NSO 2015 Recap

By: Via Reyes

UPEI’s New Student Orientation 2015 kicked off last Saturday, September 5th, with Welcome Day activities happening all throughout campus. NSO is a great week filled with fun activities and sessions intended to aid new students arriving on campus in their transition into university life.

This year’s program is almost completely different in comparison to the previous years, one of the more notable differences being the name change from Orientation Week back to New Student Orientation. The Cadre had the opportunity to speak with Pierce Smith, this year’s NSO coordinator, to talk about more of these changes and the journey the week has been so far.

“We made it something completely new this year and really it was because we wanted to know why we were doing things. In the past we kind of did things because we always did them but this year we really had three big goals: academic prep, community building, and health and wellness.”

One of the new events that targeted the three main goals Pierce mentioned was the SnapChat Challenge, where participants get to run around campus with their team and learn more about campus and where everything is located. Another cool event was the session held at the Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre where everyone got to meet with the Athletics and Recreation department and hear of all the services and intramurals they offer this year. Some of the other big events included the NSO Kick-Off, Casino Night, a toga party, and Colour Me: UPEI, where everyone ends up getting covered in chalk paint at a dance party and washing off with a Slip-n-Slide after.

NSO will conclude tomorrow with Shine Day, a day dedicated to raising money towards Shinerama, Canada’s largest post-secondary fundraiser in support of Cystic Fibrosis Canada; a highlight of Orientation Week at UPEI.

Revolution Calling: The Revolutionary Student Movement on Campus

Image courtesy of Via Reyes

Image courtesy of Via Reyes

By: Drew MacEachern

New societies often pop up during the annual Society Fair put on by the Student Union, but few are as controversial as the newly formed Revolutionary Student Movement (MER-RSM). Passing out fliers and pamphlets declaring that “We are the Canada-wide revolutionary, combative, militant, and anti-capitalist student movement” in front of a display board adorned with the faces of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, the display was certainly eye-catching.

The Revolutionary Student Movement is a Canada-wide student movement dedicated to revolutionary change. It aims to create a working class movement of students to help end the exploitation and oppression they view as inherent in the capitalist system, rejecting reform and praising revolution while doing so. To support this goal, it also strives to create an anti-racist, anti-ableist, anti-fascist, anti-homophobic, and “proletarian” feminist culture. It proudly “maintain[s] [their] independence from the bourgeois state.” The RSM maintains chapters at universities in Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and now, PEI.

The Cadre reached out to the founder of the new UPEI Chapter, Nova Arsenault, to get some insight into the organization. Arsenault explained that while he saw many UPEI students engaged in social activism, from feminism, to anti-war activism, to supporters of LGBTQIAP+ students, no one tried to unite these movements together “in theory and practice”. According to Arsenault, “I saw the need to establish this chapter to educate, organize, and mobilize UPEI students in the struggle against the sources of all those issues: colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism.”

The term revolution can conjure up certain images of violence, which inspired us to try to clarify exactly what kind of revolution they mean. After some investigation, the Cadre uncovered certain links between the Revolutionary Student Movement and the Revolutionary Communist Party of Canada. The RCP declares itself to be a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist organization dedicated to revolutionary change. It appears that the RCP interprets this call to revolution as a literal and inevitable eventuality. On its programme, the RCP declares that The objective of the proletarian movement is to destroy the bourgeois state and all of its institutions. It is also to liquidate the private ownership of property of the big bourgeoisie……..Such a perspective excludes straightaway any possibility of a pacifistic transition. The recourse to violence is unavoidable. The preparation of revolutionary struggle that will overthrow the bourgeoisie is what we must plan.” Furthermore, it also declares, “We will make revolution in Canada through protracted people’s war.

Through an email exchange, the Cadre asked Arsenault to clarify the relationship between the RSM and the RCP. He explained, “The RSM UPEI chapter has no direct connection or contact with the PCR-RCP, but we align ourselves with their theoretical approach. Centrally, the PCR-RCP supports the MER-RSM and the two organizations have contact with one another.”

