Get to know your CMU profs! | Cassidy Brown

Do you remember when you were just starting elementary school, and you learned that the teachers did not in fact live in the school? If you’re anything like me, the idea of your teachers having lives, or even houses, outside of school was enough to blow your mind! Fast-forward to now, and believe it or not, your professors have lives and even hobbies outside of teaching!

Kenton Lobe

Today I want to highlight three of our CMU professors, and what occupies them when they aren’t shaping the minds of those who walk these halls. The first of these is Kenton Lobe, Teaching Assistant Professor of International Development and Environmental Studies, who also operates a community shared agriculture program, Prairie Lights, in Neubergthal, Manitoba. As a part-time professor, Kenton’s work on the farm is his second job away from the city and CMU. Working on a farm has not only been impacted by his work in the fields of development and environmental studies, but also impacts how and what he teaches. Working with the land and knowing the land has pushed him to bring his students outside (even when it seems too cold to do so), in order to make learning more embodied with the earth. If you haven’t taken a class with Kenton yet, and you’re interested in learning about the history of this earth, what are you waiting for?!

Craig Martin

But a passion for farming isn’t where it ends! Craig Martin, Assistant Professor of Business, spends his days teaching, but also dabbles in amateur astronomy and radio. While his interests aren’t as connected with his teaching here at CMU, he finds it’s important to have a hobby to create a space to disconnect from rigorous academia. The one chance accident that led to marrying these interests was during the Red River Flood. Craig was deployed as a communications person through his amateur radio club, where he ended up working with CMU and sand bagging houses! So, if you’re interested in business, radio, or space, stop by Craig’s office for a chat!

Irma Fast Dueck’s dog, Pelo

If you’re anything like me, the introduction of Zoom classes back in March, and professors and students introducing their pets, was a thrilling adventure! One professor in particular that has what might be the cutest dog is Associate Professor of Practical Theology, Irma Fast Dueck. Irma’s dog Pelo is a Lagotto Romagnolo. You may be wondering, what is so spectacular about a dog? This particular breed is almost extinct! Some fun facts about the Lagotto Romagnolo that Irma has gifted to us: they are nicknamed the “truffle dog” after their ability to hunt for mushrooms and they frequently appear in medieval art! When asked which Biblical “character” Pelo most resembles, Irma answered, “I’d have to say the disciple Peter. He is faithful and dedicated but he can seriously mess up. He means well though! Not sure I’d call him the rock that I’d build a house around, like Jesus did. Unless it was a toothpick house.”

The Lagotto Romagnolo dog, Pelo’s breed, is often featured in medieval art!

And those are just three of CMU’s many staff and faculty with second lives that may surprise or excite you! I encourage you to take this opportunity to pop into your professor’s metaphorical Zoom door and use the question “what do you do outside of school?” to begin to build a relationship outside of the classroom with your professors. Having this makes asking questions about assignments and projects much easier. Plus, you might get some cute dog pictures!

Cassidy Brown is a 2nd year Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies student.

A silver bullet for academic success? | Malcolm Reimer

Do you find yourself stumped by citation styles? Bemused by biochemistry? Perplexed by philosophy?*

If so, PAL™ may be the solution for you!

CMU’s patented** Peer-Assisted Learning program is proven to help with academic adversity of all kinds, such as trouble with:

Mathematics, including statistics, calculus, and more!

Academic writing and research!

Tricky coursework in the arts, sciences, and everything in between!

The best part about PAL is that unlike most private tutoring, it’s 100% FREE for CMU students. But how, you say, can we offer such an amazing product for no cost whatsoever?

The answer, dear reader, is through the magic of volunteers. It’s true: Peer-Assisted Learning is run entirely by the goodwill of generous upper-year students willing to donate their time free of charge. You can learn from their experiences and advice to gain the upper hand in your classes, or run your essays through a high-quality editing treatment. Feel free to drop by the PAL desk in the Marpeck Mezzanine anytime during regular hours to meet with a knowledgeable peer!

Here’s what one happy student had to say:

“When I was in my first semester of my first year I thought, ‘Ha! I don’t need help at all!’ But then I took Intro Sociology and my grades simply plummeted! I went to visit PAL and it was the best decision I made all year.”

