1. Université Sainte-Anne students and staff say school has failed to properly address sexual assaults on campus
Good morning, and welcome to the first week of September. We begin today with several stories related to sexual assault, including a troubling investigation by Yvette d’Entremont into what students and faculty have called a rape culture on the campus of Université Sainte-Anne, and a commentary by Sainte-Anne English professor Brian Gibson.
First, to d’Entremont’s story, titled “‘Left me there like trash’: Sainte-Anne students, staff, say university has failed to properly address sexual assault on campus.” The article opens with coverage of a new campaign by current and former Sainte-Anne students to address sexual assault on campus. They’ve launched a website called SA Change Now, which includes a petition, calls for institutional reforms on sexual assault, and asks survivors to anonymously share their stories. (The site went live just a few days ago and includes 10 stories, as I write this Tuesday morning.)
Then, d’Entremont speaks with campus sexual assault survivors who describe the harrowing experience of trying to go through the university’s formal process:
In an interview, Lauren [a pseudonym] said she was raped in a dorm room on campus by a student whose harassing advances she’d been turning down for weeks. What happened to her is burned into her brain.
“I felt really hopeless. Even though I was crying and telling him to get off of me, he wasn’t listening to a thing I was saying,” Lauren said. “Also, he didn’t use a condom. And then I had to see him every day. The campus is tiny as hell.”
Several months later, Lauren found herself talking to someone about what had happened. They encouraged her to report it to the university, and she did.
When it came time for the hearing, Lauren said she was upset to learn that one of her assailant’s close friends was on the committee. Lauren said she demanded he be removed because it was a conflict of interest.
“Eventually they changed it. But they didn’t want to at first. (They said) ‘It’s his job. He needs to be professional,’” she said…
In the early stages of the three-hour long hearing, when asked if he’d requested verbal consent from her, Lauren said her rapist replied that he hadn’t.
“He just admitted that he didn’t. So I’m like, ‘Fantastic,’” Lauren said.
Lauren was “livid” that one of his witnesses was a female student who told the committee she’d been working on a big project with him around the same time. The young woman told the committee they’d spent a lot of time together and she’d never felt uncomfortable around him. The witness also questioned why it took Lauren so long to report it.
In the end, the committee ruled against Lauren. She appealed the decision.
“(I’m thinking) do you remember the first 10 minutes where he said he didn’t ask for consent? You guys post so many fucking posters everywhere about if you don’t ask, it’s no. And that if you’re drunk, it’s no,” Lauren said.
“So what you’re telling me right now is the complete fucking opposite. And they’re like, ‘If you have a problem with our decision, you can go to the appeals committee and take it up with them.’”
This is only part of this extremely troubling story, and I encourage you to read it. Click or tap here to read “‘Left me there like trash’: Sainte-Anne students, staff, say university has failed to properly address sexual assault on campus.”
2. Commentary: Ending ‘rape culture’ on campus at Sainte-Anne
On Friday, the Examiner also published Université Sainte-Anne English professor Brian Gibson’s commentary, “‘No’ means ‘no more’: Fighting rape culture at one small Nova Scotia university.”
Gibson, who is identified in d’Entremont’s story as one of the few sympathetic staff members survivors can turn to, says he and other faculty have been hearing stories of sexual violence on campus — and claims of a serial rapist responsible for 17 attacks — for years. He writes:
…[I]n 2018 and 2019… I and my colleagues in English Studies at Université Sainte-Anne had started hearing about student-victims of sexual violence from our student representative at departmental meetings. (Our written concerns and suggestions received a tepid, unsatisfying response from the university’s rector.) But we had never heard about that serial rapist. And we had no idea of the sickening depth and breadth of the rape culture at the university.
Again and again, as students told me about the harassment, assault, or rape that they or friends at the university had suffered, what shone through was that no-one seemed to care.
At a small high school-sized institution, a place marketing and promoting itself as a bucolic little academic haven where students feel part of a family, well, when students were harassed or assaulted, their bodies violated, a crime committed against them . . . basic human professions of concern, care, or sympathy were not offered to them.
