Top Ten

March 19, 2015

AAU establishes working group on campus safety and sexual assault

The Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) has created a working group to improve security and responses to sexual assaults on campuses. "Our workshop, which will be for senior leaders in our institutions, is really going to focus on prevention and that's in terms of policy, programs and best practices, [and] incident management," said AAU Executive Director Peter Halpin. The group will also include student representation, and will reportedly work with government officials as well. Halpin noted that the working group is mindful of a recent CBC report that revealed "inconsistencies in reporting" of the incidence of sexual assaults on campuses, and of Ontario's action plan to stop sexual violence. "We're going to look at reporting, legal compliance, and investigation and of course the communications aspect of all that," he said. Rethinking Higher Ed contributor Meranda McLaughlin welcomed the news of the working group. "This is the kind of work—paired with careful consideration of related research and available data—that has the potential to promote positive change in universities," she said. McLaughlin recently called for more collaborative work between PSE institutions on better research, policies, and practices to prevent sexual violence. CBC

uToronto students walk out in support of strike; tempers flare at YorkU picket line

Undergraduate students at the University of Toronto walked out of classes yesterday to support striking teaching and graduate assistants and to demand a tuition refund for lost time. Little progress has been made toward an agreement between the university and those on strike. "We are in solidarity with the strikers; we recognize that the conditions of our teaching assistants will impact our actual face-to-face learning conditions at U of T—especially at a university where you have 60,000 or 70,000 people," said Housam Silim of the uToronto Students' Union (UTSU). York University resumed many classes on Tuesday despite ongoing strike action by teaching and graduate assistants. There were heated confrontations between strikers and motorists trying to leave campus, some of whom dismantled barriers and shouted expletives at picketers blocking campus exits. UTSU News Release | Toronto Star CTV | CBC

uAlberta creates land trust

The University of Alberta has received provincial approval to set up a trust that will allow it to turn some of its excess land holdings into a revenue source. The idea of creating a land trust had been proposed in the spring as a way to offset anticipated cuts in government funding. The trust will make available select pieces of property on 99-year leases. It will be run by a 10-member board that includes uAlberta Chancellor Ralph Young, President Indira Samerasekera, and VP Facilities and Operations Don Hickey as well as 7 community members. uAlberta recently announced that its 2015–16 budget would introduce 1.5% cuts to all faculties and administrative units, but would assume no cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant. Edmonton Journal

uCalgary, City of Calgary partner on $38.5 M wastewater research facility

The University of Calgary has partnered with the City of Calgary to launch the Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets (ACWA) facility, a $38.5 M research facility located within Calgary’s Pine Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. According to a uCalgary news release, ACWA “is the only fully integrated, fully contained university research facility located within an operating industrial wastewater treatment plant in the world.” The new facility will allow researchers to collaborate with municipal employees to test new technologies and methods of treatment; a system of 12 naturalized, experimental streams will allow the effects of treated wastewater on aquatic ecosystems to be assessed in real time. ACWA has multiple research laboratories associated with it, including a microbiology lab at Foothills Hospital, an aquatic lab, and an isotope science lab. “This world-leading research facility will transform how wastewater research is conducted, leading the way to cleaner water, better protected ecosystems, and improved public health for Alberta and the rest of Canada,” said Michelle Rempel, Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification). Funding for the project came from all 3 levels of government as well as from uCalgary. uCalgary News | CFI News | Calgary Herald (1) | Calgary Herald(2)

uOttawa to convert Quality Hotel into new student residence

A new student housing development is underway at the University of Ottawa, with the conversion of a former Quality Hotel into a 414-bed student residence. The 207 double rooms will each have an ensuite bathroom, air conditioning, and a flat screen TV; the residence will also have advisors, a reception desk, and security. “This new residence will allow us to provide more services to a greater number of uOttawa students, along with the structured and enriching experience of living in residence, which greatly eases the transition to university life and fosters academic success,” said VP Resources Marc Joyal. This is the third new housing development uOttawa has launched recently: a 400-bed off-campus residence opened this past September, and construction is currently underway on a 172-bed student residence on campus that should open in the fall. The latest development, also expected to open in the fall, will mean an approximately 33% increase in uOttawa’s student-housing capacity. uOttawa News Release