However, with the fact that the organization describes itself as militant still in mind, we also asked Arsenault how would respond to criticisms of his organization that it appears violent. He responded that militancy refers to the willingness to struggle to end oppression. Furthermore, if violence refers to something that is harmful or destructive, then many aspects of the status quo itself is violent; from the negligence towards missing and murdered aboriginal women, to poverty to the violation of bodily autonomy with lack of abortion access. To sum up the argument in Arsenault’s own words:

If we connect the myriad of these passively violent tendencies within capitalism and imperialism to their actively violent enforcers – the police and army – we see that the Canadian state is a violent entity that exploits the majority of its population to accumulate wealth, and does so on land that was stolen in an ongoing genocidal campaign against indigenous peoples. I think that to characterize any form of resistance against the brutal colonial-imperialist state of Canada as “violent” would require one to take the side of the oppressive state. To put it in simpler terms, it would be like calling someone a bully for standing up against a bully; it is a defense of the aggressor which contributes to the abuse of the oppressed. It is dishonest to analyze actions without analyzing the context in which they occurred, and in this historical and material context the Canadian state, its bourgeoisie, and their armed forces are aggressors which should not be defended.

Arsenault explained that after discovering the RSM and finding a group of like-minded people, he reached out to the organization to start a local UPEI chapter. After gaining their approval, he began the process of registering with the Student Union as an official society. The group should be ratified with all other new societies at the Student Union meeting on Sunday.

Dear White People

By: Dante Bazard

Dear white Canadian students of the University of Prince Edward Island,

As a new semester starts, everyone is getting ready to purchase their new school gear, having those end-of-summer parties and one last soak at the beach before winter comes. These activities may be on the mind for most Canadian and returning international students, however there are new international who will be attending the university who have other concerns. Specifically, new international students of colour, not to mention white new international students, do not share some of these struggles because of systematic racism and white privilege that is still prevalent in Canada today. With that being said, as current students of the University of Prince Edward Island, we have a responsibility to make newcomers feel as comfortable as possible. White Canadians, understand and come to grips of two things; White privilege and the difference between systematic racism and discrimination.

White privilege is defined as a set of advantages and/or immunities that white people benefit from on a daily basis beyond those common to all others. White privilege can exist without white people’s conscious knowledge of its presence which helps to maintain the racial hierarchy in this country. White privilege is the reason why there are many “black schools”, “black churches” in North America. White privilege is being able to date someone without having to worry that the rest of the family may not accept you because of the colour of your skin (“dark preferably”).  White privilege is being given more attention and effort by police personnel if you ever went missing, unlike the ‘aboriginal girls’ in the news. White privilege is when you sit down in a lecture that has anything to do with history, the majority of it will be Eurocentric. White privilege is being able to scroll down your Facebook page without seeing someone of your colour being unarmed and gunned down by law enforcement like an animal.

Some may argue that white privilege does not exist while standing on land that they obtained through years of genocide of an entire race, in order to create a space that mainly benefits the oppressor. I’m not here to point fingers. However, the recognition of white privilege by white people creates an area where they can facilitate this knowledge to combat racism. White privilege does not mean that the minute you’re born, and the world realizes your white, you will be given one million dollars and never have to work a day in your life. Today there are minorities who have obtained such wealth, as well as white people who live in poverty.

Due to history, systematic racism has created a society that generally benefits white people above other races. For example, in a scenario where a poor white male wearing a hoodie and a upper-class black male wearing a hoodie, there is a higher chance that he would be either randomly searched or shot by police personal while being unarmed because of the colour of his skin. This is not to say that the poor white male should be profiled because of his economic status, rather to show the disparity of a judgement solely based on race. Around authoritative figures every black male knows any sudden movements can mean life or death where as a white male don’t have to worry about such things collectively.

