Top Ten

February 10, 2015

CBC study finds low number of sexual assaults reported on PSE campuses

A CBC investigation into sexual assault reporting at Canadian colleges and universities has found that the number of cases reported to institutions is “surprisingly low.” CBC requested data from 87 institutions; 77 provided complete data sets broken down by calendar year. According to the data, there were a total of 700 cases of sexual assault that were reported to schools between 2009 and 2013, with significant variation between schools. “I find [the numbers] laughingly low … It’s just not that possible that they’re that low,” said Lee Lakeman, with the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter. Some have pointed out that it is difficult to draw conclusions based on the data, given inconsistencies in how institutions collect and report sexual assault data.  Others have identified flaws in CBC’s methodology, and pointed out that an institution having a higher number of reported sexual assaults does not mean that they have a higher incident rate; rather, it may simply suggest that the institution is doing a better job of encouraging students to come forward, or that it has a better tracking system. A recent Academica StudentVu quick poll found that many students said they were uncertain whether or not their institutions were doing enough to support victims of sexual assault, perhaps indicating that some institutions have not communicated their approaches effectively. CBC (1) | CBC (2)

Acadia student says he was removed from residence for being suicidal

An Acadia University student claims that he was evicted from his dorm after admitting to suicidal thoughts. Blake Robert wrote to Acadia student newspaper The Athenaeum stating that he had reached out to his residence don after suffering from depression. Robert said that his don was "very supportive" but that he later received a letter instructing him to leave his residence and describing him as "a threat" to other students. Adele Robert, Blake's mother, said that administrators told her that while the university had no official policy on such matters, her son had been deemed a potential threat to himself, to staff, and to other students and that the university could not guarantee his safety. She also said that they were asked to sign papers to allow the university to see his medical records to determine whether he would be allowed to live on campus again. James Sanford, Acadia's Executive Director of Student Services, wrote a letter to The Athenaeum in response to Robert's account, stating that "there has never been a case at Acadia where a student has been removed from residence for the sole reason that they have threatened self-harm. There have been times, though, where the special needs of an individual have exceeded the University's capacity to provide the adequate and necessary support for their own safety and well-being, as well as supporting and protecting others who are in close proximity or have direct content with the individual." The Athenaeum (Robert) | The Athenaeum (Sanford) | CBC | CTV

NS launches Graduate to Opportunity program

Nova Scotia announced on Friday the launch of the Graduate to Opportunity program, designed to help PSE graduates secure full-time employment in the province. Under the terms of the program, eligible employers will receive 25% and 12.5% of the salary paid to new graduates in their first and second years of employment, respectively. The program will be available to small- to medium-sized employers with fewer than 100 employees, startup companies, social enterprises, non-profits, and registered charities. "Graduate to Opportunity positions the private sector to lead the way in creating meaningful career opportunities for talented new graduates—and gives the next generation a running start to their careers," said NS Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Michel Samson. Employers can use the funding on salaries for employees who graduated within the last year from any PSE institution, as long as they live in NS and receive a base salary of $30,000 or more. NS News Release

uBishop's celebrates completion of revamped Sports and Recreation Centre

Bishop's University celebrated on Friday the inauguration of its new John H Price Sports and Recreation Centre. The event marked the completion of a $32 M renovation and expansion, the largest investment in uBishop's history. The additions to the facility include an 800-seat arena, a new fitness centre, a food court with outdoor patio, a new locker room, and a new double gym with mezzanine. In addition, 2 new smart classrooms and a new sports medicine clinic were added to the old sports centre. "With this renovated and expanded sports centre, Bishop's University is increasing and enhancing its service offering to the public in terms of ice sports and other sports activities. We can now offer higher-quality support for our student athletes as well as other high performance athletes," said uBishop's Principal Michael Goldbloom. The facility's arena has been named after frequent university supporters Jane and Eric Molson. Funding for the project was provided by the federal and provincial governments and the City of Sherbrooke. uBishop's News Release

QC institutions say immigration rules inhibit their ability to attract international faculty

Representatives at Concordia University and McGill University say that Quebec's immigration requirements are hampering their efforts to attract top-level international talent. According to recruiters and faculty members, the province's points-based immigration rules leave them at a significant disadvantage compared to other institutions. The challenge is especially great when it comes to attracting senior faculty for research chairs, who balk at the prospect of taking French classes on top of their already considerable research duties. Moreover, the universities say that applicants are forced to deal with too much paperwork and other bureaucratic hoops. Ghyslaine McClure, Associate Provost at McGill, says that exceptions to the policies must be made: "we would like a special recognition that university professors are highly specialized workers and they should not have that many obstacles." While QC made changes in December to grant immigrants with PhDs more "points" that do allow some to bypass the French requirement, the universities say that more must be done to create pathways to permanent residency for faculty hires. Montreal Gazette

