Top Ten

February 18, 2015

Youth charged with sexual assault after attempting entry into rooms in uOttawa residence

University of Ottawa security staff this past weekend apprehended a male teenager who had been seen going door to door in a student residence, attempting to gain entry into students' rooms. Police say that the youth attempted to open 50 doors and successfully entered 8 rooms. He has been charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of breaking and entering; he was released from police custody after promising to appear in court to face the charges against him. uOttawa spokesperson Caroline Millard said that the institution is "extremely concerned" about the incident. uOttawa residences offer reception facilities at all times, and restrict access at night to residents and authorized visitors. Millard said that security has been increased since the incident. Ottawa Citizen CBC

uToronto scene of 3 related art heists

Toronto police are asking for the public's assistance in recovering 3 pieces of art that were stolen from 3 separate locations at the University of Toronto. The thefts are believed to be the work of the same individual. The paintings have been described as "valuable." One of the 3 paintings is by an unknown artist; the other stolen pieces are Morning at Peggy's Cove by William E deGarthe and Credit River by Yee Bon. The latter painting was housed in a room at uToronto's Victoria University that is usually locked but is also used for events. Curator Gillian Pearson noted that there were several groups through on the weekend of February 7th and 8th, when the piece was taken. Globe and Mail | Toronto Star

Researcher says High Commission bullying led to Canada-UK foundation board resignations

A Canadian researcher has charged that "bullying" on the part of the Canadian High Commission led to his and others' resignation from the board of the Foundation for Canadian Studies in the United Kingdom. Steve Hewitt, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, said that former fellow board member Rachel Killick was forced to resign following an order from High Commissioner Gordon Campbell; 2 other board members also resigned last week in addition to Hewitt and Killick. The shake-up came after Campbell told the board that the High Commission would appoint 4 new members to the board, including 3 High Commission staffers; the new appointees introduced, and passed, a motion to remove Killick. Hewitt said that the resignations, save one, were in reaction to the High Commission's actions. CBC reports that the recent turmoil reflects ongoing tensions between members of the board "who want a more business-oriented approach and those in academia who are concerned about maintaining the foundation's support for Canadian research studies." The Foundation lost its charitable status in December, but a letter from Campbell obtained by the Canadian Press said that it could be restored if the board "were willing to play ball." CBC

Concordia to serve as headquarters for UN Future Earth Project

Concordia University will serve as the headquarters of the United Nations' Future Earth research platform. It had been announced in July that Concordia had been selected as one of 5 hubs for the project, which is designed to support research and public engagement on environmental issues and sustainability. Now, with the appointment of Concordia's Paul Shrivastava as Future Earth's Executive Director, the university will play an even more prominent role in the initiative. The institution has committed additional space to Future Earth to better accommodate the global secretariat. "Paul is a successful entrepreneur and global consultant who is deeply committed to promoting sustainable enterprise. This is the type of leadership Future Earth will need as it hits the ground running. We couldn't be happier for him," said Concordia President Alan Shepard. Concordia News

Redeemer launches Centre for Christian Scholarship

Redeemer College has announced the launch of its new Centre for Christian Scholarship. The Centre will offer a space for Christian scholars to address critical political, cultural, and social questions facing society. Centre Director Robert Joustra jokingly described it as "the eHarmony of Christian academics and public impact." Among other initiatives, the Centre will support faculty research by awarding up to $25,000 in grants each year for projects that contribute to the common good, and will host an annual conference bringing together educators, cultural leaders, and public intellectuals. "This Centre is going to make happy couples of outstanding Christian scholarship and demonstrated public impact. The Centre is the matchmaker bringing Redeemer faculty and the evangelization of culture together," said Joustra. The Centre is the first major component of Redeemer's 2020 Strategic PlanRedeemer News Release

