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.

 

VP External Affairs

Clancy McDaniel discusses upcoming changes to policies 

Salome Barker and Evan Davison-Kotler interviewed Clancy MacDaniel on October 23, 2018. 

***

SB: As someone who works with the Students’ Union, how would you like to see the U move forwards with helping students after the recent uproar over sexual violence on campus? 

CM: I think the whole purpose of our organization is to support students and be the best voice for them that we can, because we do have multiple avenues that we can hopefully press our influence. 

I think that was laid out well in the recommendations that we put out because you can kind of see when you read them that they’re targeted at different audiences because we want to reach as many stakeholders with this issue, bringing forwards that student voice. The best way we can support students is to listen to them; we’ve had a lot of really amazing momentum on campus, it’s been absolutely incredible. We’ve seen multiple groups come forwards in solidarity with recommendations that mirror each other in a lot of really wonderful ways, and really complement each other. Bringing that perspective to the conversations that we’re having and continuing to apply pressure - making sure that this momentum is kept up and continuing to offer students spaces to be involved at the same time and help represent themselves is also important. For example, we had our open forum on the weekend - that’s only the beginning. We wanted that to be an initial step to get student feedback, but as we continue, we don’t want it to be like, “We spoke to students once, we’re going to close the door and go on our own.”. 

Especially in recognition of the wonderful efforts put forwards by students and their bravery in coming forwards, we want to make sure that it’s a student led process throughout the whole thing. 

EDK: What do you hope to achieve in your capacity as VP External with your outreach to CASA and Students NS?

CD: One thing that we’re really working on with Students NS, and this was mentioned in our recommendations, is - currently, the province, through the department responsible for post-secondary education - they’re trying to develop guidelines for what should be included in sexual violence policies, which is obviously very topical. They’ve hired a consultant, so my role as both a delegate to Students NS but also as the Chair, is to make sure the guidelines that are developed are survivor-centric, are trauma-informed, and have a student voice at the table. We sit on a sexual violence prevention committee that’s very similar to the one at the school, but it’s at the provincial level. We are one of 33 stakeholders at the table - it’s very large - so it’s very important that the decision-making around what is included in these guidelines and what is not is reflective of the needs that students have brought forwards. 

My role has been trying to do as much literature review as possible; there are a lot of great organizations that have published what survivor-centric asks would look like. So that’s around confidentiality; that’s around making sure the survivor has full-reigns of the reporting process - and that they can choose to bow out at any time or return at any time; making sure that there are clauses that state if a survivor was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that it doesn’t change what the conduct would be. Bringing all of this to the provincial level would not only help the policy at StFX, because it would be a standard that we would be expected to reach, but also be a standard that other universities in the province would be expected to reach as well. The reason we have a sexual violence policy is through an agreement called the Memorandum of Understanding between the province and the universities. In 2015, the current one (which is expiring), stated that all universities had to have sexual violence policies - if they didn’t have a policy, it meant that the province could pull their funding. So, we put out one in that timeframe, but there are other universities that don’t even have one, period. The government has never repealed funding for that, it’s never been that serious, so another thing we’re advocating for is better accountability to make sure “Well, if we have those guidelines in place, if we’re saying we need to do this, lets hold other institutions accountable for doing that.” 

Within the VP External portfolio itself, getting those guidelines set, making sure they’re comprehensive and survivor-centric, and then that there’s accountability and follow-up to make sure that institutions are actually implementing those standards, that would be my number one goal within this role. 

SB: That actually partially answers my next question - what would you like to see changed about the sexual assault policy at StFX?

CD: Absolutely, well, I think the more we get into the review process and go line by line through the policy, the more we’re going to find that can be amended. Obviously, the knowledge that we have from the Students’ Union, we’re 21 and 22 years old, we can do a lot of literature review. I think it’s going to be really important to look towards our community partners who are experts, and I really hope that folks such as the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre are able to play a role. I know that they sit on the school’s sexualized violence prevention committee, I think those are folks who will be really helpful. 

Overall, I’m really looking forwards to a very holistic, comprehensive review, not only at the    policy but also at how it’s applied. For example, you could have a policy that gets graded A+, you tick all the boxes, but if it’s not applied appropriately, and it’s not followed through on, then there’s still room for the survivor to not receive the outcome they’re looking for. So, I think that’s also a piece that’s important to the puzzle as well.

SB: Last year on campus, when the sexual assault case happened in November and it was very public, students felt as though they really got somewhere. There were forums held, it felt like we were moving forwards. Now with this, it feels like students have been betrayed in a sense, they don’t know who they can trust given the amount of back and forth. Do you have any words of comfort to offer students who are feeling, thinking, “Can I trust my university,” given it feels like we’ve taken one step forwards and five steps back?

