westerngazette.ca FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2016 • WESTERN UNIVERSITY’S STUDENT NEWSPAPER • VOLUME 110, ISSUE 25 cops, cocks and council since 1906
SPOKE SET FOR MILLION DOLLAR FACELIFT PG3
CHEERLEADERS WIN 31ST NATIONAL TITLE PG9
PAY AS YOU GO: RA salary fails to pay cost of living See page 6-7 for more
JENNY JAY GAZETTE
THE UGLY HISTORY OF THE MONARCHY PG11
2 • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2016
Volume 110, Issue 25 WWW.WESTERNGAZETTE.CA University Community Centre Rm. 263 Western University London, ON, CANADA N6A 3K7 Editorial 519.661.3580 Advertising 519.661.3579
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JENNY JAY GAZETTE
You’re given five photos and told to crack the code. Four of the photos are satellite images of airports. You start by using the highway numbers to track down their locations: you’re looking at Toronto, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Havana.
He headed to the library at the University of Botswana. There, he checked out a book on Python — a generalpurpose programming language. Three weeks later he had Python down pat.
But the fifth photo is the logo of a steganography program called Steghide. There’s a file hidden within the photo, and you need a password to access it.
Though he wasn’t enrolled, he started sitting in on the University of Botswana’s Java programming courses.
You have 48 hours. “It took us 46 hours to solve that challenge,” says Anwar Jeffrey, a third-year double major in computer science and actuarial science. “Once you get going, you get really zoned in. You can find yourself going for six hours on a problem.” Welcome to the world of competitive hacking. Anwar competes in online Capture The Flag (CTF) challenges where the goal is to find “flags” — pieces of information that are encrypted, hidden or stored somewhere tough to access, like finding text within an image. When a team captures the flag and submits it to a scoring page, they get points. The keys to Anwar’s challenge were the airport codes. He tested different combinations of YYZ, LAX, HKG and HAV to crack the password. His team got the flag and first-hand experience dealing with steganography, the practice of concealing a file within another file.
OREN WEISFELD ZEHRA CAMILLERI
Anwar caught on to the CTF competitions fast. He only discovered them in September of his second year, and since then he’s played with a team of Western students that ranked in the top seventh percentile of teams worldwide.
Anwar had just graduated from high school in Botswana, and he wanted to be an aerospace engineer. Determined to build a jet pack from scratch, he starting welding together an aluminum frame. He was halfway through the project when he hit a bump — he needed an air tunnel to test it in. “I totally gave up on it when I asked my dad if I could get a miniature turbine from a Swedish company that makes jet turbines, and they cost an arm and a leg. My dad looked at me like I might be crazy,” Anwar says, grinning. But he didn’t sit idle for long. Anwar was having a conversation with a friend who told him it’s all well and good to build to build a jetpack, but what would run it? “I just thought it was gas, throttle, boom, and fly! But all
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This time it only took him one week to learn the language. “Anwar is scary,” says Raj Pathak, a fifth-year computer science and actuarial science major. “I’m two years ahead of him in school, but he codes my head off.” Raj has seen Anwar in action. He jokes they were friends before they even met each other, hitting it off after Anwar messaged Raj with computer science questions. They started cracking jokes together and never stopped. Well, besides the stretches of silence during CTF competitions.
It was a natural progression to co-found the Western Cyber Security Club. As Anwar explains, laughing, “We needed more space and more pizza.”
But before Anwar broke into the world of cyber security and CTFs, he started with a jet pack. WESTERNGAZETTE
“I started doing that, and then I said, ‘He’s going way too slow,’ so I checked out a book on Java,” Anwar says.
After Anwar and his friends starting diving into CTF competitions last year, word got out to other students in Western’s computer science program.
“I could send you a picture online with audio or a video in it,” Anwar says. “I could hide text in it too, and nobody would ever know because you can’t see it.” SENIOR STAFF AMAL MATAN MICHAEL CONLEY
of these things need to be controlled by chips. I thought, ‘Alright, I’m going to go learn software.’ ”
Anwar says hacking and cyber security go deeper than their appeal to rebels who are inspired by groups like Anonymous that want to stick it to the man. It’s about creating a safer world. “Software is in everything we do; our whole world runs on software now,” he says. “Criminals are going to get smarter. What’s the point of them breaking into a bank when they can just go through the system and mess up some stuff? In order to become a better cyber security developer, you have to understand how to hack. You need to protect yourself.” Looking to the future, Anwar’s plans are up the air. He hasn’t nailed down what area of computer science he’s most interested in, and there’s no guaranteed path to a job in cyber security. But he’s not worried. The future is kind of like hacking: “The thing with hacking is there’s no rule book or guidelines as to where you start,” Anwar says. “There’s a hundred roads to get to one answer.” ■■AMY O’KRUK
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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2016 • 3
Million dollar Spoke uplift in the cards for summer 2017 MOSES MONTERROZA NEWS EDITOR @MOSESMONTZ
TAYLOR LASOTA GAZETTE
Student cyclist safe after collision near Delaware RITA RAHMATI NEWS EDITOR @RITARAHMATI A student cyclist was hit by a van at the intersection of Lambton and Middlesex Drive near Delaware Hall around 4 p.m. on Tuesday. The cyclist, Eric Shepperd, is a third-year sociology student, and confirmed his injuries were minor. Firefighters, paramedics and Campus Police arrived at the scene soon after and Shepperd was given an ice pack for his bruised head, knee and tailbone. Shepperd said he was hit while turning left at the intersection. “The group of pedestrians had just cleared the intersection and so the cars were turning right, not really seeing me, not looking at me,” Shepperd said. “I was cut off by the first car that crossed in front of me and the second car just kept going.
And so I kicked the car with my foot to stop myself and I went over the handle bars, hit the ground and tumbled a little bit.” “I actually don’t know how I am as fine as I am because it was a good tumble,” he said. Although he did not have any direct communication with the driver, both of them did speak with Campus Police separately. Shepperd believes the light was green and he had the right of way. Sergeant Robert Hughes of Campus Police said that the investigation of the incident is ongoing. “It was a minor collision,” Hughes said. “There were minor injuries, the person on the bike refused treatment from the paramedics and left on his own. What we’re doing right now is taking some witness statements and after evaluating that
information we’ll decide whether there’s grounds for charges or not.” Shepperd said Campus Police will review nearby camera footage to see if the vehicle and the cyclist were adhering to traffic signals. Shepperd’s bike was in working condition after the accident. Shepperd voiced displeasure with road safety on campus and in London and added that he has had similar experiences at the same intersection before. “This is a dangerous spot, because I’ve almost been hit here once before from the exact same situation so it would be nice if the University did something about their infrastructure,” Shepperd said. “I’m gonna go buy a lottery ticket now!” Shepperd joked. With files from Moses Monterroza and Sabrina Fracassi.
