International Student Speaks Out about Recruitment

 

An inside perspective into the life of an international student

I want you to use your imagination for a second. Imagine leaving your home, the country you were born and raised in, to gain a higher education and pursue a bright start to your future. Imagine saying goodbye to your family and friends and packing up two bag-loads of your life to take with you as you travel alone to an entirely new continent with which you are not entirely familiar with. Imagine arriving at your destination and failing to see anyone in the distance who remotely looks like you, and then later discovering that this will be the setting of the next four years of your life. 

When I was recruited by Saint Francis Xavier University, I was quite literally sold the Canadian dream. With promises of a diverse, peaceful culture that embraces and celebrates other nationalities, of renewable bursaries and opportunities for work that would “reduce the cost of my tuition tremendously,” there were hopeful stars in my eyes as I pictured my future at this university. I was going to make tons of new friends with whom I would share my culture as I equally experienced theirs, and I would perhaps even return home with a Canadian accent after a few months. 

The reality could not have been any more different. In all of the dreamy tales fed to us in the large assembly hall of our high school, it seems that the university recruitment team simply forgot to mention that the tuition at StFX was going to be hiked by 6% every year for the next three years because the university is in so much debt, and that this would actually translate to a 12% increase for international students, since they pay double the tuition fees compared to Canadian students. 

The lovely recruiters also had a little ‘slip’ of memory and neglected to inform us that the total cost of residence for the year does not include or cover the two/three-week Christmas break during December, and that all students are required to evacuate their rooms and expected to independently find alternative accommodation for themselves over this period. Of course, mentioning these vital factors to potential students was not of great importance at the time. As long as they managed to successfully rope in and recruit a couple of us, the rest would figure itself out. After all, the university is kind enough to perform favors such as providing alternative campus living arrangements for those international students who are unable to go home for Christmas, all at a little charge, of course! What is an extra one or two-hundred dollars to someone who already pays $30 000 to be here?   

 My question is, why, oh why, then, would StFX continue to recruit a large number of international students, if they constitute most of the debt carried by the university? Is their solution to this problem, therefore, to hire a debt-collector masked as an International Student Advisor, who will deceive international students into a trap of sharing their financial struggles, only to add them to her ‘blacklist’ of individuals to monitor and watch out for? The international population is truly better off not having an Office of Internationalization, if it houses individuals who intentionally advocate against them. The very students whom she is purposed to be a support for (at least, according to her job description), are the ones whom the university has mandated her to take a strong position against and, quite frankly, get rid of. 

Moreover, university administration made it very clear that 2018 would be a year of change and uncompromising rule. Whereas the university was previously quite understanding and lenient towards international students, and permitted them to construct plans for payment that would still allow them to register for courses so long as they had been making some steady payments to their accounts during the year, this policy changed overnight. With an ironclad fist, the university denied access to course registration to all international students whose student accounts were anything above the new threshold of $5 000. Lo and behold (and this should certainly not come as a surprise to any of us), this new policy was not transparently communicated to any students, nor was there sufficient notice given prior to implementation of this new practice. 

So, when July came around and it was registration time, many unsuspecting international students received devastating emails from the Accounts Office that informed them that they would not, in fact, be able to register for classes, and they essentially would have about one month to miraculously decrease their balances owing to $5 000 if they wished to continue their enrolment with the university for the upcoming year.

I’ll ask you to again to imagine being an international student on the receiving end of this news; having traveled a long way from your country to this foreign land for an education, which, so abruptly, was snatched away from you. Imagine being halfway through university at this point, and being unable to join your peers as they progress into the year ahead while you remain behind, a balance of $10 000 or worse, $50 000, standing between you and your future, as you work tirelessly to reduce it just so you can catch up. 

Worse off, the concept of government loans or assistance to students is virtually non-existent in many of the countries from which StFX recruits its international population, and most parents are paying 30 thousand dollars straight out of their pockets, in economies that are not half as stable as Canada’s. Yet, international students are being held to the same merciless standards as Canadian students who have these privileges.

This is the unfortunate reality of several international students who attend(ed) St Francis Xavier University. Unexpected, uncommunicable costs are constantly flung in their direction, and they are expected to just bear the increments and tough it out, with no compromise on the part of the university. Just this month (on November 8 2018), StFX residence services sent out an email regarding accommodations over the Christmas break for internationals who are unable to go home, indicating that they would be placed in FX Hall (formerly Coady MacNeil Hall) for the break at a daily rate of almost $30 for a single room, totalling a hefty $600 for a three-week stay. How it could be possible that a student who is probably unable to afford a trip to go home to begin with, be able to afford to pay $600 - for such poor living conditions - is beyond me. This also comes as a huge slap to the international community, who, just last year, fought to be placed in a more livable building because the present condition of Coady MacNeil Hall is dilapidated and unbearable, suitable only for its current use as a storage facility for janitors’ cleaning supplies. Thus, after begrudgingly moving internationals into Power Hall for the December 2017 holiday, the university administration turned around and decided to not only revert back to Coady MacNeil as the building allocation for Christmas this year, but to hike the cost of stay by over $400 without any warning or any explanation for the increased rate. 

Amazingly, one of the universities strategic goals is “Increased enrolment by under-represented students, including international students,” a statement bleeding with irony, contradiction, and deception. What the university really wants is more students to manipulate and deceive as they demand double the tuition for half of the deserved services. 

The message here is clear: we, the international students, are unwanted and useless, and our comfort/sanity while we are halfway across the world from home, is not a priority. While many other universities place their international population at the forefront of every decision, acknowledging the fact that they are so far from their homes and their families, StFX treats their international students as inconveniences whom they are doing a favor by inviting onto this campus. You can count on the fact that we as international students will not make any recommendations to our peers in our home countries for Saint Francis Xavier University as a choice for higher education. 

I wish StFX all the best as they try to achieve their strategic goals in future years, because for as long as they continue to treat international students like the butt of the joke and some good-for-nothing cash cows, the reputation of this university and how it really treats its international students will spread and always stand to reflect the truth which their recruitment team fails to speak.

 
 

The Meaning of X-Ring

 

Why the piece of gold jewelry means so much

Every December, excitement fills the air as graduating StFX students wait to receive their coveted X-rings. As soon as they receive theirs, the countdown begins for the next year of eagerly awaiting X-ring recipients. But, why is a piece of silver, gold, or platinum metal worth all the fuss?

Like many, I came to StFX in my first year fascinated by the gold ring that I would get years down the road. I had admired them since the application process to StFX, and the intrigue surrounding them only grew as I saw a few fourth-year classmates proudly show theirs off. Who wouldn’t admire a ring that supposedly could connect you to other alumni through a quick glance at their right hand?

Since first year, the meaning behind X-ring has changed quite a lot for me. No longer is it a mystery, but a symbol of four intense and rewarding years at StFX. All the late nights, piles of assignments, and early mornings suddenly seem worth it, even though throughout the process of getting to X-ring, it sometimes seemed like an insurmountable task.

X-ring is more than just the academic achievements behind earning it. It’s also about the friends, faculty, and members of the community that become a proxy family during your time at university. For many of StFX students that come from across the country, or from abroad, X-ring represents the home away from home that we create during our years in Antigonish. To have a constant reminder of that sense of family and lifelong friends gives a lot of significance to the ring.

For many receiving their X-ring this December, it is meaningful because it connects them to family legacies. Some recipients come from a long line of Xaverians, and getting the X-ring is the final step in joining the family ranks. For others, like myself, we are the first members of our extended family or friends who are getting X-rings, which makes it all the more special in our eyes; however, no matter if you’re tied to a family legacy or not, some of us will hope to see other family members or our own children be able to get their own X-rings in the future.

There’s also the question behind every X-ring about the legacy we’re leaving behind at StFX. With hope, the impact we made through societies, athletics, the community, or by sticking up for important issues on campus, will live on long after we leave campus. Especially this year, issues such as bringing changes to the sexual violence policy or the revitalization of campus through buildings like the Mulroney Institute may be on the minds of many, as X-ring recipients may not be around to see the final outcomes of those projects.

X-ring signals the beginning of a shift in our relationship with StFX as well. Perhaps, farther down the line, we’ll give back through donations, come back for homecoming, or stop wearing our X-rings altogether if we feel that the university isn’t acting proactively enough on important issues. There’s no question that we’ll think about keeping up to date on what’s happening at StFX and staying in contact with the friends that we made while here every time we glance at our rings.

Lastly, what X-ring means for many is that we’re one step closer to our goals, whether they be personal, academic, or career oriented. As much as receiving an X-ring can set off the existential panic about what our futures should be or where to go next, at least we can say that we’ve got one thing done. Hopefully, the lessons and experiences from our time at StFX carry forward for the rest of our lives.

This December 3, when seniors finally file through the Keating Centre to receive their X-rings, know that there is a lot of meaning behind the smiles and excitement of getting one ring. And for those who still eagerly await their rings, some food for thought: how will you make your X-ring mean something to you?

