Positive Things by Police + Civilians

Another round of positive news coming out from the Law Enforcement Community with the addition of a civilian getting recognition for his actions.

#1: Orillia OPP helping out the elderly

– Orillia OPP Officers helped an elderly lady shovel her driveway after the city snow plow had come through and blocked in her driveway. At 77 she said that the snow was too heavy for her to move and thanked the officers for this assistance. Bravo Zulu

http://www.orilliapacket.com/2016/02/24/helping-the-elderly-dig-out

#2 Civilian helps Edmonton Police Officer during arrest.

– Edmonton Police officer needs assistance during an arrest as a 280 lb man started to wrestle with the officer over a jaywalking infraction. The civilian immediately jumped out of the car and helped arrest the individual possibly saving the young officers life.

file from cbcnews.ca

file from cbcnews.ca

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/good-samaritan-comes-to-aid-of-police-officer-under-attack-1.3463911

#3 Toronto Police Marine Unit rescues a 4 legged friend

– Toronto Police Marune unit put their skills to work not for a person who fell into the lake but a dog. They were able to rescue the dog and get them back to safety.

Police rescue pooch that falls into lake outside of Queens Quay Terminal

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Explaining snow days to Thunder Bay students

I remember in first year that the Lakehead University campus had 2 snow days back to back at the beginning of the school year. It was joyful for the Orillia students but seemed to irk the Thunder Bay students that they weren’t getting days off. Students were making comments about the inability of southern Ontario drivers to deal with a Canadian winter. I totally understand where students are coming from and have personally seen both Thunder Bay and Central Ontario drivers not comprehend driving in the snow. There is one major difference though for students at the Thunder Bay campus to know about the campus down here though and why we may get more snow days.

In Thunder Bay the campus and a majority of its students are in Thunder Bay. There isn’t much driving required for Thunder Bay students to get to the campus and those that make the trip from out of town are smaller portion of student. Which means less reason to shut down the school if only 10-20% of class is commuting. Here in Orillia that statistic is much different. A significant majority of the student population commutes from outside of Orillia to the campus. The best example would be taking the Thunder Bay campus and placing it in Murillo or Lappe and expecting students to drive there during dangerous weather conditions. Large portions of students drive in from the surrounding communities and from Barrie which is the hub of Simcoe County. Highway 11 from Barrie to Orillia is 35 km one way and lined with farmland meaning squalls and whiteout conditions are common. Traffic is also much heavier leading less room for mistakes and more accidents to deal with. The geographical location means a significant portion of the class will be unable or unwilling to attend class due to the weather. Central Ontario also deals with snow drifts like I have never seen before, they are much more common than Northwestern Ontario and more severe. Add in a less comprehensive transit system and the location of school being a primarily car oriented design it doesn’t leave much room when the weather is dangerous.

As Lakehead Orillia deals with another snow day sit down and think if the campus was in Lappe would you take the time to drive there in blowing snow and squalls?

Positive Things by Police

Law enforcement has seen its share of trouble/negative media attention and public criticism over the last couple years. We as humans tend to focus on the negatives and I myself am no different. Its really unfortunate that negative things seem to stick in our heads longer then the positives. My purpose with this post is not to argue the merits of individual cases if the officers was wrong/justified. What I do want to do is bring some attention to the positive things that Canadian law enforcement is doing to make the community a better place and improve civic relations.

#1: Frosty comes alive.

Orillia OPP Cst. Marcus LEE helps a young male build a snowman in Orillia’s first snowfall.

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Cst. Marcus LEE

Story: http://www.orilliapacket.com/2015/11/25/local-officer-stops-to-help-boy-create-some-winter-fun

Remarks: Its really nice to see A) the media caught on to this and B) the officer take time out of his schedule to spend it with Orillia’s Youth. This community building went viral on social media where it brought out lots of positive comments about the officers actions and the law enforcement community in general. Its a small act that likely had a big impact on the kid and had a big impact on improving the community relations.

