Faculties May Opt Out of Ryerson’s New Fall Reading Week

After years of only one winter reading break, Ryerson University may finally be getting a fall reading week, even if that means some faculties may not be able to participate.

In particular, the Engineering and Nursing faculties may have to opt out of the new reading break if there is too much difficulty in rearranging the clinical placements for nursing students or Accreditation Units for engineering students.

“All strategies would lead to a heightened imbalance between Fall and Winter semesters creating challenges to deliver Ryerson courses in a consistent manner across the two semesters,” said a January 2011 Report to Senate.

Regardless, the Ryerson Senate has already “endorsed, in principle, the creation of a fall reading break”.  The report also hinted at the idea of the university semesters shifting from a 13-week curriculum to a 12-week one instead.

While the fall reading week may not come into effect until at least the fall 2012 semester, the Ryerson Student Union (RSU) has continued to push for it after initially putting it to the Senate.

Caitlin Smith, Ryerson Student Union Vice-President Finances & Services (Photo by Melanie Jacob)

“We heard that’s what students want, that’s what they need and we figured that most students could use a break from their academics to be able to catch up in the fall semester,” said Caitlin Smith, Vice President Finances & Services of the RSU.

Surprisingly enough, not all students are happy about the new potential arrangements.  If the new break means some classes are going to be crammed with more work to accommodate it, some students would rather not have it.

“Those 30 hours of that one week somehow have to be shifted to the rest of the semester so it’s just more class on top of the 30 hours that we already have,” says Olena Bojchuk, a first-year chemical engineering student.

On the other hand, if the professors don’t cover more material in the classes missed during the reading break, other students are more concerned that the end of the term will get pushed forward, shortening the Christmas break.

“Ryerson students always finish exams early in December and get a longer winter break,” said Zeeshan Burhani, a Ryerson Aerospace Engineering student. “This new fall reading week would push exams past to 20th of December and I would rather have a longer Christmas break than a week off on October.”

Considering that many students are still unaware of the possible one-week reduction in the curriculum, it may not be as big a problem for nursing or engineering students as they think.

For now, the engineering faculty is currently supporting the new break.  Should they be unable to accommodate it, all faculties will still be given the opportunity to opt out, says Smith.

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New Coywolf Hybrid May Be Cause of Recent Attacks

Coyote in Lamar Valley in winter (Photo by Jim Peaco)

There is strong evidence to suggest that the recent coyote incidents are the result of a new form of a hybrid species, the cause of which may lie directly with humans.

Coywolves‘ are the result of a wolf and coyote breeding.  They are larger than normal coyotes and have a stronger tendency towards pack and predatory behaviour.   Couple this with the coyote’s ability to adapt to human activities, and the result is a new hybrid that is given the means and intent to prey on humans.

“Coyotes, when they’re acting normally, should show fear of people,” said wildlife biologist Stanley Gehrt in the Toronto Star article Expert Stumped by Recent Coyote Attacks on Humans.

The North American grey wolf was originally put on the endangered species list in March of 1967.  Due to poaching and habitat loss, the wolves were driven from many parts of North America and forced to take refuge in national parks.

Contrarily, the coyote is adaptable and able to survive almost anywhere due to its ability to eat nearly everything from fruits and vegetables to spoiled meat.  Unlike their wolf cousins, coyotes are unafraid of human activities and can either live alone or travel in packs.

Due to this ability to adapt, the wolves began mating with coyotes when their own species became scarce.  The odd thing is that wolves would not normally breed with coyotes.

Wolves often “persecute coyotes rather than breed with them,” said author Roland Kays in Discovery News article Coyote + Wolf = New Breed of Predator.

Since 2009, there has been a spat of coyote attacks, many of which ended with dead or missing pets.  In a few rare and abnormal cases, the coyotes, or coywolves, even attacked humans.

“What we’re talking about here is real serious attacks in which they (coyotes) see people as prey. That’s a big difference,” said Gehrt in the Star report.

Gehrt mentions that this can happen when coywolves or coyotes become “habituated” to humans.  Becoming habituated means that they lose their fear of humans, a consequence of being fed by people directly or indirectly through their garbage.

Encroachment has forced the coywolves and coyotes into finding food sources closer to civilization.  Livestock is a popular target, as is bird feeders, which attracts more rodents to the area.  It’s not a big jump to go from livestock and rodents to small dogs to small children.  The wolf DNA in coywolves may also encourage them to begin taking down larger prey such as humans.

Related Links:

Teenage girl attacked by coyote as she slept in Cape Breton

Coyote snatches dog from yard as owner watches

When Coyotes Attack

Coyote fears grow in GTA

6 Animals Humanity Accidentally Made Way Scarier

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Sears Drama Festival at Sinclair High School

In a well-performed but confusing performance, One Lane Bridge was met with applause during the 65th annual Sears Ontario Drama Festival at Sinclair Secondary School.

Though the play wasn’t more than an hour long, it left the audience baffled as to what had happened.

From left to right, Jonathan Zagrodnik and Anna Toaze (photo by Margo Rodgers)

“As a cast we really wanted the play to generate a lot of conversation afterwards.   I personally wanted an ‘Inception’ kind of thing going on,” says Jonathan Zagrodnik, the 18-year-old lead male in the play. “As the play was very absurd we wanted the audience to talk about what they thought happened.”

It was the first show to open the festival with Zagrodnik and Anna Toaze as the male and female lead cast members on March 28.  The cast included a total of seven actors and actresses, four of whom doubled as narrators.

For many audience members, it was specifically for them they came to see the show.

“My friend Jonathan had been talking about a play he was starring in. Obviously, I couldn’t miss an opportunity to see him act.  I wanted to come out and support him,” says 22-year-old Constance Falconer.

