By: Valerie Wong, Grade 12
Macleans magazine published an article in November describing the enrolment controversy in Canada; an article better tag-lined as “too Asian”. It attempts to delve deep into the issue of universities and other post-secondary institutions in the U.S. limiting the enrolment of Asian students in order to maintain an artificially high record for Caucasian student enrolment. The article addresses the concerns that this phenomenon may be spreading to Canadian schools. First and foremost, I pose this question to the readers: what does it mean to be ASIAN?
The word “Asian” is used to describe many things. Firstly, it is a common term (used in Canada) to describe people whose ethnic backgrounds trace back to nations in Asia, mostly the Eastern parts. In the last couple of years, the usage of the word has shifted from describing one’s ethnic background to that of a description of someone who is also overtly studious, eats rice at every meal, is a strong advocate of chopsticks etc. Accompanying the humorous connotations that come with being “Asian” are elements of social stigma. As well, Asians are often included as the punch-lines for jokes. Your momma’s so fat – she’s got more chins than a Chinese phonebook!
Jibes like these reflect a poor image of Canada, where racism and prejudice still exists. Frankie Mao, a 22-year-old Arts student at UBC, recalls an encounter with a “Canadian” mother who told him that he was the reason her son wasn’t accepted to a university. He also states that the mother went on to comment that “all the immigrants in the country are taking up university spots”. Robert Sweet, a retired Lakehead University professor, conducted a study to determine the pathways of high school students after graduating. The study reported that immigrant students from East Asia produced the highest percentage of students continuing on to university at 70 percent, while Europeans followed with 52 percent.
These statistics show us where some of the prejudice, as exampled above, comes from. Asians are more likely to enroll in university. It’s part of the Asian culture; Chinese parents, specifically, instil in their children at a young age the importance of a university education, as it opens up more economic opportunities in the future. The underlying vibe of Asian culture emphasizes studying and working hard – all to achieve economic stability as well as success. Going back to the previous example: how could a person blame an Asian person for working hard when that’s all they’ve been taught since they were young? Cultural differences like these have resulted in balkanization within universities. Students have split off into their own social and ethnic cliques. This only adds to the notion of a school being “too-Asian”. What better way is there to enforce the impact of a school’s Asian population than when they all congregate at once?
I ask this question: Why should students be judged and admitted based on their ethnicity instead of their high school transcripts? In this case, I believe that it’s not who you are that matters, it’s what you do. If you get good grades and volunteer a lot, you should be admitted based on that.
Let’s face the facts. Schools being referred to as “too Asian” are just ridiculous. How many Asians students must be enrolled to qualify as “too Asian”? It’s true that some universities might have higher Asian student enrolment but there are also universities where the numbers are not as prevalent. In the Macleans article, Alexandra (name changed), a girl described as looking “like a girl from an Aritzia billboard”, chose to attend the University of Western Ontario instead of the University of Toronto. She explained her decision based on the fact that UT has a “reputation of being Asian”. In other words, the school’s academic reputation was a turnoff for both her and her brother. Her choice was a common one among her peers and upperclassmen.
Here’s what I propose: being “too-Asian”, although sometimes said in a joking manner, should be transitioned into its truly humorous roots. Schools in the U.S. are using reports of being “too-Asian” as a weapon toward justifying their limitations on Asian student enrolment, which might rub off on Canadian institutions. Let’s give being “too-Asian” a new definition. Instead of being used to characterize areas or institutions with high populations of Asians, here’s what it should only be used to describe a person who:
- Is a very studious person that is very serious about school OR
- Is excessively good at video-games OR
- Is exceedingly skilled at Math or Science OR
- Eats too much rice OR
- Knows about twenty different ways to incapacitate someone with nothing but a pair of chopsticks
Taurus – Unfortunately, your shoes will feel like they’re filled with lead. Don’t worry, though. The ‘dragging-your-feet’ sensation will only last a few days!
Gemini – Your eyesight may seem like it’s failing this month! It could just be the rain or the wind, so it won’t be permanent!
Cancer – You’ll be more sensitive to the cold than you usually are for some reason. Maybe you should hold off on wearing short sleeves until April…
Leo – Have you been feeling lazy recently? If you haven’t, then expect a nice lazy period that will hit right when spring break starts.
Virgo – This March you’ll feel like having a Disney Marathon over the spring break. Curl up on the couch and watch all of your favourite Disney movies in a row!
Libra – This month you might lose something that you need. The key to finding things is to look for them when you’re calm, so take a break before searching frantically!
