Top Ten

September 15, 2011

Canadian universities urged to take action in binge drinking

Following last week's binge drinking death of a 19-year-old male student at Acadia University, the director of the University of Victoria-based Centre for Addictions Research of BC is calling for action against binge drinking, suggesting more limited access at university bars, more monitoring from bartenders, and restrictions in residences. Some PSE institutions in Calgary, the deceased student's hometown, are ramping up efforts relating to alcohol awareness. The University of Calgary has implemented programs within dormitories that monitor the use of drinking, and employs student advisers within the dorms. The director of uCalgary's Wellness Centre says the centre embeds messages about responsible drinking in its wellness workshops. Next month SAIT Polytechnic's Student Counselling Services will set up an information booth on campus specifically to talk to students about destructive alcohol consumption. News1130 | Calgary Herald | The Weal (SAIT Students' Association newspaper)

MUNACA claims scab labour at McGill

Striking unionized non-academic staff at McGill University say some of their positions are being filled by strikebreakers -- some of them students -- and the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA) has asked government inspectors to investigate. University officials say McGill has not been found in violation of any labour laws. "We have been in full compliance with the inspections," says McGill's vice-principal of administration and finance. "Just because accusations are made doesn't mean it's true." The VP says managers are trying to replace striking workers and, in some instances, casual employees are used to fill in for managers. MUNACA's president says the union, which is in conciliation talks with the university, has received 48 reports of scab labour, which are under investigation. As for claims that students are being employed to replace striking staff, the union leader says students need to be aware that people can be fined for providing scab labour. Montreal Gazette

uManitoba math prof says degree fight about institution's integrity

At his grievance hearing Wednesday, University of Manitoba math professor Gábor Lukács testified that his efforts to force the institution to rescind a PhD awarded to a math student were made to protect the integrity of a uManitoba degree. Last fall Lukács was suspended without pay for 3 months for disclosing the personal information of the student, who had twice failed compulsory exams but was awarded a doctorate because he suffers from extreme exam anxiety. Lukács recently lost a court case on the PhD issue. He said uManitoba professors regularly talked about students' health and personal lives. He testified that when he was first reprimanded in December 2009, he was not aware of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Personal Health Information Act, and uManitoba's privacy policies. Lukács told the arbitrator that the university neither gave him the required privacy training nor had him sign a compulsory pledge of confidentiality. He will be cross-examined by a uManitoba lawyer on September 30. Winnipeg Free Press

George W. Bush's appearance at Tyndale cancelled

Next Tuesday's visit by former US president George W. Bush at an invitation-only breakfast hosted by Tyndale University College has been cancelled "due to a scheduling change," according to a brief posted on the school's website. The Toronto-based institution announced the cancellation Wednesday, the same day 3 former students initiated a petition calling on Tyndale to cancel Bush's appearance. Earlier this week a class valedictorian and a professor publicly spoke out against the visit following the resignation of another employee. Critics accused the institution of sacrificing its peaceful ideals to attract wealthy benefactors with the private event. Many students and graduates also complained they only learned about the high-profile appearance through the media. Tyndale website | Toronto Star | Petition website

Ontario NDP unveils PSE platform

Yesterday Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath outlined her party's $365-million plan for affordable higher education. Under the plan, an NDP government would freeze college, undergraduate, and graduate tuition fees over the next 4 years, as well as eliminate the interest on the provincial portion of student loans. The party also pledges to reimburse colleges and universities for the lost revenue through the provincial transfer system. Ontario NDP News | CBC

Demand leads to full residence at UNBC, overcapacity at UFV

A University of Northern British Columbia official reports that applications, admissions offers, and new student registrations are up 8.7%, 11.4%, and 12.6%, respectively, over last year. Another official says UNBC's residence is completely full for the first time in many years, and the institution has had to begin a waiting list. At the University of the Fraser Valley, where enrolment has increased every year for a decade, there are 6,340 fall registrants and nearly 5,800 students on waiting lists. Wait-list numbers at UFV are up 21% over last year and 50% from 2009. The institution, which has approximately 16,000 students, had to close its application deadline early. UFV's provost says the university expects to be 5% over the government-funded full-time equivalent student capacity this year. Vancouver Province

FCPP report finds no link between lower tuition, higher university participation levels among low-income youth

Using Statistics Canada data, a new Frontier Centre for Public Policy study observes no positive correlation across Canada's provinces between lower tuition fees and higher levels of university participation for young adults from low-income households. According to the report, in 2007, Ontario and Nova Scotia, where tuition is among the highest in Canada, had the very highest university participation rates for low-income youth at 42.5% and 42.7%, respectively. The low-tuition provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest rates of university participation in the country for youth from low-income families at 30.6% and 30.1%, respectively. Overall, the university participation rate for low-income youth in Canada was 36.6% in 2007, the most recent year for which this data is available. FCPP News Release | Read the report

NSCAD opens renovated Academy building

Earlier this month NSCAD University unveiled its renovated Academy building, a project that received a joint $4-million investment from the federal and Nova Scotia governments. Housing film students, the upgraded facility features new classrooms, screening rooms, editing and sound suites, and a spacious studio space. The Academy building is also home to CineFlux, an interdisciplinary research centre. The renovations made to the building "will ensure students have access to top of the line training facilities and will graduate with the skills needed to compete in (the audiovisual) industry," says the president and CEO of Film Nova Scotia. NSCAD News

uToronto's University College to offer first-year seminars

This fall the University of Toronto's University College will join Victoria and Trinity Colleges in providing students with a more personal student experience. The college's new UC One program entails a suite of courses that gives first-year students the opportunity to complement their large lecture courses in other subjects with a small seminar. Students in UC One take one of 4 full-credit courses that comprise the initiative, on top of 4 other courses from offerings available to first-year arts and science students. With the seminars' intake capped at 25 students each, they are small enough "to help students to develop strong critical and writing skills, intellectual independence and creative imagination." The program will focus on Toronto and how university-based research and study influence the city. uToronto News

Queen's AMS video urges students to avoid Aberdeen Street

Queen's University's Alma Mater Society has produced a video featuring a group of alumni -- including former Speaker of the House of Commons Peter Milliken and Globe and Mail editor-in-chief John Stackhouse -- who say they "want to come home," meaning that they want fall Homecoming back. In 2008, then-principal Tom Williams announced the shifting of fall Homecoming to the spring for 2 years in order for Queen's to focus its efforts on terminating the unsanctioned Aberdeen Street party. Last November principal Daniel Woolf announced the move would be extended for another 3 years due to the continued occurrence of the illegal street party. With conversations about "fauxcoming" appearing on social networks, the video ends with a plea to students, asking them to avoid Aberdeen this fall. Kingston Herald