University of Ottawa dismisses report of systemic racism

The University of Ottawa has issued a denial of a report by its Student Appeal Centre, which alleges systemic racism in the university’s academic fraud cases. An independent report, commissioned by U of O, found that SAC’s conclusions were drawn from a sample size too small to show evidence of racism in its academic policies.

“In many places, the content [of the report] can only be described as totally unsubstantiated, inconclusive and inflammatory,” said U of O law professor Joanne St. Lewis, a specialist in human rights and systemic racism who was asked to evaluate the SAC report. St. Lewis said the report represented only one per cent of the student body and relied on anecdotal evidence.

The student-run SAC is a resource for students who appeal university decisions. Its academic fraud report found that 71 per cent of students they represented were of visible minorities. SAC’s student appeal officer, Mireille Gervais, said this statistic and stories of students’ experiences of procedural discrimination set off alarm bells.

The student report documents only those students who came to the group for help. These represent a relatively small sample, and SAC does not maintain there is systemic racism in all fraud offenses at U of O. However, when asked if a wider investigation might duplicate SAC’s limited conclusions, Gervais responded, “My feeling is that the people we see are an actual reflection of what’s [happening] on campus.”

SAC alleged that students of visible minority groups are consistently presumed guilty, facing contempt and disrespect in the appeals process. Responding to St. Lewis, Gervais countered that SAC’s report was not a scientific study of the whole student body but was meant to be a testimonial of the racism some students encountered.

Both St. Lewis and SAC agreed that students need to be provided proper representation. In the past, SAC’s request for students to be informed of their counselling services has been denied by most faculties. St. Lewis recommends that SAC be allowed to advertise its services, but points out that students are allowed to go to the campus legal aid clinic for help.

SAC has maintained that the legal aid clinic clearly said it could not represent students against the university administration. The legal aid clinic could not be reached for comment.

New herbal supplement may protect against germs

Colourful posters plastered on everything from the doors to the stairs of Toronto’s Union Station are a zealous marketing strategy by the Montage Corporation. Their product is the herbal supplement Ré-zistex—previously labelled as Resistol—which claims to provide exclusive protection from unruly germs that may cause colds and the flu.

“I’ve seen the posters for [Ré-zistex] all over the subway on my way to work. I’m not sure exactly what it does, but it’s intriguing. I definitely know it’s supposed to fight germs,” said one frequent TTC user. When asked whether Ré-zistex is a supplement they would try, another TTC user answered, “Maybe, I just don’t know what the difference is between this and another herbal supplement.”

The difference between Ré-zistex and other cold and flu remedies is that it apparently starts to tackle germs before you begin to feel sick. Since most infections lay dormant before you develop any symptoms, Ré-zistex supports your immune system during the formative stages of a cold or flu. In a recent study, one group of participants took Ré-zistex in a two-weeks on, one-week off pattern for five months, while a second group did the same with a placebo. The study results showed that the placebo only reduced cold and flu incidence by 14 per cent, while Ré-zistex reduced the occurrence of the cold and flu by 67 per cent. In three subsequent studies, participants taking Ré-zistex increased their antibody generation by 81 per cent and immune system response to unwanted organisms increased by more than 30 per cent. Although a new product, mounting evidence suggests that Ré-zistex may be a promising new supplement.

The Ré-zistex website claims the supplement’s “effervescent” formula will boost your immune system, providing users with antioxidants, electrolytes, and amino acids. Each pill of Ré-zistex contains vitamins A, C, E, and B12, magnesium, zinc, selenium, manganese, and potassium. It also contains astragalus and angelica, which work synergistically to regulate the body’s immune system, and echinacea, a germ-fighting herbal supplement. Ré-zistex tablets must be dissolved in a glass of water and consumed with food either a few hours prior to or following any other medications.

Carleton fundraiser back on

The Carleton University Student Association has reversed course on its decision last week to cancel an annual fundraiser for cystic fibrosis research. The move came after intense criticism and a media firestorm. Last week, CUSA dropped the fundraiser from its frosh plans because, in their words, the disease “only affects white people, primarily men.” CUSA’s president, Brittany Smyth, issued a public apology and announced an emergency meeting on Monday, Dec. 1 to discuss reinstating the fundraiser.

Still, many students are frustrated with the association’s recent actions and its damage to Carleton’s reputation. They are calling for the impeachment of Smyth and Donnie Northrup, the council member who drafted the CF motion.

Many students have turned to Facebook to voice their opinions. At press time, the Facebook group “Students do Support Shinerama, CUSA! Because Diseases Don’t Discriminate!” had reached well over 4,000 members.

In the past two days, a petition to remove Smyth from office garnered 1,000 of the 1,250 student signatures needed. A separate petition to impeach Northrup collected about 40 of the 90 required signatures.

