IELTS Test Centre to open at UC

Support for students who require English Language Proficiency Certificate for programme entry:

The Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM)  in the College of Education, Health and Human Development  is delighted to become part of the IDP global network of IELTS test centres by gaining approval to open an IELTS test centre at the University of Canterbury.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as a language of communication.

The IELTS testing centre is a natural extension of the other services offered by CEM, which was established in 1999 and provides high quality assessments and surveys for NZ schools. IELTS testing will initially be offered twice a month. CEM will become the second IELTS test centre in Christchurch.

Dr John Boereboom, Director of CEM, is  presently fully engaged in preparing the infrastructure to open the IELTS Test Centre and assessment is expected to commence in April 2017.

Professor Gail T. Gillon, PhD
Pro-Vice-Chancellor College of Education, Health and Human Development | Amorangi Ako me te Hauora

Why get involved in O Day?

The Events and Partnerships team is seeking staff volunteers to help at Orientation Day on 17 February 2017.

UC colleagues have this to say about the O Day experience:

“Students are our core business – without them we don’t have a University. Staff need to get to know them, and they need to know and recognise us. What better way to meet our new 2017 cohort than to join them on O Day, and feel their excitement and (sometimes) nerves as they start out on a very big adventure. They have entrusted their learning futures to us – we should meet with them, acknowledge that, and share their special day.”

Professor Jan Evans-Freeman, Pro-Vice Chancellor Engineering

“I volunteered as it is a unique opportunity to connect and interact with the students and be part of that UC vibe! I enjoyed welcoming the students in the beginning of their learning journey, putting a smile in their faces, encouraging them to take a picture with their families and therefore contributing in creating memories! Calling for UC faces! Colleagues get involved! Remember and enjoy the energy that comes with the first day in Uni! For one day, we become a walking UC advertisement!”

Evelyn Varelogiannis, Learning Resources

“When the call went out for people to help welcome the fresh faced students on last years O Day, I was pretty keen. Sure – I wanted to offer a positive first impression of UC. But more than that, I wanted one of those Canterbury Red® t-shirts that came with the gig.  But helping on the day turned out to be way more fun than I’d bargained for. You see, our team was in charge of distributing UC lip balm to the first years as they arrived on campus… and I took this job very, very seriously. As the students came up Arts Road like whitebait swimming towards a giant whitebait net, I enjoyed the camaraderie of being in a team, the experience of seeing the anticipation on the students’ faces, and, of course, the deep satisfaction of knowing that I was playing my part in keeping our new students lips supple and healthy.  P.S. I still have the shirt.”

Spanky Moore, Senior Ecumenical Chaplain

“We all know that a core part of a positive student experience is having positive engagement with staff, and O Day provides the opportunity to get this off to a great start.”

Professor Jonathan Le Cocq, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Arts

“Volunteering at O Day was a fantastic opportunity to get out and meet students arriving at UC from not only our own backyard, but from all around the world. It was inspiring to hear students’ enthusiasm for UC. The sushi and hot chip give-away was very popular too!”

Dr Dean Sutherland, College of Science

And read this blog from Katie Perry about her team’s experience helping at O Day.

Drawing strength from humanitarian history

UC lecuturer in women’s and feminist history, Katie Pickles writes about participating in the Women’s March on Saturday 21 January.

Christchurch is a global hotbed for women’s rights as human rights, and for the promotion of social reform, diversity and strong communities.

On the edge of the UC campus is the house where Kate Sheppard lived when she led the campaign that resulted in New Zealand becoming the first country in the world to allow women to vote. And all women were enfranchised in 1893, not just white or rich women, as would happen later on and elsewhere around the world.

Sheppard was part of an important radical strain in Christchurch’s history that is now a firm tradition. We share in, and are connected to, the spirit of the Women’s March on Washington.

As I explore in my recent book Christchurch Ruptures, there are many people in this city who have advanced human rights including Kate Sheppard, Elsie Locke, Ettie Rout, Rewi Alley and Harry Ell. And there are many, many more who go unnamed.

University of Canterbury foundation professor Alexander Bickerton was an important mentor for a generation of students, and the university can boast Apirana Ngata as the first Maori graduate and Helen Connon as the first women with an honours degree in the former British Empire. Humanities and Fine Arts at this university enjoys a long and strong tradition of excellence, questioning the status quo, and seeking truth and new knowledge, that society needs more than ever in 2017.

I marched to remember this proud humanitarian history and to draw strength from it in 2017.

I teach women’s andKatie feminist history here at UC. In particular, I am interested in heroines in history. At the march, my daughter Clara and I read out inspirational quotes from American leading humanitarian, author, political activist and lecturer Helen Keller (1880-1968). Helen overcame being deaf and blind to smash previous barriers for disabled people, and to advocate for and improve the lives of countless people in society. Some examples are: ‘the only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision’, and ‘until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained’.

