VOLUME 83 ISSUE 8
(pp. 3) Ford government to invest in for-profit clinics in hopes of reducing surgery backlog
(pp. 3) Planned Parenthood Ottawa staff unionizes after year-long negotiations
(pp. 4) Syria-Turkey earthquakes: U of O student associations mobilize for humanitarian aid
(pp. 5) Bluesfest announces 2023 lineup
(pp. 5) “What’s the point of Netflix now?”: Students frustrated by Netflix’s sudden policy change
(pp. 6) What do NFTs have to do with art?
(pp. 7) Rookie profile: Meghan Kociancic
(pp. 8) Catch me in the club: Game Dev
(pp. 9) The best course at the U of O: ITA 1113
(pp. 10) Conspiracy theories have become annoying
(pp. 10) A human wrote this: The future of AI content creation
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ISSUE 8, march 2023
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Ford government to invest in for-profit clinics in hopes of reducing surgery backlog
“This is a move towards privatization which is going to really harm disabled people.”
On Jan. 11, Doug Ford announced a threestep plan that will increase the capacity of for-profit clinics to perform operations for cataracts, knee and hip replacements, and more — all in hopes of reducing the existing strain on Ontario’s healthcare system.
Under the first step of the new plan, clinics in Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Windsor will perform 14,000 additional cataract surgeries each year, to reduce the current waitlist by 25 per cent.
The second step will see private clinics undertaking more MRI and CT scans, as well as “non-urgent,” “low-risk,” and “minimally invasive” procedures including colonoscopies and endoscopies.
By 2024, the third and final step will expand hip and knee replacement surgeries at for-profit clinics.
Since it was announced, the plan has received criticism from health care professionals, politicians, and disability activists.
Leader of the New Democratic Party Jagmeet Singh warned that outsourcing these procedures could divert already scarce resources from publicly-funded hospitals, such as nurses and anesthesiologists.
In addition, Disability Awareness Consultant Andrew Gurza tweeted that the Ontario government’s new plan could create additional barriers for Ontarians living with disabilities.
“This is a move towards privatization which is going to really harm disabled people. Most of us that are living on social assistance in Ontario are living on less than 700 or 800 [dollars] a month,” said Gurza, in an interview with the Fulcrum.
Moreover, Gurza mentioned concerns with respect to the accessibility of these private facilities.
“Most public clinics are not accessible. So, I fail to see how private clinics will be accessible unless they consult disabled community members. There are things like lifts, and there are things like attendant care on site. I think that we shouldn’t be outsourcing to private clinics. We should be try-
ing to fix the public sector.”
In a statement to the Fulcrum, Carly Fox, Communications and Partnerships Director of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) and International Chair of the Council for Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), said the Ford government’s plan will “undeniably exacerbate the healthcare barriers both disabled and non-disabled students currently face.”
“With many disabling conditions and illnesses requiring frequent medical visits and treatments, disabled students are facing the same issues
as the general public — think GP/nurse shortages and ER wait times — at disproportionate and lethal levels, with multiple marginalized groups harmed even more.”
While Ford’s plan is a direct response to the lengthening of hospital waitlists due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more attention should be brought to the long-term health consequences of COVID-19 and how this correlates to the procedures that would be outsourced to private clinics, according to Fox.
“It’s important to remember that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a mass-dis-
abling event as more people self-identify as a result of long covid, covid complications, and new conditions or illnesses caused by viral infection. As a result, more people are seeking more intensive medical care and medical diagnoses — which often require MRI and CT scans and other diagnostic procedures that are explicitly targeted by Ford’s privatization plan.”
During the Jan. 30 Question Period at the House of Commons, Jagmeet Singh called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to enforce the Canada Health Act (CHA) against Ontario’s plan to increase the use of for-profit clinics.
Planned Parenthood Ottawa staff unionizes after year-long negotiations
“We want to change the conversation around what it means to unionize,” said Executive Director, Jaisie Walker.
In Oct. 2021, Planned Parenthood Ottawa (PPO) announced that they would be unionizing. As of December 2022, they are the newest members of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) Local 225.
In a press release forwarded to the Fulcrum, Education Coordinator Ceara McIntyre said, “We are hopeful that our workplace can be an example of how small non-profits who must navigate economic and political constraints can still support [their] workers and challenge systems of oppression for our
PPO first opened its doors in 1964, and has since been “working to advance a vision where accurate sexual and reproductive health support and services are comprehensive, accessible, and delivered equitably.”
“With extensive considerations made for
quality of life and potential for professional growth, staff, the Union and Employer collaborated and agreed on personal leaves and accommodations such as improved wages and health benefits, menstrual and menopause, domestic violence, traditional Indigenous practices and educational leave.”
In an email to the Fulcrum, executive director Jaisie Walker stated that not much will change regarding client-facing programs, and that the changes will concern working conditions for their staff.
“The work that goes on behind the scenes will better solidify our commitments to equity
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Jagmeet Singh warned that outsourcing these procedures could divert already scarce resources from publicly-funded hospitals. Image: Online Marketing/Unsplash.
and healthcare,” they said.