Systematic racism occurs when the way a society is structured systematically ends up giving advantages to some and disadvantages to others. Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex. Systematic racism further reinforces the definition of white privilege. However having white privilege does not mean that you are immediately discriminating. Certain actions and decisions you make dealing with other races may not have racist intentions, but may have racial outcomes.

For example, if you go up to a black person and state that I love black music, referring to rap, may make your token black friend feel uncomfortable. Reason being, rap is not the only genre of music originating from black culture. Unless they in return go up to you and say we love white people music when you’re listening to Calvin Harris. This also applies to persons who for example tell some from Asian background that they “ taught themselves English well” or assuming that they will not know how to speak English even though that person may be Asian-Canadian. Discrimination does not only come in the form of calling a black person the “N” or word or any other minority a racial slur. Demeaning someone’s race or culture to a stereotype is also a form of discrimination.

This article does not translate into all white people are racist, because white people also face discrimination. However, it is not possible for a white person to experience systematic racism because society has been structured to give some advantages to whites and disadvantages toward minorities. Realizing your privilege this semester can create a space to promote equality and encourage the new international students to express their culture without fear of criticism and ridicule.

From One International Student to Another

By: Elizabeth Iwunwa

I was elated when I discovered that I would be going to University in a land far away. That might not have been the case for some of you but as one of three children of over-protective parents, coming to University was more than just a step further in my education. Canada became my “Promised Land”. And without much ado, I packed my bags and left my loud, sweaty and exuberant Lagos to Charlottetown. I had not known that foxes walked people home at night then. Everything was a complete opposite of what I was used to. I left a country where we had Jollof rice and chicken for lunch to one where people ate sandwiches and yogurt at noon. I made some mistakes and would like to share them, so you don’t have to.

First, do not spend money on anything but basics until you determine and understand the value of the new currency. I remember almost spending my rent for the month on my first trip to the mall. Back home, five thousand bucks could buy groceries that would last roughly two weeks. I had not realized the ones and twos of Canadian currency added up fast. To avoid this, I suggest you pay the important bills like rent and electricity first and then make a list of what you need. (We don’t want you out on the streets now, do we?) Develop a table either with a pencil and ruler or Microsoft Excel and create two columns. One will represent debit and the other credit. The debit column represents your expenses and the credit column represents all forms of income. Balance them on a weekly basis to figure out how much you really spend. If all of this sounds too tedious, check out some apps that can help you monitor your funds. In addition, many stores have discounts on select days or throughout the week, take advantage of those.

On the other hand, avoid converting every cost to your home currency. I have done this a number of times before. The reality is that if you keep doing this, you might not even buy toothpaste. Understand that the economy here is different and so it requires a different system of operation.

The next point is with respect to goals and aspirations. As a first year student, I vaguely knew that I wanted to “do well”. I did not put it in writing. Although I did not fail, I knew that I could have done so much better. There is power in writing down your intentions and having a plan. Set goals that are feasible and realistic and then write out the steps to achieving them. Focus less on the goals and more on the steps. In the end, motivation will get you going but determination and consistency will keep you going. Planning your day is crucial to getting anything done.

Also, homesickness is a never-ending battle, especially for me. I do not by any means imply that homesickness is a mistake. It is an experience. It is most certainly difficult leaving a place and people you have spent a huge part of your life with. I remember felling like I was floating and lost. One thing I’m sure of is that it will pass. If it doesn’t, seek help. There are many people willing to walk you through this new phase of your life. Try as much as you can to connect with your family regularly. Hang up photos of your loved ones in your space. You could also wear a piece of jewellery that reminds you of home. In addition, find a mantra or come up with one that steadies the ground beneath your feet. You could borrow this one:

“I have fear, fear does not have me

I have doubt, doubt does not have me

Fear is a liar; I will call its bluff

I am the master of my fate

I am the captain of my soul”

Finally, get involved. This is a phrase you will hear throughout your stay at UPEI. It might be is uncomfortable breaking out of your comfort zone. Just remember that you did not travel halfway across the world only to meet and mingle with people like you. Volunteer for the Cadre (very shameless plug), sign up to join societies, and attend events that will happen across campus all year round. There’s usually a huge chilli lunch at the end of every semester. It is a great way to meet and connect with interesting people.