CD: I can say that The Union is dedicated to continuing to press on this issue throughout the year. It’s not a reactionary topic, it’s something that we want to see as a priority, not even this year, but continually. For example, our first recommendation is that we create a subcommittee, which is something that we did towards the end of August, between Rebecca, Tiffany and I; we’re looking to see that become a permanent part of our organization. The reality is we’re looking to make change, it’s something that is going to take a while. There are some very immediate steps that are very obvious, and I thank students for bringing that to the forefront, because it does take a lot of bravery. 

I want students to know they’re not alone, and we will be continuing to press forwards with this. Regardless of how many forums happen, we want to be on the ground getting at it - working towards some immediate, mid-term and long-term solutions on campus.

Speaking Truth to Power

 
 

A week of activism and social protest in Antigonish

Antigonish activists have been extremely present in the last few weeks, shining a light on both those fighting for justice, and those standing in the way. The annual Take Back the Night and pro-choice demonstrations, coupled with Visible @ X week, Orange Shirt Day, and a number of other events succeeded in showcasing our community’s readiness and willingness to fight for change. The following article details just a few examples of the wonderful activism that has been present in Antigonish over the last few weeks.

Take Back the Night

Hosted by the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre & Sexual Assault Services Association and emceed by Toronto activist Mandi Gray, Take Back the Night took place on September 27.

The rain that had been looming throughout the day held off as dozens of StFX students, staff, and community members gathered in front of Morrison Hall, sporting buttons and signs urging an end to violence and patriarchal norms. StFX student Sanjidha Ganeshan’s sign alluded to the university’s sub-par reputation in dealing with sexualized violence, reading “unique in our Xperiences, united in our purpose.”

 Ganeshan’s poster fit well with the theme of the night: “speaking truth to power.” Emcee Mandi Gray acts on this theme in her film “Slut or Nut: Diary of a Rape Trial,” which was shown at StFX the night prior to the march and follows her on her personal journey through the legal system after a sexual assault. The theme continued to present itself throughout the night as well, with a number of open-mic participants calling out the university’s response to sexualized violence on campus, and the shortcomings of university policies.

Susannah Wolfe, a second- year student at StFX, was one of them - taking to the mic to perform a spoken word duo with one of the event’s organizers, Emma Kuzmyk. Before their performance, Wolfe shared that she had been assaulted on the StFX campus the year before, and chose not to report due to her knowledge of the university’s process for handling sexual assault. Unfortunately, Wolfe isn’t alone in making this decision - Statistics Canada estimates that less than 5% of sexual assaults in Canada are reported.

This is why events like Take Back the Night are so important. Women have been silenced for far too long, and gatherings like this one are making space for women to be loud. Kuzmyk believes that “by building a platform and an event that is safe and supportive, survivors are being empowered and inspired to take back much more than just the night.”

 In the poem “Call to Arms” that Kuzmyk and Wolfe performed, they invited the audience to join their ranks and “soldier on” in the fight for a more gender equal world, and an end to sexualized violence.

Kuzmyk also stepped forward to share her poem “I Wonder,” which garnered attention last year following two incidents of sexual assault on the StFX campus. The poem centers around a generic “her” - a woman who has experienced sexualized violence - and is an extremely powerful statement about violence on university campuses.

Kuzmyk, however, wanted to make a revision. In a speech apologizing both to herself and to all the women who feel the need to remove themselves from their stories, she stated that she’d like to change the word “her” to the word “my.” Because, “at the end of the day, they aren’t stories that we’re sharing. They aren’t fiction, and there aren’t characters.”

Behind every story, there is a woman. Behind every woman are thousands of others with stories just like hers. The world is finally waking up, and more and more women are being empowered to share their stories. With every “#MeToo” shared on social media, and with every new voice that yells “Time’s Up” or “No More.” On September 27, Antigonish added its voice to the chorus - now, it’s up to the community to keep the noise going.

Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day also took place on September 27, organized by a group of six Bachelor of Education students. The day is inspired by the story of Phyllis Webstad, who attended a residential school as a child. When she was six years old, Phyllis arrived for her first day of school in the brand-new orange shirt her grandmother had given her, only to have it taken from her - never to be seen again. Now, every September 30, Canadians wear orange as a call to action - to continue moving forward with the process of reconciliation, share the stories of survivors, and remember those who didn’t survive. StFX chose to hold the event a few days early, given that the 30 fell on a Sunday, when many students would not be on campus.

Kate MacDonald, one of the students involved in organizing the event, states that it was a huge success. Participation in Orange Shirt Day, she says, “is important for individuals and communities to come together in reconciliation in the spirit of hope for the future,” and events on campus certainly achieved that goal. The group was able to sell shirts to students, faculty, staff, and the greater Antigonish community, and all shirts were sold out before the end of the day on the 27. MacDonald estimates that the total number of shirts sold was about 230.

Life Chain Pro-Life Rally and Counter Rally

Pro-life demonstrators gathered this Sunday, September 30, along the side of the old highway. Their gathering is an annual occasion, and part of country-wide rally known as “Life Chain.” According to the Campaign Life Coalition website, Life Chain demonstrations have been active in Canada since 1990 and involve more than 200 locations across Canada every year.

