international politics. Gorbachev himself wrote, “The United States has in effect taken the initiative in destroying the entire system of international treaties and accords that served as the underlying foundation for peace and security following World War II.” in his op-ed piece about Trump’s decision in the New York Times. Scrapping one nuclear treaty could lead down the slippery slope that sees the abandonment of multiple nuclear weapons control treaties, and the beginning of a renewed nuclear arms race.

There have also been mixed reactions from allies of the United States after Trump’s announcement. Britain’s defense minister Gavin Williamson voiced his support for the United States’ withdrawal from the INF treaty. 

On the other hand, Germany, France, the EU have expressed concerns about an arms race and the implications for NATO. While Trump seems to be reacting to emerging security threats, he may leave the INF treaty with little support from the majority of his allies, as they try to stabilize power shifts in global politics without resorting to deterrence through mutually assured destruction.

Overall, Trump’s decision to potentially withdraw the United States from the INF treaty should come as no surprise given his track record of treaty withdrawals and coercive behaviour during his time in office. 

Regardless of outcome, it is imperative that the president carefully weigh the risk of emerging nuclear powers and Russia’s aggression against the global costs of resuming nuclear arms races before formally tearing up the INF treaty.

 
 

Dear StFX: Sexualized Violence Happens #HereToo

***CONTENT WARNING: The following stories contain information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors. Following this collection, a list of resources has been published. Please do not hesitate to contact any of these resources if you find yourself struggling.***


The following stories were collected to demonstrate the extent to which sexualized violence is an issue #HereToo. One in four women will experience sexualized violence in their lifetime - but it isn’t just a statistic. It isn’t just something we read about in the news, or hear about on TV - it is a real, far too prevalent issue on this campus and many others. Thank you to everyone who was able to find the courage to share these stories with us.

#IAmHer

As someone who has been sexually assaulted– I believe that institutions, students, faculty, and community members should work towards creating a more informed policy so that victims of sexual violence can feel more secure about coming forward.

A student who was taken advantage of last year who did, in fact, come forward was let down by her OWN university. StFX did not inform her that her rapist’s suspension was lifted and that he was to be returning back to campus for the new school year. She felt unsafe, as would anyone. She left this province–– she left this campus–– she returned back home. The university took away her voice. The school failed to protect her because he, a student who decided to take advantage of another, has the RIGHT to his education.

The school failed to protect ALL students because we still do NOT have a name, ID picture or a clue who this sexual predator is.

StFX… did you not think that having that student back on campus wouldn’t trigger the girl who went through something no one deserves? Do you think the rapist is more entitled to his education here at StFX than the victim? Do you think he won’t do it again just because he’s “learned from his mistake?” I can honestly tell you that this is and will never get easier for the victims. I used to be proud of this university but your actions towards this makes me nothing but disappointed and full of anger.

It only takes one individual to force themselves onto another. It only takes one pill and a blink of an eye to drug someone. It only takes one individual to rape more than one student. Many students have come forward but due to putting the blame on the victim, hearing out the sexual predator and favouring in their favour or the lack of evidence they were turned away.

THIS. IS. WHY. WE. DON’T. COME. FORWARD. #IBelieveYou #IStandWithYou #IAmHer

  • Anonymous

A common story that I hear around campus is women speaking about being sexually assaulted on campus and not reporting it. Why? When someone is a victim of crime, wouldn’t the logical progression be to seek justice? I can’t speak for everyone, but I am a survivor. Last year, during my very first week on campus I was raped in my own room in residence. I don’t really have any desire to relive this experience, even in print. I decided to not report my assault for a few reasons. The first being that I had no idea how it would be done. Throughout orientation week I was never clearly told how to report or what the difference was between reporting and disclosing. There was a lack of clear education and information. It seemed to be hidden by discourse about the policy and the progress that the university was making. On top of that, I was terrified about how a report and investigation would influence my education. I was so excited to finally be at university and I knew the sacrifice my parents have had to make to send me to StFX. I did not want to go through a process that I had already heard, one week into my time here, was not supportive of survivors and seriously detrimental to survivors’ right to education. I can only say that I felt sheer terror at the thought of the university administration and going through the reporting process. This university’s administration has done nothing to date to demonstrate to me that they would protect and support me. There is no evidence that there is any compassion for the trauma survivors that go through at the upper levels of this administration as evident by their actions over the last weeks and their response to criticism in emails that were tone deaf and disappointing. This administration has to demonstrate that it is dedicated to providing safe spaces for survivors. Improvement of the sexual violence policy is necessary, but also improvement in the education of the administration about how to support them during and after their interaction with the university justice system and show this community their dedication to real action. The administration has a responsibility to keep members of this community safe. They continue to fail. For all the people on this campus who are survivors and all those who could become survivors because of this administration's inaction: wake up and face this issue with real preventative action. I am ashamed of this university. I want to be able to be proud of my X-Ring, not embarrassed for wearing a symbol associated with a school that doesn’t support survivors.

  • Anonymous

In my first year at StFX, I was invited back to a guy’s house to hang out. We spent time talking and decided to smoke together. During this time, I was laced and immediately began to lose control of my body. He quickly found a way to isolate me from the others in the house. I had never been so scared before. I couldn’t form sentences, I couldn’t feel my body, and I started to feel confused about where I was and who I was with. He began to move closer to me and touch my body. I was so shocked that I couldn’t move and wasn’t even able to form the word ‘no’ in my mind. Due to the events that took place that night, I have developed anxiety in social situations and around other males. I am constantly worried about going out, running into him, being laced again, or coming anywhere close to an experience like this one. I have never shared this story and the only reason I will now is because I have never felt comfortable to come forward due to the lack of support at StFX. StFX does NOT value my safety over the safety of their reputation and image. The lack of efforts to end sexualized violence on campus are sickening. After the media attention StFX has received this month, I know that I am not safe on this campus. I know that I will never be safe on this campus. More horrifically, I know that I can’t trust StFX to protect me and my body.

