Discuss in groups

We're adding video commentary from our new student panel

We’ve all had that seminar. The teaching assistant asks a question and everyone looks down at the floor—you included. It’s not easy to get a room full of 19-year-olds to discuss a topic on demand. But if there’s anything the Maclean’s On Campus website has proven, it’s that students are thrilled by debate—when it directly affects them. Every time there are whispers of a faculty strike, or every time a far-off student union tries to ban this, or spend your money on that, On Campus’s comments section is flooded.

But who has time to read all that?

Now, instead of forcing you to scroll down each conversation to hear other students, you’ll be able to click through video responses from real students. There will still be written comments, of course. But next time Ann Coulter is prevented from speaking due to riled-up students, we’ll ask our new 20-person Maclean’s Student Panel for their insights. They will provide video responses filmed right in their dorm rooms and we’ll pick the best to display on our website, but all videos will be viewable from our You Tube Channel.

The Student Panel includes voices from Newfoundland to British Columbia and every province in between. The members are highachieving high school students, self-declared homework haters, student union presidents, artists, philosophers, and one’s a single mom. They represent the diversity of Canada’s 900,000 full-time university students, and those aspiring to be, and the challenges they face. Chances are, some will be just like you.

Most weeks, we’ll ask about a controversial issue—like the recent suspension of a University of Manitoba professor who says his school is turning into “a degree mill.” Other weeks,
we’ll ask students for tips on everything from where to find the best campus chow to dealing with a noisy roommate.

This week’s question was: “What was the biggest surprise about university and why?” While all responses have been posted through our You Tube channel, the submission we are featuring on the web site comes from Pascale Gordon, a fourth-year media student at the University of Western Ontario. It is viewable right on our front page.

To learn all about our student panelists, read onto the next page.

Ahmed Alabbas (Ryerson University), 23, grew up with two entrepreneur parents. “That’s why I’m business-oriented,” says the third-year graphic communications management major. On top of class and running his program’s student association, he already has a part-time job at a printing company on Bay Street.

Brian Payne (Thompson Rivers University), 21, says he’s not a homework person. Brian plays intramural basketball, plenty of video games, and is enjoying residence life (sometimes too much). “I’m in a quad so we end up being the hosts of the parties—even on nights when we don’t want to be.”

Christopher Cameron (St. Thomas University), 21, has played almost every intramural sport offered, from water polo to broomball. He’s also the sports editor of the Brunswickan. “I’m enjoying watching the hockey team get back in action,” says the third-year communications student.

Bethany Horne (University of King’s College), 24, wasn’t afraid to move to find the right school. She grew up in Ecuador before starting at Mount Allison in Sackville, N.B. “I found the town pretty limiting,” says Horne. So, she first moved to Dalhousie, then moved again, to King’s journalism and creative writing program.

Erika Kinach (St. Patrick Secondary, Vancouver), 17, has her sights set high—all the way to Mars. After touring a replica of the International Space Station at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Kinach decided she wants to be an astronaut. If she doesn’t make the cut, being a neuroscientist will do.

Omeed Asadi (York University), 20, volunteers frequently, most recently with the social media team for George Smitherman’s Toronto mayoral bid. “My phone isn’t a qwerty keyboard so I’m getting a new one,” says the third-year communications student. “I used to be annoyed by people who say things like that.”

Pascale Gordon, (University of Western Ontario) 21, spent 40 straight days this summer doing yoga, journalling, dieting and meditating. “It taught me that exams and stress are never as big a deal as we think they are.” Gordon, a fourth-year media student, reads style blogs and freelances in graphic design.

Hannah ter Weeme (Humberside Collegiate), 17, has got her future school narrowed down to McGill, UBC, Queen’s or Western. “Obviously, academic reputation is important to me, but it’s really going to come down to the feeling of campus,” says the future history or classics student.

Nick Dehod (University of Alberta), 24, is focusing on mental health issues during his term as president of U of A’s student union. (He convinced the school to hire five new counsellors.) He’s also a bass guitar player. “That’s my venue to get my creative energy out and just relax,” says the sociology and economics student.

Shelley Halchuk (University of Manitoba), 30, was running a nail business when she took a friend for some dental surgery and the dentist showed her how his job was like working with nails. Now, she’s in year one of dentistry and heads the Aboriginal student association. She’s looking forward to her first sweat lodge.

Jessica Wong (McGill University), 18, balances school with her stage-managing and varsity rugby, which takes place about an hour from campus. “It’s physically and mentally exhausting,” says the B.A. student who hopes to major in chemistry. “Rugby alone is 30 hours a week, so you’re always beat up, but it’s worth it for the people.”

Ishmael Napoleon Daro (University of Saskatchewan), 21, legally registered his own middle name at the age of 18. Why Napoleon? “Through pure charisma, this ‘nobody’ changed the world,” says the fourth-year Afghani immigrant. Daro transferred to political science from English, “because English has a lot of reading.”

Chris Hunter (University of Winnipeg), 21, almost took a music degree instead of communications and rhetoric. Luckily, he met musicians outside of class and was able to get his creative fix on the side, as a member of the band Amuse. Hunter is now focused on writing for local publication the Uniter, and his degree.

Melanie Brister (Mount Saint Vincent University), 19, is crafty. “Last year, you would often find me in the residence lounge knitting feverishly,” says the second-year student. This year, her job as a residence assistant and her public relations degree are preventing her from spending time crafting.

Jennifer Marinucci (University of Guelph), 37, has gone back to school now and she’s not embarrassed to put her hand up in class. “I’m paying thousands of dollars, so if I ask questions that are off topic, too bad,” she says. She doesn’t have time for the English club, so she reads Chaucer to her kids before bed.

Cameron Campbell (Memorial University of Newfoundland), 23, is proud to have successfully lobbied his university to keep tuition rates down. When he’s not pleading with university administrators, he’s in the woods. “I like the idea of being kilometres away from the nearest human,” says the fifth-year political science major.

Meagan Jennings (University of Prince Edward Island) , 21, was surprised at how small UPEI was when she arrived from Wisconsin. “I picked it after I saw a poster on the wall of my career office,” she says. She now loves the small community. “I’ve done well here; I’ve quickly risen through the ranks,” she says of her position as the head of frosh week.

Jennifer Abbott (University of Calgary), 21, a B.C. native, wants to be a politician. The political science student recently spent two months working on a city council candidate’s campaign. “I learned that city politics is a lot like student politics,” says Abbott. “And the importance of door-knocking.” To get away, Abbott snowboards in the Rockies.

Natasha Krzyzewski (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design), 21, is a fine arts student. “We come together in physical spaces, because our houses are so close together, but they also act as a way of distancing ourselves,” says the fourth-year about why bungalows are a current theme in her drawings. She is also student union president.

Jeremy McElroy (University of British Columbia), 22, noticed that there weren’t enough fun events for the under-18 crowd when he arrived at UBC, so he learned how to DJ and started promoting campus parties. “We’d always sell out of tickets,” says the vice-president of the student union. His next goal: getting rapid transit built out to UBC.