Scorpio – You might be feeling so agitated that you’re inclined to kick some honey buns. Remember that violence is not the only way to let the anger out!
Sagittarius – Some days you may feel kind of silly; some days you’ll feel really serious. Who knows what’s with these mood swings? They’ll stop soon.
Capricorn – This March, your personality may take a total flip. If you’re usually goofy, you might be serious; you may be mean if you’re usually nice. However, it won’t last long!
Aquarius – The era of clumsiness will dawn on you, which may or may not cause injuries. Although they won’t be serious, they will surely be embarrassing.
Pisces – The fact that spring is coming will make you feel like swimming like a fish! It may be a struggle convincing your friends to come with you, though.
By: Emily Chan, Grade 12
One of the most critical barriers that Canadians face in regard to addressing environmental issues is the lack of regulation in support of green initiatives. However, our new Environment Minister makes environmentalists slightly more dubious about the government’s position of support for the green movement.
Mr. Kent was a Deputy Editor of Global Television News before he became the Environment Minister. He started out, in the 1960s, as a radio journalist; and then moved onto television, working for many well-known stations (CBC, CTV, Global, and NBC). His background in the media earned him the President’s Award in 2006 for his history of bringing distinction and major contributions to the media industry.
On January 4th, 2011, Peter Kent became our Environmental Minister.
In merely his first week on the job, he’s already created uproar amongst environmentalists; the Environmental Defence launched a campaign to write letters to Mr. Kent to show tell him what he needs to do to become a worthwhile minister.
His stance on the Athabasca Tar Sands has been the most unnerving (However, instead of having to read the details of the Tar Sands’ negative impacts in this article, please read past Word articles referenced at the end of this article). Peter Kent claims that the Tar Sands are ethical, stating: “The profits from this oil are not used in undemocratic or unethical ways. The proceeds are used to better society in the great Canadian democracy. The wealth generated is shared with Canadians, with investors.”
Mr. Kent’s position is one that needs to be dealt with honestly. His support for the Athabasca Tar Sands is not only unsettling, but is disappointing. As Environmental Minister, he should be trying to help our movement, instead of hindering our efforts.
It is our moral obligation to help save the environment; as the saying goes, “We’re all part of the problem – so we must all be part of the solution.” We will wait with baited breath for Mr. Kent to step up and deliver the change that’s essential for a safe future for our families.
We can make a wave of change, but unless the government removes the barrier that’s currently blocking our pathway, the change will not be visible enough. And Mr. Kent needn’t worry. We will continue to weather down the barriers until our wave is heard and received with support. Until then, I hope he’ll rethink his policies and realize that, right now, the environment relies upon his choices.
Past Word Articles about the Athabasca Tar Sands:
Neelam Khare, “A Not So Happy New Year” January 2009: http://whsword.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/a-not-so-happy-new-year-the-tar-sands-take-over/
Mitchell Agostinho, “The Shame of Canada” March 2009: http://whsword.wordpress.com/2009/03/04/the-shame-of-canada/
By: Winnie Liang, Grade 11
On February 27, 1992, a seventy-nine-year-old woman named Stella Liebeck was sitting in her nephew’s car in a McDonald’s drive-thru trying to add some cream and sugar to her cup of coffee. She placed the coffee between her thighs and tried to pull the lid off. However, this forty-nine-cent cup of scalding coffee spilled all over her lap. Ms. Liebeck, who was wearing cotton sweatpants at the time, suffered from third-degree burns (the most serious kind of burn) on six percent of her skin and milder burns over another sixteen percent. In merely eight days of skin grafting after the incident, her body weight had reduced from over 100 pounds to 83 pounds. Furthermore, this poor woman had to receive medical treatment in the two years that followed. Still, she never fully recovered from her injuries.
Although there were at least 700 previous reported cases of injuries caused by the scalding coffee at McDonald’s before Ms. Liebeck’s unfortunate incident, the fast-food giant knew it had a serious problem this time. Despite the Shriner Burn Institute’s forewarning to not serve coffee above 130 degrees Fahrenheit, McDonald’s restaurants had always been served their coffee at about 190 degrees. They never considered consulting with a burn specialist. When Ms. Liebeck filed a lawsuit against this corporate giant, which took in revenue of $1.35 million per day from coffee sales at the time, all her attempts to settle out of court were refused. Apparently, McDonald’s wanted to take its chances in court. Its defense was that Ms. Liebeck was personally responsible for her severe injuries because she was the one who placed the hot coffee between her legs and failed to remove her clothing immediately. More ridiculously, it said that Ms. Liebeck’s old-aged, thin, sensitive skin was also to blame for the severity of the burns. In the end, she was awarded $200,000 dollars in compensation, though that amount was later reduced by 20% to $160,000, because the jury felt that she was still partially responsible for the accident. Moreover, the jury decided on punitive damages of 2.7 million dollars (only two days’ revenue from coffee sales) for McDonald’s as a punishment and a deterrent of further bad conduct. However, this amount was reduced by the jury to $480,000.
