Top Ten

October 1, 2014

Dal suspends men’s rugby team after hazing complaint

Dalhousie University has suspended its men’s rugby team after receiving a complaint about hazing. The club was already under probation for an undisclosed incident that occurred earlier in September; the combination of the 2 incidents has led to an investigation by the university. The club has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation—which must be completed within 60 days—meaning the club will not represent Dal in the Rugby Nova Scotia university league, will not receive funding from the university, cannot book university space, and that its members cannot wear university colours or uniforms. “Dalhousie is committed to being a safe, respectful place to learn and play. We expect our student-run sport clubs to adhere to their obligations in the Sport Club Handbook, and will not tolerate behaviour that humiliates, disrespects or threatens the safety of individuals in our community,” said Dal in a statement. Dal implemented a stand-alone hazing policy earlier this year after the majority of the women’s hockey team was suspended in 2013 for a hazing incident. Dal Statement | CBC | Toronto Star

Postscript: Jan 21, 2015

A rugby club at Dalhousie University has been hit with a series of sanctions and conditions after having been found in violation of the university’s hazing policy. Members will be required to attend a hazing education program and participate in an initiative to raise awareness about hazing. The team will be barred from playing next year if any members refuse to take part. Details of the incident have not been released, a university spokesperson said, because “any section of the report could potentially identify individuals and it is the university’s position to protect the confidentiality and privacy of students.” The Record

uOttawa opens new Advanced Research Complex

The new Advanced Research Complex (ARC) has officially opened at the University of Ottawa, providing a space for innovative research in the areas of photonics and geoscience. The ARC is home to the accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS), reportedly the only one of its kind in Canada, which allows scientists to conduct advanced environmental research. In the photonics labs, scientists will use lasers in research that leads to applied technologies in fields such as medical diagnostics, renewable energy, and telecommunications. The $70 M facility received funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Ontario Research Fund. “Great discoveries and innovations so often come from bringing people of vastly different disciplines together so their ideas can naturally collide, prompting them in new—and sometimes unexpected—directions,” said CFI President Gilles Patry. “This state-of-the art facility will become the catalyst for these kinds of extraordinary collaborations.” uOttawa News Release | CFI News

ON blitz finds 42% of businesses violating internship regulations

An inspection blitz conducted this spring by the Ontario Ministry of Labour found 42% of businesses were breaking the law regarding the use of interns, reports theToronto Star. The ministry inspected 56 businesses in the GTA, and of the 31 that had interns, 13 were breaking the Employment Standards Act. Common violations included not paying minimum wage or not providing vacation or public-holiday pay. The ministry issued 37 compliance orders to offending businesses, and demanded $48,543 in back wages be paid out. Companies involved in the blitz included advertising, public relations, computer design, and consulting firms. Internships are currently regulated under provincial legislation, which differs greatly from province to province. Increased attention to the plight of unpaid interns has led to the cancellation of several high profile unpaid internships, including Bell Canada’s. 2 federal NDP MPs recently introduced a private member’s bill calling for regulations designed to protect interns from unsafe or exploitative working conditions. Toronto Star

PSE institutions implement policies, guidelines to curb sexual assault

A report published by CBC outlines the pressure faced by Canadian PSE institutions to curb sexual assault on campus. The report considers the impact of cases such as the University of Ottawa’s decision to suspend its hockey team following allegations of sexual assault and misconduct on a team road trip to Thunder Bay. uOttawa is currently undergoing a thorough review of its sexual misconduct policies, following the example of Lakehead University, which underwent a similar process after a student went public with allegations that a classmate had sexually assaulted her. Increasingly, institutions throughout North America are putting in place guidelines and rules that they hope will help them walk the fine line between supporting students and upholding the presumption of innocence of the accused. The University of California system, for instance, has adopted a "yes means yes" policy around consent. Some of these policies focus on varsity sports programs; however, athletes and athletics administrators say that athletes are being unfairly targeted based on inaccurate stereotypes. CBC

UBC's ISIS Research Centre to re-brand itself

UBC’s ISIS Research Centre has announced that it will re-brand itself as a result of the similarity between its name and the acronym commonly used for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In an announcement, the Centre said “in light of escalating and violent events associated with the name ISIS in the last several months, and after serious discussions with our stakeholders, we have decided to rename the ISIS Research Centre.” The Centre’s Executive Director James Tansey said that the name is a reference to the Egyptian goddess Isis, rather than an acronym, but acknowledged that there was some fear that current connotations of the name would cost the Centre sponsorships. “We just decided that given [the other] ISIS really seems to be sticking around  that at some point we just need to bite the bullet and make the change,” he said. Vancouver Sun

