Eating Oranges in Greece and Drinking Red Wine in Sicily


During the Winter 2019 three week class, I went with Dr. Brandon Alakas and Geoffrey Dipple to Greece and Sicily for their AUCLA294 course (the blog for which you can check out here).

If there are any two places that are quite ideal for studying Classical literature, it is definitely Greece and Sicily. When we first landed in wet and rainy, damp and dreary Athens, all of us students had our sleepy faces pressed up against the glass of the bus, in awe of the glow of the city and the way the Acropolis stood above it all; illuminated and shining above the bustling city.

Most of us on the trip were those kids, the ones who read and re-read and potentially over read about the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses and the many weird and awful ways they would punish each other and the humans just trying to live their lives. Getting to stand in front of the Parthenon, with its towering, crumbling columns and learning about the Caryatids holding up the Erechtheion, and to imagine the faith and dedication, the hard labour and sheer mental genius that went into constructing these structures. Also the fact that you can see the still entirely intact temple of Hephaestus from the Acropolis, surrounded by round, green trees, and another,  mostly fallen apart, temple of Zeus is just…the amount of history that lives side to side and embedded within the daily routine of Greeks is absolutely astounding.

I kind of lost track of how many museums we visited, but the Acropolis Museum was the first one we wandered around in and it absolutely took my breath away.  Of course I’d known the Greeks were artists, they were poets, they felt deeply and poignantly and eternally; we have so much evidence of that. But! Reading about that evidence, seeing photos of it, all flat and washed out and cramped between binding and cover does not compare to the way all of it looks in person. The way statues look almost human, the etch of muscle and bone under could-be-real skin, the delicate touch required to paint each of those vases and pieces of pottery, the life that was spoken into all of their pieces because they were their lives, they believed in these pieces.

We stayed the longest in the Greek seaside city of Nafplio in the Pension Marianna, a renovated monastery with a view of the mountains and the port, where you could watch the sunrise come up, all glittery and pink and gold and breathtaking, a fresh, brimming with juice orange sitting warmly in your palm.  We ate farm fresh honey drizzled over Greek yogurt, with homemade orange, cheery, lemon marmalade (there was a little lemon tree in a yellow pot that greeted me on my way to breakfast every morning) and freshly baked, flakey goods sat next to the fresh hard boiled eggs and it felt like royalty.

After our time in Greece, we flew across the waters to Sicily and stayed a few days in Syracusa, then bused over to Agrigento and then up to Palermo. While the Acropolis was probably my favourite stop in Greece, my favourite one in Sicily had to be the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples) in Agrigento.

There’s a mix there, between the old (these mostly crumbling temples (except for the Temple of Concordia)) and the new (art installations by Sicilian artists dot the landscape and blend in perfectly for what has sat there for thousands of years). It was so interesting to see the way in which people play with their history, the way they make it their own, how they show it respect but also don’t allow it to completely over dominate their own worlds and identities. That the Sicilians had made space, both within this site and within some of their museums, for their modern art and their current, flesh and bone and breathing people of today next to the dead and decayed and no-longer-with-us was inspiring. Be inspired by history, but not so much that you are intimidated by it. Respect history, but not so much that it dominates you. Pay homage, but not so much that you lose yourself.

Another one of my favourite things we got to see and learn about while we were in Sicily was the story of the nymph Arethusa. While Arethusa was unknowingly bathing in the river of the river god Alpheus, the god fell in love with her. However, the nymph rejected his advances and begged the moon goddess Artemis to please help her, which she did, by turning Arethusa into a stream. As a stream, Arethusa plunged into the ground and escaped to Syracuse. Alpheus, not wanting to be denied his love, called to the god Zeus to take him to Arethusa, which he did. Alpheus was turned into a stream and followed her to Syracuse, where the two are intermingled in the waters of the Fountain of Arethusa.

It was an interesting story to hear, especially when placed next to a lot of the stories we’ve been hearing the media over the last few years, about young women doing their best to stay away from predatory men and not being able to escape, and how men in power tend to help men in power while women often do their best to help other women. It was painful to think that, even after so many thousands of years, we’re still struggling with the same theme in so many stories and that some things still have not changed.

After years of wanting to visit these countries, to dive deeply into the history and explore the connections to our modern world and to really see how connected we are to things that happened so long ago, it was a wonderful experience finally getting to do so. The group that I travelled with was lovely and we had a great time exploring and exclaiming over the art together.