  • Simon Mennos, CMU Student

Whether you’re having a hard time with assignments or you’d just like to study with someone who’s taken your class before, PAL is here to help! Regular hours are Monday to Thursday, 12:00 – 4:00, beginning September 21. Join the ever-increasing group of students who can testify to the miraculous benefits of Peer-Assisted Learning!***

* The author would keep alliterating all day, if you couldn’t tell.

** Patent pending, all rights reserved, use at your own risk.

*** No longer available in pill form. Contact PAL Coordinator at for more information.

Malcolm Reimer is a 3rd year Science student and the Coordinator of the Peer-Assisted Learning program.

Community and sexual violence on a faith-based campus | Guest blogger Nathan Dueck

Nathan Dueck

The claim that Canadian Mennonite University has a strong sense of community is clichéd, but it is also true. Most of my classes have fewer than twenty students, many faculty have students over to their houses for meals throughout the year, and office doors are open more often than closed. There is also a real feeling of Mennonite identity on campus, where so many students share faith and genealogy (often an important research task before asking out a peer). This sense of campus-wide community is genuinely good, especially in an era when deep social connection and cohesion can be difficult to find. It is why I decided to attend CMU, and why many students feel the need to foster and protect it semester after semester.

But “community” can pose challenges to responding to instances of sexual violence on campus. I want to highlight two challenges in particular. First, the celebration of community can implicitly discourage actions that may be seen as damaging to it. If a survivor of sexual violence feels that coming forward with their experience might put stress on their university’s valued communal identity, it is plausible that they might feel deterred from addressing it through a disclosure. Second, perpetrators can be included in, or even integral to, campus communities. When this is the case, survivors may be concerned that those in positions of authority will not effectively respond to their disclosures. If a perpetrator is one of only eight students in your favourite professor’s class, if they eat dinner at a senior administrator’s house once a semester, or if you see them regularly drop by a staff member’s office just to chat for a minute because the door was open, it might be difficult to envision how your experience of sexual violence would be handled impartially by the institution. The same bonds that make some university communities so tight-knit can also restrict the sense of freedom that their survivors feel that they have to share their experiences.

Smaller post-secondary institutions like my own need to grapple with this tension between protecting their sense of community and fully supporting survivors who want to share their experiences within them. But even if the tension can never be fully resolved, it is heartening to see my university adopt the REES reporting platform this fall. It is heartening to me because REES is precisely not a product created by, or for, CMU specifically. Instead, as a platform designed for all post-secondary institutions, REES stands distinctly outside my campus’s specific culture. As such, it exists as an avenue through which survivors can disclose their experiences without having to engage directly with another member of the CMU community, if that engagement would cause discomfort.


Yet, even as REES is being introduced as an extra-communal platform, its creators have remained sensitive to the value of community. When I participated in a feedback session for the platform, I was impressed when the session leader stressed that REES is only one, optional way through which a survivor can share their experience in a university setting. In doing so, she made it clear that the introduction of REES still allows for the face-to-face disclosure methods that other survivors might find helpful or even necessary. In other words, the introduction of REES should address the risks of a campus’ communal identity for some survivors, but in a way that does not compromise the presence of a community that can be helpful for others.

Examining the interplay between community and sexual violence can be uncomfortable, but it would be a mistake to fear for our communal identity in doing so. I am convinced that acknowledging the risks of community does not diminish it, so long as our responses to these risks are thoughtful and rigorous. Instead, when we look for new and creative ways to support survivors, like REES, our communities will become stronger than ever before.

Nathan Dueck is a 4th year student at Canadian Mennonite University working towards a double major in history and philosophy. He is a student representative on the CMU Sexual Violence Committee and was 2019-20 Vice-President Advocacy for the CMU Student Council.

Physically distanced job searching | Guest blogger Cassidy Brown

For students, the months of March and April mark a time of preparing resumes and cover letters, and starting the summer job search. Between tuition and basic living expenses, as students we need to know that we have a reliable income for the summer!

The transition from the busyness of classes and exams to summer jobs can often be a hard and stressful time. Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed an extra challenge in this year’s job search. Many students at CMU work at summer camps, or take this time to do practicum, and as summer plans get cancelled or postponed, it’s critical to find a job that will provide enough income throughout the summer.