 
 

Capers 4 Healthcare

 

Cape Breton residents protest diminishing health care in the region

On November 16 a group of Cape Breton residents, known as Capers 4 Healthcare, shut down the causeway for an hour to protest the diminishing health care in the region. With more than 150 people, they planned to protest in front the Minister of Health and Wellness’ office in Antigonish; but given the rough weather, the group was forced to turn back for safety reasons. The Minister, Randy Delorey, declined invitations to attend public events hosted by the group, resulting in direct action.

The protest was organized given the recent health care reforms proposed by Stephen McNeil, wherein hospitals in North Sydney and New Waterford would be closed. The local medical community and health workers’ union were not consulted and were only given a few hours notice. With doctor shortages, long waits for procedures and disappearing specialties, the announcements can’t help but make the changes feel drastic and dangerous for the community.

Three months after this announcement, the premier and other members of government gathered to announce the move and replacement of facilities, wherein staff had all been made aware and were supportive. An undermining act adding salt to the wound for the people of Cape Breton. 

The changes will enact the opening of new community health centres, with the teams of health care professionals working collaboratively. Many of the services offered will address the health concerns of the region such as mental heath, addictions, or diabetes; however, for emergencies patients will be redirected to the hospitals at Cape Breton Regional or Glace Bay. The plans are expected to begin taking effect within the next two years. 

The demographics in Cape Breton and all across Nova Scotia are changing as more youth continue to move to cities or out of province for available work. In Antigonish we have a seen a hike in the elderly population and the opening of new senior communities or retirement homes. These changing demographics require the industry to change out of necessity, which makes sense; but if a region already suffers from shortages of health care                                   professionals, one can’t help but wonder how changing the system of approach makes it effective. 

The idea of the new services sounds very nice, but without consultation of current experts in the area, as well as a plan, such as a survey of what prospective new practitioners are seeking, the ideas seem loosely formed and lead to caution or worry. Family practitioners in Nova Scotia earn, on average, between $10 000 and $100 000 less than doctors in other provinces according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Not only is there no guarantee of those resources, but the government is eliminating existing services and making it harder to access services in the case of an emergency. 

As a young person from Nova Scotia, this makes me concerned for my parents as they age, as well as the resources available for me. As I finish in the Education program at StFX this year, I could potentially end up in a rural area depending on job availability, if I choose to stay in the province. Knowing that resources may not be available to me in a crisis deters me from wanting to move, which presents the argument of how will the government prevent other resources in the community from leaving, or, how will they pull them in? 

These action items need to be addressed and our current political representative is not doing their part to ensure peace of mind. In fact, our provincial government made a point to show how resources in the city take a higher priority than those in rural communities by consulting with their region. The proposed plans may sound nice, but until they can confirm many of the underlying issues, it is important for the community to stand up and speak. This protest was to voice concern, and it did not get the attention that it deserved, and instead echoed the theme of where attention is placed in our province. 

 
 

Technology in Classrooms

 

The kids are alright

When Silicon Valley entrepreneurs innovated, moved fast and broke things, did that include the classroom? What began as a niche introduction to schools in the form of massive, vacuum tubed contraptions, turned into a supercomputer in every pocket and connected to other computers via nearly instantaneous networks. 

While there are some teachers who praise the availability of information to their students in the classrooms, many teachers and professors have voiced their derision about the constant phone distraction and use in class.

For most people over the age of 20-something, technology in the classroom more likely meant that there was another classroom where the computers were kept; the computer lab. 

Row after row of beige boxes would line the lengths of the room and once in a while, your teacher would let your class escape to the computer room to “do work” or “research,” if you had the internet. It was a distraction, but being so new to the internet in the 90s and early 2000s, there was little else to do but work with a word processor or check out a website overloaded with rotating flash animations. Our access to information was regulated, although not by design.

With the conquest of the office desk largely complete, computer evangelists turned their sights to the next largest market; education. Computer evangelists wove a passionate tale of improved grades, engagement, and excitement in learning to teachers and school administrators alike. With digital encyclopedias students could access information as fast they wanted. Eager to be proactive, administrators and teachers ate up the evangelists’ promises and quickly filled the spare classroom with beige boxes. What began as a trickle has turned into a deluge.

The reality of our situation is that not only do we have encyclopedias worth of information, we have endless reams of information that has proven to be a major issue, not only for students, but for adults and teachers alike. The problem of information overload is real enough to have warranted major headlines in the last few years. 

Teachers who instruct their students to do research now have to contend with a huge number of websites that not only offer poor quality information but also outright lies and falsehoods on a scale greater than previously. It’s not that there are differing perspectives offered, it’s that facts are not often even agreed upon.

While technology is now ubiquitous to the classroom, that technology is not always the prepared technology belonging to the school, or it hasn’t been modified properly for use in the classroom. Too often students who use their own cellphones in class are subjected to the notifications of social media, games and apps that distract them from school work. 

Regardless of how well they focus, even trying to ignore the buzz or audio alert from a phone is not enough to avoid having your attention undermined and your train of thought derailed, as demonstrated on an episode of CBC’s Marketplace, with both teens and adults. 

It’s stunning to see how much interruption a single buzz or ring of a phone can cause someone trying to focus and do some work. There’s a strong argument to be made that students entrust their phone to their teacher until such time as they need their phone.

The iPads that are often used in classrooms lack fundamental software that makes them truly useful in a classroom setting. True, students can use Kahoot, web browsers, and productivity apps to complete classroom assignments. What’s missing is the control over an iPad that a teacher should be afforded, that they could push pertinent information to all of them at once or direct them to a passage in a text, or highlight something on screen, without taking away the interactivity or exploration benefits of iPads.

It should also be said that students at the university level are no more resistant to the effects of constant information access that elementary or high school students. How many of us have sat in a lecture, trying to take notes, but felt the familiar buzz of our phone only to pick it up and ignore the class? Or noticed the students with laptops open and, instead of a word processor, students have Youtube, or Facebook, or a game playing on screen instead of notes? 

The truth is that we’re all susceptible to distraction. Whether you’re 80 and new to computers or 18 and grew up with the iPhone, we all crave information and attention. The teens of today are not necessarily in danger of becoming addicted to their phones, indeed each generation has their toy that they replace with more pressing activities as they grew older. 

Teens today will do the same when the times comes. Truthfully, the kids are alright.

 
 

A Symbol of Unified Individualism

 

Thoughts on the meaning of X-Ring

When was the first time you heard about StFX? Who told you about this university? Well, chances are that person was a proud owner of an X-Ring. That individual is only one member of the Xaverian community, a proud and widespread network of alumni from our tiny university nestled here in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. But why is it that such a large community of people are united by one symbol, the simple yet elegant X-Ring? Why does it matter?

From the beginning of our time at StFX, we see the X-Ring everywhere and hear about it all the time. Every year the atmosphere on campus changes on December 3 as the graduating class celebrates receiving their X-Rings; you can feel the excitement in the air. While other universities may ridicule our ceremonies and fascination with a simple ring, it is from this excitement we feel every year on the feast of Saint Francis Xavier that justifies the meaning of the X-Ring. For me, the X-Ring represents the memories of my time at StFX. Through the highs and lows, the good and the bad, the ring reminds me of my experiences here and how I have grown from them. Who I was when I first stepped onto campus is entirely different from who I will be when I leave. As a student of StFX, I am fortunate to have an iconic memento to stand as a constant reminder of who I was, who I am, and who I will strive to be in the future. 

Have you ever been in a public place wearing StFX apparel, and someone approaches you only to start up a conversation about your studies, all because they wear an X-Ring on their finger? This bond with the Xaverian community of members both new and old lasts through generations and it is arguably one of the greatest assets that StFX has. No matter where we may be, meeting another bearer of an X-Ring is sure to spark a tantalizing, nostalgia-fuelled conversation about the incredible times once had on our beautiful campus. I have had many of these such encounters while out in my home community, from conversations with elderly ladies at Costco to a recent graduate of 2016, the connection between Xaverians is timeless. Through these conversations, the everlasting bond between fellow Xaverians grows and continues to attract new students to our university each year. My elementary school music teacher is a Xaverian, my high school hockey coach is a Xaverian, even my MLA is a Xaverian, and connections like these are not uncommon amongst the students who attend StFX. 

This of course all hinges on the social meaning that the X-Ring inevitably holds, especially as the Xaverian family becomes more widespread. It is the symbol of the StFX brand, and we as holders are its advertisers. Some may view this in a negative light, as corporate greed or as a means to support a societal structure that relies on students being pushed through universities all for accreditation. But while arguments could be made to support the negative, I choose to see things through a lens of positivity. The X-Ring shines bright as a representative of the best aspects of our university. From our amazing programs to our house cup hockey games, our Welcome Week and O Crew, Wing Nights and our outstanding varsity teams, it is through these amazing qualities and many more that the StFX experience is remembered so fondly for much of the Xaverian family.

