Ahhh Springtime- it is one of the most wonderful times of the year. The snow is melting, the weather is warming, and basketball is on every channel BECAUSE MARCH MADNESS IS HAPPENING. 

Confession: Was not a huge College Basketball fan until I met my boyfriend #HayMatt. I mean I loved College Sports in general and I liked basketball  but I would have never turned on the TV to watch the Madness. Well Matt’s obsession has rubbed off on me and now I am a full blown fan. And by that I mean I cried when Michigan State lost and my bracket was busted.

This year’s March Madness I have found especially fascinating because of the events surrounding a certain team: Yale. I know Ivy Leagues and Sports aren’t supposed to mix but hey it happened.

Yale made it into the tournament for the first time since 1962 which in and of itself is crazy. They then went on to create one of the biggest upsets of the tournament beating 5th seed Baylor (Yale was a 12th seed team).

All of this however has been overshadowed by another issue, an issue that is popping up all over US College Campuses and seems to FINALLY be an issue that is taken seriously. Joe Biden at the Oscars level of serious. That issue is sexual assault on campuses.

Yale’s former Basketball captain Jack Montague was expelled from the College in February. It was the second semester of his senior year. Montague was convicted of sexual assault by a panel formed by the administration and the school expelled him.

 

3n6a7745_montagueMontague’s says it was all consensual, and his lawyer says this case is just being used to make an example. Shocking on both accounts. (Sarcasm FYI).

Montague’s teammates all did the mature thing and wore his number and nickname to a game against Harvard after he was expelled and then promptly had to issue an apology when the Yale administration said not cool. 

Shirts

The school has kept quiet and has not said much in terms of an explanation of the dismissal — as has his accuser, who has not publicly come forward. Because of this a lot of the media’s attention has swung towards Montague and his lawyer.

Last week Montague and his lawyer announced they are suing the school. He believes that Montague is being used as a “whipping boy” to be made an example of after years of the university failing to properly handle rape cases.

He mentioned all of the other times Montague and his victim had consensual sex. Because we all know consensual sex once means consensual sex for life right?!

And today Montague’s old high school coach released a statement in the form of a letter saying he believes Montague and stands with him. He compared what is happening with Montague to the Salem Witch Trials so somebody should probably tell him that while witches aren’t real sexual assaults very much are.

Now none of us know what actually happened between Montague and his victim- I understand that. But lets look at facts: 1 in four women will be sexually assaulted during their time in College. Women often return to their abusers as part of a cycle of abuse. And only a small number of rape accusations are false claims. There are also a small number of false claims for crimes such as burglary however we would never question someone who has just been robbed with “But did you hang out with that person before?”

All of this does one thing and one thing only: it makes it harder and scarier for sexual assault victims to come forward. Look what happened to Erica Kinsman. She came forward publicly and has been consistently slandered by the public while her rapeist has been chosen for a Pro Bowl pick and number one draft spot.

Duke beat Yale this past weekend ending their March Madness run and so hopefully the conversation will soon be refocused on what consent actually means.

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Working at Lululemon this past year has been such a rewarding experience #joblove. One of the things lulu does best is encourage its people. Helping their employee’s reach their goals is one of the ways they do this. Well in order to reach your goals you kinda have to know what your goals are. So here are my 16 for 16. 

1.) See my niece once a week
2.) Make yoga a bigger part of my life- Namast go instead of Namastaying in bed
3.) Get back into team sports– join an intramural volleyball team
4.) Make an intentional effort to see friends at least two weekends a month

5.) Paddle board across the lake this summer
6.) Keep up with daily devotionals and meditation
7.) Give at least three compliments a day
8.) Practice gratefulness EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.- Do this by starting a gratefulness journal.