  • Anonymous

I'm a Part-Time Instructor at StFX. Some time ago, at a reception, a faculty member asked me about my racial background. Not really knowing what to do, I answered candidly. The faculty member then said that those of my race and skin tone were “the better looking ones.” They then offered some of the reception food to me, by dangling it over my head and beckoning me to eat. I felt completely humiliated and powerless. The room was also filled with other faculty members and students. It's not possible for me to report anything like this (or anything worse), because I would lose anonymity through the process, and this could endanger my job. In my case, it would be as simple as not being offered another contract.

  • Anonymous

My first year on campus, I became involved with a guy who was in four of my classes. We were in no way shape or form exclusive, and my interest in him was more or less platonic. One night when we were hanging out, he brought me to his room and started trying to kiss me. At first I tried to pull away, but he was unrelenting, so I gave in, although I didn’t want to. As I had previously been sexually assaulted numerous times, I felt that I was powerless to stop things. He tried to take my pants off, and when I said no he shoved his hand down them anyways. He then vigorously attempted to finger me. The action was causing me pain, as I was not aroused and did not want this to occur. I told him to stop, and that he was hurting me, but he would not listen. Although things didn’t end up going any farther on that evening, I walked back to my residence after the fact with tears streaming down my face and blood trickling down my thighs. Having previously been in a sexually abusive relationship, I did not know at the time that this was wrong, and thought that I was in the wrong for feeling the way that I did about the situation. I thought that this was the way that sex happened, and I had always felt that it was my fault that I was feeling that way and wondered what was wrong with me. Sexual assault is rampant on the StFX campus, and sometimes when these things occur we may not believe that anyone else feels that way and believe that we are alone. To anyone on this campus who has experienced sexualized violence, I believe you. I am here for you. And I support you.

  • Anonymous

“Do you want to go upstairs?” He asked while we danced in the basement of MacPherson. I went to MacPherson consistently, most of my friends were from there. And in my drunken state, I said yes.

We go upstairs where I met his roommate. We spoke for a little while and then he left the room. Now it was just me and him. “Drink this.” He gave me a drink, I don't remember what it was. “Do you want to smoke?” He let me have some of his vape. I don't know what was in it. I remember coughing.

We spoke for a little while. Then he started kissing me. We kissed and it was fun. Then he started taking my clothes off as he pushed me down. I asked if we could slow down because I didn't know him. “We're not strangers. We spoke for a little while.” He said as he kept undressing me. I was falling in and out of consciousness. I don't remember exactly when he entered me. But I remember the laughter of my friend and the look on his face when I looked towards the door and saw him. “Close the door!” He shouted and my friend left. I remember their laughter even after the door closed.

In and out of consciousness. I remember my legs above his head, limp. The pain of him ripping inside of me.

I don't know when he finished, but I remember laying on my side, exhausted, naked, tired. “Do you want me to walk you back to your residence?” I said yes.

So I got dressed and walked out with him. Halfway back to residence, I saw a friend. I ran to him and hugged him, began to cry, “I want to go home.”

The next day my friend laughed at me and informed me of what he saw in the room. “You were so drunk,” he laughed. I nodded and tried not to let it bother me. It took me months to realize he should've stopped what happened. I don't know who I'm angry at or if I'm angry at all. I'm not friends with him anymore. He doesn't understand why. Sometimes he's offended I don't talk to him anymore. Maybe he doesn't even realize what happened that night. I didn't for a long time.

But I don't hang out in MacPherson anymore.


  • Anonymous


Why I didn’t report: because he was my boyfriend. Because I felt like I owed it to him. Because I was “his property.” Because I thought that that was normal. Because I didn’t know any better.

  • Anonymous


It was my first year. I had been casually hooking up with a friend from my residence building. One night after drinking heavily I went up to his room to see him. His roommate answered the door and told me my friend wasn’t there. I found out later that he had been lying, my friend was sleeping just behind the door. I stumbled back to my room and got into bed. Shortly after, the roommate came down into my room and got into bed with me. My roommate was away for the night and I had forgotten to lock my door. He started kissing me forcefully, while I attempted to turn away and push him off. Once he pulled out his penis I vocalized my objections. I told him “no I don’t want this,” but he persisted in having me touch him. Finally, once my objections grew to be too much, he left for the bathroom. I quickly locked my door behind him. I felt scared that night and many nights after that. I didn’t tell any administration or my RA since I thought they wouldn’t be able to do anything for me. I continued to see him (and still do) regularly in residence, meal hall, and throughout campus. Each time my heart would pound, my stomach would tighten, and I would flinch if he approached me. It has exacerbated my depression and made me afraid in my own home, this is why #IStandWithHer.

