Top Ten

September 21, 2015

Citing religion, MUN prof refuses to wear sound device for hard-of-hearing student

A Memorial University student who is hard of hearing has stated that he may file a human rights complaint after one of his professors allegedly refused to wear a sound-transmitting device for reasons relating to the Hindu religion. The professor in question, Ranee Panjabi, also refused to wear such a device on religious grounds in 1996, a case in which MUN elected to uphold her decision. However, some experts have raised questions about the nature of Panjabi’s claim. When asked for comment by the National Post, Professor Emerita Mandakrant Bose, who works in the UBC’s Institute of Asian Research, said that she was not aware of any tenets of the Hindu faith that prohibit wearing such a device. National Post | Telegram

UNB, STU yet to implement sexual assault policies

The University of New Brunswick and St Thomas University are facing scrutiny for not having official sexual assault policies in place, according to the CBC. An investigation by the CBC earlier this year also found that UNB had received 11 reports of sexual assault between 2009 and 2013, while STU had received six during the same period. Representatives from both schools stated earlier this year that they expected such policies in place by this fall. Yet UNB Director of Communications Sonya Gilks has recently stated that a full policy is not expected at UNB until the end of the academic year in 2016. STU has said that it will release a policy on sexual violence this week. CBC | Global News

Fanshawe, UPEI, Seneca, uToronto, UVic, and WesternU announce Syrian refugee initiatives

Several PSE institutions across Canada have announced initiatives to assist Syrian refugees over the last few days. Fanshawe College has announced that it will offer free tuition to 10 Syrian refugees who settle in London. The University of Prince Edward Island has promised to offer space for 10 students currently studying in Syria who can no longer study there; one student has already been selected. Seneca College has announced free tuition for 10 Syrian refugees coming to study at that institution, regardless of the credential. uToronto has announced that it will partner with York University and UOIT to participate in Ryerson University’s initiative announced earlier this summer; it will also expand its Scholars-At-Risk program to include students. UVic has announced funding for several initiatives, including support for continuing education. WesternU has announced a three-part approach, which will include sponsoring a Syrian family and creating the Syrian Refugee Awards to cover tuition and living costs for ten Syrian students admitted to the university. Blackburn (Fanshawe) | Fanshawe | CBC (UPEI) | Seneca | uToronto | UVic | AM 980 (WesternU) | YorkU

uCalgary, students’ union contest management of MacEwan Hall

A court date might be in the future for the University of Calgary and its students’ union (SU), who have engaged in long negotiations over the future control of the MacEwan Hall building on uCalgary’s campus. MacEwan Hall is currently home to the students’ union, which has reportedly uncovered documents showing that students covered 55% of the building’s original construction costs in the late 1960s. The students’ union is arguing that this evidence, along with an operating agreement from 1969, makes the union the building’s majority shareholder and gives it control over decisions regarding its management. However, SU President Levi Nilson recently told reporters that negotiations with uCalgary over management and ownership issues were “heading toward a stalemate” and that the union might pursue legal action if an acceptable agreement was not reached. Calgary Herald

NS minister deems continuing salaries to university ex-presidents unacceptable

Contracts that pay university presidents hundreds of thousands of dollars after retirement are no longer acceptable in a time of rising student costs, says Nova Scotia Minister of Advanced Education Kelly Regan. In a meeting last Tuesday, Regan delivered this message to the chairpersons of university boards of governors from around NS. She added that her concern was prompted by the contract of former Dalhousie University President Tom Traves. The minister’s views were applauded by Michaela Sam, Chairwoman of the Nova Scotia division of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS-NS), who added that any money saved by ending the practice of post-retirement salaries should be earmarked for reducing tuition fees in the province. CBC (Regan) | CBC (CFS-NS) | Hamilton Spectator

Camosun, NIC, VIU receive $600 K from BC for 78 new health-care spaces

British Columbia has announced $600 K in funding for three Vancouver Island postsecondary institutions to support 78 new health-care spaces. Camosun College will receive $246 K for 32 health-care assistant program spaces. North Island College will receive $158 K for 20 health-care assistant program spaces at its Comox Valley campus and 2.25 emergency medical responder spaces at its Port Alberni campus. Vancouver Island University will receive $196 K for 12 mental health worker spaces at its Nanaimo campus and 12 health promotion workers for Aboriginal workers at its Parksville campus. BC

uWindsor to hire 50 new full-time profs

The University of Windsor has announced that it plans to hire 50 new full-time professors over the next three years, with 18 to be hired in the next year. The first 18 positions will be across six faculties, approved through a “consultative process” led by the provost with the deans. Windsor University Faculty Association (WUFA) President Anne Forrest has said that she is “delighted” by the news, saying that “[faculty] renewal is always wonderful, it’s always needed.” uWindsor President Alan Wildeman said, “this lets us build on our strengths and bring in new ideas. We have to determine what students are looking for and the kinds of programs where we can redevelop strengths.” CBC | Windsor Star

Campus tours are essential when choosing a PSE institution

When it comes to choosing a postsecondary institution, there is no substitute for an in-person campus tour, according to a group of experts interviewed by the Toronto Star. The article profiles some of the innovative ways that schools such as Seneca College, George Brown College, and Canadore College are taking campus tours to the next level and offering prospective applicants a truer sense of what it means to live a day in the life of a student at their schools. George Brown’s Manager of Liaison and Recruitment Dave Scott said, “you should have a tour of every campus before you even apply. … It’s one of the most important things a student can do in the application process.” Toronto Star

Many US colleges allow students to choose their own gender pronoun

Many US colleges have modified their registration and application processes to allow students to indicate their gender, with options that include gender identities beyond male and female. The University of Vermont first started letting students pick pronouns in 2009, and the work of advocacy groups on campus has further fuelled the movement. According to Harvard University Registrar Michael Burke, slightly over 1% of the 4,000 students who have submitted their pronouns to Harvard so far have chosen pronouns other than “he/him” and “she/her.” “We want this to be a place that is inclusive and embracing of everybody in the community,” said Burke. Cape Breton Post (AP)

UC campuses come out on top in US college access rankings

The New York Times has ranked top US colleges according to their accessibility, with University of California system campuses securing six of the top ten spots on the College Access Index; UC-Irvine took the top spot. College Access Index scores are based on the share of students receiving Pell grants, student graduation rates, and the net cost of attending that institution for low- and middle-income students. Low-income students typically enrol at a college closer to home with fewer resources rather than a selective college, yet most who attend top colleges thrive, sometimes even performing better than the general student body. New York Times | College Access Index