9.) Explore my own city more- go sightseeing in Toronto
10.) Go to at least three concerts in the summer
11.) Continue making #datenight a priority in my week. HAY MATTTT
12.) Blog at least once a week

13.) Apply for internships even when they seem crazy and unlikely
14.) Try rock climbing
15.) Go camping!!!
16.) Learn how to cook– frozen pizza just aint cutting it anymoreScreen Shot 2015-01-29 at 6.06.40 PM

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Ah France. The land of love and carbs. Two things I hold dear to my heart. However when I moved to France in the Winter of 2014 I learned that this was a country that had a lot more complexities and identities than romance and fine foods. 

I lived in Lille, an urban town in Northern France. Here are some stats about Lille:

  • 28% of people have No High School Education
  • Lille was a hotspot for textile, coal and mining industries. During the 1960’s and 1970’s this industry began to decline and the city became more of a service sector.
  • Unemployment in Lille is at around 15%
  • Despite this- Lille is one of the most popular student towns. There are over 100,000 students in the city.

I went to school at Sciences Po. This is one of Europe’s top political science schools- even though its campus in Lille would fool you.

Science Po Lille is located in Moulins. The school being in this district was a political move. The municipality of Lille wanted to enhance social diversity in the neighbourhood. This district of Lille is home to many migrant workers, welfare offices, and has higher crime rates than most of the other districts. You can see why building a fancy university there was considered questionable.

Going to school in Moulins I saw a different side of France than the bright lights of Paris. Moulins has an unemployment rate of almost 30%.

It also was a place I was repeatedly told to not walk around alone in. After a few weeks there I understood why. Not a day passed where I didn’t feel uncomfortable in some sort. It was common for men to leer and yell at you from across the street, or for a fight to be happening in the corners. Often the metro was filled with people doing drugs, or publicly urinating.

Currently France is in the middle of the Migrant Crisis that is stemming from the conflicts in the Middle East; primarily ISIS. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said the migration crisis is putting France in danger. He believes that Europe needs to control its external borders. “Otherwise,” he said, “our societies will be totally destabilised”.

Today France announced that along with Beligum they will tighten their border controls. And that thousands of people in a tent camp in Calais will be evicted.

Now this come across as harsh. I get that. France can be an extremely racist country.

But having lived and studied in France things make a little more sense to me than they did before. And that is due to France’s history with migrants.

Specifically their history with Algerian migrants.

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The 20th century saw a large movement of people across the world. Migration turned from temporary to permanent and immigrants began representing a large number of country’s population. One of the largest groups to immigrate into France was the Algerians. The Algerian community in France continued to grow over the 20th century and they currently make up a large portion of the French population. Unlike many other ethnic groups there has been a problem of Algerian citizens integrating into French society. France’s colonial history and the circumstances of Algerian immigrant life have led to a massive divide between French nationals and Algerians, leading to the latter being looked at as alien within the country. The integration problem of Algerians in France is not only a cultural issue but also class issue. While Algerians are able to obtain citizenship they will not be fully integrated into society until the issues of racism and class issues are better dealt with.

In the 19th century there were many discriminatory laws that kept Algerian citizens from immigrating to France. The large part of the history of Algerians in France dates all the way back to 1912, when between 4000-5000 predominately Berber speaking Arabs immigrated to France from Algeria.[1] This number continued to rise over the course of the 20th century. “The migration of colonized Arab-Berbers from Algeria to mainland France was the earliest and the most extensive of all colonial migrations to Western Europe before the 1960s.”[2] Algeria was France’s largest settler colony. Before Algeria’s independence in 1962 Algerians were not technically moving from one country to another when entering France since technically they were under French rule in both areas. An important note is that Algerians that entered France prior to 1962 were not considered French citizens but French subjects; they were still under colonial rule. During WW1 the number of Algerian immigrants increased, as there were a number of jobs that needed to be filled due to the large number of French troops overseas.[3] AKA most of the immigrants at this time were males who were coming to France to work in factories.

 

World War two changed the landscape of France drastically. New reforms were introduced that affected not just French citizens but the hundreds of thousands of Algerian immigrants in France as well.  in 1947 a reform happened that allowed Algerian men full French citizenship.