Regardless of the reasons why the audience chose to attend, the play was a success.

“We did make it to the second round of the Sears Festival for which we were one of three out of 15 to move on,” said Zagrodnik. “The audience seemed to really like it, and did feel the fear we were trying to bring out in our performance.”

The Sears Festival is an annual event held amongst high schools across Ontario.  It aims to reward students for leadership and team skills through excellence in the performing arts.

The play is put together by students and can be no longer than 50 minutes.  They compete in a District, Regional, and Provincial show case that highlights the best performances.

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Bill S-10 Rally at Old City Hall

Bill S-10 Rally at Old City Hall from Melanie Jacob on Vimeo.
(Reporter: Brittany Harris; Camera person and video editor: Melanie Jacob and Imran Khan)

Last November, the Canadian Senate passed Bill S-10 in an attempt to get tough on crime. If passed, the Act will amend the Controlled Drug and Substances Act.

The changes will increase the number of people going to prison since even small offences will mean a mandatory minimum sentence.

In response to the Bill, many people have joined to stop it from being approved.

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Sinful Inflictions Tattoo Parlour

The old Sinful Inflictions website, which used to frustrate users with its long loading time, has finally been updated to an easy-to-navigate home page with no wait required.

It also no longer has unfathomable links in a different language and now makes it easier to view artist biographies, portfolios, news updates and more.

Sinful Inflictions Custom Tattoos website (sinfulinflictions.com)

“The new site is awesome. You can direct yourself from page to page with no problem.  It’s very user friendly and not offensive to anyone or ‘scary’,” says 20-year-old Rebecca Victor, a client. “It’s a wicked page to reflect Sinful Inflictions.”

The new look seems to have lost its Amityville Horror design and taken on an antique appearance closer to the atmosphere of the actual building itself.

The Sinful Inflictions building has architectural foundations that date back more than 100 years.  When Jason Stieva, the 38-year-old owner of the shop, found the place in 1994, he had to do many renovations.  Still, he left a couple of the walls in the building bare, exposing their original brick foundations.

Several of the pieces decorating the place also continue this theme.  Facing the first staircase leading up to the second floor is a plaque-mounted picture of skulls bearing the words that allude to a 15th century Holy Trinity fresco in the Santa Maria Novella basilica in Italy.

Even the pieces of furniture Stieva uses to decorate the art exhibition rooms are old-fashioned.

“I’ve always had a love for antiques, I’m not an Ikea kind of person, I like seeing furniture with some character,” he says.

As a professional tattooist who’s been in the business for more than 15 years, Stieva’s main goal now is to continue improving his shop.

“You might not be getting a tattoo, maybe you have no interest in getting a tattoo, but when you leave here, I want you to remember being here.”

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International Women’s Day at Ryerson University

Staceyann Chin, a famous worldwide activist, inspired standing ovations during the 2011 International Women’s Day celebration at Ryerson University.

Ending the event with a performance more than an hour long, Chin held back nothing as she strode around the stage and stood on chairs screaming her passion.

“I’m concerned about young women who are raped on college campuses,” she said, staring intently around her at an entranced audience. “Bruised lips and broken heart, you’ll forgive her if she doesn’t come forth with the truth immediately.  For when she does, it is she who will stand trial as damaged goods.”

Artists such as Helen Yohannes, La Bomba, Rian Hamilton, PG, Lola, Ghadeer Malek and Melissa Dean, also known as ‘The M.A.D Poet’, went on stage before Chin and started the event.

Their performances included singing, dancing and reciting poetry that kept the audience alternating between cheers, laughter, and applause.

“We just wanted some fun, interactive, energetic songs that were liberating to women and would get the whole crowd involved,” said Hamilton after singing with her co-performers, PG and Lola.

They supported all women’s rights from prostitutes to female soldiers in Africa to abuse victims in the community.

“Having your rights as a woman is important and choosing whatever you want to do is important, and just knowing that the struggle isn’t over and there’s a lot more stuff to do,” says Treisha Hylton, a Ryerson Alumni graduate in the audience.

Rodney Diverlus, Vice-President Equity of the Ryerson Students’ Union, spent about a year trying to put this event together.

“I think myself along with every other person in that audience was moved to tears.  We laughed, we were inspired, we were motivated and every single performer really brought a different perspective of the struggle,” he said.

The event began at 6 p.m. on March 8 and continued until 10 p.m.

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Murder Warrant Issued for Pablo Russell

Courtesy of the City of Calgary Newsroom

A first-degree murder warrant has been issued for Pablo Rodrigo Russell, 34, a year after the death of Serafino Virgilio.

Russell, who goes by the name of Paul, is also charged with accessing and possessing child pornography. Police have been searching for him since April 2010 after he was publicly identified as a suspect in the Virgilio case.

According to a news release by the Calgary Police, they believe Russell is likely hiding in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland.

The 57-year-old body of Virgilio was found on Jan. 19, 2010 inside a GMC Denali.
Investigators believe Virgilio was actually killed two days earlier in his home and then hidden in the SUV.

According to a CBC News release, Russell was his roommate and was originally arrested and then let go without charges.

“Russell was arrested in the early stages of the investigation, but he was unco-operative,” Staff Sgt. Doug Andrus said in the CBC report.

According to the CBC release, 23-year-old Natalie Renee Louise Vinje was found by police on April 13, 2010. Vinje was a “person of interest” whom the police were searching for. It was believed Vinje and Russell had left together.

The CBC report identifies Russell as having green eyes and brown hair, a visible scar on his nose and a tattoo of a dragon on his upper back.

Source: First Degree Murder Warrant Issued

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