Guest blogger Cassidy Brown

So, I decided to start the job search, and here is what I found.

1. People are still hiring!

This surprised me. I thought that with non-essential businesses closing, that would mean the job market is non-existent. There aren’t as many jobs, and options are narrow, but if you have the time to search through your local job postings, you just might find something good!

2. Graduates are in luck!

I’ve seen many companies who are hiring online tutors (specifically in English) to do online tutoring through Zoom, but they want applicants to have a completed bachelor’s degree. With schools closed, parents don’t always have time to assist their children with learning and are looking for people to help their children succeed during this time.

3. Cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning!

Medical facilities as well as other essential businesses that remain open now have much more cleaning to do and are hiring people in part-time positions to help keep these businesses sanitary and up to all the current health codes. However, these jobs are more high risk, and require that you have no contact with people who have had symptoms or who have tested positive.

4. Fast food all the way!

As dine-in areas of restaurants close, the drive-through line only gets longer! Many businesses are hiring people to work fast food windows, as well as prepare food.

5. There is always government funding!

While it isn’t the same as having a job, and might not be an ideal option for you, the government has rolled out the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). If you qualify, these Federal financial aid programs should get you some money to put towards education in the fall. Keep an eye on your school email for more info on that from Heidi Nighswander-Rempel, CMU’s Financial and Student Services Advisor.

Websites like Indeed also have sections where you can specify what type of job and hours you’re looking for, and you can even specify if you want to work online. Talk to friends and family and see what kinds of jobs you can find.

So, if you’re already bored with the “nothingness” that social distancing has brought to some of our lives, freshen up your resume and see who is hiring!

Cassidy Brown is a 2nd year Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies student.

Dear Disappointment… | Guest blogger Natasha Neustaedter Barg

Dear Disappointment,

You suck. I’m sorry to put it so bluntly, but I don’t know what to do with you. When I’m sad I cry, when I’m happy I smile, but when I’m disappointed, I’m lost. I feel angry, frustrated, sad, annoyed, and confused.

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve met a lot, and I still don’t know what to do with you. We met when my summer job got cancelled, when my grades weren’t what I wanted them to be, when my mom asked me to do something and I forgot, and that time I didn’t get the bag of chips that I wanted. Although that time we kind of just laughed at each other. I’ve noticed that you’ve been quite busy meeting some of my friends too. You met them when they didn’t get to graduate, when they had to go home without giving people hugs goodbye, and at other points too.

As much as I don’t know what to do with you Disappointment, I’m writing this letter to say thank you. Thank you for showing me what I care about, and for showing me that I’ve been vulnerable in telling people what I’m excited about. There’s a woman named Brené Brown, I think you’d like her. She writes that “the boldest among us will be disappointed, because [we are] brave enough to want something even though [we have] no control over the outcome.” She is pretty smart. Disappointment, you show me that I’ve been brave. I still don’t like you or want you around, but thank you.

Disappointment, you’ve taught me that I am in charge of my own story. As Brené Brown writes, “this is a hard part of my story, but it’s part of my bigger narrative and I’m going to own it, because I’m going to decide how it’s going to end.” You’ve taught me how to be creative. You tried to tell me that I couldn’t see my friends, but I went and sat on their lawn and pushed them cookies with a canoe paddle, so that we would be far enough apart. You tried to tell me I couldn’t celebrate my friend’s birthday, but we decorated her house, and sang Happy Birthday through Zoom. You tried to tell me that I couldn’t have movie or craft nights with my friends, but we sent each other craft packages and had Netflix Party movie nights. I may not know how things are going to end, but you don’t get to control my life. I have a say in how my story is going to go.

I still think that you suck, but I also think you’re sometimes misunderstood. You are expectations that aren’t realized. At least that’s what Brené Brown thinks, and I’d have to agree. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to have super low expectations, or no expectations, but that I’m going to try and be better at naming what they are so that others around me know. I’m going to try and keep living life to the fullest, knowing that we’re going to meet over and over again. But I’m not going to give up. When we meet again, I’m going to do my best to acknowledge you, and then say thank you for showing me that I was brave and that I cared.


Natasha Neustaedter Barg is a 3rd year Social Sciences student.

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