Top Ten

January 29, 2014

SMU football players suspended over alleged offensive Tweets

Saint Mary’s University has suspended 6 members of its football team for allegedly Tweeting racist, sexist and hateful messages, reports the Canadian Press. An SMU spokesperson said university officials have spoken to the students, and are attempting to confirm that the suspected students are the authors of the Tweets. SMU VP Academic and Research David Gauthier says the tweets are not consistent with the school’s values, adding that they are “completely inappropriate and unacceptable.” The issue was brought to light by a University of King’s College School of Journalism student publication, which wrote that the Tweets came from the football players’ accounts. The alleged offenses follow outrage triggered this past fall by an offensive frosh chant, which led to disciplinary action and an arms-length report on how to “prevent sexual violence and inspire respectful behavior and a safe learning environment.” Globe and Mail (Canadian Press)

McGill, students settle dispute over access to information requests

McGill University and a group of students have settled out of court their dispute over access to information requests, reports the Montreal Gazette. McGill, in early 2013, asked the province if it could reject future access to information requests from students who repeatedly demand information, saying the students who did so were disrupting university operations and abusing the system. A group of McGill students then challenged the request. This recent settlement means the university cannot stop future access requests from the students, while the students will have to drop or redraft some of their pending requests for information. McGill Secretary General Stephen Strople says the university is happy with the agreement because it means the student requests will be streamlined and that the university will be given a reasonable amount of time to produce the information. One of the students involved in the dispute, Kevin Paul, said, “We are satisfied McGill backed down on its motion to a great extent, but we’ll be happy when we see we have the documents in hand.” Montreal Gazette

Private developer forging ahead with controversial Guelph student housing complex

Mississauga-based developer Abode Varsity Living is developing detailed plans for a controversial new student housing complex just south of the University of Guelph, at the corner of Gordon Street and Stone Road. The city this past fall received a preliminary site plan that includes 5 towers ranging from 7 to 11 storeys high that are all linked together on the same expansive development site of some 17,000 square metres. Both UoGuelph officials and students have expressed concerns over the proposed complex. "This is a third-party development, thus student safety is a huge concern," says Tyler Valiquette, Local Affairs Commissioner of the UoGuelph Central Student Association. "Affordability is also a worry." When the project was given the green light in spring 2013, a university spokesperson said, “We’re concerned about shadow effect on our front entrance, we’re concerned about safety issues, cars and large volumes of people crossing an already busy intersection.” Abode’s plans will go to a municipal site plan review committee for consideration, and then the project can be considered for building permits. Guelph Mercury

Alberta colleges add $3.6 billion to province’s economy

Colleges in Alberta make a significant impact on the province, adding $3.6 billion to its economy in 2011-12 alone, reveals a study released this week by 8 Alberta colleges. The study also shows that attending college “pays huge dividends” for students who complete PSE, reduces costs for taxpayers, and boosts revenue for businesses who hire college graduates. It also reveals that students in the province receive an average internal rate of return of 20.8% on their educational investment; those who complete 2-year diplomas in Alberta will earn $43,700 at the midpoint of their careers, $14,700 more than someone with a high school diploma. The report uses data collected from the individual institutions, Statistics Canada, and the Alberta government. Colleges News Release

Conestoga closing ice rink to make room for new gym

Conestoga College is closing its Doon Campus ice arena on April 1 to make way for a new multi-million dollar triple gym and 10,000-square-foot workout facility set to open in fall 2015. Conestoga is currently receiving designs for the new complex, which is being developed in partnership with the college's student government. The institution, which has no varsity hockey program, decided to close the arena due to “the pricey prospect of replacing outdated ice-making equipment” and a student survey that revealed not many students wanted ice time, and many wanted more gym facilities. According to the Waterloo Region Record, construction on the new facility could begin as early as this summer. The Record

CBU faculty ratifies collective agreement

The Cape Breton University Faculty Association has ratified a new collective agreement for its members by 113 votes to 39 -- amidst strikes at both Mount Allison University and the University of New Brunswick. The ratification was a result of last-minute sessions held last week, with the help of a conciliator from the Department of Labour, to resolve issues with faculty teaching load and finances. Cape Breton Post

5 Canadian universities make FT global MBA rankings

The Financial Times has included 5 Canadian business schools in its 2014 Global MBA rankings, which is one less than in last year’s rankings. The uToronto’s Rotman School of Management comes in at number 51, with a 3-year average of 47, followed by YorkU’s Schulich School of Business (66), UBC’s Sauder School of Business (72), McGill’s Desautels School of Management (84) and WesternU’s Ivey Business School (89). To come up with the rankings, Financial Times uses a wide range of criteria including average salary after graduation, value for money and previous rankings. Financial Times

Website reveals students using dating sites to find “sugar daddy” tuition arrangement

A dating website recently ranked the fastest growing “sugar daddy” universities – those whose female students use to find older men who will help pay for their tuition. Website spokesperson Leroy Velasquez says the typical member is between 19 and 26 years old, that more than 425,000 Canadians are registered, and that out of those, more than 129,000 are university students. He adds that students generally receive approximately $3,000 per month from “benefactors.” The concept behind the site is a cause for concern for Dalhousie University Gender and Women’s Studies Coordinator Jacqueline Warwick. “I worry, naturally, some of the people involved may be getting themselves in over their heads into a dangerous situation,” says Warwick. “It sounds like something that’s fraught with possible danger. I don’t like the hierarchical setup of the sugar daddy.” Global News

US-sanctioned countries barred from certain MOOCs

Students from certain countries have recently found themselves blocked from US-based MOOCs as federal regulations became enforced by some of the course providers. The regulations prohibit US businesses from offering their services to sanctioned countries including Cuba, Iran, Syria and Sudan. Until recently, students with IP addresses from those countries were able to access the US courses. Coursera explained the change online, saying “The interpretation of export control regulations as they related to MOOCs was unclear for a period of time, and Coursera had been operating under one interpretation of the law. Recently, Coursera received a clear answer indicating that certain aspects of the Coursera MOOC experience are considered ‘services’.” A spokeswoman for Coursera said that the ban also extends to MOOCs created by institutions outside the US. An option for students from those countries who want to enrol in MOOCs is EdX, which has applied for and received special licenses to offer courses to Cuba and Iran. A third license for Sudan is being processed. Inside Higher Ed

Report calls for more relief from costly textbooks

A new report finds that US students will continue to struggle with the costs of textbooks unless those costs are lowered, despite recent initiatives taken to do so. The report, released by US consumer group U.S. PIRG, reveals that 65% of students say they had decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive, and that 95% of those students are concerned that this decision will impact their grade. Nearly half of students also reported that the cost of textbooks influences how many/which classes they took each semester. The report concludes that more should be done to lower the costs of textbooks for students, including adopting open textbooks. The authors also suggest publishers should develop new business models that can produce high-quality books without imposing excessive prices on students. U.S. PIRG News Release | Full Report