Top Ten

March 17, 2016

UVic accused of “silencing” victims of sexual assault

Three students at the University of Victoria have accused the school of “failing sexual assault victims and fostering a culture of silence,” according to the Canadian Press. One of the students alleges that she was warned not to discuss the findings of an investigator’s report with anyone other than her lawyer, family, counsellor, or police after she filed a sexual assault complaint with the school. UVic Executive Director of Student Services Joel Lynn stated that, “we do caution students about ... disclosing third-party information, but we certainly don’t put any barriers around students where they can’t tell their story.” He added that UVic’s investigations rely on the Criminal Code definition of sexual assault, in which silence is not considered a form of consent. Globe and Mail (CP)

QC makes $10 M investment to support CEGEP students with disabilities

Quebec's Minister of Higher Education Hélène David has confirmed a $10 M investment in helping CEGEP students with disabilities. The money will be paid out over five years, and will be used to aid teachers in offering students individual support and developing educational approaches that meet students’ needs. According to le Journal de Montréal, the number of students with a disability has increased by 792% since 2007, a shift that Le Devoir attributes to integration efforts involving students with a number of disabilities and improved access to higher education. Bernard Tremblay, CEO of La Fédération des cégeps, calls this investment a step in the right direction, but demands further investments in the next budget. Journal de Montréal | Le Devoir | Fédération des cégeps

Free tuition does not mean zero overall cost, says ON premier

Ontario’s new free tuition plan will not completely free students of the costs associated with higher ed, said Premier Kathleen Wynne in a recent Q&A with student representatives. Affected students will still be expected to pay $3 K of their overall PSE costs—such as living expenses—which ON has deemed a “reasonable amount” for students to earn from a summer job. Wynne also conceded during the meeting that the new grant program is designed to help full-time students more than part-time ones. “I don’t think we actually have the plan for part-time students that we need,” she said, “there are some supports in place through the Canada Student Assistance Grants, but I think that there’s more that we have to do.” National Post (CP)

Concordia gets $1 M for Canadian Irish studies

Concordia’s School of Canadian Irish Studies has received a $1 M endowment to support its students. The endowment will be used to create the Brian O’Neill Gallery Scholarship Fund, which will provide $50 K annually to support nearly 20 awards for Concordia students majoring in Irish Studies. “We are very thankful that our donors keep Irish studies on a solid financial footing,” said the fund’s namesake, Canadian Irish Studies Foundation Co-founder Brian O’Neill Gallery. “We welcome all donations, no matter how modest, not only because we need the help but because it reinforces a belief in our goals.” Concordia

Canada should “be doing everything it can” to court international students for immigration, says minister

"International students are the best source of immigrants, in the sense that they're educated, they're young, they speak English or French, they know something of the country," says Canada’s Immigration Minister John McCallum, "so we should be doing everything we can do to court them." McCallum argues that Canada can greatly enhance the opportunities for international students to gain permanent residence by overhauling the current “Express Entry System,” a computerized program that allegedly prioritizes immigrants who are skilled workers and makes it difficult for many to gain permanent residence. CBC | Globe and Mail

Nunavut plans to revive law school in September 2017

Nunavut plans to offer a law school program in September 2017 aimed at training qualified applicants to become lawyers. This law program will be run by a to-be-determined university in partnership with Nunavut and Nunavut Arctic College. The program will emphasize the incorporation of traditional law and knowledge from elders, as well as the importance of fluency in an Inuit language. A previous law program was seen as quite successful, according to Education Minister Paul Quassa, as many of the 11 graduates from the 2005 Akitsiraq law program still work in the field and in Nunavut. Iqualuit-Sinaa MLA Paul Okalik agrees that legal training promotes critical thinking and academic rigour that can translate well into other fields of work. CBC | Nunatsiaq Online

UBC prof resigns from president search committee

Jennifer Berdahl, a UBC professor who wrote about former president Arvind Gupta’s departure last year, has resigned from the UBC president search committee, citing a lack of confidence in the process. Berdahl stated that the group failed to meaningfully consider the voice of faculty members and was disappointed with the committee’s unwillingness to consult Gupta. UBC Vice-President of Communications Philip Steenkamp stated that he could not see why Gupta was not consulted, but stated that “they did talk to two presidents, who between them have close to 18 years of experience and worked very effectively with the board and with the governance structures.” According to the Globe and Mail, Berdahl’s resignation comes at a time of increasing distrust between the university’s administration and faculty association. Globe and Mail

Educational and vocational career paths no longer a straight line, experts say

Career paths no longer follow a straight line, according to Jasmine Miller in Maclean’s, and neither are schooling tracks as linear as they once were. Many people will reportedly have 12 careers over the course of their lives, yet Miller explains that “with youth unemployment nearly double the national average, and postsecondary grads entering the work force with crippling student debt, the stress is on to choose a program that will immediately lead to sustainable work in a growing industry.” Experts like Donnalee Bell maintain that students should not worry about making “fatal” career decisions. “Over the course of your lifetime, you’re going to make many, and none of them are wrong,” she notes. The article finishes by asserting that students have both the options and the time to figure out what they want to do next with their lives. Maclean’s

Journals consider monetary compensation for peer review

As publishers struggle to find reviewers for a greater volume of new papers and question the ethics of the voluntary system, some journals have begun to consider offering a paycheque for peer reviewers. UK-based Veruscript will soon offer some reviewers a portion of the paper’s article processing charge that they can either accept, save towards their own future publishing costs, or donate to researchers who cannot afford the processing charges. “It’s not about the money—how much—it’s about appreciation, acknowledgement,” says Veruscript Executive Editor Lucy McIvor. Collabra, a journal that operates on a similar principle, has found that all its reviewers have so far paid their compensation forward to support other researchers. Times Higher Education

Institutions need to acknowledge academic, mental toll of student activism

The time has come for US colleges to acknowledge and address the profound mental and academic strain faced by campus activists, writes the Chronicle of Higher Education. As one student activist told the Chronicle, protests and controversial discussions "can be tiresome and can take a toll on people—a toll they didn’t necessarily sign up for when they matriculated into university or when they were born." While some administrations might hope for mental attrition among politically engaged students during times of conflict, it is necessary for institutions to support these students, says another activist. The alternative, he implies, is a campus environment where dissent is absent. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)