Volume No. 33 Issue No. 11
TRIBUNE THE mcgill PX
Published by the Tribune Publication Society
unsinkable the mcgill concrete canoe team p 12
Rising voices exploring spoken word poetry p 10
@mcgilltribune • www.mcgilltribune.com
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Revised SSMU budget defers projected 2014 deficit SSMU student fee could increase to cover rising costs
SSMU President Katie Larson (left) and Vice-President Finance and Operations Tyler Hofmeister (right) speak at SSMU Council. (Alexandra Allaire / McGill Tribune) Sam Pinto News Editor The Students’ Society of McGill University’s (SSMU) Council has approved a revised 2013-2014 budget that broke even after initial projections forecasted a $90,000 deficit from last fiscal year. According to the budget presented at Council last Thursday, SSMU currently projects a surplus of $50,000 for fiscal year 2014. The $50,000 surplus will be transfered into the Capital Expenses Reserve Fund (CERF). The approved budget does not account for capital expenditures—long-term expenses such as software and equipment. According to Vice-President Finance and Operations Tyler Hofmeister, SSMU will be spending more than the $50,000 on capital expenditures this year, which means there is a potential risk of
deficit in future years. SSMU President Katie Larson told the Tribune that SSMU will have to take measures to address the potential future deficit. “The rent [of the SSMU Building] is increasing while tenant revenue is decreasing, allowing for more student space, but at a cost,” she said. “This indicates that the SSMU base fee will be raised to reflect the situation, because at its current state it is dire and unsustainable.” Hofmeister said another option is to change the SSMU investment portfolio into an endowment fund. “This means that a certain amount [....] will be taken from the investment portfolio each year to help pay for capital expenditures,” he said. Last year’s projected deficit is largely a result of ongoing negotiations with the McGill administration regarding the
SSMU Building lease, which has been under negotiation since Fall 2011. Other increased building costs include rent for the building and lost revenue from tenants who have terminated their leases, such as Lola Rosa and Voyage Campus. The building budget, which comprises all expenses and revenues generated by the SSMU Building, has a deficit of $437,360. To account for the incoming projected deficit from last year, the various categories of SSMU’s overall budget, including the personal executive committee budget, the building budget, and the club fund has been drastically reduced from the initial version of the budget. These include expenses involving general administration, information technology (IT), office supplies, travelling and conference fees, and telephone bills. “As we knew we were be-
ginning with a deficit, preliminary cuts were made during the revision process where departmental officers were asked to analyze their budgets, reduce excess spending, and improve the overall accuracy of their budgets,” the budget report reads. The general administration budget, overseen by SSMU General Manager Pauline Gervais, represents the largest portion of the budget. It includes all salaries for SSMU staff, bank fees, and legal fees. Salaries, which represent the largest expense of SSMU, underwent large cuts. “Student salaries have been reduced by 10 per cent to reflect the fact that only 90 per cent of budgeted hours for student staff are worked,” Hofmeister said. In addition, each executive’s budget has been reduced by $1,000 from last year. The IT budget includes expenses related to the SSMU
website, computer software, repairs and maintenance, contract services, hardware purchases, and the Old McGill yearbook. “It is worth noting that in the initial budget, the IT department was budgeted at over $70,000 and has since been cut to […] about $17,300.” Hofmeister said. In addition, this year’s frosh ran a $21,000 deficit, mainly due to SSMU’s failure to account for taxes in their sponsors’ quotes. “The most significant changes between the [frosh] budget that was used and the actuals come from an over-estimation of sponsorship,” Hofmeister said. “[Sponsors] didn’t include the taxes we were charged on sponsorship commission, which over-inflated this figure by about $10,000.”
Student groups claim McGill’s sexual assault policies insufficient
Court case involving three McGill students accused of sexual assault prompts SACOMSS and UGE to call for action Jessica Fu News Editor Both the Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) and the Union for Gender Empowerment (UGE) have condemned McGill’s lack of a sexual assault policy following the publicizing of a case involving the alleged sexual assault of a former Concordia student by three McGill football players. The case, which appears in court next month, involves an alleged incident that took place in 2011. While McGill officials say they only learned of the case in May 2013, the players in question continued to play for the team in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Released Nov. 6, SACOMSS’ statement points to the incident as evidence that McGill lacks ad-
equate policies, support services, and awareness campaigns for sexual assault. “While SACOMSS is proud to offer its many services and is committed to continuing its valuable work, we believe that the responsibility to offer these essential services should not fall solely to our volunteers,” the statement reads. “McGill needs to take responsibility for addressing the harms caused within its community.” UGE issued a statement of a similar nature on Nov. 5, as well as an online petition demanding that McGill reform its current sexual harassment policies. The petition draws attention to past occurrences, such as a case of sexual assault at a football hazing incident in 2005. “In light of these and past
events, we demand that McGill sports teams have mandatory consent workshops and training,” the petition reads. “We demand more effective accountability procedures on the part of the McGill administration, as well as greater transparency in those existing [procedures].” UGE is a service of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) that provides access to resources, such as anti-oppression workshops. Kai O’Doherty, U3 Arts and one of the collective members of UGE, said the union will continue to pressure McGill for change. “It’s not just a petition getting enough signatures, and then presenting it,” O’Doherty said. “It’s more like getting solidarity around our statement and to continue to put pressure on McGill, but most-
ly to bring awareness to the issue and keep rallying around it.” The petition currently has over 1,100 signatures out of its listed goal of 5,000. David McCusty, U2 Arts, said he disagreed with the demand by the UGE for mandatory consent workshops. “I don’t see the sports culture here as perpetuating rape culture, misogyny, [or] homophobia [...] any more than anything else does,” McCusty said. “If the sports teams have to go through consent workshops, it just seems to me that they’re being unfairly targeted in that situation [....] Are the sports teams perpetuating this any more than 4floors does, or that Carnival does, or that frosh does?” Allison Murphy, an Arts alumnus and UGE collective member, responded to critiques
that the petition considered the alleged attackers to be guilty until proven innocent. “Being pro-survivor, we think it’s important that you always believe the survivor, not just in this specific case, but in all cases of sexual assault,” Murphy said. “So often [in] the legal system […] the onus is on the survivor to prove what happened to them. That can be a very traumatic experience, and often doubt and shame placed on you publicly can stop people from coming forward with these things.” UGE plans to hold an open forum regarding rape culture in the upcoming weeks.
PGSS passes three new non-optoutable student fees
Graduate students support access to the Writing Centre, the Tribune, and student services for postdoctoral fellows Eman Jeddy Staff Writer Members of the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) have approved three new fees as a result of the PGSS Autumn 2013 Referendum By-Election. Beginning next semester, graduate students will pay a $1.50 per semester fee to the McGill Writing Centre and a $0.75 per semester fee for to the McGill Tribune. In addition, postdoctoral fellows voted in support of a non-optoutable $136.44 per semester fee that allows them access to various student services. The non-optoutable fee for the McGill Writing Centre will allow graduate students to use the university-run service, which assists students in refining academic and professional writing skills. “PGSS asked for a report on usage and satisfaction [of the Writing Centre] several months ago,” Mooney said. “We found that about one third of the users are post-graduate students and the satisfaction report indicated seemingly unanimous approval for the quality and usefulness of the services provided.” The new McGill Tribune fee means that graduate students will pay a non-optoutable fee of $0.75 in the 2014 Winter and Fall semesters, with the option of renewing the fee in Winter 2015. Elisa Muyl, chair of the Tribune Publication Society’s Board of Directors, emphasized the importance of graduate students
providing financial support to the newspaper. “It’s important for McGill as a community to have a newspaper that covers it in its entirety, to have as many voices as possible that represent it in as many different possible ways,” Muyl said. The third new non-optoutable fee provides postdoctoral fellows with access to student services including Mental Health Services, Chaplaincy Services, and Career Planning Services. Postdoctoral fellows are individuals who have completed their doctoral studies but continue research in their field under a supervisor or principal investigator. Currently, the university considers postdoctoral fellows to be staff, although the Quebec Government classifies them as students, which leaves them with limited access to the benefits of either classification. According to PGSS SecretaryGeneral Jonathan Mooney, the new fee will help integrate postdoctoral fellows into the McGill community and allow them access to more of the services offered to other students. “I think this is one way of better integrating postdocs at McGill and meeting their unique needs.” Mooney said. “The Career and Placement Office will now develop programming targeted at postdocs [and] postdocs will all be eligible to use health services, Mental Health Services, [and] Counseling Ser-
vices.” 12.6 per cent of McGill’s 8,500 graduate students voted in the referendum—a high number for a by-election according to Chief Returning Officer Colby Briggs. In addition, 26.5 per cent of postdoctoral fellows voted. “The goal is not necessarily turnout in itself, but member engagement,” Briggs said. “From the feedback I have received from members, the grand majority of students that we represent were well informed of the referendum options and its effects [….] The turnout of postdoctoral fellows is really quite striking, […] especially for a group that is often somewhat disengaged with student affairs due to their status between students and employees.” Emma Vincent, president of the Association of Postdoctoral Fellows, said she hopes the referendum results will lead to positive changes for post-doctoral fellows at McGill. “This will bring the postdoc community closer together, increase the visibility of the community at McGill, and initiate provision for postdoc-specific needs,” she said. “The next steps for the Association of Postdoctoral Fellows will be to work with those who provide the services to ensure that postdocs will be catered for to the best of their abilities.”
PGSS Referendum Results Infographic by Maryse Thomas
All referendums passed with a majority “YES” vote
Curiosity delivers. |
| Tuesday, November 12, 2013
News In Brief
SSMU Council endorses funding for anti-oppression training
If approved, the project would run as a part of Rez Project, a mandatory consent workshop for students in residence Sam Pinto News Editor Last Thursday’s Council also endorsed funding an antioppression training program that would teach students and floor fellows in McGill residences how to deal with issues of discrimination, oppression, and harassment. The project was presented to Council by Emily Clare, an alumnus and former vice president of University Affairs. “The 2011 McGill Diversity Survey found that 20 per cent of students stated that they had experienced ‘somewhat to very much’ discrimination on any basis, whether due to language, race, ability, [or] gender,” the motion reads. If its application for funding is approved through the SSMU Sustainability Projects Fund,
the Anti-Oppression Programming Project would run as part of Rez Project—a mandatory information session on the subject of consent and sexual identity that is required for all students living in McGill residences. SSMU President Katie Larson expressed support for the project, and the use of the sustainability fund to provide students with a different form of a sustainable service. “I think it’s really great that you are applying to the Sustainability Fund for something that’s outside of environmental sustainability,” Larson said.
SSMU Council discussed anti-oppression training in residences. (Alexandra Allaire / McGill Tribune)
Behind SSMU’s investment gridlock
Lack of Board of Directors leaves SSMU unable to purchase new stocks Jenny Shen Features Editor
The upcoming Nov. 13 special General Assembly (GA) will seek to address issues that could not be settled during the October GA due to its failure to meet quorum. One of these issues will be to ratify appointments to SSMU’s Board of Directors (BoD). Without a BoD, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) is unable to purchase stocks to add to its collection of investments— worth approximately $2.65 million. This means SSMU cannot add potentially lucrative investments to their portfolio, which hinders its ability to generate revenue. The portfolio is currently managed by Lester Asset Management (LAM), a Montrealbased portfolio management firm owned and co-managed by three individuals, including McGill Management professor Ken Lester. The National Bank is LAM’s custodian bank, which means that they are responsible for safeguarding SSMU’s portfolio. National Bank can effectively prevent LAM—and by proxy SSMU—from order-
ing new purchases on stocks or bonds until required paperwork, such as corporate resolutions voted at SSMU Council or General Assemblies (GAs), are updated. The forms are related to SSMU’s corporate resolutions, which detail SSMU’s financial decisions. “We have to refresh our forms every two years, but it just so happened that we [changed] our custodian [last year],” Lester said. “National Bank said […] that they’d respect the paperwork from the old custodian for a year and let us trade for a year, but now they won’t let us buy until we get all the rest of the paperwork in.” Lester said the decision to switch custodians from Fidelity, LAM’s previous bank, to National Bank last year was based on a number of factors. “The main reasons for choosing [National Bank] over Fidelity were price, service, size, and current client satisfaction,” he said. According to SSMU VicePresident Finance and Operations Tyler Hofmeister, SSMU’s investments are currently fiscally modest, and so he does not expect the current portfolio’s value to change drastically while SSMU remains unable to
make new investments. “[The portfolio] looks conservative,” Hofmeister said. “Most of the holdings are in more secure investments, such as utilities, telecommunications, and fixed income securities.” Although the National Bank places restrictions on SSMU because they lack a BoD, they do not limit the selling of shares, according to Hofmeister. This means that SSMU can continue to pursue their intention to divest from certain companies— plans that arose from concerns about unethical practices. SSMU’s Financial Ethics Research Committee (FERC) is responsible for establishing policies that guide and maintain the social responsibility of SSMU’s investments. Last year, the committee drafted a checklist of companies deemed unacceptable for investment. “We gave this filter to LAM [and gave them] 10 [companies] we [wanted] to divest from,” last year’s FERC coordinator Adam Winer said. “SSMU policy dictates that we can’t be invested in companies that derive a large share of their profits from fossil fuels, or whose core business activities involve the extraction and distribution
of fossil fuels, whether in connection to tar sands in Canada or globally.” At the Winter 2013 Midpoint Review of SSMU’s investments, FERC researched the companies and determined which ones violated SSMU’s bylaw for socially responsible investment—for example, SSMU is committed to avoiding companies associated with environmentally harmful areas or human rights abuse. In one instance, the committee recommended that the FERC further research Bell Alliant Inc., a telecommunications provider that has partnerships with companies involved in the tar sands, rather than divesting from them. “Though their partnerships with tar sands companies sparked some discussion among the committee, our conclusion was that providing networks to tar sands companies is unavoidable for a telecommunications corporation,” the review said. On the other hand, FERC recommended that SSMU immediately divest from Fortis Inc., a distributor of natural gas and electricity, due to their high level of association with the tar sands. Hofmeister explained that
the policies shaping the decisions SSMU makes are listed can be found in the SSMU policy book on their website. According to Lester, two divestments remain to be made, which he will make when a “trigger moment” occurs for the stocks, to allow him to sell them at an optimal price. In terms of future outlook for the portfolio, Hofmeister explained that in light of SSMU’s projected budget deficit for upcoming years, SSMU is considering utilizing the investment portfolio as part of a longterm solution. “[We are looking to change SSMU’s] investment portfolio to an endowment fund,” Hofmeister said. “This means that a certain amount [...] decided upon with the SSMU General Manager, SSMU Comptroller, myself, and LAM will be taken from the portfolio each year to help pay for capital expenditures.” In order to break from the current state of financial limbo facing SSMU ’s investments, the upcoming GA will need to meet quorum of 100 students to officially appoint the BoD.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 |
| Curiosity delivers.
