Today's Top Ten

October 16, 2019

Vote on Campus initiative sees 60% increase in on-campus voting

Elections Canada has reported that its Vote on Campus initiative garnered nearly a 60% increase in ballots compared to the last federal election. The initiative enabled anyone to vote at special on-campus election offices over a period of five days last week. During the pilot of the program in 2015, Elections Canada set up offices at 39 campuses and received 70,000 ballots. This year, the program was implemented at 99 postsecondary campuses across Canada and received 111,300 ballots. Spokesperson for Elections Canada Dugald Maudsley told The Star that the increase in votes can be attributed to more polling places, outreach by Elections Canada, and grassroots student initiatives. Toronto Star (National)

AB MacKinnon Report fuels debate on performance-based funding, university autonomy

Alberta’s MacKinnon blue-ribbon panel has recommended that the province adopt performance-based funding incentives for K-12 and postsecondary institutions in order to help balance the provincial budget. The panel proposed that performance-based funding would likely involve setting requirements for institutions to provide training to students based on labour market needs. Although studies on the success on performance-based funding in the US have shown mixed results, there is some consistency in identifying the new problems that this mode of funding creates, such as individual and institutional attempts to cheat the system. University of Alberta Professor Darryl Hunter argues that the performance-based funding debate ultimately boils down to the question of university autonomy. Edmonton Journal (AB)

Canadore creates food development site, supports food sovereignty for Northern communities

Canadore College has announced the creation of a sustainable food development site that will support food security in rural and remote Northern communities. To be delivered in November, the project will employ four zero-carbon grow pods from EnerDynamic Hybrid Technologies Corp that will support research and academic training. Later, the site will be used to promote social innovation, entrepreneurship, and food sovereignty for Northern communities. “These pods can offer a year-round alternative for Northern communities to grow and purchase nutritious produce at a reasonable price,” says Canadore VP of Enrolment Management, Indigenous, and Student Services Shawn Chorney. Canadore | NationTalk (ON)

ON Divisional Court panel hears arguments on legality of Student Choice Initiative

A Divisional Court panel that recently heard arguments from The Canadian Federation of Studies and York Federation of Students has reserved judgment in the case against the Ontario government’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI). Lawyers representing the student organizations argued that SCI is a “politically motivated attack” that unduly targets student unions and services while endangering university independence. Some advocates also presented arguments in favour of SCI, including a lawyer for the Jewish human-rights group B’nai ‘B’rith Canada who called SCI “measured.” Others argued that the policy threatens services for vulnerable students. "Students are often targeted for major cuts," said Canadian Federation of Studies representative Kayla Weiler. "Even if you're a student that's never set foot on campus, you benefit from the advocacy." Hamilton Spectator (ON)

Yes, higher ed can change a person with racist views: Opinion

How can postsecondary experiences change racist perspectives? asks Eboo Patel. Drawing on one student’s experience detailed in Eli Saslow’s book, Rising Out of Hatred, Patel describes how a figure who was central to the white nationalist movement transformed his racist views during his time at a US college. While the student experienced ‘call-out’ and ‘cancel’ culture from his fellow peers, such as being shunned because of his vocal racist views, the student also experienced ‘call-in’ culture: invitations from racialized students to dinners and education on the history of race and racialization. Ultimately, the student publicly apologized for his racist views on a campus email forum and wrote op-eds for The New York Times disavowing white nationalism in the wake of the Trump election. “All of this, because of a college campus,” the author concludes. Inside Higher Ed (International)

ON colleges starting to see effects of loan program changes

Ontario colleges are starting to feel the impact of changes made to the Ontario Student Assistance Program that came into effect this fall. Released in January, changes to OSAP by the provincial government included: the elimination of the interest-free, six-month grace period on the repayment of the provincial portion of student loan; a restriction on loan applicants whose parents make more than $140K per year; and a reduction in grant amounts for low-income families. Fleming College president Maureen Adamson states that it is too early to determine the full extent of the changes, but notes that there has been a decline in the number of returning domestic students that is being offset by growing international enrolments. MyKawartha.com (ON)

BCIT launches new centre to promote ecologically sustainable cities

The British Columbia Institute of Technology has opened the Ecocity Centre of Excellence to provide research and training that will enable cities to become ecologically sustainable. The centre aims to help cities and their partners become “ecocities,” or human settlements inspired by the self-sustaining, resilient structure of natural ecosystems. “There are few more pressing issues today than helping humanity find ways to lighten its ecological footprint and live within the planet’s ecological carrying capacity, said BCIT President Kathy Kinloch. “The BCIT Ecocity Centre of Excellence will contribute applied research, tools and training to help cities, in Canada and around the world, meet this essential challenge.” BCIT (BC)

Working across generational differences in higher ed: Opinion

How can members of different generations work better together in higher education? ask Janni Aragon, Lee Skallerup Bessette, and Yves Salomon-Fernandez. Three potential areas for improvement could be establishing a good peer support group, keeping notes of happenings between personnel, and participating in professional development opportunities. One author notes the importance of developing patience, empathy, and active listening to create a thriving intergenerational work environment. Another adds that while baby boomers could benefit from millennials’ tendency toward fast-paced change, millennials might also learn from baby boomers’ deliberation and thoughtfulness. “We [...] need to differentiate, step back, and allow the voice of the most appropriate generational representative to supersede others when that is the solution called for by a particular problem,” conclude the authors. Inside Higher Ed (International)

Tips for managing contracts in higher ed

“Effective contract management [in higher education] means doing three things well: 1) investigation of the options; 2) negotiation of the contract terms, and; 3) management of the implementation of the contract,” states Cheryl Foy. The author notes that while some institutions excel at contract management, many will sometimes use staff untrained in this area to handle complicated legal affairs. The author provides five tips for managing the complexity of the contracting process in higher ed: attain legal advice; do one’s due diligence on the background of the person or entity providing the goods or service; involve skilled and committed negotiators; and discuss how contract implementation will be managed. “Understanding the complexity of effective contract management and accepting that it is important to do it well is the first step,” concludes Foy. University Affairs (National)

Algonquin partners with The Royal to extend mental health services

Algonquin college has partnered with The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre to provide students and employees with new mental health resources. The collaboration will enable students to access mental health services such as psychiatry clinics and psychological therapy groups from their homes. The partnership will also enable Algonquin employees to receive professional development and training from The Royal. The two institutions will also present a mental health education series in April 2020. “The mental health of our learners and employees is a top priority for us and so we are very proud to collaborate with The Royal,” said Algonquin President Claude Brulé. Algonquin (ON)