But it wasn’t over yet. Stella Liebeck’s scorching-coffee case had an unfortunate side effect of being seen in public as a frivolous lawsuit, and it was twisted by McDonald’s, using millions of dollars, to use it to promote tort reform. Such “reform” is aimed to reduce the numbers of litigations and damages in tort (which is a system for compensating wrongs done to one party by another). On January 20, 2011, a tort reform bill was passed in the Wisconsin Senate. This measure was largely praised by the business community. Back in 2005, former U.S. President George W. Bush made tort reform a centerpiece of his successful run. Bush’s argument was simple: he claimed that the costs of settling “junk lawsuits” similar to Stella Liebeck’s could hurt the country’s economy. Ever since then, tort “reform” has been a contentious political issue. As a matter of fact, the amount of compensation awards in personal injury cases declined by 56.3 percent from 1992 to 2001. On the other hand, a study had proven businesses file four times as many lawsuits as the consumers. For average Joes, it certainly is something that limits their ability to hold corporations accountable for their misdeeds; that is unquestionably going against the principles of a free society.
By: Anson Lee, Grade 12
The Egyptian Revolution has taken the world by storm. Since 1981, Hosni Mubarak has ruled Egypt; the country was effectively ruled by him alone. Emergency law had been in effect ever since he came into power Under this law, police had free reign to do just about anything; constitutional rights were suspended, censorship was legalized, and the government was allowed to imprison anybody they wanted to at anytime for no reason at all. The law has been renewed three times, showing that the ruling powers were content with the way things were being run. Additionally, the country was in constant poverty. The government again and again showed an inability to reform and advance the nation. This resulted in a constant cycle of poverty and a country unable to grow economically. Moreover, many of the politicians in the government were clearly corrupt. While most people struggled to put enough money to get a meal, each member of Mubarak’s administration had a net value of a few billion Egyptian pounds. The people in the country had had enough.
Revolutions require a spark to start. On New Year’s Day, a church in the city of Alexandria was bombed. This resulted in people calling on the government for changes. Later in the month, the people of Tunisia successfully called for the removal of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. This set in motion the belief that the other nations in the Middle East could finally overthrow the dictators running their countries. In addition, the apparent abuse of power by police forces in the death of a young man had started up calls for protests.
This all cumulated into mass protests beginning on January 25th by multiple human rights and pro-democracy groups. Protests took place in the key cities of Alexandria, Cairo, and Suez. The amount of protestors numbered in the ten thousands. Throughout the week, the number of protestors continued to grow. Preparations were also made for even larger protests on the 28th.
When the fateful day came, the Egyptian Government had shut down nearly all means of communications whether it was text messaging, internet, or phones. This didn’t deter the protestors as tens of thousands took to the street. The Egyptian military was deployed to try and maintain order. Before, the military element of the country had been forever seen in a better light than the rest of the state; while the government was corrupt and the police brutal, the military was seen as protectors of the people. Opposition leaders soon called for talks to bring a new constitution and government.
On February 1st took place the “March of the Millions:” literally a march by millions of Egyptians to the Presidential Palace as a combined show of unity between citizens and the increasingly loud call for change. Mubarak, in retaliation to this, promised that he wouldn’t run for re-election when the time came in September. This didn’t do him any good as people had called on for his immediate resignation. People continued to protest after the announcement.
February 2nd can be seen as one of the decisive days in the revolution. On that day, pro-Mubarak groups began coming out of the woodworks in a show of support for the government. Instead of peacefully protesting like their counterparts, these groups started conflicts with the opposition. One of the early candidates for photo of the year has to be one of a Mubarak supporter riding his camel into a crowd of people. In addition to attacks on protestors, nearly all journalists and reporters were attacked to prevent them from showing what was going on. When protestors managed to grab hold of the pro-Mubarak members, searches showed that those people were actually police officers and government workers. This later resulted in the unity between the Muslim and Christian groups in Egypt.
