2015: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

CAMPUS HIGHLIGHTS

2015 was a busy year for the governing bodies at Brock. The Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) and the Brock University Students’ Union Administrative Council (BUSAC) were involved in the top stories of the year, and here’s what made headlines on campus:

Fed Up gets defunded after referendum

On Sept. 30, BUSAC voted to move Fed Up: The Affordable Food Project to referendum. About a year earlier, in March 2014, a referendum had voted yes for the project and a student levy was put in place to raise funds. However, early in the first semester, numerous concerns were been raised about how the Fed Up was spending the $200,000 of student money in a manner that did not directly benefit the students. The organization was accused with a lack of organization in its governance and financial administration.
Voting for the referendum finished on Oct. 29, and Fed Up was successfully defunded. Of the remaining money from the student levy that had not yet been given to Fed Up, BUSU’s Brian Horvath, Vice President of Student Services, used a portion of it to provide free breakfast to students during Wellness Week. The rest of the funds have not yet been determined for a specific use.

Action groups break with OPIRG

On Oct. 28, five action groups that are actively present on campus broke their ties with OPIRG Brock. Brock Eco Club, Brock Fair Trade, Cinema Politica Brock, DIG and Food Not Bombs removed their association with OPIRG, citing concerns that they were not given the support that they had been promised and that there was a lack of organization within the governing structure of OPIRG. This was a hard blow to OPIRG Brock, who had recently been evicted from their on-campus space in the Student Alumni Centre.

Petitions to recall BUSU vice presidents

On Nov. 24, three petitions came into movement to recall the three vice presidents of BUSU, Spencer Dawson, Brian Horvath and Antonio Sergi. The movers of the petitions cited concerns such as a lack of respect and intimidation during BUSAC meetings, late reports, and talks of over-spending as the reasons behind the petitions. However, at the Dec. 2 BUSAC meeting, the petitions were dropped after the BUSU executives presented their apologies and promises that their doors were always open for anyone with a concern.

BUSINESS HIGHLIGHTS

By far one of the most prolific business events of 2015 was the series of skirmishes and controversies related to the ongoing tensions between pharmaceutical companies, advocates and governments.

The controversy has largely revolved around the amount of control that pharmaceutical companies have over the costs of their products, which are often essential drugs that people need in order to survive or to manage symptoms.

Because of a lack of jurisdiction over these costs, pharmaceutical companies sometimes hike the prices of drugs to substantial amounts that ultimately end up harming the vulnerable people who need those drugs. Therefore, advocates have been trying to increase the state’s ability to regulate the pharmaceutical business, and trying to improve general accountability for pharmaceutical companies.

The reason why this controversy has been particularly noteworthy for 2015 is the prolific rise and fall (or just continuous series of falls, depending on whom you ask) of former CEO Martin Shkreli. The Brock Press covered the Shkreli story back in October, discussing how his decision to hike the price of Daraprim by over 5,000 per cent led to mass controversy and public backlash.

Since October, the story continued to develop, as Shkreli was arrested in December on charges of fraud (unrelated to the Daraprim price hike), posted a five million dollar bail (interestingly the price of approximately 6666 Daraprim pills after his price hike), and resigned from his pharmaceutical CEO position. Many are seeing Shkreli’s final downfall as a sort of Karmic response to his arguably unethical actions as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals.

Shkreli’s controversial actions dragged the serious issue of relationships between pharmaceutical companies and the state into the public attention and began much of the public awareness of this struggle. Because of this newfound attention, there is more pressure than ever on all sides to figure out the most effective way to balance the business of pharmaceuticals with the role of the state in both regulating markets, and ensuring that people receive appropriate medical care.

Other highlights of 2015 in business include the acquisition and public exposure by CBC of a secret report written by Status of Women Canada. The report was written in February, but was kept secret until CBC acquired it in September and made its contents public, where it was revealed that Canada is substantially behind other nations in reaching gender equality and faces substantial issues with marginalization of women. The revelation of this report was substantial to the business world, which had to cope with and respond to surprising statistics about the current inequality faced by women in the Canadian business world.