#2 Social Media Crazy

Law Enforcement in Canada has taken a big step in community relations by moving into social media and making an officer available for comment, to address concerns and deal with public issues. This move to social media allows the law enforcement community to show what it is that they do and how they do it. They get to address issues and to interact with the community; we are seeing individual officers now using social media to work with the community. Its a great improvement which helps to humanize the officers who roam the streets and to show the community that they are there for them. I follow a number of officers and organizations myself and if your looking for information on how to join the OPP then the best place is @OPP_Hire on twitter. York Regional Police just put out a call to help them arrest an individual who had been sexually assaulting women through twitter and the community rallied to help put the individual behind bars.

Halton Region: @Haltonpolice
Peel Regional Police: @Peelpolice
Toronto Police: @TorontoPolice @pcarsenault @pcglennjones
York Regional Police: @YRP
Go Transit: @GoRivett94, @GOgrodzinski301
OPP: @OPP_Hire,

(Humour filled American channel on Instagram @officerdaniels_1)

Got more news stories send them to me in the comments and I’ll add them in or more social media accounts of police you like comment below.

Lakehead’s Teacher Reviews are a Joke

I’m going to be one of the first people to tell you to participate in something that is designed to make the system that we use daily better. I emphasize people to vote, to take part in school surveys and to be a part of improving our lives but when it comes to the teacher reviews at Lakehead I refuse to waste my time. Students like myself are tired of filing out these forms and seeing nothing done to try and improve the quality of professors at the school or remove those that consistently receive poor reviews from students. I can name a couple teachers that I fill out the forms for but that is because they are good teachers. I enjoy their classes and the way that they educate me but I refuse to make a review about teachers who have no interest in teacher, perform poorly at their jobs or have no actual idea about the content they are teaching. Why? I’m the one that started talking about how participating actively supports the improvement of our education and government systems. Professors at Lakehead are NOT required by the university to disclose the content of those teacher evaluations. That means if a teacher is rated poorly by his/her students for things like poor content knowledge, sexism or racism in the classroom or poor teaching quality they don’t have to disclose it. Imagine getting a poor job review and basically saying well it doesn’t matter because that one is staying with me. Wouldn’t you yourself pump yourself up and push the good reviews over the bad ones? Not having to disclose the issues that a teacher is presenting means that the opinions of students truly is not important to the education system. One has to think that there are means of pulling bad teachers but different numbers right or means?

Most students don’t know that their evaluations mean nothing. In order for the negatively to truly make it to the decision makers you need to make a presentation to the dean of the specific department or you need to provide an email of the account of the struggles to him. I’m sure that a large population of students would be uncomfortable with dealing with this individual based on their concerns. The evaluations are supposed to be a indirect means of presenting to the decision makers their feeling on their education. In order for Lakehead students to truly feel like their opinions are being heard the evaluations NEED to be sent to department heads good or bad.

You would think that there are other means of rooting out bad teachers right? Marks would be bad, attendance would be bad or large numbers of students would drop a class in order to protest the class? Marks can be and often are inflated in order to fall into line with the university requirements. Some teachers may give bonus marks, some may give marks through attendance or participation and many teachers give bell curves. This means that the quality of marks is often representative of the quality of education (but not always) but that teachers are able to fluctuate their numbers in order to present a better image. These do not accurate represent the education that students are getting and worse they allow teachers with poor standards to preserve their positions until it is almost impossible to remove them from teaching.

Attendance is often as indicator of how students perceive a class or a professor. Our largest lecture hall holds 200 students and for teachers who are viewed to be positive, educational and understanding their classes are well attended. Now as time goes on there is an attendance drop but typically a large portion attend the classes. Teachers who are viewed to be uneducated, unmotivated or perceived negatively will see this attendance drop significantly early on. I can account for this happening in 2 classes I have taken with the same teacher. Both times in large lecture halls with full student capacity. The class attendance quickly dropped off and this is representative of the poor ability to hold a class, present oneself and the topic with confidence that this individual has. The main lecture hall quickly dropped to less then 1/2 of the class attending by 5 weeks in and around 1/4 (50 or less students) close to the end of the semester. This is directly repeated in his current class and this is a direct result of his inability to teach the content accurately or with confidence. Lakehead should consider this to be a more important factor and the causes behind it when they come to consider teachers and who they intend to educate.

