Top Ten

April 2, 2015

Female student politicians face racial discrimination, misogynist graffiti

A student politician at Concordia University has filed a complaint with the Quebec human rights commission against 2 male colleagues and the student association she was a part of. The student alleges she faced a toxic environment when elected to a position on the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA), consisting of racial discrimination and sexism. The students said her tipping point came when she discovered a Facebook chat about herself between the 2 colleagues when one of them left his account open on a public computer. The student was told by university administration that there was nothing they could do because the conversation in question was “private.” Concordia’s Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) filed the complaint on behalf of the student, and is asking for moral and punitive damages as well as sensitivity training for ASFA executives for the next 2 years. Meanwhile at Dalhousie University, 2 female Dalhousie Student Union executives recently discovered misogynist and threatening graffiti that they believe is directed at them. Dal has removed the graffiti and is attempting to find the perpetrators. Montreal Gazette | Chronicle Herald

Canada’s Francophone institutions form new association

20 Canadian Francophone and bilingual PSE institutions outside Quebec have teamed up to create the new Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne (ACUFC). The ACUFC will act as the collective voice of the institutions and will serve to enhance and encourage collaboration between the institutions. In addition, ACUFC will partner with national organizations to “ensure visibility” on both the national and international stages. Canada’s Francophone institutions have long collaborated on areas such as research in healthcare training and Francophone immigration; the new association will build on these existing collaborations while creating new ones. The creation of the ACUFC “will allow us to substantially increase the number of quality French-language postsecondary programs offered in Francophone minority communities and, consequently, increase the vitality of the Canadian Francophonie,” said Allister Surette, ACUFC Co-President and President of Université Sainte-Anne. SPU News | ACUFC Website (in French)

New Brunswick cuts graduate retention program in new budget

New Brunswick tabled its 2015–16 budget yesterday which highlighted 3 priorities for the province: creating the conditions for job creation, facing fiscal challenges, and helping families. The province is projecting a $476.8 M deficit for the year, and is making a number of cuts to various sectors in order to address the fiscal challenges. The biggest cut to the PSE sector is the cancellation of the $20,000 tuition rebate program for PSE graduates who remain in the province to work. "We feel there are better ways to support students who need it most. The New Brunswick Tuition Rebate helped only those students who have already graduated and are collecting salaries. It did nothing to help needy students enter the system in the first place,” said Minister of Finance Roger Melanson. The province has also frozen its contributions to provincial PSE institutions, so that they can “become more focused and efficient in delivering their important services.” The budget also freezes tuition at current levels for public universities in NB, and eliminates parental and spousal contributions on student loan applications to make education more accessible. The province has committed funding for the Youth Employment Fund to help youth in the province gain access to work experience and training, but announced that almost 250 teaching positions will be cut. Critics of the budget have spoken out against the cutting of teaching positions and some have launched a petition to reinstate the tuition rebate program. NB News Release | NB Budget | CBC (budget) | CBC(teachers)

CAUT warns that new anti-terrorism bill could affect academic freedom, free speech

Canada’s proposed anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51, could have serious implications for academic freedom and campus free speech, cautions the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) in an analysis of the controversial legislation. According to CAUT, the Bill criminalizes speech that “advocates terrorism” and provides security forces with greater power to monitor and share information about academics and students engaged in lawful activities. CAUT is also concerned that the Bill does not contain educational defense provisions such as those in Canada’s anti-hate speech law. “Professors studying controversial topics could be subjected to surveillance and sharing of personal information between government agencies without their knowledge ... this broad and unaccountable information sharing will have a chilling effect on academic freedom and other forms of expression,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. Current agreements in place to limit and provide oversight of RCMP investigations on campus could be replaced by the new Bill. CAUT News Release | Full Analysis

JIBC releases new 2015–20 Strategic Plan

The Justice Institute of British Columbia has released its new 2015–20 Strategic Plan, which builds on existing strengths in public safety education, training, and applied research. The plan outlines JIBC’s 4 strategic priorities for the next 5 years: be relevant and impactful, increase engagement and awareness, create exceptional environments, and be effective and accountable. The priorities will be realized through focus on several key goals and actions such as offering focused, specialized, and applied training opportunities that are aligned with local labour markets; increasing opportunities through collaboration with other PSE institutions and communities; and expanding stakeholder engagement and marketing of programs. “I am confident that our new strategic plan will meet our vision of safer communities and a more just society,” said JIBC Board Chair Doug Eastwood. “Extensive stakeholder consultation was invaluable in determining how JIBC will expand its readiness to serve our students, stakeholders and partners and develop dynamic justice and public safety professionals.” JIBC News Release