“Labour rights are reproductive rights. Frontline workers are systematically undervalued and exploited, often experiencing vicarious trauma and substandard living conditions despite providing crucial support and care in our communities. We are taking a firm stance against that and ensuring our staff are paid a living wage treated with humanity, care, and dignity.”
Walker explained that the unionization will protect the staff in various ways such as “clearer and improved guidelines around split shifts, overtime, and paid breaks, as well as new paid leaves that reflect the values we share.”
Walker explained the im-
portance of having a union created in a work environment with predominantly
Having strong labour relations and improved living conditions is a part of our
all parties, McIntyre stated in PPO’s press release that they “worked collab-
laborative commitment, as opposed to a competitive one, allowed them to reach an agreement both parties are happy with.
When asked what they would say to other organizations hoping to unionize, Walker explained that the pressures that the non-profit sector brings to employees can be overwhelming, stating “exhaustion does not lead to improved social impacts.”
“We want to change the conversation around what it means to unionize and how the Employer should show up in that process. “
queer, trans, and racialized
“We are disproportionately affected by economics (in) security and discrimination outside of our workplace.
broader commitments to anti-racism, gender equity, and reproductive justice.” While unionizing can often be a daunting process, trying to reach an agreement that benefits
oratively with our COPE representatives and our employer to find creative solutions that meet our needs.”
Walker also mentioned that the col-
Planned Parenthood Ottawa is located at 222 Somerset St. W. More information is available on their website.
Syria-Turkey earthquakes: U of O student associations mobilize for humanitarian aid
“This is a crucial time for our communities to come together and help during these harsh, saddening times.”
During the early hours of Feb. 6, Syrian and Turkish citizens awoke to a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that originated near the border of both countries. Later that day, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake followed, causing further destruction to the Kahramanmaraş Province in Turkey.
As of March 1, over 45,000 Turks and 6,700 Syrians were confirmed dead, and over 1.5 million people were left homeless, according to the United Nations.
At the University of Ottawa (U of O), both the Syrian Cultural Association (SCA) and the Turkish Students Association (AETTSA) promptly mobilized to raise humanitarian donations from the student body.
“The first fundraiser activity the Syrian Cultural Association organized was on February
8th and 9th. The fundraiser took place at FTX (Law Building) in collaboration with the Turkish Students Association at the University of Ottawa. The SCA also took part in a bake sale at UCU … on the 17th of February in collaboration with PSA uOttawa and APAC, as well as underwent two fundraisers at Carleton University on the same day too,” wrote Joelle Makdessi, founder and president of the SCA, in a statement to the Fulcrum.
While some students speculated that the associations paid a fee to set up these fundraisers, Makdessi said the SCA was not charged for the spaces booked on the U of O campus.
“Usually booking a space at the University of Ottawa takes around 10 business days. However, due to the emergency circumstances, we were able to set up for the fundraiser instantly. Spaces like UCU, FTX, FSS are all spaces you can book at uOttawa.
These spaces get booked for free, however do contain a process. In the case of the earthquake, the wait process was lifted and the fee was zero dollars.”
On behalf of the U of O administration, Director of Issues Management and Media Relations Jesse Robichaud, wrote that the University of Ottawa stands in solidarity with Turkish and Syrian communities.
“Our university community is heartbroken by the senseless catastrophe that has touched so many lives in Turkey, Syria, and around the world. We are profoundly sorry for the pain and suffering that has accompanied this devastating loss of life, and the burden weighing on all who consider these countries home. In addition to the President’s message of solidarity, we have used social media to reach out to affected community members to offer support services, and also have identified a team of academic experts to provide
context on these events.”
In light of the circumstances, Makdessi said the fundraisers were well-supported by students, and expressed her pride in the SCA’s ability to contribute to humanitarian efforts.
“The students who came were all very supportive, sincere, curious about what has happened and eager to find ways to help. Contributing in the aid process allows one to be helping humanity and innocent individuals that are found under rubble, or that have lost their loved ones. Whether
it was a mother, a daughter, a father, or a son, it will affect them for the entire course of their lives. The least we can do is provide some financial support and clothes to keep them warm.”
If you would like to assist relief efforts in Syria and Turkey, contact the SCA and AETTSA.
The SCA and AETTSA collaborated on fundraising efforts. Image: Bardia Boomer/The Fulcrum.
Planned Parenthood Ottawa is located on Somerset Street. Image: Planned Parenthood/Provided.
Bluesfest announces 2023 lineup
ARTS EDITOR Victoria Drybrough firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re a U of O student with plans of being in Ottawa this summer, read on
Last week, the organizers of Bluesfest released the official lineup for the festival that is to take place July 6–16, 2023.
A fake, speculative lineup was circling early last week on social media, but here’s the real one, straight from the Bluesfest website.
On July 6, Shania Twain will be the headliner to kick-off the festival. She’s made guest appearances at other festivals, but hasn’t toured since 2015. Her Bluesfest spot will be in the midst of her 2023 Queen of Me tour.