The truth is, the X-Ring means something different to everyone. Your ring represents all the work you have put in to be able to wear your ring for the first time. All the tests, projects, readings, presentations and hard work, your StFX experience will be forever embodied by the golden X-Ring you can call your own. 

 
 

From Pulse to Pittsburgh

 

Can what we learned after Pulse help us support our Jewish friends after Pittsburgh?

During the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, a gunman entered the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Over a span of nearly four hours, the shooter terrorized approximately 320 predominantly queer Latinx patrons of the club. In the end, 49 people were killed. At the time, it was the largest civilian mass shooting in the history of the United States. Just six months later, Canada experienced a shooting in Quebec, when six men were murdered during the evening prayer services at a mosque in Quebec City. Most recently, on the morning of October 27, 2018, an armed man entered the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA and murdered 11 individuals, ranging in age from 54 to 97. They have been described as the very best of their community, the individuals who were always at services early, always the last to leave, and who dedicated their lives to making the lives of others in their community better. Much has been written about who each of these 11 people were, and I encourage you to read about their lives and to remember their names. 

While all mass shootings are tragic and heartbreaking, there is something different about these three shootings that ties them together. They were all borne out of hate and prejudice, and they all targeted a very specific community. Pulse targeted the LGBTQ+ community, the shooting in Quebec targeted Muslims, and the Pittsburgh shooting targeted Jews. The Pittsburgh shooter entered the Synagogue proclaiming that “All Jews Must Die” and later, when being treated for the gunshot wounds he sustained from the police, he continued to hurl anti-Semitic slurs at the Jewish doctor attempting to save his life. 

The day after the Pulse shooting Dr. Rhea Hoskin and I filed an ethics amendment for one of our ongoing studies so that we could collect the responses of LGBTQ+ people from around the world as they reacted to the news of the shooting. Hundreds of people answered our survey, from all around the world, and I hope that what we learned from their grief can help us be better friends, family and neighbours to the Jewish communities currently reacting to Pittsburgh. 

Perhaps the story of 49 queers dancing at a gay bar doesn’t quite seem the same as 11 senior citizens preparing for Shabbat services; so let me tell you a little bit more about how the contrast here is only surface deep. Synagogues, mosques, and churches are considered sanctuaries: places of refuge and safety. Yet, historically, many houses of worship have rejected their LGBTQ+ members, making the traditional sanctuaries inaccessible. As a result, gay bars became the sanctuaries of the queer community. Gay bars were where people went to seek refuge from a hostile and homophobic world. They were the places where it was safe to hold your partner’s hand and where two women or two men could dance together on the dance floor and see their reflection in everyone else around them. Gay bars were where people went when they were kicked out of their homes by their parents, and when their religious leaders called them sinners. Thus, Pulse was every bit as much of a sanctuary for the queer Latinx community of Orlando as the Tree of Life Synagogue was for the Jewish community of Squirrel Hill. In other words, both of these shootings took place within sanctuaries where people sought refuge from the world, where they felt safe, and where they came together with their community to celebrate life, mourn the loss of life, and - at the most basic level - connect with humanity. 

This notion, of having one’s place of refuge violated and turned into place of hate-fuelled murder, was one of the most common themes that the respondents in our Pulse survey mentioned. They reported feeling as though the loss was theirs, that it was personal, and that it could have just as easily been them. Many spoke of having lost ‘brothers and sisters,’ a phrase that has been commonly used by those responding to the Pittsburgh shooting as well. More than 84% of our Pulse respondents described the shooting as having an impact on how safe they felt as an LGBTQ+ person, even if they lived thousands of miles away. Jewish people around the world are now feeling the same way. They may have been at Shabbat services themselves at the very moment that this shooting took place. Their sense of being safe in the world has been shaken, and while many have already been feeling increasingly unsafe due to rising anti-Semitism, they now feel it with a level of certainty that they cannot ignore. 

Some respondents to the Pulse survey were perplexed by their grief, wondering why they were having such a strong reaction to an event that technically did not involve them personally. Some went so far as to question whether they had the right to feel the grief that they felt, as though they were somehow trespassing on the grief of those who lost a loved one. Others spoke of how the event ‘burst their bubble’ or made them realize that they could be killed just for being who they are, or loving who they love. For many younger participants, the shooting was the first time that they really experienced this kind of connection between homophobia and their own potential mortality. On the other hand, older participants experienced the shooting as a reminder of past violence and a warning that they cannot become complacent. I can only imagine that similar differences may be occurring between the older and younger generations of the Jewish community, with the young perhaps naively coming face-to-face with the fatal cost of anti-Semitism for the first time and the older individuals being far too painfully aware of the long history of Jewish persecution and murder.  

After Pulse, vigils were held all over the world, just as they are being held now for the Pittsburgh victims. In the days and weeks following the Pulse shooting, many LGBTQ+ individuals expressed a desire to surround themselves with others from the LGBTQ+ community. Often this desire was linked to feeling that their non-LGBTQ+ friends and family failed to understand the personal meaning and impact of the shooting. To those outside the LGBTQ+ community, Pulse was just another shooting, special perhaps only because, for a short duration in time, it was the largest shooting. The disconnect between how LGBTQ+ people felt and how their friends and family saw it as ‘just another shooting’ seemed to exacerbate respondents’ grief and feelings of isolation. I think these sentiments should give us the greatest pause and also guide us in how we respond to Pittsburgh. 

Mass shootings have become far too commonplace, such that they are just background noise in the daily news cycle. No one can fully digest all of them or fully ‘feel’ all of them, but when a shooting targets a specific community, a minority community, we must take note and we must reach out. LGBTQ+ people all over the world felt alone and in danger after Pulse. They felt like the world moved on and they were hurt by the failure to acknowledge the role that homophobia unquestionably played in murdering 49 LGBTQ+ individuals. Our Jewish friends and family are feeling this way now. While they continue to grieve and feel unsafe, they are watching others move on to the next topic, or they are listening to the media debate whether it was ‘really’ an attack on Jews or if, perhaps, it was an attack on all religions, or an attack on America and an ‘American-way of life’. It was not. It was an attack on Jews, Jewish Faith, Jewish Culture, and specifically, the Jewish tradition of welcoming and safeguarding refugees. The drive to explain the motives behind this shooting in an overly inclusive way (i.e., it was an attack on all of us/all religions) diminishes the reality of anti-Semitism in today’s society, and in our very own backyards. More importantly, it needlessly adds to the grief and suffering of those within the targeted community.

When we live in a society that constantly excludes others and draws rigid boundaries between “us” and “them” over the smallest of social identities, we cannot just erase those lines when tragedy hits and pretend like those lines weren’t the catalyst for the tragedy in the first place. Thus, while people’s intentions may be well meaning when they say, “this was an attack on all of us,” we cannot claim victims as “us” when we did not fully claim them as such while they were living. As one participant after Pulse put it: “Never before had the queers been considered so American until the moment that 49 of them were dead.”

Pulse, Quebec, and Pittsburgh, while not identical, are all connected through the shared feelings of immeasurable loss and those feelings are stronger among the members of the affected communities, no matter how far away they may actually have been from the event. These feelings are only exacerbated when others fail to acknowledge the gravity of the situation and the specific prejudices implicated in each (i.e., Homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism). 

We must acknowledge the toll that these prejudices take within our society and do all that we can to eradicate them. It may seem like a daunting task that is too big for any one person, but I’d like to challenge each member of this campus to take a step in the right direction. Over the next week, make a list of how you categorize others in the world. Who is on your “us” list and who is on your “them” list and then ask yourself why?* Even if it seems harmless, question if a certain category on your “them” list is worth having there if, ultimately, having them there keeps you in the habit of dividing the world by us and them rather than finding points of agreement and common ground. Challenge yourself to re-organize those lists so that your “us” list gets longer, and your “them” list begins to shrink. Don’t rejig the list after tragedy strikes, do it beforehand so you can be a part of preventing these tragedies from happening.

*If you are having trouble starting the list, often the identities that are important to us end up defining the ‘us’ list (your university, major, nationality, sexual identity, gender, residence, city/sports team, political party, or favourite pizza parlour – Kenny’s vs. the Wheel!). Make a list of your most important personal identities and then ask yourself how much you consider the opposite of each of those identities to be part of your ‘ingroup’ or ‘us’ and how much you think of people in those opposite categories as members of an outgroup, or ‘them.’

The following list names 66 individuals who were killed in the three shootings mentioned in this article. May their memories be a blessing.

