What students are talking about today (December 12th edition)

The pope's first tweet, Mount Royal's money woes and beer for your cold

(Photo: angelocesare on Flickr)

1. Stressed out from exams and warding off a cold? Drink beer! The National Post writes that Japan’s Sapporo Breweries is promoting a study that says hops, a key ingredient in beer, may have respiratory virus-fighting powers. Researchers at Sapporo Medical University (a partner in research, but no relation to the brewery) found that humulone, a chemical compound found in hops, helps protect against cold-like symptoms in adults and more serious illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis viruses in children. Note: Do not actually guzzle IPAs for breakfast. Sapporo researcher Jun Fuchimoto told the AFP that someone would have to drink around 30 350-mL cans for the beer to have any anti-viral effect.

2. On Wednesday, Pope Benedict XVI joined well-known Twitter user Jesus and sent out his first tweet “in perhaps the most drawn out Twitter launch ever,” the Associated Press reports via CBC. The ceremony included a proclamation as the 85-year-old pontiff tapped the screen of an iPad: “And now the pope will tweet!” The inaugural papal message: “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.” Aw. At last count, the pontiff’s English @Pontifex account was closing in on 850,000 followers. Bad news for anyone hoping to hit up the pope via direct message: The Vatican told AP the pontiff won’t actually write his own tweets.

3. Calgary’s Mount Royal University is feeling the budget crunch amid revenue shortfalls and government funding freezes. The Calgary Herald reports that the school’s financial woes stem from the perfect storm of launching new programs as provincial cash dried up. Mount Royal announced six new degree programs in 2009 as part of its transition from a college to university, but faces a $5.4-million deficit in 2013-14 academic year. In response, university officials voted to hike tuition by 2.15 per cent and cut enrollment.

4. Should universities plan degree programs around the economy and job market? It depends who you ask. The Montreal Gazette reports that many post-secondary leaders are bullish on the idea, but a new study from the Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-économiques (IRIS) argues that “measuring the output of universities in terms of market relevance” sets a precedent for universities to commodify knowledge – and turn students into consumers. IRIS researcher Eric Martin told the Gazette: “This plugs universities to the job market, destroying their independence.”

5. The Vancouver Sun reports that Canucks prospect and Harvard University student Patrick McNally was removed from the ivy league school’s hockey roster following a reported academic scandal. McNally, who was a fourth-round draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks in 2010, was one of four players kicked off the team. Student newspaper the Harvard Crimson reported the students’ removal may be linked to a massive academic dishonesty investigation launched by Harvard in August. The Sun reports that McNally, a 21-year-old defenceman, had three points in seven games this season.

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