Slow and Steady Makes New Policies Work


During the ASA AGM last week, I found myself making suggestions I would have hated hearing when I was 17 or 18.
The floor had been opened to discuss suggestions for the new substance policies coming to campus next semester and I put forward the idea that, if residences are going to allow alcohol, it would be an idea to keep First Year Dorms alcohol free.
I made this suggestion for two reasons:
1. Some first years aren’t legal when they come to Augustana and that way it makes it easier to know that people aren’t consuming alcohol illegally.
2. First year is already rife with all sorts of new experiences, that including alcohol in dorms during that period may not be the best idea.
Jennae Matzner, VP Student Life, came up with a very good counter point that students come to university expecting to have more freedom and can often find the restrictions on campus to be infuriating.
And I get it! I so completely understand that students want to have those freedoms to do “what they want” on campus. I was once an 18-year-old first year and snuck alcohol into my alcohol free residence (I was in Ontario at the time) and felt that the rules were too overbearing and that I knew better.
The thing is, eight years later, I understand where my school’s administration was coming from and why they had the rules they did. It was less about trying to keep me “in line” and more about protecting their back. Because, as responsible as university students believe they are (and yes! Some of us are very responsible!), there’s always that chance that something could go too far and something could go seriously wrong. Students always think it’ll happen another year or to other students until it doesn’t and having policies in place actually means administrations are looking out for the worst possible outcome.
That sounds morbid and like an overreaction, but it’s the reality of what people in positions of power are looking at.
Does that mean that policies should stay the same for decades on end? No and that’s why Academic Council is taking a look at the substance policy, because times demand change and change is a good and necessary part of life.
But that doesn’t mean swinging from one extreme to another is the way to go, either. Finding some point in between, where change moves forward without disrupting the whole institution should always be the goal. As changes are made and people get comfortable, more changes can be made. Which isn’t always what people what to hear.

ASA AGM Discusses Transparency, Accountability, and Funding


For just over two hours on Nov. 28, the many members of the Augustana Students’ Association (ASA) presented updates and information on what they have been up to over the Fall 2018 semester.
One of the major highlights from the evening came from VP Finance, Nnenna Achebe. She announced that, when the ASA had their financials looked at in May 2018, they were told there was a surplus. Which is a good thing, even though the ASA is a not-for-profit. Achebe explained that this surplus means that the ASA can afford to cover some gaps that may arise if expenses are higher than anticipated or if student enrollment (and thus ASA fees) drop.
She discussed the ASA’s budget and how it’s been allotted over the school year, with the main portion of it going towards administration payments (salaries, office supplies (paper, ink, etc.) and other such admin costs).
Achebe pointed out the the ASA spends almost $49, 000 on entertainment and events, which include, but are not limited to: First and Last Class Bashes, Beers and Bands, Formal, and the end-of-the-year BBQ. She added that most of those events don’t bring in enough revenue to cover what they cost. Through ticket and beer sales, those events bring in about half of that amount.
This could be a problem as the next provincial election looms closer. The United Conservative Party (UCP) has a platform point surrounding student unionism. The way things work now, students automatically pay student union fees. What the UCP has planned is opt-in fees rather than opt-out.
Both Achebe and ASA President, Taylor Johnson, mentioned how troubling this would be for the ASA should this become a reality.
“This is incredibly troubling for us because if we lose even 20% of the student fees, that’s thousands of dollars of our budget that we would be losing,” said Johnson in an e-mail. “This would mean we would be losing services, events, and a lot more. By losing these services and events, it would be incredibly hard to get ourselves out there enough to make students want to actually opt-in. Ultimately, this could result in the [ASA] essentially falling apart.”
Roughly 80% of the ASA’s current budget is from student fees, which means the ASA is already looking for other options to pad their funding.
The Finance Committee is already looking into contacting local and Edmonton based businesses to advertise with the ASA to help cover costs and any losses they may see due to lack of fees.
Johnson and VP Life, Jennae Matzner are both on a substance review committee, which is looking at how to implement new policies at Augustana for tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol.
The current recommendations to Academic Council have been that there be:

  •  restricted use of all three on campus
  •  designated spaces for both tobacco and cannabis on campus but they will not be the same spaces
  •  some type of unenclosed shelter that could be used on campus for those who smoke
  • a “no party rule” in residences, which means that alcohol would be allowed in dorms, but no open liquor in the halls or common rooms and there would be a restricted number of people allowed to be in a room with open liquor.

