Top Ten

May 13, 2015

Campus groups concerned about Ottawa's stance on BDS movement

Some campus activists are concerned after the federal government indicated that it intends to use hate crime laws against Canadian groups that advocate boycotts of Israel. Canadian Public Security Minister Steven Blaney said that the government will take a "zero-tolerance" approach to addressing the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to exert economic and political pressure on Israel. A Blaney aide later indicated that this "zero-tolerance" approach may be enforced using hate crime legislation. The BDS movement has been a source of controversy on many Canadian campuses. In March, McMaster University's student union voted to support the BDS movement, while in November, a Concordia University vote on the issue was sealed following complaints from parties on both sides of the debate. CBC

CEGEPs reallocate resources in protest of government-imposed bureaucracy

At its general meeting last month, la Fédération des cégeps adopted a resolution indicating that due to budgetary constraints, its members will no longer be able to comply with what are being described as bureaucratic constraints imposed by the Quebec government. Bernard Tremblay, President of the organization, said that government rules compel CEGEPs to devote significant resources to the production of reports. However, he said that due to a lack of adequate funding, the CEGEPs will be forced to reallocate those resources in order to continue to fulfill their primary mission: providing quality training for young people. The resolution has been forwarded to François Blais, QC's Minister of Education, Higher Education, and Research. News Release (In French)

Critics say federal budget exposes interns to exploitation

Members of the Canadian Intern Association say that the recent federal budgetfails to implement better policies around interns and could create an exploitative environment. Claire Seaborn, Josh Mandryk, and Andrew Langille write in theToronto Star that the conditions in the proposed changes to the Canada Labour Code are “overbroad, unclear, and inadequate.” The authors say that such uncertainty will make unpaid interns unsure of their rights and employers unsure of when they are required to pay an intern. There are some updates that the authors say are improvements, including those that provide interns in the federal sector with health, safety, and other workplace protections. Toronto Star

Trent board votes against divestment

Trent University’s board of governors has decided not to divest the university’s endowment funds from fossil fuels. Instead, the board voted to establish a socially responsible investment (SRI) category that will comprise up to 10% of existing endowment fund assets. The SRI fund will be seeded by donations made to the Board Leadership Scholarship Fund, which receives annual gifts from current and former board members. The board affirmed that Trent would remain an “active solution provider” through continued support of research into mitigation strategies and alternatives to fossil fuel consumption. The new SRI endowment category will adhere to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. A number of Canadian PSE institutions have recently considered divestment, including Queen’s UniversityDalhousie University, and Memorial UniversityTrent News

NorQuest loneliness research study has direct impact on students

A research project at NorQuest College is providing students with valuable learning experiences while producing data that will help the institution improve its support services. The study, conducted by student researchers in the social work diploma program, used a “Loneliness Scale” also used by the Canadian Mental Health Association to assess the level of happiness and sense of community felt by students. The results are being used to drive recommendations for mental health and other student supports on campus, such as a new peer-support program and the Get Linked program, which helps connect students to community resources. NorQuest News | CBC Radio Interview

Universities focus on the space between the buildings to attract students

An article in Metro News looks at how some Canadian universities are turning their campuses into more inviting places in an effort to attract more students and to facilitate learning outside of the classroom. Initiatives include adding features such as green roofs, farmers' markets, and courtyards, as well as emphasizing pedestrian-friendly designs. Institutions like the University of Manitoba and theUniversity of Ottawa are planning their campuses around open spaces where students can gather and socialize. "[Schools] are starting to see it's not just about buildings, but all the spaces in between that tie the university together," said Nicole Taddune, who helped develop UBC's campus plan. Metro News

Media shouldn't dictate MBA education agenda, says Schulich prof

Markus Giesler, a marketing professor at York University's Schulich School of Business, has shared with Marketing magazine his thoughts on the future of the MBA and its relationship with the media. Giesler says that he thinks MBA programs are in crisis in part because they have focused too narrowly on the education agenda set by the media rather than considering multiple stakeholders. He says business schools have defined their programs based on journalistic discourse rather than concrete industry needs, and have turned to specialized programs that yield short-term games but may not serve graduates well over the long term. Marketing

Blackberry founder says Canadian universities must support commercialization

In a piece published in the Globe and Mail, Blackberry founder Jim Balsillie argues that Canada is not well equipped to win in the innovation economy. Balsillie says that Canada must make changes to help entrepreneurs succeed on the global stage. He welcomes Canadian universities' recent emphasis on commercializing research, but says that they must create better incentives to encourage more researchers to do so. He says that tenure and promotion decisions for faculty should reward, not punish, faculty for pursuing commercialization, and that universities should play a more prominent role in a broader strategy to teach and encourage the commercialization of ideas. This includes teaching strategies to help protect Canadian intellectual property. Globe and Mail

Making Canada a global leader in R&D may not be worth it

In a commentary piece published in the National Post, Stephen Gordon argues that transforming Canada into a world leader in private-sector research and development may not be worth the investment. He argues that creating a global-scale R&D cluster in Canada would be very difficult, given that other clusters already have a significant head start. Moreover, attracting a large number of researchers to build the cluster would be prohibitively expensive, especially given that R&D is an inherently risky activity. The costs, Gordon says, would quickly outweigh any social benefits of investment. National Post

Anxiety, depression remain conditions most reported at US counselling centres

The US-based Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD) has released the results of its annual survey. The report shows that 47% of US students who sought help from campus counselling centres reported experiencing anxiety, up from 46% the previous year. This marks the fifth year in a row that anxiety was the most common condition reported by students seeking help. 40% of students who went to counselling centres reported experiencing depression, while 34% sought help for relationship issues. The AUCCCD report also shows that just 34% of students seeking care were men, even though male students make up an average of 44% of the student populations at participating colleges. Inside Higher Ed | Full Report