PGSS seeks to withdraw from Canadian Federation of Students National association refuses to acknowledge PGSS’ secession, prompts second petition to leave the CFS Jannet Li and Emma Windfeld Contributor and News Editor Canadian Federation of Students legal case Graduate students at McGill are seeking once more to leave the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). On Nov. 6, the Post-Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University (PGSS) heard from a group of graduate students who have started a petition to withdraw from the national student association. “Individual PGSS members […] have mobilized to demonstrate to CFS once more that the members of PGSS do not want to stay within CFS,” PGSS Secretary-General Jonathan Mooney said. “We support this effort to get CFS to recognize that PGSS is no longer a member.” PGSS Councillors Ge Sa and Matthew Bouchard, two organizers behind the petition, started the petition to leave CFS because they said it lacks transparency and because PGSS’s interests are already represented on a provincial level by the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ). “As a member of PGSS, I do not believe our membership to CFS is a trustworthy, efficient, nor productive relationship,” Bouchard said. “There are certain things that you can lobby for on a federal level, but we’re already affiliated with other organizations on a federal level that would lobby in our defence, like [...] the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities.” Sa also cited financial reasons
behind their desire to leave. “[CFS] never publish their budget […] so we have absolutely no idea how they operate, how they use our money,” Sa said. PGSS, which has been a CFS member since 1993, has attempted to leave the organization before. On Oct. 19, 2009, members submitted a petition to CFS asking to hold a referendum to leave, also citing issues regarding CFS’s transparency. Although PGSS’s petition acquired the mandatory number of signatures required to hold a referendum, CFS did not set the dates for the referendum within the required 90-day-period. Consequently, PGSS filed court proceedings to ensure that the referendum would take place. One day before the court hearing was set to take place, CFS set the referendum period to take place Mar. 31 to Apr. 1, 2010. Eighty-six per cent of the 869 PGSS members who voted were in favour of leaving CFS at that time. “CFS has consistently refused to recognize the results of this referendum and the matter is currently before the courts, with PGSS seeking a declaration that it is no longer a member of the CFS,” PGSS’ executive summary of the case reads. The new petition aims for CFS to recognize that PGSS members have considered themselves to not belong to CFS since the 2010 referendum. According to Mooney, PGSS is prepared to pay any necessary court fees through their Special Projects Fund and a Contingency Fund, although these funds were not created
PGSS member Ge Sa explains the petition to leave the Canadian Federation of Students. (Emma Windfeld / McGill Tribune) with the purpose of paying CFS-related costs. Since the first unsuccessful attempt to leave in 2010, PGSS has not paid CFS fees but has continued collecting an equivalent fee from students to hold in the Special Projects Fund. “CFS sends the PGSS letters claiming we continue to owe them dues even after PGSS members voted to leave in 2010,” Mooney said. “All told, we estimate their claim to amount to around $400,000 over the years. Although we are very confident in our legal case, to be responsible we have to plan for every scenario.” If PGSS wins the legal case,
Mooney said the accumulated Special Projects Fund could instead be used to construct a daycare or to modernize Thomson House. Association of Postdoctoral Fellows to receive grant A motion passed at Wednesday’s Council meeting will allocate a grant of $1,500 to the Association of Postdoctoral Fellows (APF). “The APF is a semi-autonomous association which frequently organizes events and activities targeted at and responding to the needs of postdoctoral fellows at McGill,” the motion reads. Mooney said the motion would facilitate the allocation of funds for
events and activities targeted towards postdoctoral fellows. “Currently, the APF has no budget and must apply for a grant each time from the executive committee of the PGSS for every activity and event they wish to plan,” Mooney said. According to the motion, the grant will create a better situation for postdoctoral fellows since neither PGSS nor McGill can fully accommodate their needs. “Postdoctoral fellows have specific needs and problems which neither the PGSS nor McGill is fully capable of responding to,” the motion reads.
Principal Fortier, panellists talk student involvement in QI
Project co-ordinators seek to engage students in QI through Centre for Culture and the Arts and other projects Sara Cullen Contributor Opportunities for student engagement in the Quartier de l’Innovation (QI) development project were a topic of a Nov. 6 webcast that allowed professors, alumni, and students to pose questions to a panel of experts on the project. Launched in May 2013, the QI is an initiative that aims to turn Griffintown, a Montreal neighborhood, into a hub of research and innovation. Panellists at the event included McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier and three other representatives from École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) and McGill. McGill Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations) Rose Goldstein said students have contrib-
uted to the QI from its beginning and will continue to be an important factor in the development of the project. For example, last month’s Community Engagement Day events included activities to inform students about the QI project and the Griffintown neighbourhood. According to Goldstein, certain QI projects will offer more opportunities for student engagement—for example, the Montreal Creativity Hub facilitates meetings between professionals, companies, and professors with a focus on generating innovative ideas and management strategies. However, some students questioned the ability for them to become involved in QI due to travel limitations. Justin Leung, a McGill student, drew attention to the physical distance between the QI and the university.
“What different strategies, procedures, or different projects will McGill be undertaking in order bridge that gap?” Leung asked. According to Fortier, the distance between the campuses is not necessarily a disadvantage. “The challenge is because we’re not quite in an environment that is totally familiar to us,” Fortier said. “That distance from the McGill campus to the QI in fact can be a real opportunity, a real advantage, because we are going to get out of our campus and into this quartier [….] We want to offer our students this opportunity to learn outside of campus.” As part of its initiative to promote creative solutions, the QI has already brought artists from the Montreal community together with small businesses and students to contribute
to its goal to infuse the arts and creativity into all sectors of the project. “Students are already involved and this is a platform where anyone can come —including students—to use creativity tools to solve problems,” Goldstein said. Goldstein also spoke on a project named the Centre for Culture and the Arts, which is led by Will Straw, an art history professor at McGill. According to Goldstein, the project aims to bring artists together with other artists, students, and creative small businesses, to develop creative solutions to issues businesses may face. “So they’ll be looking at kind of a creativity hub—an urban culture hub where artists will also come together with other actors in the area to problem solve and to work with our students,” Goldstein said.
Fortier said the QI will be integrated into student life and academic curricula by implementing it as a learning platform. “There will be a whole spectrum of activities, from research projects to bringing what students learn in the classroom into practice in the QI,” Fortier said. “Let’s make it as dynamic as possible.”
Curiosity delivers. |
| Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Rethinking the role of the academic senate McGill senators consider role of governing body in decision-making, allocation of time spent on presentations Ellen Cools Contributor As hearings concerning Canadian Senate reform begin today, McGill has begun a process to consider the reform of its own academic senate. Across Canada, academics, students, and professionals alike are engaging in discussion about the Senate’s role at universities. At McGill, these concerns may soon lead to change; at the Oct. 16 Senate meeting, debate on the topic of Senate reform led Principal Suzanne Fortier to form a special subcommittee to identify solutions to issues concerning Senate’s purpose and structure. Academic Senates are governing bodies in charge of a university’s academic affairs. One of the first comprehensive explanations of the purpose of an academic Senate in Canada comes from the 1906 Report of the Royal Commission on the University of Toronto, which identified Senate as a necessary body, despite its flaws. “Much of [the Senate’s] work
has, in practice, been relegated to committees,” the report reads. “Experience has shown that the reports of these committees must, in general, be adopted without debate, if the transaction of business is not to be unduly delayed.” Over 100 years later, many academic senators have criticized Senate for very similar reasons. At the most recent meeting, senators criticized a lack of debate on motions and inefficient use of time due to lengthy informational presentations. Joey Shea, senator and VP university affairs of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), emphasized the need to reform the schedule of the agenda to address this issue. “If we could have that time period set aside at the beginning of every Senate, I think it would make senators much more engaged and willing to speak about things, instead of knowing they’re coming to Senate to simply raise their placard and approve things that have already been slated for approval […] or to just passively listen to reports,” she said.
However, information sessions are necessary for senators to gain an understanding of the issues at hand, according to biology professor and Faculty of Science Representative Graham Bell. “The sessions for information are sometimes a bit dry, but on the other hand that’s what makes the university business transparent,” Bell said. “If those information sessions are not included in Senate meetings, we really don’t know what’s going on.” Senate’s power in decisionmaking is at the core of many contemporary questions about the academic Senate in Canada, according to a 2004 study by Glen A. Jones, Theresa Shanahan, and Paul Goyan. “Our study suggests that Canadian Senates have an important traditional and symbolic role, but that their practical and meaningful participation in important, defining university decisions is limited and perhaps even diminishing,” their report reads. In response to similar problems, other Canadian universities have revised their Senate structure. For
example, the University of Guelph reduced its Senate from 215 to 162 seats in 2011 to promote active participation, according to University of Guelph Secretariat Kate Revington. “[Senators] expressed a wish to see if the size could be reduced proportionally—while still respecting the need for representation of the constituent groups—in order to increase opportunities for Senators for engagement,” Revington said. Political science professor and Faculty of Arts Representative Catherine Lu said Senate plays more of a participatory role in academic affairs, rather than being directly involved in decision-making. Lu cited McGill’s decision to offer Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) last year. Although the topic of MOOCs was discussed at a Senate meeting in January 2013, the Senate was not involved in making the decision to implement them. “[Senate] had a very wide-ranging discussion with many divergent views about whether or not MOOCs would be a good thing; but the fact is that Senate was never asked to make
a decision about whether or not in principle we should pursue this,” Lu said. Lu suggested that committees provide written recommendations that must be debated and endorsed by Senate before action is taken by the senior administration. Despite the governing body’s flaws, Shea said Senate is still a necessary component of university governance to properly represent all members of the university. “I think it’s very important to have a senate because Senate is the only time and place where all parties in the university are [together] and are represented,” Shea said. “So I see a lot of potential for Senate, but right now the way it’s structured is not as efficient.”
Suzanne Fortier installed as 17th McGill Principal
Symbolic ceremony includes presentation of university’s Royal Charter and seal by Governor General of Canada Laurissa Cebryk Contributor An academic processional complete with bagpipes and traditional academic robes marked the installation of Suzanne Fortier as McGill’s 17th Principal and 13th Vice-Chancellor on Nov. 5. Fortier, who is the first female McGill graduate to hold the positions, officially started her term Sept. 5. The installation is a symbolic ceremony in which Canadian Governor General David Lloyd Johnston presented the university’s Royal Charter and seal to Fortier’s keeping. The Governor General has been the official Visitor of McGill since 1852, which means that he represents the founder, the public, and the Crown’s connection to the university. Johnston also has deeper ties to McGill, having served as the university’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor between 1979 and 1994. To complete the official installation, McGill Chancellor Arnold Steinberg invested Fortier with the titles of Principal and Vice-Chancellor, after which Fortier took the Oath of Office, where she pledged to “faithfully carry out [her] duties.” Other attendees included Quebec Minister of Higher Education Pierre
Duchesne; members of the National Assembly and Canadian Senate; McGill faculty members, students, administrative, and support staff; and members of other academic institutions such as Harvard University and the University of British Columbia. Université de Montréal Rector Guy Breton welcomed Fortier to her new position on behalf of all Canadian universities. “I know that you will take the best possible care of [McGill], because I know your passion for knowledge,” he said. McGill chemistry professor Hanadi Sleiman, who gave an official greeting speech as a representative of McGill’s faculty members, expressed hope that Fortier’s leadership would promote the development of research and teaching at McGill. “McGill has been able to attract an unusually large number of superb new faculty members who have joined our excellent current faculty members over the last 10 years,” Sleiman said. “[Fortier] arrives at a very special time of growth and optimism at McGill when world-class research and teaching initiatives are under way in every department and every unit of this university.” Sophia-Maria Giannakakis, a SSMU Councillor who spoke on be-
Principal Suzanne Fortier took the Oath of Office at symbolic ceremony. (Cassandra Rogers / McGill Tribune) half of McGill students, asked Fortier to keep students in mind throughout her term as principal. “Remember, that within our playful youthfulness lie serious scholars, ready to make a contribution to the upcoming world and to society any which way we can,” she said. “Even if [our] beginnings may be unique and diverse, we are students eager to learn from amazing people and to continue learning for the rest of our lives.” Fortier used an analogy to describe McGill’s current status as a university at a crossroad of change as
it reinvents itself for the 21st century. “It is not easy to push ourselves with questions for which there are not neat solutions,” Fortier said. “It is not easy to accept that sometimes it is not our answers that are wrong, but our questions. It can be a challenge to cultivate this highly dynamic culture filled with intense debate and intense confrontation of ideas. We are the great collider, and even if the collider sometimes overheats, physics tells us that this is where you find the most exotic particles; the new ideas, the new paradigms; the discoveries.”
She described the direction in which she wants to take the university under her leadership. “Our sights are set high,” Fortier said. “We want our university to be a place of choice for the brightest talents [….] We want a teaching and research environment that is dynamic and innovative. We want an educational experience that resonates a lifetime, and a university that responds to the needs of its neighbourhood, its province, its country, its world.”
