Top Ten

March 2, 2012

John Abbott student seriously injured in on-campus attack

A John Abbott College student was scheduled to have reconstructive surgery on her hand Friday after an attack at the Montreal CÉGEP last Tuesday also left her with a serious head injury. The 21-year-old was heading to her vehicle in a campus parking lot when her attacker struck her head with a blunt object, says the victim's sister, adding that her sibling broke her finger while fighting off the attacker and that he calmly walked away as she lay on the ground. Another sibling says the parking lot is not monitored by a security camera, and the path where the attack happened is poorly lit -- something John Abbott disputes. A college official says a notice was sent Thursday to all students and staff advising them of the attack, which she says marks the first time the CÉGEP has been the scene of such a violent crime. "We feel the security we have is adequate," the official says, adding that the path where the student was targeted is well-lit, in an open area, and with an emergency phone nearby. Police are searching for a male suspect in his mid-20s, approximately 5'10'', who was wearing a short black jacket and black tuque and had a partial beard. Montreal Gazette

Former Mount Royal student president faces robbery charges

The Mount Royal University community is left stunned after Meghan Darcy Melnyk, a former students' association president, was accused of robbing a credit union branch last week. "It's obviously taken all of us by surprise," says Mount Royal president David Docherty. "It's clear that she's got larger issues she has to deal with and I really hope she does get the kind of help she needs." The robbery charges are the latest in the 27-year-old's criminal history, and come amid her sudden resignation as president in January. Police say Melnyk had outstanding warrants for fraud, uttering forged documents, and breach of probation when she was arrested. The fraud case entails a stolen purse and a fraudulent cheque. The students' association issued a news release on January 31 stating that Melnyk had left a week earlier following the first of 2 regular periodic reviews. The review "identified several potential anomalies and policy compliance issues for which Council was unable to receive a satisfactory explanation within a reasonable time frame." The association's VP external says a background check was not done before Melnyk was elected, and the association was not aware of her outstanding warrants. "I can't remember a situation like this ever happening in a Canadian university," says a Mount Royal professor who has met Melnyk. "I think the shock waves reverberate through the entire university and the student body. I'm sure (the students' association) is just scratching their heads." Calgary Herald

Protesters disrupt uAlberta ceremony honouring Nestlé executive

More than a dozen demonstrators clapped and chanted as Nestlé CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe stood Thursday in the Timms Centre to receive an honorary degree from the University of Alberta. In a brief protest, critics of the award rose from their seats as Brabeck-Letmathe was being introduced and called out as he started to speak about the honour. uAlberta's chancellor told protesters to "please respect university traditions and respect the people on stage." Protesters then were told to leave the centre, filing out without incident as the chancellor apologized for the disruption, an event "which is not what the university is about." uAlberta president Indira Samarasekera says the protest was "unfortunate" but did not mar the "excellent" speeches by the honorary degree recipients, who spoke about water being a human right and water waste. "The university should be a place of tolerance, of difference of opinion and of respect," Samarasekera says. "I think when things like this happen, it reflects poorly on the demonstrators -- I hope they were not our students; I would be disappointed if they were." More than 100 people gathered outside the centre earlier to protest the award for Brabeck-Letmathe, whose company has come under fire for years for dubious marketing practices for its infant formula in the Third World and child labour issues. A political science professor told the crowd the award could be seen as a sign of increasing corporate influence at uAlberta. Edmonton Journal

NIC practical nursing students struggling to pay $5,400 increase in program tuition

North Island College practical nursing students are struggling to come up with more money following an increase of approximately $5,400 in tuition fees for their program. The addition of new courses in the program, combined with a higher fee per credit, means that students who started the program in January and those set to begin this September are facing tuition fees of nearly $9,300, up from just under $3,900 a year earlier, as well as an additional year of study. The students learned of the fee increase in late November, meaning some had just over a month to adjust their plans. The NIC student union chairperson says the tuition increase is in direct contravention of the BC government's 2% fee increase cap for existing courses and it is presenting a hardship for students. Due to recent changes in the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of BC's training requirements, NIC has replaced its one-year practical nursing certificate with a 2-year diploma. The college has essentially declared the program "new," the student leader says, and so it qualifies for an institutional bylaw amended last year to allow for a 25% fee increase on all new upper-level courses introduced after August 15, 2011. The program is not new, but rather improved, argues the student leader, who says a fee increase to reflect the additional courses required would be acceptable, but points out that NIC is also charging 65% more per credit, even on classes that were part of the original one-year program. The board has acknowledged the financial burden the increased fees place on students. In response to students' concerns, board members said NIC had hoped to provide students considerable advance notice about the fee for the diploma program, but the advanced education ministry did not rule on whether it would qualify as a new program until mid-November, and the board moved quickly to set the tuition for the new program and inform applicants about the fee. The ministry is ultimately responsible for the situation as it holds the purse strings and has not allocated more funding for the program, which it allowed to be classified as "new," says the student union chairperson. Comox Valley Echo

