Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Disrupting An Education.

My friend Megan directed me to a Maclean's Article in which the discussion of eliminating Frosh Week from Universities all together is an idea on the table and up for discussion.

The article focuses on my Alma Mater, in particular, Queen's University, since there was a tragic death of a First Year Student the Monday classes began. All the details have not yet been disclosed in regards to this student's death. This seems to have capitulated the end to Frosh Week since the Police believe alcohol may have been involved.

I do not mean to sound inconsiderate or ignorant. I went to Queen's. In fact, I went to their Castle in England, where the number one past time was going to the pub. I know the drinking culture, I know that excessive drinking leads to dangerous situations. I also know that last year a student at Queen's died because he felt very alone while integrated into the Queen's society. Attending classes, making friends in residence and never giving an indication that his death was impending for the rest of the world.

Now, if you take away the first week of fun, games, and entertainment to meet people and make friends, how many more young students will end up feeling alienated and lost on campus? Queen's isn't even THAT large in regards to the size of many Universities and Colleges. To remove this integral part of getting into the groove and the beginning of finding your place for the next four years is absolutely insane.

I went to Queen's Campus in my second year, due to my first year being abroad, and I had friends going with me, yet there were a huge amount of times I felt left out and lost in Queen's Society. Part of that was me yes. But I cannot imagine having my "Newts Week" (New, Exchange, Transfer Students) being gone. I met new people, I made new friends and closer friends and I found a niche I knew i could turn too. I found people in a similar situation as myself, proving that there is strength in numbers.

Honestly, canceling Homecoming and now looking into ending Frosh Week, is not going to end excessive drinking or cut down on deaths from over consumption of alcohol. Education will help with that. Teaching responsibility will help. But Banning events and getting rid of places for students to connect and enjoy themselves won't. It will just alienate them further and create a campus that is further dissolved.

I know what it feels like to sing the "Oil Thigh" with Alumni 80 plus years old. I know what school spirit is. Yes, it has nothing to do with alcohol and partying. But striping a school of traditions and enjoyment isn't a University education. It's making the young grow up faster and enter into the cold, harsh, adult world, sooner than they need to worry about.

The collective education of class, papers, readings, parties, clubs, sports teams, and committees is a true University education. You cut out Homecoming, you lose some. You cut out Frosh week and the scale slides even more.

University is a time of self-discovery and as integral in the growth process of those who attend (Note: I am referring to the age range of 17-24, not just those who go to Universities!). Having a supportive but understanding family away from home is what counts. Learning, academics and "real life", counts.

Essentially, it comes down to the question: Why even have an Alma Mater if you can't celebrate it?

See Maclean's "The beginning of the end of frosh week"

Friday, September 3, 2010

Underwater Sensations

Mermaids do exist. In the form of underwater beauties or rather synchronized swimmers.

Now synchronized swimming has always had a hard time establishing itself as a "sport" but let's be honest, how many Pro football or hockey players can hold their breathe while performing?

Just as dance has recently been pushed to the forefront of athleticism, due to popular reality shows such as "So You Think You Can Dance?" and "Dancing with the Stars," it is finally being recognized as a sport. With the most recent winner of the former being displayed on Gatorade bottles.

The misconception that sports like dance, gymnastics and synchronized swimming are not in fact "sports" or the argument that they aren't true sports remains to me incomprehensible and faulty.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines sport as "an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment"

This definition alone should be enough to convince naysayers but a lot of times it's not. And it's not worth my time to convince people that holding your breathe and depriving your body of oxygen (crucial to body functioning and life) while performing physically exhausting figures and lifts against water pressure is by definition a sport.

However, synchronized swimming is also an art form.

Beauty and grace combined with strength, agility, flexibility and creativity.

So before you stop believing in the unbelievable, look up Synchronized Swimming on YouTube and see the modern Mermaids that exist and compete in teams, duets, and solos in a sport that with growing credibility still gets flooded with negativity by those whose brains have been waterlogged.