Sharing the stage with Twain that night will be Orville Peck (who was in Ottawa for City Folk
last fall), bbno$, Dax, Son Little, John Németh, Bree Lawrenson, J.C., Melissa Lamm, Mikhail Laxton, and Mimi O’Bonsawin. The next night, Weezer will headline, with names like Billy Talent and Thundercat, and also PUP, Tank & The Bangas, Jupiter & Okwess, Southern Avenue, Digging Roots, Emily Jean Flack, Melo Griffith, and The Jesse Greene Band.
Saturday, July 8 will feature music from Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, along with BADBADNOTGOOD, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings ft. Daniel Lanois and Suzie Vinnick, Raul Midón, Sugaray Rayford, The Texas Horns Aspects, Nesrallah Artuso Project, and Steven Taetz.
The first weekend of Bluesfest will wrap up with a show from Death Cab for Cutie, with other performers including Tegan and Sara, Alan Doyle, Bran Van 3000, Moonlight Benjamin, Jack Barksdale, Youngtree & The Blooms, Guy Belanger, East Coast Experience, and Emmanuelle Querry.
After two days of quiet at Lebreton Flats, Foo Fighters will kick off the second stretch of the festival. The rest of the July 12 performances will be from AJR, White Reaper, MONOWHALES, Black Joe Lewis, Lime Cordiale, My Son The Hurricane, and River City Junction.
Mumford & Sons will headline on July 13, sharing the stage with Declan McKenna, The War
on Drugs, Sudan Archives, Cam Kahin, Llyod Spiegel, Loviet, Amos The Transparent, Angelina Hunter Trio, Ash Ravens, and Avery Raquel.
Up next, Charlotte Cardin starts off Bluesfest’s second weekend. FLETCHER, Fleet Foxes, Allison Russel, Rich Aucoin, Sauce Boss Sussex, Amanda Jordan, and Pony Girl will all also perform that night.
Pitbull will take the Bluesfest stage on its penultimate night. Ludacris, also in the lineup for July 15, might make an appearance in Pitbull’s set. Other acts include Julia Jacklin, HOROJO Trio, TJ Wheeler, Abby Stewart, Drew Nelson, GRAE, and Joe McDonald.
Finally, The Smile
is headlining on July 16. A shorter list of artists— Koffee Alvvays, Miss Emily, Easy Finesse, Megan Jerome, and Steph La Rochelle—will wrap up the nine-day festival.
Bluesfest is offering multi-day, pick-3 tickets, where concertgoers can pick the three nights they most want to attend Depending on the lineup for any given night, the pick-3 option ranges from $110-255. My opinion? You might as well get the full festival pass for the extra thirty bucks and get all nine nights of music. No matter which day (or three) you choose, you’ll get a wildly different show every night.
“What’s the point of Netflix now?”: Students frustrated by Netflix’s sudden policy change
New one-household rule leaves many students at-risk of losing Netflix access
It’s no secret that people share streaming accounts. In a world where you have to choose between Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crave, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV, Paramount+, Discovery+, and others, no one can keep track. Where Netflix once had a monopoly over the industry and a Netflix account actually did give users access to all the shows they wanted, that isn’t the case today.
A few years ago, my parents watched the entire Game of Thrones series during a one-month free trial to avoid paying for a continuous Crave
The announcement came at a time when Netflix was already losing subscribers. Only time will tell if the move will benefit Netflix or leave it worse-off than before. Image: Kai Holub/Fulcrum.
with HBO Max subscription, when they only wanted to watch one show.
Recently, and very controversially, Netflix announced that they would start cracking down on account sharing. In the announcement, posted to their website on Feb. 8, 2023, Netflix outlined how the process would work — and who would be affected.
“Today, over 100 million households are sharing accounts — impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films,” the website claims (although, the quality of TV and films Netflix is investing in is a completely different conversation).
announcement, Netflix received backlash, presumably from the people who would be affected by the change. The new rules are problematic for anyone who doesn’t live in a single household family. Since the announcement, news outlets have published articles pointing out the people Netflix isn’t considering, such as split families.
One hard-hit group was students. I’m guilty of leeching off my parents’ streaming accounts, and I know I’m not alone. So far, my Netflix access has been spared, but I’m anxiously awaiting the day where I’m banned from using my Mississauga family’s Netflix in Ottawa.
What do NFTs have to do with art?
Some students I asked weren’t upset by the change.
On the other hand, some students expressed disappointment at the once-innovative company for the new business model.
“I just think that’s ridiculous,” said one disappointed student about the one-household restriction. “It sucks, just because I don’t live at home anymore I have to pay for my own subscription.”
“What’s the point of Netflix now? We’re back in the cable era,” claimed another when she heard some people would be watching Netflix with ads. It’s true, with the number of streaming platforms
available today, ads were the only thing holding the line between cable and streaming.
Amidst changing the rules on account sharing, Netflix is also quietly upping its prices (again).
