Bar-going women should put safety above pleasure

6 12 2008

Kara Bertrand
Life Editor, Humber Et Cetera
Published: November 13, 2008

They’re out every Friday and Saturday night, often at the same place in the hope of finally succeeding in their nightly mission. These women can’t be missed. They squeal, shout and embrace almost anyone in their presence. They’re far past the point of inebriation and seem to have lost all account of their actions. All it takes is one night – one moment – when one of these women can be the victim of sexual harassment, rape or worse yet, murder.

Women need to stop portraying themselves as prostitutes or lesbians to please or excite men and learn to control their alcohol intake. I feel guilty saying drunk rape victims are partly to blame for what happens to them, but there has to be a point when a woman puts her own safety before her physical pleasure.

Quite frankly, it’s a sad display to see a normally level-headed woman lose all control, and it happens every weekend. Some will dance on poles or make out with their girlfriends – all to impress whomever is watching them that night. I’m not sure when acting like a lesbian became the norm and it sort of bothers me. That lesbianism excites men baffles me in the first place, but that heterosexual women decide to succumb to this fantasy is even more obscene.

A study published in the December 2003 issue of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence suggested that women who engage in certain behaviour at certain bars are “more likely to experience bar-related aggression.” This behaviour might include alcohol consumption, leaving the bar with strangers and even non-verbal communication.

Research by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health showed women are more vulnerable to alcohol abuse than men, as women who are drinking have higher concentrations of alcohol in their blood. Consequently a woman ends up drunk faster then a man, often forgetting her inhibitions at the door.

Women need to be especially concerned of this since sexual assaults are on the rise. Toronto Police Service states that 895 sexual assaults were reported from January to August 2008, compared to a total of 944 in all of 2007. According to Stats Can, there were 546,000 sexual assaults in Canada in 2004, with young women between the ages of 15 and 24 being most at risk.

For women who think sexual assault is rare, think again. These statistics are based on only eight per cent of women – the rest are not reporting sexual assault incidents for reasons of fear or embarrassment.

Such statistics should be a rude awakening for women who frequent bars and parties. Women need to be more aware of how to prevent becoming a victim of a sexual assault. Common sense will say to keep your friends nearby, with having at least one sober; never leave your drink unattended; and watch your alcohol consumption. All these precautions will certainly make the next day easier to handle.

Twenty-first century women should be proud to be who they are before they set foot in the bar, without having to pretend to be something they’re not.

Military casualties must be public

6 12 2008
Kara Bertrand
Life Editor, Humber Et Cetera
Published: October 23, 2008

The United States Department of Defense enacted legislation in Aug. 2008 granting journalists access to ceremonies honouring fallen military personnel, a motion that was not present in any legislation until this point.

For the first time since the Vietnam War, under the Fallen Hero Commemoration Act, photojournalists and videographers can now capture flag-draped coffins returning to American soil.

Canada has no such legislation. In April 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper even banned the media from ramp ceremonies at C.F.B. Trenton. While this particular ban has been lifted, there is no official legislation allowing the media to capture these tragic yet poignant moments in Canadian military history.

It’s true that with the ban lifted people can see footage and photos of ramp ceremonies but there is no guarantee that the media will not be prohibited from documenting a service.  Canada should have legislation to ensure every death can be broadcasted for the public record and for history.

The war in Afghanistan has produced the largest number of fatal casualties for any single Canadian military mission since the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 where 516 were killed. With 98 dead and hundreds wounded, the sacrifice encroached by this war is not unknown. Without legislation stating the media can attend these ceremonies, government decisions made on the fly could keep the public in the dark regarding military deaths, forging the effects of the war.

As each day passes, insurgent forces continue to gain strength, and critics wonder when the deaths will cease.  However, with Harper’s promise to begin a pull-out of Afghanistan in 2011, there still is no excuse for forgetting those who gave their lives in the war. Media coverage has given light to each death, providing the family with comfort and support, while putting a human face to the war.

When faced with the decision of enacting legislation, like the Fallen Hero Commemoration Act, hesitation might hang on the notion of Canada forever following in the footsteps of Big Brother America, often looking south to see what’s next on the horizon. Emulating the act should not be taken as lowering ourselves to a game of follow the leader, but rather as a step up to respect not only those who have died but their families and the Canadian public in general.

Failing to cover these issues leaves a great hole in the fabric of Canadian society. With Canada often taking a peacekeeping role in more recent wars, the Canadian public was not used to hearing of military deaths in 2006. Harper was presumably trying to shelter the sensitive ears and eyes of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Normal, and leaving us in the dark regarding the war.

But we should not forget those fighting in Afghanistan, especially with Remembrance Day approaching, regardless of our personal beliefs about the war.

Options to keep fit

4 12 2008

Warmer weather provides opportunities to get fit
Kara Bertrand
Life Reporter, Humber Et Cetera
Published: April 9, 2008

While summer is a good time to exercise outdoors, Humber students can still use the Athletic Centre during summer months, said fitness co-ordinator Leanne Henwood-Adam.

There are discounted prices for returning students as well as alumni, she said, and summer students will still receive free membership. Students returning in the fall can pay $50 for the summer and alumni can pay $150 for a one-year membership after graduation.

For those students who would rather exercise outdoors, Henwood-Adam said there are many options.

