Top Ten

March 16, 2012

Student demonstrations affecting Montreal, says city councillor

Montreal's city executive-committee chairperson said Thursday that the city is bearing the financial brunt of student protests, and the situation cannot be permitted to go on. "I understand that people have the right to demonstrate, but we're talking about the...economic engine that is the city of Montreal," he said. "If these demonstrations continue, it's going to hurt industry, commerce, and people are going to be upset." The comments were made a few hours before the start of the annual march against police brutality. A joint protest by students against fee hikes and people against police brutality began at about rush hour Thursday. Police say more than 200 individuals were arrested and 10 officers were injured that night. The police response to student demonstrations have come under scrutiny following the March 7 protest where a CÉGEP student suffered a serious eye injury after apparently being struck by a police flash grenade. As class boycotts continue, many university and CÉGEP teachers are lending their support to strikers. Profs contre la hausse is a new teacher-oriented group dedicated to lending support to striking students and the cause of lower tuition fees. The group's action committee coordinator says he believe many instructors will participate in the major student rally planned for March 22. Montreal Gazette (City Councillor) | Canadian Press | Montreal Gazette (Anti-Police Brutality March) | Montreal Gazette (Teacher Support)

BC minister resigns from cabinet over leaked e-mail regarding news investigation into Eminata Group

Harry Bloy has resigned from his position as BC's minister of state for multiculturalism after leaking an e-mail to Eminata Group, the subject of a Vancouver Province news investigation. Bloy had come into possession of an e-mail the Province sent to the Ministry of Advanced Education seeking comment on Eminata founder Peter Chung. Bloy forwarded that message to Eminata, a provider of for-profit PSE in BC. Confirming Bloy's resignation during question period Thursday, Premier Christy Clark said that what he did was "not illegal, but wrong." NDP Leader Adrian Dix pressed the Liberal government in question period on Bloy's motivation to inform Eminata about the investigation, but the government was not forthcoming. NDP MLA John Horgan called on Advanced Education Minister Naomi Yamamoto to resign as well. Postmedia News reports that Chung is a frequent donor to the BC Liberals. Postmedia News

uWaterloo, WLU defend partnership with CIGI

Facing censure by CAUT, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University are defending their academic integrity with regard to their partnership with the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) on the Balsillie School of International Affairs. The universities point out that their senates recently passed a governance document, 2 years in the making, that directly addresses CAUT's concerns. The universities' respective provosts say the institutions have complete control over hiring faculty who may be eligible for CIGI-funded research chairs and extend the same protection and rights to those academics as all faculty members. WLU's provost says the threat of censure was "completely unwarranted" given the effort put into drafting a governing plan that ensures academic freedom. A CIGI VP says the think-tank has no veto over hiring and no motive to hamper academic freedom. Waterloo Region Record


Postscript (April 2, 2012): Former Dean joins voices defending CIGI deal:  Ken Coates, the former dean of Arts at the University of Waterloo, argues in a National Post op-ed that CAUT is misguided in its concerns about the agreements between the Jim Balsillie-funded think tank and YorkU, WLU and uWaterloo. Coates maintains that neither Balsillie nor CIGI staff members attempted to infringe on academic freedom, and that while “CAUT provides many valuable services to the Canadian academic community… the pursuit of the Centre for International Governance Innovation is not such a contribution.”  National Post

$1-million gift to uLethbridge helps establish health sciences professorship

The University of Lethbridge's Faculty of Health Sciences is the recipient of a $2-million endowment enabled by a $1-million donation from Spitz Sunflower Seeds founder Tom Droog, who received an honorary degree from uLethbridge in 2006. His gift will allow the institution to establish the Emmy Droog Chair in Complementary and Alternative Health Care -- the health sciences faculty's first endowed professorship. uLethbridge president Mike Mahon says the donation will be a unique complement to existing health sciences programs and will help the university to better serve its students and the community. uLethbridge News Release

Alternative Federal Budget calls for PSE act

In its 2012 Alternative Federal Budget (AFB), the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives states that in cooperation with the provinces, the government should implement a federal PSE act. Modelled after the principles of the Canada Health Act, the PSE act would be accompanied by a dedicated cash transfer with funding earmarked to immediately restore per-capita funding to 1992 levels; over 3 years, reduce tuition fees to 1992 levels; and over 5 years, eliminate deferred maintenance at colleges and universities. The AFB also outlines several actions in relation to financial aid, First Nations students, and university research. CCPA News Release | Alternative Federal Budget 2012

NBSA video features professionals, students highlighting importance of PSE investment

The New Brunswick Student Alliance has produced a video in which students and professionals state why it is important for the provincial government to invest in higher education. The video's cast, which includes a pair of former provincial cabinet ministers and UNB president Eddy Campbell, points to a skilled labour shortage, crumbling campus infrastructure, and the importance of students' contribution to research and innovation. Investing in PSE, says one student, would improve New Brunswick's image and attract knowledge from outside provincial borders. Campbell speaks to the benefits one reaps from PSE, such as better employability, higher wages, and higher job satisfaction. Pointing to New Brunswick's below-average PSE attainment rate and high tuition fees, the video ends with NBSA's president stating that an investment in PSE is what's best for the province. NBSA News Release | Video

York U campaign promotes summer course option

Toronto-area undergraduate students have a new option to fast-track completion of their degrees as part of York University's "This Summer, Choose York" initiative. The summer program is available to current York U undergrads, undergrads from other Ontario universities (who have a letter of permission from their home institution), and college and university students who want to transfer to York U. An awareness campaign on the summer program includes print and online ads placed in publications predominantly in the GTA. The campaign also includes inserts placed in 13 college and university newspapers in key catchment areas and Web banner ads rolled out on Facebook and other sites popular with students. The ad campaign builds on an earlier "Choose York" campaign that targeted mature and part-time students. Y-File | This Summer, Choose York

uOttawa runs animal therapy pilot to help reduce student stress

The University of Ottawa's Counselling and Coaching Service and Health Promotion offices are collaborating on an animal therapy pilot program for students. The program allows students who may be experiencing stress and anxiety to spend time with Tundra, a certified therapy dog with her own Twitter handle: @TundraDawg. The initiative was spearheaded by a School of Human Kinetics professor with a strong interest in animal therapy. Meanwhile, uOttawa's Student Academic Success Service office has launched the Peer Counselling Program to address students' increased demand for personal counselling. The pilot program provides students in need with a much less formal approach, chiefly peer counselling led by other students who themselves have overcome psychological issues. uOttawa News Release

SMU develops online sustainability dashboard

Saint Mary's University has launched a new Internet application with which people can see the institution's consumption of electricity, heat, and water in real time. "It's part of our ongoing commitment to sustainability," says an SMU official. "The energy dashboard has a level of transparency that is offered by a few organizations." The Sustainability Dashboard's main page features a campus map that identifies individual facilities and details total energy intensity. Users can click on any building on the campus map to produce a real-time display of the amount of water, heat, and electricity being consumed. The dashboard also provides historical data for any given facility or combination of buildings. This range of information makes the dashboard a useful research tool for both students and administrators. SMU News Release | Sustainability Dashboard

UTSC runs mobile app development competition for students

The University of Toronto Scarborough's new AppStar contest gives UTSC students an opportunity to turn good ideas into great mobile applications, with a chance to win cash prizes. The app must be developed for iOS and/or Android, and it has to demonstrably benefit students. Additional resources will be available during the contest, such as workshops on project planning, developing, and testing for iOS and Android. The deadline for proposal submissions is April 30. UTSC News | AppStar Competition