Editor-in-Chief Carolina Millán Ronchetti email@example.com
Why this SSMU GA matters, and why you should be there This Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) is holding a special General Assembly (GA)—its second one in less than two months. Much has been made in the past about the accessibility and relevance of GAs, as the events themselves consistently suffer from poor attendence. While the broader debate about procedure and format will no doubt continue, the fact is that this GA does matter, and students really should care. A main reason for this assembly is that October’s regularly-scheduled GA barely achieved half of the required quorum, which left SSMU unable to appoint a Board of Directors (BoD) for this year, a requirement dictated by its constitution. While SSMU’s daily functions are not affected by it, this failure does compromise the association’s ability to perform some of its broader administrative tasks. Without a BoD, SSMU is unable to update its investment
Letter to the editor In opposition of Bill 60 On Sept. 16, the McGill Faculty of Medicine—along with its four major teaching hospitals—released a joint statement affirming their belief in providing an environment where individuals are free to choose to wear “conspicuous religious symbols.” Today, in light of the proposed Bill 60, the Medical Students’ Society of McGill University wishes to add its voice to theirs. As medical students, we
portfolio, and may have trouble renewing its liquor licence for Gerts. Another pressing issue to be addressed at this GA is SSMU’s budget. At last week’s Council meeting, VP Finance Tyler Hofmeister presented this year’s budget report. The budget raises many questions, most notably about the financial management of frosh. While the event was planned to break even, as per SSMU policy, the omission of taxes in estimated sponsorship revenue and of PayPal fees caused frosh to run a $21,000 deficit. These errors boil down to pure mismanagement, yet there has been no word regarding responsibility nor accountability for the errors. At the very least, SSMU owes its membership an explaination for the needless loss of several thousand dollars. Furthermore, Council’s subsequent question-and-answer period was held behind closed doors, restricting access for the media and its membership at large
to fully understand the implications of this year’s budget. This GA will be an opportunity for students to seek answers as to how their money is being spent.
are incredibly lucky to be able to interact on a daily basis with future colleagues and professors who proudly display symbols of their religious beliefs. Contrary to what our provincial government seems to think, in no way do these symbols prevent them from carrying out their work with empathy and professionalism, just like all healthcare workers should. We consider ourselves lucky to have them as physicians, and we strongly believe that they are essential members of our healthcare system. It would be simply unacceptable to us should some of our colleagues be treated as second-class citizens, and be
forced to choose between their job and their religion. Therefore, we salute our Faculty’s initiative and we hope that the government will realize the importance of an inclusive workplace that is open to all, regardless of their culture, their origins, or their religion. We also invite the provincial government to consider the impact of Bill 60 on those who will be most affected by it, namely present and future physicians, nurses, or teachers—to name only a few. Finally, we will make our opinion known by actively partaking in and contributing to the forthcoming public consultations set to occur at the beginning of
This GA will be
an opportunity for students to seek answers as to how their money is being spent.
Finally, students should take an interest in the upcoming Student-Run Café (SRC), which is slated to open in the SSMU building at the beginning of January. Tomorrow’s GA will feature a presentation from SRC Manager Josh Redel about the plans for the café, after which Redel will be taking questions. Although SSMU has been successfully en-
gaging students in the ongoing name campaign for the café, all decision-making to this point has been handled internally by the SRC team. This update will give students a voice in the development of a café purported to reflect student interests. Many of SSMU’s operations take place behind closed doors, and we don’t learn about them until they have already happened. The GA is an opportunity for all of us to lend our voices to the process, and to demand accountability from those we have chosen to speak on our behalf the rest of the academic year. Whether you are concerned about the spending of your money, want to know more about the development of the SRC, or simply want to make sure Gerts can keep its liquor license, this GA impacts you. Although we are under no illusions that the GA will be fun or engaging, we encourage each and every member of SSMU to attend.
the new calendar year. On behalf of the Medical Students’ Society of McGill University, Carl White Ulysse (Med-2) Executive President Adam Parant (Med-3) Former President Sarah Hosseini (Med-2) Executive Vice-President, Corporate Relations Thierry Live (Med-3) Vice President of Internal Affairs
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A story in the Nov. 5 issue (Undergraduate law students request paid compensation for work) incorrectly stated that undergraduate students working as TAs and enrolled in the Legal Clinic Course are not considered employees due to McGill’s labour agreement with the Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM). In fact, undergraduates in such positions are not considered employees because they are not recognized as such by the university. The McGill Tribune deeply regrets this error.
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Owning the medium: media consolidation in Canada
Canada has the most concentrated media ownership of any liberal democracy in the world—more concentrated than America’s, or even Britain and its Murdoch empire. In 1999, our five largest newspaper chains accounted for 93 per cent of all daily circulation. Today the number is 82 per cent—lower, but still very high. Just how pervasive is this concentration? In print, Postmedia (formerly CanWest) controls 31 per cent of total newspaper circulation, while Quebecor takes up 23 per cent, and holds 27 of Ontario’s 38 daily newspapers. Also involved in telecom, Quebecor has dominated the market in Quebec since buying Vidéotron in 2000. Bell sold its common share
A charter of values, but not inclusion
On Nov. 7, the Parti Québécois (PQ) moved to table the controversial Charter of Values, revealing the document with its new, lengthy title—the “Charter affirming the values of secularism and the religious neutrality of the state, as well as the equality of men and women, and the framing of accommodation requests”—or, more simply, Bill 60. This piece of legislation remains hotly contested; some see the charter as a way for the present Quebec government to refocus attention away from other pressing matters, such as the Montreal corruption scandal or
A word for the Liberal Arts
With budgets being cut left and right, and students worrying about their employment prospects after university, Liberal Arts degrees have come under siege. The question—or accusation—on people’s minds is whether the Liberal Arts are truly relevant to life post-
in the Globe and Mail in 2010, but acquired the CTV network in the same deal. It grew even larger this past July when it bought Astral Media for nearly $4 billion. Rogers, the largest communications company in Canada, has diverse interests from wireless service to Maclean’s and other magazines. Shaw bought the broadcasting arm of CanWest in 2010, and now operates Global TV in addition to its distribution infrastructure. The biggest casualty of centralization is editorial independence. In 2001, CanWest, owned by the Asper family, ordered all its papers to publish editorials written at its Winnipeg headquarters. This led to a byline strike at the Montreal Gazette, in which reporters refused to allow their names to appear in print. This ended when the reporters were threatened with termination. In 2002, an Halifax Daily News editor resigned due to interference from CanWest headquarters. That summer, Russell Mills, veteran publisher of the Ottawa Citizen, was fired after running an editorial calling for the resignation of
Jean Chrétien, an old friend of Israel Asper. In 2003, the Globe and Mail reported on a leaked CanWest memo that laid out plans for a centralized news desk in Winnipeg—they called it “this country’s most aggressive attempt to centralize editorial operations across a newspaper chain.” But not even the clearest violation of journalistic independence in contemporary Canadian history would lead to more regulation. The 2006 election brought Stephen Harper to power— his heritage minister, responsible for media regulation, was a former CanWest executive named Bev Oda. The Citizen debacle was a big missed opportunity. Political appetite to even discuss media regulation is seldom present, because controversies like the Asper disaster rarely happen. Given the firestorm that ensued, similar realizations will only be rarer in the future. However, editorial control still happens—it has just taken on subtler, more insidious forms. Executives have moved from overt statements of editorial policy to indirect control through hiring, firing, and promotion. Stories that go
against policy are no longer pulled, but are ‘slanted’ through omission and preferential placement. The result is what academics call social control, where a journalist’s perks and career chances depend on writing to the company line. Ultimately, this leads to self-censorship and avoiding stories contrary to corporate interests. Why is this a problem? Across the country, corporate media gives ‘free rides’ to those it likes, and no ride at all to those it doesn’t. In New Brunswick, for example, the Irving family holds all of the English-language daily newspapers. Like most media families, the Irvings have other large interests—they own, among other things, the largest oil refinery in Canada, forestry operations, and a frozen foods company. Their papers are known for failing to report on the sometimes-questionable activities of their sister companies. On the West coast, look at the example of former BC premier Gordon Campbell. In January 2003, when Campbell, Premier at the time, was caught driving with a blood alcohol content more than double the
legal limit while vacationing in Hawaii. In confidence, a Vancouver Sun reporter called Campbell’s grinning, rosy-cheeked mugshot the scoop of the year—but the Vancouver Sun, known for running massive headshots, ran a tiny thumbnail. Later that year, when the provincial NDP released its environmental policy, only one paper carried the story, and even then it was buried in the middle. All of these papers were owned by CanWest at the time. So, is editorial independence likely with media concentration? Absolutely not. As the 1981 Kent Commission on newspaper ownership wrote, “For the heads of such organizations to justify their positions by appealing to the freedom of the press is offensive to intellectual honesty.” The only body with the power to restore the freedom of the press is the federal government. After a Royal Commission and two Senate investigations, we know the problem and the solutions. The Harper government must act before our media— and our democracy—slip further towards oligarchy.
tuition protests of last year. Nonetheless, it remains a blatant assault on the rights of those who chose to wear religious symbols and attire. While the charter’s proponents call it a measure for equality, it is actually an assault on the religious freedoms of those who wear such symbols as the hijab, kippa or turban. The only way religions can be treated equally is to either allow no one to openly wear conspicuous symbols, or to let everyone wear what they please. Regulating the size of crosses and openly banning specific religious objects while allowing others shows that the government privleges certain faiths over others. How can a measure be labeled equal if it’s openly biased against certain religious groups? The simple answer is that it can’t. The Quebec Human Rights Commission has condemned the bill; according to the commission’s chairman, “Part of the problem is it
all aims at one group—this is systemic discrimination.” There has been a recent surge in media coverage of Islamophobic incidents amongthe public here in Montreal—the most notable being a video of a man harassing a woman on a city bus for wearing a hijab. A Quebec women’s coalition claims there has been a marked increase in the number of veiled women being harassed and insulted in the public since the charter was proposed earlier this year. This raises the larger question of whether the charter has made a former non-issue into a larger problem within the community. It’s quite possible that the legislation has become a platform for some to attack those expressing their faith. The harassment shows a darker side to our society. For all the talk of multiculturalism, there remains a tension over the vast array of religious denominations, races, and sexual orientations of individuals.
The charter has served to highlight this, for better or for worse. Perhaps most importantly, the charter will allow us to remember that we are far from a homogenous society, which is a good thing. As we approach the holiday season, there is no doubt that many groups will come forward, frustrated with “Merry Christmas” greetings and Christmas concerts in elementary schools the country over. Every season, parents mob the media, complaining about school officials for turning to the more secular title of holiday concert. Last year, there was great debate after rumours that the White House had banned the name “Christmas” trees, calling them “Holiday Trees” instead. It’s not hard to run across someone during this time of year who tells someone not of the Christian faith to just assimilate and deal with Christmas, even though at heart, it is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of
Christ. If a hijab or turban is going to be banned under the proposed Charter of Values, should not the open symbols of Christianity be as well? It may well be that the trees and lore offend people not of the Christian faith. There remains a similar blatant favouritism of Catholicism and Catholic symbols within the charter, as well as similar Christian emblems. It sounds like a joke to go so far as to remove Christmas from the public eye. It’s is very much part of our society, but so are the turban, kippa and hijab to those who wear them. Taking any of those away from the people who value them is a clear infringement of their rights of expression and religious freedom. It goes without question that equality is clearly not at stake here, only the blatant discrimination of members of specific religious affiliations.
graduation. In recent years, budget cuts have been a serious concern for universities, including McGill in the past year. While a variety of faculties have seen resources cut, an emphasis on revenue generation means that arts disciplines often fall to the cutting board first. The stated reasons are simple; Arts students, courses, and faculty, don’t make as much money in research or carry as much prestige. New innovations and discoveries are more often the domain of the sciences—at least in terms of tangible progress. Humanities exist more in the realm of hypotheses that are
harder to confirm and exploration of topics that often don’t create a profit in the ‘real’ world. For this reason, sciences seem like a better investment for the future. Another challenge facing the humanities is a drop in interest among students. While there are many ways to look at this decline, an oft-cited reason is the poor economy. This line is the same every time: we’re in a serious recession, as we have been since 2008, and life will not be easy for students leaving the safety of the university cocoon. The joy of learning for the sake of understanding the world around us, it seems, is no longer
the goal of university; it is soley an investment towards our future and job security. While on some level, university is too expensive to not be an investment, it has gotten to the point that many have dismissed the idea of learning for its own sake outright. The perception that Arts degrees aren’t applicable to realworld jobs is false. While Liberal Arts students don’t often come out of university with a working knowledge of the Higgs boson, they do graduate with the ability to think critically and creatively, and to communicate their ideas in a clear and concise way. These skills
help in the workforce for a variety of tasks and are something employers are looking for. They take a lifetime to teach, but are infinitely applicable, no matter the job. Certainly Science degrees are lucrative, and a safer choice for employment. While one area of study isn’t better than the other, the Liberal Arts are—and always will be—relevant. They foster an appreciation of learning and provide the basic skills for broad careers. They can be risky in terms of employment, but they’re incredibly rewarding in terms of learning and appreciation of humanity.
Student living The factors to consider when planning to study abroad Erica Friesen Managing Editor Whether you’re interested in learning another language, gaining work experience, or simply experiencing another culture, McGill’s student exchange opportunities provide a vastly different student experience from the one in Montreal. Currently, McGill has over 150 exchange partnerships with universities across Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania. Although each location offers a unique experience, all exchanges provide some common benefits. “The experience is invaluable in that it teaches students about independence, other cultures, flexibility, [and the] ability to adapt to change,” Kelly Cassidy, a student advisor in the Faculty of Engineering, said. “Universities have different specialties [and] concentrations. An exchange can allow a student to get a taste for [a] specialty that perhaps they would not get at McGill or in Canada.” According to Darlene Hnatchuk,
director of McGill’s Career Planning Service (CaPS), an experience abroad doesn’t just provide students with an opportunity for personal growth; it also shows potential employers that you have valuable skills. “If you have studied abroad, that means you have adapted to a new culture, a new way of doing things, a different type of structure or scheduling,” she said. “Studying abroad also means you’re quite a curious person. Employers seek curiosity in their employees as well because they want to innovate; they want to find new solutions to problems.” McGill offers several different types of study abroad experiences. The most well-known programs are bilateral exchanges, in which you swap places with a student from one of McGill’s partner universities. Although they still require a lot of advanced planning and paperwork, McGill is more involved in the process amd provides more support in bilateral exchanges. However, your choice of host university for a bilateral exchange is limited to the list of McGill’s partner
institutions. While there are plenty to choose from, it is important to ensure that you apply to a university that accepts exchanges from your program. “Some faculties may set up agreements for exchange directly with specific institutions,” Cassidy said. “Sometimes […] the host university has only expressed interest in the one faculty (or vice versa) or the exchange only works for the one faculty. For instance, some universities only have technology [or] engineering programs or only have management programs.” When planning an exchange, Hnatchuk recommended that students take their own needs and interests into consideration to decide where they would like to study abroad. “If you know that for the type of work you’re going to be doing later on that it’s important to have a work experience abroad, maybe you can try and tag that onto your study abroad,” she said. “If you know that learning a third language is going to be extremely important because you want to be working elsewhere in the world and want to have
that flexibility, then that’s what’s going to be important for you.” If the institution you’re interested in doesn’t appear on the list of McGill’s partner universities, you can participate in an independent study away program. This means that you apply directly to the university where you want to study, and pay their tuition instead of McGill’s. While studying and living abroad may seem like an additional strain on your wallet, financial aid is available. For example, the Mobility Award grants a base sum of $1,000 dollars per semester to students studying abroad. No matter what kind of exchange you’re interested in, it’s important to start thinking about the process well in advance of the first deadlines in January. “I think it’s important that students choose an opportunity or find an opportunity that’s going to allow them to succeed,” Hnatchuk said. “Plan early, think about it early, talk to other students who have gone abroad, and explore all the different resources that are available at McGill.”