Johnson noted that there would most likely be more restrictions in place to start with and the university would see how the first semester of the new regulations go. Changes would be made based on how that goes.
Johnson also discussed 3-11 feedback and the survey which will be coming out sometime in January.
For this year’s survey, Johnson requested some assistance from professors who work with surveys in their classes to ensure they cover a wider range of questions, opinions, and considerations.
For last year’s survey, Johnson and her committee put together all the questions and filed through all the responses submitted by students and presented it to faculty.
Her hope is that, as she consulted with professors to make it a stronger survey, when the results are collected and presented to faculty, they will take those responses and the feedback more seriously.
VP Academic Naomi Mahdere mentioned that the ASA will also be looking into getting the data back from the USRIs that students submit.
Although that is data the ASA should already be receiving, they have not been which means it is harder to track if professors are taking concerns seriously and if they are actually making changes to their classes.
Madhere commented that she knows change takes time, but “even though things change slowly, how can we make sure those changes are still happening?”
Putting that data together (as to what kinds of assignments are given, if the exams are take home or in the gym, lots of group work, etc.) would help students be able to make better decisions in the future when it comes to which courses they will be taking.
For those who have more opinions or suggestions, all members of the ASA welcome e-mails or comments in person.

Life is Chaos and Chaos is Life and Everything’s on Fire


The most common conversation I’ve been having lately is, “We should definitely get together soon and catch up! What’s your week look like?…oh, what about next week?…what about before you head home for Christmas?” because life is nonstop chaos?? and we’re all just running around?? and every morning there somehow ends up being 34 new emails we need to answer RIGHT NOW?? and we bought a gym pass that we’re now expected to USE?? and something about mental health and eight hours of sleep???
It all feels like A Lot™ and like we’re all hanging on just to make it to the winter break, which is when we’re telling ourselves we’ll “catch up” and “get it all done” and y’know what? It’s a lie.
Because the chaos never really goes away, it just ebbs and flows and it mutates and looks different as time goes on and we find new and better ways of handling and managing it. Mostly because the chaos is actually just life and life is just chaos and thank you for coming to my philosophical TedTalk.
I’m kind of kidding but not really. For example, the other day, I spent half an hour catching up and talking to someone I hadn’t really seen in weeks because we’ve both been so busy. It was a serendipitous meeting in a stairwell, and while it wasn’t sitting down and having coffee, it was nice. It was taking an opportunity life presented and making the most out of it.
That’s not to say that planning to meet up two weeks from now for coffee is a bad thing, it’s not. But also realizing that we can and should take the moments when they’re offered. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the list of things we need to do or the places we need to be or the goals we’ve set for ourselves that we don’t realize we haven’t just stopped and breathed and existed for awhile.
It also means taking a step back and re-evaluating because not everything needs to be constant chaos. Yes, we’re in university. Yes, there’s a lot of pressure. Yes, we need to make it count. But we also need to make sure we’re here at the end of it all to enjoy what we’ve accomplished and who we’ve accomplished those things with.
So for everyone who feels like they’ve forgotten what their friends look like or that they’re just barely hanging on until the winter break: you’ve got this. Take the days as they come and do what you can and you’re going to be just fine.

Editorial: An Apology


In the Oct. 22, 2018 issue of The Dagligtale, the story “Appropriation is Not a Costume: A Reminder” included two individual pieces of writing under one headline with no clear way to distinguish where one ended and the other began. It also credited all three authors at the beginning of the piece, rather than crediting each author with their individual material. The opinions presented in the articles were not consistently shared by all the authors credited, and was therefore disingenuous to their individual beliefs.

This confusion meant the importance of each article and their messages were diluted and muddled. By making readers question what they were reading, it did not allow for them to reflect on the points being made. It also brought into question the reputations of our writers, which was wholly unfair and unjust and opened them to hateful and hurtful comments from many at this school. Instead of offering clear, concise articles with strong views, readers weren’t sure what the messages were meant to be, which defeated the original purpose of those articles.

As the person who did the layout, I made a decision for which I did not see such consequences. I apologize profusely for the confusion and hurt that resulted from that decision to publish the joint articles. The Dagligtale is focused on making sure that all voices are heard equally and that decision hurt the people we’re trying to uphold. The Dagligtale will be working on new policies within the coming weeks to work more closely with our writers and photographers to make sure an issue like this does not happen again. We’re looking at ways to improve our communication, both as editors and with our staff, to make sure all articles are published with the appropriate respect they deserve.

The full articles in their untouched forms can be found on our website at How Racist Will Your Halloween Not Be? and LGBTQA+ Appropriation at Halloween.