Top Ten

February 11, 2015

Institutions respond to CBC sexual assault report

A number of institutions have responded to CBC's coverage of sexual assault reporting on Canadian PSE campuses. The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) issued a statement that emphasized some of the shortcomings in CBC's methodology. AUCC said that "the overall tone suggested that universities with high levels of reported assaults were in the wrong. But as CBC's own details on its methodology point out, the results cannot be interpreted as a 'scorecard,' and institutions differ in how they gather and report data." AUCC also suggested that CBC had overstated the incidence of sexual assaults, and said that "news reports that take aim at universities that have higher numbers of reported assaults are misleading and dangerous." Ryerson University and Acadia University also issued statements that were published on CBC's website. Ryerson noted that the figures it provided to CBC included "non-community members reporting incidents that happened within our precinct, which extends over a large area of Toronto," and questioned the comparability of the data provided by different institutions. Acadia, meanwhile, acknowledged that under-reporting is a serious issue and said that it includes a wide range of activities under its definition of what constitutes sexual assault; this may lead to the appearance of a higher incident rate. The presidents of Ontario's public colleges recently approved a policy framework on sexual assault, and the presidents of Ontario's universities are also pursuing a series of initiatives to curb sexual violence on campus. AUCC News Release | CBC

Montreal CEGEP ends contract with Arabic school over website links

Rosemont College, a Montreal CEGEP, has suspended its contract with the El Forkane Arabic language school in Montreal due to links posted to the El Forkane website. El Forkane linked to material associated with Salafism, an ideological movement within Islam. The linked material expressed opposition to secular education for Muslims, said Rosemont Director Stéphane Godbout. Ahmed Said Rahmaoui, who founded El Forkane with his brother, said that Rosemont administrators have the wrong idea about the school. "When they say that my brother, or our school, encouraged people to leave public school, that is not true. That is lying," he said. Rahmaoui told CBC that he founded the school in part to steer young people away from extremism. He added that the website had included the links simply to demonstrate different perspectives on the relationship between Islam and secularism. CBC

MUN releases 5-year strategic internationalization plan

Memorial University has released its Strategic Internationalization Plan 2020, which the institution says will guide a series of ambitious initiatives over the next 5 years. The plan, approved by MUN's board of governors on February 5, is designed to support Newfoundland and Labrador's forthcoming population growth strategy as well as enhance the local and international experience of MUN students, faculty, researchers, and staff. The plan includes 7 specific recommendations, including that MUN develop intercultural competencies in all its students; strengthen its structures and processes to attract and retain international students, faculty, and personnel; better articulate and market its value proposition; transition the International Centre to a Internationalization Office, which will oversee the implementation of the plan; position itself to attract international research collaborations; and pursue the internationalization of all of its programs. A draft plan had been circulated in September. MUN News Release

McGill faculty group asks board to divest from fossil fuels

Faculty members at McGill University are urging the university's board of governors to divest from fossil fuel companies. McGill Faculty for Divestment sent a letter with over 100 signatories to the board in support of a petition organized by the Divest McGill student group. The letter states that "there is undeniable scientific evidence that climate change is urgent" and that "a large-scale transition to renewable energy sources is eminently necessary for the future well-being of our society and our planet. As such, continued investment in the companies that actively work against this transition and profit from continued fossil fuel dependence is not morally tenable for a public institution." A recent report from researchers at the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions has suggested that universities' divestment is unlikely to affect climate change; however, the McGill letter says that fossil fuel investment "undermines the university's mission of 'service to society.'" In submitting the letter, the McGill faculty group follows the example of faculty at Concordia University and UBC. Global News | Faculty Letter

OUSA "bachelorette's degree" campaign highlights gender wage gap

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) will launch a campaign to tackle the significant pay gap between men and women in Ontario. Citing Statistics Canada data that show that women make an average of $300,000 less over their lifetime than men, OUSA announced that it will roll out a campaign centred around the idea of a fictional "bachelorette's degree." "Talking about the 'Bachelorette's Degree' is an attempt to satirize the way women's education is undervalued in our society. It's ridiculous to think that our universities would issue his-and-hers degrees to graduates–that would be degrading and obviously wrong. Yet research shows that your gender identity has a very real impact on your ability to leverage your education in the workplace," said OUSA Steering Committee Member Shawn Murphy. The campaign will focus on Ontario, but OUSA President Jen Carter says that she hopes it will initiate a dialogue across Canada. OUSA News Release