After all is said and done, take a step back and enjoy the process. UPEI will change your life, if you let it.

Meet Your Managing Editors – Via Reyes

Image courtesy of Via Reyes

Image courtesy of Via Reyes

By: Via Reyes

Hello, fellow Panthers! My name is Via Reyes and I am in my fourth year as an English major. I am also currently the Arts and Entertainment Managing Editor for the Cadre. I am very excited about this position because I get to play a part in helping to cultivate the local artistic scene, both on and off campus. Also, one of my biggest dreams is to make a difference in the arts and entertainment industry in terms of it continually being progressive, honest, diverse, and a vessel for positive change making.

I grew up in Manila, Philippines, a city of over one million people, and moved to this charming tiny island two years ago. I dropped out in the middle of my second year at a university in the Philippines and decided to go to Europe for a couple of months instead to figure out what I really wanted to do. On a train travelling from Budapest to Vienna, I received the e-mail of my acceptance into the University of Prince Edward Island.

Though my parents’ original wish for my two siblings and I was to become doctors or engineers, we all ended up dedicating our time to music, literature, and film throughout our younger years and well into what we chose to get into in university.   It was an easy decision for me to major in English and I have loved every second of this journey so far, including the late nights and the fifteen-page papers. I could not imagine myself doing anything else.

After high school, I moved to Singapore with my family. Starting over really helped me learn more about myself and explore and cultivate interests on my own, outside the realms of whatever people I knew were into. I started using Tumblr, a social media website and micro-blogging platform, and began blogging about The Lord of the Rings, a story I have loved since the age of seven. After a couple of years my little space on the Internet grew into so much more, coming out with around twenty-five thousand followers, friends from all over the world, a ton of other interests to explore, and with more awareness about the world around me.

Aside from taking English classes and writing for The Cadre, I like to spend my time rereading Harry Potter, updating my instagram and photography portfolio, and making sure Editor-in-Chief Drew MacEachern does not get past his cynical comment quota for the day. I am deeply fascinated by space, I can quote most of The Lord of the Rings films word for word, and I also have a chubby African pygmy hedgehog named Mr. Gustave after the loyal concierge in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.

If you are an artist who wants to be featured, have any ideas related to Arts and Entertainment you want to share with us, or simply want to have a chat over coffee or tacos, do not hesitate to send me an e-mail at avreyes@upei.ca. I would love to hear from you!

Reflections on the Arab Spring

Image courtesy of Raghda Aladdin

Image courtesy of Raghda Aladdin

By: Raghda Aladdin

Raghda Aladdin is a student at Misr International University in Egypt and was an exchange student here at UPEI last fall. These are her reflections on the Arab Spring, which rocked Egypt several years ago, and its aftermath.

2011 was the beginning of the, so called, “The Arab Spring in Egypt”. The 28th of January is a day that no Egyptian can ever forget. On that day, it all started. Good or bad, it depends on the individual’s opinion. Many people died on that day and even after that day, the killing did not stop. Civilians, military and policemen were killed almost every day. Then people clamoured for revenge. From 2011 until 2013, blood was shed everywhere; there was no security, there were criminals everywhere in the streets. Also, there were “public committees” formed in every street, along with the curfew. Men and boys would stay in the streets to protect their houses. From the point of view of a normal citizen, away from any political preference, it was a living nightmare. I have nothing to do with politics. I have never studied politics before and I did not know anything about politics until 2011, when people started to talk about politics nonstop.