  • Anonymous

I was overwhelmed with excitement to attend StFX. Throughout my academic career, I was constantly recognized for my performance and grade point average. I grew up being the smartest in my class, I just always knew that I’d thrive in University as it was supposed to be the best days of my life. However, that was not the case. During my first week at StFX, a Resident Assistant (someone who was supposed to be there to help frosh like myself and be someone I could go to for any questions or help) sexually assaulted me. I plead out repeatedly to stop but he wouldn’t. The second I finally got away, I was in shock and had this need that I had to tell someone immediately. I ended up finding StFX officials to report it to and they then informed the campus. However, nothing was done. They did not reach out to me after that night. He remained in a position of power and did not receive any repercussions. I was devastated and it made me feel like I wasn’t important at all. He didn’t care what he did to my body, and the school sure didn’t care either. I ended up blaming myself. I couldn’t help but think if I were more attractive, maybe he wouldn’t have done that to me. Or maybe if I were more intelligent, or kind or anything more than what I currently was. He made me feel like I was nothing, the university enforced this feeling by not doing anything about it. I felt worthless, I felt gross, I felt like I should die. Every time I would see him around campus, I’d end up in pure panic and would stop whatever I was doing to run to my dorm and lock myself away. There were so many nights that I’d spend crying in the shower attempting to wash off the filth he made me feel like I was. Needless to say, my grades slipped as I not only lived in constant fear but lived in a place that wasn’t safe as nobody cared about my safety. I attempted to go back to school the following year with ambition to succeed as it’s who I am, but it was completely impossible. The moment I would see my abuser walking around in a place that protected him so well, I’d instantly want to curl up in a ball and just cry. I ended up dropping out of StFX as they made me feel like I was worthless with their lack of concern and failure to help.

  • Anonymous

I am nineteen years old and am currently attending University of New Brunswick in hopes to receive a degree in Mathematics. I am an independent woman, who has struggled immensely with Mental Health but never strength. I have overcome many obstacles that my life has thrown at me. I have been knocked down numerous times just to stand back up and be pushed back down again. But I always found the strength to move on. However, a little less than a year ago I was raped by a student currently attending StFX. Having this happen opened my eyes to our society, our justice system and the university atmosphere which is supposed to be a safe place for students. This man was never charged, even after the horrendous nightmare of my rape kit and having a witness and presenting my story to two separate police officers, and then was and released back to campus. Although I do not attend this school, it haunts me every single day. Seeing the story of a young girl who was also raped by someone attending that school, not only threw me into an anxiety attack, I felt out of control of the things that people can do to my body. I have suffered from extreme nightmares, depression and panic attacks because of my rapist. I can’t wear certain clothes, go to certain places or even find the motivation to make myself presentable half the time. I am sharing my story to not only raise awareness of sexual violence, I am writing it in hopes he will see this. So this is for you: today I speak to you on behalf of myself and how you have affected my life in hopes to help another person moving forward. First and foremost, I would like to start off by saying you took something from me. I’m putting the assault aside and speaking psychologically here. Physically, days after the assault happened I was ok. I was sore, shaken up, but physically I was ok and I knew I could heal... physically. Mentally, I never think I will wake up from that nightmare. I had already been suffering from mental illness as mentioned before, but being raped, having intercourse with someone you don’t want to, emotionally destroyed my confidence, my grades, my sleep and my relations with any guys for the future or even relationships with friends. How am I supposed to get close to the opposite sex again, without bringing up what happened to me? I can’t be touched certain ways, I can’t be looked at certain ways, I can’t read certain things, watch specific movies, or even sometimes take a good look at reality. I want you to know, that I am one of the strongest people I know and I’m proud to say that, but you made me feel weak. Not only did you give me a memory that will haunt me for life, you gave that same memory to my parents, my sister and my closest friends. I act weird sometimes, I do things I don’t normally do and people question me. How do I properly tell them why I am the way I am? If there’s anything you take from this, if you even listened or cared, I want you to know: no matter what happens today, tomorrow, or in the future, you will always be guilty in my eyes. No apology, no handwritten letter, nothing can take back what you did to me, what you took from me psychologically. I pray for any girl who walks in your path again, I wish I could protect them, but now I question if I can even protect myself.

The stigma of girls acting in a way that would make guys want to have sex with them, what they wear, how they talk, what they’re doing with their life, that stops here. Because I am here to tell you I will move on with my life, I will finish my university degree in mathematics, I will someday marry a man who treats me with nothing but respect and in the far future raise my kids to do the same. I am disgusted with you, and I will never under any circumstances forgive you. I will always blame you and always remember you until the day I die. Please, never do this to someone again, I beg you. Rape psychologically hurts a human and is EQUALLY as painful as a physical wound.

  • Anonymous

It has been a long road, the reporting process of sexual assault through the school. At the beginning the misconduct office will give you options and tell you the school has a system in place to believe the survivor. It’s so comforting to hear this from the school, to know that they’re going to try their best to have your back. Maybe you’re not quite comfortable going through with the full reporting process yet. So you start with just writing a statement to put into words what happened to you, and that’s enough for now. The school tells you if he has a second offence you’ll be notified and you can reconsider sending in your statement then. Maybe in a little bit you start to feel that itch in the back of your brain, something you can’t ignore. So you ask the school, what next? They go into detail about a hearing through the school, writing a victim impact statement. Let’s say you agree to this hearing and submit your statement. It takes a couple weeks and you’re so nervous but you try to remind yourself that the school has your back. Maybe he’s deemed responsible for what he did and pays a consequence doled out by the school. Then he applied for an appeal, oh god what’re you going to do now? They say it’ll be a couple days to review but it’s been a little over a week. A week later they overturn his appeal and you’re relieved, the school had your back. Then you start to question. If someone is found responsible for sexual assault through the schools own process, how do they justify only suspending him for a year?

