Top Ten

March 18, 2010

UQAM student, mistaken for bomb suspect, blames racism for on-campus arrest

Slimane Zahaf, an Algerian-born Université du Québec à Montréal student, believes he was a victim of racial profiling when he was arrested, then released, Tuesday afternoon at UQAM on the mistaken impression he was a terrorist carrying explosives. A UQAM spokeswoman says school security received a report Tuesday afternoon of a person suspected of carrying a bomb, with the suspect described as a short-haired man wearing a long black coat. Approached in a line waiting to pay for an MBA course, Zahaf, wearing a medium-length black parka, was told by guards they were seeking a man in a black coat, and Zahaf responded that there were other people in the area wearing black coats and they weren't approached. The spokeswoman says Zahaf refused to show his student ID to security officials, describing his behaviour as "turbulent and agitated...aggressive and arrogant." Zahaf says 4 police officers jumped him and put him to the ground, with one officer pressing very strongly on the exact spot where he had a back operation several years ago. Zahaf says he was "humiliated" and is reconsidering his studies at UQAM. Montreal Gazette | Gazette video report

Postscript:  Mar 23, 2010
The Université du Québec à Montréal has raised concerns about local media's coverage of the brief arrest last week of a student following a report of a suspected bomber on campus. UQAM receives about half a dozen such reports each year, and takes each one seriously in light of tragic events that have occurred in the past at other Montreal post-secondary institutions. If the questioned student had identified himself when asked to do so, the scenario would have been different, writes Francine Jacques, UQAM's media relations director. The intervention was necessary becau se the university has a responsibility to protect students and staff when there is any type of threat or danger. UQAM strongly denies doing any type of racial profiling, and is proud of its excellent relationships with students and staff from different ethnic and social backgrounds. Read the statement on our website

Proposed alternative to PSSSP slammed

Several First Nation communities across the country oppose recommendations listed in a report by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, which suggests replacing the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, currently administered by Aboriginal bands, with a savings account. The First Nation groups refute the report's claims that First Nations sometimes choose which students get access to PSSSP funds based on nepotism, and whether the student lives on or off reserve. The Canadian Federation of Students says the report's recommendations would negatively impact access to PSE for Aboriginal students, and undermine the rights of Aboriginal governments by shutting them out of the decision-making process entirely. Nishnawbe Aski Nation News Release | Anishinabek Nation News Release | CFS News Release | Halifax Chronicle-Herald

Campus Saskatchewan to cease operations

Effective March 31, Campus Saskatchewan, a partnership between provincial post-secondary institutions and the advanced education ministry to support online and distance learning, will cease operations. The decision was made in early December by Campus Saskatchewan's board of governors, determining that the partnership had fulfilled its mandate. Information on online, televised, and off-campus face-to-face courses is available from the Saskatchewan Post-secondary Distance Education Directory, and transfer information is available from the Saskatchewan Online Transfer Guide. SPDED website

NB provides update on PSE reforms

According to a report released yesterday on the progress of the New Brunswick government's action plan on PSE, almost three-quarters of the plan's 33 action items have been or are being addressed, and over $275 million for capital improvements and post-secondary initiatives have been committed. Among the highlights listed in the report is the community college's movement towards 2 autonomous agencies. NB News Release | Read the progress report

HEQCO releases annual PSE review

In its annual review of PSE in Ontario, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario observes the province has made significant advances in PSE participation and compares favourably to its peers in OECD jurisdictions. Among the number of achievements highlighted in the report is that enrolment in Ontario's PSE system has grown significantly in the past several years. Based on projections, HEQCO expects that about 70% of 18- to 24-year-olds in the province will obtain a PSE credential. The review makes note of significant gaps in data which make research and decision-making difficult for government and post-secondary institutions. There are no official tallies of the number of first-generation or Aboriginal students enrolled in higher-education programs in the province, and without this information, it is impossible to calculate meaningful participation and graduation rates. HEQCO News Release | Read the report

CFS presents vision for Ontario-wide credit transfer system

In its sixth submission to Ontario's PSE Secretariat, the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students estimates that credit duplication as a result of incongruent systems cost students $40 million and the province $100 million annually. The report calls for a $45-million investment dedicated to supporting and expanding access for students transferring from a college or university. The chapter's chairperson says investments in a credit transfer system will encourage many people who need retraining, or those who have already finished some PSE, to return to the classroom and enhance their skills. CFS News Release | Read the report

McGill top Canadian university in US News rankings

McGill University has been named the top university in Canada in US News & World Report's World's Best Universities rankings, published last month. McGill is also the top Canadian institution for life sciences and biomedicine. The University of Toronto is the highest-ranking Canadian university for arts and humanities, engineering and IT, and natural and physical sciences. The University of British Columbia places first among Canadian institutions for social sciences. World's Best Universities rankings

uAlberta board to debate mental health policy

Later this month, the University of Alberta's board of governors will be asked to approve a mental health policy, under which students and staff are asked to report others on campus who display behaviour changes suggesting they could hurt themselves or others. The information would be evaluated by team, which would assess the reported individual and contact campus security if necessary. The individual will be offered psychological support, but the university cannot make someone see a psychologist. The initial version of the policy included a clause making reporting mandatory, but it was removed after the student union raised concerns about how it would affect relationships on campus. Although the board has yet to approve the policy, uAlberta is already following the guidelines, says the dean of students. CBC

Internet postings warns of another attack at Virginia Tech

Nearly 3 years after a mass shooting killed over 30 people, Virginia Tech officials are urging calm as e-mails and online postings originating in Italy warn of another attack at the university. While police do not believe the threats are credible, Virginia Tech's president issued a notice to faculty and students Wednesday that classes would be held yesterday as scheduled, with additional security on campus. Authorities believe the posts are from the same person who issued threats earlier this month and in October. State police and the FBI are assisting with the investigation. Letter from Virginia Tech president | Associated Press

Quiz reveals how Millennial you are

The Pew Research Centre offers a 14-question quiz that tells you where you rank on the generational timeline, from the Silent Generation to the Millennial Generation. The higher a person's score on the quiz, the more the person relates to Millennials. The centre recently released a report exploring the behaviours, values, and opinions of Millennials. Take the quiz | Quiz methodology