This year’s demonstration in Antigonish consisted of about 30 pro-life advocates boasting signs asking passing drivers to “defend life” and “pray to end abortion.”

Also present at the rally, however, was a group of prochoice activists, making their presence known with colourful signs and the odd round of cheering, encouraged by honking from passing cars. Though their numbers were smaller, the group (containing a number of StFX students) remained unfazed for the duration of the rally, which lasted about 45 minutes.

Kayleigh Trenholm, one of the organizers of the prochoice rally, said that she was really happy with the turnout considering that the counter rally had been planned on very short notice. She also shared her surprise over the fact that people in the community were still holding on to “such antiquated and hateful ideas” towards abortion.

“It’s not about saving a life for them, it’s about controlling the choices of women, that’s what it has always been about.” Ideally, Trenholm says, she’d like to see the succession of pro-life rallies come to end, but feels that if at least one woman passing by was reminded that her choice was valid, then the rally was ultimately successful. Eva Bertrand-Brunelle, another pro-choice advocate, commented on the religious nature of the rallies. “People have to understand that you can be Christian, believe in God, and still be pro-choice.” She pointed out that another pro-choice advocate was a Sunday school teacher. “Being pro-choice is about embracing women’s rights to their body and understanding that some women might not feel ready [to have a child],” not about religion. “It’s their choice,” she says.

Police were involved momentarily after an unknown individual called in a complaint regarding the pro-choice rally, but the officer simply reminded the group to remain behind the white line and continued on his way. The rest of the rally was largely uneventful, with both sides demonstrating a respectful and peaceful protest.

 

Peace by Chocolate Blastoff in 3... 2... 1...

 
 

Local chocolate reaches outer space

When I spoke to Tareq Hadhad, CEO of Peace by Chocolate, I had one specific area of interest. Just how, after less than three years since opening, did he get his chocolate into space?

Hadhad is an interesting man, with much wisdom to share. When I had my chance to speak to him I quickly learned that, “It’s not about the chocolate, chocolate is behind the scenes.” It’s their message that has taken Peace by Chocolate out of this world.

Before getting to space, I wanted to know what it is that got the Hadhads to where they are today.

Amazingly, Peace by Chocolate started in Antigonish in the not so distant past, at the start of 2016. Hadhad’s family chocolate dynasty, however, has a much longer history dating back as far as 1986. Hadhad told me how the business started with his mother and father selling their homemade chocolates, and how they eventually grew to distribute all across the Middle East, from Yemen to Turkey. In time, they were even selling to European countries like Germany and Sweden. He made a point of noting that they “were even sending chocolate to Belgium, the origin of chocolate.” Needless to say, their chocolate business had been quite successful; that is, until conflict broke out.

The original factory was destroyed in the Syrian civil war, and with it, the stores shut down and the distribution network closed. Tragically, Hadhad and his family had lost everything when they left Syria in 2013. After spending three years in a refugee camp in Lebanon, the Hadhad family finally arrived in Canada in 2016. From the start, they believed in the possibilities provided by the Canadian system. Wasting no time, the Hadhad family began selling chocolates in Antigonish soon after settling in.

The delicious treats quickly earned them a reputation in the area and they began to get coverage in the press. By 2017, they had upgraded to a full-sized chocolate factory and were an established brand. Peace by Chocolate was here to stay.

Despite the incredible story of the company’s inception, it takes more than delicious sweets and a family’s dream to explain the Peace by Chocolate phenomenon.

After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared the Hadhad’s heartwarming success story at a meeting of the United Nations in 2016, it began to receive international coverage, leading to features on CTV, CBC, BBC, CNN, and even The Xaverian Weekly!

Most recently, Peace by Chocolate has been making headlines for being recognized as a National Hero Case in the Grow with Google program and for having their message of peace shared with the astronauts onboard the International Space Station.

I asked Hadhad just how their business broke the chains of gravity, and he told me about how he’s been making connections ever since he arrived in Canada, and the various visitors his family has received from Canada, the United States, and the greater international community. He then explained the one connection in particular that led to this triumph.

Hadhad told me about a friendship he made with the Canadian/American dual citizen and commander of the International Space Station, Andrew Feustel. He explained how it started by sheer chance, “I was travelling one day to Toronto, and then I saw them at Toronto Airport… And then they recognized me, because they’ve seen me on the media so much, and they came to me... I asked him if it’s possible that we can share the message from space... And he agreed... We couldn’t really be more grateful for that, because they are making our dream true.”

Unsurprisingly, it’s incredibly difficult to get anything onto the ISS. Hadhad told me that he was so appreciative of the astronauts, for their hard work in getting NASA to agree to send the chocolates. He told me a beautiful story of how the pictures that the ISS crew took have impacted his family, “if they travel to any country in the Middle East they are now very well known, about the family, that we sent Syrian chocolate to space. That was the headline on Middle Eastern news in the last three days. It was phenomenal.”

