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Award-Winning Writer and Editor Peter Simpson Named Irving Chair in Journalism

PUBLISHED DATE: Monday, July 25, 2016
Award-winning writer and editor Peter Simpson will be visiting campus this fall. The former arts editor, arts-editor-at-large and opinion page editor at the Ottawa Citizen will be the Irving Chair in Journalism at for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Award-winning writer and editor Peter Simpson will be visiting campus this fall.

The former arts editor, arts-editor-at-large and opinion page editor at the Ottawa Citizen will be the Irving Chair in Journalism at for the 2016-2017 academic year.

"I’ve been sitting in chairs for most of my life, from recliners to rockers, so I’m excited about the Irving Chair, and I look forward to working with young journalists to answer the critically important question of where journalism is going, and what it’ll be 10, 20, or 50 years from now,” Simpson said.

He will be on campus for two months, from September 19 to November 18, conducting workshops for students.

Simpson was born sixth in a family of six outspoken children in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, so a career in opinion writing and art criticism seemed to fit.
 
He worked at the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal from 1994 to 1998, where he first worked with Neil Reynolds—the legendary editor who later became the inaugural Irving Chair of Journalism—became editorial page editor, and won two Atlantic Journalism Awards for opinion and feature writing.
 
In 1998, Simpson followed Reynolds to the Ottawa Citizen, and spent two years on the Citizen’s editorial board and often focused on cultural issues. He then took over as arts editor for eight years, and spent the past seven years writing the popular Big Beat column and blog, with a principal focus on the National Gallery of Canada and other federal cultural institutions. 
 
Simpson left the Citizen in February 2016 and is working on a novel. He lives in Ottawa with his wife, the freelance journalist and Frederictonian Jennifer Campbell, and their cats Dief and Baker. 

The Irving Chair in Journalism is a $1-million endowment of the Irving family that brings a distinguished journalist to St. Thomas University annually.


Previous chair holders are Jane Purves, Neil Reynolds, Patrick Martin, Stevie Cameron, Michael Harris, Jan Wong, Francine Pelletier, Bernie Lucht, Talin Vartanian, David Adams Richards, and Ros Guggi.

Jessica Jones, BA’16, Attacks Stigma Surrounding Homelessness as Donor Relations Coordinator for Fredericton Homeless Shelters

PUBLISHED DATE: Monday, July 25, 2016
Jessica Jones, BA’16, discovered her passion for social justice at St. Thomas and is now working to effect change in her community as the Donor Relations Coordinator at the Fredericton Homeless Shelters.

Jones, a native of Moncton, NB, who majored in Human Rights, Psychology, and Criminology, considers herself a “stigma attacker.”

“I attack the stigma surrounding homelessness and try to paint a more realistic picture for the public of what homelessness really means and how it can happen,” she said.

“Each day is a learning opportunity and the chance to show another human being empathy and care. It’s an extremely humbling thing to experience.”

In her position, Jones is responsible for data entry, donor appreciation, event planning, securing new donors and partnerships, as well as generating content for the homeless shelter’s website and social media accounts.

She said having this job is “a dream come true” and allows her to put skills from her liberal arts degree to use every day.

“Critical thinking is the main one, but I consider that to be a skill I use daily in every situation I find myself in,” she said. “The public speaking skills that I acquired have become very useful to me when meeting new donors for the first time and talking about this sensitive topic.”

Jones had a number of influential professors throughout her undergraduate degree, but credits Dr. Mike Fleming, assistant professor in the Sociology and Criminology Departments, for helping her better understand society.

“Dr. Fleming has a very real attitude about the world and taught me the most about life. Because of professors like him, I received a well-rounded education,” she said.

“I came into my field as prepared as I could be for the things I see daily because I learned about the hard situations in life that are often swept under the rug.”

Although she deals with a tough issue on a day to day basis, Jones finds it fulfilling to work in her field and give back to her community in a meaningful way.

“I have the privilege to work in a field where I get to help people who have been dehumanized in many ways feel cared about, valued, and dignified,” she said. “I get to listen to their stories, learn from them, and foster a very real human connection. Then, I get to teach others.”

 

Faking to Finish: Research by STU Psychology Professors and Graduate Explore Why Some Women Feign Sexual Pleasure

PUBLISHED DATE: Monday, July 18, 2016
Dr. Michelle Lafrance, Dr. Monika Stelzl, and Emily Thomas, BA'14, researched why some women feign sexual pleasure.
Two St. Thomas University professors and a graduate have sparked a conversation worldwide about why some women fake orgasm.  And they say the findings are troubling.