Students dropping a class is one way to see how a teacher is doing but its not always an option for many students. Many times classes may be mandatory for a student in order to graduate and he/she will be forced to sit through the class whether he agrees with it or not. A large drop rate may be an indicator though of students who don’t agree with or are struggling due to the means/method in which a teacher conducts himself. I know for a fact that a class I was in has seen an incredibly drop rate as a result of the way the teacher taught the class and her methods. While I perceived her to be very well educated and knowledgeable on the content of the class she seemed to think that we had the same degree of knowledge. Evaluations of testing materials were done as a means to drop individuals from the class and as a result she has had a large drop rate in her class. In this case its not about the content of the class or the teacher but how she conducts herself and her marking that has pushed a large number of students away. This should be a red flag for the university as it is not the job of professors to play games with numbers or to play hardball until they have a small chosen group. It is their job to educate the masses and provide them with the information they need in order to make the world a better place.

I guess by getting the information out there that the process Lakehead has is broken and is in need of repair. I urge Lakehead students to avoid the evaluation system and take the comments directly to those that make the decisions. In order for us to make the school better we need to change it from the inside and put pressure on the decision makers to make that change.

Lakehead University’s Parking Problem:

As lakehead University – Orillia has grown there has been an increase in the number of students who have had to drive to the campus in order to attend classes. The Orillia campus is situated in a farmers field which allows for cheap future growth potential but makes it a commuter based school. This means as the school grows it needs to provide additional spaces for students to park in order to attend classes which is a costly venture. This has become increasingly challenging as Lakehead University wants to keep it LEED diamond status of which adding parking stalls would negatively affect. I believe that there is an opportunity to address the concerns of Lakehead Students and Lakehead University through a number of different means by working with the community. This article will focus on a number of different initiatives that Lakehead could take in order to address its growing parking issues.

Carpooling:

Lakehead University currently has 2-4 car stalls set aside for people who carpool. Carpooling rules at Lakehead University include vehicles with 2 or more people in them which allows them to use these stalls. These stalls fill up fairly quickly and there is no real means of policing the vehicles as they come in. Lakehead Security can’t accurately determine if someone is using it for their own spot regardless of the rules or if it is being legitimately used. I believe that Lakahead could address these issues by expanding its offering of carpooling and providing students with perks to carpool. Carpooling is a great way for people to reduce the environmental damage they create, build social relationships and still use a vehicle. Here are a couple thoughts on how Lakehead can promote carpooling.

1. Add more spots for carpooling vehicles to promote its use.
2. Place a security camera by the carpool spots for the vehicles protection but also to find out if people are using the spots illegally.
3. Fine those who use these spots without merit.
4. Create a carpooling website for all Lakehead students to use in order to find rides and reduce traffic.

The program could work as such: when registering for your parking pass the website would ask if you plan to carpool with friends. If yes, it sends out an email to those people and to your lakehead University email asking to sign up. If the 3-4 friends confirm his email then you received a 10% reduction on your parking pass costs. Using a mobile application or the website you check in to the spot and how many people you came with and it gives you a points system which unlocks prizes. After 2-3 months of consistently carpooling with other students it gives you and your carpool mates a $10 voucher to the café. The program would be available to students who would regularly drive to school and who because of this program don’t drive to school anymore. The costs savings to Lakehead could be enormous and would prevent them from having to build additional parking lots. If using this program we could eliminate 15% of cars coming and going to campus it could save a lot of gas, time and money.