MUN apartments become gender-neutral

Memorial University has announced that its Burton's Pond apartment complex will become gender-neutral. Units in Burton Pond consist of 4 bedrooms and a common kitchen and living area. Currently, each apartment must house either all male or all female inhabitants. Students will still have the option to live in a male- or female-only setting, but will no longer be restricted to such an arrangement. The change is meant to make the complex more comfortable for all students regardless of their gender identity, including those who identify as transgender. "It's going to be a safer place for them. It's also going to be great for students who maybe have a different gender partner, or a brother and sister who want to live together, friends who want to live together ... It's just going to be a great change overall," said Brittany Lennox, a member of MUN's student council. CBC

Humber launches campus-wide Gender Diversity Policy

Humber College has released a Gender Diversity Policy outlining the college’s commitment to protecting gender expression and gender identity. The new policy, reportedly the first of its kind among Ontario colleges, focuses on several key themes: use of gender-inclusive language, accessibility of all-gender washrooms, and self-identification as the sole determinant of a person’s gender. The policy also contains definitions related to gender identity and expression. It was developed by Humber’s Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Diversity, which plans to develop an online gender diversity training program in the near future. The Centre recently released an online training program about human rights in Ontario. Humber News Release | Full Policy

uWindsor President criticizes unequal coverage of basketball championships

University of Windsor President Alan Wildeman criticized The Globe and Mail this week for not providing balanced coverage of men's and women's sports. Wildeman pointed out that the front page of the Globe's sports section prominently featured the Carleton Ravens men's basketball team, who won their fifth consecutive CIS men's basketball championship on Sunday. However, coverage of the uWindsor Lancers women's team's championship win on the same day—also their fifth consecutive—was relegated to page 3. "If you win 5 national championships, you've reached a similar level of achievement and accomplishment and it should be recognized similarly ... When we marginalize that kind of success, we are doing the same as what we are accused of doing when we keep the tribulations of women in the shadows," Wildeman told CBC. Marge Holman, former Chair of the organization Leadership for Advancing Women in Sport, said she appreciates Wildeman's message, and added that the Globe's coverage was "symbolic of the persistent inequalities in sport." CBC | Windsor Star

NYU professor's removal from flight to Abu Dhabi raises concerns

Some are arguing that the denial of entry into the United Arab Emirates of New York University professor Andrew Ross should raise concerns for institutions with branch campuses in restrictive countries. Ross, who has publicly criticized what he described as the exploitation of the migrant construction workers who built NYU's Abu Dhabi campus, was blocked from boarding a flight to the UAE. "Administrators at NYU have long insisted they have agreements with authorities to honour basic academic freedoms, but an incident like this is a clear violation of those principles," Ross told The Chronicle of Higher Education. This case does not represent the first time professors have been denied entry into the UAE. Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a Middle East studies scholar with the London School of Economics and Political Science, was detained and turned away from the country in 2013; UAE authorities said that their decision was based on Ulrichsen's political views and the subject of a talk he was scheduled to deliver. "The threshold for criticism [on the part of Persian Gulf governments] is very low, and that's clashing with the rising interest in the Gulf from academics around the world," said Ulrichsen. The Chronicle of Higher Education | Inside Higher Ed

More US institutions provide services for students in recovery

An NPR report looks at how some US institutions are working to help students recover from addiction. The University of Texas at Austin has created the Center for Students in Recovery, a facility located amid the institution's athletic facilities. The facility is largely run by students, who mentor one another and socialize together. It emphasizes service: students in recovery speak in high schools and at treatment facilities, and run seminars for doctors. The UT-Austin facility is representative of a growing emphasis on recovery at many US institutions. 135 colleges and universities now provide recovery programs, a significant leap from 2 years ago, when just 35 did. "The curtain of shame is starting to lift. And we are seeing a movement of people in recovery stepping forward and giving a face and a voice to the experience of being a person who is recovering from an addiction," said Ivana Grahovac, Executive Director of Transforming Youth Recovery, a California-based organization. NPR