In a qualitative study, psychology professors Dr. Michelle Lafrance and Dr. Monika Stelzl, and psychology honours graduate Emily Thomas, BA’14, found that when talking about troubling sexual encounters some women mention faking sexual pleasure to speed up their male partner's orgasm and ultimately end sex.

These findings have been getting attention from media all over the world, appearing on popular magazine websites like US Cosmo, UK Cosmo, and Teen Vogue, in newspapers or news journals like The Sun, The Times of India, India Today, and on health, science, and medical sites like Women's Health, and Medical Daily.

The article, “Faking to finish: Women's accounts of feigning sexual pleasure to end unwanted sex” will appear in the international peer-reviewed journal Sexualities.

The researchers explained that while some women spoke about faking orgasm in positive ways, for example, as a way to heighten their own arousal, many talked about it as a way to end ‘bad sex.’

“The problem is that, for lack of a better word, the term ‘bad’ was used to refer to everything from wanted, consensual, but unpleasurable sex, to unwanted, painful sex, and rape,” Lafrance said. 

“With greater social recognition of the need to recognize women’s unwanted and negative sexual experiences as problematic, we hope we will be better able to interrupt these all too common experiences.” 

In the study, 15 women (aged 19 - 28) who had been sexually active for at least one year were interviewed to talk about experiences of feigning sexual pleasure. Despite being recruited to talk about consensual sex, all women spoke explicitly of a problematic sexual experience. Interviews were analyzed to explore how these women negotiate and account for experiences of problem sex in the context of exaggerating sexual pleasure and faking orgasm.

Analysis showed that the women never used terms such as rape and coercion to refer to their own experiences — despite their descriptions of events that could be categorized as such. Instead, women described their experiences of unwanted sex in indirect ways. For example, women used the term 'bad' to describe sex that was both unwanted and unpleasurable.

The women spoke of faking orgasm as a means to ending these troubling sexual encounters. In other words, faking orgasm provided a solution for ending sex where, culturally, not many options are available.

"It appears that faking orgasm is both problematic and helpful at the same time,” said Thomas, who is now a master’s student in Clinical Psychology at Ryerson University working in the Sexuality Hub: Integrating Feminist Theory (SHiFT) lab. “On one level, faking an orgasm may be a useful strategy as it affords some control over ending a sexual encounter. We are not criticizing faking practice on an individual level. We want to focus on the problems with our current lack of available language to describe women's experiences that acknowledges, names and confronts the issues women spoke of in our interviews."

Although the researchers say they are happy their research has resonated with the public, they are also hoping it initiates a wider conversation that includes desire when talking about consent.

“When we talk solely about consent, we are missing the fact that people engage in unwanted sex for a range of reasons, for example to please a partner or in some cases to avoid possible violence,” Thomas said.

“It’s important that we start acknowledging and listening for people’s expressions of distress when talking about unwanted, unsatisfying, and painful sex so that these experiences are not passed off as simply not pleasurable.”

They also hope the research will prompt partners to be more honest and open about what they want or don’t want sexually.

“And on a societal level,” Lafrance adds, “we need to address this lack of language and engage in conversations that promote respectful, safe, and desired sexual experiences for both partners."

Students Recognized for Research and Communication Skills - Laura Prichard, BA’16, and Karen Buckle, BA’16, Receive Awards at Science Atlantic Psychology Conference

PUBLISHED DATE: Thursday, July 14, 2016
Two students from St. Thomas University were recognized at the 40th Annual Science Atlantic Psychology Conference for their research and communication skills.

Laura Prichard, BA’16, of Campbellton, NB, received the conference’s Science Communication Award, while Karen Buckle, BA’16, of Stellarton, NS, was given the Undergraduate Research Award.

Every university in Atlantic Canada was represented at the conference, and both students admitted there were advantages to studying Psychology with a liberal arts focus.

“It gives you more freedom to study the qualitative side of research and it gives you the freedom to explore multiple facets of research instead of always going in the experimental, science-focused path,” Buckle said.

“I love science,” Prichard added, “but I was more enticed by the social side of Psychology.”

Prichard, whose research examined students’ knowledge and perception of traditional bullying and cyberbullying, said the Science Communication Award signifies that she’s overcome the anxiety she’s struggled with for years.

“I’ve battled anxiety for as long as I can remember. It was so crippling that even conversing with someone, let alone leading a discussion, was a challenge,” she said. “The fact that I was able to communicate my points effectively means that I’ve won against my anxieties. This award means a great deal to me.”

Buckle’s award-winning research discussed spontaneous inferences—the information that develops under your conscious awareness—and the notion of the self-serving bias.

