It’s April, spring has sprung, and a lot of silliness follows…
April 9th, 2010

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It’s April, spring has sprung, and a lot of silliness follows from longer days and the end of winter semester. Listed below is a digest of true stories and recent commentary that merit attention—or at least caught my attention. No April Fool’s items here, trust me.

Item #1

American college students rallied last week to advocate marijuana as a safer alternative to alcohol on their campuses. In France, a new government report proposes a different solution to the problem of binge drinking among students: campus wine tastings in university canteens.”

Where’s Canada in this story, I wonder? Advocating weed in place of alcohol on Canadian campuses is probably unnecessary, since those who want to toke up always have and always will, and wherever they can. It is also true that this country is maddeningly diverse and so such a campaign would probably have way more traction in British Columbia, where so much of the plant is grown, harvested, and exported, than, say, Prince Edward Island, a small and conservative province whose icon is a red-headed girl with freckles. As for wine-tasting on Canadian campuses, well, that would lead straight to binge drinking, not away from it. Perhaps it’s just as well we are left completely out of these headlines.

Item #2

“The head of sports law at England’s Staffordshire University is fuming at Air Canada for leaving him asleep on a plane last month. The professor, Kris Lines, says he awoke in a hangar 90 minutes after the flight landed at Vancouver International Airport. The last thing I remember was taking off from Calgary,” Mr. Lines, who was en route from London, [said]. “I knew I was safely on board and there was no further destination and it was all good. … Somebody would wake me up at the end.”

It’s rare, but sometimes you just have to love Air Canada. Is it better to awake in a hangar in Vancouver than in Sydney, Nova Scotia? Last year a couple thought they had arrived at their preferred destination, Sydney, Australia. The universe is full of such stories, but there is something about this guy being the head of a university sports law unit that makes this story particularly amusing. Go ahead, sure Air Canada, buddy-let’s see where that gets you, with or without your seatbelt fastened.

Item #3

In a 1994 op-ed essay for The New York Times, Kelly D. Brownell proposed taxing junk food. The response, he recalls, was immediate and powerful. Among the outraged was Rush Limbaugh, who deemed Mr. Brownell a member of the “high-fat gestapo.” A few furious snackers wrote letters to the Yale psychologist noting that they knew where he lived.”

What would happen on our campuses if such a tax came into effect? Death threats — or polite applause? Let’s add a tax on plastic water bottles, too, while we’re at it. And let’s channel the money to diabetes education and campus physical fitness programs. In fact, let’s make physical fitness a requirement of graduation—medical notes accepted.

Item #4

After being suspended for jokes she made on her Facebook page about wanting to kill students a month ago, Gloria Y. Gadsden has been reinstated to her job at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. The associate professor of sociology returned to work on Wednesday after being cleared by a psychologist. Ms. Gadsden was placed on paid administrative leave after a student complained about two comments she had made on her Facebook page: “Had a good day today, didn’t want to kill even one student.:-) Now Friday was a different story …” and “Does anyone know where I can find a very discrete [sic] hitman, it’s been that kind of day.

Holy stupidity, block that woman’s promotion to full professor! She can’t spell either. Apparently when she returned to work campus police officers were posted outside her classroom. Bet that makes for a nice friendly site as you’re walking to the library. Do not try this at home.

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

NG

Dr. Faye Murrin is Dean pro tempore of the School of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Biology. She completed her B.Sc. (Hons.) at Memorial University, her M.Sc. at Acadia University, and her Ph.D. at Queen's University. Her research interests have always been focused on fungi, in particular the cell biology of insect pathogenic fungi and, more recently, the ecology of mycorrhizal mushrooms in the boreal forest. Dr. Murrin has served in a number of positions on the Council of the Mycological Society of America and was awarded the title of MSA Fellow for her contributions. She was awarded the Women in Science and Engineering Lifetime Membership Award as founding co-director of the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Summer Program. Dr. Murrin participates in public lectures and workshops, and is a Director on the board of Newfoundland Foray, Inc.

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