How to apply for a bilateral exchange: 1) Request approval through the Minerva Exchange Request Form, by mid-January (exact due dates differ by faculty). 2) After your faculty has approved the request, the Student Exchanges and Study Abroad office (SESA) will nominate you to a partner institution. 3) Apply to your host university. Once you’ve been accepted, you’re ready to start preparing for your exchange!
To be eligible for an exchange, you must: 1) Have a minimum 3.0 Cumulative GPA. 2) Be registered as a full-time McGill student. 3) Have completed at least one fulltime year of study at McGill by the time that your exchange program begins. 4) Meet any other faculty-specific criteria. 5) Possess a passport valid for a minimum of six months after the end of your exchange program. See http://www.mcgill.ca/students/international/goabroad for more details
Oh, the places you’ll go! Jonathan Rosenbluth
(U3 International Development Studies)
(U3, History and Political Science)
National University of Singapore
Sam Daviau (U3 Finance and Accounting)
Tsinghua University, Beijing Why: “I wanted to break the bubble and experience something new.” The experience: “Beijing was a hard place to live in; the pollution was really bad, the people were pushy, and no one spoke English. But I felt like I learned what it’s like to feel truly foreign, which is something I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.” Highlights: “The group of friends that I met [was] awesome. I had 30 friends that I could always go out with, who were from all over [....] I was also able to take weekend trips to surrounding countries like Cambodia, Thailand, and South Korea.” Advice: “It will be an experience going there, and it will be hard [...], but I gained a lot [….] You have to be prepared for [the culture shock], and just be positive and outgoing no matter what comes along.”
Why: “I always wanted to travel to Southeast Asia and test my boundaries, but because Singapore is an English speaking country and is pretty developed, I could still feel comfortable and at home.” The experience: “Singapore was nothing like I’d seen before. It was interesting and dynamic, with a government still evolving [....] Even though [Singapore] is the most expensive place to live in Southeast Asia, it’s still way cheaper than a semester in Montreal.” Highlights: “The food, the warm climate, and the diverse group of people that I met [… and professors who] understand that you’re on exchange and don’t just want to sit in class while you’re there.” Advice: “Don’t think twice about it; just [go on exchange] and don’t worry.”
Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires, Argentina Why: “I already spoke Spanish so I wanted to go somewhere where I could use it and learn to speak it better.” The experience: “Very few people spoke English, but people were still really friendly [….] Half my classes were in Spanish and half were in English, so I was able to become friends with the international students and the Argentinean students [….] Argentina is also insanely diverse, so I was able to see the Iguazu Falls and go skiing while I was there.” Highlights: “I went to see the Superclásico, which is one of their famous soccer games; it was incredible, I’d recommend it to anyone staying in Argentina [....] I’d also recommend seeing La Bomba Di Tiempo which is kind of like a bigger version of Tam Tams.” Advice: “You have to be smart because [Buenos Aires] is a dangerous city with plenty of petty theft. Just be careful of your belongings, don’t walk alone after dark, and always take cabs.”
University of Western Australia, Perth Why: “I wanted to escape the big city to somewhere relaxed.” The experience: “Perth is pretty isolated, with huge parks and beaches [….] There’s a lot of surfing, gold, cricket, and lawn bowling [....] It was not a difficult place to get used to because the language, history, and social life were very similar to Canada.” Highlights: “I met a lot of good people and it was cool to just live in another country.” Advice: “Mention that you’re Canadian [....] They love Canadians. They’ll think you’re the most interesting person there.”
Chloe Jacobs (U3, International Development)
L’Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), France Why: “I’ve always dreamed of actually living in Paris and being able to fully immerse myself into the Parisian life.” The experience: “Paris was absolutely amazing [....] France is like the extreme of Montreal—they’re against multiculturalism; there’s a lot of animosity to foreigners, and the people weren’t friendly. But that’s part of the experience of living there [....] When you finally get one to smile or can communicate with them, it’s the best feeling.” Highlights: “I loved just walking around the city because there was always something new to see that I hadn’t noticed before [….] I always felt safe because the city never sleeps, people are out all night long, and there are always groups of people around.” Advice: “Living was very expensive [….] You can live cheaply though—you just have to figure out how. I basically lived on cheap wine and baguettes.” Compiled by Hailey MacKinnon, Contributor
Curiosity delivers. |
Sam Donald U3 Environment and development ( Alexandra Allaire / McGill Tribune)
As a break from his homework, Sam Donald will open up his Ableton music software. Working from his desk, Donald uses his laptop, a small sound card, a mike, and a guitar to produce his own electronic dance music (EDM). Every couple of weeks, he’ll toss a remix online for his friends to check out. Donald has always been a music fan, having started to learn the guitar at the age of eight. However, he hasn’t always been an EDM fan. In first year, he was involved in an indie rock band. “That’s really where the electronic music was birthed from,” he says. “One of the guys in my band sat me down and said ‘Look, we’re not going to get famous being a rock band anymore. That time’s past. The real money, or the real career path, is in producing, and the whole DJ thing.’ ” Since then Donald has been producing music and disk-jockeying both independently and with the group Baers at Montreal venues including Vinyl and Blue Dog. For Donald, the music itself isn’t the only things that’s important, but also the attitudes that pervade it. “Something that really started to
| Tuesday, November 12, 2013
by Marlee Vinegar
appeal to me about EDM—I think a lot of people identified with—was the fact that it’s all about unifying and being part of an experience that a bunch of people are a part of, rather than closing yourself off and having this condescending air of musical tastes,” he says. It’s because of this take on music that Donald sees artists like Bassnectar as a major musical influence. “He’s a calm soul, a zen personality that is really bringing to light the magic of how music can bring unity to people, and that’s something I really admire,” he says. “I really like musicians who incorporate music into their being and see the music not as something they make, but see themselves as instruments that music can come out of.” By treating everyone and everything with respect, Donald tries to transfer these notions of unity and equality to his everyday life. “The most important thing in my music has been getting over the fact that I’m not better than anyone,” he says. “I used to hear a Justin Bieber song and say ‘Oh that’s crap.’ When I started producing, I realized there are all these really honest, hard working people who create
a Justin Bieber or Katy Perry song, and to sneer your nose at it, at least for me, inhibited my own progress as an artist.” Now, Donald is clearly unafraid to draw from mainstream popular music— his latest track is a remix of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball.” Moving forward with his music, Donald is looking to bring some of his rock and roll past into his electric tracks through his guitar. “It’s been interesting seeing the instruments creep back into what a lot of people consider a lifeless art form—the four to the floor drum beat going on all night,” he says. Donald says he hopes to pursue a career in the music industry. “I’ve been looking also at video production with music, which is obviously a growing field,” he says. “In a perfect world, I’ll be in front of crowds of 40,000 in a couple years—but you know I’m not taking away the possibility of the cubicle.”
What’s your favourite song? “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles. It’s so simple, yet so timeless; it’s something that will always be relevant. If you could have one skill what would it be? Time travel has always been on my list of things I would ask Santa for. Where would you go in time? Jeez, I never thought of that one. I was going to cross that bridge when I got to it. I would love to go back to ancient Egypt, that whole area, but the one time that really interests me is about 1,300 years ago, to see if Atlantis was the real deal. What’s the last thing you ate? A bagel with peanut butter and honey on it. But the honey was infused into the peanut butter, like the honey flavoured peanut butter. Describe yourself in one word. Being… Is that too abstract?
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One man’s TRH is another man’s treasure
St. Laurent bar with skateboard park provides welcome change from Montreal bar scene Rebecca Babcock Contributor
Word of a skateboard park inside a bar often elicits stares of disbelief. TRH Bar (pronounced ‘trash’) is a near-mythic bar that no one ever really believes exists until they’ve been there. You may never have heard of TRH or even noticed it in passing, but inside is a fully functional skateboard park with a ramp on the second floor and a bowl on the first. A popular bar for snowboarders, surfers, and skateboarders alike, it’s easy to find if you know to keep a look out for its small, black and red sign and the packs of skateboard-baring youths outside its door. When I ventured into the bar just south of Tokyo Bar on St. Lau-
rent, the first thing I noticed was the graffiti. It’s on the walls, the doors, and even on the mirrors in the bathroom—no need to check how your makeup or hair is holding up anyway. Other items decorating the walls are stickers from various skate and surf companies such as Hurley and Roxy, as well as numerous skateboard decks, all of which add a cool and colourful atmosphere. In TRH, comfort is the rule. I watched the action in the bowl from one of the many couches and wornin chairs scattered around the space, reminiscent of the comfortable furniture in the SSMU lounge. This relaxed set-up and atmosphere made TRH feel like a night out at someone’s house; it’s a non-threatening environment that falls within most
people’s comfort zone. This laid-back attitude was also evident in the clothes the patrons wore—apparel included sweaters, baggy jeans, beanies, loose shirts, snapbacks, and snowboarding jackets. If you want to participate, all you have to do is pay a $1 fee and sign a waiver. The bowl—an obstacle requiring very little pushing—allows the skateboarder to focus on technique while undertaking lots of tricks. People weren’t trying to do anything too crazy—mostly 180s, ollies, and aerials on occasion. For spectators, it’s also amusing to watch the odd wipeout—not to worry though, the bowl and ramp are netted off to protect from fly-
ing skateboards. The boarders took turns and either after a spill or a couple good runs they would switch out to let another skater have a go. Everyone I met at TRH was incredibly friendly and welcoming, which was a welcome change from the Montreal club scene. We danced and bonded over the incredible drink deals: $2 shots. At $5, a beer isn’t too hard on the wallet either. Just a warning—the TRH vibe may not be right for everyone. If you plan on going to TRH you have to be able to roll with the punches and have a good time. Televisions played an odd Jackass-esque video where a group of guys tried to fit condoms over their heads. I also had beer literally thrown in my face when two guys fell over while dancing to the
Photo courtesy of TRH Bar remixed dance rap pumping from the speakers for most of the night. Nevertheless, TRH has a great vibe and provides boarders with an awesome venue for skateboarding throughout the winter season in Montreal. Since everyone just does his or her own thing, it’s a great place to practise whether you’re a beginner or have been skateboarding for years. For a different way to spend a night out, TRH is definitely a spot to check out.
3699 St. Laurent (514) 419-1416 Tues.-Sun: 8 p.m.- 3 a.m. http://www.trh-bar.com
10 | FEATURES
RISING VOICES E X PL ORING SPOKE N WORD’ S GROWING V ISIBIL ITY B y J enny S h en
PHOTOS BY CASSANDRA ROGERS
The first time I performed at a poetry slam, my hands began shaking the moment I stepped onto the stage and didn’t stop until the car ride home. I was out of breath as I recited the last lines of my poem, and continued to sound as though I had ran a marathon until well after my piece was over. Yet, this was one of the most prolific experiences I’d ever had and did not deter my interest in the world of spoken word. Due to my longstanding interest in spoken word, I was thrilled to hear that the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW) was going to be hosted here in Montreal this year. The CFSW is an annual celebration of spoken word and poetry featured in various cities across the country. In past years, it’s jumped from Ottawa to Vancouver, Toronto to Halifax, and Calgary to Victoria. Divan Orange, Cabaret du Mile End, and a handful of other venues—which usually hold slams and showcases throughout the year—welcomed 44 spoken word artists from all across Canada this past week to share their work with other spoken word enthusiasts. The CFSW also offered an array of workshops such as “Safer Spaces in Slam” and “Career and Community in Spoken Word.” Spoken word is often defined broadly as a word-based performance of storytelling, or more frequently, of poetry. Although similar perhaps to the term ‘slam poetry,’ spoken word differs in that it encompasses poetry as well as multiple other forms—including but not limited to rap, stories, and monologues. Unlike spoken word, slam poetry originated from the ‘poetry slam,’ which focused on a competition of prop-less,
To me, it ’s no surprise t hat t hese t hings are get t ing shared. This is t he poin t of why t hey’are made— t o say t hin gs t hat mat t er in an art ful way t hat amplifies t he i r mean in g an d t heir impac t . —Chris Masson” music-less performance poetry.