Students at uWinnipeg propose mandatory Indigenous courses

The University of Winnipeg Students' Association (UWSA) has paired up with uWinnipeg’s Aboriginal Students' Council on a proposal to make a class in Indigenous history or culture mandatory for all students. uWinnipeg’s AVP Indigenous Affairs Wab Kinew said it would be a win-win scenario for faculty and students. "It should be a way for us to both indigenize the academy, but also even strengthen the academic experience of students. So as long as we're open to faculty concerns and flexible in meeting them, then I think that we can realize that win-win,” added Kinew. The proposal lists 2 main criteria for determining a course’s eligibility: the course must focus on Indigenous content, including history, culture, ways of knowing, and lived experience; and must foster an environment of knowledge and experience exchange between Indigenous students, faculty, community members, and the larger University community. The UWSA has found at least 100 courses in 17 departments that would meet the criteria they propose for the Indigenous-course requirement. The motion will be reviewed by uWinnipeg’s Senate in the next couple of months. Winnipeg Free Press | CBC

Postscript: March 30, 2015

The senate of the University of Winnipeg has approved in principle a motion that would could make it mandatory for all undergraduate students to take a course in Indigenous history or culture. "Today is a good day for the University of Winnipeg—as well as for the broader community: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada," said uWinnipeg AVP Indigenous Affairs Wab Kinew. uWinnipeg President Annette Trimbee added, "we have taken an important step on the path to a better, more understanding, and inclusive society." The requirement could be put into effect as early as September, 2016. Winnipeg Free Press

New agreement makes it easier for universities to hire foreign workers

A new agreement between the federal government and Canada's PSE institutions will relax some of the regulations around hiring foreign workers, reports the Globe and Mail. Universities and colleges will no longer have to submit a plan on transitioning jobs held by foreign workers to Canadian citizens, and will now report to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). New regulations to the temporary foreign workers program were implemented last June, affecting the ability of universities and colleges to recruit internationally. “I think that the government recognized that there are broader public policy objectives here: that universities can continue to meet their teaching and research needs, and to ensure that they can attract new knowledge and expertise from around the world,” said AUCC VP Christine Tausig Ford. Globe and Mail

Ontario to review employment law with eye toward precarious workers

Ontario's government says that it will launch a formal review of provincial labour and employment standards to ensure that they reflect "the realities of the modern economy," including employers' growing reliance on precarious workers. As part of the review, Ontario will consider making changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Ontario Labour Relations Act. While current legislation establishes protections for all workers, some argue that there are too many exemptions. "We don't really have that basic floor of standards any more. We've got gaping holes in the floor of standards," said Mary Gellatly, who works with the Workers' Rights Division at Parkdale Community Legal Services. The Worker's Action Centre's Deena Ladd said that the review is "desperately needed." "We're making up for many decades where governments haven't addressed this issue," she said. Many young adults work in temporary, precarious positions, sometimes for years. Toronto Star

StudentsNS says student movement should focus on financial assistance, not tuition elimination

Students Nova Scotia has released a paper offering its vision for improved student financial assistance in Canada. The paper suggests that needs-based grants that fully meet students' cost to attend PSE would help reach those in most need of help to attend PSE. "Improving targeted financial assistance is the only way to ensure all qualified Canadians can afford to attend postsecondary education without elevated debt," said organization President Brandon Hamilton. StudentsNS proposes that such a program could be funded by reallocating money currently used for tuition and education tax credits and the Federal Education Savings Grant, which the paper says favour higher income students. StudentsNS further suggests that Canada's student movement should shift its emphasis from tuition elimination toward financial assistance. The narrow focus on tuition elimination, it says, has not made sufficient progress and would not adequately address costs of education beyond tuition. StudentsNS News Release | Vision Paper

uDenver approves pathways to long-term contracts for non-tenure-track faculty

The board of governors at the University of Denver recently approved changes to the institution's appointment, promotion, and tenure policies that some say could serve as a prototype for other institutions that employ large numbers of full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members. Under the new system, proposed by the university's faculty, non-tenure-track instructors can be hired on annual contracts for no more than 5 years, at which point they are either released or promoted to an assistant professorship with a new, renewable contract that can extend for up to 3 years. Assistant professors can apply for promotion to associate professor at any time, but must be evaluated after 6 years' time; if they receive a positive review, they receive the promotion with a 5-year contract. They can subsequently apply for promotion to full professor. There are still many unanswered questions, including whether or not this program will lead to fewer tenure-track appointments. Moreover, there are no raises associated with the new system, just longer-term contracts. However, advocates say that the benefits of the new approach will likely outweigh any risk involved and that the program may help the institution attract high-quality teachers to its faculty. Inside Higher Ed