These are unconscionable lapses of human decency. And it is part of a repeated, base denial of a basic duty of care to the many young people who are being housed and fed at an institution where they are supposed to be learning.
Click or tap here to read “‘No’ means ‘no more’: Fighting rape culture at one small Nova Scotia university.”
Of course, rape culture is not only an issue at one university, or even at universities in general. On Friday, the Examiner published two more stories in the “Survivors in their own words” series.
One is from someone assaulted at the age of 16. The writer describes a series of humiliations and inappropriate actions on the part of Halifax Regional Police and the Crown, from having their name misspelled on a peace bond, to not being kept up to date about basics like court appearances, to being recorded without their knowledge:
I spoke to an officer and answered all of his questions in what I thought was a conversation only… I was called into the Crown Attorney’s office with the original officer and was told they would be charging this individual based on my signed statement. I was happy to hear that he would be charged but surprised the Crown thought I provided a signed statement as I did not. The officer stated our initial conversation was recorded and this is the “signed” statement. I was surprised to learn that I was recorded without my knowledge…
Sept 2018 the charges became public and I began a lengthy struggle with someone threatening me to not move forward with the charges. During this time the police said that I was not being assaulted despite physical injuries and just dealing with feelings from the past ( this went on for months and months).
The second story includes a section that I think captures much of what we have heard from survivors throughout this series, whatever the details of their personal circumstances:
It felt diminishing and I felt like I had done something wrong for talking about what happened to me, especially when the evidence was there that this man wanted to hurt me.
Overall the experience was humiliating and I would never ever trust Nova Scotia police officers again with my case.
Regulations governing Airbnbs and other short-term rentals have now come into effect in Halifax. As Zane Woodford reported in February, “The regulations will limit short-term rentals like Airbnb to the owner’s primary residence in residential areas. In commercial zones, owners will be permitted to rent properties in which they don’t live.”
Council approved the regulations earlier this year, but they only went into effect Sept. 1. Under provincial rules, all short-term rentals have to be registered. The municipality is now regulating terms and location of these short-term rentals.
According to the data analysis platform AirDNA, 1,937 listings out of the municipality’s 2,418 active rentals as of Friday were for entire homes. The remaining 481 were private rooms…
Coun. Shawn Clearly tried unsuccessfully to get implementation of the rules delayed, and Ryan says he worries that those most affected will be “those with basement units, or a second-income property they use to help pay off their bills and mortgage. ‘It’s going to cause a lot of churn in the market. It’s going to cause a lot of pain for people,’ Cleary said.”
Interestingly, Ryan also quotes realtor Tanya Colbo, who thinks the rules will be good for the North End by allowing more people to rent in the neighbourhood.
I have to confess that I am not optimistic about the regulations. Maybe Nova Scotia landlords are more inclined to follow regulations than landlords elsewhere.
Montreal finally made moves to crack down on illegal short-term rentals after a horrific fire killed seven people. But, as Clara Loiseau reported in late March for the newspaper Le Journal de Montréal, nearly 80% of Airbnb listings in Quebec were illegal.
Short-term rentals need to display their registration numbers on listings in Montreal. After the fire, Airbnb started removing listings that did not display their registration numbers (and were therefore illegal). But some owners responded by posting registration numbers like “123456” or by using the same number for several properties (which they are not allowed to do).
After the crackdown, the tenants’ advocacy group Regroupement des comités logements et des associations de locataires du Québec estimated that 58% of the listings in Montreal were illegal.
Meanwhile in New York, new restrictions on short-term rentals go into effect today. But a story by Sam Rabiyah in The City looks at the massive scope of the problem, when it comes to enforcement:
Imposing hefty fines on hosts and booking websites that run afoul of registration rules, Local Law 18 aims to end listings for full apartments without hosts present during the stay, which are in effect illegal hotels and already banned by law — a ban that has resisted enforcement until now.
Before Labor Day, over 10,000 “entire apartment/home” listings on Airbnb in New York City offered availability for bookings shorter than the one-month threshold, data from InsideAirbnb shows. These illegal rentals accounted for about one-third of active city listings on Airbnb, the most commonly used short-term rental platform, and had rebounded since the pandemic shut down travel in 2020.
