2013 campus roundup

A busy year for the university

The U of M had a busy 2013, but the Manitoban had you covered for campus updates. Here, in no particular order, is a summary of the 10 most important campus news items from the past calendar year.

Shiny new Health and Dental Plan
After several delays, including one insurance provider candidate not having a licence for the province, the University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) was able to choose a new Health and Dental Plan to offer students. The new plan is said to save $10 per member, totalling $140,000 in savings.

Controversial photos cropping up
UMSU president Al Turnbull was the focus of criticism when social media users noticed he had made an Instagram comment about checking out women’s cleavage while tutoring them. Turnbull admitted he had made the comment, and the Tumblr page umsupresident.tumblr.com (created Sept. 12 of last year) hosted the screen capture.
This was not the first troublesome Turnbull photo to see Internet circulation. In March he was pictured wearing a shirt with the caption: “Cool story babe. Now go make me a sandwich.”

Frosh Festival a financial failure
On Oct. 21 Paquin Entertainment reported to UMSU Council that the new Frosh Music Festival generated a net loss of $150,404. The festival ran at the end of the first full school week, and the loss was said to be a result of Childish Gambino’s sudden cancellation of his Friday-booked showtime.

Astronaut on campus
On Nov. 22, astronaut Chris Hadfield visited UMFM, the U of M’s campus radio station, and spoke about his time in space. After a five-month mission aboard the International Space Station, where he interacted with his home planet through the use of social media, Hadfield achieved international fame.

New comics at library
On Nov. 13, the Elizabeth Dafoe Library became the permanent home for a new indigenous graphic novel collection of over 200 pieces by both Native and non-Native authors. At the opening, novels and comics were said to be a powerful tool for helping new audiences connect with the indigenous culture – especially First Nations youth.

The curious case of SAIA
UMSU voted to revoke the official student group status of Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) on Apr. 11 in order to protect the safety, dignity, and self-respect of self-identified Zionist students. The language of the motion fell under criticism as some argued that it violated SAIA’s right to free speech.
SAIA reapplied for student group status in the Fall 2013 term, and were initially approved. Shortly afterward, however, the group was informed by an UMSU committee that more time was needed for deliberation before their status could be officially renewed.

Redesigns to look forward to
Nov. 3 saw the U of M announce the winners for the Visionary (re)Generation Open International Design Competition, and therein the  contract to redesign the Fort Garry Campus and the former Southwood golf course lands. The winning design from Janet Rosenberg and Studio Inc. (in partnership with Arup Canada, Cibinel Architects, and Landmark Planning and Design) was chosen because of its respect for the landscape.

Material ripped from agendas
In September, in order to protest being locked in a deal with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) over the cost of day-planners, UMSU members removed all CFS promotional material from the agendas. It would have cost $60,000 to cancel the existing contract, something the incoming UMSU executive team realized upon finding a cheaper quote for alternative agenda production.

The strike that nearly was
The University of Manitoba Faculty Association voted in favour of strike action by a majority of 68 per cent, and set a strike deadline for Oct. 22. Points of contention included academic freedom, proposed performance management systems, and promotion procedures. Arbitration was rejected, conciliation talks broke down, and a provincial mediator was brought in, resulting in a last-minute agreement on Oct. 21.

New floor for research
The grand opening of the Nellie Cournoyea Arctic Research Facility took place on March 18. The new fifth floor to the Clayton H. Riddell faculty of environment, earth, and resources’ Wallace Building houses labs, offices, and classrooms. The facility improves the types of tests that can be done on sea ice and provides researchers with more space; it is expected to attract new students interested in Arctic research.