Top Ten

November 5, 2012

Mental health needs shortchanged at Alberta PSE schools, says ASEC

Alberta PSE institutions are not adequately equipped to respond to the increased student demand for mental health resources, according to the Alberta Students' Executive Council (ASEC). That was the message during the ASEC progress conference held over the weekend at SAIT Polytechnic. At Olds College, one staff member devotes just 10 hours a week to mental health issues for the college's 1,300 FTE students. Mount Royal University offers drop-in hours daily at its Health and Wellness Centre, but there the waiting list for appointments remains a few weeks long. Similar situations plague institutions across Alberta, according to ASEC, which decided this year that one of its major lobby positions will be on behalf of student mental health. With inadequate resources virtually across the board, ASEC will lobby for a new provincial fund, similar to the Mental Health Innovation Fund in Ontario. Calgary Herald

CLASSE disbands

On Saturday, a majority of members of CLASSE -- Coalition large de l'Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante -- voted to disband the Quebec student organization. Formed in December 2011 as a temporary alliance to fight planned tuition fee increases, CLASSE assembled at a conference at UQAM and members decided the time had come to dissolve the group. In a news release issued Saturday, CLASSE took credit for sparking a mass movement, and, ultimately, forcing an annulment of the tuition hikes and the repeal of Bill 78. "Throughout the strike, the associations that were members of the CLASSE did incredible work, while the CLASSE...not only blocked the tuition hike but defied the neo-liberal agenda behind this ideological choice," a CLASSE co-spokesperson said. She said ASSÉ -- L'Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante -- will remain a permanent fixture in student politics, as students prepare for Premier Pauline Marois's promised summit on PSE to be held within the next few months. Montreal Gazette

Ontario Liberal leadership candidate proposes "no-money-down" PSE

Glen Murray -- who resigned as Ontario's minister of training, colleges, and universities to enter to provincial Liberal leadership race -- is proposing a new low-interest, long-term tuition plan. "In partnership with private lenders, our plan will allow students to attend university with no money down," Murray said. "Instead, they can choose to borrow for each year of study up to $4,000 for college tuition and fees, $7,000 for undergrad tuition and fees, and not have to repay until they get a good job after graduation." Post-graduation, loan repayments and the interest rate applied would be on a sliding scale, depending on a graduate's income. Murray also proposed creating tax incentives so employers can assume an employee's student debt. Loans would be interest free during study and for 12 months after graduation, as well as during maternity or parental leave. A loan would be forgiven if someone became permanently disabled or, due to circumstances, were not able to repay it after 25 years. The Canadian Federation of Students argues that Murray's proposals would result in more students taking on larger debt loads and allow tuition fees to skyrocket. | CFS News Release

UOIT outlines space, IT, and graduate-allocation enhancements in draft SMA

In order to achieve the agenda set out in its proposed strategic mandate agreement, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology will require significant investment in its IT and physical infrastructure. UOIT says it needs at least 40,000 gross square metres of new space to support all forms of learning in small groups. The institution will also need to upgrade its IT infrastructure by developing and deploying a "cloud computing" IT delivery model to support advanced undergraduate and graduate learning strategies. UOIT has encountered significant challenges in growth at the graduate level "within a funding environment that was not designed to take into account the additional requirements of a new research intensive university." UOIT asks that consideration be given to boosting the graduate allocations to the institution to allow it to fully achieve the priorities of UOIT's draft SMA, which relate to approaches to student learning and engagement, as well as partnerships with Durham College and Trent University. UOIT News Release | UOIT SMA

Naming WLU business school a goal for new dean

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Micheál Kelly, the new dean of Wilfrid Laurier University's School of Business and Economics, said "naming the school has got to be one of the priorities." The school is in the range of $25 million to $30 million as a target for a naming gift, Kelly said. The University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management -- which Kelly headed for 10 years until 2010 -- was named in 2007 for $25 million. He thinks WLU's business school merits a value of approximately $30 million. "It is probably one of the last major unnamed Canadian business schools," Kelly said. "And this is one of the big ways that business schools can contribute to building an endowment." Globe and Mail