“Let’s say you wrote an exam last week and you failed it, the reasons you come up with for why you failed are called attributions. There’s a similar process that goes on at the moment you find out you failed and those are called spontaneous inferences. Your brain is telling you why you failed, but you aren’t aware of those reasons,” Buckle said.
 
“The self-serving bias is when you attribute failure to things outside your control, like your roommate keeping you up or unreasonable expectations from a professor, but if you succeed it’s because of your effort. We took that framework and wanted to see if people made self-serving attributions during spontaneous inferences.”

With over 80 presentations from students from 11 universities, Buckle was thrilled to be recognized for the hard work put into her research.
“There were so many interesting, motivated, and phenomenal young speakers there. I was really proud to represent STU in that way,” she said. “I was really proud of the research I’d done in the past year because doing the honours thesis was a challenge.”

Dr. Suzanne Prior, associate professor in the Psychology department, said because of the university’s size, students are able to work closely with faculty—a benefit that universities with graduate programs can’t offer.

“Because we don’t have graduate students, the honours students receive more attention from their faculty advisors than they would at a larger university with graduate students. All of these experiences help ensure the students' success,” she said.

“STU psychology honours students do so well at the Science Atlantic annual conference and in post-graduate studies because they’re exceptionally well trained and prepared. We’re very proud of all of them."

With their Honours in Psychology complete, both recent STU grads plan on continuing their education. Prichard is considering pursuing counseling or social work, while Buckle hopes to become a professor.

Prichard and Buckle are not the first students to receive recognition at the Science Atlantic Psychology Conference as Emily Ready, BA’13, earned the Communication Award in 2013 and Anna Scheidler, BA’14, received the Undergraduate Research Award in 2014.

“The Power, Honour, and Privilege of Being A Teacher” - Don Bossé, BA’82, BEd’83, Advises Graduates That Teaching is About More Than Academics

PUBLISHED DATE: Monday, July 11, 2016
Don Bossé, BA’82, BEd’83, told the 120 graduates at Summer Convocation that teaching is about more than academics.

Bossé, who has been director of music and head of the fine arts department at Fredericton High School for 21 years, shared a letter from a former student to demonstrate the difference a teacher can make in the life of a young person.

“We’re in the classroom to guide students, teach them life lessons, and become mentors,” he said. “Prior to receiving this letter I didn’t know that I had an impact on this student’s life.”

The student’s name is Danielle. She came from a low-income family, and in 1988 she joined Bossé’s beginner band as a trumpet player. She was 10 years old at the time and music came naturally to her. She played in a number of Bossé’s bands and eventually worked her way into first trumpet position.

In 1994, Danielle decided to stop playing and in 1996 she sold her trumpet and left Fredericton.

Sixteen years later, in a small town in British Columbia, Danielle started playing music again. When she decided to write to Bossé it wasn’t to thank him for teaching her how to play trumpet, it was to acknowledge the difference he made in her life.

“You may or may not recall that I came from severe poverty. At 10 years old I didn’t understand what poverty meant,” Danielle wrote. “As I aged and developed, I learned that people who are poor are often treated differently and are not given the same opportunities that others who are more fortunate are given.”

“This is where I want to thank you,” she continued. “Unlike some of the other teachers along the way, you didn’t treat me differently.”

Danielle, who now has Master’s and Doctorate degrees, credits her time in Bossé’s class and her exposure to music for breaking the cycle of poverty in her family and for helping her find self-confidence.

“This is the power, the honour, and the privilege of being a teacher,” Bossé said. “If you go to work every day excited about what you do and aware of how important you are in the lives of the young people you teach, it will be the best career you can imagine.”

This year, Bossé was given the MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award in recognition of his outstanding dedication to inspiring and nurturing musical growth in youth.

Don Bossé studied jazz performance at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. He is a graduate of St. Thomas University, BA’82, BEd’83, and holds a Master’s of music in conduction from Memorial University.

Continue Learning and Encourage Others - Jenny Atwin, BEd’16, Delivers Valedictory Address at Summer Convocation

PUBLISHED DATE: Monday, July 11, 2016
Jenny Atwin, BA’15, BEd’16, urged the graduates at Summer Convocation to continue learning, to encourage others to believe in themselves, and to remain dedicated in the career paths they discovered at St. Thomas University.

“As you go off into your bright futures and continue on in your life, I will ask each and every one of you to encourage at least one person to attend university, to seek higher education, and above all, to believe in themselves,” she said.

“Encourage them by showing them your passion for education, and your passion for being a great person in this world.”

The first-ever First Nations’ valedictorian at St. Thomas University, Atwin acknowledged the trauma many Aboriginal people experienced throughout their education and said it inspired her to become a teacher.

“Unfortunately, in our history education has not been kind, so my choice to enter into a career as an educator was simple,” she said.