In Canada, a “basic” plan (without ads), will run you $9.99 a month, while a “premium” account could cost up to $36.97 with the cost of extra account members.
A “standard” plan, which lets you watch on two screens, now costs $16.50, double what it was ten years ago when the plan cost $7.99. (In case you’re wondering, and in order to keep up with inflation, Netflix would’ve only needed to raise the
Understanding the hype behind NFTs and what they offer for the future of the art world
The incorporation of NFTs and blockchains into the artworld is both innovative and at times perplexing. What is their function and how are they changing our conceptions of art?
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) act as digital tokens that give you legal ownership over an artwork. Your credential is stored on a blockchain, which is essentially a database, and it can be bought or sold to other people on the market.
With physical art, ownership means having a real, tangible object in your hands, whereas digital art can be easily copied and replicated. NFTs are essentially one of the solutions to creating value for digital art. It gives the buyer a certificate of ownership, and for whatever reason, renders it attractive to the world. A collective belief in the value of ownership of a digital work allows the NFT market to flourish.
This form of art commerce is becoming more and more influential in museums and auction houses, with some NFTs being sold for millions of dollars. In a sale last year at Christie’s auction house, a digital artwork by Mike Winkelmann was bought for more than $69 million. And recently, Centre Pompidou, one of Europe’s largest modern and contemporary art museums, announced that they would be having their first NFT art exhibition after acquiring 18 artworks from 13 French and international artists.
If art museums begin collecting NFTs, what can we expect when we go see them in person? Centre Pompidou explained that while their newest NFT collection will be available for online viewing, in person, you can expect to see them exhibited next to other objects that highlight their significance in the history of art.
Philippe Bettinelli, a curator at Pompidou specifically explained, “We
will put them in context, notably by presenting some objects that testify to this history of the dematerialization of artworks, such as certificates, protocols, and documents that have accompanied immaterial procedures in modern and contemporary art.”
Nonetheless, NFTs, like any other digital asset are susceptible to fraud and it’s still a new mechanism considered to be quite volatile. The price and value of an NFT
price to roughly $10.50 today.)
It might not be 100 per cent Netflix’s fault. Because of increased competition, Netflix and other streaming companies have had to start producing their content in-house, which considerably raises costs.
The price increase coupled with the anticipated new accounts that will need to be made should cover Netflix’s high overhead costs. That is, if the company doesn’t keep losing subscribers at the same rate it was in 2022. In 2017, Netflix tweeted, “Love is sharing a password.” I guess times have changed.
can change drastically and like any other investment it must be considered with caution.
But as museums are acquiring NFTs, artists are benefitting, particularly from resale royalties, meaning they can make a profit each time their artwork’s ownership is sold. The NFT art market is also one way the world bypasses the elitism that comes with art collecting –anyone can go on the NFT market, become a buyer, and contribute to what is
considered “good art.” So while the digitization of art is not unprecedented, using NFTs as tools for buying and selling on the art market is changing art curation and exhibitions. As the physical mediums in which contemporary artists operate turn digital, so is the art market.
Photo: Larva Labs.
Rookie profile: Meghan Kociancic
Kociancic has fit in well as a first-year setter
Meghan Kociancic, a rookie setter for the Gee-Gee’s women’s volleyball team, was drawn to the high pace and organized environment shown on the team. Kociancic expressed her gratitude for the coaching staff of the Gee-Gees team as she left her post-secondary career up to fate. She believes that if she had not received an offer from the team, she wouldn’t be continuing her athletic career this coming year.
Her career dates back to 13U volleyball with the Pakmen Volleyball Club, where she played recreational league volleyball until 18U before committing to the
University. Previously, she was introduced through a mini-camp series run by the club that she attended at 11 years old through her older brother.
Her coaching staff, including Jeff Chung, helped Kociancic develop intensity in her game, footwork skills, and setter-specific training which pushed her game further. She was a part of the Team Ontario program through the summer of 2021, where her knowledge of game tape review developed.
Kociancic has always been motivated to be the best she can be, citing her mantra to “be a better version of yourself today than you were yesterday,” working to play aged up in leagues and on her high school team. Ko-
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ciancic was a starting setter on the St. Marcellinus Secondary School’s women’s senior team since her grade 9 season, where they made OFSSA, advancing to the gold medal game and winning silver.
Like many high school students, Kociancic dealt with a switch to virtual workouts due to the pandemic and the suspension of sports. She found herself isolated from the rest of her team, responsible for her individual workouts and mobility. She was team captain for her 17U and 18U club teams, where she attempted to build team spirit even when the team could not train together, through team bonding, group strength and conditioning, and weekly yoga.
With a return to the court, Kociancic returned to playing, finishing out her club and high school volleyball career. After attending a Canadian University showcase, Kociancic connected with the head coach of the GeeGees team, Lionel Woods, and head assistant coach, Kaly Soro, and instantly felt connected to the idea of being a Gee-Gee. Her rookie visit to campus solidified this even further.
“As soon as I drove into the city, it felt like I belonged there,” said Kociancic.
