Top Ten

November 16, 2011

uCalgary ban on distributing anti-gay pamphlet violated man's rights, judge rules

A Provincial Court of Alberta judge has ruled that an Edmonton man's charter rights to freedom of expression was violated when he was charged with trespassing for handing out anti-gay flyers at the University of Calgary in July 2008. The judge issued a judicial stay on the trespassing violation, as well as lifted an indefinite ban against the man from setting foot on campus, which stemmed from a similar incident in January 2005 when the man was cited for distributing anti-abortion leaflets. A uCalgary spokesman says the institution has not yet seen the ruling, but "our legal folks will review it and try to decide if anything is there that may impact our operations." Calgary Herald

Windsor mayor threatens to withdraw $10-million pledge to uWindsor

Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis has threatened to revoke the municipality's $10-million pledge to the University of Windsor's planned downtown facilities. The mayor says the funding may not be available much longer if the institution does not begin the redevelopment of the Windsor Armouries, the future home of uWindsor's schools of music and visual arts. Francis suggests the slow place could be detrimental to other future downtown developments. Stating that significant progress has been made, uWindsor president Alan Wildeman also cautions that moving entire faculties, including thousands of students and staff, and developing new programs with upgraded equipment do not happen overnight. Wildeman says the institution is committed to the amoury and is working to complete its review of the Windsor Star building, which the school of social work is eyeing. CBC | Windsor Star

Unstable economic climate leading to contentious bargaining in PSE sector

A weakened economy and tightening provincial budgets in some regions of Canada have led to contentious negotiations this fall, with labour unrest emerging at PSE institutions. Ongoing and resolved strikes this fall include those at Ontario colleges, SIAST, the University of Western Ontario, Brandon University, McGill University, and the Université de Sherbrooke. In a time of curbed government spending, pension plan shortfalls, and an anticipated slowdown in enrolment growth, "university administrations are looking around and they’re just not seeing rosy budget numbers ahead" says a Carleton University economics professor. While the number of contracts up for negotiation is consistent with that of other years, "in difficult times like this bargaining is more difficult for both sides," says CAUT executive director James Turk. The main sticking point in many of the labour disputes is wages and salaries, and employer demands for higher pension contributions from staff. With the weak economy having reduced unions' negotiating power in many sectors like PSE, faculty salaries and other benefits of academic life will continue to come under pressure in coming years, predicts the Carleton professor. University Affairs

BC budget committee recommends creation of upfront grants program

In its report on budget consultations, BC's Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services recommends the province establish a system of upfront, needs-based grants to ensure success for students at all socioeconomic levels. The committee also suggests lowering student-loan interest rates to the same national ranking as provincial tuition fees -- i.e. middle of the pack. Other recommendations include reviewing the application of accounting standards to colleges and universities, compiling a BC-wide inventory of current and future PSE infrastructure maintenance needs, continuing to fund graduate seats and supporting a BC graduate fellowship program, and recommitting to the MOU the province signed with Simon Fraser University in 2006 to double the size of SFU's Surrey campus from 2,500 to 5,000 full-time equivalent students. CFS-BC News Release | Report on the Budget 2012 Consultations

NBSA concerned about New Brunswick's university funding agreement negotiating process

The New Brunswick Student Alliance is concerned about the provincial government's plan to impose a 4-year funding arrangement on public universities. The organization states that originally, negotiations were to take place between university administrators and the province; however, it is now not clear what process is being used to establish the funding arrangement. In a document sent to the province last week, the NBSA calls for student representation at funding negotiation meetings. The alliance also calls for a more inclusive and transparent process regarding the development and implementation of key performance indicators, which will be included as part of the funding arrangement. NBSA News Release | Read the document

Carleton receives strong marks in NSSE

According to the 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), 85% of responding first-year students and 82% of final-year students at Carleton University rated their overall experience at the university as either "good" or "excellent." The institution's results were higher than the Ontario average (excluding Carleton) of 81% of first-year students and 77% of final-year students. When asked about the emphasis their university put on providing support to succeed academically, 76% of first-year Carleton students said "very much" or "quite a bit," compared to a provincial average (excluding Carleton) of 71%. 82% of first-year students rated the quality of academic advising at Carleton as "good" or "excellent," compared to the Ontario average of 75% (excluding the university). Overall satisfaction levels for Carleton were higher than in the previous NSSE in 2008. Between 2008 and 2011, "excellent" ratings by responding first-year Carleton students rose from 29% to 34%. Carleton News Release

McMaster free lecture program introduces children to university experience

Children & Youth University is a new pilot program at McMaster University consisting of 5 free Saturday-morning lectures aimed at 8- to 12-year-olds, with the goal of educating them on appealing topics while introducing them to the university experience. The interactive lecture sessions will cover a wide range of subjects, including Aboriginal contributions to Canada, perceptions of disability, the human body, the importance of children, and the 1918 flu epidemic. Program organizers hope it will hold particular appeal to children whose families have never been exposed to higher education. The idea for the program comes from Europe, where university programs designed for children have been popular and effective. McMaster News Release

Mohawk College board approves environmental management plan

Mohawk College is the first Ontario college to implement a comprehensive environmental management plan that sets substantial carbon emission reduction targets. Last week, Mohawk's board of governors voted unanimously to adopt the plan, which commits the institution to a 20% reduction of 2007 baseline carbon emissions by 2020, exceeding both provincial and federal targets. The plan outlines 8 pillars representing key areas of focus and support for cutting carbon emissions: alternative energy; change management; facility operations and future buildings; local food and health and wellness; procurement; tracking, reporting, and communications; transportation and vehicle emissions; and waste management and paper consumption. Mohawk College News Release

$1-million donation to UBC funds online youth mental health outreach and research

Yesterday the University of British Columbia announced a $1-million gift from Bell to establish the Bell Youth Mental Health IMPACT Project, which will allow university researchers to conduct mental health outreach to youth in need. As part of the project, researchers will create a mental health Web portal that provides educational and self-assessment tools, automated feedback, a list of treatment options, advice on accessing services, and coping techniques. Additional features, such as video-conferencing and social media tools, will be introduced in the future based in research into the effectiveness of this outreach model. UBC News Release

uLethbridge, uSask business schools launch student-managed investment funds

On Tuesday, the University of Lethbridge's Faculty of Management launched its Student-Managed Investment Fund, a $100,000 real-money account provided for investment by finance students. The faculty has provided the initial $100,000 seed capital for the fund, which will be invested under the direction of the academic director of the university's Centre for Financial Market Research and Teaching. In addition to the academic director's supervision, guidance on training activities will come from an advisory board composed of faculty members, external investment professionals, and legal experts. Earlier this month, the University of Saskatchewan's Edwards School of Business launched the George S. Dembroski student-managed portfolio trust, which was established with a portion of a $1-million donation from Dembroski. A portion of the income students earn will be reinvested into the portfolio, with the remainder to go toward providing benefits to Edwards' students. uLethbridge News | uSask News Release