Saturday, March 21, 2009

My Paper Can Make a Bigger Splash Than You

At Nipissing University there is a rare opportunity that undergraduate students may not find anywhere else. The Second Annual Undergraduate Research Conference will be held here at NU next weekend. You won't want to miss this free event that will showcase some of the best research that our students have to offer. Be sure to arrive Friday evening at 6:30pm to register. And you'll want to be present for the keynote address set to begin at 7:15pm in the Fedeli Room that will feature Dr. Dean Bavington, NU's first Canada Research Chair. He'll be enlightening the audience about how he became a researcher throughout his academic career.

After recoverning from the free wine and cheese reception and viewing the poster presentations after the keynote, it is early to rise Saturday morning for a full day of research paper presentations. Even if you cannot attend the whole day, be sure to show up Saturday morning at 10:30am in room A224 for the "War and Society" panel. I will be presenting my paper that will shed light on the changing nature of war memory in Britain between the First and Second World Wars. Other members of the panel include James Bull, Robyn Cameron, Meaghan Edwards, and Lindsay Robinson who will present on many other specific aspects of War and Society including the Indian Army in the British Expeditionary Force, the role of Chaplains in War, and War Prisoners Interned in Canada. Many other panels throughout the day include Integrative Biology, Global Development, Culture and the Arts, Social Activism, Sociology, Environmental Science, Social Responsibility, Justice and Security, Eco-Management, and English. Really, there is something for everyone's interests and you might just learn something new.

For more information, you can visit Be sure to register and attend next weekend's event. I am sure that community members, North Bay locals, researchers, scholars, and guests will not be disappointed.

Friday, March 6, 2009

From High School to University: Essay Style

For students pursuing a university education after high school, you have much to look forward to and even more to learn. Depending on your university program, you will need to know how to write well. Some may say that the first thing you'll be told on your first day of a university class is to forget about the traditional 5 paragraph essay you learned to write in high school: a fancy-pantsy introduction that catches the readers' attention, a meaty middle part where you support your 3 main arguments, and a feel-good conclusion that is little more than a reiteration of your introduction.

When you write a 750, 1,000, or 2,500 word essay in university, there is no room for extra words. I would suggest taking an Orwellian approach and say what you need to say in as few words as possible. You have no room for catching a readers' attention with a smug story in your introduction. If you are writing an English literature essay, you need to start talking about the poem or story you are analyzing immediately.

Be Confident

What you are writing matters to you and your reader. Take sides of a debate and trust your argument. Leave nothing for the reader to guess. Let me know what your thesis is right away. And most of all be assertive. If you are arguing the legitimacy of stem cell research, don't second guess yourself. Purporting a new paradigm for adoptive children in Canadian society? Say so and believe that your views have weight; then give your argument credence by supporting it with fact-based information.

What grade?

In university you will not receive a marking rubric for writing assignments like you have in high school. There is no set of guidelines for grading essays in university. A professor or TA may have some idea of what a "B" or "A" paper looks like, but don't expect to receive a handout that lists specific criteria as such. Sometimes the closest staircase may suffice when grading essays by:
1) stacking the essays at the top of the stairs;
2) kicking the essays down the stairs;
3) receiving a mark based on which step your essay lands: the lower the step down the stairs, the lower the grade that you receive. Everything is relative.

At Nipissing University, there are many tools at your disposal to help you write well. A great resource is an older woman who works at the school, known as the "Grammar Granny," is not only pushing retirement age, but will push you to write better, to scrutinize every sentence, to avoid unnecessary words, and to reduce comma splices. Upper year students are available as tutors and some as mentors too.

But, the best resource available is your professor. He/she is able (and indirectly required) to meet with students and to hold office hours. These folks have written many essays during their time and many are more than happy to help you. Take advantage of them and heed their advice. It will help you make the leap from high school to university level essay writing.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Reading Week vs. Sleeping Week

At Nipissing University, there are few things that students look forward to. Most of them surround holidays, when there are no classes, and times when exams will be over such as Christmas break and the end of the year in April. In between these times, we still get to experience March Break as it is known to our high school inferiors. However, this break is known as Reading Week or Study Week in unispeak (definition of unispeak: noun. an Orwellian developed term that encompasses the language used at post-secondary levels of education, specifically universities).

Reading Week is one of those breaks from the normal routine of classes where students do the complete opposite of what the break suggests. That is right; I doubt that much reading gets accomplished during this so called Reading Week. But for those of us who actually do take advantage of the time, there are numerous things that you could be doing such as 1) actually reading; 2) highlighting material in your textbook to make it look like you are actually reading; 3) write essays and work on other assignments; 4) study for mid-term exams; or 5) wallow in self-pity knowing that you completely bombed the mid-term exams that you wrote BEFORE the break started.