Pulse Quebec Mosque

Stanley Almodovar III (23) Ibrahima Barry (39)

Amanda Alvear (25) Mamadou Tanou Barry (42)

Oscar A Arcena-Montero (26) Khaled Belkacemi (60)

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala (33) Aboubaker Thabti (44)

Antonio Davon Brown (29) Abdelkrim Hassane (41)

Angel L. Candelario-Padro (28) Azzedine Soufiane (57)

Juan Chevez-Martinez (25)

Luis Daniel Conde (39) Pittsburgh Synagogue

Cory James Connell (21) Bernice Simon (84)

Tevin Eugene Crosby (25) Sylvan Simon (86)

Denoka Deidra Drayton (32) Melvin Wax (88)

Alejandro Barrios Martinez (21) Daniel Stein (71)

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool (49) Irving Younger (69)

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez (25) Rose Mallinger (97)

Kimberly Morris (37) Jerry Rabinowitz (66)

Akyra Monet Murray (18) Joyce Fienberg (75)

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo (20) Richard Gottfried (65)

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez (25) Cecil Rosenthal (59)

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera (36) David Rosenthal (54)

Joel Rayon Paniagua (32)

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez (35)

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez (31)

Leroy Valentin Fernandez (25)

Mercedez Marisol Flores (26)

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz (22)

Juan Ramon Guerrero (22)

Paul Terrell Henry (41)

Frank Hernandez (27)

Miguel Angel Honorato (30)

Javier Jorge-Reyes (40)

Jason Benjamin Josaphat (19)

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice (30)

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla (25)

Christopher Andrew Leinonen (32)

Enrique L. Rios, Jr. (25)

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez (27)

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado (35)

Chrisopher Joseph Sanfeliz (24)

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan (24)

Edward Sotomayor, Jr. (34)

Shane Evan Tomlinson (33)

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega (24)

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez (37)

Luis S. Vielma (22)

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez (50)

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon (37)

Jerald Arthur Wright (31)

 
 

StFX Students and Remembrance Day

 

What’s the situation with young people and November 11?

Remembrance Day is so engrained in Canadian culture that it runs the risk of becoming routine. While the core spirit of the holiday – remembering veterans and reflecting on Canada’s involvement in wars – remains, is Remembrance Day more of a symbol than an impactful, solemn event as it is intended to be?

Being in a history class, I decided to ask some of my classmates to write down anything they knew about the poppy – where it came from, what it represents, anything. I was curious to see if StFX students who take history classes at a 200+ level would know more than the basics. Among the 8 students I surveyed, there were a few common things mentioned. Seven of the eight surveyed mentioned the poem In Flanders Fields (with two mentioning the author’s name, John McCrae). Special mention of the First and Second World Wars was the second most common thing to mention, with six students referencing it. Besides these two, everything else was pretty scattered. Many answers were unique; referencing the Canadian Legion, the commonwealth, generic “battlefields” and “remembering the past”, and only two students had things to say about the history of the poppy itself. This information was exclusively tied to the evolution of the poppy’s appearance, and the do’s and don’ts of how poppies should be worn.

Honestly, this was about what I expected. In Flanders Fields is such a ubiquitous part of Remembrance Day culture. Not only is it common to memorize the poem in grade school, but it’s also used in song form during some Remembrance Day ceremonies. Knowing about the World Wars should also be a given. Besides this, student answers about the poppy varied. 

If a class of mostly history students had overwhelmingly basic offhand knowledge about poppies and November 11th in general, does that mean students who aren’t engaging with history (especially Canadian history) would be even less aware? It’s hard to tell. I’m not sure if spouting ‘fun facts’ about a holiday based around remembering war is all that important. 

Something that makes Canada’s Remembrance Day unique is the speed in which it all got started. Founded as a special day in 1921, Canadians were among the first to engage with war in a way that involved living memory. We were rapidly involved in setting up memorials and remembrance ceremonies. Is there a bias against updating anything to do with Remembrance Day today? I’d say that the negative reaction is there. The White Poppy has routinely been a controversial idea; created to be a symbol of pacifism, the White Poppy often incites negative reaction from people who automatically assume that this alternative is meant to replace the Red Poppy. While some people do use this poppy, it looks like it won’t become mainstream for a long time, if ever. 

Poppies, In Flanders Fields, the Legion, and ceremonies are the common traits of November 11th, but beyond all of this, isn’t the emotional reaction you get from this holiday the thing that’s the most important? A lot of people have ties to veterans, whether they knew their veteran relatives or not. Taking off the “world war” lens, we have so many other war-related things to be including in our cultural memory. The Korean war, the Gulf war, the Afghanistan War, and Canada’s involvement in peacekeeping missions are certainly included in Veteran’s Affairs Canada’s official Remembrance Day information. I believe that among the general public, the focus is overwhelmingly on WWI/WWII. It’s not bad by any means to focus on these catastrophic events in world history, but with more and more veterans from the world wars passing away, maybe a heightened focus on Canada’s modern and 

ongoing military engagements would be beneficial. Bringing awareness to younger people who might not have any living relative who interacted with “wartime Canada” in the WWI/WWII sense could create further inclusion for those currently serving in the Forces and perhaps revitalize the ceremonies and bring forth the concept of living remembrance.

 
 

It’s Time to Eat

 

Discussing Politics Revamped and Served with Pie

Over time the interest in politics has been declining, meanwhile we have never had more access to information or have been so informed about the politicians and representatives locally or internationally. In America, Donald Trump was voted into office and the impact his presidency has had has caused people to get heavily involved in discussing politics. Enter MADA, Making America Dinner Again, a movement to encourage people to get involved in politics in a safe environment. Created by Justine Lee and Tria Chang, they encourage small dinner parties consisting of six to eight people, keeping it preferably even. They suggest that the host takes time to get guests with differentiating opinions and to reach out to established groups to create a list of follow ups in case of cancellation. The idea is to allow different sides to express their opinions and defend their points while creating a safe space to encourage people to be open and honest about how they feel and what they believe. They have created a full step by step guide for those interested in hosting. 

I believe this is a brilliant tactic to engage the community into enjoying the act of debating their viewpoints, but also in creating informed opinions. The current political climates in our university, our town, our province and our country are rising. StFX is dealing with the discontent of their student body on management of sexual assault. Antigonish and neighbouring areas are rising against Randy Delorey over the growing concerns to changes made in Healthcare. Nova Scotia faces a growing migration issue from small communities to urban centres for employment, and a lack of attention from the federal government. Canada’s federal government is under scrutiny for its green policies and the Trans Canada Pipeline amongst other issues. There is a problem that the issues aren’t being discussed and are not as heavily advertised as the Trump administration. More people need to be informed of the current events that happens at home in their community on top of the international community. 

By implementing the idea of these dinner parties, but perhaps under something more relevant to Canadian politics, we could encourage people to get involved in local politics. Discussing matters relevant to them and staying informed on current events within the community. The creators of this movement have made it simple to create your own; from including options to cover costs, to offering suggestions for locations if you’re uncomfortable hosting it on your own. The evening breaks down into activities, topic selection, discussions and more to encourage a fun environment. Rules are implemented, such as a safe word, in case the conversation becomes too heated. 

Eating has a long history of bringing people together, and in a campus environment it can become even easier using meal hall if you have a plan.  As social creatures, this interaction helps people to deter the growing trend of isolation. We do not have to agree to build a community, but if we can communicate, express ourselves clearly and defend why we think that way, we become that much stronger. With the different societies and social media groups, finding people with different opinions is simplified. The biggest challenge of this activity is patience and respect, something we often take for granted even in ourselves. Separating a person from their opinions or actions can sometimes be difficult, if not impossible. Knowing the boundaries in a discussion and being able to come together afterwards and recognize that a person is more than their beliefs on a specific issue is what is vital in building healthy opinions and relationships.

 
 

Dear StFX

 

A final goodbye

It seems such a crime to not fill such a beautiful journal with beautiful words.  But here I am with a beautiful journal, a long bus ride ahead of me, and filled with some negative emotions.  I guess I should start with StFX, the university that broke my heart.  I wouldn’t say I was necessarily excited to go back, having been sexually assaulted the previous year, but I was certainly hopeful.  I had reported to the school and my assaulter was suspended for the year.  This was my fresh start, my chance to make my home there.  There was still a voice in my head saying, ‘you only have a year of safety there.’  I pushed the voice away, determined to make the best of this year.  I’d switched myself into Mackinnon Hall from Riley for a more social experience.  I was in contact with a student involved with the weightlifting club so that I could join.  I was taking medication to help with my mental health.  I set up appointments at the hospital and Women’s Resource Centre.  I really thought I’d put everything in place to have a kick ass second year.  I may have had to avoid a certain fast food restaurant because my assaulter was living in town and working there but that was okay.  I always had the campus as my safe place.  This campus, this community, this family, I chose it.  I chose to return despite my assault last year, I chose to move forward and heal.