GAINING POPULARITY ONLINE Although spoken word is by no means a new art form, it has recently garnered a great deal of attention on the internet, with spoken word performance videos passed around on some of the most viral networks used today. These videos have gained traction on sites like Youtube, Facebook, and Upworthy, a site that curates specific videos almost destined to go viral. Adam Mordecai, an Editor-at-Large of Upworthy, explained that the first time he realized the virality of spoken word was when he posted a poem written and performed by Shane Koyczan called “To This Day,” which is an autobiographical recount of being bullied as a child. “Once it gripped me, I was in complete thrall, and didn’t even realize what I had while I was tearing up and watching it on repeat,” Mordecai said. “If I were to tell people they were watching spoken
word before they clicked it, they would run screaming to the hills [....] It’s only when they see it, [...] the humanity, raw emotion, and powerful words combined into an amazing performance do they understand what they just watched was powerful [....] Authenticity is what makes it shareable.” Though Mordecai explained that there hasn’t exactly been a conscious decision to share more spoken word videos, he noted that once shared videos receive a lot of attention, and a curator will “try to recreate the magic. Once a curator has success with spoken word, they hunt down more.” “We just love that it resonates and performs well,” Mordecai emphasized. Jeremy Loveday, a performance poet, director of Youth Outreach for the Victoria Poetry Project and Concordia graduate who helped run Youth Roots Day during CFSW, said that people who had not been previously exposed to
spoken word can easily be drawn in by these videos. “I think it’s so rare in your day-today life that you hear people eloquently speak their truth,” Loveday said. “I think that that’s what these spoken word videos allow—they allow for people to poignantly speak their emotions.” Chris Masson, who performed at CFSW and is a member of the Throw Poetry Collective, a Montreal organization dedicated to celebrating spoken word, explained how people’s interest in spoken word is often piqued by a thirst for a more genuine voice. “So much of the poetry you hear [...] is so sincere,” Masson said. “There’s a hunger for that in our lives today. We’re much more accustomed to irony and sarcasm—some sort of metacommentary—than we are to sincerity and metaphor.” Loveday attributed the length of these videos to their viral nature as well. “In the poetry slam format, [the performances are] three minutes. A viral video is usually a short video. That [short length] really lends itself to people listening to the message [of the performances.]” Masson noted that he was by no means surprised by how much attention spoken word and slam poetry has received. “I think [slam poetry] really speaks to people,” Masson noted. “To me, it’s no surprise that these things are getting shared. This is the point of why they’re made—to say things that matter in an artful way that just amplifies their meaning and their impact.” For many, just watching the videos
11 | FEATURES Slam poets perform on stage at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Montreal. (Cassandra Rogers / McGill Tribune)
is not enough once they’ve been introduced to spoken word. A more engaging way to expose yourself to even more great performances is to see a live show. With spoken word festivals—such as the CFSW—and regular poetry slams and showcases, the focus is at a much more personal level, with viewers sitting in the audiences as the performers on stage bring their carefully crafted words to life through a potpourri of slant rhymes, alliteration, and blank verse. Most believe that a live experience is much more electric than just sitting in front of the computer. Patrick Ohslund is a performance poet from Oakland, California and is currently working toward his MA here at McGill on spoken word and its ability to create culturally relevant curricula. Ohslund reflected on the unmatchable atmosphere that exists in a venue during a slam. “[The audience feels] like they had a really genuine experience with humanity that wasn’t pre-planned, prepackaged. [It is] much more a synthesis of what was in that room in that moment,” Ohslund said. Jonah Himelfarb, a U2 physiology student and spoken word artist who performed this past week at CFSW, explained the uniqueness of a live show. “The electricity from the audience and the other poets [is] distinctly noticeable [....] It’s impossible to attend a poetry slam and not feel moved,” Himelfarb said. But it’s not just the meter and rhyme of a spoken word piece that makes the audience erupt with snaps and murmurs of agreement. Perhaps the largest contributor to the ‘buzz-worthy’ quality of spoken word is the theme of each particular piece. The focus is often to provide a personal perspective on issues at large in society or to recount an experience that holds a substantial amount of meaning to the performer.
NEW TO S P O KEN WO R D? CH EC K THESE P ER FO R M A NC ES O UT Sarah Kay Ruby Francisco Andrea Gibson Anis Mojgani Hieu Nguyen
ENSURING A SAFE ENVIRONMENT Due to the volatile nature of many of the topics presented at these performances, the question of ‘safe space’ is often discussed both within and outside the community. Performers and poets deal with heavy and frequently controversial matters that can both spark interest in some audience members while troubling others. Ohslund explained that the definition of ‘safe space’ comes with its own set of complications. “The concept on safe space in slam is flawed,” he said. “It’s a free speech space, which is categorically not a safe space. [But] there are some times where free speech […] can cross over to a place where it’s just blatantly disrespectful. [So instead,] it’s a free speech space with a notion of mutual respect.” Masson explained the way he starts off each of the workshops he runs in order to foster that sense of respect. “What I always start out with is saying that this is a space of acceptance. And if someone is sharing something, you need to respect that,” he said. Loveday believes that showing everyone that he too is willing to open
Point B Lopsided Maybe I Need You Shake the Dust Buffet Etiquette
up and share helps to create that space of acceptance. “I start every classroom workshop with a performance,” Loveday said. “[It shakes] things up a bit, showing them that this isn’t a normal day in the classroom. You’re creating an atmosphere where you’re showing a vulnerability, which will allow them to feel safer to do that as well.” With such an intimate setting for these performances, it’s natural to find spoken word enthusiasts cultivating a tight-knit sense of community amongst themselves. “There ends up being a community around the event and that ends up being really valuable and what keeps a lot of people coming back,” Masson said. “And since it’s a community based on expression, inclusion, acceptance, [and] mutual encouragement, it ends up being, almost always, a really wonderful community to be a part of.” Montreal in particular, for a variety of reasons, helps to foster an even more unique flair within this community. Throw Poetry Collective embraces Quebec’s bilingualism in their slams. As an English speaker with less fluency in French, Masson explained how something that might be conceived as a
burdensome language barrier is actually quite valuable to a slam listener. “The bilingualism forces me to hear other things that they’re saying,” Masson said. “Even if I miss some of the literal meaning, I can pick up on emotion and body language.” Beyond the city’s bilingualism, Montreal also boasts another unique aspect in its slam poetry scene. “Montreal seems to have less of an established slam culture compared to Toronto or Vancouver,” Masson said. “There’s less of a defined genre or style that exists, so there’s a lot more experimentation, a lot more variety of what you see up on stage.” McGill has also done its part in promoting the spoken word scene on campus. Coffee houses and open mic nights have featured poetry readings, and students like Himelfarb have reacted positively to the increased interest. “I hope that more McGill students become involved in the spoken word community [....] I think it’s fantastic that people are taking initative to organize spoken word events geared toward McGill students.” The last time I performed at a slam, my hands were no longer shaking the way they had before. I was still out of breath, but this time, from the sheer exhilaration I felt over being able to share my poems. Both during my performance and after the event, it was immensely rewarding to hear the audience’s reactions to my pieces. It was incredible to be able to have conversations with all the other poets who had just shared a piece of themselves by being up on that stage. It has only made me realize that whether you are a writer or a listener, whether you attend slams every other weekend or post riveting performances on your Facebook news feed, you will likely find spoken word and the community it fosters ready to welcome you with open arms.
Science & technology
Concrete canoe design team unsinkable Civil engineers to compete in national competition Caity Hui Science and Technology Editor The Kraken lurked next to the Engineering Café for the first few months of the school year, unbeknownst to most students. Created by McGill’s concrete canoe design team, the Kraken competed last May at the Canadian Concrete Canoe Competition (CNCCC). The competition started in 1995 and aims to allow university students to gain design experience in a non-academic environment. According to Steven Cerri, cocaptain of McGill’s concrete canoe team, over 200 teams and 3,000 stu-
dents have competed since the start of the Canadian competition. “Every year, thousands of spectators come to watch as students demonstrate the research, design, testing, and leadership skills that they have gained from the building of their concrete canoes,” he said. The team consists of 70 undergraduate students, most of whom study Civil Engineering, although there are also students present from other Engineering programs, as well as from the Faculties of Science and Education. The team is responsible for designing, building, and casting a canoe completely out of concrete that is buoyant. To succeed, students must create an effective concrete mix, design a canoe shape, and build a mould. Cerri admits that he has often been asked why anyone would want to build a boat out of concrete. Heavy, brittle, and weak in tension— concrete is not a conventional boatbuilding material. “So why do we do it?” Cerri said. “To use the world’s most common building material in an unconventional sense? Perhaps. For the
design challenge? Maybe. The way I see it, the concrete canoe team is much more than these challenges, and [this is] more than simply building a boat. The team is a way for young engineers to tackle problems, be innovative, build friendships, and teach each other. These qualities will be indispensable once the students become practicing engineers The competition is divided into four events: the design paper, the oral presentations, the final product, and the races—each of which are worth equal points. Races consist of male and female endurance and sprint races, but they also include a final co-ed race. Last year, the team competed for the first time since 2009. They look forward to competing again this spring with more experience under their belt—this time hoping to make the podium. “The team is [currently] in the development and testing phase of the year,” Cerri said. “We are experimenting with new innovative materials in our mix design, and are making about 25 new mix designs a week.” According to Cerri, the team is
composed of six different sub-teams that focus on different tasks requiring different skill sets. These include the mixing, construction, aesthetics, design and analysis, and sponsorship and procurement groups. In addition to working on creating a successful concrete mix, the construction team is in the process of building a quarter scale mould, which will allow the team to test and prove new design ideas before implementing them on the full-scale canoe. “The design and structural analysis team has created over 25 prototype shapes for the canoe and now are developing a mathematical formula which rates the performance of a canoe based on certain geometric parameters of the boats shape,” Cerri added. Cerri, and his co-captain Joseph Yazbeck decided to start up the team to fill a void in Civil Engineering at McGill. “The other Engineering department had multiple design teams but nothing that involved Civil Engineering,” Cerri explained, “So it was an easy decision be a part of this new
team that gives Civil Engineering an opportunity to have a design team oriented towards it. The concrete canoe team led the path, and now, there are three Civil Engineering oriented design teams including Concrete Canoe. But really, what could be cooler than a boat made of floating concrete?” While many of the sub-teams are not accepting new members at this time of the year since they are too deep into their work, the construction and aesthetics team are still open to new members. Students are encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The team designed, constructed, and cast a buoyant canoe from concrete.
Photos courtesy of Concrete Canoe McGill
Curiosity delivers. |
science & technology
| Tuesday, November 12, 2013
By Tho-Alfakar Al-Aubodah
Can you catch a cold from being cold? With cold and flu season upon us, we all remember the saying, “Don’t go out in the cold or you’ll catch your death.” However, this phrase is a widespread misconception. According to Thomas Tallman, doctor of osteopathic medicine and emergency medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic in an interview with WebMD, there is no correlation between cold weather and catching a cold.Tallman explained that even though some people believe that hot, dry air makes the mucous in your lungs dry up—increasing your susceptibility to catching the cold—humidity is irrelevant to getting sick. This myth originated from the ‘symptoms’ shared when one is cold and when one has a cold. A person in cold weather tends to feel dryness in the nose, throat, and could develop a cough. Likewise, the common cold is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by over 200 viruses—the most common of which is the rhinovirus. Symptoms of the cold include coughing, sneezing and a sore throat—similar to what happens when you’re stuck in the cold for a long time. Rhinovirus stimulates an inflammatory immune response, resulting in symptoms after as little as 20 hours. Usually, this inflammatory response is sufficient to eliminate the infection after a week, on average. Some wonder whether a compromised immune system is what gives you a cold. One of the big-
gest misconceptions associated with cold and flu is the belief that a stronger immune system makes you impervious to these germs. “You can be as healthy as an ox and still get a cold,” Tallman said. In other words, the cold and flu don’t only affect immunocompromised patients. So how does one cure the common cold? You can’t. There is no cure. “There’s nothing you can do but wait it out,” Tallman says. Several medications are available to relieve symptoms, and garlic juice, lemon juice, ginger, and tea with honey are also great methods to reduce coughing. Quite simply, washing your hands is the best method of prevention from catching the common cold. The flu, however, is another story. While it’s possible to develop cold-like symptoms for a day, these symptoms do not compare to the fever, muscle soreness, or nausea commonly associated with the flu. The influenza vaccination is particularly recommended for immunocompromised patients—those with asthma, chronic lung disease, the elderly, or pregnant women—as they are all at high risk of developing pneumonia during the flu. Furthermore, Tallman explains that while some people take vitamin C and zinc to prevent coming down with the flu, there isn’t enough evidence to strongly support this claim. Some studies are available, however, that show these measures shorten symptoms.
Research briefs FDA joins fight against trans fat High levels of artificial transfat in processed foods have been known to cause 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths related to heart disease every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In an effort to reduce such diseases, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently decided to take steps to ban transfat, although a specific timeline has not been set up as of yet. Since 2006, manufacturers are required to state the amount of transfat contained in products on the food labels. Still, the gen-
eral population consumes large amounts of transfat on a daily level through processed foods, such as microwaveable popcorn, cookies, and frozen pie dough, just to name a few. Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are also a major source of trans fat and if the FDA deems that PHOs are no longer considered to be generally safe, this could lead to a significant decrease of artificial transfat in foods. According to CTV News, Health Canada is being criticized for its lack of involvement in transfat regulation. Until the ban takes place, FDA advises consumers to look at the nutrition facts and choose products
The best way to prevent the common cold is by washing your hands—or paws. (Ruidi Zhu / McGill Tribune) As far as treatment goes, Tallman warns cold and flu patients to avoid antibiotics.These products are used to treat bacterial infections— not viral infections—meaning they will cause more harm if used improperly. In fact, unnecessary use of antibiotics is one of the leading causes of a growing problem of antibiotic resistance among microbes, and the proliferation of ‘superbugs.’
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of antiviral medications as early as possible upon the sign of flu symptoms—they are most effective when taken within the first 48 hours. The CDC also recommends the use of oseltamivir and zanamivir— both are neuraminidase inhibitors that minimize the duration and se-
verity of symptoms associated with the flu. In the end, these widespread cold and flu misconceptions have become almost culturally transmitted from generation to generation. To set the record straight, although you might not enjoy it too much, braving that cold air won’t necessarily land you home on the bed for a week.
