Top Ten

September 8, 2015

BrandonU unveils accessible, gender-neutral washrooms

Brandon University has established 14 single-stall, accessible, gender-neutral washrooms on its campus as part of the university’s Positive Space initiative. Project organizer and assistant professor Corinne Mason said that the BrandonU administration was very supportive of the plan, which was developed after months of consultations. The signage on the washrooms includes braille and symbols for accessibility and is intended to indicate that the washrooms are open to the whole BrandonU community. “I am very proud of the university for listening to student and faculty concerns, seeking out expertise from the LGBTTQ community, and prioritizing the creation of washrooms where all people, regardless of gender identity or expression, are welcome to enter and use the facilities free of harassment and violence,” said Mason. BrandonU | CBC

PSE institutions in Montreal work to change frosh culture

Montreal’s PSE institutions are working to encourage alternative frosh week events that have less emphasis on alcohol and excessive partying, reports the Montreal Gazette. Both Concordia University and McGill University are holding training programs for student leaders to raise awareness of alcohol consumption, and groups at both institutions are hosting events that may appeal to students who normally would not take part in traditional frosh activities. Student organizers at McGill are also working with local community groups to improve relationships after years of “bad party habits.” Mitchell Miller, Student Life Coordinator at McGill, and Andrew Woodall, Concordia’s Dean of Students, both noted that the students have been involved in efforts to change the culture of frosh events. Last year, engineering students at Concordia rewrote the frosh chant songbook due to concerns that some chants were offensive. Montreal Gazette

UBC interim president seeks new ways to support international students

Canadian universities must think very seriously about their responsibilities toward international students, said the University of British Columbia’s Interim President Martha Piper in a recent interview. Piper added that she will examine how her institution currently uses the $11 M in financial aid that it gives to international students, looking for new ways to attract those who want to enrol in UBC but cannot afford the $26 K to $30 K tuition fees charged to international students. “All Canadian universities need to take seriously that we should be doing our part in trying to educate international students and particularly from developing countries,” said Piper. “Something I hold dear is that students are global citizens.” Globe and Mail

Dal provides app to help students stay safe

Dalhousie University is offering its students a free app to help them stay safe on its campus. The app, called DalSAFE, allows for instant connection between those on Dal’s campus and Dal’s security team by providing one-touch access. Students will have the ability to instantly call one of the university’s patrol shuttles, report something to Dal security, or call the Mobile Mental Health Crisis Unit. The app is also GPS-enabled to provide security with valuable real-time information about an individual's location. Dal

Canada remains mediocre in innovation, says Conference Board

The Conference Board of Canada has raised Canada’s mark in global innovation from a D to a C since its last report. The report also ranks Canada ninth among 16 peer industrial countries in the area of innovation, leaving it far behind class leaders like Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. The change in grade is partially due to a new criterion for entrepreneurial ambition, which Canada scored well in. The country has also made gains in venture capital investment, although the report reminds readers that Canada still lacks in labour productivity, corporate investment in research and development, and new patents. The report concludes that a combination of risk aversion, complacency, and overreliance on natural resources has hampered Canada’s efforts to become more innovative. Globe and Mail | CTV News| Maclean's | Report

uAlberta develops digital textbook app based on Dino 101

A successful MOOC at the University of Alberta is becoming a digital textbook in app form. The interactive textbook is based on the Dino 101 online course and is now available for a small fee from app stores. It features text and instructional videos interspersed with quizzes, puzzles, and games and is designed to appeal to students with a variety of learning styles. Dino 101 is available either as a paid, for-credit course or as a free, non-credit course. “We’re mindful of our students and the tremendous pressures on them with tuition and the additional costs of education such as textbooks,” said Jonathan Schaeffer, Dean of the Faculty of Science. “We wanted to build something that was fun, engaging, and at a price point that added real value to the student learning experience.” Global News

PEI to expand Graduate Mentorship Program

PEI has said that it will provide 50 new work opportunities through its Graduate Mentorship Program in 2015-2016, reports CBC. Through this program, Skills PEI contributes up to 50% of wage costs for the first year of employment for postsecondary graduates. The program’s aim is to give graduates the opportunity to gain skills and work experience while still being able to make a living in PEI. Since its introduction in 2012, the program has provided mentorships for 280 graduates in a number of sectors including information technology, business, marketing, and construction. CBC

Pornography site faces criticism for offering postsecondary scholarship

One of the world’s most-viewed pornography websites—Pornhub.com—has offered a $25 K college scholarship for a student who will be judged partially on a homemade video that answers the question, "How do you strive to make others happy?" While the site’s representatives say that this application video does not need to be pornographic, the campaign has drawn criticism from those who find it exploitative. Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said the scholarship was "an amazing and deceptive marketing tactic" that targets already-vulnerable college students in need of money. "A lot of younger people don't realize the consequences and harm of pornography," she added. "These videos follow them the rest of their lives and affect their jobs and relationships in the future." Hamilton Spectator | The Independent

Harm-reduction approach to drug use could benefit students

As students return to a new school year, some organizations are encouraging a harm-reduction approach to student drug use. Gonzo Nieto, a drug educator and a board member of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, pointed out that many common illicit drugs are now mixed with dangerous chemicals, leading to overdoses and death. He suggests students should have better access to harm reduction resources such as cheap drug testing kits that identify chemicals that may have been mixed into the drug. "Having that kind of service available helps people make better decisions,” said Nieto. Jessica Turmel, a spokeswoman for harm-reduction group GRIP Montreal, says the argument is similar to that for safe-injection sites. Turmel also noted that better drug education programs would help young people make better decisions. CBC

Where you go to college does not matter, writes Forbes contributor

“I spent six figures on my college education,” writes Forbes contributor and personal finance writer Casey Bond, “and it wasn’t worth it. At all.” Bond points to the reported doubling of American student debt in the last twenty years to suggest that the belief in one's infinite potential has led many students to enrol in the most prestigious institutions they can get into, regardless of their ability to pay for the related expenses. Bond concludes that employers do not generally care where today’s graduates get their degrees as long as they have them; she supports this claim by citing a Lumina Foundation report from 2013 that found only 9% of business leaders considered where an applicant received their degree to be “very important.” Forbes | Report