  • Anonymous

#IStandWithHer

When I was a student at StFX in 1996 an incarcerated young man, who was in jail for sexual assault, was actively recruited to come play for StFX hockey. He came, on full “leadership” scholarship and proceeded to sexually and physically assault a young woman who he met and dated at StFX. Charges were filed and yet StFX stood by him. Young female professors who tried to stand up and call attention had their future careers at StFX threatened. As students, some of us tried to voice our concerns and we were dismissed and ignored. I’m so sorry that we couldn’t have done more to make the campus safer and to encourage the university to take some responsibility. I’m so proud of everyone who is contributing their voices and I am in awe of the incredible bravery of those who are standing up and saying “no more.” Sending all of my love and strength to Antigonish and to those on campus who are continuing to fight.

  • Anonymous

I am sorry for the times

All my male privilege crimes

All the nights I crossed the line

Pretended what is yours was mine

Had a cloud inside my mind

In the line it must be fine

We are that close by design

But every thought I had was grime

I can’t believe that if we danced I thought I should deserve a kiss

I can’t believe the type of filth we would discuss while we would piss

I can’t believe the subtle warning signs that I would always miss

Too caught up in your tits to shake the fog and get a fucking grip

And while I never did commit

The heinous act after a date

Just because I didn’t take the cake

Still in my hand a plate

Still in my head I thought my fate

Would end inside somebody else

If all I did was stay up late

And bought you shots off of a shelf

Just because I never pulled you close I’d still participate

In a culture fuelled by evil in a culture numb to rape

In a culture filled with hate

Girls night out gets lined with tape

Crime scenes encased in blame

Where we throw shame at those encased

Maybe let’s starts to educate

Those that might conceive these plots

Instead of dancing in our circles

Instead of putting victims off

Instead of hiding in a box

Scared of idealistic thoughts

Scared of making some men cross

Because they might be at a loss

When they have to treat a woman like human fucking being

Maybe then from every bar and scummy hole we’d see them fleeing

And the repressed and scared and frightened wouldn’t have to stick to dreaming

Of the nights where they let go of all the tightness they were feeling

Recognize the pain inside, facilitate, embrace the healing

Stop the screaming

  • Graham Perrier


To whom it may concern, or bother to listen,

As an adult female student, I always thought it was silly how my mom would always worry about me taking night classes or studying on campus too late at night. The idea of me walking home when it is too dark wasn’t something I had thought that much into. To make my mom happy I would drive to campus when I knew I was going to be studying late so I wouldn’t be walking home alone in the dark. It never dawned on me this was solely because I am a woman, their fears were not from a place of personal safety but protection from others.

I never saw the problem. When any individual that attends StFX is asked by a friend or family member how school is the most common answer you hear is “StFX is like family, it’s a place I can call home.” That is how I had always felt. StFX was the only school I applied to because of its traditional values and because I had never heard anything bad about it. I was excited to be a part of the StFX family and would proudly wear my X-Ring. I’m not sure if I feel the same way anymore, and that is because I am a woman.

StFX was always somewhere I thought I was safe, somewhere where faculty and students looked out for each other. Obviously, I was sadly mistaken, the importance of female safety is not always in the agenda of those who are able to make change and choice on this campus.

Tonight, I walked home alone in the dark through campus and found my heart beating faster than normal. I found myself not listening to music and constantly checking over my shoulder and walking so fast I was out of breath by the time I got to my apartment. For the first time at StFX I felt unsafe because I am a woman.

This school has started to become too focused on their reputation of being a party school and changing their image that they have forgotten why this school is here. And in case you’re one of the people who have forgotten, this school is supposed to be a safe place for students to identify themselves, grow up, learn, socialize and have the best years of their lives while growing within their fields of study. When did this school lose their priority of keeping students safe regardless of gender?

What will it take for StFX to take their female students seriously? Is this man’s education more important than mine? Is this because of my gender? A man accused of such terrible things is allowed on my campus that now feels unsafe, and yet he is only one example. Why was the campus community only notified when it was featured on the news? Who are you truly trying to protect? As a woman on campus, why was I not warned that there was an accused rapist on my campus, and is he truly the only one?

Let me just say that I am not naïve enough to think that this doesn’t happen at academic institutions around the world because unfortunately it does. Women are taught to protect their bodies because of the actions of men who are unable to control themselves. I just keep on thinking “what if that girl was me?” How could this university that I love, and call my home, be so interested in money or reputation, and not about its students? I can now only protect myself because what if this was me, what would happen to me? The university would do nothing to protect me at all, solely because I am a woman.

In reflecting on my time at this university I find it easy to say that in the future I would not advise my own daughter that the best choice for undergraduate studies is StFX. I do not think this problem is going to get better. It is apparent, even within the past couple of years, when I don’t know if they will fight for her to feel safe because she is a woman.

  • Anonymous

Available Resources

Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services Association

  • A feminist, community based women’s organization providing services to women and adolescent girls that include crisis and ongoing problem-solving support, information, advocacy, accompaniment and referral.

    • Phone number: 902-863-6221

    • Address: 204 Kirk Place, 219 Main Street, Antigonish

    • Hours of operation: Monday to Friday  9:00 to 4:30

StFX Health and Counselling

    • Phone number: 902-867-2263

    • Address: 3rd floor, Bloomfield Centre 305

    • Hours of operation: Monday and Thursday, 8:30AM - 8:00PM Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 8:30AM - 4:30PM.

StFX Student Life Office

  • To report sexual assault or sexual violence perpetrated by a StFX student or faculty member, contact Student Life reception to set up a meeting with Matt Gerard, student conduct officer, to leave a statement. (*note that disclosures to other staff or faculty are not considered formal reports)

  • Emergency shelter is available through Student Life for students who don’t feel safe returning to their residence room/building or house.