Yet the Office of Special Enforcement, charged with rooting out illegal hotels, issued summonses to owners of just 365 properties in 2021. Even at the peak of enforcement, in 2019, the office issued summonses on fewer than 700 buildings — as nearly 14,000 full apartments were listed for rent for less than 30 days.
As in Halifax, the New York regulations forbid renting out whole homes for less than 30 days, and this has led to some predictably hyperbolic response. My favourite from Rabiyah’s story:
We’ve lost autonomy over our homes,” says Jean Brandolini Lamb, who works with a coalition of homeowners who offer short-term rentals named RHOAR.
5. Why you can’t find bread at some Dollaramas
Ever wonder why you can buy bread at some Dollaramas and not others? Suzanne Rent did, and the Examiner has just published her in-depth investigation into the availability of bread in dollar stores across Nova Scotia.
The common thread connecting Dollaramas that don’t sell bread? Proximity to a Sobeys.
The Halifax Examiner called or visited Dollarama locations across Nova Scotia, 43 in total…
Based on these calls and visits, property records searches, and corporate landlords’ websites, the Examiner has identified a pattern: when a Dollarama in Nova Scotia shares a property with a Sobeys, it doesn’t sell bread.
In some of those cases, Sobeys is also effectively the landlord, through Crombie REIT, the real estate investment trust in which the grocer’s parent company owns a 41.5% stake. But the pattern holds no matter the landlord…
During some of our visits and phone calls to stores, some staff at Dollarama locations told us they weren’t permitted to sell bread because their stores are in the same buildings as a Sobeys or close to a Sobeys location…
“It’s because Sobeys owns the land that our store is on, so we can’t sell it. They don’t let us.”
Bread is a staple. It was the object of a major price-fixing scandal. If there is a connection between a major retailer and the unavailability of discount bread in an inflationary environment, when food insecurity is rampant, this is a major issue.
Avoiding mansplaining and other unsolicited advice
I have one simple rule for vastly improving the social media experience: If someone asks a question, only reply if you are able to knowledgeably answer the question.
So, if someone asks for advice on assembling a piece of IKEA furniture, replying that you have no idea is not helpful. Telling them that IKEA is an environmental disaster is not helpful. Suggesting that they buy a bespoke piece of furniture from a local craftsperson is not helpful.
If someone needs a new lawnmower and wants to buy the most environmentally friendly model they can find, droning on about wildflowers or push mowers is not helpful. And — a note for Halifax commentariat — making every question an opportunity to rage against people riding bikes is also not helpful.
This brings me to Zoe Stavri, who blogs and posts online as “Another Angry Woman.” Her work is a delight.
I want to mention one post in particular, which Stavri re-shares every so often, as a public service. It’s called “How to give advice on the internet without being an utter menace,” and was first published in January 2023. It is a more articulate take on my maxim about answering questions, and it gets to a more fundamental issue: Is the person asking for advice?
The “How to give advice” post came up (for me, anyway) most recently this weekend, on Mastodon. SF writer Charlie Stross said he may have to give up using Scrivener — a software package designed for writers. Many of us find it helpful (although I have probably figured out only about 10% of its features), but there are also lots of people who find it opaque and incomprehensible.
I am not technically minded enough to understand Stross’s concern with Scrivener, but in case you are, here it is:
While I’ve happily used Scrivener to write books for nearly 15 years now, I suspect I’m going to eventually have to switch to writing Markdown files using some flavour of vi (currently neovim with plugins that provide syntax colourization and folding for Markdown files) and pandoc for final export. Unless Scriv’s UI is stable version 4 will probably be a nope.
(I used to use vim and the Perl POD toolchain for books, before Scriv. But publishers demand Word docs for change tracking.)
This led to LOTS of advice, and a handy demonstration that men can also be targets of mansplaining. Advice included that Stross introduce his publisher to Git (according to Wikipedia: “a distributed version control system that tracks changes in any set of computer files, usually used for coordinating work among programmers who are collaboratively developing source code during software development”), and that he start his own publishing company — a somewhat radical step to just avoid using Word.
In the ensuing thread, Stavri shared her “How to give advice” post, and I’m going to give you a taste of it here — although you should go read the whole thing.