I wish the school had given me that chance as I’d fallen in love with the town, StFX, and the community.  Through a friend of mine I had heard the accused was seen at the radio station greeting new students.  I was livid and terrified.  How could that not be monitored?  It was the first day of classes, for the first time since landing in Nova Scotia I’d felt excited.  I had packed my bag for class and headed over to the RLC office to let them know about the accused.  Someone brought me over to talk to the director of student life, Jacqueline De Leebeeck.  I started to recount what I’d heard and for some reason the look on her face made my stomach drop.  She started off, “there’s been a miscommunication, I’m sorry.”  I felt my heartbeat start to speed up.  “His lawyers got in contact with our legal counsel and he’s been permitted to take classes this year.”  I still don’t think I have the words to describe how that felt but I’ll try.  All at once it hit me and I was scared, angry, broken hearted and most of all I felt betrayed.  This school that was supposed to protect me treated me and my assault like a joke.  I got up to run outside as I felt the panic attack coming on.  She threw out, “he’s only allowed on campus for classes,” as if that’s fucking consolation.  I bolted out of the office and called my mom mid-panic attack.  I was crying, shaking, yelling.  She could barely make out what I was saying, I could barely breathe.  I was utterly devastated knowing StFX cared about my safety so little.  My mom told me she’d book me a flight for the next morning.  She would never leave me somewhere I could never feel safe again.  Before I went to pack my things I stopped in the RLC office one last time.  I let Jacqueline know she could share all information with my mother and that, “no I will not be staying to handle my academics, you guys will be doing that as well as reimbursing us, I’m going home.”


It broke my heart, but I left StFX. 


I left Antigonish.

I left Nova Scotia.

 
 

Pride Matters

How a New Brunswick community lacks understanding

Earlier this week, a small village by the name of Chipman in New Brunswick gained notoriety for flying a flag developed for “straight pride.” The flag was lowered the following morning in response to public outcry. 

This comes mere months after Sussex, NB encountered complaints for implementing rainbow sidewalks and Woodstock, NB had their rainbow sidewalks vandalized.

The pride flag was initially developed in 1978, where Gilbert Baker was pressed by Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in California, to create an emblem of empowerment for the queer community. It consisted of eight colours but would later be redesigned to include six.

In an except from Gilbert Baker’s memoir “I had considered all flag-waving and patriotism in general to be a dangerous joke. But that changed in 1976. The American Bicentennial celebration put the focus on the American flag. It was everywhere, from pop art to fine art, from tacky souvenirs to trashy advertising. On every level, it functioned as a message.

I thought how most flags represented a place. They were primarily nationalistic, territorial, iconic propaganda – all things we questioned in the ‘70s… The rainbow came from earliest recorded history as a symbol of hope… Now the rioters who claimed their freed at the Stonewall Bar in 1969 would have their own symbol of liberation.”

The importance of the rainbow pride flag denotes the different plights suffered by the LGBTQ+ society. From common discrimination, to larger hate crimes and murder, the flag is often interpreted as the freedom for individuals to express themselves in a welcoming space. 

The Chipman council issued a statement saying, “Council’s decision to allow a straight pride flag to be raised in the community was based on our desire to support all groups in our municipality and to respect everyone’s right to freedom of speech in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedom.” In their statement they address the understanding that “The straight flag is being seen as a flag of privilege and anti-minorities which our community and our council does not support.” 

Glenn Bishop, the developer of the flag, was shocked to hear of the flag’s removal telling CTV “That’s disgraceful. This is discrimination against straight people.” Bishop claims he is considering legal action against the village.

In an interview with Global News Helen Kennedy, executive director of human rights group Egale Canada, states that the choice to raise the flag “likely stems from the lack of understanding of the real symbolism of the pride flag, as well as a lack of understanding about the hardships faced by Canada’s LGBTQ community”

Kennedy continues, “I think it’s really unfortunate that the community has done this because it further marginalizes LGBTI people and it makes them feel really unsafe in their communities.” 

Brett Kavanaugh joins the Supreme Court

The consequences of a controversial confirmation process

On October 6, Brett Kavanaugh became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, after going through a controversial confirmation process. The question is, what does his appointment to the Supreme Court mean continuing forward, both politically and across society?

Kavanaugh’s nomination and confirmation process was fairly smooth until several sexual assault allegations emerged in late September, which delayed the vote of the Senate Judiciary Council; however, the key hearing of the confirmation process was when Dr. Christine Ford came before the council to answer questions about an alleged sexual assault that occurred in the early 1980s when both her and Kavanaugh were in high school. Despite the allegations against him, Kavanaugh was sworn in with 50 votes for and 48 against his appointment during the final vote in the United States Senate.

Immediately after Kavanaugh was sworn in, the message from the Democrats, to disappointed individuals, was to vote. Since the American midterm elections are November 6 and Republicans currently control the Senate by a slim majority, voting is a chance for those against Kavanaugh to voice their discontent with the Senators that voted him in. Furthermore, changing what party controls Congress can act as a safeguard against right-leaning Supreme Court decisions that are probable with Kavanaugh’s appointment since Congress can pass bills that override court rulings.

There are also worries about how Kavanaugh will vote when important cases involving issues like the right to bears arms and religion come up. 

Particularly, there are concerns that Kavanaugh might vote to overturn or weaken Roe v Wade, the case that establishes the right to access legal abortions. While Kavanaugh has stated that he acknowledges the case as precedent, he has sided in the past with dissenters to the outcome of the case. In general, Kavanaugh poses a political threat since he brings the number of right-leaning justices to a majority in the Supreme Court, which could mean the future rollback of rights.

Kavanaugh’s appointment has caused political concerns, but the messages from the way the allegations of sexual assault were handled during the confirmation are having a far greater impact on society. The contrast between the crowds of protesters outside the hearings versus President Trump’s strong convictions of Kavanaugh’s innocence shows that America is clearly divided over Kavanaugh. While some might see the sexual assault allegations as a distraction to voting in a Supreme Court justice, many others want to make sure that judges appointed for life will make decisions that are fair and just to all members of society, particularly women.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing over the sexual assault allegations also represented the imbalances in which men and women are treated during such cases. Dr. Ford, a highly educated woman, answered every question during the hearing calmly with the use of some scientific explanations, passed a polygraph test, and after all that, received death threats for going public with her accusations. 

Kavanaugh, on the other hand, did not answer all the questions, became extremely emotional and aggressive, attacked Democrats for trying to undermine him, and ended up on the Supreme Court. Even sexual assault allegations at the top level in America reflect that even if a woman does everything in her power to ensure her credibility, her accusations can be brushed aside in favour of an alleged perpetrator of sexual violence.

That is not to say that there were only faults with how Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh’s testimonies were presented and then weighed during the hearings. There is also the issue that the members of the Senate Judiciary Council are predominantly men, which undermines their ability to decide if Kavanaugh’s final Senate vote should occur since they do not represent the actual proportion of men and women in the United States. Women are at a higher risk of sexual assault and with limited representation on the Senate, they may be biased when it comes to sexual assault allegations. Furthermore, the FBI investigation that was ordered after Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh’s hearing was limited by which witnesses and evidence it could find in such a short period of time, which for some people, leaves it unable to prove Kavanaugh’s innocence.

Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court is sure to cause ripples for years to come politically and across American society. The greatest lesson that Kavanaugh’s confirmation process can teach is how much more work there is to do on how sexual assault allegations are examined, especially with respect to how victims are treated. Perhaps that lesson can be applied a bit closer to home at StFX, since the university is currently facing the complicated task of learning how properly address sexual assault on campus.

Dear Kent and Andrew

October 16, 2018

Dr. Kent MacDonald, President and Vice-Chancellor 

St. Francis Xavier University

Mr. Andrew Beckett, Vice-President Finance & Administration, Head of Student Services

St. Francis Xavier University

Dear Kent and Andrew,

Recent press reports have brought to light the StFX handling of the sexual assault case of a woman student. We, the undersigned faculty, are deeply committed to insisting on the solution-focused change that is necessary to decrease and halt the sexualized violence culture at StFX. We are specifically speaking to the experiences of women faculty. Collectively, we have taught at StFX for over several hundred years. Many of us have, along with students and staff, consistently born witness to students’ accounts of being sexually assaulted and harassed. As faculty, listening to even the generalities of these harrowing and violent stories, and helping students navigate possible paths to justice, has involved an exceptional amount of emotional labour—a burden that we bear in honour of our students. However, the time has come to shift this burden of responsibility to the StFX Administrative level. Although we very much appreciate Administrative efforts thus far, we wish to avoid the policy hamster wheel that may result when flawed policies, however well intentioned, are ‘reviewed’, rather than replaced with evidence and expertise-informed documents. In this case, expertise-informed can be defined as it generally is in an academic setting—individuals with long-standing and recognized (i.e., inside and well outside the confines of X) content and policy expertise in a specified area. To this end, we expect the following specific solutions. These solutions are closely informed by the student and community member gatherings that took place last week, and the student-led petition that was initiated yesterday.

1. Initiate a Community Forum within two weeks (by Oct 30), so that you too can hear students, faculty, staff, and community members’ perspectives on this issue.

2. Immediately (as of Oct 16), initiate an Anonymized Sexual Assault Reporting System, whereby the campus community are informed of the occurrence of sexual assaults on campus. There are policy templates from universities in Canada and in the US. The time is well past for X to step up.

3. Create a Sexualized Violence Task Force at StFX by December 1, 2018. Members must include: 

a) at least three experts in sexualized violence and trauma-and-violence-informed policy-making (these experts are readily available in the Antigonish Community and among faculty at StFX); 

b) at least three student survivors of sexual assault at X (students are already well organized to provide first voice expertise); 

c) the President of the Students Union; 

d) the President of the University; 

e) the Human Rights and Equity Advisor; and, 

f) the Head of Student Services.