    • Phone: 902-867-3934

    • Address: 306A Bloomfield Centre

Antigonish Men’s Health Centre

  • Offers health care services for males 12 years and older.

    • Phone number: 902-863-2358

    • Address: 275 Main Street, Suite 103, Antigonish

    • Hours of operation: Tuesdays 8:30 to 6:00 or by call/appointment.

Victim Services Emotional Support – 1-902-490-5300

  • Emotional support for victims of sexual violence with no police involvement necessary in order to get support.

    • Hours of operation: Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm

The Sexual Assault and Harassment Phone Line - 1-902-425-1066

  • Offers non-judgemental, active listening and support to anyone who has experienced or has been affected by sexualized violence.

    • Hours of operation: 12pm - 12am, 7 days a week.

Q&A with the President of The U

Students’ Union president speaks with The Xaverian Weekly

Evan Davison-Kotler and Bowen Assman interviewed Rebecca Mesay on October 11, 2018.

***

BA: You came out with your statement yesterday?

RM: Yes

BA: What do you hope to accomplish by putting these new policy measures in place?

RM: Well, the statement that the Students’ Union released… So, policy when we talk about in the context of Students’ Union is like a bylaw or something that speaks to the governing body of the Students Union in of itself. So, the recommendation that we offered yesterday were things that we have been talking about actually for a long time because sexual violence prevention was already on the list of priorities for the Students’ Union. The one’s that we stipulated yesterday were based on the response that the university administration had to this case in particular; we sat down and tried to identify where in the gaps in the process would have existed, and therefore made our recommendation in a way to try and mitigate those gaps moving forward.

BA: Why did you decide to put out your statement yesterday, in comparison to earlier on in the week, as I was hearing from students that they were waiting for a response from Rebecca. I understand it takes time to garner input from people, but why was the decision made to put it out yesterday?

RM: Well, the statement from the Students’ Union isn’t done unilaterally, so Tuesday was the first day that all of us were back in office, so you could say in terms of timeline, Monday was when the decision was made that a statement would need to be released, the statement was then written in the evening, and then we need approval from the executive team. We have to show the student representative council, because obviously they are the ones who are the voice of the students, on the table and elected to do that job. Once the student representative council has received the statement, it is set to the marketing team and released immediately after the fact. Part of it is the process in and of itself, but we needed to be together in order to make a statement like that happen. In order for a statement to be representative of the students, the councillors need some time to oversee and review whatever is being put out on behalf of the Students’ Union as well.

EDK: Do you know if the councillors have done any outreach with students?

RM: I think the councillors, there role in moments like this is to act in the best interests of students. At that point in time, the article was released just a few days prior, so they had an opportunity to sit with it before a statement was released in that time. In moments like this, definitely the time is an important aspect, but we have to be able to ensure that we have checked off all the boxes and that a statement like that also is indicative of a broader sentiment. We don’t want to put out a statement without any action items affiliated and what those items were and how they are going to be processed and how the union is going to make sure those things happen also all have to be considered when we are making a public statement like that, right? Because we want to make sure that we are able to follow up and that there are measures in place before it goes public, if that makes sense?

EDK: Have you been following the X-Resistance page, or the X-Resist movement?

RM: In fact, I was at their meeting last night.

EDK: How did you find that?

RM: The meeting was very interesting. I think that it was indicative of a broader sentiment among the student body, the discussion was really important; I mean I would have attended as a student at large regardless, because in moments like this there needs to be an ability to support. It also provided me with an opportunity to see that perspective. There was a lot of survivors in that audience, there was a lot of experts, in terms of sexualized violence prevention, this type of thing, who all offered their perspectives during the course of that meeting.

was So, I think it was very important for myself, and my Vice President Academic, we were also there - sitting, listening and trying to get a broader understanding of what the students would like to see to come, the steps they would like to see moving forward.

EDK: There's talk of a planned call to action or protest. Will you, the union, be assisting them at all with some of their protest movements?

RM: I think right now, we are waiting to hear back from the group in terms of what they would like to see from the union specifically. We have already published our list of recommendations and there were a lot of students in that room that would like to be a part of that broader involvement. It will really depend on what the group would like to see from the union moving forward.

EDK: So, if they reach out?

RM: We will definitely have a conversation with them, of course. I mean, there is a reason we were in that room, right?

BA: So, you had a lot of recommendations in your statement, one was “Formally request the university and Senate review the community code of conduct.” How much do you feel a review will impact the code of conduct? Do you think the union can do something else, besides a simple, "We want to ask you to review this policy?"

RM: Well, this is the thing. With any public statement, the language of it has to be very concise. The spirit of that recommendation is to ask for a review, a formal review process. The objective of the formal review process would be to ensure consistency among all of the policies and procedures of the university. If you are examining the community code as it stands, it needs to be consistent with the recommendations of the sexualized violence policy. Our policy is a very important tool and we need to be able to use it effectively in instances such as these.

EDK: The second article by Global indicated that the Nova Scotian Education Minister was shocked at the response by the university. Have you read this article?

RM: There was an article wherein minister Kousoulis, who is the Labor and Advanced Education Minister, was contacted by the CBC and he offered his remarks, I did see that article.

EDK: Within that article, he said he was surprised that the individual was allowed to come back to university, and the universities response was essentially that we cannot limit an individual’s access to education. A lawyer’s response to that was that they could suspend the individual until the criminal due process was complete. Are you in favor of a policy that would mirror these sentiments, where if there is a criminal investigation that’s been opened, the individual who’s been accused is suspended from education until the criminal process is complete?