Should UWaterloo’s goose tracker migrate to Western? MARTIN ALLEN GAZETTE STAFF @NEWSATGAZETTE “Who ya lookin’ at?!” is the look students get from Western’s local campus bullies — the Canadian geese. But there’s one school out there that has found an Orwellian way around the two-winged pestilence that almost every Western student has had an experience with. The University of Waterloo keeps track of geese on its campus via “Goose Watch” — a website with an interactive map that tracks goose nests at the school. It’s during the nesting season in spring that the geese earn their reputation for bad behaviour, as the birds can be very protective of their young. Since the Waterloo website’s launch in 2013, the site has been averaging 3,000 to 6,000 page views in each year’s eightweek nesting season. The website was developed by James McCarthy, a geospatial applications specialist in the Faculty of Environment at Waterloo. “It was pretty organic, and mostly a social media thing,” said McCarthy of the website’s success. After its launch, the website was originally promoted by the University’s Student Success Office,
but the rest was up to word of mouth. The website started as a Twitter trend, a hashtag that listed different nest locations that students encountered on campus. The popularity of the trend interested the school, and a static map was formed on the school’s Open Data website, which was the inspiration for the website developed by McCarthy. With Western’s own vibrant goose population, some Western students have expressed interest in a similar website for their campus. “I’d probably give it a shot,” said Michelle Amponsem, a first-year BMOS student, citing her distaste for the birds that make UC Hill look like a goose version of Osheaga. As at Waterloo, some Western students are interested not because they fear the birds, but due to its strange concept. “That’s hilarious,” said Zoe Yang, a first-year BMOS student. “I would probably download it just for jokes, just because it seems like a funny website. But I wouldn’t download it because I’m actually scared of where they are.” Western currently has some precautions in place around geese, but nothing compared to Waterloo’s digital system.
Mike Lunau, Western’s manager of Landscape Services, said that if aggressive geese are reported, the areas around their nests are marked with a sign but nothing else is usually done. But not everyone sees the need for a website. Andrew Pham, a second-year BMOS student, said that the geese on campus have bothered him in the past, but that it wasn’t enough of a problem to use the website. “I don’t get nervous unless they’re right in front of me, but then I can just walk around them,” he said. The website requires some users to report nest locations. McCarthy said that only one per cent of the website’s users do, so a website at Western would also need a small number of reporters who keep the map updated. McCarthy added that, overall, the website is low maintenance, and the only work anyone does in upkeep is in approving the nest locations that are reported in the nesting period. Whether Western develops a map or not may depend on student and administration interest — in the meantime students continue to negotiate their way through the rough geese neighbourhoods.
The Spoke is set for a facelift towards the summer of 2017 after raking in a significant amount of revenue for the USC over the past five years. During a board of directors meeting last Friday, senior manager of USC Hospitality Services Mark Leonard explained his ideas for a major kitchen renovation. Also proposed was a renovation to the floor plan to most effectively maximize use of the space in regards to increasing seating capacity and better accommodate line sizes. Overall, the hope is that the renovation will provide both an effective and aesthetic improvement. The kitchen renovations are estimated to cost around $500,000 and other renovations were roughly ball parked to about $300,000-$500,000 at the board meeting. This would mean that almost $1 million could be spent on the Spoke over the summer. Leonard also considered implementing an app for The Spoke which would allow students to order food through their smartphones for pick up. According to Leonard, The Spoke rebounded financially after years of losing money. “When we started looking at The Spoke five years ago we were actually in trouble,” Leonard said during the meeting. “The Spoke was in a place where it was losing in the $75,000 to $100,000 a year range.” However, Leonard said that now The Spoke is generating approximately $3.5 million per year and could continue to grow with the right influx of money and a proper renovation. Jeff Armour, chief operating officer of the USC, said that as far as a small restaurant goes — a ‘mom and pop shop’ as he describes it — The Spoke is “by far one of the busiest restaurants in the city if not the busiest. The volume that goes through here — our suppliers are shocked.” When the kitchen was first built 15 years ago, the dynamic of the restaurant was very different. Leonard stated that approximately 70 per
cent of the revenue came from alcohol sales while 30 per cent came from food, meaning that the kitchen was used less. Currently, The Spoke is nearly at 80 per cent food sales and to accommodate for that difference the kitchen requires a significant overhaul. “The kitchen is bursting at the seams,” Leonard said. “The amount of product that we’re bringing in — we literally don’t have storage space to house that product.” While the kitchen is the major focus of the renovation, the increase in revenue allows for the directors to consider a more holistic approach. “We’re more than afloat now,” Armour said during the meeting. “We’re in a position where we can capitalize on volume, looking at how we can have faster lines and servicing better and all the rest of it.” Leonard believes that the wait times could be improved significantly by improving kitchen resources. “Right now people are waiting roughly 25 minutes for table service and 15 minutes for quick service. After the renovations, however, Leonard hopes to reduce that wait time to 12 to 15 minutes and for quick service 5 to 7 minutes.” The timeline of the project is currently in its beginning stages. Leonard predicts that renovations won’t start until May 1, 2017 and will be completed on Sept. 1, 2017. Until then, he and his team still need to contact designers and consultants as well as figure out how this will fall in line with the budget. As of yet, everything is still subject to change.
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4 • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2016
Bored? Colour a cock MOSES MONTERROZA NEWS EDITOR @MOSESMONTZ Throughout the years, Western has produced an array of brilliant academics, talented artists and influential figures who have impacted the world with their ideas and creativity. But nothing compares to the captivating and important work of alumnus Connor Thompson, who, with his friend and co-founder Chris Elphick, created Cockadoodles, an adult colouring book entirely made up of penises. What began as a joke snowballed into a surprisingly successful entrepreneurial project. After setting up an IndieGoGo campaign online, the duo raised a staggering $5,969 in donations at the time of publication, well over their initial goal of $5,000. The Gazette caught up with these two to talk about life, the book and what’s in store for the future. How did you guys come up with this idea? CONNOR: This was all me. I don’t say that proudly — kind of, but not really. I was with my girlfriend and a friend of hers in a Chapters and I made a really bad joke about how adult colouring books don’t actually have any adult content, so how adult can they be? I giggled about it for a month or two and thought there might be something there. So I mentioned it to Chris and he thought it was as funny as I did. And that’s kind of what got the ball rolling on the colouring books, so that idea tumbled downhill and became “we should make a colouring book full of dicks!” And then we did. CHRIS: We knew dicks were going to be the answer for a while. We knew it was something that the world was ready for, we just didn’t know
in what way. Then, when Connor brought up the colouring idea, it just kind of worked. How have your families responded so far? CHRIS: I really considered telling my dad about this today. I still haven’t. We went out for lunch today, and you know we talked and chatted and I thought, you know I could bring this up now— CONNOR: That would’ve been perfect! CHRIS: It would’ve been the perfect time. I could’ve said, “Hey, we just hit our crowd funding goal.” “On what?” he would ask. “Well here’s the thing.” CONNOR: My family thought it was funny. My girlfriend’s parents, I don’t think they knew what to make of it. And then yesterday, my girlfriend›s dad ordered two of them. I was never intending to show it to him. Because on the last page, there’s a man sticking his own wiener in his butt. And my girlfriends dad is going to see that and if he asks who drew that, I’m not pitting it on Chris. That was me. I drew that. Any plans for the future? Do you think there’s potential for this to be a series? CHRIS: It’s certainly a possibility, I really think the title “Cockadoodles 2: Erect Boogaloo” could be something. And then we’ve even had some of our friends and stuff coming up to us with different ideas. Connor, did you get a text message from Mark the other day saying ‘Dick board game?’ CONNOR: I did. I was also sent an unsolicited dick pic, which I initially tried to deny and was sent anyway. So that’s my life now. Unsolicited dick pics from people on Tinder. Thanks fellas!