A rookie practice and connecting with past alumni validated Kociancic’s decision even further, with the team’s efficient gameplay, organized offence, and seeing how
the team functions together. A combination with her academic opportunity to study biomedical science and the chance to play Gee-Gees volleyball was an offer Kokiancic couldn’t pass up.
The Gee-Gees are currently 4-11 in the season, Kociancic has contributed to each of the team’s performances, playing 33 sets in 15 games.
No. 11, Meghan Kociancic. Image: U of O Gee-Gees Women’s Volleyball/Provided.
Catch me in the club: Game Dev Gamer Moment
For years kids have wondered, “you got games on your phone?”
Albeit an annoying question, but truthfully, who doesn’t love video games? Whether we enjoy the challenge, the fancy graphics, the music, or the story, it comes at no surprise that the U of O Game Dev Club (GDC) organizers wanted to encourage students to build their own games from the ground up.
The Fulcrum sat down with fourth-year computer science students Max Jelinas, Shreya Langhe, and Mai Lyn Puittinen to discuss how they revived the once-dusted and forgotten game dev club, and what we can expect from them moving forward.
Game development for dummies
When asked about the game development process, Jelinas answered, “That very much depends on [the type of game you want to make] and the [timeframe given]. If it’s for a game jam (hackathon event) you’d want to get all your ideas out first and pick [the most doable one]. Otherwise, a long-term passion project you can come up with a story first if you’re really adamant on telling one and then base the mechanisms around it.”
He continued, “In my case, I’ll start working on the part I’m most excited about first, which tends to be the gameplay, once I have a good foundation that makes me excited to work on everything else [to] tie it all together.”
In terms of a “professional” approach, Jelinas suggested to first start with a design document—which is what actual developers use to organize their ideas about gameplay, mechanics, aesthetic direction, etc.
Now for music, Puittinen added, “I take inspiration from the art di-
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Events: past, present and future
In December, game dev hosted a “holiday game jam” the online event emulates a mini hackathon where students are given a set amount of time to complete an entire game. The club received five entries and later held a presentation to spotlight
Impactful games for club organizers
For Langhe, it was less so about the games themselves but rather the gameplays. Growing up, she preferred watching YouTubers like Pewdiepie and Markiplier play through games, instead. This provides another option for en-
games throughout my life and a lot of them have contributed to the type of games I like making nowadays. For example, I played a lot of Team Fortress 2, which heavily influenced and inspired me to make my game Monkey Fight. Both Team Fortress 2 and Monkey Fight are first-person shooter types, but also encapsulate a very cartoonish and goofy style. An aspect that [I] find very appealing in terms of ascetics.”
“In terms of passion [projects] my number one inspiration is Noita, where you essentially play as a little wizard, but the game itself is a huge technical marvel, because it has its own physics engine where every single pixel on the screen is simulated as its own physics entity,” added Jelinas. “It’s really technically impressive. There’s a whole spell-casting system that’s very dynamic.”
rection, like with Sherya’s visuals I look at the major themes and style to get a sense of the songs that would fit. [I tend to do a lot of research] and I’ll use songs and make my own based on that.”
Similar to music the art direction is crucial for any game Langhe is responsible for not just the character but also the animations, background, props, etc. The art made by Langhe for games, specifically, has been pixel art.
“So I used Aesprite, an image editor software. I’ll start with the main character and from there the background and finish off with details about how we want the character to look while jumping and running, etc.”
the creators’ works and to, of course, play.
Their most recent event (“Got Games?”) was another great success, gathering the most enthusiastic gamers at uOttawa. The workshop served as an introduction to Unity, a game development software, and an opportunity for students to experience working with it. The idea was to have participants finish creating an infinite runner game titled MAC Quest created by Jelinas, Langhe and Puittinen. If you happened to miss the event, you can watch the recording on Twitch. The GDC has plans to add more workshops to further help students break into the development scene without any fears or hesitations.
thusiasts who may not be as skilled in games to still take part in the fun. This is especially exciting when it’s a heavily story-driven game like The Last of Us, Detroit Become Human, or Red Dead Redemption.
Puittinen didn’t find herself growing up with video games, however, “the storytelling aspect of games is really interesting, and when I was younger, I wanted to be an author. So this is just another medium of that. Just from observing the amount of creativity that goes into game [development], as someone with very little background, it’s really inspiring to see the crazy original ideas emerge.”
Jelinas said, “I’ve had phases with different
The main draw was that the story itself was very alluring and mysterious, since it’s based on Finnish folklore and it’s “the type of game where nothing is explained to you.” The world itself is dynamic, and it feels like a real lived-in place for you to explore.
For more information about Game Dev, visit their Instagram here.
Game Development Club Logo Sherya Langhe/Provided.
The best course at the U of O: ITA 1113
How a course in Italian Cinema altered my university experience
I didn’t come to the U of O with any concrete idea of what I wanted my future to look like. I figured I would enrol in political science, take courses that sounded interesting, and see what would happen after four years. Maybe I would want to pursue more education, or maybe I wouldn’t — I was pretty firmly in the meandering undergraduate camp.
