Top U of M campus news stories of 2012

6. Stephen Lewis speaks at the U of M amid Kony 2012 phenomenon

Last March saw renowned human rights activist Stephen Lewis hold a series of lectures at the university pertaining to issues such as global violence against women, global climate change, and the HIV epidemic in developing countries. Lewis’ appearance attracted hundreds of students who heard his concerns about Canada’s new fascination with militarization rather than maintaining peacekeeping efforts and humanitarian aid. He argued that Canada appears more self-centered, lowering our international reputation in terms of important issues. Lewis’ lecture occurred in the midst of the Kony 2012 phenomenon, a viral and controversial video on Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony, leaving students eager to hear a respected human rights activist’s thoughts on the video. Lewis argued that, while attention to the issue that the video was generating was valuable, the video remained misleading and manipulative.

5. U of M renovations bring about new future for students

2012 commemorated the beginning of a year of change for the U of M, beginning with the opening of the new campus pub, the Hub. The new pub was projected to cater to the whole community rather than just sports fans like the prior Wise Guys. Excitement over the pub was often overshadowed by constant delays, with the opening initially projected for November of 2011. The Hub eventually opened on May 24, 2012.

October brought the ground breaking for the construction of the new $46 million Active Living Centre, which is projected to open in 2015. It will be a state of the art fitness and research centre and will yield a brand new 200-metre indoor running track, a 40-foot climbing wall, and cardio and resistance training areas. Much of the funding will come from student tuition fees and a mandatory purchase of a Bison Recreation Services membership to promote active living on campus for 35,000 students and staff and 25,000 community members.

4. Quebec student protests affect Manitoban students

Proposed tuition hikes and a controversial Bill 78, a bill curbing freedom to protest, had students protesting in Quebec during the first half of 2012, with students across Canada acting in solidarity. The protests affected all Canadian students and the issue made its way to the U of M when UMSU voted in favour of the Quebec movement at the Canadian Federation of Students’ annual general meeting. A student group, the Maple Tour, travelled across Canada, stopping in Winnipeg to raise awareness about tuition hikes. The Quebec student protests in 2012 were claimed to be one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in the history of Canada.

3. Mystery surrounds dead body found on Fort Garry campus

University campus security found the body of a man between the University Centre and the Engineering building at the beginning of the year on Jan. 2, 2012. The area was sectioned off and after further investigation it was discovered that the person was not a student at the U of M and no foul play was suspected. Details surrounding the death were not given.

2. Independent presidential candidate disqualified from UMSU elections

Controversy surrounded the 2012 UMSU elections when Aaron Griffiths, an independent presidential candidate, was disqualified in March moments before the polling booths were to close. Griffiths allegedly used the canvas of a painting for his banner, causing damage to the painting totalling $300-$500. The damage outweighed the cost of $310 allowed in the presidential campaign, disqualifying Griffiths, whose volunteer claimed that he obtained the painting under the impression it was being recycled. The miscommunication stirred a dispute but the ruling stuck.

1. U-Pass referendum passes in largest voter turnout in years

An UMSU referendum over the student U-Pass initiative received a large amount of support. The U-Pass, which is available at universities across the country, including B.C. and Saskatchewan, would allow unlimited transportation to students who take the bus but would tack on extra student fees for those who don’t utilize the pass. While some students vehemently disagreed with the initiative, the referendum eventually passed. Of the 6,897 students who voted, 73.82 per cent voted in favour, while 26.17 per cent voted against. Although still a small minority compared to the amount who attend the U of M, the referendum received the largest voting turn out in 15 years.