Tag Archives: meliorist

Student engangement loses its sex appeal

Student engagement is the no longer the two sexiest words in post-secondary vernacular. All too often bandied about as a reason to do this or that, to spend this money or not spend any at all, the idea behind ‘student engagement’ has become almost meaningless. With students expected to pull A’s, work part time to support their academic career, maintain a semblance of a social life, and get involved in school activities it is no wonder that dark shadows grace many an eye and stress is palpable in the hallways.

At an institution, Students’ Unions are based around the very idea of an active and engaged student body and without such, these bottom up organizations would be fairly inconsequential. It is no wonder then that our very own Students’ Union, the ULSU, constantly fights the good fight, proving that our UofL students are active and responsive. At the very least, page twelve of The Meliorist proves that there is somewhat of a Chuck Norris loving – classmate call out – disgruntled roommate student community here.

Recently, there have been grumblings about newly placed barriers the University administration and the various departments within have put up to discourage club activity on campus and over all students ‘good times’. There have been significant changes in the attitudes the ULSU has taken regarding clubs and their vigilance to ensure that rules and regulations are being followed. Observing the number of events and the outstanding attendance for club activities, this is not acting as a deterrent to event organizers.

Speaking to Alex Masse, Vice President Academic for the ULSU, he commented on club restrictions, “Everyone at the SU thinks that clubs should be able to go out and have dinner at a restaurant, or help promote a concert, for example like the Headbangers want to do. Everyone wants to make it happen, but it’s on our books that it can’t happen.”

Student events have been increasing by both the ULSU and clubs at large. As well, events and speakers being brought in by the University of Lethbridge to engage students and community members at a more visceral level, an education outside of the classroom, continue to be of excellent quality and well attended.

Student engagement is not a one sided issue. It is not just a matter of students not caring, or not being interested in exploring new idea’s and paradigms. In fact, to believe in true student apathy is a disregard for the sacrifice students make to continue their education at a post-secondary institution.

The reality is, students are no longer just students. Students hold part-time jobs alongside attending full time classes. Financial restrictions place a greater emphasis on success in academics as well as time spent working to ensure rent is paid, food can be eaten, and tuition is forked over.

Tuition in Alberta continues to rise, worrying many that it will soon reach unaffordable rates. Albertan students now pay the third highest tuition in the country. A province that can afford to promise two billion to a green washing initiative sadly does not prioritize education to the same extent.

Those who are involved, especially those who work to advocate changes to post-secondary education, understand the pressures many students are under. Masse, “I do see where students are coming from when they do come across as being disengaged. Quite frankly, we are dealing with a campus where so many people are spending so many of their waking hours just trying to do well in school and then dedicating the rest to work. I don’t think that it is so much that students don’t want to be engaged, I think that haven’t bothered to care because they are already hurting from all the other burdens placed on them, because of the amount of actual paid employment students need in order to get through a degree without having a crippling amount of debt. It’s really hard to find the time to come out to hear such and such person speak about whatever topic, regardless oh how important it is.”

Students are engaged, and they do care. The continuous efforts being put into their academics and into ensuring they are financially stable enough to remain in post-secondary education demonstrates that. It is our institutions and our governments that need to prove to students that they also care, that the work and effort is noticed. Lowering tuition rates, ensuring there is adequate on campus housing, and fiscally prioritizing funding to post-secondary education will have a lasting impact on students and on their communities. Students will give back in volunteer time, in student engagement, and in making this campus a better and more vibrant community for all.

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Raindrops and roses or: Top Ten reasons that I reveal in fall’s glory!

As September wanes and the leaves drop, ski season is on the foremost of many of you young wiper snapper’s minds. As for myself, I am too busy reveling in the glory and absolute loveliness that is Fall. Lethbridge only gets a brief glimpse into this seasonal young lover mind and I intend to enjoy every lovely morsel that’s available.

Top Ten reasons that fall can make my heart beat faster that an unclapable clap track:

1.       Live shows – For real folks. Everyone knows that summer is music festival season but fall is the time of year where smaller bands are touring for their last vestiges of musical gained income before it gets too cold to risk that tour van on Canada’s highways. As well, the colder it gets, the less evening outside options you have so opting for the warmth and comfort of your local indie venue is an excellent plan.

2.       Warm sweaters and huge, colorful scarves – Fall is the perfect season for us cardigan, boot and scarf lovin’ peeps. So many great options for layering and finding the perfect wool cardigan and huge pashmina can give you more satisfaction than the Top Hat.

3.       Cuddling – Keep those heating bills down (and your carbon emissions lowered!) by finding someone to cuddle with. Cuddling is the greatest form of human contact ever and as an extra bonus, that huge pashmina can work as a great blanket.

4.       Long drives – Southern Alberta is killer for fall aesthetics. Grab some friends, a vehicle and go country driving. The freshly cut fields and crisp leafy smell is amazing this time of year and fall nights offer excellent star viewing.

5.       Long walks – the more sustainable way of appreciating the lovely fall days and nights! Lethbridge has some pretty decent parks which offer lovely walking paths and great opportunities for conversations. A mug of hot cider and a great pair of boots is all you need to enjoy this. Plus, pretty soon it is going to be too cold to be walking for any length of time so jump on it while you can.