The purpose of the Task Force is to inform policy change—to provide a cohesive voice that can rectify fragmented approaches to sexualized violence, where numerous, and not necessarily congruent, documents, approaches, and policies are implemented at X. Although these approaches provide a ‘suite’ of options for students at X who have been sexually assaulted, there is substantive evidence that in times of extreme trauma such as sexual assault, service fragmentation is decidedly re-traumatizing. The mandate of the Task Force is the mapping of all existing sexual assault related policies and the timely creation of a new and evidence-informed approach to sexual assault at StFX.

The resulting approach must:

a. Pass the test of being trauma-and-violence-informed (see expertise comments above).

b. Circumvent the current maze that traumatized students must navigate.

c. Provide clear mandates for training and education in sexual assault and trauma-and-violence informed policy-making. Currently, there is no expectation that any individuals involved in policy-making, reporting and appeals processes have any core education to guide their decisionmaking. An ‘interest’ in the issues, and/or institutionally mandated membership in a group or panel, does not necessarily constitute capacity to make evidence informed decisions.

d. Be congruent with the Canadian Criminal Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As evidenced by recent events, there may be a disconnect between X policies, such as the Community Code of Conduct, and these two pivotal federal documents. It is important to note that university processes are ‘quasi-judicial’, not judicial; therefore, although they of course must adhere to the laws of the land, they can be changed in-house, to reflect more up-to-date processes and procedures that are already in place at other universities.

4. Create and strictly maintain a Sexualized Violence Report Card for the StFX Community. This Report Card would trace/track incidences of Sexual Assault, and StFX responses, and outcomes. The purpose of the Card is also to inform progressive, evidence informed policy change.

We are copying the Deans of all Faculties at StFX because we know that sexualized violence is hampering the academic mission of the university in its profound impact on the everyday academic performance of the numbers of students who have been sexually harassed and assaulted.

We stand with her. We will not be silenced.

Respectfully,

Dr. Elizabeth McGibbon, Professor

Dr. Rachel Hurst, Associate Professor

Dr. Rhonda Semple, Associate Professor

Dr. Donna Trembinski, Associate Professor

Dr. Ranke Devries. Associate Professor

Dr. Erika Koch, Associate Professor

Dr. Mary Oxner, Professor

Dr. Sharon Gregory, Associate Professor

Dr. Margo Watt, Professor

Dr. Erin Austin, Associate Professor

Dr. Donna Halperin, Professor

Dr. Christina Holmes, Assistant Professor

Dr. Linda Darwish, Associate Professor

Dr. Maria Paz, Associate Professor

Dr. Amanda Casey, Associate Professor

Dr. Ornella Nzindukiyimana, Assistant Professor

Dr. Maureen Coady, Associate Professor

Prof. Sionnach Lukeman, Assistant Professor

Prof. Jacqueline Van Wijlen, Assistant Professor

Dr. Isabelle Bauge, Associate Professor

Dr. Angela Weaver, Associate Professor

Dr. Jen Jamieson, Associate Professor

Prof. Marion Alex, Associate Professor

Dr. Joanne Tompkins, Professor

Prof. Marie Arnott, Assistant Professor

Dr. Karine LeBris. Associate Professor

Dr. Katarin Macleod, Associate Professor

Dr. Jennifer Mitton, Associate Professor

Dr. Laurie Stanley-Blackwell, Professor

Dr. Lynda Harling-Stalker, Associate Professor

Dr. Claire Fawcett, Associate Professor

Dr. Norine Verberg, Associate Professor

Dr. Sue Vincent, Professor

Dr. Tara Taylor, Associate Professor

Dr. Jessica Husk, Assistant Professor

Dr. Johanna Black, Assistant Professor

Dr. Kailin Wright, Associate Professor

Dr. Melanie Lam, Assistant Professor

Dr. Patricia Cormack, Professor

Dr. Nancy Forestell, Professor

Dr. Rejeanne LeBlanc, Associate Professor

Dr. Kim McLean, Associate Professor

Dr. Karen Blair, Assistant Professor

Dr. Katie Edwards, Assistant Professor

Dr. Charlene Weaving, Professor

Dr. Christie Lomore, Associate Professor

Dr. Laura Estill, Associate Professor

Dr. Riley Chisholm, Associate Professor

Dr. Maureen Moynagh, Professor

Dr. Leona English, Professor

Dr. Catherine Aubrecht, Assistant Professor

Dr. Doris Gillis, Professor

c: Dr. Petra Hauf, Dean of Science; 

Dr. Karen Brebner, Dean of Arts; 

Dr. Tim Hynes, Dean of Business;

Dr. Jeff Orr, Dean of Education

Active Measure and Active Blind Spots

Documentary fails in its critique of the Trump and Putin presidencies

On October 11, in the Schwartz building, room 215, the Antigonish Film Festival screened the documentary, “Active Measures,” about the confusing and complex ties between President Trump, Russian oligarchs (and mobsters), and Russian President, Vladimir Putin. 

There is a lot going on in this documentary, and in the parlance of Online™, it possible has the most going on. It is a mix of legitimate concerns about Russian interference and ties to the American President, but much of this information is received uncritically from ghoulish American apparatchiks with a history of loudly calling for war against any nation brave enough to denounce American imperial and commercial interests. 

It provides a very superficial history of the end of the USSR, making connections between the state asset sell-off to Putin and, completely and bizarrely, ignoring completely the involvement of American interests and advice on how to sell off assets of the Russian state. The resulting oligarchic make up of Russian commercial and financial classes are a result of American support and involvement. The privatization drive by American interests, a deeply neo-liberal austerity ideology, would be replicated again and again against other nations by the International Monetary Fund to significant damage to those nations. So much damage in fact, that the IMF later apologized for their blinkered ideology to Greece for worsening their economic situation. 

To be sure much of the information contained in the documentary has already been reported on by various news outlets in varying amounts. Active Measures, is among the first to put the information together into a single documentary that runs about two hours, end to end. It rushes at a breakneck pace, often introducing a talking head for split seconds, hardly enough time for the audience to know their name and their connected organization (at one point I looked down to take a note and when I looked back up there was a brief mention of Chilean President, Salvador Allende, but had appeared so quickly that I failed to understand his connection to the narrative, and the documentary failed to note that he was assassinated by CIA-supported operatives and ushered in an era of extreme authoritarian violence that Chile struggles to reconcile to this day). It struggles to find a place to end the documentary and, like an undergrad with too many sources for a short essay, continually shovels lesser and lesser information near the end of the film. 

The documented ties between the Trump Organization’s minions, like Paul Manafort, and Russian business men and criminal enterprises, are myriad. The sheer amount of paperwork, from a wide variety of sources, legal, financial, and personal, is staggering. However, had the documentary restrained itself by focusing on the paper ties between the two groups would have been a full-feature film in itself, it may have been engaging and more easily followed. Instead, the director reaches and makes a concerted attempt to include, not only the vast volume of paper trails together, but also, interviews with a surprising number of American politicians, ambassadors, think tank fellows, political junkies, and, improbably, CIA employees and directors waxing richly about foreign involvements and the danger of Russia. With all this information, including background and a detailed biography of Vladimir Putin, the film loses focus and directive and becomes about everything.

The thrust of this film is that Russia is a dangerous, unpredictable actor that threatens the world stage with war. About which there is some truth. Russia invaded George under false pretenses in 2008, has backed Ukrainian separatists from 2014 onward (even providing soldiers and arms), and invaded and annexed Crimea in the same year. However, it’s hard to take seriously the warnings about interference and the dangers of war from men and women who represent organizations that have, not only called for unilateral warfare against a staggering number of nations, but have also been involved in regime change around the world (and this is only counting from the end of the Cold War).

The documentary takes to task the confusing game of shell corporations that the Trump Organization has used to hid, obfuscate, and launder money into the United States from foreign nation and businesses. However, this critique is not particularly strong considering this problem is not unique to the Trump business or to Trump himself, but is widely prevalent across financial interests in America. This critique would be much stronger if it did not limit itself to Trump but was widened to include American neo-liberal capitalism. Trump is just one of many bad faith financial actors facilitating foreign influences and money into American politics and economics. 

This is not a “what-about-ist” review of the film, but an earnest critique of the wide and considerable political and ideological blind spots of the director. What good is a critique of President Trump if you do not also critique the system that made it possible for a person like him to become wealthy, powerful, and influential? In the quest to portray Vladimir Putin as having flawlessly executed some Machiavellian scheme, the director has actually portrayed the American government and its institutions as hapless, naive simpletons, which, in actuality, is a form of twisted and unintentional macabre comedy. 

