U of M professors lead series to address civic disengagement
Two political scientists at the University of Manitoba have teamed up with the Manitoba Institute for Policy Research (MIPR) to lead a series about the 2011 Manitoba election, titled “Café Politique,” in hopes of improving levels of civic engagement.
U of M political science professors Jared Wesley and Andrea Rounce are heading the initiative to address low levels of civic engagement and literacy, which have reached a post-war low according to Wesley. The series of Cafes Politiques will be held in various locations across the city, such as restaurants, coffeehouses, schools and bookstores, to more easily attract and connect citizens with experts.
According to Wesley, voter turnout in the 2003 provincial election ebbed at 54.2 per cent, recovering to just 56.8 per cent in 2007. In addition, surveys indicate many non-voters feel alienated from the political system, or have other priorities on election day. For those who choose not to vote, six out of ten feel they are too ill informed about the political process to cast a meaningful ballot.
“If Manitobans want and need information about democracy in this province, we felt it was our duty to deliver the information to them,” said Wesley.
Wesley noted that the purpose of the cafes is not to raise debate, but rather to raise levels of knowledge and awareness of politics in Manitoba.
“Whether they choose to use this knowledge to vote — that’s up to them. Our aim is not to raise voter turnout, per se, but rather to provide citizens with enough information to empower them to participate in our democracy,” said Wesley. Wesley said they hope to see a reduction in the number of non-voters who cite lack of knowledge as an obstacle to participation in elections.
“Being misinformed is as dangerous as being ill-informed, which is why we are both answering questions and dispelling common misconceptions about Manitoba politics as part of this series.”
Students wishing to get involved can attend the monthly cafes, join the Facebook group, view web casts posted on the website or take part in on-campus lectures.
Students looking to help organize U2011 can contact the directors at manitobaU2011@gmail.com. More information on the series can be found at umanitoba.ca/u2011
World Vision student group doubles sweets with inspiration
On Feb. 15, the World Vision U of M student group will be hosting a coffeehouse in the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) Lounge.
The coffeehouse will feature acoustic musicians and international speakers in order to unite like-minded students and foster discussion about social justice issues.
President of the World Vision U of M student group Breanne Wiebe said the coffeehouse does not have a specific theme, but rather caters to all students on campus with an interest in getting involved and being inspired.
“The general theme is one of inspiration, focusing on encouraging students to be the change they want to see in the world. This is what our speakers will be focusing on: how and why they are doing that,” said Wiebe.
Wiebe said the group feels that it is important to provide opportunities for students to get engaged on both a community and global level.
“We want to help students discover their passions and develop themselves as global citizens. We want to help students realize that they can evoke change in our world,” she said.
Students who attend will hear information on the realities of Rwanda, child sponsorship and other local volunteering opportunities. Free coffee and desserts will be available.
“Overall, there is a lot of excitement on campus related to this coffeehouse. Students want to get involved,” said Wiebe.
U of M strategy gamers pull gaming marathon for charity
Raising money for charity is no easy feat, but neither is playing games for 72 hours straight — a mission that the U of M Strategy Gaming Club (UMStrat) set out to accomplish last weekend.
James Edwards, a third-year arts student and president of UMStrat, explained that the group would be holding a gaming marathon from the evening of Friday, Feb. 4 to Sunday afternoon in order to raise money for a local children’s charity. The group planned to have eight UMStrat members playing strategy games in the Student Group Resource Centre in Helen Glass.
“I know it doesn’t sound very hard, but it actually can get quite difficult depending on the game, [ . . . ] especially playing for thirteen hours straight. That’s a regular game,” said Edwards.
Money raised will go towards the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Support Group of Manitoba, an organization made up of parent volunteers who are experiencing or have experienced the effects of childhood cancer. Donations cans are available at G.P.A’s, Degrees and I.Q’s, and will remain there till the end of the semester. All of the money collected will go towards the support group.
“It all started off with us trying to see how long we could actually game for, [ . . . ] so we thought we might as well do something good while we find out,” said Mark Stewart, a second-year political science student and member of UMStrat.
Edwards said the group started brainstorming in November about a charity organization that held meaning for all the members of the group. The group recognized that oftentimes people forget that cancer does not only touch the old, but young children too.
“Everyone looks at us [UMStrat] and thinks we’re selfish or we spend too much money on things, and we want to show we can be a force for good too,” said Edwards.
Nominations for UMSU Elections 2011 now open
Election fever is beginning to ramp up on campus, as nominations for UMSU Elections 2011 are now open until Feb. 18.
Nominations are open from Feb. 7 through to the 18th for students seeking nomination.
Nomination packages are available at the UMSU front desk, at the office of the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) and online.
According to the CRO Jason van Rooy, students seeking nomination must pick up a nomination package, which includes all the necessary forms information on the process.
“Candidates are required to collect the number of signatures corresponding to the position for which they are seeking nomination,” said Van Rooy.
“Once the nomination signatures are obtained and the completed package has been returned to the CRO, nominees are required to attend an all candidates’ meeting, following which they will officially be candidates in the 2011 UMSU election,” he continued.
For those interested in being poll clerks, the 2011 UMSU elections team is now hiring. The application deadline is Feb. 18 at 4 p.m..
Nightmare Night Cares sees students play doctor and patient
University of Manitoba nursing and medical students did some role playing last weekend, when the Helen Glass Center for Nursing became the “Helen Glass Hospital for Sick Students.”
“Nightmare Night Cares,” originally held by the faculty of nursing alone, was completed in collaboration with the faculty of medicine this year. Sixteen nursing students and four medical students played the role of patients in a hospital. The caregivers included six medical students and eight nursing students.
Marlee Enns, the course leader for the third-year skills lab in the faculty of nursing, said the foremost purpose of the event is to ensure that students build empathy through experiential learning.
“Students may not have ever been patients before and yet they’re taking on this caregiver role, so it’s difficult for them sometime to empathize with the patient in the bed. [ . . . ] It gives them an opportunity to see what it’s like to be on the other side of the sheets,” said Enns.
Enns said students would not know why they had been admitted to the hospital beforehand. Upon arrival, students would be given a rudimentary description of their age, name and diagnosis. At that point, it is up to the student to decide how they want to use their profile.
“For the most part, people who are playing the roles of the patients will have a fair amount of latitude with how they want to present that patient. [ . . . ] They can do things like fall out of bed if they choose to,” said Enns.
Enns explained that the evening would also consist of “programmed problems.” In preparation for the event, medical students put together test results so that if a patient complains through the night, they already have results on file. That way, the doctors are ready to complete a realistic diagnosis.
“We’ve got students of all kinds in cooperation trying to fill all the roles,” she said.
The event ran from 7:30 p.m. on Friday night to 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. Friends, family and the public were welcome to stop by during “visiting hours.”