MUN cuts 20 campus enforcement positions

Memorial University has issued layoff notices to more than 20 campus enforcement and patrol officers. The officers—18 permanent employees, 3 contract workers, and several on-call employees—provided service to Eastern Health, which announced last year it would no longer be using MUN’s officers. "There has been a long-standing relationship between Memorial University and Eastern Health for shared security services at the Health Sciences Centre," a statement from the health authority said. "Eastern Health thanks Memorial University for the security services it has provided over this time." It is not clear why the relationship between the 2 organizations has ended. MUN has a total of 52 campus enforcement and patrol officers. CBC

HEQCO report finds benefits of intermediary bodies between government, PSE

A new report from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) suggests that an intermediary body working independently between government and PSE institutions can help promote higher quality and sustainability in the PSE sector. The study, The Role of Intermediary Funding Bodies in Enhancing Quality and Sustainability in Higher Education, found that intermediary organizations can complement existing ministries or departments and support the government in the development of funding and other policies. Additionally, intermediary bodies can provide sustained policy direction regardless of changes in institutional or governmental leadership, and can serve to insulate government from controversial decisions through the provision of continued, non-partisan data and qualitative findings. “With the best of wills, higher education institutions do not change quickly or easily. Yet the nature of government makes sustained policy implementation difficult … [intermediary bodies] may provide an important device by which strategic policies can be made to work over time,” suggests the report's author. HEQCO Summary | Full Report

RRC, Ryerson among PSE institutions recognized by diversity award

Several Canadian PSE institutions have been awarded Canada’s Best Diversity Employers Award, including Red River College, Ryerson University, the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), UBC, the University of Toronto, and the University of Victoria. Employers are judged on a number of criteria, including diversity initiatives for employees from 5 areas: women, members of visible minorities, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples, and LGBT peoples. “Red River College has always been proactive in their efforts to support its employees and today’s award is ongoing recognition of the work we are doing,” said Lori Grandmont, Acting VP Human Resources and Sustainability. “I want to congratulate our staff for their work on these initiatives, and for their input into continually finding new and innovative ways to strengthen our workplace.” Award News Release | RRC News | Ryerson News

US Dept of Ed releases list of PSE institutions under financial restrictions

For the first time, the US Department of Education has published the list of colleges and institutions that are under federal aid restrictions due to concerns about finances or compliance with federal regulations. Of the list of 556 institutions, the majority—487—are on the lower level of heightened cash monitoring. The remaining 69 institutions are under increased scrutiny; the names of 21 institutions that are on the highest level of scrutiny were withheld due to ongoing investigations. Under-Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell noted that a variety of reasons can contribute to a school being on the list, and said that it “is not necessarily a red flag to students and taxpayers, but it can serve as a caution light.” The department had previously resisted publishing the list due to concerns around “substantial competitive injury.” The list is dominated by for-profit institutions, the majority of them small, although some large for-profit chains such as Corinthian Colleges are included. The government hopes to have the list published online and updated regularly. Inside Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education

PSE institutions pull April Fool’s Day pranks

Institutions across Canada and the US got into the April Fool’s Day spirit yesterday with a number of pranks and fake news releases. From biodomes at Ontario’s Nipissing University and New York's Houghton College, to a campus monorail at Smith College in Massachusetts, colleges and universities announced a number of false infrastructure projects. Nipissing also announced the appointment of a new chancellor, Sheev Palpatine, of Star Wars fame. Brock University announced it would create varsity bubble soccer teams, the University of Saskatchewan announced it was changing its mascot from the huskie to Plucky the duck-billed platypus, and the University of Winnipeg announced it was introducing premium seating benefits for students, including more leg room, seat reservations, and snack services. The University of Windsor revealed its new colour-coded library organization, and Cape Breton University suggested that Cape Breton Island separate from Nova Scotia and join Newfoundland and Labrador instead. Both Simon Fraser University and SAIT Polytechnic attempted the address the dangers of texting-and-walking: SFU produced a video introducing a new lane system to separate the “distracted walkers” from the non-texting students, and SAIT unveiled their new fleet of Walk-a-Bots, robots that carry you to class so you can text without the distraction of looking where you are going. Schools across the UK were not to be outdone: Cambridge University posted signs that all doors were now voice-activated, and Queen’s University Belfast announced it would host the filming of a Harry Potter prequel. Inside Higher Ed | Smith News | Nipissing News (Biodome) | Brock News | uWinnipeg News | uWindsor News | uSask News | SFU Video | CBU News | SAIT News | Nipissing News | The Telegraph