The upshot of being a meandering undergraduate though is that you have the freedom to take a plethora of different elective courses. In the first semester of my first year, I took an elective which seemed like it would align directly with my interests — Italian Cinema (ITA1113). At the time, I loved two things — watching movies and talking about them. So when I saw that a course in Italian cinema was an optional elective, it seemed that taking it was a no-brainer.
Full disclosure, I was new to university and looking for an ‘easy A.’ And judging the course off the name alone, Italian cinema sounded like would be perfect for that. I thought I would get to class, watch The Godfather, then write
a paper telling the professor that it was the greatest film I’d ever seen. And when the professor eventually read this paper, I assumed he would tell me that it was the greatest undergraduate paper he’d ever read — maybe he would even encourage me to have it published!
Unfortunately for me, I could not have been more wrong.
When I first opened the syllabus I saw a list of nine movies that I had never heard of. Even worse, none of the movies were in English — they were all Italian. Where were the Scorsese movies? The Coppola films? Those guys are Italian, too, right?
This hybrid course was structured around weekly position papers which were based on the nine weekly assigned films — these papers were graded and cumulatively counted towards 50 per cent of the final mark. The other 50 per cent of the grade was calculated on the submission of a final paper on a topic of our choosing.
During the first week of the semester, the professor assigned the film Rome Open City. The film is about a group of Italians who were looking
to escape a Nazi-occupied Rome. I watched the film once — following along with the English subtitles — and foolishly felt like I understood it completely. Immediately after watching the movie, I wrote and submitted my first position paper.
A couple of days after submitting, I got the Brightspace notification — “Position Paper one grade released.” I was confident that I would open the notification and see an A+ accompanied by a note praising my ability to write and discuss films.
I opened the feedback for the assignment and saw that the professor gave my paper a C+. Instantly, I felt like something was wrong. He must have accidentally given me someone else’s grade! Unfortunately for me though, there was no mix-up — the C+ belonged to me.
I decided that the next week I would work harder on my paper. This week, I watched the assigned movie twice, and I spent more time working on the paper. I ended up submitting a paper that I felt was stronger than the first — this second one felt like real A+ material. Unfortunately, the professor disagreed with me again; another C+. But this time, the C+ came with a note from the professor — “come see me to discuss.”
I don’t want to sound cliché, but this meeting ended up being the most beneficial thing I did during my entire undergrad. The professor’s name was Franco Ricci, and he asked me all the right questions during our meeting. He asked me what I wanted from the
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course and what I wanted from my university experience in general — important questions which I hadn’t confronted up to that point. The most significant thing professor Ricci said to me during our meeting was that I should be open to learning, listening, and improving my writing skills.
As a first-year student who was drunk off Bud Light and irrational confidence, the prospect of being told that I wasn’t a fully formed intellectual ruffled some feathers. However, Professor Ricci was able to talk to me in a way that I could understand. He went through my papers and pointed out areas where I could improve moving forward. Professor Ricci was committed to the improvement and success of his students. He was able to effectively challenge students while keeping them invested in the course material — a sign of a wonderful professor.
Throughout the semester, professor Ricci kept in touch with me. He made sure I was remaining consistent and stayed invested with the course material. And while this material was challenging at times, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t rewarding. Most of the assigned films are ones I never would have seen had I not taken the course. I’m still someone who loves watching and talking about movies, and ITA1113 helped me on that front more than any other course.
If there is a cheesy lesson here, it’s to not shy away from unexpected academic challenges. Just because a course starts off poorly doesn’t
mean it’s not worth your time. And sometimes, the courses that challenge you end up being the most rewarding. I never thought that a course in Italian cinema would impact me at all; in retrospect, it was the most impactful course I took during my undergrad.
Note for professor…
When I decided I was going to write this about my experience in Professor Ricci’s class, I felt it was important to reach out to him. I wanted to let him know that I was going to discuss the impact that he and his class had on me.
I reached out on a Tuesday, and by the time the weekend came around, I still hadn’t heard back from him. I remembered him being diligent and timely with his responses so I decided to look him up online.
I found that Professor Franco Ricci had passed away on November 8th, 2022.
I had only ever taken one course with Professor Ricci, and he was still able to make a profound impact on me. He was able to make me a better student, and I’m confident that over his 40 years at the University, he was able to do the same to others. Dr. Franco Ricci’s passing represents a true loss for the University of Ottawa community.
This is the first instalment of a new column highlighting the courses that have most impacted students at the U of O. If you would like to contribute to the column email firstname.lastname@example.org
Image: Kai Holub/Fulcrum.
Conspiracy theories have become annoying
HOW CONSPIRACY THEORIES WENT FROM BEING FUN TO DOWNRIGHT DANGEROUS
theories I presented were fun, it was also dangerous to believe bogus information.