COURTESY OF CONNOR THOMPSON AND CHRIS ELPHICK
HISTORY 2198B Profit, Power and Conflict: A Global History of Oil
Fridays 10:30 AM-01:30 PM
n surveying how oil has been shaping our lives and lifestyle as an indispensable lifeline for a century and a half, in this course, students take on the many actors and events that have shaped the global history of oil.
Our in-class and multi-media powered historical exploration covers vast and diverse topics on oil as a lighting commodity in the 1870s, as the strategic fuel for the most advanced and destructive warfare in struggle for world mastery between the Nazi-led Axis and the Allies, as the vital force of auto-consumerism and global aviation (suburbia, expressways, shopping malls, Hollywood and the Grand Prix and Formula One), and last but not least, as the fundamental ingredient of our plastic conveniences (from Tupperware to smart-phones).
JENNY JAY GAZETTE
Campus Police to get new director in 2017 GRACE TO NEWS EDITOR @GRACE_KTO A new director of Campus Police is set to take over in January and current director John Carson will be retiring from his role which he’s held for the past six years. Daniel Redmond, after shadowing operations as director-elect since early October will fill Carson’s shoes in 2017. Since then, Redmond has met with leaders at Western, sat in on a number of meetings and have been made aware of the issues surrounding campus safety. “I think we’ll be in very good hands,” said Carson. “Dan comes with a wealth of experience and I think that he will be an excellent leader in moving forward for campus safety here at Western.” Redmond is looking forward to being a part of safety and security in an academic environment, which he reveals was what attracted him to this post-career position in the first place. After going to college to study security and law enforcement
at Seneca, he spent the past 30 years working with the Ontario Provincial Police. He has served in different roles all over Ontario and said that his background mainly consists of investigative policing. During his career, he returned to study at the University of Guelph to obtain a degree in justice studies. At Western, Redmond is planning to emphasize the importance of crime prevention and cooperation within the community. “I always talk about security starts with all of us on this campus,” said Redmond. “As much as Campus Police ultimately wants to help and assist with a safe campus, security is really about all of us taking care of our campus together.” One of his top priorities will be continuing the conversation on sexual violence, specifically focusing on appropriate conduct and the meaning of consent on campus. The initiative was started by Carson, and Redmond plans on continuing it wholeheartedly. Over the next year, Redmond wants to inform campus community members of Campus Police’s
role and what they can do to help the community. He also wants to continue building a good relationship with London Police Services. Redmond further expressed that he feels lucky to be selected as the successful candidate for the position of director at Campus Police as he has personal ties to the University. His wife is from London and his son was a recent Ivey graduate. “When I dropped my son off here to go to school, I just assumed that he was on a safe and secure campus,” recalled Redmond. “I hope every mom, dad, brother or sister that drops someone off here for their four years or longer that they can feel the same way. I’m here to make the campus as safe as possible for everyone that comes on, including guests.” Redmond lists that one of the challenges in his transition period is getting to know the large number of people on campus. He believes that it is important to build a strong foundation with the Western community in order to make the campus a safer place for everyone.
Council meets, talks, eats and leaves RITA RAHMATI NEWS EDITOR @RITARAHMATI Wednesday night’s University Students’ Council meeting ended far earlier than expected as councillors quickly moved through several motions. The meeting was delayed because the person responsible for presenting Western’s mental health plan did not show up. While most items on the agenda were moved through quickly, two topics were heavily debated. Western’s sexual violence policy was discussed at length after USC communications officer Emily Ross presented the policy. Some councillors were displeased with the policy’s use of the term “victim.” Ross said she would take the councillors’ concerns to Western’s administration. The expected date for Western’s sexual violence policy to be completed is Dec. 6. Another hotly debated topic at the meeting was Ivey councillor
David DiBrina’s motion on a standing resolution of council. The motion stated: “The nature of executive appointments are problematic for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to a lack of transparency, accountability and a fair process.” The original motion faced little debate, but several councillors contested an amendment made by secretary treasurer Isaac Jacobi. Jacobi proposed barring councillors from running for previously appointed positions, saying it puts students-at-large who aren’t very involved with the USC at a disadvantage. He explained that councillors might vote for other councillors instead of non-council members. In the end, the motion passed with 76 per cent of councillors voting in favour of the amendment and the motion passing unanimously. Student programs officer Allie Adamo discussed changes to soph applications. This year, the interviews will take place in a group
setting. A number of council members expressed concern that some applicants may be uncomfortable with this setup. The USC’s policy paper topics were also presented to council — mental health on campus, pedestrian safety on campus and student mobility in London — and passed without any objections. The USC execs discussed the upcoming elections with a reminder that applications will open on Dec. 5. This year, the USC is hosting a “Pledge to Vote” event in the University Community Centre in which students who vow to vote will receive free coffee. Other items on the agenda included executive reports, standing committee reports, a presentation of the USC’s annual report, election of councillors to the student awards committee, Beerfest discussions and a Food Support services report. At the end of the night, councillors were treated to a pizza feast and left happy.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2016 • 5
Don’t lose your mind about my diet
ELLIS KOIFMAN CULTURE EDITOR @ELLIS_KOIFMAN If you eat a chicken every day, it’s fine. But if you eat vegan, everyone loses their mind. I’m not sure when people decided it was their business to judge other people’s eating preferences, but given the rise of new, non-traditional diets, it sure seems to be a major part of life these days. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, kosher, paleo, whatever, you have the right to choose what goes into your body. Are there concerns associated with being a vegan? Yeah, for sure. But there are even more health concerns with eating meat every day of the week. Let me paint a common picture for you of what happens when a vegan goes out to lunch with friends who don’t know about their recently decided veganism. I’m sure you’ve been on one of the sides of this. I’ve been on both, so I won’t pretend to be innocent here. I sit down for lunch with a bunch of friends at the Spoke. Friend A got a CLT, Friend B got chicken fingers and I got a Canadian harvest veggie bagel with hummus instead of cream cheese. A conversation is quickly struck up about why I would choose to miss out on their awesome cream cheese. “I’m trying to eat vegan,” I say. “Why would you ever want to do that?” Friend A replies. “I could never do that, I love meat too much.” I love meat too, but I put in effort
FIMS should do away with the mandatory course averages Nat in the Hat
NATALIE TREFFRY MULTIMEDIA EDITOR @NATTREFFRY I recently got a paper back for one of my mandatory FIMS courses. I was nervous and excited to get it back because I had done really well on the previous one and I was hoping to keep up the momentum. But when I received it, it was a full five per cent lower than the mark on my first paper. Initially, I was happy. It was still a good mark, but I know I could have done better. I put so much work into that paper and the feedback I got wasn’t any different from my first paper. So what happened? When I asked my TA what I could do better on my next paper
to improve my mark, she told me that I didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. In fact, she said that she can’t give out a mark above a certain percentage because she has to maintain a 75 per cent tutorial average. I’m not in the position to complain about the marks I get. I work hard for them and for the most part I’m happy. But I know that I’m not the only person who is affected by the course averages. Some of courses that are affected by the grade range include compulsory courses in MIT, sociology and political science. It may be harder to have an 80 average in an essaybased program because students are generally evaluated with multiple choice exams where there is a definite right or wrong answer. Set course averages are not fair to the students who dedicate a lot of time and effort in order to produce exceptional work. But because of the course averages,
JENNY JAY GAZETTE
BY GAZETTE EDITORIAL BOARD
Ellis in Wonderland
to avoid it because of the negative environmental impacts. Ignoring the second statement, I reply, “I watched Cowspiracy and did some research, so I’m kind of doing it for sustainability reasons.” “Get off your high horse,” says Friend B. What about being environmentally aware puts me on a high horse? Talking about why I’m trying to go vegan is a topic of discussion I’m always happy to welcome. I quite enjoy talking about and debating its merits (or lack thereof) in a respectful way. It’s nice to have someone challenge your ideas — but there is a difference between disagreeing with someone and straight up insulting them. If you’re going to ask me a question about my diet (or anyone else’s diet for that matter), don’t start attacking me for responding. It’s as simple as that. When did it become your duty to judge what I eat? Imagine I walk around campus for a week and call all the meat-eaters “murderer.” I’d be hated. Yet attempting to go vegan is met with constant harassment from everyone who thinks their vegan jokes are original. Newsflash: they’re not. Look, I’m not asking people to go around praising my choice to go vegan. In fact, please don’t. I’m just asking for my diet to be left up to me, without the constant interference of others. It’s hard enough trying to become vegan without the constant harassment, which is nothing but demoralizing. I know it’s often meant in good fun, but it’s not really fun to the person you’re speaking to, no matter how much they may hide it with self-deprecating humour. Let people’s diets be people’s diets. End of story.
