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The Perfect Human?

By: Cynthia Wells

The perfect human, is that possible? Some believe it could be possible in the future with the help of genetic engineering. Is it right to be able to choose what character traits your child will possess? A parent could know before their child is born if they will be intelligent, athletic, outgoing or have a good sense of humour. They could choose what their child will look like, the colour of their hair, eyes, their height. Science is beginning to make this all possible, but is it right?

Some people think if we can choose traits for our children we can eliminate the traits that create criminals. We could make society a better place. I believe these people are living in a fantasy world. Even without these "criminal traits" crime could still be present. Parents still have to raise their children to be law-abiding citizens. Eliminating certain character traits will not eliminate crime.

Choosing the traits of a child will eliminate some surprises the parents will experience while the child is growing up. Parents will expect their child to graduate in the top of their class if they chose, before they were born, to give them an intelligence gene. It would not surprise them that their child made it to the Olympics if they gave them an athletic gene. Genetic engineering can set certain expectations for a child and if they do not meet those expectations the parents may be disappointed.

Under certain circumstances genetic engineering may be a good idea. A child may be gravely ill and a blood transfusion their only hope for survival. This child has a very rare blood type and finding a match is looking nearly impossible. Here genetic engineering could be a solution. The parents of the ill child could decide to engineer a sibling with the needed blood type to save the dying child's life.

Choosing the sex of your child is something else genetic engineering allows us to do. I do not believe that making this choice for yourself is right. I think parents are given a certain chid for a reason and altering this plan is not right. A couple may already have three boys and want a girl for their fourth child. Nevertheless, I think if this couple is meant to have a girl they will, without the help of genetic engineering. Some people choose to abort a child if they find out it is a girl and they want a boy. Many people agree with me that this type of abortion is not right. Determining the sex of your child using genetic engineering, I think, is very similar, if not any different, than aborting a baby because it is the "wrong sex."

Genetic engineering is a good idea under some circumstances, but generally, we could do without it. Choosing character traits of a child is not right. Every child is unique and therefore, it should be a surprise to discover a new trait a child exhibits. A parent should not know beforehand which traits their child will exhibit. This takes away from the uniqueness of every child. The world would be boring if everyone were the same.

Stressing over the double cohort

By: Cynthia Wells

Doubt, anxiety and pressure are just some of the feelings graduating students across Ontario are facing.
The Ontario government has introduced a new, more challenging curriculum into school, gradually eliminating the final OAC academic year. This year, the final OAC students will be graduating at the same time as the Grade 12 students in the new four-year program. This is known as the double cohort.
Many students wonder if their hard work in high school will pay off and get them into a post-secondary institution of their choice. Others wonder if their marks are high enough to get them into their program of choice.
The Council of Ontario Universities says that admission standards for most programs are not expected to increase.
"In limited-enrolment programs, however, admission standards will likely increase because of stiffer and greater competition."
According to the Ontario College Guide, the minimum grade for admission into the Dental Hygiene program at Durham College is 105.5 per cent. This is what students are stressing over; especially wondering if this number will increase in the coming year.
The government says there will be enough spaces in college and universities across the province to accomodate the extra students. Universities increased their acceptances for fall 2002 by 16 per cent, matching a 16-per-cent increase in the number of applicants. This trend is to continue for the coming year.
The public expects all qualified Ontario students will be able to find a place in an Ontario college or university of their choice. There will be spaces available, but not everyone will get into the school or program they want. Schools in Northern Ontario will have plenty of spaces available, however, most students don't want to live there.
Many students will be graduating with their younger siblings this year. This puts a strain on family finances, especially for families of students who do not qualify for OSAP.
Money is also of concern to students. They worry about qualifying for OSAP because of the money their parents earn. If they don't qualify, where will the money come from? They also worry about missing out on scholarships and bursaries because of the larger number of students applying for them. Many students don't think it's fair for younger students to be getting the scholarships they feel they should be getting.
The government is doing all that it can to reassure students and the public they have the double cohort under control. They point out that not all high school students go on to college and university. Some take a year or two off, or go directly into the workforce. Does this mean there could be a shortage of work as well because of the double cohort? This is just one more question students are stressing over.