UBC-O working to comply with court ruling on campus shortcut

UBC-Okanagan is dealing with the latest development in an ongoing legal battle with local residents who claim that students and staff who use a rural road to access campus are trespassing. A 2010 court ruling restricted access to the road to individuals who worked or attended classes in 2 specific buildings that were closest to the access road. However, the residents went back to court, alleging that since the ruling, the number of users has actually increased. Now, a BC Supreme Court judge has given UBC-O until February 16 to prove that it has a plan to reduce traffic. UBC-O is working on signage to warn people that they are trespassing, and will launch a communications campaign to ask the campus community to comply with the order. But UBC-O spokesperson Bud Mortensen remains concerned. "We have not learned yet how they intend to monitor or measure that traffic flow as a result of our enhanced communication ... They run the risk of creating a situation where everyone loses access," he said. Global News | UBC News Release 

uAlberta Student Union President says emergency bursaries may not reach all students in need

The President of the University of Alberta Student Union is questioning the method used to determine eligibility for bursaries that have been allocated to help international students in need. uAlberta has in recent years significantly increased the funding available for the bursaries, which provide up to $3,000 for international students who face a financial emergency; however, student union President William Lau argued that the eligibility requirements could marginalize some students. "Looking at their eligibility criteria, they fund students most likely to succeed." Lau said that he is worried that the bursaries may not reach students whose academic performance has suffered due to financial stress. uAlberta VP and University Registrar Lisa Collins said that the bursaries are awarded based on the unique circumstances of each student who applies. "Our commitment is to support them as best as we can, recognizing of course that resources are limited and we need to allocate them fairly." Metro News

UoGuelph steps to the plate to help Blue Jays convert Rogers Centre to natural grass

After a relatively quiet off-season, the Toronto Blue Jays have made a move that could lead to a new look on the field: contracting the University of Guelph to conduct a feasibility study into growing grass inside the Rogers Centre. UoGuelph will receive $600,000 for an initial year-long study that will identify varieties of grass that could be grown under artificial light and inform stadium engineers about the infrastructure needed to sustain the grass indoors. Should the Jays accept the results of the study, it could lead to subsequent studies to test "candidate grasses." "We are confident that the combination of the Blue Jays' commitment and our special expertise and research capacity will produce a facility that players and fans will love," said Rene Van Acker, Associate Dean for External Relations. Some in the sports world have suggested that the artificial turf currently used in the Rogers Centre has contributed to player injuries and discouraged some free agents from signing with the Blue Jays. National Post | UoGuelph News Release

Study explores gendered language on RateMyProfessors

A researcher at Northeastern University in Boston has released a new tool that explores the different language used to describe male and female professors on the website. Benjamin M Schmidt created a database of words used in 14 million Rate My Professor reviews. He found that many positive words, including "smart," and "intellect," and "genius" were far more common in reviews of male faculty members. Meanwhile, words such as "bossy" and "nurturing" were more common in reviews of female professors. Fashion-related words, including "frumpy" and "stylish," were also more common in profiles of female professors. Schmidt said, "most academics know that female teachers are treated different from male ones in all sorts of ways. I was curious how these perceptions moved over into teaching evaluations." He speculated that the patterns he identified would be found in more formal evaluations as well, including peer review and tenure and promotion documents. Inside Higher Ed |Gendered Language Tool

Following up with Thiel Fellowship winners

The Chronicle of Higher Education has published a report that follows up on teenagers who were paid by entrepreneur Peter Thiel to drop out of college. Most recipients said that were glad they pursued the opportunity. Some argued that the real value of the Thiel fellowship was its network: beneficiaries were given access to retreats, internships, and teams of advisers. Some participants learned that they weren't ready to run a business and pursued further education or internships to prepare themselves, but few actually finished their formal educations. Eden W Full, for example, used her time as a Thiel fellow to found a non-profit before heading to Princeton. She ultimately left again just a year shy of completing her degree. "The only thing I haven't done is fulfill the arbitrary requirements," she said, adding that if an employer questioned her lack of a degree she probably wouldn't be interested in working there. All but one Thiel fellow interviewed for the article said that they learned more through their experience than they would have at college. The Chronicle of Higher Education