With these new reforms tens of thousands of Algerians emigrated hoping for a better life living as French citizens. However this was not the case as Algerians were still treated as second-class citizens and their living and working conditions were still deplorable. In the late 1950s Algerian nationals fought back and formed militant groups to fight against the French state. The French quickly responded and fought back. “In response to the nationalists, huge police identity-check operations – that had started in the early 1950s – rounded up literally thousands of people on the street whom officers judged to be of ‘Algerian’ appearance.”[6] The situation for Algerian immigrants was bleak yet Algerians still saw living and working in France as a way to support their families back home in Algeria. The idea of immigration at this point was temporary; remittances were the sole focus, not building a life.

Integration of the Algerian community in France has been a problem since the beginning. Beginning in the early 20th century Algerians were often given the dirty and dangerous jobs that the French nationals did not want. Immigrants seem to already belong to a lower social class and working the jobs that French nationals themselves only furthered this problem. It has proved very hard for Algerians to rise up within the social class system. These jobs were not only looked down upon but they also did not pay well. As such the Algerian community was ostracized and had no hope of living anywhere but in the poorer areas of town. Algerians could not raise their social status without better paying jobs, and they were not able to obtain better paying jobs without a higher social status. The cycle of exclusion had begun.

Where the Algerian migrants were settling played a large part in their problems of integration. Due to the large number of Algerian immigrants in the mid 20th century there was a housing shortage in France that led to the majority of Algerian immigrants living in shantytowns on the outskirts of towns. These areas were exclusively immigrant residences and fueled the stereotype of Algerians as outsiders. Government housing was built to replace these shantytowns but these areas were still almost exclusively immigrant residences and almost exclusively Algerian, which furthered their seclusion. These ghetto-like areas were often very dangerous and had high levels of unemployment, disease, and drug problems, all of which only increased the belief that Algerians were trouble.[9]

All of these problems stem from the inherent way that Algerians are viewed. They are not viewed as equals and racism plagues the French nation. There is a deep-rooted racism in France towards Algerians and Arabs in general which stems all the way back to colonial rule. In the 19th century when Algeria was first under France’s colonial rule the French treated their Algerian subjects as second-class citizens who had very few rights and were seen as completely unequal and lesser. These beliefs were backed by an ideology that believed Algerians were uncivilized and racially inferior and therefore it was the right of the French to colonize them and there was no problem in discriminating against them.[10] The white man’s burden was very much evident in the case of France’s colonial rule over Algeria. This attitude followed the Algerians to France when the waves of immigration began. French nationals viewed Algerians and Arabs as dirty, poor, and as a threat to the strong Republic. Most notably were the stereotypes that Algerians were violent and dangerous. ‘In 1923 a mentally ill Algerian man attacked and killed two Parisians setting off large-scale riots in the city. The press latched onto this situation and painted all Algerians and Arabs as violent criminals who were now threatening the safety of the people of France.’[11] This negative attitude and belief system continued to be perpetuated by the press. In 1947 La Monde released an article in which it stated, “The Algerians are a national problem.”[12]

Integration has also historically been a problem because of resistance from the Algerian community. During the 20th century and the many years of repressive living enforced by the stereotypes that the French society had pinned on them the Algerian communities began to fight back. Many Algerians aligned themselves with the party Front de Nationale who was a large supporter of Algerian independence. Under this façade FLN acquired quite a large Algerian backing, however FLN was extremely anti-integration and worked very hard to isolate the Algerians from French life. “FLN encouraged the Algerian community in France to take an anti-French stance, which virtually halted the integration process.”[13] There was a clear line in the sand between the French and Algerians and there was an overall feeling that Algerians living in France were not at all French citizens but actually intruders in a country, in which they did not belong.