Of course “Mubarak’s” government and policies were corrupt and it had to be put down, but it was us, Egyptian people, who had to pay for this change. I could not walk safely in the streets. I would be afraid all the time, and that I might get killed or kidnapped. There was lawlessness in the streets. The situation had been this bad for 3 years. Therefore, I did not like or agree with what was going on from 2011 till 2013. Egypt was so bleak at that time and there was mess everywhere. During this time, Egypt was divided into four parties. Those parties formed the Egyptian community from 2011 until recently. The transition period and the Muslim Brotherhood period were two horrible stages in my life, along with many other Egyptians’. Now there is stability and things are improving as far as I’m concerned.

Before 2011, only few people talked about politics and their political preference. From 2011 until recently, the Egyptian community were divided into four unofficial political groups. This division does not mean that the Egyptian community is divided and weak, it only means that each one of us has their own perspective on what is going on in our country. For me, I respect all of the opinions and differences in my society. The only exception is for those who want to corrupt the country, I do not respect nor support them.

The first party: Those would be the “rebels” who dedicated themselves to revenge for the martyrs of the revolution. They protested against everything, they are still, but not as strong as they used to be when they first started. Many people backed away from this party, and people got busy after a while. Not many Egyptians now are interested in politics like 2011.

The second party: The Muslim Brotherhood, and those wanted to make Egypt an Islamic country, from their own wrong perspective on Islam. They wanted to seize power by any means. They just wanted to rule Egypt. They were, and are still, hypocrites. Their leaders are liars and misleading. They also presented Islam in the worst way possible. They said that they stand up for Islam, but they don’t, because what they are presenting is not Islam, it is their own distorted belief.

The third party: The people supporting the army and the military institution. I believe that they formed the majority by 2013 till now, when many people joined them. Many of the people of the first and the second party opposed this party. They believed that if someone with a military background won the presidential elections, it would bring us back to how it was during Mubarak’s rule.

The fourth party: I was part of this party, which is “The silent majority” This party did not realize what was going on till the Muslim brotherhood took over. They did not understand everything, as it all happened too fast and it was so sudden, so they did not know who to support or which way should they go. Afterwards, many of them joined the third party, the army supporters.

After the Muslim Brotherhood took over, things got even worse than 2011. The security declined even more and there were people speaking nonsense in the name of Islam everywhere. They deformed the image of Islam in the whole world besides corrupting the country and targeting specific people to kill. All of this corruption and intimidation was to take over Egypt.

From 2011 till 2013, during those 3 years, I would get terrified if I see any group of people gathering in the streets. It was horrible, revolution never stopped, killing never stopped, demonstrations and riots never stopped as well. Then, things started to get better, in the security situation, when the military decided to get involved. When people went in the streets asking for the military to intervene, to put an end to this nonsense. The military tanks got down in the streets to protect the people. I started to feel more confident and safe walking in the streets. Just seeing those military tanks made me feel much safer, knowing that they protect me and all the people in the streets.

People went in the streets again on (30 – June – 2013) to ask El-Sisi [Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, former chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces and current President of Egypt] to participate in the presidential elections. To be honest I did not, along with many people, agree that El-Sisi should run for the presidential elections. The reason is not because he is not good for it, but because I wanted him to remain a commander and a hero. I wanted him remain the same in people’s mind for the rest of his life, because I did not want another good man corrupted by the power. On the other hand, when he was elected I could not find a better choice, and voted for him in the elections in a hope for a better future. It was not a coup d’état, it was people’s will, because people went in the streets asking for it and I was there in the streets at that time and saw the massive groups of people in the streets asking El-Sisi to run for the presidential elections.

Honestly I thought nothing had changed at the beginning, but right now I see a big change in Egypt in a good way. The political talk among normal people started to fade out, which is good because literally every Egyptian person talked about politics no matter whether they did really understand what was going on or not. All of the prisoners that escaped from prison in 2011 are being put back in prison. Terrorism in Sinai is being combated and eliminated. Also, terrorists who escaped from Palestine to Sinai through some illegal underground tunnels are being fought. Security is returning to Egypt gradually. Also, I see that there are development projects that are being held, like the new Suez Canal, which I hope makes the Egyptian economy better. Of course there are still things that are not solved yet, but I believe that the road towards development needs much more time.