Residence staff shouldn’t have to pay to work
Residence staff at Western are compensated for their work, but this compensation doesn’t begin to cover the high cost of living on campus given the weight of their responsibilities.
more equitable through increased compensation, they should consider changing the vetting process to ensure students are not taking advantage of the “free ride.”
While many other universities across Canada fully cover the cost of living for residence staff, Western seems to be one of the few exceptions. Queen’s University, for example, fully covers the cost of living for their residence staff; Western fails comparatively.
While the support of residence sophs helps build community in residence, staff have greater accountability and training for their job. The nature of their job extends beyond being a mentor and can be a heavy weight on their shoulders.
The 2015-16 compensation for Western residence staff was at $6,230 for RAs and $11,700 for Dons.
Beyond logging weekly hours of duty, residence staff are expected to have open doors at all times: They are first responders to the needs of first-year students, regardless if they are on duty or not.
Upon first glance these numbers may seem reasonable. But considering the expense of their rooms, residence staff are essentially paying out of pocket to work for the University. Total living cost on campus for eight months (including the mandatory meal plan) can be as steep as $14,815 in Elgin Hall, the most expensive residence. For some students who aspire to be residence staff, taking on this financial burden is simply out of reach. Comparatively, the average price for an eight-month lease in London sits at $5,200 (not including food cost). Having residence staff that are willing to take on this financial burden reflects a deep level of commitment; but if Western makes staffing opportunities
students might not receive the grade they deserve for their work. Students are being graded both to maintain a grade range and partially on the quality of their work instead of being graded solely on the quality of their work. It also means that students are being marked relatively to their peers, which pits students against each other. TAs should focus more on the quality of each student’s paper, instead of marking them to meet a certain grade average. Another reason why course averages are frustrating is because they make it more difficult for students who need to maintain a certain average for a scholarship or upper-year entry program like Ivey. For most students this means that in order to counter-balance the low mandatory course
The University should not overlook the importance of this first point of contact; it is often RAs or Dons who initiate or listen to difficult conversations with first-year students and affect positive change. Trained RAs and Dons who see regular patterns of behaviour from students in their dorms can do mental health check-ins for example. Without these figures present in residences, that touch point becomes further away for first-year students. For a university that champions its student experience, it seems odd to not value the staff that works so hard to create that experience. Why is Western the exception in this case? The University should get on board with the rest of Canada and adequately compensate the hard work that goes into this job.
averages, they need to pick elective courses where they aren’t affected by the grade range. Many students whose programs have mandatory courses that are essay-based often take bird courses to boost their average. This could put a student behind in fulfilling their degree requirements because they’re taking courses to boost their average instead of taking courses they’re interested in. Or it means that a student’s grade could be adjusted at the end of the semester in order to fulfill this course average. I frequently question why the course averages exist. If an entire class can accurately discuss a theory or apply it to an example, shouldn’t they all receive an exceptional grade for their work? How does this help my education
when my professor or TA says that there’s nothing that I can do better, but she can’t give me a higher grade because of the course average? For most students, including myself, the course average is an unclear structure in our education. Course departments should re-evaluate the grade range to accommodate for exceptional work produced by students. It is unfair that they cannot receive the grade that they deserve just because the rest of their class or tutorial group did well on an assignment. There should be less of an emphasis on numerical grades and more value placed on the quality of a student’s work. As students, we’re here to learn and if we don’t receive grades that properly reflect our knowledge, how are we expected to improve?
Editorials are decided by a majority of the editorial board and are written by a member of the editorial board but are not necessarily the expressed opinion of each editorial board member. All other opinions are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the USC, The Gazette, its editors or staff. To submit a letter, go to westerngazette.ca and click on “Contact.”
6 • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2016
It’s late on a Thursday night at Saugeen. Sophia*, a first-time Residence Advisor (RA) helps her drunk frosh stumble back into their rooms and into their beds safely. She then sweeps up broken glass on her floor and cleans vomit off the carpet. It’s not St. Patty’s day or Homecoming — it’s just an average night at ‘the zoo.’ Earlier in the afternoon, Sophia was helping one of her frosh outline an essay and switch courses. Another needed to talk about her depression and wanted help finding mental health resources. As a former RA at one of Western’s biggest student residences, Sophia knew these were regular tasks for a live-in student leader. She enjoyed mentoring students and was used to being given “dirty jobs” like mopping up puke, but she didn’t feel that herself or her fellow RAs were appropriately compensated for their time. “For being an RA in Saugeen, I did not feel like I was being compensated fairly for my work in comparison to RAs doing the same work in different buildings,” Sophia said. “The RA salary is far too low for the work it requires.” There is merit to her claim. The Gazette looked at nine Ontario universities and Western was one of two universities which don’t cover residence fees for their RAs, which makes the job unaffordable for many students.