Compiled by Prativa Baral that have the lowest amount of saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fat. Tackling neglected diseases with new partnerships Infectious diseases studied at the forefront of scientific research have led to many scientific advancements and a lower fatality ratio in the human population. These include leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness, and Chagas disease. However, according to a recent article in Scientific American, many infectious diseases that cause cognitive defects rather than death are often put to the side—especially those affecting developing coun-
tries. This has resulted in a lag in progress compared to more commonly known and deadly diseases. A solution to this may very well be the recent partnership between the government of Japan, the UN Development Program, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and several Japanese pharmaceutical companies. These organizations have decided to pool their resources together to create a fund to deal with these ‘neglected diseases.’ For instance, they aim to increase research towards the development of a drug to fight malaria. Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) is the result of
such a partnership with a focus on battling neglected diseases common in developing nations. Global Innovative Health Technology Fund (GHIT) CEO BT Slingsby told Scientific American that the cause is important because, “[HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and other neglected tropical diseases] are the diseases that have the most unmet medical needs […] and lack innovations of technology.” This type of collaboration could be a milestone in global health research and development to ultimately improve accessibility and health for the poor in developing nations.
arts & entertainment literature
A supernatural force in the natural world New Joseph Boyden novel The Orenda narrates a story of clashing cultures Remi Lu Sports Editor
The Governor General’s Literary Awards are annual cash prizes of $25,000 each. They are awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts for outstanding English and French literature in the categories of Fiction, Literary Non-fiction, Poetry, Drama, Children’s Literature (text), Children’s Literature (illustration) and Translation (from French to English). In this issue, The Tribune reviews selections from this year’s finalists. The winners will be announced on Nov. 13.
The Orenda, Joseph Boyden’s long-anticipated book on the 17th century indigenous peoples of Canada, is a sweeping epic that deals with the birth of a nation—a time when Jesuit missionaries arrived on the shores of Canada. This novel succeeds not in its strength of device but rather, its impact in altering the landscape of understanding of indigenous culture through its accessibility and connection to mainstream audiences. The Orenda tackles the dynamics of the shifting relationship between the Huron (Wendat) and Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) peoples as settlers from Europe began to arrive in droves of missionary and trading groups. Boyden weaves the cultural history of the Huron into the narrative, using the community as an anchor for the novel’s conflicts. Missionaries arrive from Europe to spread Christianity into the lives of the natives—an ideal that is foreign to the native concept of the “orenda,” the life force that, according to the Hurons, belongs to everything that exists in the natural world. The traders bring with them technology, most notably the musket that topples the balance of power and destroys the symbio-
sis between different tribes. Both missionaries and traders also carry diseases that wipe out entire longhouses and villages. Arguing that the book deals with the loss of identity is a gross understatement; The Orenda is about the devastation of a culture. The narrative is revealed through the eyes of three characters: Bird, a war leader in the Huron community; Snow Falls, a fiery young Iroquois girl adopted by Bird; and Christophe, a French missionary who lives among the Huron. It is clear that Boyden attempts to draw a net of similarities around the three characters despite their clashing roles within the conflict; the voices of the protagonists blur between chapters, often leaving the reader struggling to identify the point of view behind the passage. Contrary to expectation, this achieves a rare feat in literature, as the book manages to maintain a gap that separates the known from the expected. The readers are kept offbalance enough that they stumble into a run to devour and make sense of the story. And yet, despite his success in establishing multivocality, the depth of Boyden’s characters is superficial at best. We are first introduced to Bird and follow the warrior through his grief at the loss
of his family and culture. Snow Falls’ wild and unpredictable nature shines in her battle for identity, while the intentions of Christophe Crow, a name the Huron people refer to the missionary by for his black robe and tendency to swoop in on dying natives, are delivered through his journals of religious reflection. These emotions and desires are portrayed with the subtlety of a blunt club. It feels like Boyden uses his characters grudgingly as a necessary vessel for his story, thus missing the chance to provide nuanced accents to an otherwise spectacular narrative. Boyden writes The Orenda in a lyrical and rhythmic prose, signature to the style of his highly acclaimed Three Day Road and the Giller Prize-winning Through Black Spruce. The book dazzles in the breathtaking landscape of the beautiful Georgian Bay region, drawing upon the scope of Boyden’s own childhood experiences in visiting his Anishinabe mother’s relatives to create a vivid backdrop that is evident at every turn in the story. Boyden emphasizes native culture by weaving in traces of organic magic to create a subtle layer of the supernatural that hums along throughout the narrative. It is obvious that he has conducted extensive research for this novel, weaving in
threads of cultural character that travel with the timeline of the story: the Feast of the Dead, the wampum belts, the importance of the three sisters (corn, beans, and squash), and the role of community. These all come together to paint a clear image of daily life for the indigenous peoples described. “What’s happened in the past can’t stay in the past for the same reason the future is always just a breath away,” Boyden writes. This is why The Orenda has the power to evoke change. Canada carries the weight of a tumultuous history with the land’s original inhabitants, and this novel brings the origins of that conflict to the forefront of the public mind, behind an accessible narrative and well-known author. Boyden has crafted this masterpiece of Canadian fiction with the intention of not only dilating native history, but underlining the presence of indigenous people.
West coast state of mind Russell Thornton’s poetry collection Birds, Metals, Stones & Rain finds its inspiration in its author’s personal relationships and Vancouver home Max Berger Arts & Entertainment Editor
Birds, Metals, Stones & Rain contains just the types of poems you might expect from a West-Coast Canadian lyrical poet like Russell Thornton, and then some, which is one of the reasons it manages to avoid clichés and remains engaging throughout. With Thornton’s Vancouver home as a primary backdrop, his prolific compilation of poems balances familial themes with natural settings and their relation to the urban landscape. Thornton writes in free verse, but many of the poems could be considered lyrics—not the kind that rhyme, but personal meditations governed only by a steady cadence. The epigraph to the McGill alumnus’s fifth poetry collection opens like this: “ Birds, metals, stones, and rain are mother, father, daughter, and son, ” After
first reading those introductory words, my thoughts were that he was probably making some kind of overarching metaphorical statement about how the parts of the natural world resemble a traditional family structure—but Thornton had more literal ideas. He alludes here to poems in the anthology that share the connections listed—some uplifting and sentimental, others disturbing. The inspiration for “Playing With Stones” is Thornton’s revered daughter, who has a ritual of collecting the smooth stones outside their apartment when they arrive home. “Blade,” on the other hand, details the painfully tense relationship Thornton shares with his father through a dream in which they face each other, ready to strike with razorsharp metal blades. These two poems say a lot about their author’s mindset and style: much of his work stems from everyday ruminations about the natural
fixtures of Vancouver and the joys of being a father, but he never shies away from bleakness and harsher convictions. For instance, “Nest of the Swan’s Bones” laments the local industrial and environmental changes that have taken place in Thornton’s lifetime alone: “The wild white swan is dead. Where I caught trout as a child, no trout swim now.” Holding himself to a standard of accountability for his surroundings, Thornton writes, “I am a person. I soil the cage in which my heart flings and flings itself against the bars.” “Nest” begins with an epigraph from a Robinson Jeffers, an American poet considered an icon of the environmental movement. Other authors and works that warrant an introductory quotation in this collection include Euripides, the Book of Exodus, and renowned Canadian poet (and fellow McGill graduate) Irving Layton. In an interview with Canadian
Literature, Thornton cites an encounter with one of Layton’s works as the catalyst that hooked him into seriously pursuing poetry. Thornton is at his best with poems that explore temporality and relative change. My favourite poem in the anthology was “When the Big Hand Is on the Starfish,” a journey through time and space within the Art Decostyle Vancouver Marine Building. Once the tallest structure in the British Commonwealth, the building is a canvas for depictions of the nautical flora and fauna found in the nearby Pacific Ocean. Thornton uses the iconic clock in the lobby of the building, which has replaced numbers with marine creatures, as the central device of the poem, his jumping off point for a delve into the region’s past. It’s a history lesson compressed and disguised as a beautiful daydreamlike meditation.
Thornton proves with Birds, Metals, Stones & Rain that he is a polished poet, both in the flow of his verses and in their content. The animals, landscapes, and overall elements of Vancouver and their intersection with his revealing personal life give the volume a clear aesthetic. It’s a combination that makes all the poems feel thematically linked, but still varied enough to feel like we’re not reading the same retread words over and over.
Curiosity delivers. |
arts & entertainment
| Tuesday, November 12, 2013
COMBINE 2013 ’s uneven exhibition Will Burgess Arts & Entertainment Editor McGill students windowshopping west of campus may encounter a different display on the exterior of Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts (FOFA) Gallery. Just east of the windows showcasing North Face jackets, something else is being sold: conceptual art. A large print of Sol Lewitt’s Sentences on Conceptual Art is roughly circled in various places, as if the important bits have to be highlighted. Thirty-five axioms, like “perception is subjective,” and “formal art is essentially rational” attempt to propose a structure for a structureless art form. When Sentences is already justifying conceptual art, the mark-ups take on a sort of
absurd meta-explanation of what conceptual art is, or what it can be. This theme, unfortunately, extends to the art itself, which is hit or miss mostly due to its sincerity in stretching simple ideas to their conceptual limit. Explaining “concepts” was a task assigned to art history students at Concordia, and their efforts are on display at FOFA’s COMBINE 2013, an exhibition of artwork by those undergraduate students. Most students seem to have had an easy time with their assignment; they earnestly provide the intimate details of their peers’ work. The statement on Michelle Lundqvist’s line paintings explains her art “gives the viewer a sense of who the artist is personally,” but in the same breath states “there is no specific message Lundqvist wishes to
(galeriesmontreal.ca) convey to the viewer through this series.” Lundqvist’s ambiguity in this exhibition actually benefits her work—the paintings’ static greys and precise lines are aesthetically alluring without trying to be something more. Other concepts in COMBINE 2013 are executed dully, or, in some cases, even obnoxiously. Eli Kerr’s Four Frames With Their Sandpaper displays pieces of sandpaper that were used to create the frames that hold them, but the lack of wear on the sandpaper (each called a “footprint of labour”) appears to reflect the rather unpolished concept that they represent. Megan Moore’s Home 1963-2013 is a projected video series of photographs of the artists’ grandmothers’ home, apparently “necessary interventions in order for marginalized groups to
reclaim normative spaces” which “challenges normative dichotomy between private and public spaces.” In execution, however, the photos appear as a last-minute photo-montage created during a weekend at Grandma’s. J’VLYN’s Holy Trannity is a triptych film of the artist sarcastically repeating homophobic comments they have encountered on Grindr, while staring at the viewer over a background of psychedelic pixellated images, but the only thing memorable about the brief film is his obnoxious mantras that echo throughout the entire gallery. The best art in COMBINE 2013 is made by students who don’t take themselves so seriously. Steffie Bélager’s Diane’s Garden is a wooden sculpture of a loudspeaker supported on ridicu-
lously fragile metal rods, directed at an audience of faceless wooden planks, and its satirical message is well-executed and funny. April Martin’s Pink Clouds, the poster work of the exhibition, is similarly lighthearted: giant pink balloons and a column of bright plasticine compliment a large print photograph of “polar night,” or Kaamos, an optical phenomenon in Rovaniemi, Finland. Lewitt’s thirty-third statement on conceptual art states: “It is difficult to bungle a good idea,” but the thirty-second one admits “Banal ideas cannot be rescued by beautiful execution.” If I learned anything from COMBINE 2013 , it’s that a concept needs both in order to transcend mediocrity.
Blue is the Warmest Colour: more than just a blue film Director Abdellatif Kechiche’s Palme d’Or-winning romance probes themes deeper than sexuality Blue is the Warmest Colour has attracted a lot of critical attention. This could stem from its accolades at Cannes this summer—or its seven-minute long sex scene. What I found interesting were the comments that arose from the portrayal of the women in the film. Manohla Dargis, writing in The New York Times, takes issue with the film because of its “patriarchal anxieties about sex, female appetite and maternity that leach into its sights and sounds and the way it frames, with scrutinizing closeness, the female body.” This conclusion, however, misses the complexities of the other social and political anxieties in the film, such as class conflict, relationships, and true happiness. Blue, or its original French title La Vie d’Adele: Chapitres 1 & 2—is the story of a woman’s life through love, food, and sex. The film takes you from 15-year-old Adele’s romance with Emma, an older art student, to Adele becoming a schoolteacher and finally, to the end of her longstanding relationship with Emma. Director Abdellatif Kechiche focuses on Adele’s body throughout the film, especially her mouth. Adele’s mouth, ever open and ready to consume, is constantly in frame— demonstrating her character’s “voraciousness,” as Emma says. Adele’s
(filmophilia.com) openness, and the closeness of the camera, imply that Kechiche is going deep under the protagonist’s skin to explore her by physically placing the viewer in a position to do so. The focus on Adele is intense and constant, and it achieves its purpose—to condition the viewer to Adele’s experience. Dargis mentions the amount of time that Adele’s “derriere” was shot, alone and center on the screen—I counted three times within the first 20 minutes of the film. Undoubtedly Adele’s rear end gets a lot of attention, but what does this mean? Dargis uses the attention given to Adele’s rear-end to cement her argument on the patriarchal representation of women in this film. I think the
film points us elsewhere. The most obvious source of tension in the film, besides the patriarchal one that Dargis discusses, is the difference in class between Adele and Emma. The two scenes of the women meeting each other’s parents mirror their discomfort. Emma’s family reflects her more cultured inclinations—they eat oysters and question Adele’s desire to be a teacher because of the job’s economic security. Adele’s parents similarly question Emma about her art, wondering what she will do to make money with such a career, while they eat a simple pasta dish. Kechiche’s focus on the food they serve—framing the actresses’ faces as they eat—is another way for him to show the
conflicting reality of their social positions. What does this have to do with Adele’s backside? Kechiche’s focus on the female body from a distance, in scenes such as where Adele is sauntering down a hill towards her bus stop, is an objectification of her body, but perhaps not a solely patriarchal objectification. Adele’s face is constantly framed on the screen in a way that makes you feel as if you could delve deep into her mind. Pairing this with her body—openly and without obstruction—gives a full image of Adele: body and soul. What could be called a superfluous exhibition of Adele’s body is rather a purposeful display of her own anxieties about her lifestyle, her appetite, and her body image. Blue depicts an internal struggle—a struggle of living and loving. The film loses its impact when one focuses solely on the film’s images of the beautiful women in it. As a viewer it is a struggle in itself to watch Blue, with its constant focus on Adele pushing us to empathize with her unique life. That’s what makes it so relevant—we struggle just as Adele does, trying to wrap our heads around what is happening around us. —Frances Lash
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Unleash your inner critic
Tuesday, November 5, 2013 |
arts & entertainment
DEEP CUTS Unearthing the hidden gems in today’s music Compiled by Haviva Yesgat Headlights Artist: Eminem ft. Nate Ruess Album: The Marshall Mathers LP 2 Released: Nov. 5, 2013
Sky Ferreira Night Time, My Time
Cowboy Junkies The Kennedy Suite
Rolling Stone nailed it when they referred to Lucius as “the best band you may not have heard yet.” Led by Brooklyn-based vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, the indie-pop act emerged on the scene in 2012 and has been on the fast track to fame ever since. Wildewoman is absolutely infectious. The harmonies of the lead singers just beg to be sung along to, while the upbeat backgrounds call for dancing, particularly in the song “Turn It Around.” Arrangements aside, the finesse of Lucius rests simply in the fact that these girls can sing. Reminiscent of ‘60s girl groups like the Shangri-Las while incorporating the sound of modern indie-folk singers such as Jenny Lewis, this band has been able to craft a unique, vibrant sound for themselves. My biggest qualm with the album? Trying to pick a favourite song. On the one hand, you might be drawn to the singers belting their hearts out in “Nothing Ordinary” and feel ready to take on the world; but then there’s the title track, “Wildewoman,” a smooth folky song with a beautifully empowering message. This favourable dilemma alludes to a core feature of Wildewoman: it’s overall versatility and uniqueness. From the heart-melting “Go Home” to the remixed relationship anthem “How Loud Your Heart Gets,” Lucius has crafted an album full of raw emotion and unbridled vocal prowess. If you still aren’t convinced that Wildewoman is a must-hear EP, check out their creepily awesome music video for “Go Home” for some vocal and visual inspiration.