It’s easy to see why the story has caught fire and spread around the world. It would have been so easy, so forgivable if the Hadhads had given up on their dreams after settling in Antigonish; this, however, is clearly not what occurred. Hadhad knew that he had to share his families message, a message not only of peace, but also of personal strength and determination. Hadhad told me what has driven their success, “With us, we have persistence. Nothing comes easy. I know that life is not fair sometimes. The level of discomfort that we have lived, we’ve definitely taken advantage of, and turned it into an opportunity.”

Hadhad glows with optimism. His message is of peace and determination. These days he shares that message in speeches from coast to coast. Luckily, we did not conclude the interview without him first imparting some wisdom on me, “I truly believe that, you know, there are different people on the Earth, and they can follow the ordinary track in their lives but those who will take the extraordinary track or path in their lives, those people will be memorized. Those people we’ll be talking about and those people will really make the change. I truly believe that if you want to make extraordinary stuff, you should not take the ordinary road, that other people are doing... Inside each one of us is a little entrepreneur, that tries always to make things different. It’s your choice to make that entrepreneur out from you, or to keep it inside you.”

 Photo: Twitter @Peacebychoco

Photo: Twitter @Peacebychoco

Hadhad also shared his advice for newcomers, “At the beginning of the day, we are all newcomers... Whether if you are a newcomer to a University, or you are a newcomer to a relationship, or a newcomer to success, we’re all newcomers at a certain level. But for those people that come to different places, it is their responsibility at the beginning to seek out and share their plans with others. No one will come to them and ask them what they are going to do. It is their responsibility to go out first and write their opportunities. And the second thing is; as human beings we have legs, we don’t have roots, like trees. So, we were meant to move, to find the opportunity. Everyone definitely should look for it... And at the end of the day, I would say, you are in Canada, and Canadians are not human beings only, but they are good at being human.”

The Hadhad family’s hard work is certainly paying off these days. I asked Hadhad what plans he has for the business moving forward, and he was happy to let me in, “we are planning to get to a level where we find a piece of chocolate on every shelf in the country, wherever you go... We are now online, we have our website, peacebychocolate.ca, but we always try to expand our network, not only online, but also in reality. But the major goal for Peace by Chocolate, at the end of the day, is to be one of the top five chocolate companies in Canada in the next short while.”

Peace by Chocolate has shattered all obstacles in its way and by all indications, it is going to continue on that trajectory. It represents many things, but most clearly it is a literal reminder of the sweet taste of peace.

With that in mind, I’ll leave the last words to Hadhad “peace is something very noble, and should not be taken for granted. Because you can lose it in the blink of an eye... Wars can start at any point if we lose our trust in each other, if we don’t understand each other as human beings living on the same piece of land.”

 

Kavanaugh Confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court

 
 

Hearing shrouded in controversy after allegations of sexual assault surface

The contentious confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh was brought to a close on Saturday, after senators voted 50- 48 in favour of his appointment as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Kavanaugh was nominated in July by President Trump to fill the vacancy left by retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired on July 31. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing began on September 4, with a vote scheduled for September 20. The vote was postponed after Kavanaugh’s nomination became shrouded in controversy following allegations of sexual assault dating back to his years at Georgetown Preparatory School. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, professor of Psychology at Palo Alto University, contacted local California congresswoman Anna Eshoo within days of Kavanaugh being shortlisted as a potential Supreme Court nominee. She also contacted reporter Emma Brown from the Washington Post on condition of anonymity. According to Brown, “...[S]he was terrified about going public. She didn’t want to speak on the record.”.

Upon hearing her testimony, congresswoman Eshoo brought the matter to ranking senator Dianne Feinstein; the senator promised Dr. Ford that she would accommodate her wish to remain anonymous, and did not bring the matter up during the beginning of the Kavanaugh hearing.

By September 12, however, The Intercept had reported that Senator Feinstein was withholding information pertinent to Kavanaugh’s investigation. After consultation with Dr. Ford, Feinstein relayed her written testimony to the FBI, who proceeded to redact identifying content from the testimony and forward it to the White House. The White House then proceeded to forward the testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee for reference during the Kavanaugh hearing.

Despite Dr. Ford’s wishes to remain anonymous, various reporters and media personnel began working to discover the identity of the victim. Dr. Ford struggled with the choice to go public for quite some time, but ultimately chose to appear in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee during an extension of Kavanaugh’s hearing for testimony. In her written testimony, she stated:

“My hope was that providing the information confidentially would be sufficient to allow the Senate to consider Mr. Kavanaugh’s serious misconduct without having to make myself, my family, or anyone’s family vulnerable to the personal attacks and invasions of privacy we have faced since my name became public.”