Keller’s dignified words of wisdom stand in solidarity for tolerance, equality and diversity. She believed that women’s rights were human rights, that diversity is the strength of our communities, that all voices deserve to be heard and that we are stronger together – much like many of our local citizens here in Christchurch through the ages.

Steph Burt – we want the best for our country

Visiting Professor of English, Harvard University Steph Burt writes about participating in the Women’s March on Saturday 21 January, here in Christchurch.

We (Jessie and I and our kids, who are 6 1/2 and 11) marched because we are Americans who want the best for our country, and because we are proud to be part of multiple NZ communities (the UC community and the Christchurch community) whose full-time, long-term residents and citizens also marched.

steph burt - lightWe got there early enough to see the organizers putting together signs: there were homemade signs too– our kids made them!– but it was cool to see the ones they chose; Jessie found a terrific one with the slogan “respect my existence or expect my resistance” (also a good example of sonic chiasmus). We had planned to meet one other family there but were happy to see all other UC humanities faculty and staff! The day was perfect for a large public event, too: brisk, scattered clouds, the air changeable, sun in patches in pavement, a weather for peaceful, determined opposition.

As the large crowd moved from the park to the square, we noticed how the march paused at the Kate Sheppard memorial– our six year old wanted to pose with the bas-relief Sheppard, as if to show that her concerns still resonate with the youngest generation. Women’s rights are human rights (as the sign our 11 year old made said!) and visible, peaceful, broad-based resistance in many forms over the next few years is going to be crucial if we are to mitigate, and eventually replace, the malevolence that has taken over the White House.

Marching is not a substitute for other forms of political engagement, here or in DC or anywhere. But it’s a good way towards them, and sometimes a delight in and of itself.

Ursula Cheer – ‘democracy cannot function without human rights’

On Saturday 21 February, together with my daughters Alice and Stella and my partner, Rob, I walked in the Women’s March.

There I met other lawyers and UC lecturers – Annick Maselot and Natalie Baird from Law, Carolyn Mason from Philosophy and Kathryn Dalziel a lawyer from Taylor Shaw, both of whom teach in Law also.  Euan Mason was there, and Katie Pickles who spoke beautifully with her daughter; my fellows from Zonta, the organisation of professional women who support women and girls; other members of my family. I cannot name them all, there were so many.

Ursula Women's MarchFollowing the March, Al Nisbet published a cartoon in the Press that appeared to suggest that it was pointless because Donald Trump was elected and women should just accept it.

So I responded with this letter to the Press:

It is unclear what Nisbet’s cartoon (23 January) was about exactly, unless it was a simple comment on the ironies of democracy and freedom of expression.  But I did indeed march because of democracy – I worry that we are witnessing a failure of democracy. That is because ‘, and we now have in power in America a man who does not or does not want to understand what human rights are about. Free speech, the first right, without which the other rights wither, is already being undermined by Trump’s contemptuous offering of ‘alternative facts’ for his supporters to feed on.  And Trump has made statements which show he doesn’t give a damn about the rights of people who don’t look like him – white and male.  So do your job, media, continue to call this man and his ilk, and maybe democracy will function properly next time. Meantime, people must continue to march and speak.

The letter attracted a number of responses, one of which was an anonymous phone message from a man who said he was shocked and that I was a leftie who would feel right at home in the Kremlin. Another law graduate also emailed and suggested along similar lines to the Nisbet cartoon that the US electoral system had spoken and that was that. This is how I responded to her:

I think it is simplistic to suggest that because a political system in a country labelled a democracy has delivered a leader to power following the basic electoral rules it has set for itself, then democracy is functioning properly. As we know, there are number of countries in the world which have held so called democratic elections that have delivered despots or returned despots to power and allow despots to remain in power (usually with the help of the military).  And might it be that some democratic electoral systems no longer promote democracy or promote it effectively? The reasons why the electoral college system was created  in the US no longer exist, for example.  Is it not legitimate to question these things, rather than just accept election outcome after outcome? We should do the same in NZ also.

In fact, my overall point was that I fear democracy is under threat in the US (and generally)  and I want the media (and women protesting as we did on the March on Saturday, worldwide) to hold people like Trump, (proven liars, proven promise-breakers, proven misogynists) to account. And as a media lawyer,  I want truth to be honoured.  I don’t want ‘post-truth’, I don’t want the  ‘alternative facts’.  It is great that we have ever more platforms from which to exercise free speech. But again, it is simplistic to suggest more platforms deliver more free speech than ever.  Media scholarship strongly suggests now that new media platforms appear to promote speaking limited to tribes in tribal language, not speaking to everyone.  I am inclined to believe that John Stuart Mills’ marketplace of ideas is becoming dysfunctional in that the truth is not emerging from the limited debate promoted by new media platforms, nor is it even being valued. That strikes at the very heart of democracy and it will impact on human rights.

But I hope this will lead to a new political movement, and it could be led by women wearing those pink hats.  They are called Pussyhats, and the idea seems to be that you knit them yourself.  See: https://www.pussyhatproject.com/knit/