When I was in the sixth grade, my class was told to do a speech on a topic that was of interest. Some students talked about their favourite movies, others talked about their favourite sport teams. I decided I wanted to be different — I gave a speech on why the 1969 moon landing could have been staged.
I got up in front of the class and told everyone about theories which indicated that NASA had possibly staged the whole thing. I talked about the conflicting rock shadows in the original video, I even mentioned the conspiracy that perhaps Stanley Kubrick directed the whole thing. The whole idea of my speech was to have fun — I wasn’t pretending to be an 11-yearold with a comprehensive understanding of American space expeditions during the mid-twentieth century.
Following my speech, our teacher decided to talk to the class about the actual history of the moon landing. He told the class that although the
Looking back at it, this speech and the response from my teacher were my first exposures to the reality that conspiracy theories truly can be dangerous. While they can be fun to hear about, actually believing in them and es-
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shot down a high-flying Chinese balloon, conspiracy theories about what it ‘really was’ flooded news outlets and social media alike. I saw headlines reporting that the ballon was everything from a UFO to a device aimed at weaponizing North American weather patterns. The only pieces of information that were actually hard to
ly going to the moon? Nevertheless, when most of the information about any topic is conspiratorial and not rooted in the truth, there is a real problem which must be addressed.
This problem isn’t so much with the existence of conspiracy theories as much as it is with the quantity of them. Conspiracy theories have been
seems to be the greater danger.
pousing their ‘truths’ can get you into trouble. Unfortunately for most people using the internet, this is a lesson that many seem to have missed out on.
It seems that every time I am mildly curious about anything at all — a global news story about a Chinese weather ballon, or even a vaccination — I am bombarded online with conspiracy theories that are disguised as unassailable truths.
On Feb. 4 of this year, when U.S. warplanes
locate were reports indicating what was actually known about the incident. It makes sense why these bizarre theories get so much traction — they are fun! Just like talking about the moon landing, it’s entertaining to think about other topics which might lack some real explanations. Relatedly, there is often never a way to verify the falsehoods of these theories — how can someone say the moon landing was not staged without actual-
A human wrote this: The future of AI content creation TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ARTISTIC EXPRESSION
If you asked me a year ago what I though of artificial intelligence, I would have said that I was frightened by it. If you ask me that same question today, I will tell you that it terrifies me.
tion of AI in both schools and other jobs has been a conversation going back as far as I can remember. However, these conversations always seemed redundant to me — why would we pay any mind to a technology that won’t impact us until way into the future?
Nevertheless, my youthful reasoning
for shrugging off concerns about AI — that we wouldn’t see the effects of it for decades — has proven to be foolish with the introduction of ChatGPT. ChatGPT is a tool created by OpenAI (an artificial intelligence research company) which uses AI technology to answer questions and engage in open dialogue. Users can
around for a while in some capacity; people were skeptical of both the Kennedy assassination and the ‘69 moon landing as they were happening. And when people previously dealt with these conspiracy theories, they would confront them while not immediately accepting them as the truth.
The difference between then and now is that conspiracy theories are now both more common and spreading faster than ever before — this
Part of the reason conspiracy theories are spreading so fast is because of the transformation of contemporary media. People are consuming information in different ways than they have in the past. Instead of reading physical newspapers, people are sourcing their information from podcasts and social media. The danger of this new type of consumption is that it seems to give legitimacy to anyone with a platform, and thus the fun yet dangerous theories spread like wild fire. People are now more likely to accept something an influencer says on a platform without critically engaging with the subject matter.
Perhaps the take away here is to just be careful. Be careful with who you decide to put your trust in and from where you decide to source your information. Just because some 11-year-old wants to talk about his hunch on the moon landing doesn’t mean it’s something that deserves attention.
ask the program questions varying in degrees of complexity, and ChatGPT will answer with mostly appropriate responses.
Recently, the use of ChatGPT — among other AI technologies — has been a topic of concern as it pertains to its use in schools and artistic environments. Reports of university and high school
students being caught using ChatGPT to complete their assignments have taken over many news outlets. This advancement in AI technologies though has caused concern about the future of academia and artistic creation. It seems that ChatGPT has swiftly transformed old discussions about the future of AI into
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a pressing conversation about the immediate future of content creation and human utility. Given ChatGPT’s prominence in this particular conversation, I decided to test out the program and ask it to weigh in — I asked the program if the use of AI in creating
ChatGPT’s third reason for concern, the loss of jobs, is a fear which has been anticipated since the first emergence of AI debates. The more AI programs there are to complete tasks, the fewer of those jobs that will be available for actual peo-
would ever be taken by AI. ChatGPT has changed my mind.
The program has demonstrated that writing — a task based entirely on human thinking — can be done by AI. And if writing something as simple as a book report can by done by AI, then who’s to say
done by people who lack skills and resources. It may be the case that ‘the cat is out of the bag’ with the use of AI. ChatGPT has demonstrated that some artistic tasks can be done by AI with shocking precision; thus, don’t be surprised if small writing tasks are frequent-
entirely possible that the program will soon be capable of complex content creation. It wouldn’t surprise me if these programs wrote a book, or even wrote and animated an entire movie.