So, my fellow university students, take advantage of this break. Sleep in! Stay up late! Visit with friends from highschool who you occasionally chat with and meet up with thrice a year. And do not forget to bring back some home backed goods and other supplies that will be the envy of your other roommates and friends.

The good thing about Nipissing University: you get two Reading Weeks. One in the fall. One in the winter. That is double the sleeping time. Happy reading!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

NUSU Executive Elections well under way

That time of year has come once again. Nipissing University students will be heading to the polls in less than one week to decide who the next 4 individuals will be to lead the student union into the next year. In this post I'll briefly discuss the candidates in case you haven't been able to meet them or read their platforms. The candidates have tables in hallways, have been doing many class talks, and wear promotional T-shirts, and sometimes even smile! I welcome your respectful comments and feelings about the candidates and their ideas.

Marianne den Haan is currently the VP Student Life and is running in an uncontested race for President. Pretty much a win here unless something drastic happens that would upset the Yes-No ballot. Although she has nearly one year under her belt she'll still have a learning curve to meet regarding academics and Senate regulations and providing a mature model of leadership for the union. Priding herself on transparency regarding finances, she has made high incidental fees a key issue of her platform. Marianne's Facebook Group

Vice President External
Anna Fitzsimmons is running in her second election after becoming the Humanities Delegate. You'll recognize posters of her crouched in a clothes dryer alongside her platform stance on running an effective Shinerama fundraiser campaign. A 3rd year student, she wants to promote the Health Plan and Awareness Team activities. Anna's Facebook Group

Amanda Lytle is a new face to student politics at Nipissing University. She's running on a platform of reducing or freezing tuition fees or at least bringing awareness to the high cost of university education along with actually attending CFS meetings. She also has plans for a better Health Plan with more coverage along with making the Awareness Team more of a presence on campus. Amanda's Facebook Group

Vice President Internal
Ryan Lahti not only looks like MacCaulay Culkin, he is seeking to abolish the controversial Writing Competency Test, claiming it's redundancy and high cost. He is also promoting a higher profile of student clubs and more awareness of academic regulations. Ryan's Facebook Group

Jon Jefkins is back for his third run at the position hence the phrase, "Third time's a charm, Jon!" With a lengthy platform on issues from clubs to campus safety, he is also seeking to implement surveys to evaluate the student experience and effectiveness of the student union. Alumni and education students also find a place in his platform along with a greater awareness of academic rules and regulations. Jon's Facebook Group

Vice President Student Life
Cole Fournier returned to Nipissing this year after taking a year off to attend Canadore College. Since the campaign began, he's moved from a launch of a clever video to basic platform ideas surrounding the massive task of planning Frosh Week and establishing a "Nipissing's Got Talent" night. He's also been a Frosh Leader. Cole's Facebook Group

Lisa Hutchinson is running her second campaign after winning the Social Sciences Delegate position this past fall. After winning the Top Female Frosh Leader award in September, she certainly brings spirit and enthusiasm to the position. She has an extensive platform dealing with the Food Bank, Street Team, and wanting to plan better events throughout the year. She also tackles the recycling program, or lack thereof, here at NU and has a desire to change it. Lisa's Facebook Group

Trina Prince is running in her second campaign for this position after being narrowly defeated by Marianne den Haan last year. With much experience with residence events, she desires to plan a great Frosh Week, formals, and ensure the success of the Food Bank. She prides herself in experience and previous campaign experience. Her slogan, "TP for VP," is written on squares of toilet paper that double as fecal matter wipes. Trina's Facebook Group

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Nipissing University announces new female President

Today Nipissing University announced who the next President and Vice-Chancellor will be for the institution. Perhaps along the same lines of the hopeful change inspired by current President-elect of the US Barack Obama, this NU appointment breaks ground in what some groups would term "shattering the glass ceiling." Nipissing's next President will be female. Dr. Leslie Lovett-Doust will be moving to North Bay this year in time for a July 1st start. She is moving from Michigan Tech where she was Provost and VP Academic Affairs. Prior to that she was a dean of Lakehead University. Plus, she's also a Scot!

Lovett-Doust will be succeeding current President Dr. Dennis Mock; a familiar and always smiling face on campus. Prior to this new appointment NU had 4 Presidents, all of whom were male. Dr. George Zytaruk is the founding President of NU who was later succeeded by Dr. Anthony Blackbourn. Dr. David Marshall, former Dean of Education, became President for a number of years and was succeeded by Mock.

The new President faces many challenges and opportunities coming into the job. A new visioning process will be initiated where the institution, through individuals and groups, will ask itself what it wants to look like in 5-10 years. Currently, NU prides itself on being a primarily undergraduate university with strategically developed graduate programs (an M.Ed and an MA in History) and with more on the way. Along with many build projects that will transform the physical look of our campus, the President will be the one to guide the institution through the next 5 years of development and excellence. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Lovett-Doust (pictured below) to the Presidency!