CF is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs and digestive system. Although Caucasians are more likely to carry the abnormal gene that causes the disease, CF is prevalent among all races and genders.

Does turkey actually make you sleepy?

When it comes to the holidays, many of us look forward to a good old-fashioned turkey dinner with stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. When the pumpkin pie makes its appearance though, we find ourselves yawning, cursing the turkey for our after-dinner lethargy. But is the poultry really the culprit behind this urge to doze off?

Turkey contains an essential amino acid called L-tryptophan, which has been recognized for its sleep-inducing effects. Tryptophan can be metabolized into serotonin and melatonin, neurotransmitters that exert a calming effect and regulate sleep. However, you’d probably still feel tired after a big holiday meal even if you eliminated the bird. In order to make you drowsy, L-tryptophan needs to be taken on an empty stomach, without any other amino acids or proteins. Therefore, the tryptophan in turkey probably won’t cause the body to produce more serotonin, as it isn’t the only food being consumed at a big holiday feast.

So if it isn’t the turkey, what’s making you drowsy? Most likely, it’s the entire meal. They’re often quite heavy—the average Thanksgiving or Christmas meal contains 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat—and loaded with carbohydrates. To digest all that food, the body reroutes blood to the stomach. This causes sleepiness, as less blood, and therefore less oxygen, is being delivered to the brain.

That said, a midnight snack of turkey could be helpful to insomniacs. Nutritionists say that taken on an empty stomach, a serving contains enough tryptophan to induce the body to generate sleep-inducing amounts of serotonin.

Calgary bans anti-abortion posters

The University of Calgary has threatened legal action against an anti-abortion group who refused to move graphic posters that compare abortion to genocide. Since 2005, the University of Calgary Campus Pro-Life has shown posters of aborted fetuses around campus for their annual event, Genocide Awareness Project.

The labelling of abortion as genocide and the explicit images have sparked vocal counter-protests. One image compares an aborted fetus to victims of the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide.

After U of C received complaints, admin told the pro-lifers to hold their signs so people aren’t forced to view them involuntarily. Campus Pro-Life rejected the order.

U of C said it will take legal action against Campus Pro-Life if they display the posters. Though the university is a public institution, the campus is considered private property and the group’s protests can be considered trespassing.

The National Post reported that when pro-life protestors set up their displays this week, U of C security guards served them notice that they could face arrest, a fine of $2,000, or civil action. The guards also held up signs that read, “Caution. Campus Pro-Life has been served with a notice to vacate university property. The university is now taking appropriate legal action.”

As of Thursday, Calgary Police have not served any trespassing notices.

Don’t let the flu call the shots

Walk around campus and you will hear a symphony of coughs, sniffles, and sneezes. Yes, it’s flu season. According to Health Canada, about 10 to 25 per cent of Canadians will be affected by the influenza virus every year, costing the healthcare system millions. If you assume influenza causes nothing more than a few days of discomfort, think again. The World Health Organization notes that each year a quarter million people worldwide die from influenza.

Influenza exists in two main strains: Influenza A, which makes you seriously ill and Influenza B, the milder version that affects most of us every year. The influenza virus is highly unstable and prone to mutation. The virus you are potentially exposed to one year will be different from what you may come into contact with in the future.

There are many ways to prevent falling ill this flu season. One of the best preventative measures is the flu shot. The flu shot is a vaccine containing three strains of the virus that scientists believe will be prevalent in the coming flu season. They are used to stimulate the immune system to develop antibodies against the flu. These viruses are inactivated, meaning that you can’t get the flu from the flu shot. Keep in mind that if you’re allergic to chicken eggs, you will want to avoid taking it, as the vaccine is developed using eggs. About one in a million people vaccinated with the flu shot develop a nervous disease known as Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). However, most patients recover and there have been fewer deaths reported due to GBS, compared to the influenza virus.

In addition to the flu shot, the flu vaccine can also be administered through a nasal spray known as the Live Attenuated Influenza Virus (LAIV). This nasal spray is similar to the shot with only one exception. Instead of using inactivated or dead virus strains, the nasal spray contains weakened live strains. Similar to the flu shot, the LAIV assists the immune system in developing anti-bodies to combat influenza. As the LAIV is a live virus, it is only recommended for healthy individuals between the ages of five to 49. The LAIV and the flu shot do not significantly differ in terms of their effectiveness.

If you’re considering staying sniffle-free this season, you should think about getting vaccinated. It’s free and could prevent you from falling seriously and inconveniently ill, especially during exams.