York U guarantees academic freedom in approval of joint international law program with CIGI

A senior committee at York University has approved an initiative to launch a $60-million public-private partnership with Waterloo-based Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) for a joint program in international law. The plan includes new provisions addressing concerns raised by some law professors about York U's ability to keep research and hiring decisions free from potential interference by CIGI, whose founder and chair is BlackBerry co-founder Jim Balsillie. While the professors and the Canadian Association of University Teachers have expressed concerns that a York U-CIGI advisory committee would have a say in hiring and areas of research, the chair of York U's senate says the guarantee of academic freedom signed by the university and CIGI appeared to put to rest any such worries among committee members. The initiative to hire 10 research chairs and enrol 20 graduate students is to be funded by $30 million from the Ontario government and a further $30 million from CIGI when that runs out, plus up to $3 million fundraised by the university. Toronto Star

NBCC cuts 31 positions in restructuring

New Brunswick Community College is shedding 31 positions as the college network begins to centralize its administration. NBCC and its francophone counterpart have been operating independently of the provincial government for nearly 2 years and the anglophone network is in the middle of implementing a 5-year plan. NBCC president Marilyn Luscombe says the aim is to move toward one central college office rather than spread the administration over the 6 campuses. HR and registrar positions, IT, finance, and student services are all being centralized. Although 31 positions have been cut, no one has been laid off. The realignment will not change the level of education students receive in the classroom, Luscombe says. CBC

UBC business school celebrates $70-million expansion

On Thursday, the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business unveiled its new home at the Vancouver campus. The $70-million revitalization and expansion will allow Sauder to become a global hub for business education, adding 55,000 square feet to the original 216,000-square-foot facility. The redevelopment of the Sauder complex includes a new facility for the Robert H. Lee Graduate School, a dedicated undergraduate centre, a spacious rooftop conference centre, and 3 new lecture theatres. Other enhancements include revitalized classrooms, state-of-the-art learning and videoconferencing technology and new environments for student collaboration and study. UBC News Release

SAIT to open culinary campus downtown

SAIT Polytechnic is building a satellite campus in downtown Calgary that will serve as a living classroom for students in the Baking and Pastry Arts and Professional Cooking programs. Scheduled to open this fall, the 10,000-square-foot campus will allow SAIT to enrol more students in these 2 wait-listed programs, 100% of whose graduates find work in their fields, SAIT data show. Students will get the chance to work directly with a customer base vital to the industry -- downtown clientele -- as they will be able to sell their products in a small market attached to the campus' kitchens. The downtown culinary campus will also offer continuing education classes and corporate team building exercises. SAIT News Release

Trent to sell surplus endowment lands

Trent University's board of governors has approved plans to sell property the institution owns in Woodland Acres to facilitate more capital developments on the East Bank of the Peterborough campus and to develop lands at Armour and Nassau Mills Roads as first envisioned as part of the initial planning for Trent. Stressing that the lands have no long-term, strategic value for the institution and are better suited for alternate residential and commercial purposes, Trent president Steven E. Franklin says the decision to sell the surplus parcels of lands was a strategic one to maximize the value of the endowment lands "in order to generate new revenues that will enhance infrastructure on the East Bank of our campus and bring the services our students and members of the broader community desire." Franklin says Trent will consult broadly as it begins an integrated planning and consultation process to engage the community in this planning. Trent News Release

Dal contest invites students to design mobile app for university

Dalhousie University's Faculty of Computer Science is organizing a Dal App Challenge, with $1,500 in prizes available to students in all faculties interested in designing and pitching -- either individually or in groups -- a mobile application that meets a perceived need on campus. The competition will be judged, Dragon's Den style, by Dal's provost and VP of finance and administration. The first- and second-place winners will be announced at an event on March 28, and the People's Choice Award will be determined by vote at the ceremony. Dal News | The Dal App Challenge