In other 2015 Canadian business news, the Canadian dollar also fell substantially in 2015; CBC reports that its value at the end of 2015 was approximately 72 U.S. cents, compared to approximately 86 U.S. cents at the end of 2014.

Canada’s new federal government and Prime Minister also mean that the Canadian business world is likely to see substantial change as we move from a Conservative government to a Liberal government.

In a more local context, the introduction of the First Ontario Performing Arts Centre and the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts has had a substantial impact on the downtown business community. With more students frequenting and moving to downtown because of the new arts spaces, there has been increased foot traffic down St. Paul Street and surrounding areas, which has been good news for local business owners, and has also led to the development of several new businesses downtown this year.

SPORTS HIGHLIGHTS

Blue Jays’ dream season

It seemed like the Toronto Blue Jays were just having one of those seasons. By mid-July they were playing .500 baseball, and fans were beginning to lose hope. Though, the American League East division was still wide open, the Blue Jays were lacking pitching, while having the best offense in the league.

Then things took a turn for the better, as (now former) general manger Alex Anthopoulos made the last week of July something to celebrate. On July 28, the Blue Jays acquired the best shortstop in the game (when healthy) in Troy Tulowitizki. Then Anthopoulos went out and acquired lefty ace David Price from the Detroit Tigers.

The hype grew around the Blue Jays, and by mid-September with the division lead, most of Canada started to believe. It was the first time outside of an international sports event that the country had united to celebrate a team. The Blue Jays were selling out the Rogers Centre, while TV ratings were at an all-time high.

With Tulowitzki and Price joining the team, the Blue Jays clinched the AL East and made the playoffs for the first time in 22-years. It was a time to celebrate as the Blue Jays were a top Canada again. They would go onto beating the Texas Ranger in the American League Divisional Series, with one of the greatest game fives ever.

The Blue Jays postseason run ended in the American League Championship Series to the Kansas City Royals, who eventually went on to win the World Series. At the end of the season, Blue Jays fans and Canada were proud of their team. It had been a 22-year wait and it certainly was well worth it.

New England Patriots and Deflatgate

The famous New England NFL team was in the news again for cheating after being accused of videotaping opponent’s practices a few years ago. Deflatgate started after the Indianapolis Colts accused the Patriots of deflating footballs during the two teams playoff game. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was originally suspended four games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Brady later won an appeal of his suspension after a U.S. judge decided Goodell went too far in affirming punishment.

Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao

It was the biggest talked about boxing fight in a long-time, but it didn’t live up to the hype. Mayweather and Pacquiao were the two most popular boxers and it was a fight many boxing fans and non-boxing fans were looking forward too. Mayweather entered the fight undefeated and after beating Pacquiao in 12 round fight, Mayweather improved to 48-0 in his career. After the fight many fans called it a boring fight that did not live up to the hype. Either way, it was the fight boxing fans wanted and they got it.

ARTS

Release of Star Wars The Force Awakens

Star Wars has returned to its roots with the seventh installment in the popular space-opera. It’s a film that fans have waited for since the release of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi in 1983. Those few who watched Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and were satisfied with the ending were wrong. That’s it. Just wrong.

Brock appoints new Chancellor

Shirley Cheechoo was made Brock Chancellor this year which is an indication of the way of thinking of the university now. Cheechoo’s past works as an artist in various forms as well as her native heritage and sex makes her a pleasantly surprising choice. This change from a philanthropist and business-man to a female social activist and artist is clear evidence that Brock University considers the arts to be a highly valuable sector of the Brock University experience.

Downtown Arts campus opens in St. Catharines

The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) opened this year as the new Brock campus in Downtown St. Catharines. Now all the students taking arts courses have their own space specifically designed to fulfill their needs. That’s right, they won’t need to attend any “basement” classes anymore.

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