RM: So, the remarks were made by Elaine Craige. She’s a Dalhousie law professor. I think this would have to be a part of the broader revision of the sexualized violence policy. So, it would have to be through that due procedure that a mechanism like that would take place. Obviously, we are in favor of any actions that would maintain the safety and security of students, but more importantly, be survivor centered and maintain the safety of the individual that harmed.

BA: Would you outright recommend that idea?

RM: I do not have a background in Women and Gender Studies, so I would recommend whatever is survivor centric and whatever is upholding the best interests of students. Whatever it is the harmed party wants in that point in time, because at the very forefront, we want our policy to reflect the needs and the input from the survivor, based on their case in particular.

EDK: Tiffany Maclellan, your VP Academic

RM: That’s correct. (laughs)

EDK: She referenced Ryerson’s policies as something that should be held on a pedestal, and they were some of the best in the country. Have you read over Ryerson’s sexual violence policies?

RM: Um, I have not read over Ryerson’s sexual violence policy. I believe what Tiffany was referring to was that Ryerson has a sexual assault support centre, where students have access to resources and are given the support they need once an assault has taken place, from my understanding, and it was just a brief discussion this morning with Johanna. But my understanding is that that group also helps with educative and preventative measures on Ryerson campus. But to speak more to that I would have to do more research.

EDK: Do you think the University has done enough with regards to the individual who was assaulted, who has now had to leave the university. Have they, in your mind, made proper amends with the individual?

RM: I do not know if that is for me to say, that would be from the perspective of the survivor to say whether or not they feel that amends have been made and whether they feel that justice has taken place.

BA: You did post a wonderful piece on the Xaverian last year, about your incident of sexual harassment…

RM: It wasn’t an instance of sexual harassment, it was an instance of attempted physical assault.

BA: Sorry, that’s my bad, but with that coming out, and people publicly knowing your story, do you still believe that it is not worth, you can’t speak for if the accused has, that the University has done enough?

RM: So, you spoke to my own instance, it was an experience that I went through personally, and I can speak to the experience that I had going through that process, but I do feel that it would be remiss of me to speak on behalf of the survivor, as to what her experience with the university administration was. I do not believe that it is my place to say, because I do not know, I do not know who the individual is, and I have never spoken to her. As relating to my experience, I think the sentiments that I expressed were very clear within my article.

BA: And going back to the requesting of the review of the community code of conduct and the appeals process, is any, is the WMGS involved in that process at all?

RM: So, our objective as outlined in our recommendations was that we would create a working group, and we would definitely would want the experts, meaning professors of the WMGS department to be a part of that working group that looks at the internal policy review.

BA: So that working group would be the one reviewing the community code of conduct and the appeals process? Or would that be someone else?

RM: So, we are talking about two recommendations so first we are gong to put forward a formal request, but the objective of the working group is to review the sexualized violence policy and other policies that are brought to their attention. For example, what would be ideal in this situation is to create a working group with the experts on this campus, as you mentioned the women’s and gender studies department, the students union and the university administration to review the community code of conduct, as well as to understand and review the appeals process to ensure that it is consistent with a survivor centric approach. Does that make sense?

Because, the fact of the matter is, these are university policies, so as a Students’ Union, we can advocate on behalf of students to revise the policies…

BA: But you do not have the power to do it as an official decision?

RM: Exactly.

BA: That is important to know I think, OK.

RM: And we can make proposals, and proposals can move through senate, but it would have to be done in cohesion with the university administration, to work on policies. And certainly, these policies, as do all of the university polices have a direct impact of students, which is why we are calling for the creation of a working group. It’s going to be a number of different stakeholders on campus.

EDK: In your opinion, was the university negligent in the way they dealt with this?

RM: Again, I am not certain that it is my place to comment on that, you know, in keeping with cohesion of the statement that we released, we are looking at a survivor centric approach, so the comments I make have to be in considering what the harmed party would want at this point in time. So again, it would be to the harmed party to speak as to whether or not they felt they were dealt with fairly throughout the entirety of the process.

BA: So then, you are referring to the harmed party, so what you are saying is, if an instance occurs again, it would be specific to what the harmed party wants every time?

RM: That is correct, it has to be a survivor centric approach, so a survivor centric approach means that the survivor is pushing, I shouldn’t say pushing, but the survivor has a voice at every single step of the process. It will be up to them whether they decide to report to the university administration. It will be up to them whether they decide to report to the police, and in what capacity they decide to do so. And then after the fact, it is there opportunity to decide whether or not they would like to lay charges and continue in that fashion, and it should work that way for every single case, that it is the voice of the survivor that is at the forefront of the decision making, or, I should rephrase that better. There should be mechanisms in place wherein the survivor has a chance to voice their perspective and their desires at every single point in the process.

EDK: Can you speak to any discreet changes you would like to see within the sexual assault policy as it stands right now, because the university published its sexual assault policy as something that they deem was survivor centric, and a much better policy that they had previously. The response from the students and the Union’s release that was just published makes clear that people would like the university to review the policy. Can you point to anything discreet within the policy that you would like to see changed?

RM: I do not think that I can speak to it yet, our working group is set to be established, well, let me correct myself, we already have an internal working group, myself, the vice president academic whose purview this is, and the vice president external. once we have the scope of professionals, once we have the university administration, once we have students at large of our committee, I think I can speak to that more broadly.