“I have a passion for education, and there is nothing I want more than to share this passion with others.”

Atwin’s journey to become a teacher began five years ago on her first day as an undergraduate student at St. Thomas. At that time, she had no idea how much the tight-knit campus community, the courses she took, or the skills she earned would impact her life.

 “We developed skills of academic excellence and discovered skills we didn’t know we would learn. Every one of us sitting here have been changed and influenced by our education and time at STU,” she said.

“This university has introduced me to some of the best friendships I have ever had, and the close knit community has made campus feel like my home. This is a community where strangers become friends and lives are changed.”

Earning a degree comes with its fair share of challenges, and Atwin was quick to thank the many parents, friends, and supporters in attendance for helping the class of 2016 meet this important milestone.

She also credited the graduates for persevering through exams, assignments, and presentations in pursuit of a meaningful education.

“We all came to St. Thomas University to embark on a journey that would expand our knowledge and amplify our character. By accepting our degrees today, we did just that.”

A Distinguished and Electric Career: Dr. Sylvia Hale Named Professor Emeritus

PUBLISHED DATE: Monday, July 4, 2016
Dr. Sylvia Hale is being named Professor Emeritus to recognize her distinguished career at STU.
Dr. Sylvia Hale’s long list of achievements at St. Thomas University started with an electrical outlet.

When she arrived on campus in 1975, Hale’s office was in the basement of Vanier Hall, alongside five other professors. They all shared a phone line, didn’t have any electrical outlets, and had to run an extension cord from the women’s laundry room to make tea.

“My greatest achievement in first semester was getting electrical plugs provided in our offices,” Hale recalls. “The offices had electric light but no outlets, so I appealed to the president because I couldn’t use my electrical typewriter.”

Then-president Msgr. George Martin came by her office in disbelief to move book shelves and furniture, searching for a hidden outlet that didn’t exist. When he realized there weren’t any, he immediately had them installed.

Since then, Hale’s contributions to St. Thomas have made an impact on countless students, alumni, and colleagues – at STU and across Canada. That’s why she will be named Professor Emeritus at Summer Convocation, an honour bestowed upon retired professors who have served the university with great distinction.

And indeed, Hale’s list of achievements speaks for itself.

She has won four special merit awards on campus — three for research and one for teaching. She designed and taught 15 different courses in sociology. She published five books, 20 articles and 34 book reviews. One of her books, Controversies in Sociology has become a classic text in undergraduate sociology programs. She has received fellowships from the Canada Council and the Social Sciences Federation of Canada among other organizations.

In addition to outstanding scholarly work, Hale contributed greatly to the development of the university. She was chair of the Department of Sociology for 14 years, she served as faculty representative on the Board of Governors, she was president of the Faculty Association on three occasions and helped to organize the part-time union, and she served on the Committee of Academic Promotion and Tenure on four occasions.

“I realize what a privilege it was to teach at an undergraduate university, where I could offer courses across the whole spectrum of sociology, rather than one specialization,” she says. “A favourite course was Intro, which morphed into a text book, and then a theoretical overview text, Contested Sociology, which offers limitless future research and writing opportunities.”

Hale says she owes much of her 41-year career to her colleagues. When she arrived at St. Thomas, she was still finishing her doctoral thesis and had no teaching experience.

“My corridor sociology colleagues got me through my first year of teaching,” she says. “They offered me their lecture notes, good source material, and lots of advice. They could not have been more supportive; they were always encouraging and never judgmental.”

It’s no surprise that Hale offered the same type of support to new faculty members as the years passed. Indeed, Dr. Dawne Clarke, professor in the Criminology and Criminal Justice department, says Hale is her mentor.

“Sylvia is my friend, my mentor, a brilliant scholar and a remarkable educator.  Throughout my academic journey, from honours student to graduate student, part-time faculty to tenure track professor, she is a constant source of support, advice and wisdom. Sylvia's commitment to her students and to teaching make her the exemplar of all that is the best about being a university professor.”

Although Hale retired from teaching in July, she is treating retirement like a sabbatical leave. She already has research and writing projects planned. 

“My first retirement project is to complete a new chapter on Globalization and Development, with generous help from new colleagues. Then who knows - perhaps a sequel exploring the endgame of neoliberalism and new worlds unfolding."

A Unique Opportunity to Benefit Her Community - Joleen Paul, BEd’16, Will Use Her Education Degree to Teach Maliseet

PUBLISHED DATE: Monday, July 4, 2016
Joleen Paul is graduating with her Bachelor of Education degree and is now in a unique position to benefit her First Nations community.