6.       Halloween! – This holiday does lend itself to hoochie mama’s dressing up like “slutty” whatever but man o’man is getting a costume actually so much fun. Think outside the box this year and dress like your favorite Watchmen character, or children’s TV show (Jem and the Holograms…amirite?!). There is also going to be a screening of Rocky Horror Picture at The Galt on Halloween night, so get your tyranny on and come out!

7.        Baked Goods – So, baked goods are probably my favorite thing in the world and fall is the perfect season for them. Eating homemade banana bread while walking through a park on a fall afternoon…sigh. Like me and are baking challenged? Get a friend to give you a lesson, or find someone who loves to bake and offer back rubs in exchange for baked goods. Or, just man up, grab some Company’s Coming cookbooks and get to work!

8.       Nights in – Fall offers the most perfect night in. No matter if your curling up with a great book and some Fleetwood Mac or with some good friends and a killer movie (Calgary Film Fest recommendation: Let the Right One In…Swedish vampires…need I say more?) with the wind and rain outside pattering on your window and the warmth and love inside, could you get any happier?

9.       The Coulee’s – This time of year, the Coulee’s and the river bottom becomes stunning. The trees turn a million different colors and since it’s the last ditch effort before it becomes inhabitable, there is a flurry of cute and furry animal activity to watch and enjoy.

10.   ULSU events – Sorry, this is a full on plug but the ULSU has a trillion things happening this fall semester and they’re all pretty cool so please check ‘em out. You’ll probably be pretty stoked when you do and better off for it.

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five years and still no degree…oh jeez!

Top Ten Things I have learned here at the University of Lethbridge:

Well, another year finds me here and as I am going into my fifth (yes, fifth year, this is something many of you can look forward to…) I only hope my extensive experience here will aid you if you’re new or give you a chance to commiserate if you’re not.

1.       Finishing in four years is kinda like watching the first The Terminator and The Terminator: Judgment Day but refusing to see The Terminator: Rise of the Machines. You’re already in so deep you may as well enjoy it. Four years is a long time yes, but don’t get hung up on the four years business. If getting a sweet gig sets you back some time, no worries. If volunteering, or pursuing something you love causes you to take 3 classes instead of five, it’s worth it and if you think the only way to be successful is finish your degree fast and get out, you’re wrong. You are already paying for school and already committed to being a student, you may as well enjoy it. Just be warned, there is a fine line between enjoying and roosting. Seven years and Terminator Salvation is a bit much. Quit while you’re ahead.

2.        You will get fat. Well, maybe not fat but trust me. By the end of each term you will see students at the gym in numbers you have never seen before because once finals are over you will start to care about how you look again. Don’t stress about it but just know, it may happen. Love yourself from within etc…

3.       On that note, the University and its various subsidiary services offer free food all the time. You can usually dine for free at least once a week. This is great, especially for CJ loving residence kids. Lectures usually offer wine and cheese, go to these. There is always some random reason the university decided to dish out free cake in the atrium or have a free BBQ for students. Keep your eyes peeled and if you don’t mind waiting in line, you will be good to go!

4.       Midterm season in the second semester coincides with the windiest days that North America will and has ever seen. Do not walk outside if you can help it. Do not walk with loose papers anywhere, even inside the school, trust me. Realize the wind is your friend. Helping you stay in and study, helping you practice your meditation skills at 3 am when it rattles your window. Embrace it. Love it.

5.       Volunteer at CKXU. Well, volunteer anywhere. If you want to have a good experience here do something. Old episodes of Degrassi Junior prove nothing else but that clubs are awesome and will help you be a better person.

6.       Go to cool things and events happening here. You are paying to be educated here, you are choosing to live here, embrace it. The UofL art gallery is wicked and has new exhibitions every semester. There are always free recitals and lectures happening. Take advantage of this stuff now, because that middle management office job will at best offer you free cake on someone’s birthday and we’ve already explored the consequences of that.

7.       This is a list of places off campus which are worth checking out:

–          Red Dog Diner – Cheap food, fast and really really good. Family owned business that is open to midnight Sunday – Wednesday and 2 am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This is amazing for Lethbridge.

–          Blueprint Records – The only record store in town, specializing in hard to find stuff and used CD’s/Vinyl. Anything you want, they got it. Mike, the owner is awesome at ordering stuff in so do not be afraid to ask.

–          The SAAG – Southern Alberta Art Gallery. It’s pretty amazing and has world renowned art collections. Check it.

–          Andrew Hilton – Amazing wine selection and often tastings are available.

–          Westside Backstreet – Super chill place to grab a bevi and a Jamie. Sandwich that is. No one names Jamie works there that I know of.

–          Cuppers – Amazing coffee and tea. Huge selection. Trust me; these are two things you will need.

8.       Talk to people in your class. This is a little after school special of me, but Little Foot was way better off once he had his posy to help him out in “The Land Before Time” than when he was on his own. Friends are good, the more you surround yourself in the better.

9.       Take advantage of every opportunity this University can offer. Stop into the co-op office often, check what’s available, see how you can get a co-op. Talk to your adviser about an exchange, there are tons of international universities you can attend while paying the same amount of tuition you would pay here. This is awesome. Go on an archeological dig, run for student office, become the president of a club or just really really enjoy our luscious shower facilities.

10.   Don’t complain. The more you complain the less likely you are to seeing the positive points and the more likely you are to hating whatever you are doing. Either change what sucks or get over it. Awesome Sauce.

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