 

Interview with Andrew Beckett

StFX executive clarifies details surrounding sexual violence case

Bowen Assman and Yanik Gallie interviewed Andrew Beckett on October 16, 2018.

***

 

YG: What has been your role and responsibilities since the incident of sexual violence that occurred last year?

AB: Initially, my involvement would have been as chair on the judicial board that heard the case in the first place. Certainly, this case is one that I’m familiar with. Since our decision with the judicial board, my involvement after that was more responding to stories that came out and looking at what are the next steps in our response to some of the concerns that were brought forward.
BA: Talk us through the process of how an accused student can return to campus?

AB: Was he able to return to campus? Yes. I can’t get into the specifics of a particular case. In general terms, the individual was found responsible of a violent offence by the judicial board. He then appealed that decision to an appeal committee. The appeal committee upheld the decision of the judicial board. The decision of the judicial board was a one-year suspension that was involved plus training around consent. Then, there is a third layer of appeal within the community code that goes to a Senate appeal committee. They can only hear an appeal of the actual outcome, not on the finding of responsibility.

The code as it’s now set up is one that I think will absolutely be subject to possible amendment as we’re going through discussions. While a matter is under appeal, as it’s set up, the penalties don’t come into play. That’s one thing that needs to be considered. At the same time, when we got to the third layer of appeal, he had lawyers involved, our lawyers were involved, there was an agreement reached to suspend further consideration of the court case through our internal processes until the court gives way to the criminal proceedings. That’s where the suspension was put on hold, which then gave him the right to return to school this fall while the matter was still proceeding through the external processes in the criminal court.

BA: Many media outlets, and even professors, report that StFX mishandled this case. Can you address StFX’s management of this case?  

AB: The policy and procedural aspects that are there were followed but may have been flawed. That’s different than mishandling. Anytime you’ve got a policy and procedures in place, until they get tested in practice, you don’t know where some of the gaps may be. Already, in terms of our processes, even since this case went through, we’ve made changes to our processes based on gaps that we saw and that will continue to happen.

 The one mistake absolutely made on this was when the decision was made to suspend our processes. It put on hold any further action by the internal, therefore allowing the individual to come back to school this fall and we didn’t notify the victim/survivor of that. That was a mistake on our part. Part of our regular process is that yes, the victim/survivor should have been notified. Over the course of 8-10 months of dealing with the individual, we had been keeping them up to date with various things and we missed one. Again, I’m not trying to shy away from a significant piece of information that should have been passed along to the victim/survivor and we didn’t do it. We made a mistake.

YG: You talked about gaps in the code, what measures were lacking to ensure safety on campus?
AB: We took a series of amendments to the Senate in February of last year. If you look at those changes that were taken to Senate, they speak to the flaws that were there in the previous code of conduct. It all gets around fair process. Fairness for the respondent and the complainant.

One of the fundamental things that was in there was the respondent’s right to legal counsel throughout. Under the previous versions of the code, that wasn’t there. These are serious offences and matters that are being considered. The new version of the code in place makes it clear that they have the right to legal representation. The right of the respondent to ask questions through the chair of the judicial board of the complainant, to ensure that the judicial board has fair representation from both parties. In terms of fairness of process, there is that opportunity to not just have a statement from the complainant, but the respondent to be able to ask questions to ensure that there’s clarity in the presented facts and that wasn’t in the previous code. There was a number of changes made to tighten up the process. I stand to be corrected, but I’m pretty sure the February changes, it made clear a little bit more about the sharing of information with the victim/survivor. Things like the outcomes of any pursuing and that sort of stuff. The victim/survivor would normally be made aware of those things.

BA: Would the communication between respondent and victim/survivor be through an intermediary source or direct?

AB: It’s not a direct cross-examination because that goes into re-victimization. Whether it’s through criminal proceedings or judicial board, like it or not, there is a component of re-victimizing through that. In terms of ensuring that a respondent’s got the ability to feel that their side of the story has been put forward and that they got a chance to question any facts that have been put forward, it does mean that the victim/survivor has to go through an element of reliving their experience. That’s unfortunate, but I’m not sure there’s any way around that in terms of due process. What we put in place is that instead of a direct cross-examination, the respondent has to prepare a set of questions. Those questions are given to the chair of the judicial board. The chair reviews those questions to ensure that there is nothing that crosses the line in terms of the line of questioning that wouldn’t be acceptable in terms of questioning a person’s previous sexual history and that type of thing. Quite frankly, any question that has no relevance to the particular case is considered unacceptable. Those questions are posed by the chair of the judicial board to the complainant. They don’t have to speak directly to the respondent; they speak to the chair. Because at the end of the day, what you try to get at is the judicial board that’s there has a balanced set of information from both parties so that they can reach a decision.

What we did was there’s a lot of flexibility within that in terms of the two people don’t have to be in the same room together if they’re not comfortable or we can screen a part of the room. At the end of the day, the respondent has to have an opportunity to ensure that any facts they feel may be relevant are brought forward to the board.

BA: Who, or what group, oversees drafting revisions for the university’s sexual violence policy and code of conduct?

AB: In terms of this, you have two main documents. You have the sexual violence policy and the code of conduct. The two separate documents have to work hand in glove. The sexual violence policy is ultimately approved by the president. In terms of overseeing that, because it deals directly with students, it involves head of Student Services as being a sponsor of that policy. It’s my responsibility in terms of the day-to-day administration of that policy working with groups like our Sexual Violence Prevention committee and others on campus who help inform the administration in an ongoing review of that policy. The ultimate signoff is through the president.

The code of conduct is a Senate policy. Changes to the code of conduct have to be approved by Senate.