Paul was recently granted permission by the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development to have her First Nation’s language of Maliseet recognized as a public school teachable subject. This will allow the language to be maintained within the province as it’s passed on to new generations of readers, writers, and speakers.

“Right now we have about four years of viability with Maliseet, so if we don't do something our language and all the knowledge and culture within in our language will be lost,” Paul said.

Other provinces in Canada have begun creating curriculums that include First Nations culture and language, so Paul believes this will be a starting point for New Brunswick.

“A lot of our elders who have the language are teaching and they’re so important, so to be able to move forward and work with them in a way that benefits our kids is going to be amazing,” Paul said. “That’s what I’m most looking forward to.”

Grant Williams, associate professor and Director of the School of Education, is also hoping this is just the beginning.

“We’re hopeful that Joleen’s success in the St. Thomas Education program and her contributions to the preservation of the Maliseet language in New Brunswick will be seen as an important precedent for opening this opportunity to those who wish to follow her lead,” he said.

“The school of education was very pleased that the Minister of Education made this exception to recognize Joleen’s language courses as a major teachable.”

Paul said the support she received from professors through her Bachelor of Arts, the two-year Maliseet immersion program offered in partnership through STU and St. Mary’s First Nation, and her Education degree have given her the opportunity to maintain her culture and now teach it.

“The professors have all given me the opportunity to personalize my education and tailor it toward my culture and language,” she said. “They allowed me to not only learn myself, but also teach others around me, so it’s been really great.”

A portion of that support came through Dr. Andrea Bear Nicholas, part-time professor in Native Studies and professor Emeritus at STU, who wrote letters to the New Brunswick Teachers Association, the Minister of Education, and the chiefs in the province expressing her concern that Maliseet wasn’t recognized within the public school system.

“Andrea Bear Nicholas has been our champion of the language through this, and STU was completely on board with waiting to see if we got the approval, so it’s really been a team effort to make this happen,” Paul said.

Following her graduation, Paul will begin a workshop with Dr. Shaunda Wood titled “Coding, learning, and constructing digital literacies: Families and communities becoming creators,” that will take place in St. Mary’s First Nation for kids ages 8-11.

“We want to teach them how to make technology work for them,” Paul said. “If they have their own digital culture they can make their own movies and things, which is important with the way things are going with technology.”

In the fall, Paul will begin teaching Maliseet at Woolastook Elementary.

Hon. Graydon Nicholas and Ilkay Silk Named to Order of Canada

PUBLISHED DATE: Thursday, June 30, 2016
Two members of the STU community will receive Canada’s highest civilian honour in recognition of their long-standing contributions to the province.

Ilkay Silk, the recently retired longtime Theatre St. Thomas director and drama professor, and the Hon. Graydon Nicholas, currently the Endowed Chair in Native Studies, were named to the Order of Canada.
 
“Both Graydon and Ilkay have been cherished members of our STU community for decades, and they have shaped the minds and hearts of countless students and alumni,” said Dawn Russell, president and vice-chancellor of St. Thomas University.
 
“We’re so proud of them for their accomplishments and now for this richly deserved honour.”
 
Graydon Nicholas served as New Brunswick’s Lieutenant Governor from 2009-2014. He was the first Aboriginal person to receive a law degree in Atlantic Canada and the first appointed as a provincial judge. He has been a member of STU’s board of governors, a faculty member in the Native Studies program, and is the Endowed Chair in Native Studies.
 
His Order of Canada is for his contributions to the people of New Brunswick as a lawyer, judge, lieutenant-governor and indigenous leader.
 
Ilkay Silk was the face of drama at St. Thomas University for 36 years. During her career, she directed more than 70 productions at St. Thomas and taught hundreds of students, many of whom continued on to professional success as actors, directors and playwrights all over the world. She is well-known in the community for her work as an actor, director, producer, playwright, educator, volunteer and organizer. She was the driving force behind the opening of the Black Box Theatre at St. Thomas, founded the Notable Acts Theatre Festival and has produced and directed countless plays in the community.
 
She is being recognized for her contributions to arts and culture organizations in New Brunswick, particularly for her work with youth in theatre.

Jodi (Hutchinson) Misheal Appointed Interim Vice-President (Advancement)

PUBLISHED DATE: Thursday, June 30, 2016
Jodi (Hutchinson) Misheal has been appointed Interim Vice-President (Advancement) at St. Thomas University.
 
Misheal begins a nine-month term September 1. She will fill the position as the university completes a search for a permanent successor to Jeff Wright who decided not to return to St. Thomas University following personal leave after the tragic loss of his young son.
 
“The coming months will be an important period as we continue to build momentum on our major capital campaign, and Jodi has extensive experience in capital campaign planning and execution,” said Dawn Russell, St. Thomas University President and Vice-Chancellor. 
 