Stavri starts by explaining why unsolicited advice is so annoying — yes, even from you, good-hearted soul who thinks he is being so helpful. Then she moves on to the specifics of how and when to give advice:
Is someone asking for advice?
Study this carefully:
This is a question mark. When it appears in a sentence, it means a person is asking a question. If it is not there, it means they are not asking a question. A question is an invitation for a response, and perhaps a request for advice. If someone’s asking a direct question, they are soliciting advice. In this situation, advice is probably welcome – although please work through the other points in this post to make sure you’re giving helpful advice.
When someone is not asking a question, they probably do not want advice. This means, you have not been invited to give it. Your advice is not welcome. No matter how much you think there’s a solution to their predicament or they could do things a little differently, you’ve not been invited to share your advice. So don’t.
Also: don’t Google it as though you are the only person who ever thought of doing that to get an answer, don’t answer a question that’s already been answered, and don’t offer wide-reaching responses for immediate problems:
Sometimes it’s clear someone has a question. The question mark is in the post. Is your advice helpful to the current and specific situation that they are asking about? If it isn’t, then don’t bother. Here’s a few examples of relevant and irrelevant advice.
“I keep getting [specific error message] in Windows! Why is this happening?“
You might think to yourself that this person should be using Ubuntu, because you think Ubuntu is much better. However, that advice isn’t going to solve the immediate problem of the error message in Windows. Unless, of course, what you’re advising them to do is wipe their PC, download Ubuntu, create a bootable flash drive, boot it, install and configure all the settings, and obviously read all the documentation – all to resolve the specific error message they were asking about.
You can read more from Stavri at Another Angry Woman.
Leftovers by many other names
A few years ago, on Twitter, Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail called morning TV shows “yesterday’s YouTube, today.” (If I remember correctly. I deleted Twitter, so I can’t check.)
Sometimes I worry that’s what my Morning Files devolve into, but hopefully you will indulge me as I share this Roz Chast gem that appeared in the New Yorker two years ago. (“The Morning File: The New Yorker from two years ago, today.”)
It came to mind, because we had leftovers for dinner on Sunday.
But not just leftover food from one meal. It was a mish-mash of this and that from the fridge: black beans with guacamole, a Thai-style vegetable dish with sticky rice, mashed potatoes and gravy… you get the idea.
In my partner’s family, growing up, this type of meal was called “pick and grab.” Chast mentioned in the New Yorker that she and her husband call it “fending.” Then she got curious about other people’s terms for this phenomenon, and she complied them for the story.
The list is great, and includes “having weirds,” “getcheroni,” “going Darwin,” “anarchy kitchen” and the wonderful “touski” from Quebec — which will make sense if you speak French.
Chast got 1,700 replies to her query.
Do you fend/have weirds/pick and grab? And if you do, what do you call it?
Board of Police Commissioners (Wednesday, 4pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate, and online) — agenda
Human Resources (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place and online) — agenda setting;
appointments to agencies, boards and commissions
In the harbour
05:00: Tamesis, car carrier, arrives at Pier 9 from Southampton, England
06:00: MSC Alyssa, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
08:00: HMS Portland, frigate, arrives at Dockyard
08:00: Liberty of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 4,414 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Portland, on a roundtrip cruise out of New York
10:45: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Autoport from St. John’s
11:30: MSC Alyssa sails for sea
13:00: Tamesis moves to Autoport
16:00: CMA CGM Paranagua, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
16:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Fairview Cove
20:00: Liberty of the Seas sails for New York
22:00: One Hawk, container ship (145,407 tonnes), sails from Pier 41 for Dubai
07:30: Caribbean Princess, cruise ship with up to 3,756 passengers, arrives at Sydney Marine Terminal from Halifax, on a 10-day cruise from New York to Quebec City
12:30: Tanja, bulker, sails from Port Hawkesbury Paper for sea
16:30: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, arrives at Government Wharf (Sydney) from Sept-Iles, Quebec
17:30: Caribbean Princess sails for Charlottetown
The 25th anniversary of the Swissair Flight 111 crash also marks 25 years of our move to Nova Scotia.