Western should follow other universities and offer at least free room and board for exchange of an RA’s work if not a salary on top of that SOPHIA FORMER WESTERN RESIDENCE ADVISOR
PHOTOS BY JENNY JAY, GRAPHICS BY JORDAN MCGAVIN GAZETTE
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2016 • 7
BY AMY SKODAK THE COSTS AT WESTERN According to the 2015-16 residence staff employment contract, a new RA was paid $6,230 for an eightmonth period at Western. That’s barely enough to cover half the living costs at the cheapest residences (Saugeen, Delaware and Med-Syd) on campus. At Saugeen, an RA had to pay anywhere from $11,420 to $12,000 last year. This included the cost for the room and the mandatory meal plan. But housing rates aren’t the only expenses on the table. Tuition fees vary based on program but are approximately $7,700 per academic year. Books and supplies are somewhere around $1,026, according to the University registrar’s office. There are other tiers of residence staff who are paid more than RAs. For example, a first-time Residence Don was paid $11,700 in 2015-16. The Don carries a leadership role within the residence; providing leadership to RAs, serving as acting manager when the residence manager is absent and performing all the duties laid out for RAs. But there are questions if Dons actually do the extra work to deserve almost double the pay of RAs. “The Don’s salary is almost doubled in comparison to the RA’s salary and it’s relatively the same work,” Sophia said. “Apart from the one night [Dons] are the ‘Assistant Manager’ or AM who oversees the events and responsibilities of a night.” In addition, students can only apply for a Don position if they’ve already been an RA for a year. There are a limited number of Don positions compared to RAs and the process is selective. “I paid for the remainder of my living costs from my savings fund
built up through summer jobs,” Sophia said. But without additional help from OSAP or a Registered Education Savings Plan, covering costs outside of living expenses can become difficult without an adequate source of income throughout the school year. Considering a part-time job on top of being an RA might be one solution, but there are limitations to this. RAs’ outside commitments, including other part-time employment, cannot exceed 10 hours per week.
covers the cost of a single room in residence for their Residence Life staff as well as a free meal plan. University of Ottawa covers residence costs for their “Community Advisors” as well as providing an extra $1,700 stipend. Wilfrid Laurier University provides the cost of a single room, a $250 meal plan and an $804 stipend. Carleton University’s “Residence Fellows” are compensated for their residence fees and an all-access meal plan, as well as receiving a $250 stipend.
COMPARING WESTERN TO OTHER UNIVERSITIES Western RAs aren’t the only ones to raise concerns with residence staff compensation. Former University of Guelph RA Dalia Ahmed remembers feeling underpaid for what the job entailed. She ended up resigning from an “amazing” job because the pay wasn’t enough and she couldn’t afford it anymore. “A friend of mine goes to the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and RAs in his school have free residence, free meal plan, and get paid,” Ahmed said. But one doesn’t have to look across the border to find schools with more financial support for their residence staff. At least seven universities across Ontario cover residence fees for their staff. These include the University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, Queen’s University, Carleton University, Wilfrid Laurier University, Ryerson University and Brock University. Ryerson, Laurier, Carleton and Ottawa also provide an additional stipend on top of living accommodations. Notably, Queen’s University
WHY THE DIFFERENCE? Rachelle Clark, director of Housing Services at Ottawa University, explained that she saw residence staff’s living and meal plan accommodation as a necessity for a job that requires students to live in residence. “I think this is a way for us to be able to encourage students who are already challenged with the expenses of going to school to be part of our community life and residence life,” she said. “We really are trying to entice and invite the right fit to be a community advisor. So anything we can do as an employer to try and compensate people and make it easier for them [is important] and certainly having your living expenses paid for, makes it easy for Community Advisors to live-in.” Clark added that the treatment of their Community Advisors is rooted in Ottawa’s mandate to “create a positive student experience, a sense of community and a sense of belonging.” The covered residences costs at these universities enable students to apply for residence staff positions without wondering if they’ll be able to afford living in residence. With the more than $12,000 price tag on residence living for residence staff,
Western students don’t get the same opportunity. “In comparison to other universities who often compensate their RAs with a salary on top of free room and board, it’s easy to see that Western’s RAs are not appreciated and recognized for their hard work,” Sophia said. Acting executive director of residences at Western Chris Alleyne has a different perspective on Western’s compensation process. He explained that regular meetings with the Ontario Association of College University Housing Officers ensure that, “Every [university] works to provide the same type of [student] experience,” regardless of which institution they attend. Alleyne suggested that it’s inspiring to see students taking on the leadership roles with low payment opportunities because it means they care more about the experience than the paycheque. He used the example of sophs at Western, who are in leadership positions without receiving any compensation. “I look at the 800 sophs that provide leadership and mentorship support to our students. [They] do so, usually, money out of pocket,” said Alleyne. “They’re paying for their soph fees, they’re paying for their uniforms.” When asked if charging residence fees limits the RA position to students who can afford it, Alleyne said that Western offers a number of other leadership opportunities outside the RA position. “We have students who apply to be orientation leaders, who join the [Leadership and Academic Mentorship Program], who are looking for leadership opportunities and there’s plenty of employment opportunities on campus as well,” he said. “So I think students have [a] choice, they make their
own decisions around what works for them.” Despite the high costs of living in residence, Alleyne said many students still apply. “We have hundreds of students apply to residence staff and residence soph positions every year and with residence staff positions we always have too many and we’d love to take them all, but we always have too many [with] just not enough positions to offer,” he said. MOVING FORWARD Clark recognized the the financial issues residence staff might face while still students. “Having your living expenses paid for makes it easy for Community Advisors to live-in, [and] we require them to live-in and be present,” she said. “We’re very proud of our community advisors and the work that they do.” Sophia, while no longer an RA, still hopes that Western will revisit their residence staff compensations. “Western should follow other universities and offer at least free room and board for exchange of an RA’s work if not a salary on top of that,” Sophia said. For Western students who see affordability as a barrier to applying for the starter residence position, they might be out of luck. Alleyne does not foresee a significant increase in residence staff salary in the near future. The number of applications received ensures Western can continue hiring for these positions. It does, however, bring into question an equitable “student experience” for Western students when compared to their peers across the province. *Sophia is a pseudonym for a former RA at Saugeen who spoke to The Gazette for this story on condition of anonymity.