“Her expertise in fundraising and alumni relations, gained from working at several universities in the region and as a private consultant in the post-secondary and non-profit sectors, will be of valuable assistance to us.”  Russell added that Misheal is familiar with St. Thomas University, having conducted a campaign feasibility and readiness study, and through her consulting, she has met with many faculty and staff.  She has also helped to develop several fundraising proposals for St. Thomas presently under consideration by funding organizations.
 
“Having spent the formative years and the longest part of my career working for post-secondary schools in New Brunswick and in Nova Scotia, I am very much looking forward to being part of the St. Thomas community, and getting to know many more of the people who make this university a most special place,” said Misheal.
 
Misheal holds a Bachelor of Arts from Mount Allison University and a Bachelor of Education from St. Francis Xavier University.  Over her career, she has been a director and manager of capital campaigns, annual funds, and major gift programs, and has directed alumni relations programming. Most recently, she was partner/owner of Red Letter Philanthropy Counsel, a full-service company that provides guidance and operational support to non-profit organizations. Prior to her consultancy work in the private sector, she was Director of Development at St. Mary’s University, Assistant Campaign Director at Acadia University, and Senior Development Officer and Alumni Fund Director at Mount Allison University.  She was also Director of Alumni Affairs at Mount Allison where she was responsible for chapter events, reunions, annual fund, and class projects.
 
“In a short time, Jeff Wright became a valued and respected part of our STU community. He is leaving a strong foundation in fundraising and alumni relations, and he represented our interests well in many organizations in Fredericton. We wish his family all the best in their move and we will always consider them part of the STU community,” said Russell.

Political Scientists Examine Change in Government in New, Sixth Edition of Classic Text "The Canadian Regime"

PUBLISHED DATE: Wednesday, June 29, 2016
St. Thomas University Professors Dr. Patrick Malcolmson and Dr. Thomas Bateman, along with Dr. Rick Myers and Dr. Gerald Baier, have co-authored a new, sixth edition of their acclaimed book, The Canadian Regime: An Introduction to Parliamentary Government in Canada.

The new edition includes results from the 2015 federal election and considers what a Liberal Government will mean for Canada. It also explores the impact of the previous Conservative government on the conventions and practices of parliamentary government, as well as the influence of social media on politics.
 
During the coming academic year at STU, Malcolmson and Bateman will be teaching courses on politics and modern democracy, contemporary issues in Canadian politics, and Canadian constitutional federalism and politics, among other courses.
 
“A key principle in the study of politics is the relationship between political institutions and citizen character,” Bateman said. “Mores, habits, and ideas of justice interact in subtle and important ways with parties, legislatures, courts, and media—The Canadian Regime introduces students to these connections.”
 
The book’s focus is on the inner workings of Parliament and explains the rationale for Canada's complex political system. It challenges readers to think of the Canadian political system as an organic entity where change in one area will affect the rest. At its core, the book strives to give readers a short and clear account of Canadian government, while providing greater appreciation and respect for their country’s political regime.
 
A previous edition of the book was named to The Hill Times’ list of top 100 best political, government, public policy, and Canadian history books of 2012.
 
The Federal Government funded a French translation of the work after Myers and Malcolmson were invited to Ottawa to train senior civil servants. Another important moment came when Myers received a call from then Governor General Adrienne Clarkson who invited the authors to deliver a lecture about the role of the Crown in responsible government to her and the ten lieutenant-governors.
 
“Since 1997, when the first edition of The Canadian Regime appeared, it has enjoyed a steady reputation for providing a well-informed perspective written in a highly accessible manner. Political life constantly changes which means that any book that claims to introduce “Parliamentary Government in Canada,” must be updated periodically in order to remain relevant,” said Michael Harrison, Vice President - Higher Education Division, University of Toronto Press.
 
“The Liberal victory in late 2015 signalled a major change and left us with new perspective on the previous Harper government. Given that this book is typically used in first- or second-year political science programs, it’s important to remember that many readers will have only been aware of government under Prime Minister Harper. They will find it useful to be presented with some understanding of why that change in government might be especially significant.”

Diversity Unites Us: STU Recognized for Inclusive Community

PUBLISHED DATE: Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Dr. Christina Szurlej, Felomena Deogratsias, BA ’18, and Dr. Erin Fredericks, BA '06 presented at Anglophone School District East's Respect and Diversity Conference
STU student Felomena Deogratsias, BA ’18, is no stranger to racism and discrimination.
 
