Top Ten

May 30, 2008

York students ban pro-life groups

York University's Federation of Students has tabled a ban on pro-life clubs. Student clubs will be free to discuss abortion in student space only within "a pro-choice realm," and all clubs will be subject to investigation to ensure compliance. York's administration says the decision is against the university's mandate, and is disappointed the policy is being announced during the summer when virtually all students have left campus. The policy follows recent abortion debates on Canadian campuses. Earlier this year, York's student government cancelled an anti-abortion event to be held on campus. National Post

Postscript: July 3, 2008:

A pro-life student group at York University has filed a complaint under the university's code of conduct over the York Federation of Students' recent motion to deny support or space to "anti-choice" groups. Students for Bioethical Awareness also claims the student government's cancellation of an on-campus abortion debate violated their rights. Another contentious issue, according to the group, is the university's membership in the Canadian Federation of Students, which expressed "explicit support" of the YFS ban.  National Post

McGill policy said to restrict student entrepreneurship

Freelance writer Christopher DeWolf takes McGill University to task in the Montreal Gazette for not supporting student businesses on campus. McGill has a policy prohibiting student associations from competing with the school's own business ventures, including cafeterias operated by licensees. Such a policy threatened closure of the student-run coffee shop, now overseen by a central food services manager. Dewolf says McGill's policy is depriving students "of the best kind of entrepreneurial opportunities that would enrich their university experience." Montreal Gazette

Laurier supports student accused of terrorism

Staff, professors and students from Wilfrid Laurier University strongly support the decision to give a prestigious entrepreneurship award to a student accused of acts of terrorism. MBA student Suresh Sriskandarajah faces extradition to the US next year on charges of terrorism, laundering money and smuggling goods to Sri Lanka, and is accused of having ties to the Tamil Tigers. Laurier's business school dean says Sriskandarajah deserves the CIBC Leaders in Entrepreneurship award because he's an "exemplary role model on all levels." Friends say the charges against him are groundless. Tamil students at neighbouring uWaterloo were cleared of similar charges last February. Cord Weekly (student newspaper)

St. Lawrence College announces offshore wind power training

On Wednesday, Trillium Power Wind Corporation announced a bilateral agreement with St. Lawrence College to establish a series of training and educational programs that will assist in the development of onshore and offshore wind developments in the country. Once the programs have been established, SLC will be the only college in North America to offer a comprehensive series of courses for maintaining offshore, near-shore and onshore wind developments. SLC Campus News

Lethbridge College introduces FNMI Transition Program

Lethbridge College has launched a new program to help First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth who face challenges in accessing PSE. With help from the RBC Foundation, the FNMI Transition Program will provide 12 students with a $3,000 scholarship, as well as courses to ease the students' transition to college. The program involves 3 stages: courses introducing students to college life, skills and attitudes required for college success, and leadership skills. Lethbridge College News

Ontario boys lag girls in Grade 10 literacy test

While 84% of Grade 10 students passed this year's Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test, students in applied programs, new English speakers and special needs students are lagging behind. However, each of these groups has made significant improvements in the last 5 years. 62% of students in applied-level English courses passed the test, compared to 49% in 2003. In the last 5 years, success rates for ESL and special need students jumped 17% and 6%, respectively. Boys still lag behind girls in reading and writing skills. Toronto Star | Globe and Mail | EQAO News Release

US campuses alter safety procedures following Virginia Tech

A study from the Midwestern Higher Education Compact found that, in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, most US colleges and universities have reviewed or altered their campus safety procedures. But campus leaders generally rejected changes to admissions or policies which could affect campus culture or infringe on students' rights. While half of respondents considered installing metal detectors or closed-circuit security cameras, most schools decided not to go that route. 14% considered background checks on applicants, but then rejected the idea. Inside Higher Ed

Data-mining used to improve US college retention

Several US colleges and universities are mining student data in an effort to improve retention. These data-mining projects assess risk based on GPAs, standardized test scores, contribution and access to course websites, and dining hall attendance. Students identified as at-risk for dropping out are contacted about receiving assistance. Some universities have made policy changes based on data-mining. For example, the University of Alabama began requiring first-year students to live on campus after research showed off-campus freshmen were more likely to drop out. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

US colleges shorten schedules to reduce commuting

Several PSE institutions in the US are modifying class and work schedules because of soaring gas prices. A couple of universities are offering employees the chance to work four 10-hour work days, which would not only save workers gas money, but also reduce schools' electricity costs. A number of community colleges, especially those serving low-income students who need to commute by car, are reducing their academic weeks to 4 days so students can save money and not feel the need to drop out due to high gas prices. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) | Inside Higher Ed

US colleges can buy addresses of low-income students

The College Board has set up a pilot project selling names of students living in low-income areas or attending low-income high schools. The board will not sell information about family income, after concerns schools were using the information to target high-income applicants. The experiment comes at the request of colleges seeking new ways to reach low-income students. Educators say there is a misconception among low-income students about the availability of financial aid, and recruiters want to contact prospective students directly to deliver information focused on their economic situation. Inside Higher Ed | Chicago Tribune