As an M.I.A. fan, it feels like I’ve been waiting eons to hear a satisfying amount of new material from the London rapper and singer. Fortunately, Matangi doesn’t disappoint. This album has been a long time in the making, and is quite a departure from her last noise-heavy release, 2010’s /\/\ /\ Y /\. I’ve always found M.I.A. (née Maya Arulpragasam) to be at her best when she’s catchy and upbeat, and Matangi captures quite a few of these moments. Tracks like “Walk With Me” and “Double Bubble Trouble” are playful, and both feature incongruous (but enjoyable) Bollywoodesque breakdowns. It seems that M.I.A. has only grown bolder in the years since /\/\ /\ Y /\: “Walk With Me” references the classic “Bamboo Banga,” but this time includes the unmistakable camera sounds of Apple’s Photo Booth program. Some of M.I.A.’s previous work has tried too hard to be serious or unpalatable; but, surprisingly, Matangi is a lot of fun. “Only One You”—produced by the singer herself—may not be this year’s “Paper Planes,” but it’s dance-evoking and features chantable, computer-altered vocals. In contrast, menacing album opener “Karmageddon” and sexy groove “Know It Ain’t Right” show a more mature, evolved side to M.I.A.’s repertoire—instead of being low points in the album, they are evocative and compelling. The one qualm I have with the album is that I’m not entirely sure what the difference between “Sexodus” and “Exodus” is: both tracks sample Canadian crooner The Weeknd, and one features more helicopter noises than the other…but that’s about it. Either way, I can’t really complain: M.I.A. has delivered—this time.
With so much recent attention on Sky Ferreira’s private life—most notably her September arrest for ecstasy possession—it’s a relief to finally hear some of her music. Thankfully, her first full-length release, Night Time, My Time is exciting and moody, featuring a wide array of potential singles. Although first single “You’re Not the One” may be the album’s highlight, it fits in nicely with catchy tracks like “Love in Stereo” and “Heavy Metal Heart,” with each song displaying a different facet of Ferreira’s pop-punk sound. For example, “Heart” is a stomping, stadium anthem with the chorus of a danceable pop song; basically, it’s a cross between Sleigh Bells and a Lady Gaga track. The album’s titular song, however, takes a much darker tone, and is similar to Cat Power’s brooding early sound (circa Moon Pix). This moodiness is mirrored in “Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay)” and “I Blame Myself”; both hint at a sense of abandonment and forced independence. This time, though, the moodiness is only prevalent in the lyrics, as each song has a rather upbeat tune. Herein lies the album’s best quality: Ferreira convincingly jumps from an accessible, poppy sound to a dark, foreboding groove within the space of one album—and, sometimes, even one song. However, there’s still room for improvement: Ferreira’s vocals often suffer, especially when paired with the album’s lush production. Still, Night Time, My Time is adaptable, and certainly anything but bland—especially when compared to the majority of mainstream pop music these days.
— Morgan Alexander
— Diana Wright
— Diana Wright
| Curiosity delivers.
The Kennedy Suite, an All-Canadian collaborative album written by Scott Garbe and produced and arranged by the Cowboy Junkies (Margo Timmins, Michael Timmins, Peter Timmins, and Alan Anton), as well as Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson of Skydiggers, is an ambitious song cycle centred around the assassination of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy. It chronicles the tragedy through the personal narratives of a number of interconnected characters all somehow implicated in the event through a combination of songs, excerpts of recorded news, and speech clips from the incident. As the time-frame (in relation to the assassination) and the emotional tone of the songs shift throughout the album, so too does the musical style. Harlan Pepper’s “Secret Spy Decoder Ring” is a cheeky upbeat rock song told from the perspective of a young boy who accidentally witnesses Lee Harvey Oswald preparing his assassination rifle, but who is not taken seriously when he tries to tell authorities. “Disintegrating,” the only track featuring Margo Timmins’ iconic sleepy voice at the fore, is narrated as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, post-assassination, and takes on the Cowboy Junkies’ usual hauntingly beautiful tone. When the Skydiggers sing “every girl and boy can grow up to be the President/ Or grow up to be the President’s killer,” in the folk-rock ballad “The Truth About Us (The Ballad of Lee and Marina),” the mixed sense of hope and hopelessness is reflective of the album’s overall message. The resulting effect is a diverse musical range, masterfully woven together throughout the narrative. In the album’s epilogue, Sarah Harmer sings with tender vitriol “World won’t change if he don’t look/ He’s got his hand over his heart/ And his head stuck up his hole;” we are forced to wonder if these words are not even more relevant to today’s population than they were in 1963. —Morgan Alexander
“Headlights” is Eminem’s written apology to his mother. This may come as a surprise to fans of the rapper, as the bitterness harboured towards his mother has been far from secret. “But I’m sorry mama for cleaning out my closet, at the time I was angry,” he raps, making reference to his highly acclaimed 2002 single, “Cleaning Out My Closet.” Ruess’ signature voice, rare and salient, embodies the song’s emotional eminence. “Headlights” is indisputably a highlight of The Marshall Mathers LP 2—if not the rapper’s career. Just when fans thought he could not get more real, the hip-hop icon proves us wrong. Team Artist: Lorde Album: Pure Heroine Released: Sept. 30, 2013 Lorde has taken the music industry by storm with the release of her first studio album, Pure Heroine. At just 16 years of age, the New Zealander possesses maturity well beyond her years. “Team” is a shout-out to her fans. “I’m kinda over gettin’ told to throw my hands up in the air,” she sings, suggesting that the classic adage of pop music may be worn-out. Showing off her rich tone and compelling rumble with this song, Lorde makes it known that she intends to pave her own lane in the realm of pop—proudly deviating from what has become the norm. I’ll Be Gone Artist: Linkin Park (Vice Remix ft. Pusha T) Album: Recharged Released: Oct. 28, 2013 With DJ Vice putting forth an exciting EDM arrangement to a song originally produced by musical genius Rick Rubin, it’s no wonder the remix is so appealing to the ear. G.O.O.D. Music artist Pusha T makes a fine appearance, delivering solid verses. Band member Mike Shinoda puts impressive rhymes to the test as well. The remix takes the form of a great electronic song, but with an atypical fresh feel—as opposed to just another good beat-dropping electronic compilation. Normal Person Artist: Arcade Fire Album: Reflektor Released: Oct. 29, 2013 In one of Reflektor’s more critical songs, Arcade Fire questions whether a ‘normal person’ exists, while successfully tackling the band’s rock and roll roots in the track’s musical arrangement. This song sounds like a well-blended mix of Bruce Springsteen and The Pixies, with a touch of Neil Young thrown in.
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2013-10-08 9:09 AM
Synchronized Swimming— Mcgill 1st
McGill stays in sync at annual Invitational Swimmers top standings in four out of seven events in first meet of the season Zikomo Smith Contributor On a crisp weekend in Montreal, the Memorial Pool heated up as eight universities converged to participate in the McGill Invitational Synchronized Swimming meet. While the Invitational does not contribute to national rankings, all teams were eager to set the tone for the rest of the year and gauge their skills after a long off-season. “The Invitational was an opportunity to develop sharpness and [endurance],” Head Coach Erica Messore said. The event also highlighted the fantastic work the Martlets had put in over the offseason as McGill was the highest ranked team in four of the seven events they participated in. This was a welcome departure from last year, when the Martlets saw their streak of eight consecutive CUSSL (Canadian University Synchronized Swimming League) championships cut short and were forced to settle for second place. The team has set a high standard for itself and the season ahead, which is unsurprising given the longstanding precedent of success that it has enjoyed. Despite the team’s achievements, the the Martlets are determined not to rest on their laurels. “We won [Nationals] eight times in a row when I first came here,” player-coach Hannah Ungar said. ‘‘We have a new coach who has brought in a lot of new knowledge
The Martlets float above the competition. (Jack Neal / McGill Tribune) and energy [to the side and] everyone is working so hard.” The event was received with much excitement, as the crowd was treated to athletic flips and tightly choreographed dance routines performed to a variety of musical genres, including electronic dance music (EDM), hip-hop, and pop. The University of Ottawa had the most intricate costumes
THIRD MAN IN Sports culture dictates a very specific image of what an athlete should be. In the worst cases, this can cause emotional trauma in those who play sports, preventing them from expressing their emotions or asking for help when they feel overwhelmed. Neither fame nor money can protect someone against mental illness, which is why a support system needs to be put in place for these athletes. The demand for high performance occurs both on and off the field. Athletes lay the blame and responsibility for success—particularly in individual sports—on themselves. Playing a sport is more than just about the game itself. The need to be accepted into a team environment on a social level can be so great that a player may sacrifice his or her own well-being for the benefit of the team. For example, when the Miami Dolphins’ offensive tackle, Jonathan Martin was left racist and abusive messages by teammate Richie Incognito, Martin was deeply affected by the bullying and left the team due to depression. Martin was initially afraid of voicing his unhappiness in fear of retribution from his teammates. The general nature of professional sports can be another source of depression, as athletes face the inevitability of a short, yet intense sporting career. Athletes train for
and styled their performance off of Baz Lurhmann’s rendition of the Great Gatsby. Despite the presence of flashy competitors, McGill proved to be the most successful team in attendance. The McGill White team narrowly edged out the John Abbott College A’s with an energetic performance that garnered 65.500 points in front of a full capacity crowd to earn the
best senior team performance. Senior performer Carrie Mouck came first in the solo event with a captivating routine that earned the highest score of the Invitational with 66.5000 points. Mirroring the performance of the seniors, the novice team placed first in both the team event with 53.8333 points, and the solo event with 55.5000 points. McGill placed fourth in the duets & trios competition and second in the Novices duets & trios competition. According to Ungar, the journey back to a Gerry Dubrule Trophy is underway, but is still in the stages of infancy. “Immediately, we are looking to increase fitness and endurance,” Ungar explained. “We have a really good thing for our routine right now, good music selection, good choreography, [but we need to continue] practicing our routines over and over again to really achieve that top level.” Next semester, the synchronized swimming team will take part in the Eastern Canadian Championships and the CUSSL Championship. After such a bright start to the season, and with more months of practice to come, McGill Synchronized Swimming is well placed to continue its history of success. There will be another opportunity to watch this excellent squad at McGill in February, when the team performs at the McGill Water Show in Memorial Pool.
Fighting depression in sports
years in preparation for one particular event, and once that event passes, they may lose their sense of purpose. This same feeling occurs with an early career-ending injury. In both cases, athletes are left unfulfilled after their careers are over. The sport has consumed their entire life for years, leaving a void once they can no longer play. It may take professional help—such as talking to a career counsellor—for athletes to realize they have other options. While career-ending injuries are oftentimes conspicuous in appearance, there is another type of injury that is more covert but is nonetheless a direct cause of depression: head injuries. NHL players Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, and Wade Belak all committed suicide in 2011. Although the official causes of death were linked to mixing alcohol with painkillers, Rypien and Belak were depressed, and Boogard suffered from severe trauma. Serious blows to the head catalyze a change in the hormonal balance of the brain, which causes depression to occur. Furthermore, addiction to depressants such as painkillers and alcohol—which can be caused by the long-term side effects of concussions—perpetuate the depression. Unfortunately, the pressures to play through injuries, the expectations of coaches and teammates and the overall ‘cul-
ture of resistance’ present in sports stopped these players from properly seeking the help that they required. The pressure to play while injured and to sacrifice one’s body goes beyond the athlete and the team to the spectators of sporting events. Fans love the thrill of a good fight in hockey, or a solid tackle in football; these are the reason that there is an enforcer position in hockey. There is an entertainment value to sports that athletes must try to uphold. However, in doing so, they put their bodies and minds at risk These same spectators will argue that athletes know what they are getting into when they play a sport. Players do indeed acknowledge the risk of participating, and they get richly compensated for these risks. Yet depression is a consequence of sport, just as shin-splints, broken bones, fame, and fortune can all result from playing. There is a lack of support in the mental stability of players in this high-pressure environment. If the idea of having an on-call physiotherapist is considered necessary in the sporting world due to the amount of injuries, then players should have the same accessibility to a psychiatrist —because mental health problems are just as common. — Rebecca Babcock
(Christine Tam / McGill Tribune)
Curiosity delivers. |
Thinking of playing a professional sport for a living? The smart fiscal choice would be to focus on your swing and take a shot at the MLB. Year after year, the highest player salaries in North American professional sports belong to baseball. With no salary cap, teams can spend as much or as little as they please. The MLB is currently the only one of the four major North American sports leagues that doesn’t use a salary cap. Because of this, critics often raise questions about whether baseball truly has a level playing field. Teams like the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics have some fans convinced that, so long as teams are playing “moneyball,” anyone can win. The reality is that in the past 20 years, just four teams have made the World Series with an opening payroll outside the top 15 in baseball. Critics of the salary cap point to teams like the 2012 Red Sox, who finished last in their division despite having one of the highest payrolls in the league. They say that spending money doesn’t guarantee success. This is true. An example closer to home is the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays. Despite a payroll that increased by over $40 million from 2012 to 2013, the Blue Jays finished last in their division this season. It’s clear that a high payroll does not beget success. The problem in baseball is that a low payroll does mean failure, at least in terms of championships. To re-work
The culmination of the MLB season has brought with it the free agent frenzy that accompanies the colder months of the year. In most off-seasons, teams spend with free reign because the MLB does not have a salary cap. This week, two staff writers weigh in on whether or not baseball should institute a salary cap.