St. Clair looking to acquire another downtown building

St. Clair College is targeting another building in downtown Windsor, with hope for at least a couple of hundred more students coming into the city centre by next fall. St. Clair is looking for the municipality to donate the unidentified building, said college president John Strasser, who hopes the institution and the city can reach a deal in the coming weeks. The deal needs to be done by Christmas, Strasser said, so students can start using the facility next fall. He was speaking after the unveiling Friday of St. Clair's latest downtown addition, the TD Student Success Centre. The student centre is something Strasser sought ever since he first contemplated a downtown campus more than 5 years ago. "And it's just part of it, it's not the end of it, with the university coming on board (the U of W is bringing about 1,500 students and faculty to three renovated downtown buildings by 2014), and the college looking for more places in the downtown area," he said. The total number of students downtown will well exceed 2,000, which Strasser believes is the "critical mass" needed to jumpstart downtown revitalization. Windsor Star

Brock student union develops research grants program focusing on student life

The Brock University Students' Union (BUSU) has created a research grants program to provide funding for entrepreneurial students who submit proposals and implement projects to improve campus life, focusing on student services, experience, and/or the role of BUSU. The idea is to have fresh eyes observe what happens every day at Brock and in the students' union offices, said a BUSU representative. Under the program, students submit a research proposal outlining the topic, its potential impact on students, and how research will be conducted. Those presenting successful proposals immediately receive $500 for research support, and recipients then have 90 days to submit their final projects. Students whose projects get approved by BUSU when completed receive a $1,000 honorarium. BUSU will accept up to 3 proposals this academic year, and the program is open to undergraduate students only. Brock News | BUSU Research Grants Program

National Student Food Charter calls for healthy options at university campuses

Food activism got a boost on some campuses this past summer when 400 students from 25 Canadian universities gathered to develop a proposed National Student Food Charter pushing for healthy food choices on campus and the promotion of regional agriculture. The charter also calls on universities to purchase from local producers as much as possible, to encourage sustainable agriculture. Universities are a place of innovation, notes the charter, and should help develop regional food systems and assist in increasing local food supplies. The charter has been sent to campuses across Canada for review. Edmonton Journal

Profs enlist student spies to curb digital distraction in classroom

In one York University business professor's classroom, students pledge to spy on a classmate's laptop screen, if asked, and report truthfully what they see. While not against technology in learning, the professor says "our addiction to technology is like a powerful drug, and in my class, I want (students) to try to stay focused and able to learn." A University of Waterloo philosophy professor has banned laptops and cellphones for the past 2 years because he says brain research shows that even screen-savvy Millennials cannot multi-task as well as they believe they can. He has had graduate students watch his undergraduates' screens from the back row, only to find just 10% to 20% were open on class notes. "Since I banned laptops in class, I get twice as many compliments from students as complaints, because they say it’s less distracting for them. And I no longer face a wall of screens instead of students." It's "strange to ask classmates to turn each other in," says a College Student Alliance executive. "That's got to create an uncomfortable atmosphere between students." Toronto Star

90% of young Canadian surveyed stressed out in today's economy

90% of 18- to 24-year-olds are experiencing excessive stress and 72% of adults are feeling overwhelmed in the current economic climate, according to the third annual Sun Life Canadian Health Index. Finances and work life are cited as 2 of the biggest sources of anxiety for all the 3,113 Canadians surveyed. According to the index, 30% of respondents said they are underemployed, under-utilized, and unable to make full use of their skills and abilities. Underemployment is highest among young workers: 39% of 18- to 24-year-olds surveyed reported feeling under-utilized. 40% of long-term disability claims Sun Life receives from young people now relate to mental health, up from 36% five years ago. Sun Life's president calls the increase "extraordinary," and identifies lost productivity as one of many negative offshoots. Sun Life News Release | Globe and Mail | Index