Upon revelation of Ford’s identity, many Republican senators and supporters were convinced that she had cried wolf, emphatically stating that the allegations played into the Democrats’ agenda of blocking right-wing SCOTUS nominations. Others were more empathetic, lending credit to Ford’s highly credible written testimony.

After Dr. Ford testified in person, there seemed to be little doubt regarding her credibility. Ford delivered an incredibly compelling account of the events which occurred during her high school encounter with Kavanaugh; Senate members on both sides of the aisle were visibly shaken. With tears shed and hearts wrenched, it seemed inevitable that Kavanaugh’s confirmation would be struck down.

During the televised broadcast of Dr. Ford’s testimony, many Republicans outside the Judiciary Committee felt as though the nomination had been lost. Senator Mitch McConnell, however, did not lose faith. “We’re only at halftime.” Senator McConnell said to a group of despondent Republicans, inelegantly using phrasing so often reserved for the world of sports and play.

At the same time, Kavanaugh was receiving instruction from Donald F. McGahn II, President Trump’s White House counsel. According to the New York Times, Mr. Mc- Gahn assured Kavanaugh that the only way to save his nomination was to channel his outrage and indignation at the charges facing him. As the world would soon see, this was no difficult task for a man already brimming with bitterness and fury.

Heeding his counsel’s advice, Kavanaugh’s testimony managed to evoke the same rage and indignation from many republicans, who blamed the Democrats for orchestrating a smear campaign against Kavanaugh. Speaking across the aisle, Republican senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said:

“Boy, you all want power. God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham. That you knew about it and you held it. You had no intention of protecting Dr. Ford; none.”

Now addressing Kavanaugh: “She’s as much of a victim as you are. God, I hate to say it because these have been my friends. But let me tell you, when it comes to this, you’re looking for a fair process? You came to the wrong town at the wrong time, my friend. Do you consider this a job interview?” “... To my Republican colleagues, if you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics. You [democrats] want this seat? I hope you never get it.”

Within a matter of minutes, the anger expressed by Kavanaugh and the Republicans of the committee were enough to turn the tides of rage against the innocent - against Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Members of the Senate on both sides of the aisle continued to question Kavanaugh, but the atmosphere had clearly changed. In a surprise gesture of good faith, Republican Senator Jeff Flake reached across party lines and called for an FBI investigation into the claims of Dr. Ford and the two other accusers, Julie Swetnick and Deborah Ramirez.

The investigation did occur, though it appeared to be very limited in scope - the FBI interviewed only a small number of those who volunteered to endure the bureau’s scrutiny. Notably, the FBI failed to interview Dr. Ford, Mr. Kavanaugh, Ms. Swetnick, and a number of individuals from both Dr. Ford’s and Mr. Kavanaugh’s past whom had offered to participate in the FBI’s investigation.

Upon receiving the results of the FBI’s investigation, Republicans and Democrats both indicated that the report contained no additional corroborating information. While Republicans largely took this as an indication of invalidity with regards to Dr. Ford’s testimony, Democrats saw the result of an investigation which had clearly been limited in scope. In a press briefing, Democratic Senator Feinstein said:

“Candidly... [the report] looks to be the product of an incomplete investigation that was limited, perhaps by the White House - I don’t know - but the White House certainly blocked access to millions of documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s record... And ensured that 90% of his emails and memos weren’t available for the Senate or the public in the hearings. It now appears that they also blocked the FBI from doing its job. Democrats agreed that the investigation’s scope should be limited. We did not agree that the White House should tie the FBI’s hands.”

Republican Senator Flake had a much shorter commentary:

“We’ve seen no additional corroborating information”, noting that he needed to finish reviewing the materials. Many Senators added that they had not finished reviewing the materials after commentary, owing to the fact that only one copy of the report was printed. The report was kept within a vault in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, essentially limiting viewing to one Senator at a time; phones and note taking were not permitted inside the vault. A total of one hundred senators had access to the report and were given approximately 24 hours to view and process the information. Some may describe this format of viewing as restrictive.

The FBI report was delivered to Capital Hill at 2:30am Thursday morning, and the Senate Judiciary Committee met again on Friday. A motion to invoke cloture (an end to debate) was held on the first day, resulting in a 51-49 vote in favour. The final senate vote to confirm Kavanaugh’s nomination occurred the following day, with a 50-48 vote in favour (Republican Senator Steve Daines was absent, and Republican Lisa Murkowski voted “Present” rather than “Yes”). Kavanaugh was officially confirmed to the Supreme Court shortly after the final vote.

 

U.S. Justice Department Investigates Tesla

 
 

A reminder to be careful when posting on social media

The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation into the car manufacturer Tesla, after billionaire chairman and CEO Elon Musk shared plans of taking the company private over Twitter. In a tweet posted at 12:48pm ET on August 7, Musk said:  

“Am thinking of taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”

At a price tag of $420 per share, a private buyout would result in a 16% premium on shares prices at the time of the original tweet. After questions regarding current shareholder ownership began to flood throughout the Twitterverse, Musk fired-off a second tweet:

“All current investors remain with Tesla even if we’re private. Would create special purpose fund enabling anyone to stay with Tesla. Already do this with Fidelity’s SpaceX investment.”