There was the time she was told to leave the swimming pool during a school field trip because they thought her dark skin would “dirty the water.” Or the time a stranger yelled at her because she didn’t look “Canadian” enough. Or the time she was told that it was a “historical fact” that black people were more dangerous than white people.
 
Today, Deogratsias chooses to use her voice to raise awareness and help others understand the danger of discrimination.
 
Deogratsias and STU Human Rights professor Dr. Christina Szurlej recently presented at Anglophone School District East’s Respect and Diversity Conference. They spoke about recognizing stereotypes, prejudices, and racism in the context of preventing and addressing intercultural conflict.
 
She shared her personal experiences with more than 200 middle school and high school students, their educators, school administrators and community members at the event, which was organized by the school district in partnership with St.
Thomas University.
 
“Being part of this conference was a healing process for me,” Deogratsias said. “It was therapeutic because I got to tell people about how they can do things differently so tomorrow isn’t a repeat of the past.”
 
Szurlej told the participants that they shouldn’t be afraid of differences. Instead, she said, we should acknowledge that the commonalities linking us through our humanity far outweigh subtle differences.
 
“We all want to be understood, maintain a sense of belonging, and contribute to a greater purpose. Judging others based on perceived group membership, rather than individual merit, replaces facts and knowledge with unsubstantiated, inaccurate assumptions harmful to the targeted group,” Szurlej said.
 
“I think about what an awful place our world would be if we were all the same. Diversity should be embraced and celebrated as a source of enrichment and beauty in our everyday lives.”
 
Deogratsias, Szurlej, and other members of the STU community presented on issues ranging from mental health, the importance of safer spaces in schools for the LGBTQ community, and intercultural conflict resolution.
 
“St. Thomas is a close-knit community,” Deogratsias said. “It’s a very liberal environment. And so we are the best people to really engage in this type of thing and also give a perspective on how things can be different. It’s a school that embraces diversity, embraces differences.”
 
John Tingley, BA ’88, the subject coordinator for positive learning and working environment for Anglophone School District East, organized the Respect and Diversity Conference. He said the conference opened up an important dialogue between the presenters, students, and educators.
 
“Our communities are always changing and social conversations are evolving. Our schools reflect that change,” he explained.
 
“High school students in 2016 are experiencing the world differently than high school students five years ago. The easy access to 24-hour live streaming of the world and all that it offers places us – as educators – in a unique position. Our students are leaders and have a 21st century perspective on these topics. This conference recognized that perspective and gave voice to topics that need to be discussed in the wider community context.”
 
He said the school district invited St. Thomas to participate because the university has a reputation for being an inclusive community that embraces diversity.
 
“When we scanned professional literature and researched best practices, many times faculty members at STU were cited or referenced. Especially Dr. Erin Fredericks with regards to safer spaces and LGBTQ issues and Dr. Christina Szurlej with human rights. So, we did not have to seek out expertise beyond our country or province; we found that expertise at STU.”
 
CREATING SAFER SPACES
To create safe spaces in schools, allies need to understand and empathize with what LGBTQ youth are facing – and usually that means having to come to terms with your own privilege, said Dr. Erin Fredericks, BA ’06.
 
The Sociology professor and the university’s LGBTQIA+ Resource Advisor spoke to the conference participants about how to become an ally and how to create a safe space in their schools.
 
“Sometimes when we talk about diversity, we talk about loving each other. But when we talk about being an ally it’s not just about love. It’s about power,” she explained.
 
“The most important thing you can do as an ally is not spend a ton of time memorizing facts about the queer community but recognize who you are and what your privileges are in society.
 
“Maybe you don’t have to worry about whether there will be a bathroom you can use when you are in a public space. Maybe you don’t need to worry that someone will misuse your pronoun. Maybe you don’t need to go through life worried that someone will ask you about your partner and you’ll have to make the decision about whether it’s safe to come out.”
 
But these are the sorts of issues that some members of the LGBTQ community face every day.
 
Statistics show that a lot of LGBTQ youth are experiencing marginalization in high school, Fredericks added. So what she spoke about at the conference wasn’t new or surprising information for the students in the room, but she said it’s important that the students hear their experiences told and validated by someone with privilege to their educators.
 
Fredericks invited student Al Cusack, BA’18, to present with her. Cusack is a non-binary trans student at STU and knows firsthand the importance of having a support system that includes well-informed allies on campus. That’s why Cusack spearheaded the Queer and Allied People’s Society at STU, which has quickly become one of the most active groups on campus.
 
“Even if people don’t participate in Q&A, they know that they are welcome,” they said. “They know they are accepted. They know there is a place to go if they need to be advocated for and if they need a community that understands where they are coming from.”
 
Cusack said giving high school students advice on how to create safe spaces in their schools is important.
 