The prospect of these complex tasks being outsourced to AI
art is something that people should be concerned about. The program responded with shocking precision.
ChatGPT’s three reasons for concern — the loss of creativity, authenticity, and jobs — are all real criticisms which have been levelled at the use of AI in content creation. With the acceleration of AI usage, there is an inherent loss of creativity and authenticity in content production. Actual people are being removed from the creative process in favour of programs which lack
ple. What is interesting about the emergence of ChatGPT, though, is that it has altered the understanding of which jobs are ‘up for grabs’ for AI.
I used to think that AI was only capable of taking a strict category of job —the task-oriented professions. I anticipated that automated cars would take truck drivers off the road, and that storefront kiosks would eventually remove front-of-house restaurant servers. However, I never thought that jobs which relied on critical human engagement
other things can’t be, as well? How far away are we from having entire movies and books generated by these programs?
It’s necessary to note that OpenAI is also responsible for Dall-E 2 — a program which uses AI technology to generate artistic requests.
Returning to ChatGPT’s response to my question, it’s worthwhile to note some of the potential benefits of using AI.
ChatGPT noted the idea of accessibility — that these programs can allow for the creation of content to be
ly outsourced to these programs in the near future. And this use of AI to carry out small tasks, although it may represent the loss of some jobs, seems to be somewhat inevitable. For instance, it might be easier for a restaurant to have a menu designed for free by an AI than it would be to pay for the task to be done by a human.
However, this is a slippery slope. If we allow these small tasks to be done by AI, where will we draw the line? Based on my limited experience with ChatGPT, it seems
programs makes me feel uneasy. The originality and authenticity in art come from the piece’s humanity — the fact that a human could make something by manipulating a medium. And while AI could help to drive innovation in the creation of art, the loss of creativity, authenticity, and jobs should indicate that we should proceed with caution into the future of AI.
Image: Michael Driedzic/Unsplash.
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No Rideau Canal? Ottawa has nothing left to offer Kyle Mass exodus of Ottawa region projected (by O of U freshman who wants to skate)
An afternoon trip to the canal has become a staple of many Ottawans’ winters. The canal’s failure to freeze this year has left some concerned for the future of the beloved tradition.
A first-year student at the O of U is convinced that thousands are planning to depart the “city fun forgot.” He bases his assertion on the Rideau Canal’s failure to freeze over, which has deprived the city of what he considers to be its only claim to fame.
The Tomato spoke with Kyle Schmidt, a disillusioned (and arguably delusional) O of U freshman student, who shared: “I was sold a dream of skating from one end of the campus to the other — the brochure specifically said I could do that.”
Smelling vaguely of weed, he continued: “I’ll have to trudge through the snow? Walking? Instead of skating? Bullshit. This was supposed to be a magical city where you can skate anywhere and everywhere — or at least I had a dream about that once. What was the point of coming to this godforsaken hellhole? Everyone’s getting out of here, bro. No one’s gonna stay here — trust me.”
When asked if he felt he had been misled by the brochures, he became distracted by a cloud, before responding, “It would be so cool if you could just skate from class to class, and into your lecture halls, and to get coffee — basically, I just want to skate everywhere and I think it’s really dumb that we can’t. Oh, and my communications classes are going really well, thanks for asking. See you around!”
Kyle then proceeded to walk into a wall.
Image: Kai Holub/Fulcrum.
Buying condoms without self-checkout
Human contact while buying condoms? No thanks
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Maybe it’s just me, but I can not take a box of condoms up to a cashier. Maybe it’s the residual catholic school shame? Whatever the reason, it’s now become a problem as the drugstore closest to my new place doesn’t have a self check out option. It’s definitely an irrational fear, but the thought of even the briefest awkward interaction will keep me from buying condoms. Help!
Horny and Ashamed
The self-checkout is a godsend to many of us; you are certainly not alone in feeling uncomfortable while buying protection. It can be hard to overcome our fears, even if we can acknowledge their irrationality.
As I see it you have three options;
1. Send your partner to the store — ideally your sexual partner(s) should see the buying of protection as a shared responsibility. Ask them to pick up a box on their way over.
2. Order condoms online — Ottawa Public Health will send you condoms in the mail for free through the “sex it smart” initiative. You can receive condoms, dental dams, lube and more, straight to your door. Practicing safe sex has never been easier!
3. Create a mundane fear-factor knockoff — film yourself conquering your fears. Your production value will likely be a significant downgrade from the original fear factor, but with any luck, there should be far less vomiting. I can assure you that it will not phase any seasoned employees by buying condoms.
As a sex-positive columnist, I’m inclined to recommend you face your fears, but the reality is that it’s never been easier to buy condoms without ever interacting with another human. Luckily self-checkout technology has yet to develop the sentience to judge us (as far as we know.)
Condoms are not an embarrassing thing to buy. They are a responsible purchase for anyone who is sexually active. I can’t recommend strongly enough that you keep them on hand.
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