Top Ten

May 26, 2015

Sexual assault prevention talks at RMC met with hostility, harassment

CBC reports that when Julie Lalonde from the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres gave talks to four groups of undergraduate cadets at the Royal Military College last fall, she was subjected to “unprofessional behaviour,” prompting an apology from Brigadier-General Al Meinzinger. Lalonde, an expert on sexual assault prevention, was invited by RMC officials to speak to the officer cadets, but experienced hostility and disrespect. A February letter of apology by Meinzinger admitted that there were “several incidents that could constitute harassment,” and that RMC was working to identify individuals and was taking steps to address the situation. Military law expert Michel Drapeau said that the reaction to Lalonde's sexual assault prevention message is “symptomatic of other problems at the school.” CBC (1) | CBC (2) | Ottawa Citizen

Former KPU board chair asked to repay questionable expenses

According to the Vancouver Sun, Gord Schoberg, former Chair of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s board of governors, has been asked to repay thousands of dollars in “unacceptable expenses,” including expensive meals, wine, and political donations. Schoberg has reportedly said that he will pay back any disputed expenses dating back to 2011. Several of the expenses, including political donations, were allowed under KPU’s rules at the time; in 2013, KPU banned political donations as expenses. BC’s Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson criticized the purchases, saying it was “inappropriate” to use public funds in such ways. KPU has recently been investigated for circumventing provincially legislated salary caps for senior administration under the watch of Schoberg and former Advanced Education Minister Amrik VirkVancouver Sun

NL says it will not help MUN with its pension obligations

Memorial University is facing a new financial challenge after the government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced that it will not contribute $20 M to help the institution address its pension obligations. Minister Darin King said, "we've invested since 2005 about $129 M to assist them in continuing to maintain the top-up of the plan. The pension plan of Memorial belongs to Memorial and its employees, and we felt at this point in time, given the budget predicament we're in, it's not fair to put that on the backs of the taxpayers." MUN's pension fund is currently about 90% funded; King said he believes the government will approve a one-year deferral on MUN's pension plan payment. CBC | The Telegram

Confederation announces new physical and mental health strategy

Confederation College last week announced a new Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy, reportedly the first of its kind among Ontario colleges. The strategy is based on a framework developed by the Canadian Association of College and University Support Services (CACUSS) and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), and is the product of four working groups, ten student focus groups, and 18 months of hard work. It is informed by Confederation's participation in the National College Health Assessment, which will be used to prioritize efforts. The strategy focuses on four strategic areas—policy, environment, mental health awareness and literacy, and direct services—as well as eight key priorities. Confederation News Release | Full Strategy

uAlberta to provide a home for invaluable ice core collection

The University of Alberta has been selected as the new home for Canada's national collection of ice cores. The samples, collected over the past 40 years, provide researchers with a wealth of information about the planet's past. The collection was previously housed in Ottawa at the Geological Survey of Canada's Ice Core Research Laboratory. The collection means that uAlberta will need to invest $4 M in a new cold storage facility, but Deputy Provost Roger Epp says it will be money well spent. "It's a national treasure," he said of the collection. uAlberta News Release | Edmonton Journal

CNA to establish centres of excellence for heavy equipment, media arts

College of the North Atlantic has announced that it will establish a new Centre of Excellence for Heavy Equipment Industrial Trades at its Bay St George campus and a Centre of Excellence for its Media Arts programs at its St John's campus. Moving heavy equipment training to NL's west coast will increase training opportunities in the program by about 250 seats annually. The location will also allow CNA students to take advantage of an existing heavy equipment field site, where they can gain real-life experience. Establishing the Media Arts Centre of Excellence in St John's, meanwhile, will bring together existing programs and is intended to help address declining enrolment. CNA News Release | The Telegram

Uncertainty around tuition increases in Alberta

With the recent change in Alberta’s government, students and PSE institutions are wondering whether certain tuition increases will go ahead as planned. The newly elected NDP government promised during its election campaign that it would freeze tuition and cancel upcoming market modifier tuition increases; however, the NDP has not yet issued its 2015–16 budget. Some students are hoping that the market-modifier approvals will be reversed and that new legislation will close up other tuition-related loopholes, such as mandatory non-instructional fees. PSE leaders have noted that any caps or changes to tuition should be offset by increases to operating grants and more stable funding. Opposition critic Mark Smith stated that the Wildrose party supports capping tuition increases to the rate of inflation but would not back a tuition freeze.Calgary Herald

Outreach efforts, networking help UBC attract Aboriginal med school students

A blog post published by the Vancouver Sun looks at the steps taken by UBC toattract more Aboriginal students to medical school. James Andrews, Coordinator of Aboriginal Student Initiatives, says that UBC engages in advanced networking and community outreach with students in high schools and allocates 5% of medical school seats each year to Aboriginal learners. Andrews says that two-thirds of Aboriginal graduates stay in BC to practise, with most going to rural and remote communities; however, there is a need for Aboriginal doctors in urban areas as well. "They definitely have a preference for returning to their traditional territories but the problem we have now is there aren't enough Aboriginal family doctors in Vancouver," he said. Vancouver Sun

CCC says Canada's labour market information is not good enough

A report released last week by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) says that "the federal government is delivering a poor performance" when it comes to providing labour market information. Canada earned its highest grade, a "B," for information on labour force needs by geographic area, a slight improvement since 2014. Elsewhere, the verdict is not as positive. Areas of particular weakness include information on future labour force needs and on workforce training. The CCC says the government should make data more accessible and user-friendly; coordinate and aggregate sector-specific projections with its broad-based projections; and support a publicly funded, arm's-length agency to prepare labour market information for public consumption. Globe and Mail | CCC News Release | Full Report

5 Canadian institutions among North America's greenest

Five Canadian universities are among the greenest in North America, according to The Princeton Review's Guide to 353 Green Colleges. The guide assigns institutions a "Green Rating" of between 60 and 99. Only those achieving scores of higher than 83 appear on the list of 353. The University of Victoria received the highest score among Canadian institutions with 99; it was followed by the University of Calgary (97), Western University (91), UBC (90), and the University of Windsor (83). Scores are based on factors including the percentage of food expenditures allocated to local, organic, or environmentally preferable food; the presence of environmentally friendly transit options; the school's waste-diversion rate; and the existence of a formal sustainability committee on campus. uCalgary News Release | Full Guide