During the following two hours, Tesla stock proceeded to climb higher and higher on the tailwinds of the tweet, before NASDAQ officials halted trading at 2:08pm ET. Trading halts generally occur when a publicly traded company is going to release important news about itself, and generally lasts for a period of an hour. The halt provides market participants with the opportunity to assess the significance and impact of the news. According to the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) website, a second type of halt occurs when there is uncertainty whether a security continues to meet the market’s listing standards. Given that the halt on Tesla trading occurred two hours after the unexpected news was announced, it did not fall under either of these situational guidelines. As reported by MarketWatch, many investors who were actively trading at the time of the news felt disadvantaged by the lack of clarity and information surrounding the announcement. Once trading resumed at 3:45pm ET, Tesla shares jumped 10% before closing at $379.57, 9.5% higher than their opening price. 

The unexpected tweet and subsequent market fluctuation resulted in more than a few ruffled feathers. The SEC moved swiftly and served Tesla with a subpoena within days of the tweet; a subpoena from the SEC generally requires approval from top officials, indicating that the tweets by Musk were being taken seriously. At the time of this writing, the SEC has indeed opened a civil investigation into the company and their plans for privatization.

Throughout the following days, it became more apparent that Musk’s “funding secured” was far from the truth. In a blog post published by the billionaire entrepreneur, Musk explained that a Saudi sovereign wealth fund had expressed interest in a bid to take Tesla private. According to Musk he’d had several meetings with the Saudis, each one more reassuring then the last. On August 24, however, he announced that he would be heeding shareholders concerns regarding the private buyout and abandon the endeavour. 

In addition to the SEC, shareholders also took action against Musk - by August 10, a class-action lawsuit spearheaded by short-seller Kalman Isaacs had been filed against Musk and Tesla on behalf of all investors who bought shares after the tweet. Isaacs alleges that the tweets were intentionally fraudulent, in an attempt to punish those who had shorted the company by sending stock prices soaring. It’s worth noting that Isaacs was indeed short at least 3,000 shares of Tesla and sold them in a panic once the stock price hit $376. 

A SEC investigation and class-action lawsuit would be enough to send any company into an all-hands-on-deck damage control frenzy; however, we appear to have only touched the tip of the iceberg. Early last week, Tesla confirmed the U.S. Department of Justice had contacted the company following Musk’s tweets:

“Last month, following Elon’s announcement that he was considering taking the company private, Tesla received a voluntary request for documents from the DOJ and has been cooperative in responding to it,”.

While the Department of Justice investigation is still in its early stages, a criminal investigation does not bode well for any company. As reported by Bloomberg, former Department of Justice prosecutor Paul Pelletier was quoted saying: 

“Criminal investigations are never good if you’re a public company because they open up a Pandora’s box and prosecutors will follow threads wherever they lead,” 

Tesla has reassured the public that they are cooperating with the DOJ have not received any subpoenas, although general DOJ inquiries and queries have been fielded by the management. While there is no guarantee that the DOJ’s investigation of Tesla will lead to charges being pressed, experts have warned that the investigation could last for months. 

Time will tell whether the recent revelations have a lasting impact on Tesla’s success and growth. For a company which has recently haemorrhaged cash over botched Model 3 production automation, anything which detracts attention from their ability to produce vehicles should warrant caution and swift restorative action.

 

Acadia Pregnancy Support - Revoked

 
 

Group expelled from Acadia Students’ Union

Recent news has brought Acadia University into the spotlight. On September 1, the Acadia Students’ Union (ASU) revoked the society status of Acadia Pregnancy Support (APS) after allegations that the group was handing out anti-choice propaganda to clients considering abortion.

In speaking with the CBC, fourth year student Kendall Jones shared her experience seeking support from the group. In 2015, worried she was pregnant, Jones found the Acadia Pregnancy Support office in the ASU. 

She was only looking for a pregnancy test, but when she revealed that she would likely consider abortion an option if it came back positive, she was handed a pamphlet outlining abortion risks instead.

APS, led by students but funded by the Valley Care Pregnancy Centre, advertised itself as providing “love, acceptance and non-judgmental support” to students. Christian in their constitution, the group claimed to serve all people, and invite all people to participate. 

Their services included free pregnancy tests and support for students “carrying their pregnancy to term” while continuing education. Despite allegations, Bill Davenport, director of the Valley Care Pregnancy Centre, is adamant that “Acadia Pregnancy Support has nothing to do with abortion.”

Davenport also says that the group’s expulsion from the ASU is “just really sad.” The group was supposedly working to create a proposal for childcare on campus - something Acadia is, unfortunately, lacking. 

