As the rain fell today and gradually thickened, it was clear that we have reached the turning of seasons. Nights are colder, leaves are releasing their hold on branches, and any day we can expect to see snow snakes blowing across the road.

In guest musings, Dylon shares his contemplations on the changes of seasons and what we can learn from the flora and fauna around us. Adapting to the rhythms of nature, embracing torpor, may be just what we all need right now.

One more week of classes and then Reading Week. What do you need most? What will refresh you?

Trick or Cheat? Predatory Businesses Trying to Trap Students

In my experience, few StMU students set out to commit academic cheating offences. What happens though is that, under pressure of leaving assignments too late, not allocating sufficient time for research, sloppy note-taking, or lack of confidence, some students may stoop to reach out for assistance in ways that, well, let’s be honest, are not fair. Maybe you ask a friend to write a paragraph for you. Or you google answers while you’re doing an online test.

StMU has invested in Turnitin, an anti-plagiarism software that faculty are using to scan assignments for content that is not attributed properly.

Beware. Not only can you fail a course or, worse, be expelled from university with a permanent record on your transcript, you may get yourself into hot water with unscrupulous companies.

The Alberta Council on Academic Integrity estimates that over 7,000 Alberta post-secondary students are lured in by contract cheating companies every year. These companies advertise to students as homework help. Their websites look legitimate, which can be both confusing and tempting for students.

Also known as “term paper mills”, “essay mills”, “academic consultation services”, or “academic research services,” this is an illicit industry whose main business is providing the means for students to engage in academic misconduct by doing school work on behalf of the student. “Contract cheating” is now the preferred term worldwide.

The contract cheating industry is valued at over $15 Billion USD and has been compared to organised crime. In 2021 the Better Business Bureau issued a scam alert about contract cheating companies that engage in extortion and blackmail of students who use their services.

We have anecdotal reports that students at many of Alberta’s post-secondary institutions have been subjected to extortion.

How to avoid being caught in extortion? Stay away from online services offering homework help, assignment support, or essay writing. And do not give your credit card information!!

Deputy Minister on Campus Next week

Thursday, Nov. 5th, keep an eye out for some distinguished guests. New Deputy Minister Laura Pillopow will be visiting campus with her staff, meeting with the University Executive, and touring our spaces. We are looking forward to sharing what we do at StMU and the academic excellence and intellectual curiosity that we foster in our teaching, learning and scholarship.

Your Student Legislative Council (SLC) President, Kessa Stuckert, was also hobnobbing with the government this week, when she joined the Minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nicolaidies, and the other student Council Presidents from Albertan post-secondary institutions to discuss student needs, concerns, and governance.

Student Town Hall November 23, 5-6:30pm

The SLC will co-host a Student Town Hall on November 23rd to present the SLC budget, share results from surveys in which students have been engaged, address student wellness, governance, and next year’s tuition and fee structure.

An invitation has been sent to students’ StMU emails. Be sure to attend and have your voice heard.

Proof of Vaccine Checks

Next week security resumes on campus to screen people coming into buildings for proof of vaccination or negative COVID tests. We are doing this to keep us all safe.

Thank you to all of you who have been courteous and understanding with the security guards and the StMU staff who are administering the Safety App and COVID protocols.

None of us want these protocols or to wear a mask, but these mandates are keeping us safe enough to be able to have in-person classes – and for that we are grateful.

Needful Torpor – Guest musings

As I have been walking on campus this week, I have been contemplating the change of seasons. As the final leaves fall to the ground and the photosynthetic pigments in the grass dwindle, it is apparent that winter approaches. The wild life on campus has also changed. Hares are more brave as they graze in the open, trying to store energy prior to snowfall. The numerous Richardson ground squirrels have decreased in their foraging and surface activities, as they retreat to their hibernacula, anticipating torpor to begin. It is apparent that the wildlife we observe on campus are reacting to the change in their environment… And so I thought: What about me? How am I faring in relation to my environment?

I began to ask myself: What actions am I choosing to solve the tasks before me? To what extent are these actions working? Am I allocating enough time to my own needs despite the work that needs to be done? What activities can I do that will generate my own restful state of “torpor”?

Perhaps take a few minutes to reflect and answer these questions yourself. Determine high priority tasks that rattle around your consciousness and begin conceiving a plan to accomplish them. I find that a moment of reflection can be a useful aid when restoring a sense of harmony and structure when life gets busy. I hope that these reflection questions help you restore a sense of confidence and peace within yourself as well.

Dylon Thompson, (BSc Alumni, Biology Lab Instructor, Coordinator & Assistant)

Have a safe Hallowe’en, and remember to take some needful torpor!

Until next week,