“Think about the spring and summer type sports that we haven’t had a chance to do for a while like walking, going for a jog, a bike ride, rollerblading. Anything like that is a fun way to keep fit and enjoy the nice weather,” she said.

Henwood-Adam said walking or biking to work, the mall or a friend’s house is a great way to make sure an exercise goal is not forgotten during the summer.

“It’s extra exercise that you’re not really thinking about because it’s something you’re doing to get from point A to point B,” she said. “I look upon that as bonus exercise. Every little bit helps, every little bit adds up toward whatever your goals are.”

Aside from maintaining a work-out regime, implementing exercise in a daily routine allows for fresh experiences, said Kyle Ferguson, Athletic Centre personal trainer.

“In your car, you’re going fast and you’re not focused on how beautiful the trees are, or the flowers at the side of the road,” he said. “When you’re biking or walking, you’re going at a slower pace and you can appreciate the beauty that is around the city. Everything that nature has to offer becomes a lot more available the slower you’re going.”

Jeff Carmichael, active living supervisor for Toronto’s parks, forestry and recreation division, said using city trails, paths, fields, pools and tennis courts are great ways to use sports as a fitness regime.

He said soccer fields and baseball diamonds have fees while tennis courts are free unless they’re part of a tennis club.

There are 281 swimming pools, approximately 642 sports fields, 756 tennis courts and 225 paved trails throughout the city, Carmichael said.

He said exercising outside “helps in getting fresh air and seeing what Toronto has to offer in the summer.”
Ferguson said the possibilities for enjoying the outdoors are endless.

“The limit is only on your creativity – anything you can think of, you can accomplish.”

Dedicating time can help career

4 12 2008

Kara Bertrand
Life Reporter, Humber Et Cetera
Published: April 2, 2008

Volunteering can give Humber students an advantage in the workforce as well as increase personal achievements, said Career Centre manager Karen Fast.

“You’re going to develop a really strong network, you are going to see another side of humanity and often times you’re going to learn new skills that you would not have normally learned on your own,” she said.

The Career Centre has a binder with volunteer opportunities around the city that is updated regularly. A board in the centre also outlines the benefits of volunteering.

“I think what I want to emphasize is the value of volunteering nowadays — how important it is to the employers and the fact that they’re actually looking for it on everybody’s resume,” said Fast.

Ken Wyman, co-ordinator of the fundraising and volunteer management program, said there are about 85,000 registered charities in the country and 100,000 non-profits.

“Any Humber student would find that they would get a welcome at a charity door,” he said.

Wyman said those with volunteer experience hold an advantage over those without.

“People that show they can handle difficult situations are more likely to get hired for their dream job,” he said.

He emphasized the importance of networking through these volunteer opportunities. “Developing that sort of social capital is tremendously important in a mobile society where many people feel isolated,” he said.

Victoria Boulton, 25, a fundraising and volunteer management program student, said charities often suffer without volunteers.

“Lack of money and volunteers basically means most organizations would not be able to function as they want to, if at all,” she said.

Fast added that getting out there is what is important.

“There’s so much need out there that sometimes you feel like it’s just a drop in the ocean, but you do what you can,” said Fast.

Eco-friendly programs see increased enrollment

4 12 2008

Kara Bertrand
Life Reporter, Humber Et Cetera
Published: March 26, 2008

Humber’s environmentally friendly programs provide an advantage for graduates by giving them the skills in industries that lack trained professionals, program co-ordinators said.

“Back in the old days, if somebody got laid off from their job, they could buy a pickup truck, throw a mower in the back and call themselves a landscaper,” said Rob Gray, horticulture apprenticeship co-ordinator. “That’s fallen by the wayside now and they want skilled professionals to come in and do the job.”

Gray said his program only runs in the winter months, allowing students, who are employed in the horticulture industry, to earn money during the crucial spring and summer months.

“This program appeals to students because they’re getting more knowledge about how to cultivate the landscape, how to push plant material or how to sustain a landscape in general,” he said.

Gray said the horticulture program has had steady enrollment in the past few years. Meanwhile the arboriculture apprenticeship program had a 25 per cent enrollment increase from 2005 to 2008, said Patricia Van Horne, associate registrar of records.

Arboriculture students are also exposed to practices and situations that will help the environment, said Mark Graves, arboriculture co-ordinator.

“One thing this program does is it gets one working with nature, understanding the tree’s unique position within nature, how it controls pollution,” said Graves. “It’s a job where 90 per cent of your time is spent outdoors, spent working within the landscape, working with the environment.”

Additionally, a new environmentally focused program, the sustainable energy and building technology program will be offered in September.

Robert Hellier, co-ordinator for the program, said there is a great need for skilled workers trained in the renewable energy and the green building sector.

“What we need is a greater number of those,” he said. “We can’t rely on the ad hoc, informal process of people training themselves.”

Hellier said the program has a lot to live up to. “When you attach the word ‘sustainable’ to a program, you’re saying a lot, so we have a lot to deliver.”

He said the interest in the new program has been better than average and students who are attending are dedicated to environmental change and sustainability.

“They understand why they’re taking this course, it’s not just because their mommy has paid the tuition,” he said. “It’s because there’s some sort of internal motivation to it.”