Studies in sadomasochism

Performance studies at U of T are getting a whole lot kinkier. Sexual Performance: Case Studies in Sadmasochism returns this year, offered as a drama grad course and to undergrads in sexual diversity studies.

The course examines links between drama and S/M practices, which frequently rely on theatrical elements, to “test theoretical assumptions against the background of concrete experience,” according to the course description.

Professor Leslie Katz hopes to dispel notions of S/M as merely theatrical fantasy or eroticized violence. While it includes theatrical elements, S/M also deals with the control and submission of personal power, she said.

“If there is one thing that I would like my students to leave the class with, it is the conviction that theatre is not only about simulation and make-believe; the stakes of performance are real,” said Katz. No acting experience is required.

Calgary stamps out Montréal

In football, careers are often defined by the big game. On last Sunday night’s 96th edition of the CFL’s Grey Cup, both signal callers had something to prove. Both Calgary Stampeders’ Henry Burris and Montréal Alouettes’ Anthony Calvillo have been instrumental in their respective team’s success, but dubbed with a footnote, they “cannot win the big one.”

Coming into the game, the Alouettes were flying high with league MVP Calvillo and five all-stars, looking to cap off their storybook season with a win on home turf. But in the end, it was the other MVP candidate who won the rights to sip from Lord Grey’s mug. Burris, who completed 28 for 37 passes for 328 yards, and ran 9 times for 79, broke the hearts of 66,308 screaming fans in Olympic Stadium with a 22-14 win over the Montréal Alouettes, finally earning the respect he and his team so desperately craved.

“To finally be a champion, wow,” said a teary-eyed Burris, named the MVP of the game, to TSN. “I need to wake up, but the great thing about it is, it’s reality now!”

“We’ve been dragged through the dirt for a few years, and we did it to ourselves in many ways”, said Burris. “But that’s what allowed us to enjoy this occasion much more than if it came easy. We came to Montréal to win what we could control, because as good as this team was this season, it would have been an awful waste not to leave here with a championship.”

The Stampeders didn’t look like a championship team early on. Montréal pivot Calvillo picked apart Calgary’s defence, engineering an impressive opening drive before kicker Damon Duval booted a 14-yard field goal.

After Calgary’s DeAngelis replied with a 44-yarder, the momentum started to swing in the Alouettes’ favour in the second quarter. After linebacker Reggie Hunt picked off the lone poor pass of the game from Burris, Calvillo methodically moved the team down field and running back Avon Cobourne scored a 16-yard touchdown.

The Alouettes fired on all cylinders. After their defence held the Stampeders’ drive to a two-and-out, the special team stepped up as Larry Taylor returned the third down punt for 44 yards to the Calgary 43-yard line. Four plays later, Duval made his second field goal from 19 yards out, putting the Alouettes up 10-3 late in first half.

Burris showed us why he was the best player in the CFL West. On the final possession of the half, he began with a determined scramble for a first down that foreshadowed what was to come. Nik Lewis and Joffrey Reynolds caught consecutive bullets from Burris, who finished off with a 20-yard pass to Brett Ralph with 44 seconds left in the game.

“All along we wanted to get the running game involved and Henry Burris in the QB position was a big part of the running game,” said Calgary head coach John Hufnagel.

The key was Calgary’s defence readjustment. After giving up 10 points in the first half, Calgary defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones mixed in some zone coverage, with Calgary’s patented man-to-man, confusing Montréal.

The league’s most prolific offence squeezed out all but one point from a punt single in the second half. Calvillo, who went from the MVP to the MHP, “Most Helpless Player,” was sacked twice and threw two interceptions, swinging the game to Calgary’s favour.

“When you look at the big picture, those two plays really cost us the game.” said Calvillo, whose Grey Cup record fell to 1-5. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity [to win at home] and we just let it slip through our hands.”

He gave credit to the Calgary defence, especially defensive end, Toronto native Mike Labinjo, who knocked down four passes from Calvillo and recorded a sack.

“The old Calgary Stampeders team, if things didn’t go our way, we’d fold up like a cheap tent,” exclaimed Labinjo. “We learned from those punches to the gut. We’ve had a good nucleus for four years that’s been through a lot of B.S., so it’s an amazing feeling.”

But Labinjo wasn’t the only Canadian who had a great night. Niagara Falls native Sandro DeAngelis finished a perfect five for five, including a clutch 50-yard drive late in the fourth quarter that completed the scoring. He was named the most valuable Canadian of the game.

The two teams will now head to the off-season. The vindicated Stampeders will look to defend their title next season on home turf, as the devastated Alouettes face questions and doubts, wondering what could have been.

Prior to this year, the last time two MVP candidates played in the same Grey Cup was 1966 in Vancouver. Russ Jackson won the MVP, the late Ron Lancaster won the championship.