Thursday, April 30, 2009

Geese & Groundhogs

It occurs to me that the only constant in our tiny world at Nipissing University and Canadore College comes down to geese and groundhogs.

No matter the change the campus endures—whether that change is felt in the buildings and residences, in the woods or in the very centre of the campus family—the geese and groundhogs remain active. Though they may burrow deep into holes for the winter, or fly south to destinations unknown in the scope of human understanding, they always return to see a new flock of eager minds, voracious in their appetite for knowledge, and thirsting for that elusive thing called change.

Yet it seems that change so rarely does come. The timeline that has brought us here may allude to mountains, but the evidence points to molehills. Are we fitter as a university and college community? Are we now fully acquainted with our host city? Do we now have the key to sustainability in an environment so fraught with choice? I would argue that now, more than ever, there is divisiveness among us that points to a lack of stewardship, a concern so great that it is no longer easy to envision campus life in twenty years, or fifteen years, or even five years. You see, without a capable lead and a destination, even the great V-formation of Canada’s geese dissolves into the clouds.

A friend of mine recently remarked that he regrets leaving university without making it a better place than it was when he first stepped on campus. I would like to counter this, by offering some advice: the best we can ever do is make small waves. This should not be construed as a defeatist attitude—rather, it is a hopeful one. Years after beginning silent protests in the halls, students’ power is still unfocused and largely untapped. It is still unable to freeze tuition, or to effect academic regulations with precision, and many of the best and brightest lecturers we had are now strung up by faulty wire contracts or worse, let go because of petty politics. Even though we have been able to stand tall and demand our place in making decisions in the face of blatant corruption, all we have really done is make small waves. And that’s not such a bad thing. Our small waves are destined to make a bigger splash than we could imagine had we not spoken at all.

Yet … it’s not really enough, is it? Let’s imagine for a second that a university or college exists in the natural world as animals do. It would seem that those who fuel the resources (and ostensibly own them) would be the victors in any fight. It would seem that whereas students fund the operation and fuel the mission of college and university settings, their power would be enough to wield in the light of bad decision making. It would be enough to wonder why a new, all-male hockey team is necessary when other varsity athletic endeavours are more affordable and much rarer—and more accommodating to a campus where 70% of Nipissing University students are female. It might just be enough to waive off thoughts of hiring practices that ask good faculty members to teach overload and then ask them to go without benefits, even though their impact on students is nothing short of spectacular. It would seem that way, wouldn’t it?

Yet, it’s not really our fault. We have made the mistake of complaining to people and positions incapable of making headway because the definitions of their jobs have been so ineffectual and irresponsible. It is no secret finding information on campus leads one on a labyrinthine quest, and once on the course our Quixotic students are apt to be sidetracked by ill-fitting logic and talk of authority. The problem is that ‘authority,’ like ‘shifting paradigm’ or ‘new direction’ is part of a host of buzz words and catch phrases that sound important but don’t really mean anything. The problem, too, is that much of the authority espoused by those in charge is really just innocuous action; decisions filtered through committee and made to appear different. The key is to give such decision making power to those who can be easily replaced—just in case blame needs to be placed.

There is an endless supply of fruitful exploration left at the Education Centre campus and time enough to turn every handshake into a meaningful partnership. There is even time to accommodate the geese and the groundhogs who call the campus ‘home,’ and time to recognize that the key goal, focus and every action of a good institute of higher learning is to inspire and better the minds of students.

It just takes some time—and a bit of a shift in the food chain.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Tragically Hip to Headline North Rocks The Bay

UPDATED: The Sam Roberts Band will open up this year's festival, on Friday, July 31st with The Arkells and The Respectables. Sunday's line-up has yet to be announced.

Canada's favourite rock outfit, Kingston's The Tragically Hip, will be headlining North Rocks The Bay this August long weekend.

At a press conference held at Holiday Inn Express today, festival organizers Symphony of Sound said they had successfully booked the band in an attempt to expand the festival's reach and appeal. The company's marketing approach has been developed to complement tourism growth in the North. To Symphony of Sound's credit, the plan may just work: the organizers have secured a Northern 'exclusive' deal with the band so that North Bay has special access to their tour.

The Tragically Hip are touring in support of their newly released album, "We Are All The Same," in stores since April 7th. Opening for The Tragically Hip are Attack in Black and The Skydiggers. Tickets go on public sale May 1st, but special pre-sale opportunities will be available for Hip fan club members and sponsor radio listeners.

This year's waterfront capacity clocks in at 50, 000 people and tickets will range in price from $50 for a day pass to $80 for a full, three-day weekend pass.

For more information:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Getting on the cyber world

While I am assured that at one point news was delivered in person, and later in print, it seems that these days in order for a newspaper to survive it must find its way online. It is in some ways a sad time for those of us who relish the feel of newsprint and who remember a time when crowded newsrooms were the site of whistle-blowing. Indeed, there was a time when the print media worked in tandem with public suspicion to keep society's ills in check, if only for brief periods of time. There was credibility and respect inherent to being a newsman, and every businessman's fingers were kept just a little cleaner because of the newsman's hound dog approach. Now, however, the influx of 'net-based news has made it ever so easy to slip into mainstream consciousness free from the rigours of bias-check. Day after day, millions login to or get their daily fix on The Daily Show and while neither claims to represent centrist media opinion, they are legitimated by their followers.

To this end, perhaps now in reflective angst (!), I present you with our website,, the only destination for news on campus at Nipissing University and Canadore College. It's a work in progress, sure, but it's also our way of telling you that "we get it," -- we understand the difficulty in keeping up with our print stuff. So please bookmark The Campus Free Press and keep us in mind for your news needs, because we keep YOU in mind when writing. It's our hope to discuss the topics which involve you, or which don't involve you and SHOULD. We want to be your outlet for discussion about social life, athletics, accessibility, pop culture and, above all else, academia.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The New Phase

Being in the newspaper business simply gets more exciting each year of its operation. New faces, new issues and new challenges all appear seemingly out of nowhere, and it's the job of the staff and editors to meet them all head on.

For the next academic year, The Campus Free Press will undergo some changes, and we hope they are all effective in bringing the community closer together. What will these changes entail? Well, here are just a few of the ideas we've got kicking around:
  • A formalized style guide will ensure consistency throughout each and every issue!
  • We'll be putting together an email newsletter for subscribers with content we couldn't wait to share with you all!
  • We'll be hosting events and raising awareness about groups and projects we think are deserving of your time!
  • We'll be working hard to make our presence in CUP - that's the Canadian Universities Press - is well known. As members of CUP, we have access to a virtual world of student news from across the country and we aim to share it with you!
  • We want to look into bridging our publication to others in the province -- that means we will be working to give you greater access to our peer network!
We truly hope we can serve everybody to the best of our abilities. On that note, if you are interested in writing for The Campus Free Press, well, let us know. We are always interested to learn more about you and your issues. Remember, we exist for the purpose of illuminating the lives of students and other community members at Nipissing University AND Canadore College and we'll do our best to serve you well.