Top Ten

November 24, 2015

Graduate student launches human rights complaint against UBC

A former University of British Columbia graduate student has announced that she intends to file a human-rights complaint against UBC with the BC Human Rights Tribunal by the end of the year. She stated that she approached the school administration multiple times from 2011 onward to report having been sexually assaulted, but the university failed to act on her report. Another student who experienced sexual assault at the school stated that "this process has made me a victim of procedure and of bureaucracy. … The system is broken from start to finish." UBC Interim President Martha Piper issued a statement of apology acknowledging that "the process took too long." Associate Vice-President of Equity and Inclusion Sara-Jane Finlay announced that UBC intends to launch a formal investigation into the university’s response to accusations of harassment and sexual assault. The student who reportedly committed the assaults and harassment is no longer a student at UBC. CBC | CBC (2) | CTV News | Vancouver Sun

uWinnipeg senate approves first-in-Canada Indigenous course requirement

The University of Winnipeg senate has approved a requirement, proposed earlier this year, that all undergraduate students take at least one Indigenous studies course. It will take effect for all new students beginning in the 2016–17 school year, and does not affect graduation requirements for current students. “This is a proud, joyous, and historic day for the University of Winnipeg community,” said President Annette Trimbee. The institution is reportedly the first to require a full course in Indigenous studies for all students. Currently, the University of Regina has an Indigenous studies requirement for arts students and Lakehead University requires one course with at least 50% Indigenous content. CBC | Global News | Winnipeg Sun | iPolitics

uRegina to fund brain research with $1 M anonymous donation

An anonymous donor has provided the University of Regina with $1 M to support four brain research projects. These projects were selected through a call for brain research proposals in July 2015 and will work specifically on neuroplasticity, dementia, attention, and neurological diseases. uRegina President Vianne Timmons said, “through the generous support of this anonymous philanthropist the University will be able to engage in research that has the potential to significantly improve the lives of countless people suffering from injuries and diseases affecting the brain.” uRegina

uOttawa yoga class cancelled over “cultural appropriation” concerns

A free yoga class offered at the Centre for Students with Disabilities, which is run by the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, has been cancelled due to concerns that the class represents the cultural appropriation of traditional Indian practices by Western culture. In an interview with Radio-Canada, Student Federation President Roméo Ahimakin said that while there were no direct complaints about the class, it was suspended “as part of a review of all their programs to make them more interesting, accessible, inclusive and responsive to the needs of students.” He added that the class could possibly return in the future in a “more accessible” version. The class's instructor challenged the cancellation, saying, "we're not going through the finer points of scripture. We're talking about basic physical awareness and how to stretch so that you feel good." CBC | National Post | Washington Post

Dechinta, UBC partner to offer university course credits

The Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning has partnered with the University of British Columbia to offer northern students access to university course credits from the latter institution. Under the partnership, UBC’s Glen Coulthard will spend half his time teaching at Dechinta. One goal of the partnership is to increase opportunities for students from the north to attend university in the south. “[It’s] really important for me to make sure that students are supported,” said Coulthard, “to cut back on the alienation and these other sorts of barriers that students tend to experience when they go south for university.” CBC | MyYellowknifeNow

WesternU investigating “Western White Student Union” Facebook page

Western University staff are investigating a Facebook community page created over the weekend, titled "Western White Student Union." The unknown administrator of the page has written in a statement that the group’s purpose is to "unapologetically provide a creative space for white bodies" to discuss "whiteness." Campus police and WesternU IT services are working to identify the creators of the page. WesternU has released a statement stating that the group is not sanctioned by the institution, and that "every member of the Western community has the right to study, work, and conduct his or her activities in an environment free of harassment and discrimination." The Facebook page is part of a recent trend in such messaging targeting Ontario's campus communities. CTV News | Western | AM980

How Canada stopped, reversed the much-feared “brain drain”

Canada has been very successful at reversing the “brain drain” that many feared would begin happening in the 1990s, writes the Toronto Star. According to the article, Canada managed to  attract and retain a large group of talented researchers the 1990s and 2000s with a number of strategic programs. In the year 2000, for example, the Canada Research Chair program created 2,000 funded positions to attract the world’s best researchers. Since then, experts have said that Canada’s research environment is better than it ever has been. The challenge now, concludes the Star, is to continue retaining Canada’s home-grown talent, as one researcher notes, “we’re always churning out really smart young people, and we need to make sure they have opportunities here in Canada.” Toronto Star

Student union leaders open to significant challenges, rewards

The life of a student union leader in Canada can be extreme in both its challenges and rewards, writes Maclean’s. Some of these representatives will routinely work 12-hour days balancing their schoolwork and union responsibilities. Acting as a union leader also means that these students must risk alienating high-ranking figures in the university, government, and private sector in order to defend the rights and interests of the students they represent. But with all of this work and responsibility comes significant rewards, especially when it comes to applying for work after graduation. One leader noted that when she first interviewed for jobs after university: “I can guarantee you that I didn’t go through one interview where it [my union experience] wasn’t one of the first questions asked.” Maclean’s

Making sense of media bans at US college protests

The nationwide attention that is often given to local college campus protests makes it difficult if not impossible for protesters to trust the media, writes Vox. The article goes on to argue that this lack of trust can arise simply from the fact that students participating in these protests will be much more hesitant to voice their true opinions if they know their words will be reported through national media; further, their remarks will likely be “read by hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people, many of whom interpret and comment on them without a shred of good faith.” This lack of trust no doubt contributed to the recent decision from protesters at Smith College in the US to ban any media members who would not openly declare their support for support for the protesters’ cause. While Vox is sympathetic to the protesters’ position on this situation, it notes that banning media from events could make for a larger national news story than allowing them to attend. Vox

New School grad students petition NLRB for union status

A bid by graduate students at the New School in New York City to unionize has reached the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Some experts believe that taking the case signals a willingness by the board to overturn its 2004 ruling that graduate students at private universities cannot unionize because their relationship with the university is primarily academic rather than economic. The NLRB has gone back and forth on this issue over the past two decades, in what one expert called “ping-pong jurisprudence” resulting from the fact that its members are politically appointed by the US president. Chronicle of Higher Education