BA: The Students’ Union advocated for seven changes to policy. Are you going to be making these revisions?

AB: There’s been a number of suggestions put forward that I don’t think were to a specific point in terms of this revision has to be made. There are themes that have been put forward and lenses that we need to look at policy through. There’s absolutely a commitment from our standpoint to engage in that review and look at what changes we can do. They were never meant to be static documents. From that standpoint, we’re absolutely open to input and exchanges that will lead to improving those documents going forward.

YG: What are your thoughts regarding backlash from professor Donna Trembinski about your email?
AB: I respect that everybody’s entitled to have different and varying opinions. From the standpoint of the university, I think my email on the weekend explains our concerns. From an institutional standpoint, that kind of vigilante response is possibly criminal endanger. Therefore, we felt it was very important to issue a statement that condemns that part of it in the interest of getting us back to speaking about ongoing pervasive issues that we know we got to address. We don’t think that’s an appropriate response, and again it is a potentially criminal response.

I have seen a variety of responses from Donna and other faculty members. I respect them, and we are in an environment where these things should be debated and tossed around. I absolutely respect others having concerns and not agreeing with it, that’s part of the environment.

I would never want to shut that down. If you can’t do it here, where can you do it? In a university environment, we should be having those types of exchanges. I would hope that it’s done in a respectful way. I didn’t take offence to Donna challenging the viewpoints, that’s great and I respect that.

It’s been interesting. If you look at it from a personal standpoint, sometimes you have to take it on the chin in the interest of moving forward. I recognize from my standpoint that I’m on the privileged side of things. This is something that in my four plus years of university, I have become increasingly, through various conversations, aware of. I’m a white, middle-aged, male. A lot of privilege goes along with that.

When I listen to victim/survivors and people of different racial backgrounds or different gender backgrounds, me being able to take it on the chin and having to feel uncomfortable about some of this, I think a lot of people would quite frankly say, “It’s about time.” Because they felt uncomfortable for a long time. I don’t see that as a bad thing, it’s part of learning.

BA: Moving forward, how do we reclaim safety on campus in light of the situation?

AB: If I were following along the lines of the victim-centric approach, which I think that’s something people are advocating for, I don’t think that the university can decide what that looks like. I think we need to engage with people on campus who are not feeling safe and allow them to tell us how they may be able to feel safer. I met with a group of students yesterday. Things like the campus environment that may play into this, maybe it’s lighting on campus. There’s some of those environmental considerations. The real deeper conversations that have got to take place, and we are working with the Antigonish Resources for Women Centre, is trying to unpack cultural questions. To me, the tougher questions to get at are what in our culture is contributing to all this? We’ve got a culture, and it’s not just StFX, it’s all universities but we have to start with StFX. What in our culture is promoting sexual violence taking place? We know it’s taking place and it’s unacceptable. What’s contributing to that? Is it things like the studies of the connection between alcohol and sexual violence? Is the party culture that we’ve got contributing to this? Is our residence culture contributing to this? We need to unpack that more and better understand what in our culture may be playing a part of this sexual violence pervasiveness.

We need to include a lot of people in this conversation, not the least of which should be to include males in the conversation. The statistics are pretty clear in terms of males causing 94-95% of sexual violence cases. That doesn’t mean 94-95% of males are perpetrators. When violence happens, a majority of time it involves males.

When you look at things like Take Back the Night walks and things organized by females to speak about sexual violence, the audience is largely female. We’ve got to look for ways to get more males involved in the conversation. We have to figure out what aspects of masculinity are playing into this and understand that better. They are the tougher conversations that we have to get people engaged with that. Hopefully, with all the attention that’s been here in the last ten days, it’ll have more people join in the conversation.

BA: Do you have any other concrete plans besides partnering with the Antigonish Women’s Resources Centre?

AB: We’ve got some recommendations from the Students’ Union and there was the protest at the weekend and a series of calls to action associated to it. A large number of female faculty members put out a letter with calls to actions attached to it. We’re filtering all that through our Sexual Violence Prevention committee that has representation from faculty, staff, students and community. We use that as a place to synthesize all that over the next six to eight weeks. Some of this is gonna take some time to go through. We know it’s important first and foremost to deal with the emotional aspects of this and allow some space for people to be heard. We’re looking at a variety of things that could be done in that regard. The committee had a meeting today where they’re starting to map out a timeline over the next six to eight weeks of different things like a project is doing a series of focus groups in November. The Students’ Union have planned the student inform session this Saturday. We’ve got a talkback session in the next two or three weeks to give people an opportunity to feel that they have been heard. Then, we can start to look at all of the themes that come from all of that and say let’s prioritize in an orderly fashion in the next while to improve.

YG: What’s your opinion of this weekend’s protest during Kent MacDonald’s speech at the Open House?   

AB: My overall reaction is that I go back to the university environment. Protests should never be deterred. This is an opportunity and environment that should promote freedom of expression and speech. This is a hot button issue. When you look at what took place last week, there’s a combination, certainly some are angry with the way the victim was treated in this particular case. More than that, I think it opens a wound for a lot of people who have been impacted by sexual violence. A lot of people feel they haven’t been heard. I think when your frustration level rises there’s an anger that comes with that they feel the need to express. On the campus environment, I accept the people’s right to protest. From what I heard, and from the people I’ve talked to, the protest was respectful. They protested, and they could have been more destructive. To the credit of the protestors, I think they found a good balance in terms of making a statement but not taking it too far like disrupt the Open House. I think it’s important for people to feel that they’ve been heard.