Off-Campus Parking:

Lakehead University has consistent access to Orillia transit but for many students it’s not a viable option because they either live out of town or need to drive in order to get to school. Lakehead has already partnered with the City of Orillia to purchase parking spaces for students at the Rotary Place for a cheaper cost. The students pay Lakehead and then they pay an annual fee of roughly $10,000 for the spaces to the City of Orillia. I would like to see this program expanded with the partners in the community and with the City of Orillia. Lakehead students pay for a yearlong bus pass in their tuition which means they can take the bus for free at any point in that year. There are a couple opportunities I see for Lakehead to look at community partners to fill its parking woes. There is a call center, movie theater and the City of Orillia all of which have lots with quick and easy access to Orillia transit. Based on their proximity to campus one could have a reduced fee and consistent access to parking.

The Call center has a large parking lot that is rarely full and could easily accept 20-30 vehicles that belong to students. Based on its proximity to the school you could charge a little less than the rotary place spots but add to the available spots without having to add parking on your own property. That business makes good use of its available spots and it provides an additional source of income for the business. The photo below shows one of the parking lots that could be used for additional parking and the bus stop going to the school and coming back are very close to the site.

Call Center Lot

The Movie theater again is another business which I believe could benefit from the additional access and money coming into its business. The movie theater is often empty during the day so its lots are open and available for students to use. As movies start to come close to starting is when its lots become a little fuller and a little more challenging to find parking. I believe the area shown in the photo could be set aside specifically for Lakehead University students from a 8 am – 5 pm basis and then after that they would be fair game for patrons of the theater to use or students with late classes. As the distance increases between the school and the parking space the cost would decrease for the students. This could be attractive for students who don’t want to pay for $400 for a parking pass come September but might be more willing to pay $250 or 300.

Movie Theater Lot

Finally there is a lot of opportunity for Lakehead and the City of Orillia to work together to find a use for the municipal lots that are owned by the City of Orillia. I believe that the city could set aside areas in these lots for students who are driving in and pay a fee $100-150 to park there for the school year without fear of being ticketed. This would not only bring in additional revenue for the City of Orillia but it would also allow students to use Orillia transit and show just how valuable of a tool it is for the community by raising its ridership numbers. Orillia bylaw could continue to ticket vehicles in this area as normal and take in those revenues while accepting the additional revenue from those vehicles. If students don’t have the pass in their car window then they can be ticketed as if a normal vehicle failure to pay. The benefits are there for both Orillia and for Lakehead to mitigate the parking disaster that continues to happen at the school.

Downtown Lots

Enforcement and additional rules

Lakehead University would need to make sure that people who are parking in the areas that have been designated for students are in fact students who have paid. This would mean that they would have to go to these areas and check on the vehicles to make sure they are registered and have paid. This would mean that Lakehead would be allowed to ticket on other businesses property and those revenues would come back to the university in the form of parking tickets. This would keep the students in line with regards to stealing spots designated for paying students and would keep these spaces available for students from other individuals. The City of Orillia could continue its bylaw enforcement of its parking stalls as it does currently depending on the agreement. If those spots were designated for specifically Lakehead vehicles they would fine those without a pass which may require bylaw amendments. If they allowed students who paid to park as long as they had a pass anywhere in the designated lots then they could continue on as normal.

Signs designating the spots would need to be put in to show that this was a designated area and allow for proper implementation of the rules and conduct. There would also be a fee associated with being able to park in other lots. So if you purchased a main campus lot spot you would pay nothing to park in the other 3 lots (downtown, call center and movies) where as if you bought a downtown spot you would pay $100 and only be able to go up as close as the call center. You can always go down and further from campus for free.

Hopefully with full implementation of these plans Lakehead can address the constant concerns of students about a lack of parking without having to spend millions on parking lots that sit empty throughout the summer and 3 of 7 week days. Carpooling and working with the community partners are just a couple ideas I had in order to address the issues at Lakehead’s commuter campus. The campus needs to do more to get people out of their cars and into transit, carpool, buses or alternative means of transport.