Davenport also suggested that the group’s raison d’être was spurred from a lack of available resources for students, though in speaking to some of the school’s current students, it is evident that Acadia does have many other resources that strive to support students through pregnancy. According to staff and students, the Women’s Centre, as well as the Dennis Clinic and Counselling Centre, both offer services to support students dealing with pregnancy while at school.

Acadia student Sophie Chambers states that though she never accessed the group’s services, she’s “really ashamed” of the allegations that have been tied to it, and how they reflect on the school. “Acadia is such a welcoming and accepting school,” she said, and Acadia Pregnancy Support “did not carry that standard into their group.”

Chambers and Jones are only two of many students who opposed the group’s position on campus. According to an article published by the CBC, the ASU’s former executive had received a number of complaints, prompting them to reach out to this year’s acting president, George Philp. Philp has refused to speak to The Xaverian about the matter, though he has previously stated that the ASU is “investigating the matter,” and other sources have confirmed that the group has been stripped of its designation as an internal organization.

Students weren’t alone in their concerns. According to Dr. Zelda Abramson, Associate Professor of Sociology at Acadia University, ever since the group first appeared on campus

“there was deep concern among many faculty members that counselling for pregnancy should not be from an anti-choice ideology.” Though the group offered reassurance that all options would be available to students seeking their services, Abramson says that this was not the case. Looking at stories like Jones’, this becomes all the more evident.

On top of the group’s supposed false advertising, the medical information that it provides is, according to a number of experts, questionable at best. Dr. Sarah Rudrum, Assistant Professor of Sociology, points out that the group’s materials “include medically inaccurate information about abortion that focuses on risks and fails to identify how to access abortion services.”

She also brings up a valuable point about client safety, sharing that “providing quasi-medical services such as testing and counselling can lend a sense of legitimacy, but pregnancy centers are not clinics and are not subject to the same checks and balances that govern medical service provision.”

Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie, a gynecologist in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, agrees. Pamphlets given out to students like Jones included information citing abortion as a factor increasing a woman’s risk of breast cancer, which MacQuarrie says is not medically accurate. 

MacQuarrie shared with CBC that Valley Care, where Acadia Pregnancy Support sources their information, shares more information and studies referenced by anti-abortion organizations than from trustworthy medical organizations such as the National Institutes of Health.

Despite having been expelled from the ASU, the Acadia Pregnancy Support Group remains active online and on campus. 

Davenport shared that his team had recently surveyed students to gauge interest in participation and claims that 50% of students surveyed were interested in joining the group; the other 50% of respondents cited lack of free time as reason for not getting involved. The group currently has no returning members from previous years.

StFX Health and Counselling would like to assure students that should they need support, they can find nonjudgmental, confidential services here on campus. 

Margaret McKinnon, director of Health and Counselling, shared the following statement with The Xaverian Weekly:

“At the StFX Health and Counselling Centre, students’ health and wellbeing are our greatest priority, including when students come to us because of unplanned pregnancy. Our services are inclusive and nonjudgmental, and we ensure that students receive accurate information about all their options, so they can make informed decisions about their health care. We provide the highest standards of care at the Health and Counselling Centre, and we support and protect students’ rights to respect and dignity, regardless of their health care choices.”

 

Joseph Khoury Interview

 
 

Professor at StFX now editor of Tudor and Stuart Book Series

Joseph Khoury was interviewed by Yanik Gallie on September 19, 2018. Khoury is editor of the Tudor and Stuart Book Series at The Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS). The CRRS is a part of Victoria University at the University of Toronto and is governed, under the leadership of its Director, by faculty committees linked to each other in the Centre’s activities: library collections, academic programs, early modern programs, and scholarly publications.

Joseph Khoury is Associate Professor of English at St Francis Xavier University. He studied Political Philosophy and Comparative Literature and specializes in Machiavelli, Marlowe, and Shakespeare. Joseph also teaches, and has published on, the Arabic Novel. His critical edition of Barnabe Riche’s The Adventures of Brusanus, Prince of Hungaria (1592), a political romance used as a source by Shakespeare in several of his plays, has garnered highly favourable reviews. He is currently working on a monograph on Machiavelli and his influence on Shakespeare. Joseph has published articles on Machiavelli, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Aimé Césaire, and William Thomas (tutor to Edward VI). Joseph is involved in theatre and in 2015 served as Juror for the Governor-General’s Literary Prize (English Non-Fiction). Joseph received the Outstanding Teaching Award in 2016.

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YG: Why is the preservation of history and culture important today?

JK: I think it’s always important to preserve history and culture. We often discover that some of the stuff that was preserved has been suppressed and that’s not good. If you want to learn the truth about something, you have to make sure it’s available. Some of these books may not have been suppressed, but certainly they had their use at the time; Sometimes they are just forgotten. There may not have been many of them printed. Some were only printed in manuscript for example, that would have circulated widely. We know that a lot of books, poems, literature of different kinds like political tracts or biographies, were only circulated in manuscript. Some of them have never been printed, ever. If one could show that a manuscript was important, how it was important and how influential it was, therefore, now it’s time to print it so that today’s scholars have access. To be a part of that process is exciting.

