Top Ten

March 18, 2014

uRegina apologizing for culturally inappropriate team photo

Coaching staff at the University of Regina are apologizing for a photo taken during an event in which some members of the university’s cheerleading team dressed in inappropriate “cowboys and Indians” costumes. uRegina President Vianne Timmons said in a statement that she has “taken immediate steps to address this with the team's coach, who has apologized for the team's actions.” Timmons explains that the team’s coaches and organizers will have to speak to the University's Executive Lead on Indigenization, which will then determine whether further disciplinary actions are required. The team will, however, be directed to take sensitivity training, says Timmons. She adds, “On behalf of the university, I want to apologize for this incident. In particular, I want to apologize to all people of Aboriginal ancestry associated with this university. They have a right to expect better of our institution.” CBC News | Timmons Statement

Police arrest 6 people in connection with YorkU shooting

Police last week charged 6 people in connection with the shooting at York University on the night of March 6, in which one woman was shot in the leg and another injured by shrapnel. A 22-year-old man was allegedly carrying a gun that accidentally discharged in the crowded YorkU student centre around 10:45 p.m. He faces 17 charges, including discharging a firearm, careless use of a firearm, and aggravated assault. Police have since searched a home in connection with the man, and have arrested 3 other men and 2 youth on various firearm and drug charges. YorkU President Mamdouh Shoukri has thanked the Toronto Police Services for its “swift response to this disturbing incident,” and York Security Services for “assisting in the investigation and cooperating fully with police.” Shoukri also continues to offer support to the 2 injured YorkU students and their families. Shoukri Statement | Toronto Star

uWindsor students vote out student alliance executive, board of directors candidates

University of Windsor students have voted down uncontested candidates who were running for the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance executive and board of directors positions, reports the Windsor Star. A student-led Facebook group called “Vote None of the Above for all UWSA Executives and Board of Directors” had raised concerns about the UWSA executives who were running uncontested. “I didn’t see this coming,” says UWSA President Rob Crawford. “The ‘None of the Above’ campaign popped up on Facebook not even a week ago, but it clearly gained a lot of momentum. I think the students are sending a message to the UWSA that they’re not happy.” Crawford plans to call a meeting with his fellow executives early this week to set out a plan of what can be done while he and the others still hold their positions. While a full-time staff oversees many UWSA’s day-to-day operations, Crawford says “it’s not clear what this means in terms of setting a budget for next year because you need a board to set the budget.” He says the executive will be speaking to legal counsel to see what can be done. Windsor Star

Capilano Students’ Union urging students to vote against CFS membership

The Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) is encouraging students to vote “no” in a referendum to determine whether or not to continue membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and the Canadian Federation of Students-British Columbia (CFS-BC). The referendum was triggered by a petition signed by over 1,100 Capilano University students for a vote on CFS-BC membership, and over 1,700 students for a vote on CFS membership. Currently, Capilano students pay the organizations more than $100,000 collectively per year. “The variety and quality of CSU services has left some students asking if CFS and CFS-BC membership is worth the cost,” reads a CSU news release. Students at several other PSE institutions in the country have launched similar petitions against CFS and CFS-affiliate membership. CSU News Release

Cape Breton population decline driven by young people

The Cape Breton region is grappling with a population decline of 1% each year over the past several years, mainly due to an “exodus” of people aged 20-39, reports the Cape Breton Post. “[The population decline] is actually accelerating,” says Cape Breton’s Economic Development Manager John Whalley. Whalley says long-range projections estimate [Cape Breton’s] population in 2031 would be approximately 78,000; he cites a declining manufacturing base as one of the main reasons behind the decline. “Unless there is some form of a significant manufacturing strategy for the province, I don’t see us being able to tackle this issue at all because I just don’t see us being able to compete with the type of jobs that are available in other regions of the country.” Cape Breton University political scientist Tom Urbaniak recommends focusing development on a central urban core, while embracing newcomers of all origins. Cape Breton Post

Alberta to ask for oilsands industry input in K-12 curriculum

The Alberta government and several of the province’s school boards plan to include oil and gas companies in consultations about a new curriculum, to help prepare children for in-demand jobs. "One of the things I think they may be able to help with is how do we attract kids to that side of the business, science technology and engineering piece of the education system that so much of the economy is telling us we're short on." The Edmonton Public School Board will be asking leaders at Suncor and Syncrude oilsands companies their opinion on what to teach children in kindergarten through grade 3. NDP education critic Deron Bilous warns the move is “the first step in allowing corporations to influence Alberta schools.” "There're also examples in the US where coal companies have been involved in curriculum design where they've written a completely one-sided view speaking only of the benefits," Bilous says. However, Johnson maintains companies are only providing input and will not write the curriculum. CBC News

uLethbridge partners with UC Irvine on brain research “super-centre”

The University of Lethbridge has partnered with the University of California Irvine to develop an exchange program between the centres of brain research excellence at the 2 institutions. Neuroscientist Bruce McNaughton will split his time between the 2 universities to lead the project between uLethbridge’s Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience (CCBN) and UC Irvine’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (CNLM). It will allow North American researchers to collaborate on projects in the field of brain and memory. “McNaughton foresees the program expanding into a ‘super-centre’ that would include productive links with several similar centres around the world,” explains a uLethbridge news release. The institutions expect the agreement to get support from initiatives such as the Brain Activity Mapping program in the US, which has been funded $150 million per year for 10 years, the European Union's Human Brain Project, and the Human Frontier Science Program. uLethbridge News Release

Okanagan Pharmacy Technician program gains accreditation

Okanagan College has received national accreditation from the Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP) for its Pharmacy Technician certificate program. “Pursuing accreditation was driven by changes to the pharmacy technician profession and a shifting regulatory environment,” explains Michele McCready, Okanagan College Program Administrator. “To become a regulated pharmacy technician, the College of Pharmacists of BC requires that individuals must complete a program that meets national accreditation standards. As pharmacists provide more clinical care, pharmacy technician jobs are expanding in scope and complexity, taking on more of the tasks related to “prescription processing, compounding and preparation.” The newly-accredited program will welcome its first cohort of students in April. Okanagan News Release

Study finds thousands of academic papers include Wikipedia citations

A University of Ottawa study reveals that thousands of peer-reviewed papers in medical journals have cited Wikipedia in recent years, and that the number has been increasing in the last 3 years. The paper’s authors say the Wikipedia citations “even in some of the world’s most influential medical publications” could spread misinformation and “potentially affect care of patients.” “The biggest surprise was the trend,” says lead researcher and Ottawa Hospital Anesthetist Sylvain Boet “It’s exponential…it goes against all the principles of scientific reporting and referencing.” Boet says that while it is common for medical students and young doctors to turn to Wikipedia as an initial source, the problem is that “there is no guarantee the information at any given time is…wholly accurate, and a Wikipedia entry cited by a journal paper one day may be quite different soon after, unlike a conventional article or book.” National Post

US study reveals Khan Academy online lessons boost K-12 performance

A 2-year study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has revealed that online lessons, such as those offered by the Khan Academy, may help boost K-12 student performance and confidence, even if the materials play only a supplemental role. The study examined 2,000 students at 9 different schools in grades 5 through 10, between 2011 and 2013; all the students used Khan Academy materials to varying degrees. 85% of teachers said they thought Khan Academy had a positive impact on students' learning. 71% of students said they liked the Khan Academy lessons, and 32% said they liked math more as a result of using the materials. Inside Higher Ed | Full Report