8 • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2016
Men’s basketball loses big against Ryerson MIKE DEBOER SPORTS EDITOR @MIKEATGAZETTE
MAAILAH BLACKWOOD GAZETTE
Six Mustangs earn football All-Canadian honours MIKE DEBOER SPORTS EDITOR @MIKEATGAZETTE Six Mustangs have been named U Sports football All-Canadians for the 2016 season. Third-year running back Alex Taylor of Winnipeg and fourth-year lineman Matt Van Praet of London were named first team All-Canadians on the offensive side of the ball. Taylor finished the season with 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns. Van Praet was a key cog in the Mustangs dominant rush-blocking offensive line that allowed Western running backs to accumulate 2,178 rushing yards this season, the second highest in the nation. Additionally, defensive back Malcolm Brown and tackle Rupert Butcher, both fifth-years and London natives, were also named first team All-Canadians. Brown had four of the Mustangs’ nine interceptions this season, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Butcher, who was taken in the sixth round of the 2016 CFL draft by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, anchored a Mustangs run defence that was fifth in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game. Fifth-year offensive tackle Sean
Jamieson from Winnipeg and third-year linebacker Jean-Gabriel Poulin of Saint-Nicolas, Quebec were named to the U Sports AllCanadian second team. The selection of Van Praet and Jamieson as All-Canadians is a reflection of a great season for the Western offensive line that came into the season surrounded by question marks. “Honestly, we lost three starters last year and I think everybody doubted that the Western O-Line was gonna be as strong as we were the past few years and I think we shut everybody up,” said Jamieson. “I think it was one of our best years we’ve had since I’ve been here. Everybody knew their role and knew what they were doing all the time and I think it showed on the film and showed on the field.” This marks the third straight season that Jamieson has been honoured as an All-Canadian after first team AllCanadian selections the last two years. “Being able to be named to that team with all the work I put in all off-season and all regular season is a great feeling,” said Jamieson. “Obviously you play the game to win the team awards but we weren’t able to do that this year and being named
an All-Canadian three years in a row is an honour to be noticed for all the hard work you put in.” Jamieson, Brown and Butcher will be leaving the team as their five years of U Sports eligibility have come to an end. For Jamieson, the All-Canadian honour is another highlight in what has been a great Mustangs career. “It’s really bittersweet because my time at Western is coming to an end,” said Jamieson. “It’s really hitting me now that the season is over but it’s been an amazing experience this year and friendships have been made and the brotherhood I created here is second to none.” Former Mustangs quarterback and current Laurier Golden Hawks head coach Michael Faulds took home the Frank Tindall Trophy as U Sports Coach of the Year. Faulds lead his squad to a 7–1 record and a stunning 43–40 win over the Mustangs in the Yates Cup. The All-Canadian selections were announced on Thursday night at the All-Canadian Awards Gala in Hamilton. The 2016 season will officially conclude as the Laval Rouge et Or take on the Calgary Dinos at Hamilton’s Tim Hortons field for the 52nd Vanier Cup.
The Ryerson Rams made history against the Western Mustangs on Wednesday night, setting a new program record with 23 three-pointers made en route to a 105–76 win. The loss drops the Mustangs to 1–6 on the season with only one game remaining before the Christmas break. The Rams were 23-of-44 from three and 39-of-67 from the field in their second highest scoring performance of the season. Adika Peter-McNeilly led all scorers in the game with 36 points on 13-of-16 shooting along with seven rebounds and six assists. The Mustangs had no answer for shutting down a Ryerson offence that is leading the nation with 95.7 points per game. “I think we just let them come out early,” said co-captain Alex Coote on his team’s poor defensive performance. “We gave them a couple of easy shots to a couple of their key players. They’ve got some great players who are gonna be hard to stop and they started hitting some tough ones.” The Mustangs were led by Omar Shiddo, who had 15 points, while Coote, Alex Otzyv and Dominic Clayton had 11 points apiece. Eric McDonald, the team’s only fourth-year player and Mustangs’ co-captain was frustrated by the team’s defensive performance against Ryerson. “Ryerson has two of the top guards in the country, so when you let them see the ball go in the net early you’re in for a long night,” said McDonald, who has been out of the Mustangs lineup since Nov. 12. “It didn’t help that we did a poor job of finding them and running them off the three-point line most of the game, so once they hit a
couple shots it was tough to stop.” Along with Peter-McNeilly’s 36-point performance, the Rams also saw production from Ammanuel Diressa, who scored 21 points. Together the duo has averaged 38.5 points per game through the first six games of the Rams’ season. Currently on a three-game losing skid the Mustangs will face off with the Toronto Varsity Blues on Saturday before taking a month off for the Christmas break. The Mustangs hope to end the 2016 calendar year with a win to propel them into the second half of the season. “We need a big bounce back game against Toronto so we just have to stay positive and be ready to compete on Saturday,” said McDonald. “I think in the first half our effort level was low which was disappointing because that should never be an issue so we just have to learn to give it our all from the start.” The Varsity Blues are currently 4–3 with wins over Algoma, Nipissing, Waterloo and Laurentian. It’s a winnable game for the Mustangs. A victory to head into the Christmas break could be a turning point in what has been a challenging season for this young Mustangs squad. “We have had a rough start to the first half of the season, but I think it’s important to keep our heads up and continue to look forward,” said Mustangs thirdyear guard Jedson Tavernier. “There’s still a lot of basketball left to be played this season and it’s important to learn from our mistakes and keep pushing to get better. “We’re looking forward to a good game this weekend, followed by a productive break heading into the second half of the season.”
Figure skating claims bronze in Kingston CLAIRE PALMER SPORTS EDITOR @CLAIREATGAZETTE Western’s figure skating team claimed bronze in Kingston this past weekend in the first Ontario University Athletics figure skating competition of the season. Overall, the team claimed five medals over the course of the weekend: two bronze and three gold. “I was really proud of how the team did, we’ve been working really hard leading up to the first competition,” said Jessica Chow, a fourth-year captain. “I think it’s a great start to the season and we hope to build on this momentum and recapture our gold at OUAs.” Denis Margalik captured gold in the Open Men’s Event, and Emily Bird and Nicole Lawson earned gold medals in the Junior Silver Similar Dance events. Jazz Smyl Joly and Sarah Hill claimed gold as well in the Senior Silver Similar Dance. Smyl Joly also earned a bronze in the Gold Solo Dance event and Michelle Kitsis claimed bronzed as well in Senior Silver Freeskate. “It was a good start to our season, we don’t wanna peak too early,” said Sarah Hill, a fourth-year on the team. “Some people had some really clean skates, but some places need tweaking and we got some good feedback.” In a group competition like this, every individual performance counts towards the overall score. It’s 10 points for a first-place finish, seven for second, five for third, and no points if a skater finished below fifth place. The scores
accumulate over the course of the competition and the overall scores are how the teams are ranked. It’s crucial that the team have overall depth and that everyone performs their best if a team wants to get a medal. “It basically accumulates throughout the day and we get an overall score,” said Hill. “So you could have won your event but your team could finish lower.” The team has a long history of success and has won OUAs four times in the last six years. They’ll be looking to recapture gold this February at the championships, and anticipate that Toronto, the defending champions, and Brock will provide some of the toughest competition this season. “Right now U of T has some really good freeskates and they’ve been doing really well the last year or two,” said Hill. “Brock has been building a good program, I know especially their creative is strong and so we’re anticipating some good competition.” After a shaky start to this season, the Mustangs will have to improve their freeskate events if they hope to reclaim gold in February. The Kingston competition was a good test to see at what level the Mustangs, as well as their competition, are at. “We know what events, what to work on and what to improve on for the upcoming competitions,” said Chow. “I think we are pretty hopeful that we’ll be gold medal contenders.” The team is hoping that their cohesiveness
COURTESY OF WESTERN FIGURE SKATING