Putting aside the fact that America has exercised nearly unlimited covert and overt operations to destabilize nations it deemed problematic through violence, murder, and propaganda. The reality is that American political establishments have, for the last 50 or so years, been so bent on undermining the basic regulations and legal protections that prevent economic and political abuses, that they have allowed the system to produce ever increasing wealth disparities and allowed business interests, of which Trump is but just one of many, to gain power and influence and, all in the name of misanthropy and gluttonous personal greed.

But, is it worth watching?

If you’re curious about the relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and not sure what’s all the fuss is about and you want to know, you will probably enjoy the film.

Although, if you’re already knowledgeable about that relationship and are looking for a deeper critique of the world at large, watch anything by Adam Curtis.

Stray Observations:

The documentary takes Russia Today television to task for having on conspiracy theorists (like Orly Taitz and Alex Jones) and rightly so, however, it makes no mention that many American media outlets boosted their image and status much more so than Russia Today ever could have. Taitz herself had appearances across American media during Obama’s time as president.

Criticizes the role that men like Paul Manafort and Roger Stone had with Donald Trump but makes no mention that these men have been closely tied to American politicians and the GOP since the Nixon administration.

Mentions the “troll farms” and “fake news” that pushed anti-Clinton and pro-pro-trump messages but ignores the, arguably, best bit of propaganda, which featured a psychedelic cartoon of a very muscular Bernie Sanders in a speedo.

Suggests that “Pizzagate” and Seth Rich murder conspiracy was a Russian operation, but more likely they boosted American right-wing conspiracy theorists and let the American Media continue the job they do best; providing uncritical coverage of sensational news.

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.

Nothing but Farce

 
 

New twitter account preserves campus stereotypes for humour

Last month, a Twitter account which self-describes as a, “Local account for all things satire,” popped up.

So far this account, named Campus Crow, has posted 36 tweets indulging in StFX stereotypes, poking fun at some faculty, and more humorous content. I can’t blame anyone if they haven’t heard of this; Campus Crow has 307 twitter followers, and typically gets 2 retweets per post. They do tend to get an average amount of likes, usually falling between 30 to 60 likes or more.

Among their most liked content includes, “Finance Major Realizes Return on Bag of Refundables From StFX Hoco Not Enough to Cover Damages of Hole Punched Into Wall...” and, “Student Who Can’t Wake Up For 8:15 Class Attends an 8am Power Hour on a Saturday”, with 92 and 106 likes respectively.

A quick glance at Campus Crow might tip off some readers as being directly influenced by The Onion, a famous satirical news website. Certainly the headlines are inspired by The Onion, having the same sarcastic tone. The Onion’s articles usually come in two different styles: things that ‘everyone is thinking’, or professionally written articles that are hilariously untrue.

Campus Crow is emulating the former, but since it is related to StFX, the types of jokes they can post are stricter. Most of Campus Crow’s posts are related to StFX’s party reputation, residence stereotypes, or jabs at everyday life on campus.

As Campus Crow is restricted to Twitter and its small character limit, I’m not sure if it can really be called satire at all. With The Onion, the joke doesn’t stop at the headlines. The real satirical element is found in the content of their articles.

In the article, “Tour Guide One Stop Behind Clearly Giving More Interesting Tour”, the joke isn’t just that it’s a thought many people have had before.

The joke is in the continuation of this premise, by way of fake interviews and situations to prove that one tour guide was, indeed, boring. I

n addition, Campus Crow’s inspiration is criticizing the sensationalism common in news websites. Basically, satire is a perfect word to use to describe The Onion and other sites of its ilk. But when you don’t have the context for these headlines, the joke is left half-finished. Obviously, Campus Crow is meant to be a Twitter account posting quick jokes, using stereotypes and situations any StFX student could understand.

Do I find them funny? Well, I suppose so. I’ve seen all 36 of their tweets and most of them I found a little funny, but nothing made me really laugh. Honestly, the things Campus Crow chooses to make jokes out of might be a little too predictable to be effective.

 Photo: Twitter @CampusCrow

Photo: Twitter @CampusCrow

So is Campus Crow satire as it claims? I don’t think so. To be satirical is to be critiquing something, and I’m not convinced that’s what Campus Crow is trying to do. That then begs the question, what kind of effect does this Twitter have on the StFX student body? Setting aside the fact that Campus Crow’s reach is relatively small, there is something kind of problematic in making fun of stereotypes without any sort of context. Even as a joke, stating negative stereotypes about certain residences without any kind of critique arguably promotes the stereotype rather than call it out. In between this semester and the last, StFX made some tough decisions about many residences. Lane is no more, and University Ave is now co-ed. There has been an obvious attempt to change residence culture at StFX.

Taking that into account, maybe we should all be more mindful about how we stereotype different residences and try to foster a more positive atmosphere. Although I don’t think that Campus Crow is very relevant when it comes to negative stereotypes (like I said before, the account is harmless and doesn’t have a huge audience), it will be interesting to see if this account continues to gain followers and see what part of StFX student culture it jokes about next.

 

From Pen to Paper

 
 

A look into Inktober and the impact it makes

October rolls around and for most people we think of Halloween, but for the creative minds, this is a time to put your art skills to the test. Inktober as it’s affectionately called, is a month of daily artistic challenges focusing primarily on Instagram.

It began in 2009 when Jake Parker decided to create a series of challenges to improve his skill and drawing habits. The challenge for him was to draw something different every day for the month of October and he invited people to join in on his journey.

The large-scale challenge initially came to be by loose construction, where people created their own prompts and posted their creations online.

In 2016, there came the first official prompt list due to the growing interest and high demand for a guide. The rules are simple, as per inktober.com; make a drawing in ink, post it and hashtag it with #inktober and #inktober2018, and repeat for every new prompt.

This is an interesting concept for a myriad of reasons, not only is it an encouraging practice for artists globally, but it reinforces the development of new and strong habits. This movement can also carry the power of messages, user @ tiuladokow on Instagram makes her work known to be indigenous, Palaun specifically, related.

The idea is expression and, in a time where voice is becoming increasingly restricted by governments and media, this presents an opportunity to demonstrate the different ways that voice can be expressed.

The Mi’kmaq people, as an example, are known for their artistry; decorating objects with intricate patterns of different coloured porcupine quills or making beautiful regalia, their authentic expression comes through the art.

Artistry is still prominent in the Mi’kmaq community today. Alan Syliboy and Leonard Paul are two examples of local artists who highlight aspects of indigenous culture.

Paul’s works feature legend drawings, powwow dancers, and nature, and Paul has also published works for other indigenous peoples such as the Cree.

As Inktober gains even more popularity, I think it will present itself as a very powerful means of message. I emphasize indigenous expression and artwork because of its lasting tradition and rich history.

Angela Miracle Gladue from A Tribe Called Red says, very poignantly, “It wasn’t that long ago that dances were outlawed, and our culture was outlawed, being indigenous was illegal and so for me it’s really really important to represent these dances outward and in the world on stages and in spaces where we once weren’t welcome.”

 Photo: Instagram @tiuladokow

Photo: Instagram @tiuladokow

Gladue brings forth how times have shifted and what the arts can mean to an individual and to a group.

It is important to recognize how individuals have suffered and had some of the most basic aspects of their lives removed from them, and how only recently has that been reinstated, but the journey towards truth and reconciliation is still on-going.

Inktober as an online platform brings the arts to the center stage offering recognition for all artists. It is the opportunity for artists to bring forth their cultures and express the adversity they have faced and what it means to them through unique art from prompts.

Originally, Inktober was meant to strictly be ink based, but as popularity has built, they have opened the platform to different art styles and have even seen the expansion into writing in the forms of poems and short stories based on prompts. Inktober is for the arts, so however you want to express yourself, take part. It’s an awesome way to gain some recognition for yourself or whatever you choose to represent.

 

Mike Stern Performs at Schwartz Auditorium

 
 

Jazz legend’s stellar performance at StFX wows the audience

Distinguished guitarist Mike Stern performed a full band concert at Schwartz auditorium during the evening of October 1, 2018.

In the Spring of 2014, Stern, Artist-in-Residence, hosted two hands-on jazz clinics with students and a concert in Nicholson Hall.

What do Blood, Sweat & Tears and Billy Cobham have in common? They both signed Stern while he was in his 20s. The jazz maestro then got a break when Miles Davis brings him onboard Davis’ own comeback album The Man with the Horn in 1981.

150 people gathered to listen at Stern’s full jazz band. Music alumna of StFX, Sam Wilson, was in the audience at both StFX shows in 2014 and 2018. Having made the trip down from Halifax, Wilson commented “Mike played with so much joy tonight. I drove from Halifax to get re-inspired to go home and play. Even with an injury, Mike was resilient and sounded as great as he did in 2014.”

Wilson refers to an injury that happened in 2016. In New York City nearby Stern’s apartment, he fell and broke both humerus bones while hailing a cab before leaving for tour two years ago on July 3.

The incident left nerve damage that impaired his ability to hold a pick with the right hand. As a result, Stern glues the pick to his hand in order to hold it in place while he strums.

His injury did not keep Stern from the recording studio for long. The dedicated musician released a comeback solo album Trip in the fall of 2017.