Postscript: December 9, 2014

The ISIS Research Centre at UBC’s Sauder School of Business has a new name: from now on, it will be the Sauder School of Business Centre for Social Innovation and Impact Investing. The Centre made the decision to rebrand itself given the ongoing violence being perpetrated by ISIS combatants in Syria and Iraq. “Over the past several years we have made great strides building positive associations between our work and our brand. These associations are being tarnished and we’ve become increasingly concerned that our outreach efforts are being hampered by miscommunications,” said Executive Director James Tansey. The new name emphasizes the centre’s work on impact investment, a strategy that balances social and environmental objectives with financial goals. UBC News

uSask will continue to offer seniors' education program

Senior citizens will be able to continue to take non-credit courses at the University of Saskatchewan, in spite of fears that the program would be cut. The university had previously announced that the program would be disbanded as part of cuts associated with the TransformUS program prioritization plan; the courses had been delivered through the Centre for Continuing and Distance Education, which was facing cutbacks. However, Patti McDougall, VP Teaching and Learning at uSask, has confirmed that the courses will instead be delivered through the College of Arts and Sciences. McDougall did say that fees for the courses could go up; currently, seniors pay $55 for a 16-hour course. “The program loses money every year. The University of Saskatchewan, the College of Arts and Sciences, won’t be looking to have this be a source of revenue generation, but I do think it’s possible that we would be able to recover the costs of offering it,” McDougall said. StarPhoenix

St Clair President courts controversy with mayoral endorsement

St Clair College President John Strasser has raised a few eyebrows for his endorsement of Windsor mayoral candidate John Millson. Strasser said that Millson had been to the college to talk about jobs more often than Drew Dilkens, the councillor for the ward in which St Clair is located, who is also running for mayor. Dilkens questioned whether the President of a public institution should publicly support any candidate. Dilkens went on to speculate that Strasser may have a “beef” with the city over its investment in the University of Windsor’s downtown campus, but noted that the city has also played a “significant role” in St Clair projects such as its downtown MediaPlex, the Centre for the Arts, and the college’s partnership with Schlegel Villages. “If you look at the city’s history … there’s no doubt that the city has been committed to St Clair College, has invested in St Clair College,” said Dilkens. Strasser previously announced that he will retire next year. Windsor Star

Online, distance ed dominates Google's list of most-searched-for universities

Google has released a list of the most-searched-for universities in the world. Topping the list is the University of Phoenix, followed by MIT, Open University, University of Calicut, and the University of California, Los Angeles. The results show a global interest in online education: searches for “Coursera,” for instance, have surpassed searches for “Cambridge University” in Google’s results. The figures also indicate a growing interest in Indian institutions, of which 5 appear in the top 20. While many of the institutions in the top 20 are big-name universities such as Stanford and Harvard, a number of smaller colleges, like Liberty College—an evangelical university in Virginia—also cracked the list. “The Internet is playing an ever-increasing role in the decision-making. Students are online searching and consuming content in all forms when they are deciding whether or not to go to university and deciding which universities to apply for,” said Harry Walker, Education Industry Head at Google. BBC

Researchers say MOOCs can be as effective as face-to-face classes

Researchers at MIT, Tsinghua University (China), and Harvard have found that massive open online courses (MOOCs) can be as effective as face-to-face classes in terms of helping students learn. According to the report, pre- and post-test results showed that students in an edX course achieved gains greater than students in a traditional course, but less than students enroled in courses that included interactive engagement. “In spite of the extra instruction that the on-campus students had,” the researchers found “no evidence of positive, weekly relative improvement of our on-campus students compared with our online students.“ The researchers also found that improvement in students’ performance was consistent across a variety of criteria, including level of education, preparation in math and physics, and overall ability in the course. However, just 1,080 students of 17,000 who initially signed up attempted more than half the questions in the MOOC. Campus Technology | Full study

Germany moves a step closer to abolishing all tuition fees

Another German state, Hamburg, has moved to eliminate tuition fees in the wake of last month’s election of the centre-left Social Democrats. A spokesperson for the party said, “tuition fees keep young people from low-income families from studying and are socially disruptive.” Hamburg officials say they are confident that any shortfalls can be made up for through cuts and reallocations. However, administrators at the country’s universities are concerned that the move will lead to crippling funding gaps. “It is a catastrophe for the university. We were obliged to spend the fees we received on investment in teaching, and it gave us the chance to improve the teaching and infrastructure,” said Holger Fischer, VP of Hamburg University. Germany has a tradition of providing free education, and Fischer says that at this point fees will be difficult to re-introduce at a later date. The Guardian(UK)