will help them develop into the team to beat this year. The support that the teammates have for each other this season is one of the Mustangs’ biggest assets, and has helped bring everyone together. “I think our biggest strength this year is that
our team is really meshing quite well,” said Hill. “I think we have one of the best atmospheres on the team in a while.” The OUA championships are scheduled for Feb. 14 and 15 and will be hosted at Brock University.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2016 • 9
Cheerleading wins 31st national championship CHARLIE O’CONNOR CLARKE SPORTS EDITOR @CHARLIEJCLARKE Western’s co-ed cheerleading team took home their 31st title in 32 years of competition at the Power Cheerleading Athletics national championships in Brampton last Saturday. They won by a massive 45-point margin over secondplace Queen’s from two rounds of performances. “It was a killing this year,” said Western’s confident coach DavidLee Tracey, affectionately known to his team as Coach Trace. “It’s the equivalent of a basketball team winning 215–55.” After Western’s first routine, cheerleader Max Pfeiffer says the entire venue had their eyes on them. Entering the second half of competition with a substantial lead, Tracey allowed his team to loosen up a bit. “We thought we’d just give the people here a show,” said Pfeiffer. “They’ve already seen it, but let’s just make it a little more energetic and enthusiastic.” Western’s all-female fell just short in their own competition, finishing second to Laurier. They couldn’t defend their own championship from a year ago, but they came close, ending up just 16.5 points behind the winners. At the one-day competition, teams are scored on a variety of criteria. During performances, judges look for the technical difficulty and precision of various tricks used in a routine. Tracey says that Western’s recruitment strategy has been the main driving force behind their success over the years. “We just recruit really, really well, and the student body supports us really well,” he said. “The key to our success is clearly reloading the gun every single year. Unlike hockey,
COURTESY OF WESTERN CHEERLEADING
basketball, football, it’s not like there’s a big well full of cheerleaders that come in. We have to start from scratch every single year.” The coach points out that it’s especially important to recruit new cheerleaders for the team’s male contingent. Of the 25 men on Western’s team, only two had any previous experience with cheerleading. Many members of the team used to be gymnasts, football players or
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rugby players, with the physical skill and upper-body strength required to perform the difficult stunts in cheerleading. The team has an open tryout every September, and from there Tracey is able to determine which athletes will be best suited to learning the specific skills required. “The next part is just working harder than everybody else,” he said. “We train pretty much yearround. We have an excruciatingly
aggressive summer training program.” Now that the Canadian competition is over, Western’s team will take some time off for exams. When classes resume, though, they’ll be back in full training with winter events to prepare for. The team hasn’t yet decided where they’ll be competing in the winter, but it’s likely to be somewhere in the southern United States. Locations such as Georgia
and Texas have been considered, where they’ll be able to match up against some of the toughest cheerleading teams in North America. “Our main goal is always to win nationals,” said Pfeiffer, “but after that we always want to go and take on some big names in the cheerleading world, like Kentucky or Alabama or Louisville.” “We’ll jump right back into it in January,” added Tracey, “and go kick some American ass.”
10 • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2016
Don’t be hungry — get Hangry AIDAN TONG CONTRIBUTOR @GAZETTECULTURE Food lines on campus can be long and frustrating. Imagine being able to skip the wait, grab your food and get back to your busy life. Hangry allows you to do just that. The Hangry app aims to help solve the problem of long wait times by allowing students to preorder food on campus. Western Hospitality Services has recently partnered with the app to mitigate food wait time. Similar to Uber, Hangry connects to the electronic payment method of your choice — debit, credit or Paypal — and will connect to the Western meal plan starting January 2017. Users add food items to their shopping cart and pay on the app. On Western’s campus, the app is connected to Subway in the UCC and Bento Sushi, Quesada and Teriyaki Experience at Lucy’s in Somerville. “It’s easy to use,” says Nashita Syed, a second-year criminology student. “It’s super convenient. If I am really busy or tired, it’s nice not to wait in line.” Director of Hospitality Services Frank Miller and food safety manager at Western, Barry Russell agrees that Hangry will help students with time management. Miller says that Hangry is already being used primarily during the lunch period. “If it’s during midterms around 2 p.m., the line can range from half an hour to 40 minutes, easy,” says Danny Matti, a third-year medical
science student about the lengthy line at Subway. “Time is of the essence.” Mark Scattolon and Fabian Raso, the co-founders of Hangry, were inspired to create the app while they were university students. “If you look at campus life 20 years ago to today, nothing has changed in terms of food lineups. It’s the one thing that hasn’t evolved,” Scattolon says. “We’ve always had to be physically somewhere to get food. We wanted to change the game.” Scattolon compares a university campus to an ecosystem: It is where you live, work, sleep and eat. Because students tend to eat at the same places on campus, Hangry adds value to the daily routine and allows students to order breakfast,
lunch and dinner. Raso and Scattolon not only lived the student lifestyle but also studied it; their statistics show that the average student waits in a line 100 hours per year for food. These recent graduates know this time in line can be spent studying, participating in campus clubs or partying. As Scattolon points out, there is a link between food and learning. “When students are hungry, they can’t think properly. They aren’t learning the best, absorbing information the best. We want to make sure that this can change.” Hangry is already known from its success on Dragon’s Den and by the end of next fall, the app will be utilized in up to 15 Canadian universities and will expand into the United States. As of now, it is already implemented in over 10 Canadian universities including McMaster University, Wilfrid Laurier University, University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta. Recently, Hangry has introduced a rewards store so students earn points with every order they make. The points can be used to access and buy rewards or enter to win prizes such as gift cards from Best Buy or Amazon. Hangry has also incorporated a referral reward system where users earn $1 for every friend they refer to, Hangry up to $10. So the next time the Subway lines snakes through the UCC, just download the app that won’t let you get hangry.
Tech Talk: 360º video SHACHAR DAHAN GAZETTE STAFF @GAZETTECULTURE Think back to 2008. A simpler time, when the iPhone 3G was all the rave, Android was the new kid on the block and Microsoft’s Photosynth had just hit the app store. For those that don’t remember Photosynth, it was an app that allowed you to take pictures of your surroundings and then magically stitch them together to create an immersive 360-degree experience. But that was almost a decade ago. So after eight years and millions of dollars in research and development, consumers can now get their hands on the next major development — 360-degree video. 360-degree video has actually been around for a few years, but is quickly becoming more popular and more mainstream. Samsung is the latest to enter the 360-degree imaging market with a new camera called the Gear 360. The spherical device features two 180-degree lenses — known as fisheye lenses — which produce images that can be stitched together to create a 360-degree image or film. The bottom of the camera is flat so it can rest on most surfaces, and it also features a standard tripod mount.
There’s also a slot for the microSD card (up to 128GB supported) and a swappable battery. However, the camera is only splash-proof and dust resistant so don’t expect it to take a beating. If you want to see some 360-degree video cameras in action, then I suggest you check out 360-degree YouTube videos. The YouTube channel “TechnoBuffalo” has a great 360-degree video of CES 2016, the annual Consumer Electronics Show. The video will seem like nothing special at first glance, so make sure you pan around the video to change the point of view and experience all 360 degrees. 360-degree YouTube videos work with virtual reality devices, smartphones, tablets, and Google Chrome. If you try to load a 360-degree video in an unsupported medium, such as Safari, the video will appear as a flat panoramic video. While 360-degree video is certainly a revolutionary innovation, people are still experimenting to try and figure out potential uses for the technology. While it’s gaining more popularity, don’t expect it to become widely adopted among consumers anytime soon.