On February 10th, in the final days of his rule, Mubarak announced that he would hand over power to his vice-president Omar Suleiman. This was met with shock as it was expected that Mubarak would resign. Protests had been ongoing for nearly three weeks with calls from many other countries for Mubarak to step down. Protestors reacted with anger and again called for change. Seeing all was lost, Mubarak resigned the following day.
As of now, the Revolution is still not over. In the following weeks, many things will need to become clear. Will the military follow through on their promises to protect and listen to the people? Which groups will be elected and what changes will they bring? What will remain of the previous regime? All of this can only be answered as the year progresses.
In the month of March:
1. Register online for LPI test. www.lpitest.ca . Test date April 19.
2. Prepare a financial plan for your post-secondary education. http://www.canlearn.ca
3. Attend post-secondary events hosted by colleges and universities. Attend as many as you can and then select the program and institution that best meets your individual needs. There is no right or wrong program. Just find the right fit for you.
- Kwantlen Open House on March 12. www.kwantlen.ca/openhouse
- Corpus Christi College (The Catholic Liberal Arts College) preview events on March 2 or March 22. www.corpuschristi.ca
- VCC Fashion Design Boot Camps for teens March 21 to 25. http://vcc.ca/fashionbootcamps/
- Study and Go Abroad Fairs at Vancouver Convention Centre at Canada Place on March 3rd, Thursday. www.studyandgoabroad.com
- Canadian Toursim College 3 day on campus experience March 30 to April 1
By: Shawna Becker
Studies show that most parents with obese children don’t even know that their children are obese. Maybe they just don’t see the truth of the matter, or are blinded by adoration towards the kids. Or is it just that they don’t want to believe that their children are obese? To them, being obese could mean being rejected, ugly or unwanted.
Here is something else to consider. Parents don’t notice their children are obese because today, everybody is actually a little chubbier because of the unhealthy choices out there that are encouraging bad habits. How can you blame somebody for not being able to tell which child has a problem when they all look the same? Personally, I would think that if they all looked the same, that is, too large, then they all need help on choosing healthier habits. Even if it doesn’t improve their curves it will have a positive effect. Lots of people are confused about obesity. There are millions of people out there that think they’re too fat and there are millions people out there who think they’re too thin.
Being on the chubby side doesn’t mean what most think it means. It is actually just an unhealthy condition that lots of people struggle with. Parents shouldn’t ignore that their children are obese. They should embrace it and give them the care and help that they need to become not thin, but healthy. Parents can’t lie to themselves about something as important as this. Being obese has nothing to do with how people think of you. It has more to do on being healthy and living well.
By: Thea Sample, Grade 10
You may have heard of the recent tragedy in Whistler associated with one hundred healthy sled dogs being shot or stabbed to death. It brought outrage and questions from around the world. News of these killings came when an employee asked for post-traumatic stress disorder compensation from the BC Worker’s Compensation Board. The employee said he was forced to kill 100 healthy sled dogs and was suffering from depression and nightmares as a result. The employee claimed that his employer had told him to get rid of the dogs after business slowed during the post-Olympic slump. In a later statement, however, the company (Outdoor Adventures Whistler) said that they had never instructed the employee specifically on how to go about getting rid of so many dogs.
The main questions now are why no charges have been laid against the killer, what role the employer played in this tragedy, and why the BC Worker’s Compensation Board accepted the employee’s application for compensation. You might be surprised to know that it is not against the law to kill dogs, but it is illegal to kill them in an inhumane manner. In this case, the animal massacre has definitely gone beyond legal bounds. The dogs did not die instantly as a matter of fact. Some dogs even tried to crawl out of the grave they were thrown into after being shot.
Another question people have is why the employee or the company did not try to put the dogs up for adoption. There has been much controversy over this subject and the company says that it could not be done because the dogs were trained/working dogs. Then what happens when a dog retires from being a sled dog or even from being a bomb-sniffing dog? Well, the answer is that it is up to the company or the breeder to make sure that there is a plan for the dogs after their retirement.
“You have to have a ten- or fifteen-year plan for the dog. Our dogs are raised like pets, so they can be adopted.” said Jason Smith from Kingmik Dogsled Tours.
As a result of the sled dog slaughter, many people are calling for “stronger protection for animals and tougher laws for abusers”, according to Mike Farnworth, a BC NDP leadership candidate.
After this incident, organizations including the Vancouver Humane Society think that sled dog tour companies should be banned. However, this has yet sparked more controversies as there are companies who treat sled dogs well. Furthermore, this tragedy has raised an important discussion on how we treat animals in society, how animals are used for profit by businesses, and what our responsibility is to those animals.