Top Ten

January 22, 2016

uToronto to build cultural centre in downtown Toronto

The University of Toronto is set to build a new Centre for Civilizations and Cultures at the site of the McLaughlin Planetarium, adjacent to the faculties of law and music. The planetarium, formerly part of the Royal Ontario Museum, was closed in 1995 and sold to uToronto in 2009. The university has engaged New York-based architectural firm Diller Scofido + Renfro, who will collaborate with Toronto’s Architects Alliance in designing the new centre. “This site will act as a dramatic new gateway connecting the university and the city,” said uToronto Vice-President of University Operations Scott Mabury. The project's total cost and construction timeline have not yet been announced. Toronto Star | uToronto

CFS-BC begins process of separating from national CFS

The Canadian Federation of Students-British Columbia (CFS-BC) has passed a number of motions to begin the process of separating from the national CFS, according to The Omega. The group would be renamed the BC Federation of Students—the name change is currently awaiting approval from the provincial government. “We are federated with the national organization, but we are our own entity. So really it’s simply that the members are keen to see the BC organization acting more independently of the national organization,” said CFS-BC Spokesperson Steven Beasley. The Omega

UNBC confirms James Moore as next chancellor

The University of Northern British Columbia’s Board of Governors made its final decision last week in confirming the election of former federal cabinet minister James Moore as its next chancellor, despite ongoing criticism. Board Chair Ryan Matheson said that “the board listened to and considered feedback, positive and negative, received from university stakeholders, including students, senate, faculty, staff and community members.” The UNBC Faculty Association is reportedly disappointed with the decision. “As far as I know we've never had a contentious appointment previous to this,” said Association President  Stephen Rader. “It's hard to imagine that in all of Canada that they couldn't have found a better choice.” Prince George Citizen

CP, Sun examine male-only Canadian college programs in Saudi Arabia

The Canadian Press released an article yesterday highlighting the fact that Niagara College and Algonquin College currently operate campuses in Saudi Arabia that enrol only men. The article reports that the Saudi operating agreement with the colleges “prohibits the education of men and women in the same classes” in keeping with Sharia Law. The colleges have faced criticism over these campuses in the wake of Saudi Arabia’s execution of 47 prisoners earlier this month. The Toronto Sun has also reported that Centennial College has been operating a “corporate training program” in the country that prohibits women from attending. When asked about the male-only campuses, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Reza Moridi said, “I understand and appreciate the perspectives that have been raised in recent weeks about these educational activities. … I am proud of the advancements that Ontario’s colleges are making in bringing our high-quality programming around the world.” Globe and Mail (CP) | Toronto Sun | CBC | OPSEU

Millennials pursuing self-employment in steadily growing numbers

A growing number of people entering the Canadian workforce have little desire to work a 9-to-5 job with a “boss hovering over them,” reports The Record. Drawing on data from a 10-nation poll of 5,800 participants, the article suggests that professionals from the millennial generation exhibit a “fundamentally different approach” to achieving happiness than previous generations. A second study from Intuit found that a full 25% of millennials start their own businesses without ever having held a full-time job. However, questions remain about how much this trend stems from this population’s desire for independence and how much it stems from a growing lack of full-time employment opportunities. The Intuit study also raised concerns about the explosion in millennial self-employment, as it found that 69% of those who started new businesses did so without any formal business plan. The Record

Trent to launch independent review of Traill College

Trent University will launch an external review of Catharine Parr Traill College, located in downtown Peterborough, according to an open letter from Trent President Leo Groarke. The review will examine the college’s financial viability and its potential for renewal, as some of its older buildings need repairs. “The aim of the review will be a set of recommendations on how we can best ensure that Traill becomes a financially and academically successful component of Trent,” said Trent President Leo Groarke. “The recommendations will be taken seriously, but they will be only recommendations. Decisions about the future of Traill will have to be made via the university’s normal decision-making processes.” Peterborough Examiner | Arthur

OUSA members respond to YorkU’s recent mental health policy change

York University’s recent policy change permitting students to not disclose health diagnoses when applying for academic accommodations is a change that “simply reflects the law,” write Danielle Pierre and Jasmine Irwin of OUSA in response to a recent editorial. The authors emphasize the new policy’s requirement to have students’ functional limitation confirmed by a recognized health care provider, before discussing the positive changes that the policy enacts for students. On top of the practical benefits of responding to specific limitations instead of broad diagnoses, they argue that the policy change shows respect to students by enabling their autonomy and personal privacy: “All students should be given the choice as to whether or not, and to whom, they disclose private medical information.” OUSA

Fostering more productive conversations about change in PSE

“Conversations about the need for change in higher education and how best to chart our path forward have become exhausting,” writes the Chronicle of Higher Education. Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of this non-dialogue, the article adds, is that both sides tend to assume the worst of the other side’s motives. While faculty remain suspicious of administrators' supposed efforts to undermine the university’s traditional mission, administrators might see faculty as resistant to change solely for the purpose of protecting what is comfortable and familiar to them. Yet “what if we approached decision-making conversations as collaborations,” the article asks, “rather than as arguments of distinct perspective that are structured to be won?” In the interest of furthering this effort, the article lays out five points of consideration that might help each side of the “change debate” understand the other. Chronicle of Higher Education

PSE must work to ensure student success beyond just academics

A recent panel at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities focused on the topic of student well-being, suggesting that it is insufficient for students to excel academically if they do not flourish on campus. While many institutions are measuring learning outcomes, few are specifically measuring student well-being, according to Ashley Finley, National Evaluator for Bringing Theory to Practice. Alisa Stanton, a session panelist and a health promotion specialist at Simon Fraser University, said that her university was trying to include “a focus on well-being in its core institutional policies,” with a particular eye toward underserved students. Inside Higher Ed

Freedom of speech on campus is about balance, not absolutes

The debate over freedom of speech on UK campuses requires us “to be aware of the possibility of radicalisation and to protect freedom of speech,” writes University of Sheffield Vice-Chancellor Keith Burnett. In achieving this balance, he adds, it is not enough to take an absolutist approach from either side of the debate. Banning every unpleasant utterance on a campus will not move the community forward, but neither will arguing that freedom of speech guarantees a person the right to say anything they wish to any individual or group without facing criticism in return. Ultimately, Burnett suggests that university leaders should be driven by the mission to “expose students to the views and experiences of others without undermining the sense of the student body as a large, extended family.” Times Higher Education