Top Ten

November 30, 2012

York U students raise concerns of racial profiling at campus safety forum

At York University's inaugural President's Open Forum on Campus Safety Thursday, some students alleged racial profiling at the hands of Toronto police. The York United Black Students' Alliance's president said uniformed officers -- whose presence has increased at the Keele campus in response to recent crimes on university property -- have stopped black male students who don't match the height descriptions of the suspects in these cases. The issue of racial profiling is "very important," said York U president Mamdouh Shoukri. "It is deep. It is serious. And it is real." A Toronto police officer who was a panellist at the forum said he was unaware of the racial profiling allegations, and encouraged students to provide police with information about the incidents. At a student rally the day before the forum, participants were divided on the idea of boosting police presence on campus. Suggestions at the rally included setting up a police station right on campus and having security services headquarters in all major campus facilities. While York U has been in the spotlight in recent months due to a series of sexual assaults -- including an incident reported Thursday afternoon -- university officials at the forum said the incidence of "crimes against a person" on campus was about 2 per 1,000 in 2011, approximately one-fifth that in the city of Toronto. York U has committed more than $10 million to safety and security-related expenses this year. Some of the latest developments include adding new exterior emergency phones and cameras, hiring a sexual assault prevention officer, and retraining all York U security staff. President's Open Forum on Safety | Toronto Star (forum) | Toronto Star (assault) | Maclean's On Campus

Independent body to oversee Quebec universities proposed at pre-summit workshop

A workshop on quality in education opened in Quebec City Thursday night in a lead-up to the province's Summit on Higher Education in February. Among the groups who presented position papers last week was Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec, whose principal recommendation is to create a Commission d'évaluation des universités to decide how universities spend money. The Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities has made a similar recommendation, proposing the creation of a Conseil des affaires universitaires québécoises. CREPUQ's brief says university leaders believe that major projects related to teaching quality, Quebec's ability to compete in research, and the contribution of universities to Quebec society require a permanent structure to oversee them. Montreal Gazette (Nov. 29) | Montreal Gazette (Nov. 30) | FEUQ News Release (in French) | CREPUQ News Release (in French)

UVic president researches turnover of university presidents in Canada

At the annual Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada membership meeting last spring, University of Victoria president David Turpin presented some initial research for his "Canadian University Presidents Project," which looked into unexpected departures of university presidents in recent years (Between 2005 and 2010, a dozen leaders left within 3 years of their appointments). A lack of experience could be playing a role in the turnover. Turpin's findings indicate that a current serving president had, on average, 3.6 years of experience in 2010, compared to an average of 4.9 years in 2004. Turpin hypothesizes several reasons for the early departures: the president's role has become more complex; the pool of candidates has declined; there has been an increase in "external" appointments; the use of search consultants may decrease board engagement; and board activism has increased. University Affairs' Léo Charbonneau notes the generational turnover continues. In an October 2009 blog post, he wrote that 53 university leaders (out of a total 94 AUCC member institutions) were currently serving a first term. Charbonneau has rechecked those numbers, and since the beginning of 2009 there have been 49 new presidents appointed (out of 95 member schools). Margin Notes | Turpin Presentation

Sheridan proposes Centre of Excellence for Creative Innovation

In its draft strategic mandate agreement, Sheridan College outlines its commitment to establish a Centre of Excellence for Creative Innovation, which "will have a profound impact on our communities through the creative leadership and engaged citizenship of our students." Among the key features is a creative course in every program. As stated in the college's submission, "Sheridan will institute a five-year organization-wide transformation that will support the incorporation of creative thinking competencies across all programs by providing opportunities for students to engage in the study of creativity as a disciplinary subject." Sheridan SMA

uWindsor Strategic Priority Fund to consider applications for new academic appointments

In an e-mail update to faculty and staff, University of Windsor president Alan Wildeman announced the 2013-14 Strategic Priority Fund will consider applications for new academic appointments for the first time. The change was made in response to undergraduate enrolment growth and a desire to boost capacity for graduate enrolment. Wildeman wrote that the evaluation will be based partly on opportunities to build on projects supported by previous investments from the fund that may establish longer-term opportunities that support uWindsor's strategic plan. uWindsor Daily News | President's Update

StFX to offer Social Justice Colloquium for first-year BA students

St. Francis Xavier University has approved a new Social Justice Colloquium (SJC) to be offered to first-year arts students starting next September. Up to 40 students will be enrolled in dedicated sections of first-year anthropology, global history, and women's and gender studies courses. A core part of the SJC will be a course-based Service Learning experience the students will complete in the local community. Modelled after StFX's successful Humanities Colloquium, the SJC offers students an opportunity to start their academic life at the university with a cohort of like-minded students. If students choose, they can also opt to live in the same dorm as other SJC students. StFX News | Social Justice Colloquium

Western U student union pushes for elimination of weekend exams

Western University's University Students' Council (USC) is drafting a policy paper that would push the institution to eliminate weekend exams. "Many students work on weekends to support their education so weekend exams are just not convenient," says an executive of the USC, which is trying to work with administration to at least scale back the amount of weekend exams or exam timeslots, both during the midterm and final exam season. "We have to use every time slot that we've got to schedule exams and reduce conflict for students," says a Western U vice-provost. The institution needs to find time where students from different sections of a course can write the exam at the same time, says the vice-provost, and "the main times that students are going to be free are on the weekends." The USC executive says she would entertain the idea of baby steps, such as only eliminating Sunday exams. The vice-provost says Western U is considering all options. Western Gazette (student newspaper)

Dal opening "puppy room" to combat student stress

To help students cope with the stress of upcoming final exams, Dalhousie University will invite therapy dogs to campus for 3 days this week. To be provided by Therapeutic Paws of Canada (TPOC), the dogs will be housed in the student union building. A third-year student pitched the idea to the student union after learning of a similar initiative that took place last year at McGill. Due to overwhelming student support for its "puppy room" initiative, the student union is planning to add a shuttle to a nearby animal shelter to handle possible overflow. TPOC's team leader in Halifax says the organization's national office has received requests from several universities to do something similar. National Post | CBC | CTV

Ryerson students develop mobile phone format to broadcast university's hockey games

For their fourth-year practicum project, a team of 7 Ryerson University radio and television arts students created a mobile-optimized website dedicated to the institution's hockey team. In addition to featuring data on the team, the site provides live broadcasts of 3 full games that people can watch on their phone. The initial idea was to do a docuseries on Ryerson's basketball team in the style of "24-7," a US sports-oriented reality TV series. But as Maple Leaf Gardens reopens as a Ryerson athletic centre, and the students' academic program is focused on transmedia -- properties that move beyond one media -- they decided to develop the mobile-friendly site. "It's a commuter school, and with it, there's really not a way for fans to connect with the teams that you might get at a more traditional university, where it's a university town," says one of the students. Toronto Star | Ryerson Hockey Mobile

Scottish university uses reality TV to admit, offer scholarship to a student in Ghana

Robert Gordon University is in its second year of offering a scholarship as the top prize on "The Challenge," an "Apprentice"-style TV show organized by the British Council in Ghana. If contestants can overcome challenges such as designing a new logo for a school and producing a pop video, they have a shot at the fully-funded postgraduate degree at the Scottish institution, with the runner-up having their fees covered. Robert Gordon agreed to take part in the show to put across to Ghana the message that "higher education is good, it's fun, it's exciting," says a university official who is the "boss" on the show. However, as an added bonus, applications from Ghana to the institution have soared, he says. Times Higher Education | The Challenge Ghana