Just to give you an example of an important book that circulated only in manuscript is George Cavendish’s The Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey. That manuscript was circulated widely, but I think it’s first printing was over a hundred years later and that’s important because it gave us a lot of insight about the relationship between Cardinal Wolsey and Henry.  Obviously, it circulated enough back in the day that Shakespeare used it in his co-author play Henry VIII. Making sure that some of those documents are available to us today is significant. Students certainly can stand to benefit from it because they are on the verge of making discoveries, if their professors bring these into the classroom and that’s always exciting. 

YG: Have you worked directly with those manuscripts?

JK: I have worked with some manuscripts. Obviously, I wouldn’t be the only one. I would rely on the scholars to make the case that a particular book should be published. I already have several inquiries. One from England, another from the US, and a third from Canada. Each of them has to make their case. Some books I have heard of before, others I haven’t.

One in particular, and I can’t specify right now because it’s still in progress, is an interesting work written by a woman. It’s a sixteenth century text that has never been made available before. It gives us historical perspective on some important events. That would be really, really exciting, if we can make the project happen. Especially for the scholarship today that makes sure all the voices are brought to the floor.

YG: When a manuscript goes to print, I imagine there are discrepancies in the text between the original and reproduction. How do you honor the original text?

JK: We want to make sure the books are readable which means that we modernize the spelling and grammar very conservatively. We don’t want to change the tone or the ideas that are presented. Modernize the spelling to be consistent because they did not have consistent spelling, grammar or punctuation in those days. If you play with the text too much, you destroy the meaning and the tone. Tone is very important. Meaning also happens through tone and we don’t want to destroy that, but we want the text to be readable. 

That’s always difficult to weigh. Sometimes, I’m not sure about this word or this sentence.  You take your best shot, but then you note it by saying this is the original. You try to keep those at a minimum, but sometimes you have no choice. We have lost words whose meaning is not the same anymore. A lot of words have a changed meaning now, some of them mean the opposite as they used to. A lot of those words would be glossed. We have to do that, because you don’t want to misunderstand the text because the meaning has changed. We don’t want to get in the way of the reading, but at the same time we make sure that a modern reader understands. Natural language changes daily and we must accept that, but at the same time be aware of it. 

YG: Can you describe your comparatist philosophy?

JK: I firmly believe that we know ourselves only through comparison. That’s Hegelian, of course. I think it’s correct. In other words, if we don’t try to understand ourselves by comparing to other people, then we would never truly understand ourselves or the other people. The same goes with literature.

In literature, the idea of a national literature is a modern concept. It was actually born in the 19 century. Before that, we would study all literature including Greek, Roman, French and German. It’s only in the 19 century and made worst in the 20 century in North America largely with unilingualism which I think is a sad case. Most of the world is at least bilingual, trilingual, quadrilingual. I think reading and understanding literatures of other cultures helps us to understand ourselves and the other. In a way, we’re going back to the Renaissance when this was the norm. All the educated people in the Renaissance read Italian, Latin, I mean queen Elizabeth was fluent in all the languages of the realm and in addition, she knew Greek, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Basically, she knew 10 languages. Trying to work with different languages of various cultures is really important. It builds healthier relationships and more understanding. Comparative literature allows us to understand ourselves by comparing cultures. Other cultures have something to teach us. I think it’s the nature of humanity. It’s only in the 19 century that universities started to focus on national literature. I’ve never accepted that. I’m proud to be a comparatist and that’s how I teach as well. My work has always focused on comparative literature and philosophy. I look at how ideas travel to other cultures or when they come to our home culture, how are they adopted? I’ve always found that interesting because it tells us a lot about ourselves and how we see others. 

This work as editor does the same thing. A lot of writers in the Tudor and Stuart ages, they borrowed a lot of ideas. Some of them translated other works into English, but they made so many changes that they produce, not only a new work, but also a new way of looking at the original work. Why did they choose to alter? Why not? It tells us about how we look at ourselves and others. Sometimes they had a love-hate relationship with language. They adored Italy, but they also hated Italy. They adored Italy’s literature and philosophy, and then hated its religion, in England especially after the break from Rome. They also fancied its fashion, yet they mock it at the same time. They’re doing it better, but we don’t want to admit that they’re doing it better than us. Again, they give us new perspectives to think about. We forget that almost a third of Shakespeare’s plays are set in Italy. The setting says something. That’s one of many examples. It’s interesting that the earliest sonnets were actually translations of Petrarch’s sonnets. Yeah, they’re new poems, they’re not just translations. The interpretations were so beautiful that they are their own poems in their own right. The comparative element is exciting, but that was the natural thing for the Renaissance. Today, we think we are doing something new that they have already been doing. For me, it’s my natural home. I’ve always been a comparatist and I find it interesting.