“They are the ones who have the power to advocate for themselves and for people in their community. Especially with high school students, they have a collective power. They are not as used to conformity yet. They can collaborate. They are a force for good if you teach them how to build safer spaces.”
 
BUILDING POSITIVE MENTAL HEALTH
Renée Comeau, BA ’15, BEd ’16, used to spend two hours every day working out at the gym without a break.
 
“That’s not healthy,” the education student told the conference participants. “In my case, I later found out I had an anxiety problem that fueled this energy to work out. I felt like my sense of control was gone and this was a way of taking control of my life.”
 
Comeau had been dealing with occasional depression and anxiety since she was in high school, but she didn’t know it was a problem until she had a severe panic attack one day. She made an appointment with a psychologist who diagnosed her with an anxiety disorder and helped her recover with the help of natural coping methods and medication.
 
“There is a stigma around medication. ‘You’re not strong enough to do this on your own.’ Well no, I’m not. I need the help of something. And that’s ok… with the medication and self-care every day, I feel mentally balanced and mentally well.”
 
Today, Comeau speaks about her struggles and her eventual recovery to help others recognize warning signs in their own lives and to normalize mental illness.
 
She started a blog (http://rockland92.blogspot.ca/) so others struggling with mental illness know that they’re not alone. She also became a mental health advocate and speaks at conferences and events to help educate others.
 
She said she’s not surprised members of the STU community were invited to speak about mental health support, adding that the Student Services department does a great job supporting mental health on campus.
 
The university provides counselling services. It also regularly hosts self-care events, workshops and engages students through social media around mental health topics. It plans de-stress events during hectic times of the academic year, and supports students in managing the stress they may be facing as a result of pressures in their lives (whether those are academic, personal, financial or otherwise).
 
It also equips student leaders (like peer mentors and residence advisors), faculty and staff with resources on how to support students in distress or in crisis.
 
Comeau hopes that talking about mental illness and removing stigma surrounding it will help students she spoke to understand when they need help.
 
If the participants will remember one message from her talk, it’s that it’s OK to not be OK. But that there are resources available to help them recover.
 
“Be a glow stick,” she told them. “Sometimes you need to break before you glow.”

This story appeared in the spring/summer issue of Connections, STU's alumni magazine. To see the full issue, please click HERE.

St. Thomas University Begins Residence Renewal Project with Harrington Hall

PUBLISHED DATE: Tuesday, June 7, 2016
The renovations that will bring a modern look and updated living spaces to Harrington Hall have begun on campus.
 
The renewal of our on-campus residences was identified as a priority in the Strategic Plan 2013-2018. As many students choose to live in residence to make the most of the university experience and to immerse themselves in the St. Thomas community, it’s essential that our accommodations on campus are modern, up-to-date, comfortable, and safe.
 
After renovations are complete, students living in residence will enjoy upgraded rooms, washrooms, kitchenettes, and lounges, making residence the first-choice place to live during their time at St. Thomas. 
 
Harrington Hall will re-open in September 2017. During renovations, there will be minimal disruption to the rest of campus—the majority of the work will be done inside the building—but the construction zone will be fenced in with signage to ensure the safety of our community.
 
Renovations and Updates at Harrington Hall
 

The general layout of Harrington Hall will remain the same, but renovations will be extensive and include updating walls and floors, plumbing, heating, and electrical services.
 
Other updates will include improved washroom layouts and some gender neutral, single (toilet/shower) washrooms; security cameras; and updated furniture designed to maximize space and maintain comfortable living. The residence lounges will also be updated and a main kitchenette will be added to better meet the needs of students.
 
Harrington Hall for 2016-2017
 
While the Harrington building will be closed for the 2016-17 academic year, we understand the important presence of Harrington within the campus community.
 
Harrington will “live” at Vanier Hall for one year to keep the spirit of Harrington alive while the residence undergoes renovations. Harrington residents will live in a dedicated area of Vanier Hall, and will keep their house committee, residence coordinators, and advisors. Harrington will be represented at campus events including the annual Cheer Off during Welcome Week, and both sides of the building will have their own dedicated lounge space, as well as shared lounges and kitchen facilities in the centre of the building.
 
Incoming first-year students for September 2016 were made aware of this situation on application forms and acceptance packages. Current Harrington residents were also notified.
 
Harrington Hall Renewal Project Background   
 
Last year, a Residence Renewal Working Group developed recommendations and priorities for this project. A Steering Committee on Residence Renewal—composed of eight members with representation from administration, students, and faculty—has been meeting regularly to provide guidance to this project.
 
Harrington Hall is the first phase of the renewal project. Once it’s complete, the planning for the renewal of Vanier Hall will begin.