The largest problem seems to be integrating Algerians into the labour market into France. Although school is mandatory and shared between both French nationals and Algerian immigrants, transitioning into the labour market after school has not proved to be equal for the two groups. Studies have shown that second generation Algerians have made a more concerted effort at integrating themselves into French society than one would have predicted.[14] There is a large willingness of Algerians to marry outside of their own ethnic group, which is very important as it leads to mixed families and a broader sense of integration. “Research targeting Algerians married to local French partners shows that the more highly educated and successful Algerians have greater chances of marrying outside their own group.”[15] This supports the claim that Algerians are not just seen as outsiders because of their race but are seen as outsiders due to their social class. The circumstances of living in France as an Algerian immigrant have led to the majority of Algerians living in France to belong to a low level social class. This social class is what is now holding them back from total integration.

Second- generation Algerians are trying to assimilate themselves more into the French society and if this continues hopefully the third generation Algerians will as well. Integration into society has been especially difficult for Algerians due to the deep-rooted colonial history with France, which as caused attitudes of racism and ‘otherness’, as well as the problems of integrating Algerians into the French labour market. “French-Algerian communities still live on impoverished housing estates, go to bad schools, and have few opportunities for social advancement. At best they get menial jobs, at worst they end up unemployed or in prison.[16] This reality perpetuates the image that many French nationals have of French-Algerians; that they are poor, dirty and criminals. This image continues to make it very difficult for French-Algerians to break out of their cycle of life.

[1] Leo Lucassen, The Immigrant Threat: Studies of World Migrants, (Chicago: University of Illinois Press: 2005) ,p.16
[2] Jim House, “The colonial and post-colonial dimensions of Algerian migration to France”, History in Focus; Issue 11: Migration, 2006, http://www.history.ac.uk, (accessed: April 7th, 2014).
[3]Leo Lucassen, The Immigrant Threat: Studies of World Migrants, (Chicago: University of Illinois Press: 2005) ,, p.16
[4] Jim House, “The colonial and post-colonial dimensions of Algerian migration to France”, History in Focus; Issue 11: Migration, 2006, http://www.history.ac.uk, (accessed: April 7th, 2014).
[5] Jim House, “The colonial and post-colonial dimensions of Algerian migration to France”, History in Focus; Issue 11: Migration, 2006, http://www.history.ac.uk, (accessed: April 7th, 2014).
[6] Jim House, “The colonial and post-colonial dimensions of Algerian migration to France”, History in Focus; Issue 11: Migration, 2006, http://www.history.ac.uk, (accessed: April 7th, 2014).
[7] Jim House, “The colonial and post-colonial dimensions of Algerian migration to France”, History in Focus; Issue 11: Migration, 2006, http://www.history.ac.uk, (accessed: April 7th, 2014).
[8] Leo Lucassen, The Immigrant Threat: Studies of World Migrants, (Chicago: University of Illinois Press: 2005) ,p.19
[9]Leo Lucassen, The Immigrant Threat: Studies of World Migrants, (Chicago: University of Illinos Press: 2005) ,, p.24
[10] Leo Lucassen, The Immigrant Threat: Studies of World Migrants, (Chicago: University of Illinois Press: 2005), p.20
[11]Leo Lucassen, The Immigrant Threat: Studies of World Migrants, (Chicago: University of Illinois Press: 2005), p.20
[12]Leo Lucassen, The Immigrant Threat: Studies of World Migrants, (Chicago: University of Illinois Press: 2005), p.21
[13] Leo Lucassen, The Immigrant Threat: Studies of World Migrants, (Chicago: University of Illinois Press: 2005), p.21
[14]Leo Lucassen, The Immigrant Threat: Studies of World Migrants, (Chicago: University of Illinois Press: 2005), p.26
[15] Leo Lucassen, The Immigrant Threat: Studies of World Migrants, (Chicago: University of Illinos Press: 2005) p.26
[16] Nabila Ramdami, “French- Algerians are still Second Class Citizens”, The Guardian, December 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/dec/19/french-algerians-still-second-class, (Accessed April 7th, 2014).
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