UTSU campaigns to allow international students to serve on governing council

The University of Toronto Students' Union (UTSU) is calling for changes to The University of Toronto Act that would allow international students to sit on the institution's Governing Council. This year, 3 students were deemed ineligible to appear on the ballot because they were not Canadian citizens. "International students just want to be equal members of the University. Our tuition fees are the highest at the university, we lack equal access to healthcare, and yet we contribute so much to the university community. We want a say in our education," said Cameron Wathey, an international student from St Maarten who serves as the UTSU's VP Internal & Services. uToronto is reportedly just one of 5 institutions in Ontario at which international students are not able to represent their peers on governing councils or other similar bodies. UTSU News Release

Postscript: April 29, 2015

An amendment to the University of Toronto Act tabled in the Ontario Legislature last week would enable international students and other non-citizens to serve on the institution's Governing Council. The University of Toronto Students' Union welcomed the announcement. "This amendment is very exciting for international students like myself," said Cameron Wathey, UTSU VP Internal & Services. "The students' unions had been pushing the university for years to make this change so it's great to see that our activism bore real gains for students." UTSU News Release

Martin, Barnard call for Indigenous perspectives in PSE

As part of a new series for the Globe and Mail, “Rich Country, Poor Nations,” former Prime Minister Paul Martin makes the case for including Indigenous thought in the classroom. Martin cites a recommendation from the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples that “Aboriginal children are entitled to learn and achieve in an environment that supports their development as whole individuals.” Martin asserts that universities must embrace Indigenous worldviews in order to help repair past harms and to provide a welcoming environment for the growing numbers of Aboriginal youth seeking higher education. “In today’s Canada, no student who wants to succeed should have to leave their identity at the door when they walk into a classroom,” writes Martin. University of Manitoba President David Barnard, writing in response to a Maclean’s article about racism in Canada, recently made a similar argument. Barnard mentioned ongoing efforts at uManitoba to engage Aboriginal students; to foster a better understanding of Indigenous perspectives, cultures, and histories among students, faculty, and staff; and to build a “culturally rich and safe and supportive learning and work environment.” In a recent post for Academica's Rethinking Higher Ed forum, Max FineDay argued that universities must do more to reach underrepresented groups, including Aboriginal people. This story also appeared in Academica's Indigenous Top Ten. Globe and Mail (Martin) | Globe and Mail (Series) | uManitoba News

YorkU renames Faculty of Fine Arts

York University's Faculty of Fine Arts has been renamed the School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design. The renaming will officially take place at a celebratory event today. Fine Arts Dean Shawn Brixey said that the name change represents the beginning of a new era in the history of the school. "Our pioneering programs have been the launch pad for a generation of game-changing artists, performers, designers, producers, art scholars, and cultural leaders," he said. "Building on this rich tradition of innovation, we're now advancing to the next exciting phase of our educational mandate. We're stepping forward with an inspiring mission and a bold new vision under a new name that embodies the extraordinary scope and boundary-pushing spirit of our creative community." YorkU News Release

Telfer launches refreshed brand

The Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa held an event last week to launch its new, refreshed brand. The brand focuses on the tagline "connects you to what matters," a phrase that is intended to reflect the school's mission to "maintain a network of high-quality connections." The new brand is the product of a year-long process that began with the establishment in January, 2014 of a steering committee comprising staff, faculty, and alumni, who were tasked with moving forward from the previous brand, "linked with leadership." In a statement, the school said that the new branding "represents a natural evolution of the brand and builds on the solid foundation developed under the previous tagline." Telfer News Release

Responsibility centre management comes with risks, opportunities

An article published in The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at the experiences of some US institutions that have adopted responsibility centre management (RCM). Under RCM, budgeting is decentralized, with academic units bringing in their own money and paying a kind of tax to central administration for shared services. Those faculties that produce a budget surplus are permitted to use that funding for expansion or other investments. Proponents say that such an approach motivates deans and faculty members to cut costs, find new revenue sources, and act strategically; advocates also say that the model increases transparency. However, some say that such a model is too corporate and can pit colleges or faculties against one another. Moreover, to successfully implement RCM requires a strong central administration in order to uphold rules and redistribute funding effectively. The article notes that a move toward RCM has often led to a high turnover of deans who are not able to adjust to revised roles. Trent University recently adopted RCM, while the University of Alberta is expected to implement such a program in the near future. Wilfrid Laurier University's Integrated Planning and Resource Management task force also recommended the school adopt RCM. The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)