Leaving Weldon Library Dec. 6 th–19 th PICK UP TIMES AT OXFORD DRIVE 12:30am • 1:00am • 1:30am • 2:00am 2:30am • 3:00am • 3:30am • 4:00am THE HOURS OF SERVICE AS FOLLOWS: December 6-16, from 12:30am to 4:00am December 17-19, from 12:30am to 2:00am
A late night Shuttle Service is being provided by the USC offering students a safe way to get home. Starting December 6 to December 19, Robert Q Shuttle Busses will be departing from Oxford Drive (in front of the UCC Building.)
for complete details visit
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2016 • 11
Purple Shorts festival, a door of opportunities COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
SAMAH ALI CULTURE EDITOR @SISTERSAMAH
Cultural amnesia and the real history of the monarchy License to Kilt RICHARD JOSEPH CULTURE EDITOR-AT-LARGE @RJATGAZETTE “If you trash on the monarchy,” a friend warned me when I pitched her this column, “everyone will hate you.” Now, she has a flair for the dramatic — after all, who could hate someone so modest, good-looking and brimming with cheer? — but she’s familiar with the mildly indignant, protective instinct of this Scotland nation. The older crowd in Britain quite like their Queenie. For them, she represents something fundamentally English; something timeless and dignified and expressed best through the medium of imposing gilt-framed portraits. She is reserved, stately and a living testament to aging gracefully — the exact opposite of Boris Johnson. But what surprises me is the attitude of my British classmates and friends, my own generation of opinionated left-leaners. They shrug. The royalty, they point out, have no executive power, but they’re important figureheads. The Queen is famously apolitical, the monarchy is involved in charity and they rake in tourism money, not to mention their important place in British history and national identity. The claim that “the monarchy isn’t political” is, scientifically speaking, horseshit. To depoliticize empire is to deny the past, and this cultural amnesia seems to pervade Britain. Compare this attitude to Germany where it’s a federal crime to deny or minimize the Holocaust. The country is internationally recognized as a nation that confronts the mistakes of their past. Since the Nuremberg trials, where German leaders were tried for their crimes, their government has paid out billions in reparations to survivors and Israeli Jews. Certainly I’m not suggesting that these atrocities are equivalent, nor do I believe such a comparison would be at all productive, but I think people tend to underestimate or outright deny the sheer scale of death and destruction wrought by empire — maybe because the British government systematically and secretly destroyed thousands of records of their own imperial rule of the colonies.
But it’s harder than that to erase history. The British introduced concentration camps in the AngloBoer war well before the rise of Nazi Germany, and chemical warfare was born in mid-19th century Britain during the Crimean War. British occupation of India is another period rife with colonialist atrocity — apart from individual events like the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, between 12 and 29 million Indians starved to death as a direct result of British policy. For an example of widespread and horrifically inventive torture, we can look at Britain’s role in the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya. Empire’s not cute, empire’s not charming, and empire’s nothing to be proud of. It’s based on brutal, avaricious conquest, on greed and depravity and inhumane subjugation. It’s erased entire civilizations from the map and permanently crippled others. The rhetoric used to justify it was deluded and fanatically racist — the realities that this fiction disguised were even more horrifying. And it’s still operating today. The Israel-Palestine conflict rages on, due in no small part to Britain’s Balfour Declaration. In this period of austerity in the UK, Buckingham Palace needs some “essential” refurbishment to the tune of £369m. The royals regularly tour the countries their great-grandparents violently conquered, waving cheerily to the cameras — Prince Harry’s just popped down to the Caribbean, where he will carefully avoid talking about the British involvement in the slave trade. No apologies, no acknowledgement of the past, and a continual endorsement of jolly old England. Here’s a fun fact — there’s a “Canadian throne.” Not a chair made of hockey sticks glued together with maple syrup but an ideological position, occupied by Elizabeth II herself. Remember, Canada is still a constitutional monarchy, technically speaking, with all the baggage that entails. Now that our Prime Minister has acknowledged our own history and pledged reconciliation towards Canadian Aboriginals, maybe it’s time we ask ourselves whether we still want to participate in Britain’s cultural amnesia. Already, over half of Canada would prefer a Canadian head of state over a 90-year-old woman who wears a million-dollar hat. If the Queen ever actually kicks the bucket, it’s a valuable opportunity to wrangle independence from the crown. Plus, as an added bonus, we could get Trudeau’s chiselled features on the $20 bill.
Last year, Camille Inston sat down and wrote a script that would change the course of her Western career. Spilling her words on the page, the first-year wrote a play for Theatre Western’s Purple Shorts — a theatric festival of six 30-minute plays performed at the beginning of second semester. She submitted her play under a pseudonym and once selected for the festival, she revealed her identity and stepped into a world that she was desperately interested in but afraid to join. Now in her second year studying English and theatre studies, Inston is the director of the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council’s production of Antigone, featured playwright at the Grand Theatre and an intern at the Paprika Festival in Toronto. A lot has changed since participating in Purple Shorts and she is astounded by her success. “It’s been crazy, and to think all of this spawned from Purple Shorts, kind of giving me a ground base to experiment and do something brave for the first time and so many things have come out of the confidence that I gained from that experience,” Inston says. After participating in Purple Shorts, Inston finds herself constantly connecting with creatives at Western and professionals in the industry. The festival opened up a network of people and pushed her
to foster relationships with people she could work with after university. To her, bringing her writing to life was a dream come true and validated her future in theatre. She also commends her program for connecting students with people in the London theatre community. Gearing her education and extracurriculars towards theatre has given her the confidence and abilities to pursue her passions both inside and outside the classroom. Inston says, “Last year I came to Western to become a political science, pre-law student because that was something I felt pressured into doing … When I look at how I did a 180 in 12 months, I can’t even imagine what I will be doing in two years, but writing is something I’m very, very interested in, especially with all these opportunities coming my way.” Seeing their plays come to life through Purple Shorts isn’t the only reason people participate. Some see it as an opportunity to bring a dying movie script to life through a more accessible medium. This rings true for third-year film studies student and aspiring filmmaker Erik Bajzert. An avid festival goer, Bajzert shared the same experience as Inston after he participated in the Purple Shorts festival last year. After writing and directing his play Joe Meets God, he was floored by the incredible atmosphere promoted by Theatre Western. They encouraged unlimited creativity and welcomed deep topics both Bajzert and Inston were afraid
to bring up. This year’s Purple Shorts coordinator, Alexandrea Gaistman, continues this direction as she invites writers to submit plays discussing contemporary social conversations like sexuality, mental health and political diversity. “I definitely want to see things that are going outside of the box,” Gaistman begins. “I want to show the Western community that there is more to theatre than just black and white, there’s also a huge grey zone. I just love plays that play on the satirical element as well as the dramatic elements.” As a drama enthusiast herself, Gaistman believes Purple Shorts is one of the best opportunities offered on Western’s campus. It’s a collaboration between writers, directors, actors and artists as they work together to see something come into fruition. This year’s submissions deadline is Jan. 7 and the festival will take place Feb. 14 and 15 in The Wave. As Gaistman prepares for this year’s festival, she’s excited to see what people submit after a tumultuous year in popular culture. “In a time like right now, especially with all these different issues coming about within the political and social spectrum, I feel like it’s a great opportunity for students to have a say and for them to impact society a positive way through the arts,” she says. More information on Purple Shorts can be found on Theatre Western’s Facebook Page.
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