I am not saying that I’m 100% satisfied with the situation now, but it is way much better than it used to be in the previous years, even before the 2011 revolution. Also, I’m optimistic and I’m supporting El-Sisi and right now I have no regrets what so ever that I voted for him.

$100 for a Semester: Tuition in Germany and Canada

Image courtesy of Linda Spielmann

Image courtesy of Linda Spielmann

By: Linda Spielmann
When I started making plans for my exchange semester, I soon decided that this is my chance to get out of Europe and see the world from a different perspective. Canada seemed like the perfect choice: friendly people, beautiful landscape, and located at the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. When planning such a big step, money is definitely an issue. But with the exchange program of my university, all I had to worry about was the residence fee and the cost for my flight. So when I got accepted, I started to save up some money from my job and cut down a bit on shopping, and soon enough I could pay for everything. There was no reason to worry about tuition fees, I would just pay the usual amount to my home university.
After more than a year of planning, I finally got on the plane that brought me to PEI. New people, different language, different time zone, a million new impressions – the first few days were exciting and exhausting at the same time. But quite soon, I got used to the new environment and made friends with some amazing people. Even though I didn’t know much about PEI before I came, I fell in love with the island. Soon enough, classes started. And one of the first things I learned, was that I knew absolutely nothing about Canada. But since I study political science, my courses (and a very helpful canadian roommate) quickly changed that. So I started to understand how your country works and got many opportunities to analyse the differences to my home country. And even though Germany and Canada do have a lot in common, there were more than I would have expected. I learned a lot from my teachers and classmates, and I hope they could learn a few things from me.
But there was this one moment when I actually did feel a bit bad about what I was going to say. It was in a course where we would always discuss a lot, compare the topics to our lives. I don’t remember how the point came up, but we started talking about tuition fees. While people were talking about how the situation in Canada is tense, but by far not as bad as the situation in the US, I started to think about how much I paid for this semester. And with my guilty conscience growing, I was hoping that no one would ask me how much that was. But of course they did, and of course they were suprised when I stated the numer: 75 Euro (about 100 CAD). This is mostly for public transport and a contribution to the student union. Since 2014, there are no tuition fees in Germany anymore.
When I started my degree in 2012, I still had to pay a tuition fee. It was about 500 Euro (700 CAD), which was a lot of money for me but is of course nothing compared to what you pay in Canada. By that time, in some parts of the country, they had already scrapped tuition fees. And bit by bit all the other parts were following their example. Afterall, tuition fees had only existed since 2006, in some parts of the country they never have. The idea is to promote justice and equal opportunities for everyone. The social situation you are born in should not determine your career opportunities and your future. If the education you can get depends on how much money your family makes, the educational system will only reproduce social inequalities. But if education is free, you will be able to earn a better position with good work rather than money. To make sure this is possible, the state supports all students depending on the income of their families. You can get up to 600 euro a month and only have to pay half of it back, starting five years after you finished your degree and only if you actually earn enough money.

These are good intentions, but the unversities still need money to function. Now, the state has to put a lot more into the educational system than it did before. It is probably too early to tell if this is a system that can work in the long run. And there are private schools which do charge people about as much as universities in Canada, or maybe even more. It is hard to tell if they provide better education though, but they do have advantages. Compared to Canada, the fees we used to have were definitely affordable. And if the way it works now turns out to be unsustainable, I wouldn’t complain (too much) about going back to the fees we used to have. But since our universities worked without tuition fees before, I’m optimistic that they can continue to do so in the future. It is a big relief for me and many other students that we don’t have to pay them anymore. And so I was able to affort coming to UPEI and have a great time – and learn a lot more about the world and about myself than one university alone could have ever taught me, no matter how high the fees.

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