“Having money isn’t everything, not having it is.” – Kanye West
| Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Kanye’s quote: spending money isn’t everything in baseball, but not spending money certainly is. Ideas about baseball parity are pure fantasy. As fans, we look back fondly on teams like the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks and the 2004 Red Sox and label them underdogs. Put aside nostalgia, and you’ll see that the Diamondbacks had the eighth highest payroll in 2001 and the Red Sox had the fourth highest in 2004. The 2003 Florida Marlins are the only World Series winner that can be justly called an underdog with a $45 million payroll. What the MLB needs now is a salary cap modeled after the NBA’s system. This style of salary cap involves a soft cap—teams can spend above the cap, but are forced to pay a luxury tax if they do so. The further above the cap a team spends, the higher the tax gets. A hard cap, which the NHL uses, is unrealistic, considering the strength of the MLB Player’s Association, and is also unnecessary. The New York Yankees, and perhaps a few others, would still spend above the cap, but they’d get less for their money. A salary cap would also mean a salary floor, which would prevent owners from spending so little that it is near impossible for their team to compete as we saw with the 2013 Houston Astros. A salary cap won’t mean perfect parity in baseball, but it would help achieve it. To win, teams would still need smart executives, good coaches, talented players, and plenty of luck; but with a salary cap, teams wouldn’t have to rely on deep pockets, too. — Wyatt Fine-Gagné
Editors’ pick: Cap them
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
Nine of the top 10 salaries in sports belong to major league baseball players. Of those nine, four play for the New York Yankees, with third baseman Alex Rodriguez earning an average of $59,000 per at-bat as part of his $28 million annual salary. Moreover, each of the last few seasons have seen big money teams make splashes in the off-season. In 2011, the Marlins and Red Sox went all in, buying names like Jose Reyes and Adrian Gonzalez, respectively. This past year, we saw the L.A. Angels, L.A. Dodgers, and Toronto Blue Jays flexing their money muscles, hauling in the likes of Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, RA Dickey, and Zack Greinke. None of these free agent acquisitions ended well. In an age where baseball’s television ratings are being diminished by more popular sports like football and basketball, the money somehow keeps on rolling into the big leagues. While a part of this trend can be attributed to richer team owners willing to dole out more money for wins, the majority of the new money in baseball is coming from TV contracts. Most recently, the Dodgers inked a massive 25-year contract with Fox Sports West valued between $6 to 7 billion. That’s a cool $280 million on top of what was already one of the larger payrolls in the MLB. To put that into perspective, the Houston Astros opened the 2013 season with a total payroll of $26 million. While the no salary cap rule has been an integral part of baseball for generations, recent Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) have included measures such as revenue sharing and luxury taxes to combat inequality in the league. These help enforce parity, for example: the Yankees doled out a record $29.1 million in luxury taxes in 2013. In the case of revenue sharing, a
rising tide lifts all boats. Ultimately, the greatest equalizer is greed. Having unlimited money to throw around can be both a curse and a blessing. In today’s competitive free agency atmosphere, signing a big name often means locking a player up for the rest of his career for more than $20 million a year. No matter what your budget is, a deal or two like that will leave a team crippled and inflexible for the foreseeable future. You only have to look at the Angels, who owe a total of $70 million to Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and Vernon Wells in 2014. That’s almost half of an already bloated payroll for three players who combined for a paltry 2.3 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). In comparison, the no. 35 ranked best outfielder in baseball this year had a WAR of 2.3 by himself. All three are on the tail end of their careers and have contracts that are heavily backloaded. Spending immense amounts of money doesn’t mean that large payroll teams can get away with ignoring the development of their farm systems. Free agent signings can be done prudently and in risk-minimizing fashion (for example, the Pirates’ signing of Marlon Byrd and Francisco Liriano down the stretch last season); having a blank cheque often leads teams to sign riskier deals with players well past their primes. St. Louis survived the loss of Pujols in 2011 through smart drafting and development; Oakland defended their AL Central title in 2012 with cheap, low-risk free agent signings. Baseball has arguably never been on a more level playing field, with 15 different teams appearing in the World Series since 2000 despite growing payroll inequality. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. — Elie Waitzer
It’s time for the MLB to join its professional counterparts and institute a salary cap. Baseball’s parity is an illusion, and small market franchises are unable to sustain success in the long term. A restructured CBA highlighted by a salary cap mirroring the NBA’s is what the MLB needs to move forward as an organization.
By Mayaz Alam
Cross Country This weekend, the McGill Martlets’ Cross Country squad travelled to London, Ontario for the CIS National Championships. Junior Jessica Porfilio led the way for the team, finishing 27th overall among the athletes that ran. Although no Martlets were able to finish in the top 25, the team as a whole was buoyed by its solid depth and finished seventh out of 20 teams that competed
Swimming It is safe to say that senior swimmer Pierre-Alexandre Renaud has cemented his status as the best university-level individual swimmer in Quebec as he garnered two gold and two silver medals during the third leg
on the women’s side. Ali Barwick, Jullien Flynn, and Madeleine Williams all placed within the top 50 competitors, while Georgia Hamilton finished 62nd to round out the scoring for the squad. This has been a successful year for the Martlets, who captured their fourth straight RSEQ Championships and their 24th championship in 25 years. Head Coach Dennis Barrett was named conference Coach-of-the-Year for the
of the Coupe De Quebec this weekend. In addition to adding to his medal tally, Renaud was named Swimmer-ofthe-Meet for the second time in three opportunities. However, the Redmen collectively fell back into third, following a second-place finish at their last meet. The Martlets once again solidified their
The no. 1 ranked McGill Martlets (6-0) posted a pair of tight victories this weekend to continue their reign as the best hockey team in the country. The program has enjoyed multiple undefeated regular seasons in past years, but repeating such a tremendous feat is becoming tougher with the emergence of the no. 2 ranked Montreal Carabins team that won last year’s CIS Championships. The Martlets needed to come back from an early two goal deficit to beat the Carabins 3-2 in this matchup. McGill’s other game of the weekend against the
24th time, and all five of the runners that placed at Nationals were named to the All-RSEQ squad. McGill should be in contention for another league championship next year as all five return to once again dominate the landscape of Quebec cross country.
position as the no. 2 ranked team on the women’s side as 13 different swimmers took to the podium. At this point in the season, the most important indicator of success is how many athletes have qualified for the National Championships. By this standard, McGill had a successful weekend as five
swimmers—Valerie De Broux, JeongWan Hong, Rayven Snodgrass, Christine Aglot, and Marc Andre-Benoit—made the cut, pushing the teams’ combined total to eight athletes—one more than they had achieved in the two previous years. The rest of the season looks promising for both squads, and they
Carleton Ravens proved to be an ever stiffer challenge as the team narrowly escaped defeat. Forward Gabrielle Davidson was able to score the game winner in overtime. The goal was the third of the weekend for Davidson, while Stefanie Pohlod, Adrienne Crampton, and Katia Clement-Heydra also found the net. Next up for the hockey juggernauts is a game against the Concordia Stingers on Nov. 15 at 7:00 p.m. at McConnell Arena.
should once again bring a deep and talented roster of swimmers to the National Championships.
ICe Hockey—Redmen 3, Gryphons 2
McGill waits until the 11th hour to topple Guelph Deslisle-Houde scores game winner in final minute of regulation Remi Lu Sports Editor It was a weekend against the West as the no. 5 ranked McGill Redmen (7-1) took on the Guelph Gryphons (5-5) and the Western Mustangs (5-3) in a Hype Week double-header at McConnell Arena. The Redmen matched-up against the Gryphons for the first time in four years, beating Gueph 3-2. Rookie goaltender Jacob Gervais-Chouinard was tremendous for McGill, turning away 19 shots against Guelph. The team has come together well after losing key players to graduation last year. Beyond the great play in net this season from Gervais-Chouinard and masters student Andrew Flemming, McGill’s ability in the penalty kill is nearly unrivaled across the OUA. The talent in shorthanded situations was on full display Friday night. “If you look at the game tonight, our penalty kills were 100 per cent,” Head Coach Kelly Nobes said. “[Benoit] Levesque had probably his best game so far this year tonight, and a lot of that […] was on the penalty kill [and] the back end […] did a great job.” The Redmen struggled out of the
Winger Max Le Sieur controls the puck. (Laurie-Anne Benoit / McGill Tribune) gate to begin the game, turning the puck over a number of times at the Guelph blue line before finally settling into a rhythm. However, despite its late period surge, McGill finished the stanza with a paltry seven shots on net—an uncharacteristic output for a team that has shown a love for forcing the puck up the ice. McGill ended up finishing the game
with a lopsided 43-21 shots on net differential. According to Nobes, McGill has focused its offence on pushing the tempo of the game. “We want to get pucks in to the goalie—at his feet—[so] we get to certain places in front of the net,” he said. “Guys are going to different places in
PA RT I WINTER TEAM PREVIEWS
Redmen Basketball The McGill Redmen basketball team has a target on its back this year. After a spectacular 2012-13 season, which culminated in winning the RSEQ championship for the first time since 1986 and finishing fifth at the CIS nationals, McGill is hungry to repeat that success and appears to have the capability to do so. Seven players are returning this season, and their development should play a vital
Martlet Basketball The McGill Martlets are undoubtedly the team to beat in the RSEQ this season. They are coming off back-to-back RSEQ Championships and appearances at the CIS National Championships. Their fifth-place showing last year is their most successful so far under 11th year Head Coach Ryan Thorne. The squad has nine players returning from last year’s roster. Headlining the team will be Gabriela
front of the net, and that’s how we’re looking to score goals. A lot of our goals are off of rebounds [….] Goalies are so big; they take up so much net, and they’re so good [….] I think it also shows the fact that we’re carrying the play.” It was a different team that started the second period, as sophomore Cedric McNicoll immediately netted a goal for McGill just 50 seconds out of the locker room. The team managed to maintain their rhythm for the remainder of the period, registering 18 shots on net. Sophomore left-winger Patrick DelisleHoude added to the Redmen total at 17:25 to help the Redmen close out the period on top, 2-0. The Redmen quickly called a timeout to compose themselves after Guelph scored two quick goals in the span of one minute. The last 10 minutes of the game were filled with anxiety on the Redmen bench as the momentum was swinging in the direction of the Gryphons. Delisle-Houde saved the squad from an upset as he netted the game-winning goal on a powerplay with 27.4 seconds left on the clock, sending the crowd into a frenzy. This year’s team looks very differ-
ent from last year’s squad, with multiple rookies in the fold and other players ascending into more important roles. If the team remains focused, the Redmen have the chance to improve upon last season’s disappointing finish. “We learned early in the season that this team, with as many young players as we have, can’t take anybody lightly,” Nobes said. “We went into Ryerson, and we took them lightly. We weren’t sharp. We didn’t execute well, and it cost us the game in overtime. I think that lesson was learned in the first game of the regular season. Anybody can beat you on any given night.” The hosts followed up this win with a tight 5-4 victory against no. 7 ranked Western Mustangs. McGill now sits in first place with a one-point lead over the Queen’s Gaels in the OUA East. The Redmen will go on the road to play against Brock and York on Nov. 15 and Nov. 16, before returning home to McConnell Arena to face Laurier and Waterloo in back-to-back matches on Nov. 22 and Nov. 23.
COmpiled by Osama Haque Photos by Wendy Chen and Alexandra Allaire
role in the team’s success. Sophomore shooting guard Thomas Lacy is one of those players, and has already shown flashes of brilliance with 19 and 20-point scoring outings so far this season. “We lost a few key guys, but we picked up some real talent and depth from our rookie class,” Lacy explained. “We definitely have the potential to make noise come March, [but] right now we have a lot of learning to do.” The Redmen must integrate a whopping nine rookies into the program this season—a tall order for fourth-year Head Coach David
DeAveiro. These rookies will have to adjust to the pace and style of the CIS to quickly have an impact on the team’s season. Leading McGill will be guards Simon Bibeau, an All-Conference player, and Vincent Dufort, last year’s team MVP. However, a lack of size up front—no current player stands above 6”5’—and the challenges of integrating this many young players will make the early season an uphill battle. This challenge is evidenced by the Redmen’s 5-6 record in the preseason. Nonetheless, the team ranks ninth in the nation and has won
Hebert, Dianna Ros and Mariam Sylla. Hebert, a junior forward, was recently named to the All-Tournament team of the Redbird Classic. Ros is back to orchestrate the offence in her role as point-guard, and is fresh off of an appearance with Team Canada this summer at the Summer Universiade. in Kazan, Russia. Sylla is the reigning CIS Rookie-of-the-Year, and was also named the MVP of the Redbird Classic. Sylla is a force to be reckoned with on the boards and the paint, and should be a nightmare matchup for opposing teams. The Martlets currently boast a 5-1 overall record, which includes
their three-game sweep and ensuing tournament victory at the Redbird Classic. The team looks primed for another league championship behind their standout players. If they can withstand the rigours of the regular season and develop solid depth from their group of four rookies, a medal at the national championships is not out of the question. The Martlets are currently ranked ninth in the CIS after coming off of a gritty 44-33 victory over Laval. They host the Concordia Stingers on Nov. 21 in their first home game of the regular season.
their lone game against an RSEQ opponent—a narrow 62-59 victory over Laval in which freshman guard Dele Ogundokun led the way with 15 points. The Redmen open their season on Nov. 21 against the Concordia Stingers at Love Competition Hall.