Stern has been on tour since then. The band lineup at his most recent StFX performance features Stern on guitar, Tom Easley on bass, Kenji Omae on saxophone and Tom Roach on drums. Easley, Omae and Roach are professors of Music at StFX.

Speaking with a reporter from The Xaverian Weekly after the show, Stern mentions how this second visit is a special return to campus, “The acoustics in the auditorium are beautiful and the talented musicians I played with tonight were fantastic. Always a great energy on campus. It’s a privilege to be back and I think I’ll enrol if I get invited here again.”

 Photo: Andrew Conde

Photo: Andrew Conde

Once in a while, when the band was jamming, Stern would shout “Yeah, man!” or stick his tongue out. The musician from Boston, Massachusetts was unreserved, intimate and funny.

The band brought to life the classic “Red House” from Are You Experienced by The Jimi Hendrix Experience as the encore song. Stern claimed it to be the only song from Hendrix he knows how to play, and he played it masterfully.

“It’s the best performance I’ve seen here. Mike is a gifted guitarist and vocalist who has performed with the likes of Miles Davis. Fusions particularly stood out for me. Mike usually plays in unison with the saxophone, bass and his back and forth with the drummer tonight was mesmerizing.” Said jazz student Jerry Ko post-show.

Stern stuck around to meet Ko and other audience members after the concert and sold out all copies of his latest album Trip.

While the performance was stellar, a part of me questions why the best venue on campus was booked for Stern on Treaty Day?

Our Treaty Day event, including the appointment of Kerry Prosper as Knowledge Keeper, is undermined when hosted in the lower-quality venue with fewer seating.

Stern goes on to play gigs in Paraguay, Norway, Belgium and Germany among other places around the world in the next two months.

The traveling musician leaves a lasting impression on our university. Stern’s infectious passion for jazz inspires just about anyone to pick up and play an instrument.

 

Discrimination on Campus

 
 

Why it’s not all sunshine and rainbows being openly LGBTQIA+

Imagine you decide to go out and have fun with your friends one night. At some point, you go to the bathroom, and when you do, another person in there makes unwelcome comments based solely on the type of people you are attracted to, or because you don’t dress like people of your gender stereotypically should. Would you feel safe, or would you avoid going out to places where the way you’re treated is defined by who you are?

It’s 2018, and the reality described above is sadly based on a real-life situation written about anonymously in the Xaverian Weekly’s last issue. The individual was confronted in the bathroom of the pub for being gay, and homophobic slurs were directed towards him and his friends later that night. Perhaps, in light of this incident, the StFX community should question whether we are truly a Xaverian family that is inclusive of all our members, including those who are LGBTQIA+.

Of course, the obvious solution for experiencing discrimination or feeling unsafe during a night out at the pub would be to simply not go out. After all, alcohol lowers inhibitions, so there’s more risk of an altercation if you’re visibly LGBTQIA+ at a bar. However, telling those in the LGBTQIA+ community to stay home for their safety causes further marginalization, instead of addressing the causes of discrimination like homophobia. Everyone should have a right to be in public spaces, day or night, without being in danger due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

 Photo: Facebook @KentMacDonald

Photo: Facebook @KentMacDonald

How members of the LGBTQIA+ community dress or physically look can put a target on their back on campus as well. Deciding to wear nail polish, earrings, or having short hair can potentially out a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Those changes in physical appearance are minor compared to the changes that transgender people undergo, like hormone replacement therapy and other surgeries. Especially on a campus with a strong party culture that tends to subscribe to gender norms around physical appearance, not conforming can easily become a safety issue or a trigger for discrimination.

In addition to the incident at the pub, there was a string of discriminatory comments made by Joachim Kane on an announcement of the StFX Ceremonial Flag Plaza posted on Dr. Kent MacDonald’s Facebook page.

Due to the permanent installation of the pride flag, Kane left comments such as “X ‘needing’ to fly that freak flag is cow-towing to socio-sexual fashion.” Members of the community quickly made it clear that the comments were unwelcome, with MacDonald responding that his posts on social media were meant “to help celebrate the Xaverian spirit...to pull the community together...not tear it apart.”

While the rate at which the comments were shut down is a sign of broader community acceptance of LGBTQIA+ members, the comments themselves show that there is still work to be done. The traditions of a Catholic campus linger, evident by Kane readily using “traditional Christian values” to defend why a pride flag shouldn’t be flown. Those tensions with religion are something that LGBTQIA+ members often struggle with, especially when accepting their sexuality. Even though the permanent installation of the pride flag signals a general acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community, it won’t change the minds or behaviours of all.

In light of recent events, it’s clear that StFX might need to have a discussion about discrimination towards the LGBTQIA+ community on campus and what changes can bring about more acceptance of its members. After all, members of the LGBTQIA+ community aren’t asking to be privileged and protected at a higher standard than everyone else, but for the chance to live a life where they can dress, act, and love who they want in a way that reflects their sexuality and gender identity.

If you would like to learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community, or are experiencing discrimination based on your sexual orientation or gender identity, the following resources are available:

X-Pride Society: xpride@stfx. ca.

Human Rights and Equity Advisor: http://www2.mystfx.ca/equity/.

StFX Gender and Sexual Diversity Advisor: https://www. facebook.com/gsdsastfx/.

 

May I Have Your Attention Please

 
 

The importance of mental health literacy in the teaching environment

Today our attention is in constant demand. Demand from work, demand from family and friends, demand from the endless onslaught of notifications on our phones and computers, and of course demand from ourselves. Everything that we do requires our attention at the cost of something else. With these constant demands stimulating our brains, inevitably things will reach a boiling point. For many that may be fatigue, for some this leads to anxiety, and for others it may come to a tragic and fatal conclusion. These responses are a result of our overly stimulated environments waning on our mental health each day. In particular, when our focus and attention is taken away from the most important demand of all, our personal health, it is then that such negative responses can occur.

While some people do have strong mental health, it is important for all to engage in the conversation of mental health literacy and be aware of resources available for support.

Recognizing the importance of mental health, a team of experienced educators and mental health experts hailing from Teenmentalhealth.org and several universities including Dalhousie, UBC, Western, and StFX joined together to create a resource for future and current educators to learn mental health literacy for the teaching environment.

Dr. Chris Gilham of the Faculty of Education at StFX helped to create the seven module resource to increase educators’ knowledge of mental health and how to support those in need of help.

The module’s two goals are to “enhance mental health literacy of teacher candidates in Canadian Faculties of Education and other educators” and “enhance mental health literacy of teacher candidates in Canadian Faculties of Education and other educators.”

Dr. Gilman and his team hope to achieve these goals in the free online resource. As an aspiring future educator myself, this resource stands as a valuable tool to help support future students’ mental health needs.

To give some perspective on the severity of mental health issues in Canadian society, the Canadian Mental Health Association has several facts about mental health.

For instance “by age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness,” and also “suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds,” and so on. The latter truly exemplifies the degree to which mental health, especially amongst our high school and university students, is of crucial importance. It seems that at the ages of 15-24 so many factors come into play that have an effect on mental health.

 Photo: teach/educ.obc.ca

Photo: teach/educ.obc.ca

Expectations for grades, social relationships, university applications, moving away from home, deciding on your path for the future, and even simply learning more about yourself are but a small list of the changes that occur largely throughout high school and university. In these environments, educators are a large contributor to the academic stresses that some students may take too harshly. The busy schedule of balancing class upon class as well as one’s social life and personal health is a juggling act that many students have difficulty managing. However that is not to say that educators are the cause of such difficulties that students face, after all students are students for a reason, and classwork, assignments, and tests are all a part of the job. Having future and current educators be experienced with the Teach Mental Health resource will lead to them being better able to oversee students as they navigate the turbulent waters of the education environment.

For any future educators, social workers, or whoever may be interested, the free online resource is available at http://teach.educ.ubc.ca/mental- health-literacy/. For mental health resources on campus and in Antigonish visit https://www.stfx.ca/student- life/health-and-wellness.

 

Note from the Co-Editor-in-Chief

 
 

Upcoming investigation into StFX’s handling of alleged sexual assault case

The Xaverian Weekly is aware of an alleged sexual assault that occured last November on StFX’s campus.

We are also aware of a recent news article written by Brett Bundale of the Canadian Press and subsequently published in Global News, Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail and Narcity.

This article makes specific claims centering around StFX’s administration and their handling of said sexual assault case.

We are currently in the process of interviewing requisite individuals, as well as investigating into why these decisions were made on the administrative level.

While we believe in giving everyone the right to due process, we also understand the controversy surrounding this case, and why students may feel betrayed by the administration.

It is important to note that we are independent and autonomous from the University and Students’ Union.

As the primary source of news for students on campus, we understand the responsibility we have in delivering honest, unbiased, well thought out articles. Our goal is to have our report on the matter in our fifth issue published October 25. The Xaverian Weekly stands in solidarity with the StFX community condemning sexual violence and harassment.