Top Ten

November 2, 2015

uCalgary launches consent-focused sexual assault prevention program

Last Thursday, a new, consent-focused sexual assault prevention program launched at the University of Calgary. The program, titled Creating a Culture of Consent, is a partnership between the university’s Women’s Resource Centre and the Consent Awareness Sexual Education Club. “So many of the sexual assault prevention strategies that we had grown up with … were quite victim blaming," said Emily Leedham, one of the program’s co-founders. “This project aims to create a campus culture where victim blaming is no longer tolerated and to make the campus an environment where survivors will feel supported regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation and relationship status,” said WRC Co-ordinator Nanako Furuyama. Calgary Herald | CBC | Metro News | Global News | uCalgary

SFU, TSSU proceed to Final Offer Selection, student grades released

The Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) at Simon Fraser University—which represents 1,500 teaching assistants, tutor markers, and sessional lectures—has voted to approve a Final Offer Selection process. As part of the agreement, TSSU will end its current job action and release student grades that have been withheld since June. Bargaining between the parties will continue to reach agreement on the outstanding items; any unresolved items that remain thereafter will be referred to an arbitrator. SFU | TSSU

Lambton receives $2 M donation for health research centre

Lambton College has received a $2 M donation from NOVA Chemicals to fund its new health research centre. This is the largest donation the college has ever received from any industry or company and the largest educational investment made by the chemical manufacturer. In recognition of the donation, the new $30 M facility will be named the NOVA Chemicals Health & Research Centre. The donation has brought the college’s capital campaign, launched earlier this year, to $33.3 M of its $45 M goal. | Sarnia Observer | Lambton

TÉLUQ faces possible closure

TÉLUQ, also known as the Télé-Université, is reportedly facing significant reorganization or even closure, according to La Presse. The possibility was confirmed to the newspaper by the Quebec Minister of Education François Blais. “We want more efficient practices,” said Julie White, a spokesperson for the minister. Noting that distance education has changed significantly since the founding of TÉLUQ in 1972, and that many universities now have their own distance programs, White said that “distance learning is, and will continue to be, important to us. But one wonders how it can be deployed in Quebec. Can it be better?” The university had merged with the Université du Québec à Montréal in 2005, but regained independence in 2012. La Presse

NS investigates claims of elevated radiation levels at Dal dentistry clinic

Nova Scotia’s Occupational Health and Safety division is investigating high radiation levels in Dalhousie University’s dentistry building after receiving an anonymous complaint. The letter was addressed to several local media organizations, and claimed that a staff member was “exposed to radiation beyond acceptable levels.” The university disputes this: Dal spokesperson Brian Leadbetter said that radiation levels had been elevated during mould abatement in May, but “not beyond acceptable” levels. Leadbetter said that Dal will “fully support” any review or investigation into its practices. CBC | Chronicle Herald

Students shift focus from federal election to campaign promises

After a substantial show of support at the voting stations, young voters and student groups are preparing to push the Liberals to keep their campaign promises. Student engagement appears to have been higher this election than four years ago, with Elections Canada announcing that over 70 K people voted at the special election offices on postsecondary campuses. The Canadian Federation of Students reported that the wait time at some campuses was as long as an hour. The Liberals made a number of promises concerning student tuition grants and employment, and, according to CFS Chair Bilan Arte, the high student turnout has encouraged student groups to “make sure that the Trudeau government … does what it said it would do.” Hamilton Spectator (CP)

Universities must address system effects on student well-being

Universities must rethink their education delivery style and the role they play in their students’ well-being, argues Emily Lennon. While many institutions attempt to address the program by increasing mental health and well-being supports across campus, and while postsecondary institutions are not fully responsible for their students’ health, Lennon points to the central functions of the institution as areas that need significant improvement for the sake of the students. “We need to rethink course loads, class sizes, pedagogy, and other facets of the university’s structural foundation,” explains Lennon, “because clearly this problem is only increasing.” Edmonton Journal

UBC to offer Game of Thrones course

Next semester, UBC students will be able to analyze George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and the associated HBO TV series in a course called “Our Modern Medieval: The Song of Ice and Fire as contemporary Medievalism.” The course, which requires students to read the five-book series and watch the five seasons of the show in advance, reached its 16-person cap within three hours. “The monsters in Martin’s work are people. That’s quite scary for us,” explains Associate Professor Robert Rouse. “That’s one of the points of attraction, because it reminds us that we’re the real monsters, not dragons or orcs.” CBC | Metro News | Marie Claire | TIME

The New Yorker explores the “rise and fall” of US for-profit schools

Between 1990 and 2010, the portion of US bachelor’s degrees from for-profit schools septupled, but today, these same institutions are struggling. The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki notes that since 2010, Corinthian Colleges went bankrupt and enrolment at the University of Phoenix has fallen by half. The fundamental challenge is that the schools rely on financial aid and yet routinely over-promised and under-delivered. Graduates were left with significant debt—96% took out loans, averaging $40 K—yet earned less money and were more likely to be unemployed, according to a Harvard study. He calls on government to put more money into community colleges and public universities, as well as “rethink our assumption that college is always the right answer, regardless of cost.” New Yorker

Academic writing must be clear, simple

The Atlantic’s Victoria Clayton argues that academic writing must be clearer and less complex. An overly “opaque writing style” is nothing new in academia. Some researchers have argued that an opaque style is required to impress academic journal editors while others explain that the complex writing style comes from spending years of deep study in their field of expertise. “It’s easy to be complex, it’s harder to be simple,” said former University of North Carolina English Professor Deborah Bosley. “It would make academics better researchers and better writers, though, if they had to translate their thinking into plain language.” Atlantic